after decades…relinquishing control…

We wives and moms metamorphose all our lives.Butterfly-Header

Sometimes we’re butterflies. Wowee!!! Look at me flutter…

MothsO18Most times, however…we’re just plain, ole moths. Hardworking, for sure. No time to flit around looking beautiful all day long. We save that for special occasions, which get fewer and farther along once the children start coming.

I can’t remember when I last felt like a butterfly. Come to think of it, I can’t remember what it was like to be twenty-something. Those days of short-shorts and string bikinis are all but forgotten. And yes! I did wear both. You’ll barf if you’re trying to imagine it, given what I look like now. So don’t try!

Over the last 29 years I’ve worn my moth-eaten wife and mother’s gray garb with happy determination. When I was younger I could do it all. At least I thought I could.

Multi-tasking was a given. Getting hubby off to work after a nourishing breakfast…seeing my daughter onto the bus headed for school…household chores…grocery shopping and other errands…yard work…classroom volunteering…chauffeuring my budding ballerina to dance classes…meals to make…laundry to do…bedtime stories with which to settle in.

Thank goodness hubby loved to play so he and our daughter could do their thing every chance they could. I never got over my childhood habit of…work before play. With 7 sisters to do most of the work around their house, my husband and his 4 brothers were “boys of leisure.” From what I saw when we were dating, they didn’t even make their beds…at least not my husband.

That’s not to minimize playtime, however. I was extremely glad my hubby liked playing with our daughter. Otherwise, that would’ve been one more thing on my “to do list.” And if that were the case, I’m sure it wouldn’t have felt like fun to my toddler if I clocked how much time I had to sit around playing games.

I even explained to the school counselor during kindergarten orientation how I would prefer my child have a teacher more akin to my husband than me. Would you believe I even teared up about it? I was adamant about not wanting someone geared toward the three R’s…reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic….and nothing else. My daughter would get enough of that kind of discipline at home…from me.

So over the years as a stay-at-home mom, I assumed control over an empire…my empire. Even when the “king” returned home to his “castle,” I was still in charge…on the quiet, of course. I feigned homage to my lord and liege.

We moms know who manipulates the strings behind this real life puppet show. Don’t we ladies?

For 45 years, even after we became empty-nesters…almost 11 years now, I ruled the roost. Although as this monarch aged the job was no longer a cinch. Not that it ever was. It’s just that I’m not as adept at  keeping all the balls in the air anymore. It’s more like I’m rolling the balls along a gravely path. And it’s getting gravelier every year. Trust me. One of these days it’s going to seem as though I’m rolling those balls straight uphill.

The last several years I rationalized my loss of get-up-and-go to doing quality work. Doing one or two tasks a day was just fine. At least that’s what I told myself. Meanwhile dust collected. I could no longer see my reflection in the wood floors. Not that I ever could. But they were better than they are now, that’s for sure. A few more days went by before I did the laundry. I bought more underwear to tide us over.

I could chalk it up to my having an under-active thyroid, which I learned about during a visit to a naturopath. Thankfully, that’s been resolved.

Working thyroid or not, getting old slowed me down. I can’t do half of what I use to do, more like a third, on my best days. And I sure as heck can’t move between the house and the yard without breaking a sweat. Don’t get me wrong, it was never a breeze. Just more doable. These days the weeds live in harmony with the flowers. That way, the jack rabbits…yeah, they’re no longer cute, little bunnies…can graze on something other than my prized plants, lovingly hand-picked and bought with hard-earned dinero.

So what’s my point?

Yesterday I decided to skip out on an appointment with the designer who was stopping by to discuss window coverings for our newly remodeled, downstairs master bedroom suite. After almost 3 months as project manager and all that entails…on top of my normal routine…on top of nursing our beloved dog who eventually passed, and a loving cat who almost died from some mystery ailment…and on top of 3 weeks in Nashville literally helping my daughter get back on her feet after back-to-back surgeries…my vintage locomotive of a body finally went kaput! My brain gave in and decided we should all take a mini vacation. So I did. I drove to Home Goods, a subsidiary of the retailer Marshalls, and left my house in the very capable hands of my recently semi-retired husband.

Going over what we’d decided to install on the windows, I opted out deciding I’d live with whatever technicalities the designer and my other half finalized. It felt really, really good to relinquish control. My husband could grill the designer on her credentials as far as the installation went. After all she doesn’t work for the manufacturer, so her information is second-hand. More than that, she had to prove to my husband that what she was selling was worth every penny of his money. She knew my aesthetics; she’d never dealt with his budgetary consciousness…first hand. I did. Convincing him to spend the money was a job in itself. Of course, I knew the right buttons to press. Like “It’ll only increase the resale value of our house.” That’s always a good one. Fastest way to get him to open up his checkbook. Not that he’s ever “fast on the draw,” just not “slow like molasses.”

butterfly-garden-4For a couple of hours I felt as though I was floating along on a cloud…free as a…butterfly. No worries. No cares other than looking at what was in front of me…a wall rack for the laundry room doubling as a gift-wrapping station…decorative waste baskets…a piece of art for the bedroom. When hubby joined me later I showed him what I had in my shopping cart. He pointed out things I’d not thought about which made me change my mind, returning some of the items to their shelves. Made me feel good too, having someone else make decisions, however small.

I felt so calm and refreshed that hubby and I wound up having a date night. We walked to nearby AJE restaurant, dining on Japanese food, a favorite of ours. Not having been to the movies in a while, we decided to stop at a nearby Regal Theatre to see The Avengers Age of Ultron. We both dozed off, unbeknownst to one another, near the beginning of the film. Hubby said he awoke and saw me asleep. We didn’t miss much, however, since most action films are primarily about the actors annihilating one another, or trying to at least. It was good not having to think about anything…except the good guys smashing the bad guys to smithereens.

Today I was back on the job. MothsO125As project manager I oversaw last minute details…where to hang mirrors, artwork, vintage pieces and chandeliers.

I never know how purchased items are going to look once in place. I have some idea, based upon pictures and customer reviews. However it isn’t until I see a piece in place will I know if it works as I imagined, or not. Take the massive metal chandelier I bought online to hang over the end of our king-sized bed. I thought it would hang 24″ low. Not until the electrician was up on a ladder, fixture in hand, did I learn that my gorgeous chandelier would block most of our view of the newly minted porcelain tile fireplace with gas insert, as we lay in bed. It was me and my woman’s intuition going up against the practical mindset of 3 men, including my husband and our contractor.

I’m delighted to admit…the men won! What got me over to their side? The electrician saying “If the chandelier isn’t hung as a flush mount, then the only other option is that it hangs 34″ from the ceiling. In that case, what you’ll be looking at while sitting in bed is the light glaring out at you from the chandelier.” That made total sense, so I relinquished control of that debate.

I think I’m going to like having the men in my life take back control…

…as long as i agree. 

………hugmamma. butterfly-world

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sleep, “ever catch up?”

12-hour digital clock radio

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I envy those who regularly fall into bed at 10 p.m. or earlier. I’ve not done that in many, many years. I’ve always been the proverbial “night owl.” Bedtime for me is midnight, 1 or even 2 a.m. And every night before I close my eyes, I murmur to myself “Gotta get to bed earlier, 10:00, tomorrow night, 10:00.” It’s become more like a prayer, than a resolution.

Downtown Honolulu, HI, view from Punch Bowl.

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I can recall when we were first married, and were renting a nice 2 bedroom apartment in Honolulu. We could afford a larger unit because my husband worked odd jobs around the complex, in exchange for the discounted rent of $125 a month. Can you believe that? An unheard of amount in a major metropolitan city these days, but especially in Honolulu.

University of Hawaii

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My husband had just graduated from a private Catholic college; I was finishing up my last year at the University of HawaiiBetween trying to be the good, little wife, and the good, little student, I was “burning the midnight oil.” I was also interning as a 4th grade teacher as a requirement for the 5th-year teaching certificate towards which I was studying. Oftentimes, I’d take a break from all-night cramming, and do a little household cleaning. I’d even run the vacuum. I was 20 when I married, so what did I know about the right time to do chores? I did them when I could. Funny, the neighbors never complained. But my husband did. He had to get up early for work.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

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While my penchant for cleaning late at night has dissipated, my desire to hang onto the last moments of a waning day have not. No matter where I’ve lived or what course my life has taken, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that I want. That’s not to say I make the most of every minute. No. I dawdle…a lot. I stop to read parts of the newspaper. I crouch down beside Mocha to tell her I love her and nuzzle my face into hers. I catch parts of Ellenor Oprah.” I munch…munch…munch. I pick up Sitka. Oh, and of course, I blog. Those of you who subscribe, or are regular readers, know that I blog. Can’t help myself. Love to write.

Chatting with my husband when he arrives home from work and interminttently throughout the evening,  prepping dinner, dinner itself, cleaning up afterwards, more blogging, a little reading before switching off the light, and before long the clock reads midnight, or later.  Where does the time go? And it doesn’t help that Dr. Oz, and a myriad of others, continually advises that 7 0r 8 hours of sleep a night is mandtory for good health. I resolve to do better…in my next life. Promise. Meanwhile…

A Westclox Big Ben Clock

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Are you an early bird, or a night owl like me, or both? God bless you if you’re both. I’d be napping all day.

know where i can borrow some hours?…hugmamma.

pets, can’t live with them…

What do you do with pets who want you to morph into their playmates, 24/7? Read a funny post where the writer felt her cat was a terrorist, stalking her all the time. Meanwhile I kept thinking of Sitka, and Juneau his brother, part-Maine Coones, who want at me all the time.

Whether seated, standing, or walking around, Sitka wants up. He’s like my daughter who when she was 2 or 3 used to come to me with outstretched arms, saying “uppy, uppy, uppy.” Sitka doesn’t say anything, he just stares at me with soulful eyes. But I can tell he wants “uppy, uppy, uppy.” Sometimes I think I should get one of those things new moms use to carry around their newborns. Then I might at least have 2 hands free to do something, other than hold Sitka. It’s impossible to multi-task with him in my arms.

At least when I sit to eat a meal, Sitka’s learned that’s my sacred time. But as soon as the plate is put away, he’s back at my side, demanding to be “uppied.” I have to look him straight in the eye, and say “Not now,” and mean it. He’ll try to outstare me, until I give up and walk away, feeling guilty. That cat can do that to me. 

Even when I sit-a-spell with Sitka in my lap, he’s always inching his way up into my face, trying to wrap himself around my head. Barely able to breathe, I have to remove his grip from around my throat, gently, or roughly, pushing him back down onto my lap. Only if I continue petting him, does he remain in place. If not, the struggle to regain higher ground starts up again. I’ve never had a cat like Sitka before, and I’ve had a lot of cats as pets in my lifetime. Ask my husband.

Juneau, Sitka’s litter mate, is another force with which to be reckoned. That cat could be a footstool, he’s so big and solid. In fact, he often wiggles his way under my feet as I’m blogging. As I rub them back and forth over his body, Juneau seems content to let me. Unlike Sitka who wants me to wear him like a crown or a bike helmet, Juneau prefers I use him to warm my feet. When I do pick him up, it’s like lifting a large bag of groceries. I have to remember to bend at the waist, or I’ll injure myself. With a grunt I hoist Juneau up onto my chest where he pulls back, squinting at me as if to say “Don’t hurt me.” I hold him tight, stroking his back assuring him that it’s okay to be on Sitka territory. Once Juneau settles in, he starts with the body-slamming.

Just as Sitka has his own unique mannerisms, so too does Juneau. He’s the only cat I’ve ever owned who literally throws himself against me, my legs if I’m standing, my chest if I’m sitting. He body slams, as my daughter has often remarked. It’s as if he wants inside my body, as if he can’t get close enough, and just wants to find a way in and stay there. Creepy, right? 

Juneau will even go so far as to nip me to get my attention. While I’m blogging, he’ll stretch up towards me, mewing pitifully. If I don’t stroke him immediately, he nips my elbow. It’s like a bee sting, which gets my attention quick! I reprimand him, after which I coo and pet him. Like his brother, Juneau can easily send me on a guilt trip. He’ll even nip me when I’m holding and stroking him. It’s either to reassure himself that I’m his, or that I’m not giving him my undivided attention. He doesn’t even want my eyes wandering toward the TV. Nope! My hands AND eyes have to be on him. Of course, I’ve had to scold him about his manners, otherwise I’d have nicks all over my body.

While Sitka and Juneau were rescued from an animal shelter, Sunkist is my purebred grand-dame. At $100, she was actually cheaper to purchase from a private owner than my 2 boys who cost $125 apiece to adopt. A 16-year-old Persian, Sunkist sits like a sphinx before me, as if willing me to get down and pay homage. (Here comes Juneau, mewing alongside me. Gotta give him a few strokes.) While Sunkist does allow me to pick her up once-in-awhile, to hold and pet her, and coo sweet nothings in her little ears, she much prefers I crouch on all fours and massage her endlessly. And I mean…endlessly.

Unlike the others, Sunkist has the patience of a sphinx. She will sit for what feels like hours to me, awaiting her turn for my undivided attention. Whether it’s right at my feet, or at a small distance, her head dropping from time to time as if in a doze, Sunkist never wavers in her efforts to get one-on-one time. When I do get down beside her, inevitably one or 2 of the others will try to steal me away. I have to nudge them out-of-the-way, saying it’s their sister’s turn to have at me. Either they get the message, or Sunkist walks off in a huff. It’s her way, or no way.

Where does my dog Mocha, a mixed terrier-beagle, fit into all this? She just takes over the whole show if that’s what she decides. But most of the time, she’s more than happy, or not, I can’t tell sometimes, to let me pay attention to the felines in the family. Being the biggest, and most companionable of all our pets, it’s hard not to give Mocha more than her fair share of my time. Besides walks during the day, we romp around the house in the evenings. Me chasing her around the coffee table, or the other way around. She looks at me in confusion when we play this game as if to ask “Are you Alpha, or are you my pack mate?” Why the confusion? Because I often get down on all fours when we’re carousing. She never bites me, but sometimes she has this gleam in her eyes as if she wants to grab me by the scruff of my neck, as she does her toy, and shake me violently from side to side. Or as with Juneau who allows Mocha to nibble at his neck, seemingly in an effort to clean him.

One thing I can’t bring myself to allow, is letting Mocha lap my face with her tongue. I know others allow this all the time, her vet, Dr. Rice for one. Having seen where Mocha’s tongue has been, i.e. licking her poop hole, I just cannot stomach her licking my face afterwards. Sorry, just can’t. Funny, I’ve no problem when Gretchen, Sylvia’s dachsund gives my face a few quick licks with her tongue. The difference, however, is that Gretchen surprises me before I can turn away, Mocha looks me directly in the eye as if asking “Are we doing this, or not?” I mean when I’ve got the option, I’m always going to say “Duh… I don’t think so.” She settles for my mashing instead. I’m all over her, like Sitka and Juneau are all over me. Mocha just lies there and takes it. I can only imagine what she’s thinking. I hope it’s not “God, she drives me nuts with her mashing!” But as long as she says nothing, I guess I’ll keep mashing and smooshing her.

gotta love those animals…i do!…hugmamma.