Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wagons ho!

My husband said: “Is this all a huge mistake? Are you sure you still love me?” “Is what a mistake?” “The move, all this. The three moves,” he gestured to the cardboard boxes of who knows what, toys spread across the floor, black plastic ragged sacks of sometime never to be worn again clothes. “Too late now,” I said. “We’re here. We’ll sort it out. It might take a while.” I do not know when my husband asks me this if he needs to hear that all is well. How he would feel if I raised a hand, said: “No, stop the wagons. Turn back. I’ve been far enough away from city life for long enough. This prairie adventuring is not what I was looking for. Too many cactii for a start. Pa, let us return to what we know.”

Change brings chaos with it. How do other people cope? Are we more chaotic then than most? Or is this family life? Constant friends constantly reproach me for the chaos. We have moved. Again. We still have builders. It is like living two centuries ago with Uncles Joe and Nicholas and Benjamin, and cousin Nathan(he’s a little slow, lives out in the barn but harmless. Providing you are not a chicken. Chicken necks, he wrings). You walk along the landing and see a bearded head. Old Testament but without a bloody, silvered platter. The decorator is painting the upstairs window frame. You reproach a child for breaking eggs into a box of his books; a door opens and a builder slides through on his way to fetch the sugar or a hammer. He says: “The Lord cometh” or sometimes: “The skip is in the wrong place. I told them not to put it there. ”

We have three children. Three children’s toys and clothes and washing. Three children’s crayoned loose leaf paper and favourite plastic bowls and cups. Three children’s legs to wrap around you, pin you down, stop you from standing up and tidying away. How do others manage? I do not know. I cannot say. I find it helps to cross my eyes. A glass of wine helps too at night and work. Work can divert nicely for an hour or two. Never long enough. And occasionally I rage and scream. A psycho mother for a while. All of these I recommend, except possibly, the last.

28 comments:

Swearing Mother said...

Can't someone look after the kids for a day and give you a clear run at it? I thnk that's the only way forward here Wifey unless you turn to drugs. I mean the tranquilising sort, obviously.

One of your previous posts contains the words "these things will pass" and they will, but unfortunately not quick enough by the sound of it.

Sit down at the Black Granite Coffee Sill, have a cup of coffee from your Starbucks mug and write a list. Even if you don't stick to any of it at least you will feel organised. Number one on the list: Get someone to take the children off somewhere for at least four hours.

You know you need it.

Supernight said...

I really don't envy you moving house with three little ones. I' take swearing mother's advice and get rid of the kids for a bit! Then spend at least 30 minutes of your time just eating cake and drinking coffee. Then get on with the nasty business of sorting out those boxes.

I would recommend sorting them out now, rather than leaving them in a corner of the room until everything in them becomes obsolete as I did!

Winchester whisperer said...

Having moved five times in the past 7 years, my only advice is: be ruthless about throwing stuff away. There's no point in hoarding junk in the attic: it'll have to be addressed at some point so you may as well discard it now, and that includes favourite clothes which you think you may be able to fit into again at an indeterminate time in the future.

Winchester whisperer said...

Having moved five times in the past 7 years, my only advice is: be ruthless about throwing stuff away. There's no point in hoarding junk in the attic: it'll have to be addressed at some point so you may as well discard it now, and that includes favourite clothes which you think you may be able to fit into again at an indeterminate time in the future.

@themill said...

Make the last half hour of your children's day, before bathtime, 'tidy up time', where they all help to clear their own mess away. Sort out games and crayons as you go. Sounds really anal but it makes your life much easier and you will feel much calmer.

keepcalmandcarryon said...

Am deeply sympathetic. We've swapped the roof over our frazzled heads four times in two years. 'The one where the four month old son vomited continuously' was my fave episode. Definitely give yourself a day to unpack alone, otherwise those boxes start to feel like useful pieces of furniture. Ours have got their very own mug stain rings and have started to be described as 'vintage'.

rosiero said...

Don't wish to put you off, but our last move 18 years ago was so traumatic there are still boxes in the cellar we have never unpacked to this day. Can't be anything vital in there (I think old college books for a start), but one day we shall have the courage to open them and discover delights we had forgotten!!

sunshine said...

Do you still have the nanny on board? If not, lock the kids in the pantry.

Try putting the bags/boxes for each room where they belong, not opening them. Number them sequentially with address labels or such. Exception being -- no boxes or bags in kitchen or living room.

Each day, open the lowest number container and dispose of it. Just one a day. If it takes two months, that's fine. Keep the containers together in each room and cover them with a sheet if necessary. Pretty soon you will pass a tipping point where there are enough fewer left that your discouragement will wane. You'll see the light at the end of the tunnel and pick up enthusiasm for the freedom in reach.

If someone, like hubby, needs something, let that person find it. But they either have to leave the container neat or dispose of the whole thing.

If you view the whole job, of course you'll scream. We're all screaming in sympathy! Viewed one bag at a time, --- not so bad.

XX

Jeff said...

Having been accused many times by a "significant other" of always wanting to solve a problem instead of just listening, I find it extremely interesting to see so many women trying to solve WITN's "problems" instead of just letting her rant.

Lovin' the irony...

Minx said...

Chaos keeps you on yer toes.

Norman said...

Been there, done that,worn out ther tee-shirt. Well its 23 years since I last moved so its faded a bit (the tee-shirt I mean). I have witnessed the performance another four or so times as my children and their families have set up home. And I hasten to add, felt the fall out from that. Ripples in a pond, - y'know?
But.... out of chaos evolves order. Notice I said "evolves". It takes time.
Practicale idea: get Dad to take the kids somewhere for the day, like say, Beamish, the "way we were theme park", you stay at home and chill out with a coffee or whatever.
Or.. do it t'other way round. YOU go for a day somewhere and leave the kids for Dad to sort out at home.

Mike said...

I'm with swearing mother and the majority of comments today;get nanny or Dad to take the kids off for a day. Have coffee and cake, make a list. Tackle box 1, more coffee, box 2, ..you know the rest. BTW, I was so envious reading about you sitting with three pairs of legs on couch,then went "phew" on reading psycho mum!ou I was never able to relax into that, now they will barely sit on the same couch. Your house sounds lovely AND homely, and all will be well.

Ann in Saskatchewan said...

I agree with the others. You need some alone time with those boxes and bags. Pick a day when you feel energetic (but don't wait longer than Christmas), ship the kids off with a responsible adult (any responsible adult will do) and chip away at the backlog one box at a time (says she who has a basement full of anonymous boxes)

merry weather said...

I am also a chaotic householder. And a loud parent too, sometimes, but only at home. I would find it very tough keeping little ones out of the builders' way. And vice-versa.

I learned from watching a martial arts programme that it is possible to cause adults to fall to the ground by hitting the right low note. I am working on this, I find that being quiet for a bit leading up to the call helps because the element of surprise is useful. I can only practise on my husband at present - as a woman, you have to kind of speak from your stomach to gain the right resonance... could this be a useful tool for you to learn too?

With the kids, in despair I sit at their height and
offer my full attention and to hell with everything else. That works best I find, but it depends on the situation, it's not always possible ... don't beat yourself up ... it's par for the course I think ... :)

Richard Madeley said...

Oh, I agree. There are few problems that can’t be solved by getting paralytically drunk while crossing your eyes.

sophie said...

agree with all the advice, and add- tackle with husband in the north, so one box at a time becomes two, and agree a target of one room per week that you do together. will quickly get sorted. you know its good for you

belle said...

Just wanted to say that I've been really enjoying your blog. I moved to Northumberland from Hertfordshire when I was 13 and totally understand your son' fear of bears - I was worried about icebergs and penguins! I loved it with a passion though and your photo of Dunstanburgh brought back lots of memories. On a practical level, housekeeping? What's that then? Use the dust as creative play for the children - it allows them to express their artistic ability without having to get the paints out ;o)

mutleythedog said...

Quite honestly you simply have too many belongings... bag up half of them and chuck them in the sea.. You do not need them...

Motheratlarge said...

Moving house is so stressful, isn't it. Emotionally tiring, along with the physical stress. I'm no expert, but generally found the hardest part was accepting I'd have to live in chaos for a while.
Is there somewhere you could get a nice take-away to eat with your husband after the children have gone to bed?
In a few months you'll have everything in good order again.
ps - thank you for adding me to your blog roll!

Motheratlarge said...

Wifey, I don't know if you're into these things or not, but I've given you an award of Inspirational Blogger. Please pop over to mine if you'd like to know more.

Dee said...

Jeff darling, she asked for feedback 'How do other people cope?' ;))
Moving sucks - from beginning to end. There are no two ways about it nor is there a one answer fits all solution to the problem.
One day / box at a time is all I can really say.

Rainbow said...

I'm sure it'll all be well worth it in the end. Have just tagged you as a Rockin' Girl Blogger http://newmarriagesandoldfamilies.blogspot.com/2007/07/rockin-girl-bloggers.html
Grab the badge and wear it with pride!

sunshine said...

Jeff, in a way you are so right -- A wise counsellor once told me, "Help is only help when it is perceived as help". I cannot count the times I have told my husband, "Would you just shut the f--- up and hold me!"

But the stripe of motherhood/make it okay runs deep in us broads -- especially when we care a lot about the troubled one (as we do for WITN).

So we jump in, anyway!

Jeff said...

Sunshine, as a husband and father of five daughters, I have experienced my share of STFU comments. And, though the question seemed more rhetorical than interrogative, I can understand the need to "jump in" and supply support from within the sisterhood.

Still, I can't help but enjoy (no other word applies) the irony of one gender, ok/the other, not. Such is the male lot in life...

Liz said...

I fear you may have moved to a place I know well, and the chaos is not in the boxes. I hope there is a degree of poetic licence in your melancholy.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I'm not sure other people do really cope, i think they just hide their non-coping better than others. It's a panicky, roller-coaster ride bringing up small children, I guess we'll only know if we coped when we realise that they're in the their mid-thirties and aren't paying for therapy... so that gives us a few years doesn't it? Start the wine at lunchtime, it is the hols and presumably you don't have to do the school run? Corks at 12, this is my top tip for you.
Pigx

SINGLE MOTHER ON THE VERGE said...

Wife in the North if you get really frustrated and are heading to Edinburgh fringe come see my play. Coitophobia (Aug 12th-27th) shameless plug but why not? To actually print flyers is so expensive, and bad for the environment. It's about a mother who takes on a lover and spends much time humping her worries away and finding a use for raspberries other than in a pavlova. It's a bit naughty. But very 'all' 'woman': female playwright, director, leads and supports, save for one man who is there to pleasure the lead. The lush writer will be falling about somewhere near the door, or picking fights with the yocals. A distraction from the decorators, with culture thrown in. The other option of course is to meet Richard Ford. But I can't guarantee he'll strip.

http://www.edfringe.com/shows/detail.php?action=shows&id=4286

Daniel said...

Dear Mrs. Wife-in-the-North

They're all missing the point, aren't they?

You're just venting some of your frustrations, aren't you?

Underneath all your complaints, I detect just a little hint of a smile. It is not as though you are at your wits' end, ready to jump off a cliff, or stick your head in the oven (oh I forgot, the AGA).

From the sound of it, you have a fun and exciting life. Those kids! What would you do without'em?

People are all off on the quest for happiness. But you can't chase after it and find it. It just comes to (some) people, while they are busily living their lives, like you.

How do other people cope, you ask? Here in the old U. S. of America we have a phrase, which you probably have too, being both English speakers that we are, called, "seat of the pants."