Here’s the thing, according to the various home design magazines my house is poorly decorated. During the week, very little is in its place, laundry sits on a table in the family room until I have time to put it away, my children leave a trail of their shoes, jackets, roller blades, helmets and general sports gear leading from the front door to the family room. You might find dishes in the sink, clean dishes not put away, never-the-less not magazine perfect. All of my furniture is either hand-me-downs, antiques (not even mine – belong to my mother-in-law) and thrift store deals. The odd time I’ve found some energy and repainted a table or two, it’s a rare occasion, furniture usually comes as is in my house.
I don’t get Martha Stewart’s magazine but I do get Canadian Style At Home magazine, a Christmas gift from a good friend, orders a subscription for me every year. I really like the magazine but there was a time my husband would cringe when he saw the magazine in the pile of mail. He would see me flipping through the beautiful pages and sure enough I would start not being as happy with my surroundings, I’d want this change, this needs to be painted, I really want the old kitchen out and a new Ikea kitchen in and then try to figure out how we could afford it all. When reality set in that I couldn’t afford it, I’d go about my business as usual until the next month and then I would start my rant all over again. There have been times when the magazine inspired me to do good things but mostly I would focus on the things I didn’t have rather than be thankful for what I did have. Somewhere along the line it all changed and I think I know precisely the time the change occurred. I’ve written about the time with my mother while she was sick with Alzheimer’s in Connections, it was during this time and her death that the changes in me took place. My mother was always incredibly fussy about her house, she cleaned like a mad woman. When I was a teenager she worked full-time and cleaned all weekend. She would be really bitchy if things weren’t in order and weekends could just be a drag. One of the first things I noticed wrong with my mother, before Alzheimer’s was diagnosed, was that she stopped doing housework and didn’t seem to care about cleaning at all. As we realized her condition and we were living in the same city, I would split my time between cleaning my place and running over to her apartment to clean her place as well. In between all that my husband was working midnight shift, I was working day shift, and juggling the boys. Phew – stopped breathing just thinking about how stressful those days were. The point to all of this is that my mom was so particular about her house now fast forward to her funeral and people talked about how kind-hearted she was, nice person she was and how funny she was, but not one person mentioned how clean or nice her house was! The thought struck me on the plane ride coming home from the funeral, I thought I’m worried that I might have a lot of housework, who cares. From that day forward I’ve been different, it’s not like I let my house get out of control but I don’t feel the same pressing need to have everything perfect. It’s an exhausting thing being perfect, Martha Stewart must be unconscious from exhaustion. For me I try to get my boys and husband to do more to help me, but no more do I worry about everything being picked up every single minute, can’t do it. Hopefully, when I die my children will have so many fond memories and I hope they forget my perfect always tense stage and remember all the smiles and laughs we had.
God speaks to me, yes he does. Not in an obvious way and no I don’t hear voices, but he speaks to me through people. It seems like all of my life things happen, strangers tell me stories, people come into my life and every time something like this happens, I’m left with the strongest feeling that God just spoke to me. It happened again this past New Year’s weekend. As typical with our family life right now, we are busy running around and this past New Year’s weekend was no exception. Both boys were in a tournament starting Thursday and ending Monday. We had no plans for New Year’s eve because we had to be up by 6:30 am New Year’s Day to get to the rink for 7:00 am. At the last minute a good friend invited us for dinner and the whole time we were there I kept checking my watch. At 9:00 pm I kept telling everyone we had to go, nice to visit people but not a relaxing time. My youngest son played for his atom team and was asked to play for his older brother’s pee wee team as well because the team was short benched. He was very excited to play up because it confirms that the coach thinks he’s good enough to play at a higher level. Consequently, between both children’s games and our volunteer hours, my husband and I would be at the rink all weekend. By Monday morning I was feeling very tired and my son’s pee wee team made it into the medal rounds. Both boys would be playing this game and if they won this game then they were playing for the gold, silver or bronze that day – three games total that day if they won. If they lost then they were out and we would have the rest of the day to ourselves! Here we are on the way to the rink for a 10:00 am game and all I could think about was the disaster area we call a house! I had a mountain of laundry, bathrooms to clean, beds to make, vacuuming to do and I secretly wished that my sons’ team would lose their game! Just before we left the house I told my husband that maybe I should stay home as I have to go back to work the next day and not a bloody thing was done in the house. He said you can’t miss this game, the boys love it when you’re there. There have been a couple of games during this season where I’ve had to meet my husband at the rink and I’ve missed part of the game and my husband tells me that both boys keep asking him if I’m there and keep scanning the crowd until I get there. Important for me to be there – yes, feel like I’m drowning in housework – yes. Everyone does pitch in to help, but if you’re never home the work doesn’t get done. We get to the rink 45 minutes early and I’m equipped with my kobo reader, coffee and I’m on my way to the lounge to read for a precious 45 minutes. As I enter the lounge I see a grandfather of one of the kids on my son’s team sitting on his own. I always say hello to him, however, I’ve never really talked to him. He’s at every single one of his grandsons’ games. He has two grandsons playing hockey and he never misses a game. He also takes great pictures of all of the boys during some of the games and e-mails copies to the team. So here I am on my way to kobo and coffee heaven, I look into this man’s eyes and something makes me stop and sit down beside him. We were just yapping about hockey and kids when all of a sudden he grabs his ribs just under his heart and his face is grimaced in pain. I thought, sweet Jesus this man is having a heart attack. I touched his arm and said are you ok? He put his arm down and said yeah, I’m ok. You scared the shite out of me, I thought you were having a heart attack I say. Been there done that he said – I’ve had heart surgery and now I have a heart pacer. The pain is more like muscle pain and it’s a part of my every day life. But let me tell you something, it’s a hell of a lot better than being dead. He then went on to tell me that when he was a younger man and working, he worked shift work and many hours to pay all of the bills. He said for seven years he didn’t really see his children, he told me he missed so much time of his children’s lives. He mentioned that he and his wife divorced and I assumed it was because he was never home. He then said to me that many of his friends have said to him – what are you doing spending so much time here at home – travel and see the world – come with us on this trip or that trip. He tells the would be travelers that his children, his grandchildren, his family are his life now and then he said to me – realistically I’m just counting my days! I’ve missed so much time already and really what else is there but family. At that point the stress that I was feeling earlier that morning about my house and the work just fell away. My husband and I spend all of our spare time with our boys, we go to all of their hockey games, my husband helps coach their teams and yes it is very busy but we are so blessed! We are able to do this and this time really is short, it feels like it’s forever but it’s not. The game was a great game, my son’s team was not tagged to win anything during this tournament and they upset this team by winning 3 – 2. By the end of that day they came in 4th, they didn’t win a medal but it was one hell of a hockey day. At the end of it all I realized that realistically I’m just counting my days and I’m going to make sure that every day counts!