How I Learned (Again) Why People Are What Really Matters

Last week was tough. We came home to our new (old) house after almost six weeks of being on the road.

Our dining room on move-in day

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.

I can't even look at my in-box without hyperventilating

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?

The reason why all 6 of us are still sharing a bathroom

Everywhere — literally everywhere — I looked, something yelled at me, “I’m urgent!”

Now this is just plain embarrassing.

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).

Our library/playroom has potential...

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?”

Our oven in this 70s restaurant range is broken, again

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.

Hooking up our CD player changed the mood, big-time

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.

Dancing to the Jersey Boys

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.

People, including and especially little people, make life good.

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?


p.s. Please keep the questions coming! I’m loving the conversation happening about when frugal becomes embarrassing.

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  • Elizabds August 30, 2011, 6:15 am

    Love the light in your house and the nice wood floors! H asks “do they have an upstairs in their house?’ I replied, “I’m sure they do.” Your “embarrassing” medicine cabinet tells me you’re a neat freak. ;) Looks like a great space to me. Congrats again!

  • Jen @ Jen Spends August 25, 2011, 10:16 am

    I’m so happy I was able to brighten your day just by making pizza! It has become my Friday thing now…I’m going to make it again tomorrow. You helped me get back into my cooking groove.

    I am loving the little sneak peeks or your new home – it’s going to be gorgeous once you’re all settled in. I really like all the natural light and the historical character.

    • Amy August 25, 2011, 11:31 am

      Hi Jen,

      I’m so glad the pizza has become a weekly tradition for you too!

      And I’m so happy you like the house too. It has so much potential.

      Take care,

  • Rebecca August 24, 2011, 4:13 pm

    Oh, how I miss you! I have been a mom funk too, yet kids are set with paperwork and school supplies and we have been in the same house for 8 years. This summer flew by and I have to say, I miss it already. The cooler weather is wonderful but I feel like, hey, did we get to the park/pool/playground enough?! One thing that is nice is that once schools start there ain’t no time for funks!!!

    • Amy August 24, 2011, 7:23 pm

      Hi Rebecca,

      So right — the summer whizzed by. And did we have enough fun? You know what? I bet the kids did.

      One remedy for us? More mom’s nights out!

      I miss you too!