Last week was tough. We came home to our new (old) house after almost six weeks of being on the road.
Everything needed my attention: the broken bathroom sink, the feathery dust collecting on the stairs, the papers piling up in the kitchen next to a busted iron, an open toolbox, and a random bottle of bubbles.
With my new job at Babble being underway, as well as my other writing jobs, toppling stacks of emails piling up, thank you cards to write, kids to get registered for school, and — did I mention my husband needing help getting started with his new practice?
Everywhere — literally everywhere — I looked, something yelled at me, “I’m urgent!”
In my old life — the life I had about a year ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a blog that was more like a hobby — I would have dug into these projects happily as my children played around me, or while they were napping. Now I have a sitter from 9 to 12 and my writing (and marketing of my writing) eats up naptime (and bedtime hours).
By the end of the week, I was in what Meagan Francis would call a “mom funk.” Breathing shallowly, googly-eyed from looking at a computer screen too long, feeling like my throat was lined with sandpaper, I kept thinking, “How am I going to handle this all?”
What lifted me out of my funk were people.
It all started with Jennifer who wrote about enjoying our pizza recipe just as much as I do. Then my mom called, and helped me figure out how to get the paintings off my floors and onto the walls. (Hang the art, she said, and then you’ll know what to do with the rest of the room.)
We went out to Arlington and picked up some of my daughters’ playmates from when we used to live there. (And I got to hug their moms again.) A block party in Turtle Park meant the whole family was out walking in the neighborhood among friendly faces: oh, how refreshing to see children giggling, bouncing, and eating sno cones at a fair.
Enrico helped me zoom in on what needed to be done next on the house. Saturday morning we attacked the living room, bringing it from gloomy and disordered to bright and joyful.
Funny how kids want to help out when they sense work is also fun. I pumped up an old Britney Spears CD I found (don’t you love that song, Lucky?), and Virginia got down with me on hands and knees with a rag and a bowl of soapy water. After the CDs and books were stacked on our shelves (and the baby had gotten great pleasure from pulling half of them down), we all danced in our pajamas to the Jersey Boys and ABBA.
Finally, we had two sets of friends come over for somewhat unplanned dinners. With the rest of the house a mess, our basement a jumble of unopened boxes, and a school supply list unchecked, I could have made an excuse. But I’m so glad some part of me instinctually knew: this is good for you.
So instead of cobbling together a dinner bought in the food section of CVS (yes, I confess we’ve been doing that), we invited them all in, we ate real food together, we sat down for a good hour, and we let the kids run wild (more or less).
And the second surprise was that, while cleaning up afterwards — wiping my window sills for the first time and soaking my stove burners — I felt love. I know it sounds melodramatic, but it was in getting down to the small details of daily life, the most mundane tasks like sweeping the floors, that I felt love — for my house that we had sacrificed a lot for, for myself because I hadn’t jealously guarded my space, for my friends because they wanted to come spend time with us.
So in honor of the kick-off of the Year About You, I want to say thank you. You are so important to me. What’s the point of doing much of anything if you don’t have friends? It’s like the message from the movie Cars that I watched with my daughters this weekend: if you don’t have friends, then all you have are empty trophies.
Do you agree?