Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Because I Am Organizationally Inept, And A Bad Wife

I seem to still have several soap packages that have NOT gone out. All they have in common is that, with one exception, they are the "small" or "A" packages, which I put together last. I'm not sure what's up with that. After Leslie and Judy let me know they hadn't gotten theirs, I checked it out, and sure enough--them and many others like them.

So, hold tight, all you "A" package people--I'll get your goodies out and throw in enough extras to make it worth your wait. I'm sorry. Really sorry. (sad, pitiful face-making) And if anyone out there is an "order fulfullment" genius, with tips to offer me on this aspect of home-business at which I so mightily suck, NOW IS THE TIME to chime in! I love making the stuff, I love the whole process...and then I get a pile of orders in and something goes "kablooey" in my head. I lose orders, I forget orders, I carry packages around with me, forgetting to MAIL them...it goes on and on. I'm like a one-woman self-sabotage crew.

And speaking of my organizational challenges, this is actual, real, MOVING week. As in, movers coming on Friday morning bright and early. I'm spending every day over at the old house packin' 'er up. I do this until my back aches, I'm cramping, and I'm dog-tired and bored (there's no T.V., radio, or even a chair over there, for the love of Pete's sake), and then my husband comes over to join me, and lets me know just how pitiful a job I've done, and points out all that I've NOT accomplished! Wheee! Not directly, you understand, but passive-aggressively, because that's more FUN! We then work together for 3 hours or so, and come home pissed off at each other. I get a book, or the computer, and ignore him while he stomps around looking for dragons to slay or something, all while noticing how miserably I'm failing our family over HERE, too. See how great marriage is, what a partnership? Please, God, let this be over AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (the house stress, not the marriage). Everyone pray for a quick listing and sale of that house, before one of us here kills the other, um, accidentally. Or, more realistically, does or says something really hurtful to the other. Because the vibe I'm getting right now, just under the surface, is of the "What did you DO all day?" variety, and that is a soul-killer.

There's also the confusing jumble of emotions I have, all bound up in that little house. It was mine, all mine, the first thing that ever was, and I lived there for several years, just me and my dogs and horses. Some of the best memories of my life were made while I lived there. And also, some of the worst experiences of my life occured while that was my address. It was also where Alex and I lived when we got married, because it just made the most sense. He was in an apartment, and I had this little place that I owned, with acreage, and the animals I couldn't just pack up and leave with. I always knew that my little house wasn't good enough for him--not big enough, fancy enough, whatever. And even though it wasn't his intention, that hurt, you know? Because it was mine. It was what I brought to our marriage. I was proud that I had my own house, my own vehicle, my beautiful horses, and I KNOW that's part of what attracted him to me--the fact that I didn't "need" a man in any conventional sense, but loved him and wanted to be with him. And I was proud of that little house. And I loved it, all 1,050 square feet of it, and the barn too. I mowed, I put up and mended fence, I mucked stalls (and hired help when I could), I fed, I worked, I played with my dogs...and I was happy. Dang it, I laid 4 tons of grade 4 fill sand, shovelful by shovelful, alternately soaking it and rolling it flat, in that barn aisle and the stalls BY MYSELF, and it took forever, but it was beautiful work, and I showed it off to anyone who got within 4 miles of the place. And that fence? The one that went up in the stallion pasture? Me and my small friend Kerri, the one Dad called "Herculite" because she's such a tough little booger...WE did that. Just us girls. And oh, SO much memory of my dad lives there, because he was my "go-to" guy for everything. Giving it up is giving up a place where his memory lives, where I inherited a series of John Deere lawn tractors as he upgraded, and mowed faithfully three times a week, with the blades on a "high" setting, during the summer, because that was just what you DO in Lawncare According to Zane. And this new house? Well, Dad never even saw it. I never got to ask his opinion, I'll never be able to show him all the work we've done, and how we will make it "ours" over the next few years. He won't be coming to dinner now that I can finally seat more than two people at the same table. I'll be hanging on to that last John Deere legacy like grim death, and come the day when it stops running, I may make sculpture out of it.

I know there were things Alex liked about that house. He must have. He had the most beautiful vegetable garden that first year. Before I had my horrible surgery, he spent hours and hours tilling and planting an amazing flower garden all around two sides of the house, just so that I'd "have pretty things to look out the windows at" during my long recovery. He revelled in yardwork, even including baby Bella in it from time to time.He had a stocked pond to fish in, anytime he wanted, and that always made him peaceful-like. It was the house we brought Bella home to when she was born,and yes, that's what finally made it too small, but still, I was happy. What made the house "not enough" for me, finally, was that it was, for so long, not enough for him.

And so, we have this nice new house, which Alex moved heaven and earth to make ours. You've seen plenty of pictures, you know it's pretty, and that I've really enjoyed painting and decorating it, even having done a lot of it with hand-me-down furniture, since everything we owned wouldn't have half-filled this space. Do I like this house? I do. I really do. Did I give up some things I'd rather still have? Yes. Primarily, pasture. A bit of flat, sunny, land where the grass will grow. I will have to give up half of my horses in order to support them here, where there is no grazing. And yes, I had too many horses anyway, so that's not like a mortal wound. I also really loved the location of where we were before. More than I think I've even ever told Alex. We now live just on the other side of the highway that marks the county line, which puts me in a "foreign land." It's not like we're in Mexico or something, but dang it, all my frequently-called numbers are long-distance now! And our chance of getting called for jury duty went up precipitously with the county change. The rooms are laid out oddly, the kitchen is tiny, and we'll be painting for the next several months. The room that I really like, is, it turns out, not insulated. Yaaay. The bathrooms are plain and cramped. These are things (the bathroom and kitchen) that only bother me because the house, overall, is so darned big and expensive (for us, anyway). For this much house, you should have a gourmet kitchen and a luxurious master bath, is my feeling! Plus the appliances here are crappy, and we're leaving behind some pretty sweet kitchen appliances. *sigh*

So now, I am aware of my hot/cold feelings about this "new" house, and trying to be aware of how those feelings might affect my husband, especially since I know how his feelings about "my" house affected me. This house, for a number of reasons both vague and specific, feels more "his" than "ours" right now. And I know that he wants me to love it, because he loves me. And, well, I'm getting there. He's made the outside absolutely beautiful, and he does that for me more than for any other reason. He's pitching in and helping more inside than he did before, but at the same time I feel like I will never be able to keep up, in this bigger space, with his bigger expectations of me as far as housekeeping goes. If I could make it my full-time job, maybe...but I can't. But maybe that can be one of the things we work out in therapy. Oh, yeah, we're back in therapy! Whee! Because I don't cry ENOUGH on my own without that scheduled 50-minute sobfest each week. Yes, each week right now. Ugh. But that's what you do when you're married. You work it. And sometimes it's fun, and sometimes it's painful, and sometimes it's an amusement-park ride, and sometimes it's HARD. And sometimes you need help, and if you're smart and committed and want to STAY married, you GET help. So yeah, we're getting some help with this whole "perfect storm" of issues that comes about from bringing both of our individual issues together in one place, a place where there are external stressors GALORE. Sounds fun, no? Yeah. But healthy things hardly ever are, or brussels sprouts and jogging would be as popular as chocolate truffles and playing video games. Right?

Oh, but the fun part of packing? For real? Is Bella helping me pack and clean. She is seriously, actual, useful HELP. Go figure! Especially with the forty-leven books being packed. We had a real assembly-line partnership going. She'd pull them from the shelf, blow the dust off, and hand them to me, while examining the cover and proclaiming what the book was about, based on that. Sometimes she got a fairly accurate one in, like on Howells' A Modern Instance being about "houses and people." True enough, that if overly simple. But the more creative guesses were more fun--like the conclusion that The Damnation of Theron Ware is about "birthday cake," and the perfectly logical assumption that John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany is "a book about baby armadillos."

So now it's evening, and Alex and I are doing that familiar occasional dance of married people...I'm not sure what it's called, but the steps are carefully choreographed, and the pairing is that of two people who are extremely sunburned and trying hard not to be touched. Right now we're not even on the same floor of the house, so it's not too tough. I think, from the sounds, that he's trying to hook up Bella's InteracTV for her, which is sweet. We didn't find all the components to it until we started moving.

Oh, and just how much crap do we have to throw out at the old place? Well, we're RENTING A DUMPSTER. Seriously. I feel like I'm on "Flip This House" (which has become my favorite show since I've had a house to sell--I want to put in granite countertops and hardwood floors and flagstone landscaping and list it for $420,000), except, um...I'm not. We will be replacing kitchen countertops and a bathtub, and refinishing kitchen cabinets, but aside from slapping a fresh coat of paint on the whole thing and hanging lots of pretty, pretty plants all around, that's about it. If anyone has any magic house-selling juju to share, NOW IS THE TIME to do that, as well as the above-mentioned things I'm begging for help on.

I'll turn out all right one day, I swear. You know, when I'm all mature and together and organized, and perform brilliantly enough at my "outside" job as to be irreplacable to my boss and co-workers, mother my daughter with never a self-doubt, keep a spotless house and beautiful garden, have a perfect attendance and participation record at church and in the choir, keep my dogs and horses in top-notch condition and imaccuately groomed, plan, shop for, and cook healthy and delicious meals that are just going to the table precisely as my husband gets home, manage a sideline cottage business so that it pleases its customers, brings in much-needed extra income, and does not inconvenience my family in the least, and, oh, yeah, am the "always there" daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, etc...That should all kick in anytime, right? Right?


  1. If you become the woman in the last paragraph, perfect woman, I will no longer love you. Because human foibles are what make us all interesting and attractive to others. You and Alex are good together, and you will work out all this crapola going on. Moving is SOOOO stressful and when you stretch it out over months and months, you're asking for full scale anxiety. Et Voila!

    It seems like the Interweb is going through a time of self reflection and self-recrimination. People going into therapy, people starting new meds, people bitching and whinging about everything. It's a cycle and you know that it will get better soon enough. Meanwhile you have dogs to hug and Bella to laugh at, and horses to watch and flowers to grow. It's all good, really.

  2. I'd have lots to say about this entire post, but it's late & I'm tired, so I will (a) remind you that the "coupleness" of you and Alex will make the new house your home, the one that Bella will someday say is the place your memories live, and (b) I will swear by everything I hold holy that your dad saw your new home the same day you did, that he's helped guide you through your decisions for it, and that he is bursting with pride to know what you and your husband are accomplishing together. You can't hold a conversation or give him a hug any more, but the love you shared with him will be with you for all your days and will carry on to your daughter.

  3. i agree. you will never be that woman in your last paragraph. and thats a good thing. the hard part is accepting that you are fabulous and awesome and complete as you are everyday from now until eternity. i think this is the hardest thing to do for a lot of women, perhaps especially so for mothers. you are perfect NOW, just as you are.

  4. This post made me smile, nod my head YES, and cry...all right here in the non-privacy of my cubicle at work! The whole marriage thing, the *his* house thing...that is exactly what my husband and I have been going through. And it's tough and it's frustrating and it is such a bummer to think you are never going to be perfectly *there* because it seems like everyone else just sails on thru with no blips and that just isn't fair. I don't know you, but I think you are fabulously normal.

  5. Belinda - Its always tough to leave something that meant so much to you. Rememeber that its a grieving process. Allow yourself to grieve.

  6. What a deep post, I read it word for word (instead of my usual skimming).
    A lot going on right now in your life, which brings the old adage to my mind, "this too shall pass."
    Stay cool.

  7. If it makes you feel any better, we are all one-person self-sabotage crews. I finally set up my eBay and PayPal accounts with the idea that I'm going to make a ton of money selling old crap. I've put one thing up for auction. That's it. I've been too lazy to put the rest on there.

  8. Even if you WERE that perfect women, mother, wife, church goer, horse groomer, etc....there would STILL be things that you would think you needed to improve about yourself. That's just how it is. And it's what makes us always striving to be better people. But you must be doing a whole heck of alot right cause you have SO MANY people who love and absolutely ADORE you (me being high on the list!).

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  10. I think everyone has given good advice, so I will just add that you are both under stress. Once things calm down, you will both be thankful.

    Moving is stressfull. I enjoy my little house, but miss my horse in my backyard. Be thankful you get to see yours every time you look out your windows and you are all able to be together.

    About your soap problem, you could set up some file holders or envelope holders on your desk. Put the orders in them as they come in and make a special day each week for shipping your orders out. I would try to print out your orders and keep them all in the same place, then you won't lose. You can also mark each paper as you fill it, so you know what is done and what needs to be done. Again going back to the holders, one for to be filled, one for filled, and one for shipped.

    You will figure out what will work for you. I hope all goes smoothly with the movers and your house sells quickly. We all love you and you have lots of support here.

  11. About the soap, don't sweat it, I knew it would get here eventually. :o)

    Moving is so very stressful, especially when only one person really wants to move. Like you, I agreed to move "for" Sam, leaving a home we'd lived in for 28 yrs, a home where our children grew up, a home full of memories (and my dream kitchen). We moved to a 'house', a house that after four years is just beginning to feel like a home.

    I still see more things wrong with this house than I see right. Walls that are ALL off white and I'm too daunted by that fact to even think about painting, especially when many of the ceilings are 23' tall.

    At least the stress of the actual move was over in a weekend, plus weeks of packing before that. It felt good to empty boxes each day so I could see that I was accomplishing something. Of course Sam thought everything would be unpacked and in it's place in a couple of days! MEN!

    So hang in there and at times be glad the house is now big enough for you to each have your own space when needed.

  12. I hope that finally getting the move finished helps make life a little bit calmer for you.

    We all think you're pretty incredible, for what it's worth. You've got a huge fan club in the blogosphere!

  13. Oh my. Well, you simultaneously broke my heart an filled it back up again, which is a talent I'd put up against filling orders any day. Speaking of, I got my order!!! Ad the kids loved smelling all the different scents. The first soap I eyed was "Wild Thing." Thank you!

    Moving, coupledom stress--all those crazy life components. We're al navigating them...but I agree with Erin above--you are really an inspiration to all us chicks out here in the ether...keep it going on...(and write me anytime you need an extra shoulder--honest)

  14. God, if you become that perfectly brilliant, organized wife and Mom, I won't have anything in common with you!

    I know how you feel. Our first house was ours and beautiful and perfect. It's where we brought our babies home (it's where I HAD one of them). We outgrew it and had to move on. Do I like this big house that sucks up oil and electricity and rambles on? Sure. It's just not as much ours as the other one was. It's getting there though. We're making new memories for this one, but I still get wistful ten months later.

  15. I don't have any advice (big surprise, since I'm so goofy, I know) but I just wanted to say what awesome pictures those were of Alex and Bella. Precious!

  16. My gosh, you are drowning in all of this 'to do' stuff, that seems to need to be done right NOW. Aside from that, the emotional separation from you old 'home' and now trying to be comfortable in this new 'house'.
    I surely relate with you about your dad. When my mom was still @ the same house my dad last lived in, i could go in his closet & smell his shirts. They smelled like my dad, even a year after he'd died.
    I wish I lived nearby, I'd kidnap you for a day or something. You need some break of some sort, sweetie. There are so many hats we're supposed to wear in life, but my gosh, with all the hats you've got, you need a few more heads!
    Relax....breathe. Okay, for now, just breathe.

  17. wow so much going on for you... a lovely post. thought tonight about the soap and said, hmmm maybe i should wander on over to the ninja poodles ... and then i get this great story and word that the soap is on it's way. very nice. looking forward to it. take good care. there is so much to do in life isn't there?

  18. Hang in there. *smile* Kids are a big help.

    A thoughtful introspection. Thanks for sharing it.


  19. Grammacello here, after a pause of sorts:
    My dear, it amazes me, but shouldn't, how as women we are all there,as you describe it- not in the specifics but the whole nine yards of the male/female gender gap thing- yet, I love my imperfect man so, at the same time. It is heartbreaking and confusing too. But it will ultimately be ok. REALLY!
    I am sorry to bring it up and DO NOT WORRY, cuz NO RUSH, but I ordered a big box of soap(I believe it was a deluxe size or whatever), and used paypal....um, I THINK........., lol. As I said, no worries but I never did receive anything either.
    So, WHEN you get a chance-but NO Apologising allowed, ok?
    My "baby" has been home this month and I am crying (surruptitiously) about his leaving again- I miss all my babies- you are lucky yours is still at the little huggable stage. Although I get plenty of hugs from my 25 year old which is wonderful. Hang in!
    And therapy? Six and a half years, sometimes twice a week, always once- It has saved my life- no word of a lie.She is my gift from God.

  20. Those pictures of your father just melted my heart. So many memories. I can see why the change is difficult. Your new home will be a place to create new memories for your family. I am not so good with changes, and moving to our new home nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. I ended up sobbing "I want to go back to our old house! I don't like it here and it doesn't feel right!"

    But home is where your "peeps" are. As long as they are with you, your new place will become home.

    Still hard though!

  21. I"m so with you on the therapy thing. I agree, if you are already on the verge of hysteria, "therapy" will push you right on over that edge. ha.

    hang in there, I'm right there with you.

  22. Gadzooks. I was here a couple of days ago, totally engrossed in this post, then ran out of time and forgot to return! They say it's my age. Rest assured, I'm nodding along with you!

    (PS Where's my %^$#!@ soap! Just kiddin'!! hee hee...)

  23. Great story. Gosh, I feel like I really know you now! And, please, if you ever feel that you've become the woman in the last paragraph, let me know how you did it. I could use some advice over here.