Bedsheets of Beelzebub

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The bedsheets of Beelzebub

That scratch and itch

And wrongly rub

Little balls of itchy wrinkles

Like a dog poop salad

With little sprinkles

Like the sleep of a guilty conscience

Like an itchy canine

Scraping his haunches

But cross the river to Target’s door

With one months pay and a little more

Fresh like Heaven’s rescue netting

We float away on brand new bedding

By Ted Boyl-Davis

September 16, 2016

How a Busy Working Mom Finds Time to Write.

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Yesterday I thought I might try to publish some of my work.  And I say so.  Out loud.  As would have it, yesterday left not a minute for writing.  A weekend day filled to the brim with everything but.  Worried husband at the very mention of the thing has visions of our lives falling into shredded bits.  The kids suddenly are very needy.  As are numerous unmentioned others.  There is dinner to make, a friend I’ve promised to call.  The dirty house, the eternally corrupted place of living, reaching to me, wanting more and still more.  Hurriedly, I do what I can, hoping.  Kids, finally kissed goodnight, I rush through my own bedtime busyness, still in hopes of quiet space for writing.  And alas, it’s bedtime – Adored husband reminds me of this fact as I move toward overstuffed writing chair.  In bed, I lay still.  Very much awake, mind spinning with the things paper and I might say.  I behave myself.  I don’t slide out of bed the way I want to, to a lonely laptop.  Adored Husband might stir, and even if he doesn’t, tomorrow is full.  I need sleep. 

Today I wake to the early dawn alarm. The daily race, it rushes me.  Leaving College Girl and Butterfly sleeping, I ready myself for an hour at the pool where our son swims for a team, and where I swim with Mom.  Out of pool, showered and ready for the day, together we hurry toward home, Mom and Son and I.  Gulp down a breakfast, hugs and kisses to Butterfly, still sleepy she has meandered down the stairs – all decked out in a tinkerbell tutu. 

Goodbyes said, I make my way back to the track where I walk with my clients.  Walk and talk, that’s what we do.  Step and then another and another.  7.5 miles my dusty shoe tread takes me round the track.  I listen to the happenings of the week, shame and fear, days past, strengths gained, tears, rage, numb and steps we take together.  Hour after hour we move across the earth, warm and bright today.  The last hour, is overcast, with sputters of rain, and still we walk.  All hours filled with life raw for healing. 

Last client seen, I make my way toward the thrift store for sharing 5 bags of books, clothes and toys that hoard space in the backseat of my kid-mobile.  Home again, Butterfly and Grandma have made peanut butter cookies.  All Mr. Business is listening to an old Spike Jones song – and loud.  Laughing, he plays it one more time for me.  I laugh.  Write.  How am I to write?  A few minutes for hearing the happenings of the day, knock on door, neighbor-kiddo’s face peeks through door glass – the stampede and they’re off to play.

Oh, my chance.  A minute to steal.  Here I sit, stolen moment, and all is blank.  Of all the inner tuggings to write, it’s gone. Nothing.  Too tired to be angry or hopeless, just numb.  Blob on couch with screen and keys.  The only thought that comes to me is a question.  How clean, I wonder, is a writer’s house?  House of working Mom who writes?  And I remember the grand writing projects that form when I’m in motion.

washing dishes

pulling weeds

piling them high in wheelbarrow for hauling away

painting a chair

                                   sorting

                                                                             throwing away

The best of both worlds.  Dig into the ever-reaching house until I’m inspired, and like a hot potato, drop it all to write without ceasing until the beauty unearthed by some grand cleaning frenzy has taken shape on paper.  Then back to daily tasks again for the next gathering of rich and lovely heart things to tell about. 

The family, they will survive.  They will become accustom to the rhythm of the exchange.  With hopes high, I spring off Seat of Nothingness – rush to the pantry to grab a paper bag and two for filling.  Piling high.  Higher.  Tap shoes, plaid shirts, engineering books, games, tupperware lids without a use.  Haul step by heavy step down the stairs, out into the car where they will be rushed off for sharing. 

That’s it!  Scouring and scrubbing, purging the shelves, chopping for soup pot, folding mounds of wearing things, no longer in the way of writing at all.  These tasks are a petri dish of the best of discoveries.  A greenhouse where the bud of good writing blossoms.  Routine motion in exchange for deep and profound thought. 

Our agreement. Writing, Mother Tasks and I.

How to Prevent Hoarding In Children

Once in awhile I do something just right.  The Mom job has left me with a steady drip, drip, drip of ‘what were you thinking, anyway?!’, so when I happen upon the rare ‘atta-boy’ for my parenting, I accept it.  Today as my 7 year old loaded toy after special toy into a Trader Joe’s paper bag, to the top and overflowing, it dawned on me that Butterfly is the last of our 4 kids to have passed the “am a share-er of nice and special things, am not a hoarder’ test.  As hoarding seems to run in parts of the family, it was one test I hoped they all would pass.  The kids have been natural savers of every little thing.  Ticket stubs from a special play, a glass bottle from an unusual soda, shells and stones and really cool pieces of wood. 

When trying to think through what might bring on hoarding, I had a couple questions: 

Might hoarding take root when I force my child to get rid of a thing?

If I discard my kids things when they aren’t looking,

might I create fear and an unhealthy protection over his or her things? 

Would it help to have my child pack up some items temporarily (for the attic), as a way to teach them to practice parting with something special for good?

With these questions in mind, when it came time to clean a bedroom or toy room heaped high with too much stuff, I’d ask the kids which toys they wanted to keep in their rooms, which they wanted to pack away for another time, and which toys they wanted to give away. 

First time around always took more time, they were little and putting a special toy into a box to be put away worried them… but I let them do this choosing and packing while supporting them.  Packing for the attic became familiar over time.  As each child learned that the things they had chosen to store in the attic could be retrieved again, the fear of packing up treasures faded. 

There are drawbacks. 

I had to release my need for an instant minimalist home and attic.

Release my desire for instant personal relief in exchange for

hopes that my kids would mature into open-handed individuals. 

The ideas above were important, but most importantly, when son or daughter wanted to give something away, I tried to never argue about what he or she wanted to part with.  I didn’t always do this perfectly.  Sometimes I didn’t like the idea of losing an expensive toy or book, special for whatever reason.  But I decided if I couldn’t bear to see a thing parted with, how would I ever expect my kids to learn what I was trying to teach.

Hoarders aren’t just junk collectors who don’t like to clean.  They sometimes extend kindness to an unwanted object, as if the thing were were a person.  Finding value in something that is about to be tossed.  Finding value and thinking themselves clever for having rescued it.  They also self sooth their own anxiety by saving an object, experience a feeling of relief and security holding onto a thing.  Difficulty with decision making can be part of the equation.  The more hoarding that takes place, the more difficult decision making becomes.  Some hoarders have a bit of maverick in them.  A bit of ‘ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do.  I ain’t beholden to nobody.’  Owning things, a way to avoid buying or borrowing from another person, living in the fantasy of complete independence. 

Hoarding is no worse a break from the best than overeating or yelling at my kids.  It is, however, very debilitating and very isolating.  And is also somewhat socially acceptable.  We Americans in 2016 love our junk.  I don’t want that for my life, and don’t want that for my kids.  Objects are not able to provide what we really need.  We spend time dreaming and saving and buying the most recent really cool thing, telling our friends what we hope to buy one day, telling them what we have. And while we are consumed with our things, we miss it all.  Miss another catching our eye.  Stop reaching for the hand beside us, there to hold.  The hair for tousling.  I want my kids to realize that some of the nastiest thieves in life are really cool things.  Things are not people, do not carry feeling, and can not meet our deepest needs.  Surrounded by excess I forget to ask, am I comfortable?  My family, are they comfortable?

We long for vacation

surrounded mostly by air and dirt, mountain, river and each other 

Very few trappings. 

If we were to quiet our souls back home

ask what can be done to experience vacation inside our own four walls

much of what is special to us would have to go.

When a thing takes away from living life, it’s time to give it away to someone who will experience more blessing than curse.  I want my children to realize that even a thing with possible future value, something that might be used one day, if taking space in heart and home is a thing that holds more power than it should.

As I’m coming off of three years of being sick, house budging to the brim, finally able to load up bag after bag, Butterfly and Mr. All Business at my side, I’m thankful for what I part with.  Husband, children, Lincoln the dog and myself in this house, all more valuable than its contents.  Extra items, they gasp and choke out a full breath of life. 

Out! 

Away, you choking items of ownership! 

Come near, hands to hold, blond curls, happy paws. 

And together we carve out spaces of togetherness. 

Mops and Dirt

A special mop has come into my life.  Such happiness.  A mop able to bolt me out of bed, race me toward kitchen floor for one more scrubbing.  Fan turned to high to erase all evidence before giant feet, medium sized feet, little feet and a pair of paws arrive for one more day of mess making.1004513_10152108847809307_93194406_n  Granted, this mop has special powers.  It comes with built in bucket elongated the length of the handle, a tank of mixture (oxiclean,bleach and water). No need to fill a sink for dipping mop into.  I have a mop camelback of sorts, with a squirt function just above the mop pad which, by the way is velcro like, and removable!

I hate a sticky floor, and for some reason I have never been able to keep it straight for any length of time.  My reasons are many.  Good reasons such as our kids are hungry 75 times a day rather than the mythical 3. Lets see.  There’s the tap shoes that can be used only on the tile, and don’t you realize that floor tapping is so much more fun while using the hula hoop that accidently crashes into the dogs dish!  Just when I’m asking a certain Little Miss to clean it up, the doorbell rings and her long lost neighbor who she hasn’t seen for 3 whole days is bouncing up and down screaming right along her in celebration of finally seeing each other again.  How can I ever stop such sheer happiness, and so I lean down to scoop up dog food while below in the yard they are bounding, racing, jabbering just because they’re together.  In the middle of that task I think to myself, I’d better mop, too. Heading to the pantry where I keep the mop, I remember a niece in bootcamp I haven’t written to in a week or two, and I know if I don’t stop everything I’m doing right now and get it done, it won’t happen for months.  Sitting down at kitchen table, I tell her about swim team for one cousin.  The fish he caught on vacation.  The lawn mowing business he works at.  I tell her about another cousin of hers working at Olive Garden, singing Gershwin with me last night, just for the fun. Tell her of the adventures of Little Miss.  Forts built, the cooking, the reading skills she’s acquiring.  I tell her tales of work life at Boeing for Uncle.  The walks I take with clients.    Address on envelope, stamp intact, I better take this to box or it will never be sent.

Oh no, it’s time to feed the kids again.  

And so it goes, until the whole day through is consumed with ways of ruining my floor. Happy sticky floors.  By time the mess makers of all sizes are tucked into bed I can hardly take a step.  But try, I do, to sweep and mop, for starting tomorrow out really nice, with feet bare stepping across unscathed soft surface.  And as I stirr early morning, house mostly quiet but for husbands noising sleep-breathing, a ticking clock beside my bed, I just can’t help myself.  Makes not a bit of sense at all.  The floors have not been touched since I mopped them last.  Still, I think one more sweep and mop will do no harm toward the cause.  Stealthy sneaking out of cotton sheets, through bedroom door, down the stairs to kitchen floor, I sweep and mop, frizzled hair a-flying, fast I work.  The last edge swiped up, the fan now on, I hear feet on the floor.  It will be dry by the time toes arrive.   Yeah!!!  I did it.

 

Not Knowing

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Today a friend commented after having told her how I’m doing, “So, no changes,huh?” That is so depressing to me. At the moment, I’m setting up a counseling business because the last office I set up made me no money in 6 months. Will this one be a waste of time too, although I have a book keeper now trying to help me keep paperwork straight? As we speak, we are packing up a daughter for college. We are preparing to put the younger two in school, we are asked to decided whether we want to move to Salt Lake now, or in January, or Charleston now or later or stay here. As for staying here, we are told we can’t refinance unless we raise our house payments by a TON, and that our house has to be finished, which we haven’t been able to manage yet. Dealing with Adored Husband mentally teetering on the brink of crazy and genius as he always does when he’s inventing – the thing he does for a living.

…they that wait upon the Lord WILL renew their strength…

I’m told to keep moving forward. To act as if I’m going to put the kids in local school. As if I will have a dozen paying clients in my new office in a week, moving forward.. not knowing – yet moving forward. I don’t do that well, which means I’m not doing well. Last year – today – I had a breast removed in an effort to keep cancer from spreading through me. That was the day I wondered if the cancer was taking me or moving on. I had to adjust to one on, one off. The crisis gone, why does life feel so off and so hard and so confusing? I don’t know. All I know is that I love to see my kids learn and grow. I love to work with clients, even when I’m not getting paid. I love my friends in WA, and my house. I love the mountains in Salt Lake, and the sunshine. I don’t love anything about Charleston because it’s too far from my kids… but if I was forced to, I’d learn to love life there as well. I love my guy, always curious about life  – despite his swings. And so I toss the stress back at God…. and move forward, not knowing.  Teetering forward, haltingly forward, hoping as I move along that God will direct these stressed out steps of not knowing.

Uniform Colors

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Chapel uniforms have been the same four years in a row for our school kids. For some reason I can not ever remember what they are. Navy and kaki, white and kaki, or the burgundy and navy. Humm… maybe it’s the navy with the white. Well, year book came home with the kids yesterday. Oh dear, picture after picture. Ribs started aching at the outlandish hilarity of what we were seeing. Butterfly – the only little Pre-K’er wearing a kaki jumper and white blouse under, kind of the centerpiece angel, surrounded by her entire class wearing burgundy and navy. All Mr. Business in his class picture wearing a burgundy shirt and navy pants… color was right amazingly, but the only one without a vest. Another picture – there she goes… Butterfly running for the fund raiser, rainbow striped shirt and hot pink pants, the rest of her class behind and before wearing the burgundy spirit-wear.

For Mom’s Day at school a month or so ago, All Mr. Business asked me what my most embarrassing moment ever in my life was. After listening to my story, I asked him about his most embarrassing ever in his life moment. He told me it was a few years ago when I told him to dress for spirit day… he showed up to school in cowboy attire, from boots to chaps to belt, bandana and the hat – only to find out it wasn’t spirit day… nor was it spirit week. I remember the day well. I drove up to the school end of day. Marching up to the car he swung open the door, plopped onto the seat, slammed the door hard and announced “I HATE SPIRIT WEEK!!” Making my way out of the Mom’s Day event, I stopped to tell the school “Mother” about this incident. It took her a bit to contain the howling, snorting doubled over laughter – catching her breath she said she remembers that day. One of the teachers came by to ask her why Henry wore cowboy clothes to school. “I don’t know. I guess he likes to wear chaps and boots. I wonder if he remembers he attends a school with uniforms.” The kids and I realized, laughing hysterically as we poured over the year book that we really missed having College Girl home this year. Didn’t realize how much she had helped our entire family keep our details straight.

Well here’s to College Girl home for summer, and the minimal clothing complications summer might bring:)

Amelia

Charred Noodles with Cheese

I Kiss Better THAN I COOK

I’m jarred into the moment with a shrillness of a blaring fire alarm.  Holding my ears, I rush through the kitchen, switch the burner off, grab billowing pan off stove, rush toward the back door to the deck.  This is not a rare event.  It’s at least a weekly one.  I can’t say I hate cooking.  I just like to cook occasionally.  I won’t say I’m a pyromaniac, no that’s not it.  I’d rather say I love to learn and think and write, and kids and husbands have to eat so often.  If I’m ever to think deeply, put something down in writing, struggle over an idea, it will get in the way of cooking.  So when I found this sign, I decided to proudly post the truth:)  The sign is me, not only because I can be forgetful about meals themselves, but because I’m lacking nothing in the way of hugs and kisses to whatever kid or husband will take them!  For the record, our fridge is always stocked with pre-made salad I put together, a pot of chili, home made bread (that’s Adored Husbands nightly ritual), nut and crasin packs, pre-boiled eggs, often a pot of soup.  The freezer almost always has pre-made smoothies, corn dogs… you get the idea.  It’s not that the family goes hungry.  It’s just that spending 10 hours a day in the kitchen gets on my nerves.

There are ideas that float around Christian Circles  -opinions sent through the “A Goldy Christian Woman would …” grid.  Ideas that sometimes stand my hair on end, because they are ideas, not God Speak, and dump a whole lot of guilt on people for no good reason.  Ideas such as a Godly Women will set aside who she for what the family needs “for a season”  until kids leave the home, because time flies by.  That particular idea is partially true for families who have 2 children, two years apart.  However the idea lacks any validity at all for families who have many children, or families whose children are spaced out! – And anyone who knows are kids will agree we have spaced out kids:)… (OK, the acorn doesn’t fall far from the trees – plural.)  We had our first (College Boy) when I was 26.  I will be 60 when Butterfly heads off to college.  Thirty-four years to be exact.  That’s not a season, it’s one year short of 3 and a half decades – and during my prime.  I don’t ever think it’s Godly to be selfish and so centered on what I enjoy that I ignore or neglect my kids and husband, however there is a fine line between caring for my family and loosing myself.  If I don’t at times write, sing, climb a mountain, think a deep thought and express it, take a photo, write some more, I’m just a walking shell – a robot Mother, not myself.  I’ve tried putting me on hold for years at a time, wondering why I’d eat for pleasure rather than fuel, struggle with a sense of meaninglessness, and experience frustration at the feeling of being a failure when it comes to being a mother.   To be honest, I have never been able to come close to competing when it comes to birthday party events, volunteering at school, even keeping the house straight with the world all day every day.  Age has given me the gift of easy does it…,  it’s becoming clear that Mom’s come in all forms – even somewhat intellectual and bookish at times.  Some Moms thrive on casseroles and wrapping gifts perfectly.  Some can make casseroles and wrap gifts, but the tasks drain them rather than give them a sense of accomplishment.  Just as some Dads will coach their kids sports, others may teach their child how to trade stock, how to pull an engine or how to think about Western Civilization.  People are unique… that’s Mothers, too.  When I embrace who I am, my children start to embrace who they are, their sense of value further develops, they become better servants, care for others on a deeper level by the development of their own esteem.  Okay, I shouldn’t be burning up dinner once a week.  This is true.  The important thing is that no matter what has me deep in thought, I’ll not run out of hugs and kisses – well, not permanently, anyway:)  My family might survive on peanut butter and jelly a long time, but wouldn’t last long without love.

Amelia