I wake up at 5:30 (it should be 5 to keep Penny on Matt's milking schedule, but it never is) and go out to do chores. Milk the cow. Muck a ridiculous amount of poo. Haul 20 gallons of water from house to barn. Bed the animals. Give 'em all hay. Strain the milk. Wash the equipment. Start the fire. By this time the kids are up and wanting a hot breakfast. Do that too. Up until this point it is slam bang- hurry, hurry. One thing right after another. Only after all this does the day begin and I can have my own breakfast. Then it is school. Help with the math that infuriates and brings tears. Read. Listen to how roosters fertilize eggs and the length, width, gestation age, living conditions of whales/eagles/house flies/cows. Tell the kids to get along. Talk. Delegate. Intervene. Tell the kids to settle down. Lunch. Haul more water. Do all the above again until dinner. Then it is haul more water, muck more poo, throw more hay. Make dinner. Get everyone settled down for bed. Stay up until 1 am because I can't sleep in an empty bed, all alone without having talked with a grown-up at all the entire day, knowing more of the same is in store first thing in the morning; without the nightly snuggles, jokes and comfort of being in my Mister's arms and the slow and hypnotic breathing of his that eventually lulls me to sleep. I close my eyes and in a moment, the alarm blares and it is back at it.
I did something I never do this week. I asked for help. I am not the 'ask for help' kind of person, I'd much rather trudge through and not let on that I may not be able to do everything...but I did. I asked my mother in law if she would take the children for the day on Wednesday, giving me a break halfway through this no good, horrible, very bad all alone week. And you know what? She was happy to!
Wednesday morning, I woke the kids up early. We did all the schoolwork I wanted to fit in (plus some!) and then, at 10 am I dropped them off. They didn't come home until 8:30 that night.
I had big plans for the day. I wanted to relax. I wanted to read. I wanted to sew and crochet and I even thought about how luxurious it would be to watch a movie right in the MIDDLE OF THE DAY. (I hear people do this...watch tv in the middle of the day...which seems to me the ultimate relaxing thing in the world. Can't even imagine it.)
But you see, my house was a total wreck. I had been given a van full of fabric over the weekend to sort through and which I did, creating (and leaving) piles of fabric to be kept or donated all over the living room floor. I had been sorting through my bookshelves with piles of books for the book barn, piles to sell at my yard sale this summer and a pile of books my nephew might like. Because I was on my own, I had been less diligent at getting the children to right the house and put things away before they went to bed. I hadn't kept up with the house. The mudroom was a pile of shoes, dirty socks that had been pulled off wet after playing the snow, bags of apples and winter coats. It was bad. It was very bad. I hadn't mopped the floor in the dining room for pretty much the entire winter- it was pointless given all the back & forth to the basement water valves with barn boots on.
(Incidentally...all your kind words on the last post are put soundly to rest, I hope. *see comment on last post*)
So instead of taking a luxurious day off for myself to rest my weary bones (and spirit), I spent the day working particularly hard, righting a very wrong house.
I mopped. I dusted. I choked on the dirt and grime that swept into my nose from the mudroom floor. I discovered a broken egg behind out nature table which had fallen on a borrowed book. (no!) I changed the linens and doilies that hide the scratches and ruined wood from tables gotten from the side of the road. I got rid of some extra coats and shoes that no longer fit. I restocked my wheat and corn meal jars. I took down the quilt that protects the dining room from a frigid winter mudroom (joy!) and hung clothes on the line for the first time this year (though I had to trudge through a foot and a half of snow to do so.) I did all of this while listening to Gilead, uninterrupted. For hours. Which was just as luxurious as a movie in the middle of the day, by the way.
My favorite thing (besides taking down the quilt) was when I restored my stained glass lampshade (bought at a yard sale several years ago) to the living room. It had been put upstairs after falling off of the rickety, broken side table in the living room too many times. It is now wonky and a bit cracked- but on a sturdy table and a sturdier base so I get to enjoy it once again! Yay!
That night, I lit candles and soaked my feet in a hot lemon rosemary foot soak and lamented a bit, the fact that I had wasted my one day of 'freedom' and spent it cleaning. WHY would I have done that?!?! I mean, it felt good to be sitting in a genuinely clean living room (not just tidied up) and it felt liberating to be free from worry at the state of the mudroom, should a visitor pop in unexpectedly. But I wasn't rested at all. And I didn't sew, or write or crochet or do any of those things I consider 'relaxing'. Was I dumb to do it? I wondered. Was I dumb to waste my one chance on cleaning?
And then, about 10:30 pm, to my great surprise and delight, in walks a very tired Matt! He had gotten done a weeks' worth of work in the space of three days and had come home two days early! At that moment, when he walked in to a supremely tidy mudroom (the bane of my existence in this house), and a house to match it, smelling sweet and fresh with candles lit and my long missed stained glass lamp glowing bits of colored flowers, well, my tired feet and weary bones and 'wasted day' had not been wasted at all. All was right as rain, in fact.
For the record, the very next morning, it looked like this:
That's life for you.