Crazy-ass family

You just can't make this stuff up

Saturday, June 17, 2006


On Thursday, work was crazy. I ended up staying late; Jim was waiting for me downstairs in the lobby for twenty minutes. By the time I got down there, I was frazzled and apologetic and Jim was catatonic with boredom.

We got in the van and began the long crawl home in traffic. We talked about work, both his and mine. We talked about the kids. We talked about having to take time off during the week between when Caleb's school ends and his day camp begins. I complained about being sick. I was feeling anxious.

I started thinking about what we'd have for supper...about having to figure that out, then cook, then help with homework, try to spend some time with the boys, then bathe them and get them ready for bed. Then make lunches, do laundry, anxiety ramped up a bit.

Then Jim mentioned that he'd have to leave for his baseball game pretty much as soon as we got home.

I was silent for a few moments. Everything sort of all came together and crashed within me. Besides all of that normal, every day stuff I just mentioned, I'm still breastfeeding Liam 5 times a day (at least twice during the night), which means I don't get much sleep. I'm sick all the time. Things are crazy. Down-time? What's that? I also feel like the "manager" of the family. Jim is great, yes. He contributes, no complaints! When I tell him to. I keep the schedule...I remember what has to be done, and I make sure it gets done. That's a lot of work right there.

I felt overwhelmed. I quietly suggested that extra-curricular activities, such as both Jim and Caleb's baseball, don't really fit into our lives right now.

Understandably, that comment was not met with joy.

We all have to make sacrifices, right? Yes, having time to yourself is important! I agree 100%. But when I have time to myself, I make sure it's after the kids go to bed...or for a couple of hours on the weekend.

So I cried a bit, and we argued a bit, and, in true male fashion, Jim went from shouting about how selfish I am to dialling his team captain to quit without warning. My head was spinning. I had just wanted to have a conversation is all. Somehow, I ended up selfish, feeling guilty, and even more overwhelmed.

Don't worry, we're okay. I'm still feeling confused and guilty. Jim's still upset about quitting baseball. I don't know what's right. I just know I'm tired.

I think the bottom line is that we need to simplify our lives. Pare down. Stop doing so very much, and just enjoy what we have. Sounds great, but it's so hard to do! I want to be able to take a breath once in a while. Is that too much to expect at this point in my life? Maybe.

What do you do to simplify? How do you make sure you get time as a family and time as a person? I think that if Jim and I could figure that out, baseball wouldn't be a problem...because things in general would be more calm.

Am I dreaming here, or is there really a way to do this? Advice, anyone?


At 2:52 PM, Blogger Wanda said...

No advice, just hugs... I don't know what the answer is. This seems to be the way our modern society is. There seems to be nothing to 'pare down' really, except the more enjoyable things. It's not really feasible for everyone to give up their jobs and outside contacts, move to 'the wilderness' and go into subsistance farming. Although I admit that does sound attractive at times.
Hang in there,(((((((Tree)))))).

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Rasmussens' Manifesto said...

Hang in there! Life isn't always what you expect. I find that we have to make sacrifices to make room for other stuff. Maybe you guys don't have to give up baseball but find something else you all can agree on to sacrifice.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Jenn said...

No answers from here (just affection).

It's. All. So. Hard. So good, sure, but so hard. We are reading the Little House on the Prairie series to Soph at bedtime now, and even though they had wolves outside the door and hogs to butcher and a bear trying to get their deer meat out of the tree...well, everyone's job was clear, and distractions were few. Lots of time to stop and smell the...deer carcasses.

On a side note, very odd and amazing to now read Laura Ingalls' stories all over again...and realize she was born within five years of Mr. Pipe and Mrs. Kitchen (assuming, as always, that Mr. Pipe and Mrs. Kitchen are who we think they might be) here at our house.

On another side note, if you want to start a commune with us, a nice vegetarian one where we slaughter herbs together and hang carrots from trees so the deer don't get them, I'm all for it.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger MomToTracyNSheri said...

Ah, I'm right there with you babe. We've all had to quit something around here to make the family thing work.

Quitting baseball maybe was a good solution - maybe not. Maybe better would be to sit down, make a list of everyone's optional activities, and prioritize.

It's not an answer - just a suggestion.

I had to quit ceramic class but I still get guitar practice time. Brian had to quit his music group but he still gets to play at home. We just don't have time for organized activities for the parental units here at home. TL had to give up patrol duty because we just couldn't get her to school early enough... but we kept softball for her because it's really really important to her.

Maybe there will be time later to go back to all the things we used to do.

At 11:17 PM, Blogger morningstar said...

Actually, there is a book....
It's called "Simplify your life" by Tiki Kustenmacher.
I like reading these kinds of books, because even if it does not work out 100%, hey, there is still hope!
We all feel down sometimes. The good thing is: This, too, will pass. Good luck! I hope you are feeling better by now. I'm sending good wishes your way!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger aka_Meritt said...

... as a baseball family I readily admit it sucks. However it doesn't last forever and it's something the guys seem to love. It's also an 'outlet' for them for when THEY feel overwhelmed or stressed.

It's possible that you could take time out to stay home by yourself or with Liam while they do baseball. Don't feel compelled to go and watch if you need some time at home.

Also - remember that you had a stressful day and you might not feel that way next week - but it will be too late if you've made J quit baseball. The guilt you feel THEN would be awful.

Just hang in there... baseball season won't last FOREVER. LOL. (No, then you'll hit football season, and soccer season and basketball season...) LOL. :)

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous mamatulip said...

No advice, just hugs and sympathy...I had the same kind of day yesterday and I was wishing some sort of sparkly fairy would come down and touch me with her magic wand, making everything magically better.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Well, about the same time that you were writing this (in your time zone, that is), I was listening to the radio, and the DJs had on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach from the TLC show "Shalom in the Home." They started talking about a certain episode and then about parenting in general. One of the things they said is that many people think too much about what could be and not about what they already have. Then one of the DJs said that no matter what else he did, he felt he was a good father and that that was the most important thing he could be (and do).

They were talking especially about material and status possessions, and I don't get that from you at all, Tree! So while I can't offer any specific tips -- especially as someone still single and childless and wishing I had some of the craziness that you do, knowing full well that when that happens I'll wish for some of my single life days! -- I can say that it surely seems to me that you are a wonderful, wonderful mother. Hopefully knowing that will help you through.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger The Mater said...

A Tree in a swamp of too many tasks and not enough time!

I want to fly by right now and uproot you and take you to your very private time-out corner. You have to remember to bring your flute and your new Nancy Drew journal! That's all you'll need :>)

Sweetie, the bad day at the office was really the proverbial straw ... I'm sure you and Jim will work it out. And you're emotionally vulnerable because you've been physically ill and drained.

Maybe you both could take turns having a night out alone to do whatever you fancy - alternating weeks. Things always look more manageable after you're able to get away.

Peace and hugs, E xxoo

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous bee said...

Wow, that sounds so familiar. My husband sometimes has gig after gig and I feel "stuck" with Miss B. Oh, and he gets to do his social things. I am the one who usually compromises. That feeling "stuck" of course makes me feel guilty. We have those conversations but things don't really seem to change that much. Until recently where I had some work issues and it looked like we might not be having as much monay coming in because I am way overloaded on all fronts. I don't know how things change for the better. It usually comes from my finally making a verbal request for getting my needs met. The thing is, I just don't have a lot of needs. But since Liam is so young, you still have hormone thingies and all sorts of stuff that how in the world are you supposed to recognise them much less ask for help with them? This is soooo coherent, isn't it? All right let's see if I can get to the point. 1. Men tend to rant and roar when they find that they've been neglectful or inadvertantly hurtful to you. They feel guilty because they see it as a failure on their part as a man. And you know how they get when they think they've failed. Geh. 2. After having a baby it takes years to feel back to your usual self. No one tells us this and we can't recognise it 'til we're fairly through it. 3. So nobody is failing, there just needs to be less guilt and more talking, communication, what is the word? Connecting? I don't know. But it is difficult to achieve in today's world. Anyway, WE LOVE YOU, TREE!!! I hope you feel better. Summer's coming...

PS please forgive the many typos

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous OddMix said...

If Jim is anything like me. He was not arguing with you at all. He was arguing with himself. He knew you were right. Prabably he realized it before he even reminded you about his game - but he didn't want to admit it and give up his hobby. The fact that he quit on the spot tends to confirm this to me.

Yes, he is still upset about giving up baseball, but that doesn't mean he doesn't recognize the neccessity of doing so. Give him a little time to get used to it. Tell him you are sorry he had to give it up (a little sympathy goes a long way) and that you appreciate his sacrifice (a little praise goes an even longer way).

And you needn't feel guily that his hobby didn't fit your family needs. It isn't your fault.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Margaret said...

I just had a conversation with my children about getting time together as a family and special time with ONE parent at a time, as well as letting parents get time with each other too. Balancing things out never seems easy. And for whatever reason, it's usually the mother that the burden falls on...the mother who needs to bring up the unpleasant reality that life gets hard for us too.

I hope your life gets a little simpler ASAP.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous kelly said...

I like "oddmix"'s comments, especially the last part. "It isn't your fault." I would let that sink in deep. This isn't your fault. This isn't your fault.

With 6 kids in our house, I have been forced into a simple life. Extracurricular overload isn't even an option. Everyone here has chores. Everyone has to buy their own treats with their allowance. And summer camps? Everyone goes to one simple half-day camp and mostly in the same 2-week period. Other than that, it is just old-fashioned playtime. These choices came from necessity, not from innate wisdom, but I am really grateful. I think the letting go (or the quitting) is the hardest part. Once you've crossed over (look ma - a pun!) into calmer waters, I think you will find it hard to believe you ever tried to do as much as you did.

You're on the right track.
And remember Oddmix's wise words.


At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that you see this and that it's not missed because I'm writing a day late.

I definitely understand the too busy feeling. All I know is that it comes and goes and when it comes, I remind myself that I am blessed to have so much in my life. I could be bored. I could be jobless. I could be husbandless. I could be babyless. I could be houseless (less cleaning might be nice!). It doesn't fix anything but remembering the days when I didn't have those things and I woke up alone in my one-bedroom apartment on a Saturday morning without a gosh-darn thing to do or a person to talk to all weekend...well, I'm thankful.

This, too, will pass (as my mother says). And we'll probably be sad when it does.

love ya,
Jill xo


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