I just about drowned in a vat of Shit Stew today. It was hot and smelly and no matter how hard I moved my arms nor kicked my legs, my escape seemed unlikely. Death by Shit Stew.
While in the Stew du Jour, I finished mopping my horrifying kitchen floor. And what I mean is that both my kitchen floor and my kitchen are equally horrifying. It doesn't matter how much Murphy's Oil I use or how many crumbs I wipe off the counters -- that kitchen never looks clean. Beyond the backbreaking labor, I really hate this one household chore more than others because it never looks much better than it did before I mopped. So, while pushing the rock up the hill -- aka mopping the kitchen -- my mind churned and burned in an endless sea of negativity.
Half way through the kitchen, I mopped out a piece of Boo Berry cereal from under the front of the refrigerator: I evidently missed it during the half-assed job of sweeping that preceded the mopping. I noticed that the refrigerator was askew and remembered that last night, Paolo 'secretly' told Carlo that a box of Boo Berry dropped behind the fridge while he (Paolo) was scaling the counter to get the cereal. He and Maggie needed help, but didn't want to upset me because they thought the cereal may have spilled from the box during the fall: another mess that will piss off Mommy. Carlo moved the fridge but didn't return it to it's exact location in line with the base cabinet.
The piece of cereal triggered my thoughts about Paolo and what an amazing little man he is turning out to be. Since the start of school this year, our relationship has become very tender, mostly because of our homework sessions, which in addition to daily 2nd grade math and spelling include 20 minutes of reading and maintaining a journal: we write notes and draw pictures to each other every day. My journal entries usually cover what I accomplished during the day, my feelings and each Friday, I like to reveal our weekend plans to him. Most of my illustrations, no matter what the journal entry is about, include a picture of the cat perched under a word bubble that spell out the cat's plans for a future, wrongly placed poop. It's still funny to Paolo.
Thinking about Paolo, and then about Maggie, made me smile. They are amazing kids. They know how to push my buttons, for sure, but they are beautiful, smart, compassionate, funny people. Every smile I give them is genuine: they deserve nothing less.
Once I was thinking about my kids, I found myself backing my way out of the butler's pantry and into the dining room: my crappy task was just about done and I was surprisingly closer to escaping the Shit Stew. I thought about my friend, Margaret. She followed me to the garage today and gave me a ride back home after we dropped our kids to school. We were in the car together for all of 12 minutes, but she listened to me moan and groan about being upset with Carlo and about feeling invisible at home. She heard me when I said I felt guilty about not earning an income and topped that guilt off with anger toward the family for not helping me around the house so I can carve out time to actually earn an income.
She laughed at my angst -- because she is all too familiar with occasionally feeling like a poorly paid servant. She offered me some perspective, because she is that person who can respectfully remind you that even though your feelings are valid, maybe there is a side or angle you need to consider to reach a real solution (beyond bitching). She reminded me that everything might seem better tomorrow -- if I could possibly snag 7-hours (in a row!) of sleep tonight.
I am very thankful for Margaret and several of my "Mom" and "Grandma" friends, those ladies that I see almost daily on the playground as we drop off and collect our kids at school. On occasion, we find time to grab coffee or a cocktail without the kids and share whatever news we have to offer the group. It's free group therapy. We ended up meeting yesterday morning at a local cafe and I noticed a few of the patrons who were trying to work moved away from our riotous laughter. (BTW: If you want to 'office' in a quiet place, go to a god damn office or a library. Not a cafe.). It had been a long time since we had all gotten together and the 75-minutes we shared laughing with - and sometimes at -- each other were wonderful. I left them feeling energized. They did too, I guess, because it looks like we're all going to try to meet on Friday night for our favorite type of beverage -- the boozey kind.
I am not always successful about focusing on the good stuff that deserves my attention. I want to be better at letting go of the negatives and focusing on what is good and what is working. I need to forgive myself for my contribution to the Shit Stew in which I occasionally take an unsuccessful dip. I need to call on the support that is all around me and be reminded of what is good, if I can't remember it myself. I need to be thankful for what I have accomplished and not beat myself up for what didn't get done. I need to --even if it feels forced -- allow one happy thought that will lead to more happy thoughts. I need to put less stock in a random piece of Monster Cereal that I sweep out from under major appliances.
The kitchen floor is dry. It doesn't look any cleaner, but I know that the sticky spot where Paolo spilled orange juice and the stinky spot where Paolo spilled the canned cat food are no longer sticky or stinky (until he comes home within the next hour and the vicious cycle repeats). I've put the freshly washed kitchen rug down and returned the garbage and recycling cans and cat bowls to their places. The Hearty Beef & Barley Broth (not to be confused with the Shit Stew) I worked on this morning is simmering and the house smells homey. Serving that with fresh baked bread tomorrow night will be a wonderful way to celebrate the start of a long weekend.