I spent most of today helping the Bee clean her room. There seems to be a bout of cleaning energy going around, and I was partly inspired by reading about Phil’s and Mary’s similar endeavors. The Bee is a clutter-y person (hmm, can’t think where she got that from), and about once or twice a year, we go through the whole collection item by item to try to cull some of the mess.

She donated quite a lot of stuff to Goodwill, trashed a huge amount of old paper and broken toys, and handed down a bunch of books and a few stuffed animals to her brother. I was really happy about the hand-me-downs, until I realized that one of the books she gave the Potato was my most-hated Elmo book ever, a book the Bee herself demanded endless readings of when she was three. Sure enough, the Potato asked me to read it to him before dinner, and then informed me that he would have daddy read it to him at bedtime.

This is really the first time we’ve done an exhaustive going over of her library since the Bee moved away from picture books and toward reading chapter books. I suggested to her that we shelve books by the same author together, and she got really into the idea. After we finished sorting out the pile of Junie B. Jones, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and E.L. Konigsberg, she decided that she wanted to categorize all the other books. These were the categories she came up with: animal facts, animal fiction, biography, fairy tales, fiction about people, and poetry. Somehow, the two or three Barbie books she has didn’t seem to fit into any category. And yet, they were reshelved anyway.

It was kind of a pain to do all the sorting, but in the end, I had fun doing it with her. Plus, I get the joy of knowing that someday she too will spend hours drooling over Kimbooktu, or writing to Doppelganger with recommendations for Sam. Maybe she’ll end up getting that MLIS that is my retirement dream

In other news, thanks to everyone for your supportive statements on yesterday’s post. As Elise guessed, I’m just venting, and the landismarriage is not really in jeopardy. Landisdad and I will struggle through this latest misfortune together, as we’ve struggled through many others in the past. After all, at the end of the day, who else is going to appreciate the agony of Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

January 15, 2007. books for kids, family life. 7 comments.

the joys of personal growth

I kind of wanted to write a social justice-y post in honor of Martin Luther King, but it’s just not in me today.

We’re about two weeks away from the end of landisdad’s unemployment eligibility, and coupled with some bad budgetary times at my job, I’m feeling pretty desperate about money. I spent most of Saturday trying to figure out how we could cut our personal spending by quite a lot. Goodbye, three days a week of daycare for the Potato! Adios, dreams of buying a new car! Sayonara, buying new books and giving charitable donations!

It’s sobering, to say the least.

In addition to my worry about money, there’s also my fury at landisdad for landing us in this situation. Oh, it’s not fair for me to be angry at him. I recognize that. It also doesn’t help him find a job if I’m nagging at him and yelling at him all the time (trust me, I tried that). The problem is that we’ve come to a situation where landisdad’s psychological makeup and mine are in complete conflict with each other.

You see, landisdad grew up in a family that is generally wealthier than mine, and with much more supportive parents. I haven’t taken money from my parents since I was a freshman in college (nor have they offered any). It’s been a very long time since I felt that they are a safety net that will support me in a rough patch. Landisdad (luckily for us) does not have similar feelings about his family.

I’m not trying to say that landisdad isn’t stressed out about our financial situation–he is, although I don’t think that he’s spending the amount of time going over our finances in his head that I am in mine. Some of that has to do with our family dynamic–on a day-to-day basis, I’m the one who manages the money. But at the heart of it, he’s not afraid that he’s totally alone.

I’ve found it very challenging to overcome my instincts about how to deal with the situation. There’s a part of me that wants to get up every single day and start our life over again. To go to a new place, to sell our house, to find new work. Sometimes, those plans involve staying married, and quite frankly, sometimes they don’t. There are times when I can’t help thinking I’d be a better mother to my children if I wasn’t walking around pissed off at a member of our family every day. Then there are the times that I remember that part of being a good mother is showing them that families stick together, especially through times that are hard.

Like most people, landisdad and I pledged in our wedding vows to stay together rich or poor. Like most people, I didn’t think it was going to be so difficult. In the eight years that we’ve been married, I’ve had six different jobs, and he’s had four. Some of those job changes were voluntary, some weren’t. But it’s a little hard to find stability with all that change.

I should say, too, that’s it’s not as if we’re in a really desperate situation. We do have his parents’ support (although I’m somewhat pained to keep taking it). It’s not like we’re running out of food any time soon–it’s more that we have to decide to live on our savings for a while. In fact, I’m almost embarassed to write this post, because really, we still have it so much better than the majority of people in the world.

I know that it will get better eventually–he’ll find work, we’ll make cuts, the kids will live without Nickelodeon. I’m trying really hard to look for the silver lining in this cloud, and the one thing that I’ve come up with is that it’s given me the opportunity for substantial personal growth. Now if I could only convince my psyche that this is a healing experience…

January 15, 2007. growing up. 14 comments.