Archives for category: parenthood

Do you ever wonder what your job evaluation as a parent would look like? My wonderful hubby has to go through the job evaluation process once a year as part of his job. He has to fill out an evaluation and his boss reviews him and assesses his performance on an evaluation as well. Most jobs and careers have similar forays into the world of analyzing how well or not so well you are doing your job. Parenthood comes with no such procedure. We don’t get evaluated at the end of every fiscal year, but after days like today, I wonder what mine would look like.
Each parent has certain days that make him or her wonder whether he or she would have been better off getting a cocker spaniel instead of having a child. As a parent of four, I have had several such days. When Kath was enrolled in her first Vacation Bible School (I’m not going into a religious theme here-just telling a story that will definitely have a context for this blog), her father and I looked forward to the wrap up night in which the children would sing sweet little songs and we would eat either badly burned or undercooked hot dogs. Her group went to the altar to sing the song they learned that week. All these angelic faces smiled out to the audience showing perfectly even white baby teeth as they sang their little song, all except one face. Kath was running around the altar continually. Wonderful hubby and I slunk into our seats as we wondered how many people knew that was our daughter. When she was too old for the nursery, Kath had to attend service with us. When the organ’s first notes filled the sanctuary, Kath jumped up to the center of the aisle and yelled out her music request.
One of MJ’s finest moments came at a craft store. He was three and ran away from me and Kath. He was out of my eyesight and at the other end of the store as people were pointing the way to his location before I could catch up to him. I was scared and angry at the same time. Scared because if he had headed the other way and run into the parking lot (the store had automatic doors) before I could have caught him, he could have been seriously hurt. Angry because he had run away from me and not responded when I called him back to me. Fortunately he has never done that again, but six and a half years later, I still remember the gamut of emotions that flowed through me at the moment he bolted.
Cupcake and Chunk bring about a whole new set of complications. Fraternal twins do not run in our family and we were not expecting twins at all when I became pregnant. Nevertheless, they normally brighten our day, but today I took them to story time at our local library. They ran around the room, they played tag, they wrestled each other, and they fought over who would sit in my lap. What is supposed to be a calm and fun introduction to story time as this is a toddler lap sit story time session designed for 1 to 3 year olds turned into a travesty for me as Cupcake and Chunk ran around while every other child sat angelically in a parent’s lap.
There are just those days in which you know that if people around you evaluated your skills as a parent, you would fall way short of the Carol Brady standard. Of course, Carol Brady had a full time, live in maid, but her three children had to share a bathroom with their three tween and teen stepbrothers. I have to remind myself sometimes that a parent evaluation isn’t judged on the moments in which you want to pull out all of your hair, but it is also judged on the moments you want to savor. When I got the phone call that my beloved grandmother had died, Kath went to her room, found a beanie baby teddy bear and brought it to me as I was crying my eyes out in the formal living room. I think about MJ helping his younger twin siblings so I can make dinner. I think about Chunk dancing at his grandfather’s wedding and making everyone around him laugh with his little dancing steps. I think about Cupcake taking Chunk his cookie and not eating it before it ends up in his hand. I know I have a lot of room for improvement, but they are happy and healthy. It’s tough knowing that time will have the final evaluation, but judging on right now as Kath plays her flute, MJ pets the dog, and the twins play together, I think there is hope that all of us are happy that wonderful hubby and I decided to have them rather than adopt a cocker spaniel puppy.

My life as a member of the Pack Rats started long before I had children. I would gladly keep a school term paper rather than throw it away. A souvenir T-shirt? No problem. I’ll take it. If I like it, I will wear it out in public. If I don’t, I can use it as a night shirt until I wear it out for rags. I often kept small items knowing one day I would need that garlic roaster or souvenir deck of cards. Then I had children. My stuff nultiplied faster than two rabbits. My house had more stuffed animals than Noah had animals in his ark. Toys? Half of my subdivision could come to my house, pick out a toy, and I would still have more toys than the toy department at Target. School papers and photographs take up much closet space as I keep promising myself I would go through them and sort them out into what to keep and what to trash.
Life as a Pack Ratter has a way with catching up with you, especially if you live in a house with five other people. One day you look around you and you realize you either need to get rid of some stuff or move to the Biltmore Estate. Since my last name is not Vanderbilt, there is no possibility for my moving to the Biltmore, so downsizing my stuff while increasing our living space became a major ongoing project. My wonderful hubby and I decided to finish our basement in order to use the space in it. The first problem, however, was navigating our way through our basement in order to let people come give us estimates on how much it would cost to finish it. Once we decided on a company to finish the basement, we had to clean the basement. This was much easier said than done. Not only did we have a lot of stuff in the basement, but the previous owners of the house left a lot of stuff: a humongous metal workdesk, not to code drywall, hardwood floor remnants, and unusable insulation. We filled a huge dumpster sitting in our driveway all the way full with all the stuff we discarded. I thought we had done pretty well. While we rented a storage unit for our Christmas decorations and family mementos, we had an empty basement. After the workers finished the job, we emptied out the storage unit and I’ve begun to realize I still have a long way to go. The one room we left as a storage room in the basement is filled with boxes and storage bins. Along with my grandmother’s cedar chest which I cannot even bear to think of not keeping is a school desk belonging to my great grandmother-in-law which is sort of becoming an albatross although a sweet one reminding us of the selfless hours my great grandmother-in-law devoted to her students. I keep thinking of the full dumpster and wonder how we ever lived with all the stuff that ended up in it before it ended up in it.
We are beginning to get the clutter under control, however. My checking out two books about decluttering your clutter have not really helped because I haven’t taken more than a cursory glance at them. I’ve been busy shredding medical receipts from the 1990s. I’ve also been reorganizing Cupcake’s new room and Chunk’s room that he now has all to himself. The fact that we rented that dumpster and filled it gives me hope that we are making a start in the right direction. When we brought the boxes back from the storage unit in a U-Haul, we filled up the U-Haul with furniture to donate to Goodwill. All of this has made me think about which possessions I truly cherish and which I can eliminate from my life. Sure there are books and photos I cannot think of not having, including my grandparent’s wedding album, but it made me realize I can live just fine without the Monopoly game with half the pieces missing. This step in the right direction is making me believe that we will eventually be organized and not focus so much on old stuff but instead will focus on making new memories.