The Flat-Packed Life

build-all-the-ikea-furnitureI’ve heard it said, once, that building a life is a lot like building a fine piece of furniture.

I can’t remember who said it, but I would really love to smack that person.

I can only think they must have been talking about building a life without children, or the limitations that come with illness of any sort, or financial hardship. They certainly weren’t talking about raising multiple children with special needs, on a very restricted income, while trying desperately to cobble together something of a career. That effort is like constructing the Taj Mahal out of popsicle sticks and white glue, or at least that’s what it often feels like.

Now, I’m not totally inept when it comes to building things, whether it is a piece of furniture, a child, or a life. Prior to having Jill, I researched everything “baby” like a madwoman- I took in every bit of advice I could, whether it was useful to me or not, and tucked it away in my mental filing cabinet. I learned how to do things- things like canning my own baby food, and how to get disgusting messes out of clothing. I hoarded baby gear like a… well, like a hoarder.

I came into this whole parenting thing, feeling pretty confident about showing off all my new-found awe-inspiring knowledge and devastatingly incredible supermom skills.

I was all of that, and humble too!

I was going to build that piece of fine furniture.

I was going to show it who was boss.

When the baby came along, though, all that confidence got up and left the building. As the years have gone by, it’s become increasingly obvious that my life is not going to be at all like a fine piece of furniture, hand-crafted by yours truly.

Really, it’s more like a piece of flat-packed furniture from Ikea, built with a lot of determination and swearing.

More to the point, it is like a piece of flat-packed furniture from Ikea that came with a poorly written set of instructions, an inadequate supply of screws, and dinky little tools that seriously sucked at doing what they were supposed to do.

If I have learned nothing else in my life to this point, I have learned how to make something good out of what you have got.

So, here I am, in the middle of the bits and pieces. Here I am, the instructions thrown away, cursing and swearing a blue streak, and building until I have put together a bookshelf or something that looks more or less like the one on the package. There at my feet, are the leftover screws (from the inadequate supply) that should have been up there on the project with their buddies but are somehow lying on the floor among the leftover packaging.

Instructions be damned- I’m winging it.

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On Love

angry wifeIn the morning, I accomplish what often seems like an impossible feat. Somehow, though, it happens… and only the gods know how and why.

I get myself up at 5:30 every weekday morning. The fight is epic. Every bone and muscle in my body screams “Sleep more! Text the teacher and say your kids are sick! You want more sleep! You NEED more sleep!”

Also, I am beginning to think my bed is in cahoots with the pillows and blankets. At least, that is the best explanation I can come up with. Otherwise, why would the few minutes before the Alarm From Hell goes off be the time when I am at my most comfortable and toasty?

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you.

Anyway, somehow- as if by sheer will alone- I pry myself off my bed, out of the reach of my cozy blankets, and propel myself vaguely upright.

My partner, damn him, is still lying in bed. I rationalize that I shouldn’t be too pissed off at the fact that he gets out of bed much later than I do. I tell myself the he gets up later because he is an insomniac (due to his P.T.S.D), and the morning is often when he gets the best chance to sleep. I tell myself all kinds of things like this, but the fact is that- when I’m awake too early for my liking and still half asleep- I kind of hate the guy.

For a moment, every morning before I head out of the bedroom, I have this particular urge. My partner would like this urge to be the sort of urge that sees me pouncing on his sleeping form, waking him in a pleasant but not-so-gentle way, and having my way with him then and there, only to leave him exhausted enough afterwards to (hopefully) fall asleep.

No.

It’s not that kind of urge.

As I stand there in the dark on my side of the bed for those few moments, I think about quietly going over to his side. I would look lovingly down at him as he lay there quietly. Whether he is actually asleep, or lying there and wondering what the hell I am doing standing there and staring at him like a creepy stalker… I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, anyway.

I think about bending over him, just inches away from his head, with a slight smile on my face.

“HAVE A NICE FUCKING DAY!” I’d scream, suddenly.

He’d sit bolt upright in the bed, cursing and swearing and flailing, and I’d duck and dodge before dashing out into the hallway. The possible injuries, I rationalize, might even be worth it. I’d be awake at that ungodly hour, and he’d be awake to share in it; after all, misery does love company.

Instead, I quietly exit the bedroom and leave him to sleep. Love has a way of making resist these little homicidal urges; it’s a good thing I love that guy.

The F Bomb

swearingI used to be a lot more shy than I am now, and a lot less inclined to swear, when I was younger.

Then, I let some crappy people into my life. Now, I swear like a trucker.

It’s cathartic for me- I swear to vent my feelings, so that I don’t have to explain to a judge why I killed so-and-so. I’ll admit, sometimes I swear to get a reaction, too.

It isn’t as though it reflects a poor intellect on my part, either. Not to be vain, but I like to think that I am at least as smart as I am smart-assed. Technically, I could say the same stuff in a much less vulgar way, but frankly it wouldn’t be as inherently satisfying.

My thought is that swearing is fine, but you don’t do it until you know what the words mean and when you should NOT use them.

My partner and I do actually try to curb our use of the choice words, whenever we’re with our kids, but we don’t cut them out altogether. We simply explain that those particular words are “Mommy and Daddy words”, and hope for the best. After all, the F bomb and other words like it are an intrinsic part of what makes up our sarcastic, vulgar, smart-assed personalities. Without them, we just wouldn’t be the same people.

The problem is that not only are kids (especially A.S.D kiddos, apparently) like sponges, but they are also like broken records- they will latch onto something and, despite being warned not to, they will repeat that thing ad nauseam. My kids have done this to the point where their Dad and I are on the verge of being driven crazy by it.

My particular problem is that I find it hard to be stern with my kids when they say a word they shouldn’t, because I’m usually too busy laughing.

Case in point:

Jill had just abandoned her Magnadoodle, after writing the alphabet on it, and sat down to colour at the kids’ table. Jack, even though he actually has his own Magnadoodle, immediately pounced on the opportunity to play with two of them simultaneously. The look on his face was sheer joy.

Jill: “Jack, don’t erase my freaking letters!”

Me, wanting to use this as a teaching opportunity: “It’s O.K to say ‘freaking’, honey. ‘Freaking’ is a good word.”

Jill, while colouring: “’Freaking’ is O.K. I can say ‘freaking’. I can’t say ‘fucking’.”

It took me several minutes to stop laughing, before I could tell Jill not to use that word.

My kids’ future teachers are going to love us parents. I have a feeling there are going to be plenty of Parent-Teacher Interviews.

I can see it now:

Their dad and I will be sitting in front of the teacher’s desk, in a couple of chairs that are way too small to fit our asses, looking as contrite as we can possibly manage. Some teachers just have a way of making the parents feel like they’re also in need of disciplining, at those little meetings.

The teacher will say something like: “Your daughter has been using the F word in class lately.”

Me: “Aw, crap.”

Teacher: “Do you know where she might have learned that word?”

Me, shrugging and smiling innocently: “I don’t have a fucking clue where she could have picked that up. Do you, honey?”

The Dad: “Fucked if I know.”