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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Purge and Binge

My husband may find my ways circuitous and mysterious, but in the end, he often appreciates the result.

Last night, Bruce lay supine on the family-room sofa listening to 70s and 80s era rock-and-roll music (I still find myself toe-tapping to ACDC’s “Shook Me All Night Long”), the fire-place and sconces lit. It was a rare moment of peace and serenity for my wonderful husband, who works and plays very hard.

I, of course, take full credit for his ability to relax. For it was due to neuroses-of-the-week, both an inability to resist a deal, and my current need to purge our house of clutter, that created the environment that triggered his lounging instinct.

Lately I have been in a state of purging. As I am not naturally a neat and tidy housekeeper, this is a significant event. The windows boast four-month old peanut butter smears and six-week old mosquito corpses are sprinkled on the windowsills. A few dog “markings” have been completely ignored in the hope they’ll just go away by themselves. (They haven’t.) And I am the only person I know who has thick crescents of dust around the edges of her stairs. The best gardening success of my life is currently occurring in my gutters, which after two years of accumulated dirt and leaves are growing darling little birch trees.

Visitors to my house are given the opportunity to witness how dirty my berber carpets are, when I lift up the edge of the area rug and compare it to the adjoining, unprotected high-traffic zone. This phenomenon, and generally evokes a response somewhere along the lines of, “Wow, Linda. That’s really something… Huh.”

I remember when my oldest son, Jack, was born, thinking that my days of indolence were over. I realized it would be awhile before I could sleep-in again until 11:00am. My mom was similarly concerned. Though I was nearing 30 at the time, and she had a naked desperation for grandkids, I remember her asking, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was 8-months pregnant at the time. Sure enough, since June 26th, 1998, I have gone kicking and screaming into a mode of keeping up with the daily demands of caring for a family. And with each kid those demands have increased exponentially.

In any case, four kids and many soiled onesies later, things are changing in my life. After deeply grieving the end of my child-bearing years, and still clinging tenaciously to every moment I have with my youngest child, I am starting to taste a new flavor, one that is exciting and freshening, and promises all new adventures. No more diapers, no more Teletubbies, no more bibs; children able to buckle themselves in the car, kids reading to themselves, growing and changing and learning and rebelling.

All this and more is around the corner, and though I’m noticing a startling amount of gray hair these days, I’m also aware of a growing wisdom – I feel at times like a wizened old shaman who is teaching her followers. “Ah, Grasshopper, when you run a load of whites, add a bit of bleach to kill germs and odors! Then, all will be well with you!”

My husband’s “procedure” seems to have been successful - before, he used to just breathe on me and I’d get pregnant. Now, no matter how hard he tries, I remain un-knocked up. So, I guess we really are done. I guess it’s safe to get rid of seven years of baby detritus. We have accumulated a lot.

Evan turns 18 months old today. He just moved up into size 2T clothes. That means I no longer have any reason to keep baby clothes any smaller than that. He no longer plays with rattles, preferring his brother’s toy light-saber (ala Star Wars). We still use baby-bibs, but not often – I sorted through them keeping only several of the biggest and most absorbent, giving away a whopping 17.

Among the other items recently purged and donated:
2 Boppys (rarely used)
2 Crib skirts (possibly never used)
4 books about being pregnant
10 infant hats (also never used – my kids’ heads were so big, they just popped off)
20 rattles (now, seriously, how many rattles does a baby need?)
22 pairs of shoes
36 pairs of socks (almost all of these came out of Ellie’s drawer)
44 pieces of infant clothing (boy-stuff only; this doesn’t include the prodigious amount I’m forwarding to my sister-in-law)
52 pieces of toddler clothing (girl-stuff only)
55 items of maternity clothing (stuff I had “lost” during my last pregnancy and only just found – how I wish I’d remembered about them!)

Aside from these donations, I have taken other drastic measures to establish my post-babyhood-dom. I also donated the infant swing, got rid of the “super-saucer”, and last night, the most significant measure of all – we put away the playpen that was slowly being filled way past capacity with toys. No longer any room in it for a baby, even if he would tolerate being “caged” (which he won’t).

What I’m finding is that I have a hell of a lot more storage space in my house.

I’m also realizing that were I to decorate a room, it might actually be noticeable through the dwindling forest of toys and infant-equipment. There is something about purging that makes me want to “fancy-up” the house, arranging couch pillows just-so and keeping the kitchen counters clean.

Last spring, I made Bruce paint one wall of the livingroom orange. Now, I’m determined that he should do the downstairs bathroom. It has been a bit of a conundrum, because there are just a few sage and brick tiles, both of which are colors I don’t want, but which I’m obliged to incorporate. After a great deal of thought, a shade of eggplant seems to be a suitable choice.

Yesterday, while Bruce was out ice-skating and bowling with Jack and Sabrina, I took Evan and Ellie to Lowe’s to look at paint chips. I brought home at least 20 and taped them all up in the bathroom.

When Jack came home he asked in a wary voice, “Are you going to paint the bathroom purple?”

I corrected him. “Eggplant, dear. And I’m not the one painting it. Your father is.”

Bruce expressed concern that any of the potential shades would drastically darken the bathroom. I patiently explained that if you look closely at that room, there really isn’t that much wall-space. Its mostly mirror, shower tiles, cabinet, toilet, etc. Amazingly, after seeing things through my eyes, he agreed.

When I tried to tell him which color is my favorite, he insisted on guessing.

After a moment’s consideration he said, “Poetic Purple.”

Another miracle.

“Yes! Don’t you just love it?! But, really, don’t you think it’s more of an eggplant?”

While we were at Lowe’s, I couldn’t help but buy a little something. I’m always guilty taking color samples. It feels a bit like stealing. So, by buying something, I am justified in the handfuls of color swatches littering the cart. (A hint for tightwads: they make great homemade playing cards for the kids!)

This time, I bought a couple of storage pieces for the mudroom. They are those pressboard deals you assemble at home. One had cubby-holes I thought would be perfect for the ridiculous amount of children’s shoes strewn around. The other had two small drawers which I thought would be great for the copious numbers of mittens, hats and scarves that are about to emerge from their summer-slumber.

I got the cubby-thing together okay, but a critical piece of the drawer-unit was broken, so after dinner, I took the girls back to Lowe’s to return it.

I had every intention of simply replacing it, but then I saw they were having a sidewalk sale. Fabric deck chairs for 80 percent off! Perfect for next summer (nine months away). I got four. A wrought-iron fireplace screen for 75 percent off. I got one of those.

When Bruce saw me unloading the car he just shook his head. When I told him how inexpensive everything was, he just sighed and put the chairs in the garage to wait, packaged and stacked, until next summer. Then, he went into the familyroom, and removed the playpen from where it blocked the fireplace. Then, he set up the discounted fireplace screen, turned on the fire and the radio, and chilled. And as he lay there I’m sure I know what he was thinking: what a genius his wife is.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

HA! I'm surprised we didn't see you at Lowes. We got two half whiskey barrels and four other large pots for next summer as well as another gallon of paint for Abi's room. Looks like we'll be painting today and tomorrow. Dinner plans may have to wait as we have no place for kiddos to play at the moment. I'll read your blog in more detail after church.

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello dear SIL!

You're giving me inspiration :-) I'm working on FlyLady-ing my life. I guess Patrick is out of baby stuff too (at 3.5 years and 54 whopping pounds, we finally gave away the jogging stroller).

Now if I can just pay off the deck and replace a) the living room carpet and b) Bordello Bath...

Liz :-)

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh.... we moved the last weekend in June and we're still painting and needing to binge and purge more! But doesn't it feel incredible to get rid of all the baby stuff? Poor Andra- she's swimming in mine ;^) Now watch me jinx myself. -kk


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