Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'll Just Build A Wall Around Them

A few weeks ago Alex came home to find me extremely sad and frustrated.  Now, this is not all that unusual because he often arrives home just after I have put the kids to bed and the rage I usually feel during the 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm hours is often still lingering when he walks in the door.  On most evenings any frustration I feel is probably amplified by me seeing him.  He looks like a walking reminder of how the rest of the world has not spent the day using the bathroom with 2 or 3 other people watching and asking questions or negotiating with small humans about why they have to do things like wear pants.  But this night was a little different, I was in tears of frustration, not anger.  I felt like I couldn't get away from the kids. I felt trapped in my own house by their noise, their mess, their presence, in every inch of space in our home. Within 20 minutes of talking, he had a plan. We'd build a wall around our current office "area" and make a playroom. He'd call the framer in the morning and have them out in a few days.

First thought, ummm....I should be crying more about a range of topics if I my concerns are going to be remedied with action this quickly.  I could also feel very sad about my lack of well fitting, designer jeans or those amazing club chairs I saw in Z Gallerie.  Second thought, I married a genius, a wall around my kids and all their stuff...will it have a lock?

As with most things I feel fantastically excited about, I received a whole slew of commentary from nay-sayers about the new room.   Why must people attempt to warn me about the pitfalls of my joyful plans?  Many people said it wouldn't help with the mess. Some said my kids would still want to be where I am so they wouldn't play in clearly don't witness how cranky I can be with my kids, I'm not sure they really like me that much.  I even heard that it would be more difficult to manage them because they would not be in my line of vision or within ear shot all the time.  Well yes...yes, that's the whole magic of the walled room. 

Now, less than two weeks later I am happy to report that the walls are up and all we are waiting on is the door to be installed and the room to be painted. For the most part this room is a fully functioning playroom, no longer just a play "area." It is a disastrous mess, that I don't have to walk through or stare at while I function in my house all day.  The boys have set up all their army men and super heroes and spend hours playing in there.  Whole fights have broken out and been resolved without me even realizing they were happening or requiring my assistance...which they didn't I suppose.

Right now I am sitting about 20 feet from them but I feel as though we each have our own space.  I can eat breakfast and think about my own life (oh-no!) without getting involved in what Batman is using to fight off the pirate....see I don't even have to be annoyed that Batman would not be fighting a pirate. My kids also get to have space where I am not constantly complaining to them about how they are using it. Let's be honest though, I really wasn't thinking about their happiness when I built these walls.  I am glad it worked out for them too, just mostly happy it worked out for me.

I am my own person for a few minutes and that feels good.  We built a few walls around a space and now I feel like I can function without tripping over my children at every turn, priceless.  Now, what the hell am I going to do with all these thoughts about my own life?  Maybe I'll just focus on decorating the playroom for a while...and push out a few tears to encourage Alex to want to spend money on all the adorable ideas I have for it.  Fantastic.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Minivan? Yes Please!

It's official, I am a suburban housewife with three kids and currently in the market for a minivan. Oh the minivan.  It feels like one more item on the Mom list I will be checking off to fully complete the transition from fully functioning Woman Leslie to Mom Leslie. Inability to sleep through the night, check.  Skills at multitasking that should merit a fantastic paycheck, but really I don't get paid, check.  Breaking up fights over ridiculous things like imaginary keys or who gets to lick their sister's head (yep, disgusting and true), check.  Leaking boobs, check.  Minivan....almost check.

I hate saying the word minivan.  It feels like I should be talking about someone with no personality, no imagination, no style.  Certainly not me, right?  Just say yes.  Don't even start telling me how awesome they are, how much you love yours, and how how I'll never look back.... I already know these things.   It doesn't change the fact that 10 years ago I moved to Austin as a woman, bought a brand new Jeep Wrangler, started dating a hot Greek guy, worked at Hula Hut and confidently wore VERY short shorts.  Now I'm fully a Mom, desperately drooling over features like built in sun shades and doors that open and shut with a button, spend way too much time dealing with poop, and now loathe the thought of shorts for fear of a glimpse at the cottage cheese on my upper thigh.  Oh, I still have that hot Greek guy though, thank God....he might buy me a minivan.

Any mention of this potential purchase to a friend without a minivan is usually met with a joke, but there is no one better at selling a minivan than those that already have one.  Every time I mention the potential purchase, and my hesitancy, to someone that owns one I am immediately assaulted by a long (and sometimes very defensive) list of the amazing ways this vehicle is going to change my life.  Believe me, I'm counting on it changing my life, but I'd still rather be able to buy some fun car than drive a minivan.  The fact is, there isn't anything that makes more sense to drive when you have more than two kids.  If only I could fit all three kids into that fun Mini Cooper or even the sporty Jetta Wagon. 

I looked around and desperately tried to find something else that would work.  I looked at the station wagons, the fancy SUVs and the giant Suburban, but the truth is that the minivan was built specifically for my current place in life.  The gas mileage is good.  The drive is super comfortable.  And the real kicker about the minivan....some car company sat down with a bunch of people that have my exact life and figured out exactly what I would need to make the drive from home to the grocery store or home to Grandma's easy.  They totally succeed.  Everything is in an appropriate place.  There is space for my giant diaper bag and my 10 random cups,  a special mirror to look at my children as they attack one another in the back,  and doors that slide rather than opening out and cause me to write another apology note to a stranger with an "I tip my stripper" bumper sticker on their car because we dented their door. I really don't want that person to have my contact information, I must have doors that slide.  Right?

The truth is that I realize that I am not defined by what I drive, and that what I take to the grocery store is really not that important....but it is. Somehow no amount of "swagger wagon" videos I watch are going to make me feel like this isn't another step in my Mom life that, though necessary, still feels a little awkward right now.  I am crazy excited about getting my minivan, whenever I can make that happen, but it doesn't mean that I won't feel a little sad about potentially losing a little more of what I perceive to be Woman Leslie.  You can fully count on a post-purchase blog entry about how much happier Mom Leslie is though about not having to drive while Aiden and Cole attack one another....which will surely mean I'll have a little more energy to make Woman Leslie happy too. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good Luck Honey....I Guess I'll Wait Here

It's one of those mornings. Alex just left for work, which by itself and create a feeling of sadness. He has a big presentation today which he's been preparing for the last few days. He's so focused on it that he has been coming home very late, leaving early, and been on the computer when he is home, ignoring all other our barking dog in the backyard that woke me up at 6:30 this morning because he wanted to be let in, annoying. As I kissed him goodbye (yeah, I still kissed him, it might be the only adult interaction I get all day,) and wished him luck, I felt that periodic stab of jealousy I get when I am reminded of our current roles.

Alex has something big going on today. He has a challenge. He has been working his brain to figure out how to intelligently put together information for other intelligent adults. There will be discussions, witty conversation (possibly,) and maybe even cocktails, (probably not, but in my vision everyone is drinking a martini during the meeting like a scene straight out of Mad Men.) He is showered and dressed and looks oh so very attractive at 7 am. He really is very attractive, I should have married down to help my self esteem. He filled his cool coffee thermos (yes, even feeling envious of his beverage container) that he will drink while driving and not think for a moment about how he is going to reach to replace a lost pacifier, hand someone a tissue, or break up a fight. He walked out the door, casually denying my handmade lunch with a comment of, "everyone will probably going out to lunch after the meeting." He gets to dine out too!?!? I felt like throwing his turkey, havarti and spinach at his nicely combed hair. Ugh.

This big day for him felt like a punch in my stomach. I felt like such a stark contrast to everything about him as I stood in mismatched clothes, with a leaking milk stain on my breast, trying to evenly pour bowls of honey combs so as to not ignite a catastrphoic fight between our boys, knowing that this distribution of processed food might be as much of a mental workout as I get today. I might have to match some straws to sippy cups, which is a ridiculously difficult task, but otherwise I'm stuck making peanut butter sandwhiches, trying to figure out how to keep Cole from violently biting Aiden, and worrying about the flatness of my baby's head. Dear Lord, please don't make me get a helmet for my daughter.

My feelings of inadequacy were only amplified by the fact that this morning I sat down with a cup of coffee to look at my latest issue of InStyle magazine. (This is not normal, but since the dog barking woke me up I actually had a few moments of peace. It was truly only a few minutes.) As much as I loved the styles and beautiful hair and makeup of the women, I was most envious of their look of purpose. They all looked like they were on their way to a vital meeting about their new line of clothing or at least a high profile cocaine deal....I was so jealous. Yes, I know that I have purpose, a huge purpose, but for today I would really love for mine to involve more high level strategizing and less poop. I don't want to color birthday thank you's to teach my 3 year old gratitude for the generous gifts he was given for his birthday. I don't want to pretend that my kitchen pantry is a grocery store so that the boys can sell me back my own canned goods...though this is pretty cute when it doesn't start a fight over a can of baking powder. I don't want to search for an hour and a half for the Robin figure (which Cole calls Roger) so that he can help Batman fight a fire, because that's not even really what Batman and Roger were created to help with, they do crime, not arson. But, I will.

I know Alex would love to be here instead of in a meeting, (most of the time.) I also know that I should probably be cherishing these days instead of loathing so many of them for their drain on my mental and emotional state since they will be over far too soon. For this morning though, I'm maintaing my position that Alex should have a turkey sandwhich thrown at him merely for the fact that he doesn't have to go orchestrate a peace treaty for the huge battle currently in progress over a fake piece of broccoli. Just another important task in my high profile career.