Today’s guest post comes via Mrs. Nostrikethat and the antics of Howling Mad Murdoch. I have to preface this story by pointing out that the little guy attends what some people might call a “Posh” private preschool. It’s the kind of place where the drop-off line is full of Lexus and Mercedes SUVs with stickers on them exorbitantly-priced private high schools. It’s the kind of place, for example, one might send one’s child when one inherits a miniscule sum of money from a distant relative and decides that relative might have wished it go to further an education, instead of going towards boxes o’ wine. It’s all very precious and we are generally pretty amused by the whole scene.
It’s that time of the year again.
My Facebook feed is full of posts telling me to “slow down”, “relax”, and “this one trick will make you click this article”. As we race towards the winter solstice here in North America, bloggers everywhere start cranking out 500 word pieces of faux transcendental spiritualism telling me that I’m too busy, my kids are too scheduled, and I’m going to die alone and friendless unless I Focus On What’s Really Important In Life, like generating ad impressions for Buzzfeed.
No one ever said on their deathbed, “Gee, I wish I worked more.”
Know what else no one ever said on their deathbed?
“Gee, I wish I spent more time cleaning up other people’s messes.”
Hello, my name is Mr. Nostrikethat, and I Schedule The Crap Out of My Life and the Lives of My Children.
Well technically, Mrs. Nostrikethat Schedules The Crap Out of My Life, but she does it with My Complete Approval.
The not-so-subtle crushing burden of guilt from these articles is that we are spending too much time in our cars driving our children to soccer/irish dance/swimming/volleyball/mui thai and not enough time “making memories” or some crap that presumably involves reclaimed popsicle sticks and ethically sourced flannel.
I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret.
I like it this way.
You know what’s worse than being busy? Being busy with a bunch of crap you have to do not want to do.
If we don’t plan to get out of the house, it means we end up cleaning. Usually constantly, because if everyone’s home the kitchen doesn’t stay clean for more than 15 seconds before someone comes in looking for a snack and leaves crap everywhere and HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU HEATHENS TO PUT YOUR DISH IN THE DISHWASHER OH YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE ME LIP BECAUSE IT’S CLEAN WELL GUESS WHO JUST VOLUNTEERED TO EMPTY IT MR. LIP-GIVER.
When I was younger there seemed to be a nearly limitless set of possibilities for what I could do. The day I realized that there was absolutely zero chance that day that I was going to get up and hike the Andes in Peru to see Macchu Picu was the day I accepted that my world had shrunk. These days, my universe of possibilities looks something like:
- Clean something dirty
- Fix something the kids broke
- Fix something I broke
- Walk the dog
- Run myself
- Make food for one or more people
- Eat food
- Go shopping for more food
- Have a cup of coffee
- Take everything out of the garage, and then put it all back in again
It’s not so much a routine as it is a well-worn trail through the overgrowth of life.
Unfortunately, a post called “Keep doin’ what you’re doin'” isn’t likely to be a viral smash hit, so we get to endure more of these posts until we get to the week before Christmas, also known on the Blogger’s calendar as The Week of the Year’s Best Lists, because there is absolutely no irony in writing a blog post telling people to get offline and spend more time with their family.
In fact, I’d probably write my own counter-retort, but I’m too busy.
That garage isn’t going to empty itself.
I aspire to be a gardener in the same way I aspire to be handy: first I borrow a bunch of stuff from my neighbors, then they end up taking pity on Mrs. Nostrikethat when it’s been two weeks without load-bearing walls and finally they end up doing most of the work while I am entrusted with operating the Keurig.
Every year, with glasses firmly rose-colored, I try to take on a simple vegetable garden. Every year I manage tomatoes that could be called “tomatoes” in the same way that a Twinkie could be called “food”.
To make matters worse, I am surrounded by green thumbs. My mother relates to vegetables on an almost instinctual level–although I am sure being married to my dad has given her plenty of practice. My neighbors all have several successful well-established garden plots. My Facebook feed is ripe with Gaea’s Bounty, too:
“Oh I have too many tomatoes this year, does anyone want some salsa?”
“My peppers just won’t stop growing!”
“Gardening is so easy and fun!”
Dutifully I watered and fertilized. My gifted starter plants actually grew and started to flower. I Believed.
I can totally survive the End of Days now. Who needs a grocery store? Man I am amazing.
Then my plants stopped responding to light, water, and nitrogen.
They looked like Thursday night after a week of double shifts working to close.
I tried giving them coffee because that always perks me up and I get my vegetative qualities from my dad so I thought the reverse might be true.
Still they wilted.
It’s as if they said “It’s August, I’m tired of life, let me leave you with a sampling of anatomically ludicrous fruits to taunt you with what might have been.”
“P.S.- you suck.”
Now let me introduce you to my mums. Despite not even the slightest amount of concern from me regarding their well-being they have come back every single year, bigger than ever. They are the ordinary Homedepotus Onsaleacus variety bought 4 or five years ago because we needed some “fall color” or something equally womanly. I think decided to plant them in that little spot because it was a nice day and I was avoiding doing the dishes.
We have had by all accounts a pretty fantastic summer. We’re luck enough to have friends. Some of those friends like us enough to invite the travelling Nostrikethat circus to go places with them. Our kids have amazing grandparents, near and far, who shower them with attention. We did swim team. We swam in a lake. We got lost in the woods. My most favorite moments, though, always seemed to just happen.
Sitting in camp chairs on the driveway drinking beer with the neighbors on a Tuesday night.
Listening to the kids tell jokes at the dinner table. BANANA SANDWICH! HAH!
Sharing a quiet glass of wine with Mrs. Nostrikethat after the kids have exhausted themselves from playing outside all day.
Staying up late with my oldest to play video games.
I’m sure there’s a metaphor in here somewhere.
Or maybe I just need to remember to ask someone to water the plants when we go away for a long weekend.