Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Rules

This morning I asked Matt for an immediate half hour of time off to write. I had just finished my breakfast. He was just starting his. Audrey bounced around demanding bits of his smoked salmon and bagel, simultaneously elbowing her brother in the ribs as she muscled her way in between dining chairs to be closer to Daddy's food. I regretted sticking Matt with both kids before he'd finished his coffee. But I do not want today to be like yesterday. I must approach today with whatever dregs of desire for holistic family wellness I can scrape together. So here I am.

I am trying some of the tricks I've learned over the past year and forgotten the less I "needed" them. As I lay in bed this morning trying to ignore Audrey climbing all over me, I made a small intention to get out of bed without complaining. To make the dear child her bowl of Organic Toasted Oats with tolerance if not blissful maternal love. And then see what happened.

I placed a warm sweater over her thin shoulders and offered socks. She shook her head. Together, we descended the stairs. I looked around. I saw at least five things to put away, throw away, organize, rearrange. Remembering a rule I made for myself a year ago, No chores before coffee, I made a conscious decision to walk past the wadded tissue paper, empty cardboard boxes, and pine needles on the floor. Audrey toddled right up to the Christmas tree and swiftly beheaded a toy soldier. Then she began her usual demanding-customer routine: "I want cereal. I want some milk. Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I want my vitamin. I want some breakfast." Now, when I'm grumpy, I ignore her for awhile while making my coffee, then snap at her because her begging has reached a fever pitch, then dutifully serve her the motherfucking whatever she wants while complaining about the lousy tips around here. But let's start today differently.

I kept my voice low. I responded to my little urchin calmly, looking at her in the eyes. (Make eye contact is another of my almost-forgotten rules for sanity.) I set her up with food immediately in order to distract her from vandalizing the Christmas tree. She was occupied. I was relaxed.

I scanned the front page of the newspaper. This is against one of my rules, Ignore the news until lunchtime, but I did it anyway because Western Washington is in a state of crisis and I wanted to know the latest news. (Seven dead, 50 hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning, homes split in half by fallen trees.) And then I just needed to write for awhile.

Ask for what you need.

Can I make a better day today? Can I enjoy the children today? Can I let them off the hook as well as myself?

Can I give my husband three uninterrupted hours in front of the Patriots game?

Well, one thing at a time.

5 comments:

rose said...

Ahhhh so glad to have power fianlly!! I love this post, this is how my mornings are...I am going to try the eye contact thing that is a good idea. My main focus every morning is caffiene..once I get that, I can then help my kids. I have always loved the idea of getting up before them and drinking my tea and getting online, taking a shower, but that would involve getting up before the sunrise and I am not sure I can do that!!Maybe I will try it 2 days a week:)

Anonymous said...

Sincs I don't have kids and the demands on my time that children can place on me, I only have one thing to say...

That man needs - nay - DESERVES his weekly three hours of testosterone-induced bliss. Sure, he may have to pay for it before or after the game, but my God woman, it's football season!

~branon

Anonymous said...

Please oh please share more rules! I love the caffeine and eye contact rules. I could use some new things to try. The power failure ate up what patience I had left for just about anyone or anything. The only redeeming thing I could say about my day tonight was that I didn't yell at my son. :( Pretty pathetic, huh? -V

jane said...

Hey, Susie. I'm checking in from the Caribbean and guess what--even in paradise you have to make eye contact and fetch coffee. It's the little things, eh?

Oh, stormy Seattle. The basement flooded and the roof gave out but that's what I get for deferred maintenance. We left on Saturday and I just had to let go. I figure if I stashed it in the basement or the attic I probably don't need it anyway, right??

Happy holidays, sweetie. Here's hoping your roof is intact. And if it isn't, here's hoping Matt will take turns with you holding it up. The kids, of course, they won't even notice. :-)

susie said...

Ok, Branon, you are right. A man deserves his football. It's just that it takes so loooong and makes so much noise.