Tag Archives: laundry

Time and Time Again

My friend, Rene Syler (in full disclosure, I write for her every week) started a discussion the other day on her Facebook page.  Rene, you see, does an “Ask Rene” column periodically and this particular one centered around an issue that isn’t centrally just for women or Moms, I don’t think.

The woman writing in wanted to know what to do about the fact that she was a full-time Mom, had her own business out of the home, I believe, and her husband worked full-time, often late, and came home and wasn’t any help.  That’s my thumbnail gist of the situation.

So how does this apply to me and other parents doing things alone?

Fall Picture . . . my favorite time of year
Fall Picture . . . my favorite time of year

Like so many of us, I don’t think we tend to have too much sympathy for the “boo-hoo” situation that this person wrote about.  I have to be honest, though, when I was married . . . before my wife passed away . . . I used to have similar worries.  This woman thought she was always the “heavy,” coming down as disciplinarian and Dad came home and was the nice guy.  I was the opposite.  I was the heavy and my wife was always caving in and giving the kids everything they wanted.

So here’s where I chimed in.  I don’t have a spouse any more so I can’t in good conscience give that kind of advice, I wasn’t amazing at it when I was married.

But the lesson for me, single Dads, Moms, everyone out there can learn from the advice that was dished out.

First . . . take a break, for goodness sake.  I have taken a solo trip out of town.  I have gone to concerts.  I have had a beer with one of my friends.  Hell . . . even as a family tonight we went to a great friend’s house and had dinner and just talked for a long time.

Sometimes, without realizing it, we think the most important things are the appearances we give to people even when people aren’t around to see them.  My over-compensation in the weeks after my wife passed away was to clean, rigorously, and try to make the house better than it was when my wife was around.  The old “she would have wanted it this way” mentality.  The problem is, what she wants doesn’t factor in any more.  It didn’t factor even minutes after she died.

Reality for me was that once she was gone . . . and I mean the absolute instant she was gone . . . the decisions and choices were mine.  Mine alone.  This woman in the article gets to talk to her husband.  She could communicate with him and ask for help or go get a spa day or jump in the car with her girlfriend and go on a violent crime spree.  Whatever.  I don’t get that.  The work is there for me, totally, when I get back from whatever I’ve done.  I don’t complain.  I do the cooking, laundry, bills, all of that because they have to be done.  I could sit and bemoan the situation but when I’ve finished . . . I still have dinner to cook, lunches to make, bills to pay and laundry that needs washed.

Abbi and I at the Statue of Liberty
Abbi and I at the Statue of Liberty

My point is simple.  The daily chores will always be there.  So why worry so very much about things being perfect all the time?

Some days my house is spotless and looks like you could eat off the floor.  Many days it looks like a police action took place.  There are, after all, five of us here.

But those days where I let it go . . . we’re at the park.  We go to the movies occasionally.  We’ll go for a walk.  We’ll record something on video and send it to a friend.  We have our own adventures in little ways.

The kids will never remember the fact the house was spotless.  They will remember shooting a video or going on a trip or the fact that Dad took off on a whim to do something spectacularly brilliant or perhaps a little stupid.  Putting the laundry away and vacuuming every Sunday is just life.

What happens outside those daily chores . . . that’s living!

Piles and Piles of Separation

You never realize that you’re really not getting as much help from your kids as you think until you get sick.

I’ve been sick for a good week now.

I don’t mean sniffles, sneezes, sore throat kind of sick but laid up, more than a week of pure exhaustion kind of sick.

Let me explain a little about my normal routine: in an effort to keep my kids on a routine and so that they don’t feel as lop-sided parentally as I think they really are, I compensate by cooking, doing the laundry, etc.  The boys put away the laundry.  Hannah cleans the kitchen.  Abbi watches them in the afternoon and helps pick up the rest of the house.

But the Thursday after Christmas I caught a head cold.

That quickly became a chest cold.

That . . . very, very quickly turned into pneumonia.  I mean, lightning fast.  I made the connection my kids did . . . their Mom had gotten sick that fast and was in the hospital one day and never came home.  I was determined not to let that happen, even though I put on my brave face.

But somewhere after I went back to work – which I had to, no comments from the peanut gallery, please – and making nightly dinners while my kids sat around saying “I don’t know what to have for dinner” I ran out of steam.

It’s amazing how much steam you realize you actually had each day when you run out.

Today I did seven loads of laundry.  Seven!  To give you a perspective . . . I have about seven more I have to do still.  Five people in one household, two of them girls, tends to pile up the laundry.  Get one really girly-girl with lots of delicates and frilly tops . . . and you get the idea.  I blew through my whole giant box of borax.  I had an extra tub of detergent . . . I’m already tapping into that extra.

This comes after a weekend where, after using my inhaler multiple times in a visit to the college campus my daughter is thinking of attending . . . in the rain . . . with pneumonia.  Yeah, I know, for a guy who thinks he’s pretty smart I can be a big idiot sometimes.

On SF State Campus
On SF State Campus

But that visit took us to San Francisco and the campus was nice.  The kids had a blast, and though my calves are killing me from the stairs, hills, and probably 3 miles we walked with too little oxygen to my brain, I have to admit it was worth it.  I took the boys to Ghiradelli Square for the first time.  They had ice-cream . . . in the cold . . . and didn’t care that we were getting soaked just a few hundred yards from the ocean.  Sometimes a cone with cookies-and-cream ice-cream is all you need to have a good time.

Overlooking the City by the Bay
Overlooking the City by the Bay

As I tucked the kids in the boys looked at me and said “I had the best day, Dad,” and then I realized the routine was interrupted but their memories were made.  That’s what was really important.

Of course . . . then I looked at the mountain of laundry and realized that I still  had another 3-4 hours of chores to do myself.

But it was totally worth it.