Thursday, October 21

Indescribably Undomestic (elucidated)

Those two words, indescribably undomestic, came to me late one night in the same way all potentially brilliant thoughts come to me: through a haze of half-sleep, and threatening to run away like bad little kids at the WalMart store if I didn't write them down immediately.

So I wrote them down.

I figured they, at the very least, would give my husband a chuckle. My husband, who was brought up in a spotless, warm and inviting home. My husband, who was a natural marine when it came time to swab the bunks or flush the heads or whatever it is they called cleaning their rooms and toilets. My husband, who, poor thing, for five years has been begging me to GET IT TOGETHER ALREADY, DEAR when it comes to the house cleaning.

Cleaning the house is part and parcel of my stay-at-home mom gig. Now, don't you ultrafeminists (and you know who you are, dear) get all bra burn-y on me.... my husband does 60% (ok, FINE, 75%) of the cleaning around here. And he cooks 5 nights a week. And he mends his own ripped pants. And he darns his own socks. Or, at least, he'd darn them if he wasn't already damning them for having a hole in the first place- a hole that he totally blames on me because I refuse to buy a pair of socks of my own since his are so comfortable and they fit me just right and why would I bother to wear shoes when his socks are perfect and lovely and run-on sentences make me crazy so I have to stop.

So when my I'd-call-him-helpful-but-we-have-an-equal-marriage husband asks me to clean, I try, I really, honestly try to oblige.


I'm not good at it.

There are probably at least seven good reasons why I'm no good at cleaning. Number one is probably, "Because I don't like it, and ew, sink drains really bother me." But sitting firmly in the second slot is, "Because I don't know how."

That is no exaggeration and, sadly, no joke. Might I have have previously mentioned that my mother was is a lousy housekeeper? I love her almost more than anyone else on the planet, and she loves me too, so I am confident in saying it again: she is a lousy housekeeper.

Whether it be nature or nurture's fault, the fact still stands- I am full of the suck when it comes to cleaning up after myself and the Bees.
(I never have to clean up after my husband- note his aforementioned tidiness.)(Well, that's not entirely true. Every few days I have to wipe the bathroom counter because he's decided to be a little less scruffy that day and he finds it physically impossible to remove his shorn stubble from the sink.)(But I'm not complaining here.)

But I want to learn how, I want to want to do it. Most of all, I want to keep my husband around. I want to tell you gentle readers all about my dirty past and my new found Quest for Cleanliness!

So, a new chasing my Bees meme is born...

Indescribably Undomestic

a portrait of a messy mother
a sporadic series
a chance to feel better about yourownself


Tuesday, October 19

Two Photo Tuesday

(yes, I am shamelessly butchering Wordless Wednesday, but you know what? My blog, my rules!)


Friday, October 15

Fewer Words Friday

Tough baby says, "Do not mess with me. I get in bar fights.* I will cut you."

*has not actually been in bar fights.
has actually been in marker fights and lost. to the marker.


Monday, October 11

sometimes there are exactly enough rocks

Jenny and Forrest

Today would have been my father's 59th birthday. He died the month before I turned 25.
My dad and I had a... difficult relationship. Without airing too much dirty laundry, I will just say that he was not a good husband to my mother, and he was rarely a good father to me.

There were moments of happiness, probably more than my heart remembers. There were things he and I did together; we worked in his garden, he took me to Razorback games, he taught me how to fish. I think he wanted me to be a boy, or he wanted me to be better than all the boys.
But there were also moments of great pain. He hurt me repeatedly throughout my entire life. It was hard for me to respect him, and it was hard for him to see me as anything other than a junior version of my mom. In fact, it wasn't until the very last time we spoke that he admitted he treated me badly for my whole (albeit short) adult life because he was still angry with my mother.

I spent most of my time after my 15th birthday being angry with my dad and growing in distrust. It wasn't just nasty teenage rebellion, it wasn't typical "Omg I hate my parents they're so lame they like totally don't get me" angst. It was a palpable fear, an experience-based dread.
My dad was manipulative, power-trippy, irrational, and he completely refused to take responsibility for his own actions. In short, he was a textbook example of a functioning alcoholic.  For years, I mean, years, I had nightmares that centered around my dad, and it broke my heart and terrified me every time I woke up.

It took me a very long time to begin the grieving process when my dad passed away. I felt like I'd been grieving the loss of my father for years. Even after he died, the nightmares and the tight chest and the anxiety continued. As a one-time wannabe psychologist and an emotionally intelligent person, I fully recognized that I was, in fact, very screwed up in the noggin.

I spent time in daily prayer for months on end asking God to let me let go, all the while knowing I was holding on to dangerous anger.
"Please, God, c'mon, I'm tired of feeling like this."
"Ok, Lord, I'm ready to be done thinking about it all the time."
"No, really, I'd like the nightmares to stop. I want the pain to end. I want to get over it."

Yet, I was still angry. I was still hurt. I was still full of righteous indignation over all the ways I had been wronged.

In April of this year, twenty months after my dad died and exactly two years since the last time I spoke to him (he spent the last four months of his life unconscious in an ICU), I went to our church's annual Women's Ministry Retreat. One of the breakaway small group sessions focused on a single question: "Who do you need to forgive?"
There it was. It was that simple.

My dad died without ever receiving my forgiveness, and without ever asking for it.

Because he had never apologized for the injuries he inflicted upon those around him, I hadn't forgiven him. Because he never admitted he was wrong, I hadn't forgiven him. Because he never told me that I was good enough, I hadn't forgiven him (o hai daddy issues and below sea level self-worth). Because I carried around a heaviness I couldn't shake, I hadn't forgiven him.

And then, sitting on the floor of my church's sanctuary, surrounded by women in silent prayer, in the middle of a quiet moment, forgiveness found me. I did not have to plead, I didn't bargain, I didn't ask another time to be able to forgive... it was just... there. The Peace that Passes Understanding.
(I have to say right now that I am not flippant about saying "The Lord spoke to me." Neither do I take lightly claims of seeing God in a grilled cheese sandwich. I had a beautiful and brilliant friend tell me once that you know it is the Holy Spirit speaking when the words are those that you'd never say on your own. And that? What I felt? Where I was? Was a place I would have never been able to get to by my own willpower or want to.)

I forgave my father. I was at complete peace for the first time in over a decade. No, the memories of the hurtfulness didn't dissipate, but the actual pain was gone. A literal weight fell off my shoulders. I felt no leftover anger. I was a person removed from fear. I was freed.

I had thrown exactly enough rocks.


Thursday, October 7

Life List

I've always kinda wanted to have a To-Do List for my life, but have never taken the time to sit and sort it all out. It seemed like such a daunting task... What do I want from my life?
After reading about the ladies at the Mighty Summit, I finally decided, by golly, I'm going to have a Life List. I'm a sucker for all kinds of hope, and what better embodiment than an actual list of things I hope to do in my lifetime?

This, my original list, is filled with mostly tangible things. I fully intend to write another list comprised of Big Ideas: change someone's life, make the world a better place, promote peace, be content.

I started this list in my head a few days ago. I came up with a few "ooh, yeah!" ideas. I sat down to write them today, thinking I'd come up with a dozen or so To-Do's, and ended up with almost eighty. Some of the items have been hidden in my heart for years, some occurred to me only seconds before I typed them out, all of them hold some kind of truth about myself. There is nothing here so wild as swinging on a trapeze in Thailand. There is no "step foot on all seven continents." I wanted to have a list of things that I truly want to do. Things that maybe, possibly, hopefully, I could achieve. I could easily write another eighty things that I want for my children, for my family, but I wanted this initial list to be just for me.

So. Here 'tis.

My Life List

1. Capture my husband’s true smile in a photograph

2. Spend a week at Disney world with my family

3. Spend a week in NYC with my husband

4. Spend a week in Montreat, NC by myself

5. Spend a week road tripping to east Tennessee with my brother

6. Publish a novel

7. Publish a children’s book

8. Treat myself to a once-a-month professional massage

9. Own a ridiculous pair of stilettos

10. Bet on George Strait’s racehorse

11. Harmonize with Jason Mraz

12. Meet Snoop D-O-double-G

13. Talk about life, man with Ryan Adams

14. Tour a secret part of the Smithsonian

15. Own a Jaguar (the car, not the cat)

16. Read 100 books aloud to my kids

17. Read 100 classic novels

18. Watch all of AFI’s top 100 movies

19. Relearn to play the trumpet

20. Dance at a Dave Matthews concert

21. Dance on the beach to Bob Marley music

22. Watch a John Mayer concert from backstage without making a fool of myself (ok, maybe making a fool of myself)

23. Help build 50 Habitat for Humanity houses

24. Buy an Ark from Heifer International

25. Coach my best friend through labor and delivery

26. Graduate from college

27. Watch my children graduate from college

28. Tour the Holy Land

29. Convince my brother to record an album

30. Adopt a child

31. Work for CASA

32. Trace my family’s genealogy as far back as possible

33. Drink a pint in a pub. In Ireland.

34. Drink a cappuccino in a café. In Paris.

35. Drink a bottle of wine in a piazza. In Tuscany.

36. Drink a shot of tequila on a beach. In Mexico.

37. Walk across Abbey Road

38. Handwrite a long thank you note to my mother

39. Play croquet on the White House lawn

40. Finish learning to play guitar (aside from the first three chords of “Freefallin’”)

41. Attend mass in Vatican City

42. Buy my husband a just-for-fun Jeep

43. Pay a disgusting amount of money for an original piece of artwork

44. Convince a woman to rethink abortion

45. Make the preflight announcements on a flight to Hawaii

46. Fly to Hawaii

47. Make regular mission trips to Guatemala and Nicaragua

48. Build a house in the country

49. Give away a car

50. Donate a thousand books to a rural school library

51. Memorize an e.e. cummings poem

52. Renew my wedding vows on our 25th anniversary, and then again on our 50th

53. Bake a perfect batch of my grandmother’s cookies

54. Grow enough vegetables to feed my family for a summer

55. Be able to speak fluent sign language

56. Join a book club

57. Learn to fight well, without fighting dirty

58. Fight for someone who can’t fight on their own

59. Laugh inappropriately loud at the most inappropriate time

60. Watch every Friends episode in order

61. Spend one Thanksgiving in Hyannis Port

62. Karaoke “Summer Lovin’” with my husband

63. Anonymously pay for someone’s drive-thru coffee

64. Dance in the rain without an umbrella

65. Whisper a secret to my daughters right before their daddy gives them away

66. Wear a funny hat at the Kentucky Derby

67. Attend a conference on my own

68. Read every word of the Bible

69. Stand where Jimi stood at Woodstock

70. Initiate a no-holds-barred food fight

71. Write a check, buy a home for someone I love

72. Gallop a horse on the beach

73. Make dinner from scratch for my family for seven consecutive nights

74. Stumble into a really good concert in Austin

75. Wear one fabulous red dress, with confidence

76. Wear fabulous red lipstick, with confidence

77. Learn to be myself, with confidence

78. Add one to-do each time I cross one off

So, what's on your Life List?
Tell me one thing, then go post your own.
Do it.
It's good for you.


Monday, October 4

Indescribably Undomestic: this is a true story

This is not me. Neither is it my mother. My mother was a single parent and a teacher and a Habitat for Humanity board member and a church Deacon and a hundred other things. She was interested in teaching me about different cultures, about giving to others, about what it means to be a child of God. She cultivated my love of reading, my love of music, my love of tradition, my love of family.
She did not, however, teach me to clean. Anything. At all.
Our kitchen counters overflowed with snacks. You would risk your life (or at least your unbruised forehead) when you opened any cabinet. To me, "hall closet" is synonymous with "junk repository."
You get the point.
Our house was messy.

Tale is told that my no-nonsense, mink coat-wearing, alcoholic, benevolent grandmother blew into town from Chattanooga when I was around the same age my Ladybug is now. I was always my father's mother's favorite grandchild. She terrified and thrilled me. She painted my fingernails a bright hooker red once, after my mother specifically forbade it. She let no man, woman, or child tell her what was what. She was six feet tall in flats. She did the what telling.

My Granny 'Nita loved my mother, and continued loving her daughter-in-law long after "ex" became her permanent prefix. I think my Granny terrified and thrilled my mother, too. In an attempt to impress (or, at the very least, not disgust) my grandmother, Momma began frantically cleaning her always-cluttered-yet-oddly-inviting home.
My mother made a big show of wiping down countertops and vacuuming the carpet. I'm sure I was flitting about, showing Granny 'Nita all of my very special and supremely important things
It all went downhill when my mother left the kitchen and returned with a mop and bucket in hand.
"Momma, what's that?" I asked.
"Oh honey, you know what this is, it's my mop!" she replied, surely giggling to cover her embarrassment.
"A mop? What does that do?"

And then my mother sent me off to play somewhere while she washed the tile, as my Granny 'Nita just stood there and smirked.