Monthly Archives: June 2013

Strength

I wrote this a LONG time ago.  It was loosely based on reality, on a reality greatly exaggerated for writing purposes.  I do still believe in the core premise, though.

She cleans up the kitchen, one dish at a time, trying to make the task last until he leaves for his workshop, trying to keep her hands busy so that her mind will not overtake her emotions until he is gone. She clears his plate from the table, thinking how excited she was when he called to announce he’d be home early, before the children went to bed. She rinses his cup, reviewing in her mind the thrill his presence had caused for the children. He had thrown the two eldest in the air and taken the time to look at each child’s artwork and creations from the day. He’d even taken the time to play with the youngest for a few minutes, making funny noises so that she would giggle.

He hadn’t said a single word to her, except “I guess you didn’t have time to get the stove wiped off before supper.” He had found time to grope at her for a moment, but even that didn’t require words.

She remembered that her mother had told her that women were stronger than men, and that she had laughed and said, “Of course we are. We give birth.” She had never realized that her mother had meant that she would have to be emotionally strong. After all, what did she know then? She had thought that people got married because they loved each other and wanted to share their lives together. She knew differently now. Men got married because they wanted someone to pick up after them, and women got married because they didn’t know any better.

She carefully placed the leftovers in a divided dish for him to take next week to work–if he remembered. She would need to remember to throw out last week’s leftovers tonight. A question played in her mind: Did it ever occur to him to wonder if she was happy? Perhaps he thought she was. He certainly seemed to be happy with the way things were working out for him. He was succeeding at work, next in line for a big promotion, and he had the children, all three so beautiful and loving, and of course he had her. She would faithfully stand in the background and take care of the details, shopping for the perfect Christmas present for each family member and writing “With love, from Adam and Annie” on the tags, hoping he would remember what “they” had given to his mother when she called to exclaim over the gift.

Perhaps he did think that her life goal was to make him happy, and that if he was happy, she most certainly was, too. Perhaps he thought she found it fulfilling to pick up his messes, tend the house, school the children (because he found the public schools “doltish” and the private school “pretentious”), and model the loving wife for all to see.

The dishwater warmed her hands, and her mind moved on to worry about the children. They were starting to display those same traits which so troubled her when seen in her husband–voicing imperious demands instead of respectful questions, neglecting to care for their pets and their responsibilities. How could she teach them any differently when the one person they so idolized and wanted to please modeled such things? It seemed hopeless.

She hung the dish towels neatly on the oven handle and contemplated the oven for a moment. No, it would never work. The oven was electric, and besides, she would probably have to come back from the grave to clean up whatever mess she caused. Anyway, she had no time for such thoughts. The children needed to be bathed and put to bed, then the remainder of the house tidied, and then she must be ready to accept his advances, because he would surely value her presence in bed.

Women must be stronger than men, she thought. They have to be, or they would never survive.

Investing

I’ve been chatting with a friend about friendship lately, and it reminded me of an old post about the same topic. It discussed whether or not any one person in a relationship needs the other more…in other words, if one person is more invested in the relationship than the other.

One of my closest friends is someone who doesn’t need me much. At least, that’s what I thought for a long time. After all, it was me who called her with frustrations and for reassurance, for advice on this home educating journey, to talk me down from my proverbial cliff on rough days.  It wasn’t until I wrote my little post on investment that she shared that she needed me, too.

It’s a good feeling, to be needed.  And sometimes it’s a good feeling to need.  

And this investment thing…well, it often pays off in ways you don’t expect.  A few random minutes of conversation might reveal shared interests and connections that feed a fledgeling friendship.  A quick connection or spark starts a long burning flame.

So…how do you invest in a relationship?  Do you need, or are you needed?

Pandemonium Ensues

This is quite possibly my favorite entry of all time.  It could have just been the title that I liked…but I think it also reminds me of the craziness that life with two toddlers was, and how much I loved it.  Every age has been the best age with our kids, but this little moment holds a special place in my heart.

The Sorry Game,
Or,
Pandemonium Ensues

(Based On, But Not Limited To, Actual Events)

Chaos (henceforth to be referred to as Player One) asks to play a game.  Thora (Player Two) agrees because Sorry seems simple enough, and even if the rules aren’t followed to the nth degree, Player One will at least get some counting practice.  Mayhem (Player Three) dumps the board and all game pieces onto the floor. Pandemonium ensues.

Player Two picks up the cards and all visible pieces while Player One wails about the injustice of it all.  Player Three puts the blue pieces (I can’t spell pieces—they will now be referred to as Men) into her mouth.  All four of them.  At once.

Player One and Player Two distribute men about the board.  Player Two puts green men on the green start and yellow men on the yellow start.  Player One puts red men on the blue home and distributes blue men equally to all four home bases.  Player Three stands in the box the game belongs in.

Player Two shows Player One how to take the top card and move men the corresponding number of spaces.  Player One draws a 12 and Player Two helps him count to 12 as they carefully move the little green man.  Player Two draws a two, and moves a blue man two spaces.  Player Three takes the top half of the deck of cards and drops them back onto the table.  Pandemonium ensues.

Player One draws a seven and moves a green man 8 spaces while counting to seven.  Player Two decides to let the discrepancy slide since he did count correctly.  Player Two gets a one and moves a blue man out.  Player Three decides to change her pants and comes out of her room wearing green shorts with both legs out one opening.

Player One gets a 10 and moves one green man 4 spaces, one red man 5 spaces, and a yellow man backwards 3 spaces.  Player Two realizes that Player One and Player Three need to be in the bath tub in five minutes and picks up 10 cards, exclaiming, “Look!  A three! Can you help me count?”  Player Three takes off her pants (she changed again during Player One’s turn) and puts a megablock on the game board.

Player One draws a three and moves a yellow man across the board to home base.  Player Two takes all but two cards and moves a blue man one space.  The phone rings, and Player Two talks to Court’s mom for a few minutes.  Player One and Player Three use this opportunity to see who can jump from the coffee table to the couch.  Pandemonium ensues.  Player Two just doesn’t care anymore.  There are only 44 minutes left until bedtime.

Player One draws a seven and moves three or four pieces the combined total of 27 spaces.  Player Two draws the last card, which is a Sorry! card.  “Look, it’s a Sorry! card, Chaos!  You win!  Yay!” Player One does a little victory dance while Player Two stacks the cards and Player Three attempts to put a skirt over her head.

Game Over

Remembering

One of the best things about moving is discovering things at the other end of the journey.  We tend to wind up with all of our worldly belongings in storage about every other move, and so there’s often quite a large gap between packing and discovery.  Hence, I packed my house last December, but I’ve just finished unpacking the very last of the boxes.  Unless Smiddy finds another one out in the garage…

I hold the green glass measuring cup in my hands, loving the smoothness of the glass, and I remember wandering with Smiddy through some market in Missouri on our honeymoon.  We hang pencil drawing of Chaos and Mayhem in the hallway, and I remember not only how my sister drew them, but the moments they depict.  

So many things, and each one carries its own memory.  That clock?  I bought that in Target, one of the first purchases for the addition we built onto the house in Redington.  This wall hanging?  My mother bought it for me for my birthday when they lived in Cheyenne.  Those Steve Hanks prints–Smiddy purchased them right after we were married, and he built the frame for one.

We hang the mirror in the entry way and laugh about the way we painted over a beautiful cherry finish on a brand-new mirror because we wanted it to match our walls.  The blue pitcher that holds wooden spoons near the stove has been with me since Fort Collins.  That little copper music machine came from Smiddy’s grandpa.

Some of the memories carried by these decorations aren’t pleasant.  That green-glass washboard leaning against the wall is the replacement for one that got broken in a fit of temper.  This sweater–I wore it on one of the hardest days of my life.  The red djembe is a reminder of a part of my life that I once thought I’d lost, that I finally gave over to God, and was given back.

But somehow, these things are all the more precious for the hardships they remind me of.  Perhaps we learned something when the washboard broke.  Perhaps I grew stronger when wearing that sweater.  Rather than hide them, give them away, I continue to live with them.  The memories that come along with them have shaped me, but they will not define me.  And I keep them with me as a reminder.

Today, the copper music machine sits on our piano, becoming a part of my children’s musical memories.  This vase on the end table is new, but already it has a story–how I saw it in a store before we knew we would be moving, then Smiddy drove me back to the store months later in the hopes that they still had the vase, hoping that the color scheme would work in a house we’d not yet seen.  This green glass bowl is new, but it holds the moss-and-rock idea I’ve been wanting to try for years.

So I carry these things with me, reminders of memories good and bad, and I add to them as I go along.  Each one has a story, each one has marked my life in one way or another, and I am glad to have them with me.