Friday, November 15, 2019

Nearing the End, But Not at the End (Slow Down!)

I keep seeing posts saying that it's the last month of the decade, and today I finally squinted at one with dismay and said, "It's still November." Are these numbskulls trying to rob me of my favorite month of the year? Or are they just in a hurry, as many of us seem to be? I am trying to be less in a hurry, thank you very much, so pipe down about the last month of the year and related nonsense until it's actually the last month of the year. And you can skip it then, too, actually. But if you must, please be correct, is what I'm saying.

I've been doing a lot of DIY and seem to have had a burst of culinary creativity. Right now I've got two slow cookers going, some cabbage (hopefully) turning into sauerkraut under a tea towel, some fig jam cooling in jars on the countertop, and injera batter bubbbling gently as the yeast multiplies. This burst began Wednesday, when I woke up to finish organizing the books on the living room shelves. I spent a week and a half taking out the carpet and painting the floorboards white in there, shifting furniture gradually as I went, and the result now that it's done has been a certain gladdening of heart and increase in motivation to do other things. I don't know why.

Well, I do. It's the same reason that my new (to me) shirt makes me feel good. Our surroundings matter. I sometimes wish this weren't true, but then think of all we would miss out on that is good in the world if our surroundings were neglected. Most creative things, I think. I struggle with the balance between creating a space around myself that is peaceful and beautiful, and making sure that I do not do it at the expense of other things (and people) which are more important. (Or maybe as important, but in a different way.) Should I be spending £30 on a can of floorboard paint when there are more and more homeless people out in the cold? What about that same amount on new-to-me clothes? These are things that I think about.

But that's not the point of this post, or it wasn't when I sat down to type it out. I have been thinking a lot about the close of the calendar year and what I hoped would happen during 2019. The theme of the year was permanence, with optimism tagging along. I'm not sure if I've gotten better at optimism. I think maybe what I've gotten better at is acceptance and having a sense of humor when it matters. Permanence, though, we seem to be making some progress on as a family.

In the summer, J received settlement status (also called indefinite leave to remain), and we signed a three year lease on our current house. Three years is a good long time to plan to be somewhere, and makes it worth it to change some things that are bothering me - thus the DIY. J receiving settled status means that the other three of us may now apply, and I will take what a friend calls "the stupid test" - aka the Life in the UK test - on Thursday. Will we have the applications in before 2020 comes calling? I hope so. It will be nice to have that settled (pun intended).

While I can't say they come under the banner of permanence, there are also some other questions which were settled and some responsibilities that I let go of this year. It feels like I am moving forward with a better sense of what works for me. Maybe I am moving into a more permanent life balance? It would be optimistic to think so, but as that was my other word for 2019, I'm just going to go with it, and now dash off for a little more DIY (new curtains!) before dinner.

Monday, November 4, 2019

That Monday Feeling

This is how it goes. I wake up in the morning and stumble downstairs. Make coffee, give treats laced with herbal drops to the cats, return to drink the coffee in bed. This is a luxury, and I know it. My children launch themselves onto the bed. What's for breakfast? Why that again? Ugh. I remind my youngest that this is not a restaurant. My oldest wants to recount her dream to me, loudly. There are arms and legs everywhere, including in my face. Two nights ago I got kicked in the head, hard, as one child launched herself off the other child's bed, just after I'd asked her to please lie down quietly if she wanted me to stay in the room until she fell asleep. My hand instinctively smacked the foot away from my head, and the owner of the offending foot felt I did not apologize enough, or as sincerely as she would have hoped. Good parents don't smack their children. Yes, but it wasn't that kind of smack - I was attempting to protect my head. She told me to go away, then later to come back. That night, I went to bed with a headache.

But this is today. Monday. Neither of my children wants to listen to the school readings. Neither wants to make an effort at math. I fantasize about sending them off to school every day, and I try in vain to impress upon them how very easy they have it, studying with me for a few hours instead of spending the entire day doing what someone else has decided they should do. I tell them I am not going to send them to school if they don't wish to go, but I also tell them that if they don't learn these very basic things, they will end up adults with 800 roommates and no good food in the house. Forget about complaining that the pastry I bought is not something you find to be delicious at this moment in time; you might just have one moldy orange. Maybe a brown banana. You'll have to come to my house and admit that you were wrong when your were seven and twelve years old, and you should've studied when I asked you to, and now you are broke and hungry, and you would like to eat dinner at my house, and I will say yes because I am the nicest mother in the universe.

Later, my oldest complains because I will not tell her what to write down for the assignment she is meant to do for a teacher who is not me. I tell her that I cannot do her work for her. Well, I could, but I don't really have time for it, and that would defeat the purpose of getting her to the class every Thursday; she's meant to learn something by attending. I don't have much patience, time, or energy to wait for her to stop complaining and give me something to help her with. Because I've just done an unplanned dead mouse excavation in the fridge area and I've got to have dinner made by five because it is ballet night, and if we don't eat at five, we won't eat until eight-thirty, and that is not going to make anyone happy. Aren't we already grumpy enough?

I feel like I've gotten nothing tangible done, so I decide to make half the meal out of leftovers, giving myself ten minutes to reorganize a cupboard. I need to see some sort of results from my efforts. The dead mouse in the outside rubbish bin doesn't count. Both my children make noises of disappointment about various things, but I push the noise into the background and finish my task. I make a cup of tea and walk upstairs. I've got thirty minutes until I need to cook the chicken that will make a meal out of the random leftovers, so I type this out, quickly. I need to do a couple of strength training exercises. I need to get dressed. I've got to go. See you next time.