Day by Day

We’ve had a weird spurt of weather in these here parts that have dangled spring in front of us. I mean, it snowed last night, so . . . that was weird. But spring .  . . spring will come.

I’ll level with you. This has been a tough winter. This is always a difficult time of year for me. It’s so bleak. It’s my busiest season at work, and going on turbo speed for 3 straight months is exhausting. This year was extraordinarily busy and hard. I mean, we moved mountains, people. I’m amazed at us.

Now as the last little bits of book projects go to press—a cover there, a flash drive with ancillary material there, an massive medical textbook there—it’s the calm before the storm when moi and 14,000 of the people who keep me employed descend on Philadelphia for 4 straight 18-hour hour days.

Frankly, I’ve been so busy being miserable these past couple of months (and Chris is away again this week, this time for work) that I looked up yesterday and realized I was working mostly on projects that were for AFTER April 1! Work panic mode has  . . . dwindled. We’re going to make it. All our books will make it. Oh, the relief.

Meanwhile, a friend recently pointed out that Chris and I have spent very little time together since Christmas. I’ve traveled, he’s traveled, we’re all traveling again next week. I know I should say that I’m so sick of single parenting, and I am, but on a functional day-to-day level, I have one hell of a smooth system in place at this point. I wouldn’t call it autopilot, because it takes too much effort for that, but routine routine routine. Lorelei thrives on routine. Routine keeps Mommy sane while simultaneously making her bored.

With Chris’s ankle injury to boot, I’ve gotten very used to doing what needs to get done.

No, it’s not that I’m tired of single parenting, because I’m used to the workload at this point. It’s more that THREE unexpected trips to the west coast in the past 60 days, plus one planned trip, have  . . . strained us. Chris stared at his suitcase on Monday and muttered, “I can’t believe I’m going to Salt Lake City tomorrow.”

No, it’s not that I’m tired of single parenting. I’m tired of being by myself at night. I’m tired of dealing with the dog at 4:00 a.m. when she moans that she simply must pee. I’m tired of seeing Charlotte’s default mode when setting the table is to set just 3 forks. I’m tired of the kids screaming “I MISS DADDY!” every time I make them do something they don’t want to do. I'm tired of our family feeling incomplete.

I don’t like getting all set in my ways (okay, more than usual) when Chris is gone. He returns and seems clueless, but he’s not. I just have things set in a way that (I think) maximizes efficiency and therefore lowers my mommy yelling to kid dilly dallying ratio.I think my way of doing things is totally self-evident, but . . . it's not.

Case in point: During one of the brief nights we were in the same state, Chris was toying with a garage door opener during the evening routine with the girls. And he needed my help.

You can imagine what a sweet, docile, and helpful little wife I was when I screeched that it was the effing evening routine and perhaps his project could WAIT.

And a tiff like that escalates into me being “naturally” horrible because I couldn’t set aside a mere 5 minutes, shrew that I am, and him being clueless and disengaged.

Oh, I was so angry. At Chris, obviously, but also because our precious time together—actually together!—was being punctuated with slammed doors and badly concealed seething.

We made up, because we’re us, and now the whole thing seems stupid, as most fight do afterward, but I was still bummed. We were out of crisis mode for 5 minutes and blew it. And I think a big reason we blew it is because we're absolutely wiped out. Sleep is elusive, the to do list mind-blowing, the schedule crushing, and let's not forget everyone is still grieving.

What’s my point? Surprise! I don’t have one! And yes, I get it. This ain’t no deployment or whatever. But you have to admit, 4 week-long trips within 60 days, 3 of which were utterly unplanned and thus done under extraordinarily stressful circumstances . . . it’s hard. It’s hard in a manageable way, because clearly it was managed, but . . . normalcy--as a family of four--becomes a craving after a bit.

Remember in 2016 when we’d watch the news and an episode of The Good Wife at night? Ha, seems like a lifetime ago.

Meanwhile, we’ve been reading, as we do.

My darling church is doing a 14-week study (for Sunday school) on C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, plus one of his adult novels. I’m so glad I’m Presbyterian. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a bit of double-dipping, reading the books to Charlotte (and sometimes Lorelei) while I prep for Sunday mornings. Both girls, especially Charlotte, loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I probably tried too hard to connect some metaphorical dots for her. I lost her during Prince Caspian (which I finished even though she lost interest) but have gotten her back with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I mean, this book has a boat. LIKE MOANA.

When not reading Narnia books, we’ve been working on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At one point, Charlotte asked me to change the character of Charlie into a girl named Charlotte, but I told her my brain couldn’t remember to change his name every time I read it. We also each had to indulge in a piece of chocolate when we got to the descriptions of chocolate rivers and waterfalls.

Me, I read Amy Poehler's Yes Please, which was way better than I expected. She's a really good writer! And hilariously insightful. I also read Nora Ephron's Heartburn, which was one of the most dryly witty books I've read in ages. Definitely recommended.

I finished The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work, which was so interesting and I plan a larger blog post on it one of these days. Since we all know I'm a homemaker at heart (I just happen to bring home a salary), I found it to be the best thing I've read so far on (realistically) finding the holy in the drudgery of running a household and raising a family. It was so original, and so not one of those books that typecasts every protestant wife/mother as SAHM who needs to content herself with that womanly lot. Oh, no.

Finally, I also finished Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, which was very good and consisted of essays on writing process. I think Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird is better, but I learned from this book, so it was a win.

What am I reading now? I'm still reading Jude Morgan's Charlotte and Emily (a novel of the Brontes), which is so wonderful that I read it in short bits to drag it out longer. I've been reading it since January, so well done me.

I'm also in the middle of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life about a girl who keeps being reborn into her same life. It's very well written and sort of deliberately confusing. I'm never quite positive which of Ursula's lives I'm reading at a particular moment.


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