For some reason I was born with this weird condition--some would call it a disease--that requires me to have everything perfectly neat. Dirty dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor--it all leaves me with these shivers of anxiety. Must . . . put . . . socks . . . in . . . hamper . . .
So with all of our tarp-covered possessions being lumped in the middle of the living room and kids sleeping on floors and sheet rock dust giving everything a nice powdery finish I'm just a ball of nerves. Or at least I was.
Sad to say I've felt my apathy growing until I just don't care anymore. Gasp. Have you heard about how a mind in pain--maybe through grief or loss--goes into this defensive numbing? Well that must be what I'm experiencing because I've found myself letting all sorts of things go. See for yourself.
1. Dirty Windows. There's a point when your windows are so dirty they don't function properly--they technically cease to be windows--and I think we've reached it. Enough grime on the glass and you can't even see out of them, they might as well be made of whole-wheat toast.
I found this long suspicious-looking smudge across the glass on the living room window and when I questioned the kids I was informed someone had licked the glass. Licked. With their tongue. Apparently I'm raising a pack of feral children. Of course what's worse? Those who LICK the window or those who, after noticing the grossness thereof, don't bother to do anything about it? My conscience tells me I'm no better than they.
2. Disorderly Closets. All of us are sharing one closet (yes ONE closet) because it's the only closet in the house. Things are packed in there so tightly we don't even need hangers, we just jam another piece of clothing in between the others and it all holds just fine with the tension. Oh the tension.
I've kind of stopped caring where I put the clean stuff--if there's any kind of an opening that's where it gets shoved, who cares whose "area" it is, the boundaries are all ambiguous anyway. Of course this means that when you go to look for something to wear it could pretty much be anywhere. I like to think of it as keeping the mystery alive in my marriage. We're missing all sorts of things and I'm pretty sure when this is all over and we have our own closets it's going to be like Christmas.
"Hey! I'd forgot I had these pants!"
"Mom--look at this, I found my t-shirt!"
Yes kids, Santa has come early this year.
3. Mice. This is embarrassing but it appears that amid the chaos we've got mice. Probably technically shrews or voles as that's what we have here in Anchorage but twice now this fall we've been surprised by a guest scurrying into a corner. I'm so not a rodent person.
I can only guess that it's partly because the weather is getting colder and partly because the garage door is open all day long like a little red carpet rolled out in invitation to the vermin and the little fiends are moving indoors for the winter. It probably doesn't help that we've been too busy to properly deal with them but mark my words, Speedy Gonzalez, you have been warned and your days are numbered.
4. Flies. This is even more embarrassing but who else am I going to bare my soul to? It seems we've got more than our fair share of flies. The workmen coming and going leave the doors open and being that we didn't even have windows for a while there the pests were free to come and go like some cheap motel.
They are the most disgusting thing and I'm trying to get rid of them constantly but until I can get Captain Contractor to shut the door behind himself I'm afraid my efforts are useless. I mentioned the flies to him---you know, kind of casual-like.
"Boy I can't seem to get rid of these flies" I said nonchalantly.
"Yea," he said cheerfully "I noticed there seem to be a lot of them. Wonder why?"
Yea. I wonder.
The absolute low point in the whole remodeling process was a couple weeks ago when all the workmen had disappeared for the afternoon leaving us without a front door (we were boarded up) without water, without heat and without half of the house having electricity. I had kids squawking about having to go to the bathroom but as there was no way to flush I was holding them back until we could get water restored.
I finally gave up and told them to use my bathroom upstairs but not to flush. They actually obeyed me (that in itself was a tiny miracle) but after water was restored I'd forgotten about the whole thing until several hours later when I went to collapse in exhaustion in the bedroom. I went into the bathroom and a big fat fly flew out of the mess the kids had left me in the bowl and flew up around my face.
That was it. I broke down right there and cried. But don't worry, I pulled it together and after a while I blew my nose, sang a few verses of "The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow" and felt much better. I figured it couldn't really get any worse at that point.
5. Abandoned Yard Work. On a less grotesque avenue . . . with all the junk heaped in the front yard and on the side of the house it's been the excuse for adopting a "No mowing" policy. Forget meticulously mowing and trimming every Tuesday so that the clippings can be picked up on Wednesday morning by the trash collectors we've let yard work go too. When we start to lose things in the grass then we know that maybe it's time to start thinking about pulling out the mower (now that we can actually use the garage door and thus remove the mower) but we've learned we can let things go until a good month of growth has gone by and we start to lose things in the vegetation. You know, things like shoes . . . shovels . . . bikes . . . children.
"Anyone seen Lillian lately?"
"Last time I saw her she was heading out to play in the yard."
6. Dirty Laundry. Normally I'm a fanatic for not leaving your dirty clothes on the floor--flogging is too good for the offenders on a normal day--but lately? Hey, it's all good, right?
It's like I can hear myself with this Jamaican accent saying "No worries mon!" and walking right on by those dirty socks in the middle of the floor.
I'm not sure if the house situation has spawned more than our fair share dirty clothes but I can't seem to get a handle on the laundry. Not ever. There is always a pile on the laundry room floor and even worse I'm starting to forget when I actually do a load.
Last week I'd thrown a load into the washer then got busy painting the house and working on landscaping in the front yard and it wasn't until a day and a half later that I came back to find the wet stuff ripening in the washer.
All I can say is thank goodness for scented dryer sheets.
7. Cooking. We've rather reverted to those paleolithic hunter-gatherer tendencies, deteriorating into instinctual behaviors in an effort to survive. Normally I keep the cookie jar stocked with tasty fresh cookies but now? You're lucky to find some stale saltines. So much for a nice sit-down meal, I kind of let everyone forage for his or herself and in return they forget to put the remnants of whatever sustenance they've scrounged away. Maybe that could explain some of the flies . . .
I had Grace harvest all of the rhubarb out of the garden last weekend and I haven't had any place to put it so it's set, right there in a pile on the counter waiting for me to do something--anything--I've even tried to palm it off on neighbors but they're not having any.
If we don't get this remodel over soon I'm afraid the natives are going to consider cannibalism as an option. The goldfish are starting to look mighty tasty . . .
8. Flooring. Mopping? Nope. Vacuuming? Not likely. There was a time in my life when I vacuumed two and three times a day (no lie, but don't worry I've had therapy and am feeling much better thank you for asking). You see our contractor came in and put down all this sticky backed plastic on the floor so workmen wouldn't tramp dirt all over the place and while I can see the benefit of it you can't vacuum the stuff because the vacuum suction pulls it off the floor and up into the vacuum.
Not a good thing--sounds like you caught a cat in the tube when that happens.
Besides, we're replacing all the carpet anyway so I'm kind of doing that "que sera sera" thing and shrugging in my apathy. I even let the kids wear their shoes in the house--I never thought my life would come to that.
9. Discipline. The kids know I'm feeling weak (I think it's the shoe-wearing policy that tipped them off) and they're exploiting it horribly. I have a hard time telling Lillian to collect her hangers for the laundry when there's no place to put them once she's done so. Why have the kids vacuum their rooms when there aren't any rooms to vacuum? We don't even have beds for them to make when they're sleeping on mattresses on the floor.
So chores and routine have left us and we can't even get the kids to go to bed on time when they're all stuck sleeping in the one room on the floor. Shoot I can't even get three workmen to show up on time to hang sheet rock so why on this green earth would I think I could effectively discipline four children in doing their chores?
No seriously, this was the week to get our dry wall in place and they were supposed to come on Monday. No show. Apparently there was a bigger job that took precedence to our misery so we were rescheduled for Tuesday. No show again. Rumors circulated that a mysterious hospital visit was supposedly the culprit then we got a call that evening that they'd be there first thing at 8am on Wednesday. Eight o'clock, eight thirty, nine, it was about ten when they finally moseyed on over only to look at things but they quickly left, saying they needed to make a trip for more supplies.
An hour later they returned to work for . . . oh I don't know forty-five minutes? As best I could tell those forty-five minutes consisted of hauling up the 20 pieces of sheet rock from the garage--plus some equipment. Oh and they plugged the equipment in--can't forget that.
Anyway, then they disappeared again as if they'd been vaporized. I sat around, waiting to see if they'd show because I had errands to run and didn't want them to come back and find the house locked up. I waited for two hours until I was so irritated I was worried that if they did show up I'd use language that would shock the children. I left with a curse on them, their children and their dogs and when I finally got home at 3:30 no one had been here the whole time.
They eventually came back at 4-ish with the remnants of Taco Bell in their hands (apparently there was SOME LINE at the drive in) and no apologies. If I can't get these guys to get their work done--considering what we're paying them to accomplish said work--then how on earth could I get my kids to do their chores? My authority is completely gone. Vanished like our workmen.
10. Blogging . . . . not much else I can say here.
Whew! Finally we got us a winner from last weekend's giveaway. Linda from Salem, Oregon has won herself a choice of t-shirts from Trendy Tadpole and a book and plush set from Cuddly Books. Congratulations!
Sponsored by Dimples and Dandelions--for the Serena and Lily Bedding Collection for Children.
Technorati tags: parenting, motherhood
Hang in there, the end will come. The house will look glorious and the children will (eventually) relearn all the rules. Someday this will all be a (slightly dirty, chaotic and a bit traumatic) memory...
Eyes on the prize! But I know where you're coming from. My son brought home first week of school gunk and then I got it. I let the house go and now don't know where to begin. I took baby steps today with the kitchen. Hang in there!
I feel some of your pain. Ok. Quite a bit of it actually.
We have no closets in the bedrooms. Yet. Brand new house when we moved in. They don't exist... it's o n the list... but in the meantime ... sigh.
Oh Michelle! At least you have a humorous side to look at (although the flies and the mice...not so funny at all).
And as for the closets...I'm slouching down because I organize by color. In my twisted little mind it makes it easier to find what I'm looking for, and supposedly makes it easier for my husband to hang up my clothes - should the opportunity ever arise.
I had to laugh because, well, that sounds like my life . . . on a good day!
hugs to you! :)
Please tell me you didn't pay them entirely in advance?
That licking of the window - did your children think the dry wall dust was powdered sugar? My kids would do something like that.
Sounds like you'll be needing therapy again soon. :)
Here I was talking about slinging some socks around the house on purpose!! LOL and thinking too that we all write clean blogs not wanting to share our 'stuff'. You are a brave one! Please don't grow dread-locks...it wouldn't look right with that hot dress!
Remodels must do that to people...I remember when my parents were redoing their kitchen, and the whole house just went to shambles a bit. Totally out of character for my mother. :)
And hey, why would you want to do laundry if you have nowhere to actually put it when you're finished? Might as well leave it in the hamper, I say. :)
And I really hope that you don't ever see another mouse (or whatever it is!) EEK!
Oh hun, I hope it's all over soon. I grew up in a house that was perpetually in a state of remodelling (in fact it *still* is and I haven't lived there for 9 years!) and I tell ya, that apathy can lead to some much much worse things!
I without a doubt feel your pain. I am a kindred "everything has it's place and everyone has a chore" sister.
But if it is any consolation it was absolutely delightful reading about it :)
So, what your saying is, "Having a baby and a toddler is just like doing a major remodel on your house," right? RIGHT??? Because, minus a few gross things, you just described my current life.
I gave up washing windows a long time ago. Several months ago the young women in our ward wanted to do a service project for us and I said they could wash my windows. As they left, Sweet Terror was so upset about their leaving that she pressed her dinner-covered face and hands against the sparkling clean glass and dragged them all the way to the bottom and across while scream for "her friends" to come back. I had clean windows for all of 1 minute. Yes... I know apathy.
I feel your pain. We are getting ready to move into a fixer-upper. And neither The Calm One not I is handy that way. I've had several anxiety attacks over it already.
And I am not even a particularly neat housekeeper. In fact "housekeeper" is a bit of an overstatement!
Michele, I can SO relate to the frustration you're going through. We've never had quite the massive remodle job y'all are going through, but I KNOW the massive frustration due to the nonchalance (SP?) of the contractors with your time and money and aggravation. We've had 3 or 4 remodels of varying degree in two different houses. It's almost like someone has a school somewhere where classes in covert and/or overt ways to be inefficient and grossly aggravating are the rage for any and all contractors and their employees.
I think contractors only consider how things affect their time and pocketbook. Regardless of what they tell you!
I used to work (as a secretary) for a general contractor and her ex who was an electrical contractor. I liked the ex infinitely better. He was considerate and kind and she was, well, I should say "witchy". I quit working for her because of her lack of ethics, should we say? Integrity was, I think, an abstract idea that she had never quite had.
Anyway, my heart goes out to you and your family. And, like I told my daughter--with 3 small children ages 1, 3 and 5--(who just yesterday moved to a new town in a new state, and found the rental house almost in a condition similar to your own)"Just be grateful you're not moving into a grass hut in Africa."
I loved her response! "Yeah, Mom. I had the same thought myself!"
Ugh, this sounds unpleasant. On the upside, the kids can always pretend they're camping. That way, you can tell them that when they "come home from the trip" rules go right back to what they always were.
Also, do you offer a small booklet explaining "How to get your family to pick up after itself in five easy lessons"? Because I would buy that in a heartbeat.
(nothing i can say)
Let me know when you join your 12-step program to get things back to the way they were. I have 80% of the symptoms you list and no construction projects to blame it on!
I'm still stuck on the fact that you hang up your jeans, though. Who hangs up their jeans?!?
Hey, at least I don't iron them right? ;)
ahem (mom) ahem.
I enjoyed this so much (yes, your anxieties are bringing me joy). What's sad is that you mention embarrassment-- for what? You have a legit reason for things being in the state they're in, where some of us keep closets like that our whole lives :-)
Uh oh, too late to undo this drama!
My previous husband was the kind of guy that hired in for absolutely everything ... gutter maintenance, lawn service, you name it and we had a "man" for it.
This time I am married to the "man" and it is fabulous. He's been a carpenter for twenty some years and has been working magic at our home one room at a time. He's got the whole tool belt thing goin' on and it is grand.
He laughed about your situation and calmly stated, "Renovations like that usually have a family staying in a hotel until completion."
And even though our renovations are miniscule compared to yours, we have mice issues and they make me do the "I just saw a mouse" dance, which makes me pee, which just adds to the mess and confusion.
You have my deepest sympathy. (In fact, I should contact Hallmark about a condolence card for just this event.)
Oh gosh, I feel for you. We had work done around here last year, though MUCH less than you're doing, and it was horrid and stressful. Just think about the joy to be found in a few months, when all of this is over...
I hate when contractors don't show up. Or call. Our realtor said that they're all horrid business people. If they were good business people, they'd be rich. Can you imagine a contractor that always showed up on time, and came in on time and on budget, rather than the standard 20-30% over on both? They'd be in deep cotton.
Huh. Sounds like what I've let go, except we're not remodeling. I wish we were.
We aren't remodeling but the neighbors are having their entire house redone. It's been going on since June. I once considered doing the same thing, but after seeing what they are going thru, it would be easier to move.
And what is wrong with ironing jeans? Or anything (ok, everything) else?
If we ever entertain the idea of remodeling I will turn to this post for a shot of reality. The hard part has got to be the loss of control--you are at the mercy of workmen to finish their part before you can restore order and routines! I feel for you and am not sure I'd be holding up as well as you seem to be. Keep writing about it--those will be fun memories someday!
breathe deeply. this too shall pass. just like the quickly fading fall. soon winter will be here and you'll be thankful it's all done.
As a contractors wife, I read this and just have to leave a comment.
I am sorry that you have workers, that don't show up when they say are are going to. My husband is not one of those guys. I'm sorry you don't have doors and that rodents are coming into your home thinking this is where they will nest for the winter. The Flies: get one of those ugly sticky strips-they really work. Put up several in the house. I feel your pain of the construction mess, there is nothing worse than Sheetrock dust, so if the sheetrock isn't done, it will get worse before it get's better. Once the Sheetrock goes up, and is finished, everything else will go fast, trust me. Or if not, then you need to find a new contractor, because he's not doing his job. But don't fire the old one, until you find a new one, who can come out immediately.
You haven't lost your sense of humor. Or creativity with language.
"Like looking through whole wheat toast"? Awesome.
And I think I might be just as apathetic as you are right now.... But are we having any renovations done? No, we are not.
Oh I so feel your pain about workers leaving at weird times, showing up hours later, or better yet not showing up at all.
This is why I have several in home projects that desperately need to be done, but after the great "flooring fiasco" of '05 and the "nine month long shower door install of '06, I'm a little wary to start anything again.
See? This is why you haven't done any Christmas shopping yet! I guess I'm not so amazing after all. :o)
I couldn't deal with all of this, as I have a slight case of CDO... you know, OCD... but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be. :P It'll be over before you know it!
Bless.your.heart. We redid an old colonial a few years back and yeah--life gets reduced down to essential elements! Here's some best wishes that you are back to maniacally neat soon!
This is exactly why I'm happy with the way our house is. I don't want to put up with that kind of mess. (Of course, I'll forget that I said that when we finally have the money to put the washer and dryer upstairs. You will have the ultimate pleasure of reminding me of my words when that time comes.)
Hang in there, Michelle. This too will all be a faded memory... about 20 years from now.)
Hey, sounds like your chaos right now is my normal. Just kidding. well, sort of :-) I was into an orderly house like an OCD person, then my son got mad at me because I was too busy vacuuming instead of playing with him and told me I'm addicted to vacuuming. I didn't want to be a junkie mom of any sort so I let go. It was hard :-)
Seriously, hang in there. These renovations can really torpedo the order in the home, but they end...yes, believe it. It will come to an end and you'll have your home back.
Sometimes you just have to let go to survive. Don't worry. Soon it will all be over and you will be back to your compulsive neatness :)
Oh, I feel your pain. I've been there and I can promise you it will end . . . soon.
I've lived in my house for eight years, and just realized the windows open in for cleaning.
I'm so glad you're normal! ;)
Mmmm, rhubarb. I love rhubarb. Want to trade some for some pears? I have a big pile of delicious pears that I am processing for the freezer. If I don't hurry up and finish there will be more getting cut off than left for the freezer. One good thing though, Handyman Hubby who says he doesn't like pears loved the pear pie I made... said it tasted like crunchy apple!
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Well, at least you have an excuse for the mess at your house. Wish I could say the same...
There will come a day when you just might miss these no-worries and care-free times!!
If you want to find new homes for those books, try paperback book swap dot com. Oh, wait, you'd have to be organized to find the titles...I guess that'll have to wait until the house project is done.
Thank you for this statement you made:
Sad to say I've felt my apathy growing until I just don't care anymore. Gasp. Have you heard about how a mind in pain--maybe through grief or loss--goes into this defensive numbing? Well that must be what I'm experiencing because I've found myself letting all sorts of things go.
I lost my father in law, mother in law and most recently my own father within the last 9 months and I feel about done in. Since my dad died this summer I have become ultra reclusive and I don't really want to see anybody or be outside of my house that much. I know it's part of the grief and reaction to all of the trauma and even when I'm at home I don't really do anything productive. I just want to lay in my bed and read. Ok, enough of my blabbering. But I just wanted to say that your post struck a chord with me so thanks.
Breathe. This too shall pass:O()
Thanks for sharing your frustration with us. I will be looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished product REALLY SOON!!!!!
Oh, bless you! And I promise this too shall pass. We just finished a giant remodeling project and by the bitter end i was, well, bitter. And I TOTALLY let all that stuff go...at a certain point you just have to give in! But I can say now...it was SO worth it. I hardly remember the awful parts now...kids sleeping in the living room, laundry piled to the sky. Now it's all good. Hang in there!
Oh man, is it terrible that I can relate to many on this list and have no home improvement project currently going on? LOL! Just three little ones...
CAn't wait to see it in the end!!!!
My previous house was in a constant state of chaos the whole 5 years I lived in it. Fortunately it was just me and the cats and dogs, who didn't care. But I couldn't blame phantom workmen, since it was me and the Mountain Man doing all the work, and we were also working on building our house.
The cat in a tube analogy made me laugh out loud.
Voodoo dolls for the drywall guys. Seriously.
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