Category Archives: Domesticity

Lost: One Pair Perspectacles, Slightly Used

FullSizeRenderDo you all read Glennon Doyle Melton, the woman behind Momastery? I bet a lot of you do. She’s pretty awesome, not least for being almost the only self-proclaimed christian writer I’ve read who has never, ever, I mean not once, come across as sanctimonious or preachy. That takes some skill, especially for readers like me who have an over-sensitive sancti-meter. Anyway, Glennon (we’re on a first name basis, in my mind) coined the term “perspectacles” to talk about the importance of being able to see your life with new eyes sometimes, to remember all that you have to be grateful for and not feel coerced into keeping up with any crazy external standard for your life or your body. This post explains it well. It’s a handy concept to invoke when I’m feeling pissy for no good reason (or, more often, when my kids are revealing their sense of entitlement to their horrified leftist mama). As a tryna-be Buddhist, perspectacles fit well into the precept of looking for the best in people and situations, and practicing gratitude. Good things to practice, for sure.

This month, however, I seem to have misplaced my perspectacles. I feel all oscar-the-grouchy about everything. Granted, there has been some shit happening the last two weeks that is worth grumping about, including but not limited to: the flu, the other kind of flu, Chad’s grandma almost dying, my kid getting sexually harrassed at school, and a dear friend getting diagnosed with breast cancer. I mean, no one in their right MIND would be grateful for any of that stuff. But the point of perspectacles isn’t to cover up or gloss over the shit; it’s to put it in PERSPECTIVE, as in: I no longer have any kind of flu, Chad’s grandma didn’t die, my kid handled herself like a rockstar, and my friend caught it early and will, we hope, have a good prognosis. And I can WRITE all that, and SAY it to myself, but it just isn’t working. Like, my brain is all, “But HEY: you got into GRAD SCHOOL!! With FUNDING!! In the SOUTH!!! Holy validation!!” and my heart is like, “Fuck you. David Bowie is STILL DEAD. FOR ALWAYS,” and my brain goes, “But you’re getting to go to the UK this summer!! For two weeks! Without your kids!! Don’t be a brat!” and my heart says, “I KNOW I’M A BRAT SHUT UP. Everyone is yelling all the time and I’m sick of this election season and I’m worried about money and I’m not getting to my to-do list and I won’t be ready for the move aaaaaahhhhh,” and my brain gets fed up and is like, “FINE. God, you’re such a Debbie Downer. Go read some Y.A. fiction or something, if you’re going to act like a twelve-year-old all the time,” and my heart yells, “DON’T YOU DISS Y.A. FICTION IT’S SOME OF THE BEST WRITING HAPPENING RIGHT NOW AND ANYWAY GENRES ARE AN ARTIFICIAL CONSTRUCT,” and then my brain and heart storm off into opposite corners in a huff and I immerse myself in a John Green novel which is lovely but I’m still grumpy.

I dunno. Probably I need to meditate or something, but also probably sometimes you just need to be grumpy for no good reason and let that happen. I’ve always hated it when I’m having a public meltdown (Facebook counts as public, right?) and some well-intentioned soul reminds me that things could be worse and there are starving children in China or something. I mean, has that ever helped ANYONE? Like, I still feel crabby but now I also feel SUPER GUILTY about it. Good job! So I’m trying to be kind to myself, while also looking like hell for those perspectacles because I do not wish to be an entitled, blind-to-my-own-privilege asshole. BALANCE.

In summation, I am grumpy, for no good reason. But I wanted to end this post on a more positive note, and I remembered a thing I’d posted on Facebook earlier this year that I’d been meaning to blog for posterity, but I couldn’t remember when I’d posted it so I just searched Facebook for “Elise Robinson peanuts sex.” Which is maybe the most awesome string of search terms I’ve ever personally used. Also, and I’m not sure how I feel about this, the search came up with two results, and only one of them was mine. I haven’t even looked at the other one because I don’t know if I can handle it right now. Anyway, here’s the post, from September 2015:

Oh, lawsy, I wish I had a video recording of the conversation I just had with the girls in the car. Highlights include:

– Eleanor advising Sylvia to get married to a boy instead of a girl if she wants to have babies, because if she marries a girl she’ll have to “get shots” to have a baby

– Sylvie asking me how you have babies with a boy and thinking I said”peanuts” instead of “penis”

– me uttering the phrase “NEVER PUT PEANUTS IN YOUR VAGINA”

– Ellie wondering how you have sex and guessing that you “just walk up to someone and ask them”

– Sylvie deciding she just wants to adopt

Never put peanuts in your vagina, y’all. You can take that to the bank.

The Internet is Magic + Valentines

Well. Clearly you guys possess some kind of magical powers, or somehow WordPress and Facebook are functioning as spiritual modulation amplifiers or SOMETHING, because the very morning after I posted the heartbreaking saga of how I was ruining my tween child’s every dream and hope of happiness, the very next morning I tell you, she walked up to me and said, “Mama? I have decided something. I will be ok with moving to Georgia, if – IF – you will set me up so I can Skype with Addie and Maya.” (You may recall that this was something I had already offered her as a sweetener. Several times. To no avail.) “Well, of COURSE we can do that, honey,” I said, waiting for the other shoe to drop. A smartphone? A pony? A magical flying rainbow unicorn? She must want more than this!!! “OK, then,” she said. “We can move.” And just like that, it would seem, we’re ok. 

I can now make references to the move without conjuring tears. Tonight we looked at houses and schools online to get a sense for what it might be like to live there. Eleanor reminds Sylvia that we’re moving whenever she thinks Sylvia has forgotten. We go outside and she says, “I sure will be glad when we don’t have SNOW anymore!” Be honest: did one of you switch my daughter with an amazingly lifelike replica? No? (Good, because if you’re going to switch her out I want the house-cleaning, non-smartass model, with available bartender/barista option.)

I can only attribute her change of heart to 1) pure tween cussedness, and 2) the incredible outpouring of love and support my post generated, here and on Facebook.  Social media can suck sometimes, making us feel inadequate or like we aren’t keeping up with the shiny happy lives we imagine our friends are living. But it can also be a real lifeline when you’re going through shitty times in your life, as I have personally witnessed on more than one occasion. If you’re reading this, know that you are part of my village, part of my family’s village, and you are for realz keeping us afloat. And that is a blessing, because my swimming skills are for shit.

OK, enough sappy stuff. Wanna see the AWESOME card Eleanor made me for Valentine’s Day? She really outdid herself this year. First, she drew this picture:

EllieValentine1That’s me in the lounge chair/swing, with Chad behind me either giving me the world’s worst back rub or possibly about to push my chair over? My two friends Greta and Amy are happily clinking wine glasses in the background, while my friend Jessy is kindly watching over all the collected children. (This is inaccurate. In real life, all the adults except Greta would be clinking wine glasses and Greta would be engaging the children in a lovingly handmade educational craft activity. Everyone should have a Greta in their lives.) A happy little scene, n’est ce pas? On the other side of the page, she wrote this glorious little note:

EllieValentine2It says (and I imagine this performed in a sort of school-girl public speaking singsong, for best effect) (all wonky punctuation and spelling reproduced from the original):

“Happy Valentine’s Mommy. I hope you have a great day today. I love you so much, and that’s what valentine’s are for. On the other side of this page, I Have drew a picture of all my freinds and all of your freinds. For I have loved you forever and nothing can break that bond between us. xxxxoooo love, your very speciel dauther, Eleanor R.”

I mean, come on. That’s a straight up kick-ass valentine. And it’s ALSO basically how I feel about you guys. Nothing can break that bond between us. Love, your very speciel freind, Elise R.

Look! Pretty!

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s been like over a month since I’ve posted. What can I tell you? August snuck up on me like a ninja and then beat me up like Mike Tyson. Only without the ear biting, plus it was fun instead of intensely painful. I WIN METAPHORS.

Anyway, here’s something I just finished. Maybe if you’re good I’ll post something real this week.

Click here to view this photo book larger

It’s possible that I’ve gone a little overboard

LogoForCampNellieBlyWell! This has been a veritable whirlwind of a week. It was the official first week of summer, but since Minneapolis schools didn’t get out until Wednesday, we (I) decided to use this week for prep and start summer camp on the 10th. This would have been a great plan, full of fun times and relaxed summer days, except that I forgot I had jury duty, so Monday and Tuesday were full of scrambling around trying to set up childcare (thank god for good friends who are willing to take my kids last minute), and then serving on a jury (interesting, but not interesting enough to make up for the hassle) and I’m *still* technically on jury duty, but now I just have to call in twice a day and maybe I won’t have to go back in at all. And then Wednesday my kids decided to celebrate the first day of summer holidays by displaying every bad habit or quality they possess, all at the same time, loudly, in my face. So by the time I was done with all that, I felt like I was scrambling to get everything ready in time. Which is a stupid way to feel, given that the only person who is holding me accountable for having everything done “on time” is ME, and I could theoretically let myself off the hook, except that I don’t really have that ability so much at all.

Here are the things I am thankful for this week: Pinterest, Color Inkjet Printers, and Gluesticks. The past few days have been an orgy of downloading, printing and assembling various items to set up for our summer experience. Y’all, I am obsessed with free internet printables. Which, yes, I realize that was not even a word until, like, last week. But I have always been one of those people for whom shopping for school supplies was the highlight of the academic year, and there is so much great stuff out there! Sure, you have to spend hours sifting through crap to find it, but Forms! Calendars! Worksheets! Coloring pages! Charts! It’s all out there and it looks pretty and the time I spend finding and choosing it is almost made up for by the time I save in not having to create it myself! Continue reading

Just call her Po

Driving to preschool today:

SYLVIA: Mama, I see the sun!

ME: Yep, there it is.

SYLVIA: It’s followin’ us!

ME: (feigning interest) Is it?

SYLVIA: Yeah, lookit! Ober dere! Maybe I fink it wants a playdate.

ME: (pause) A what now?

SYLVIA: The SUN wants a PLAYDATE wif SYBIA.

ME: Well, that would be pretty interesting. What do you think you’d do on a playdate with the sun?

SYLVIA: (thinking) Mmmm … the sun can’t talk.

ME: No, the sun can’t talk, that’s true.

SYLVIA: Yeah, it gots no face.

ME: Right, it’s not like the sun on Teletubbies. No face, no way to talk.

SYLVIA: I luuuuuub dat baby-in-the-sun.

ME: I know you do, honey. You love all kinds of babies.

SYLVIA: Maybe I can have a playdate wif a BABY.

ME: That sounds more doable, yeah.

Cancellations

Things that have been cancelled in the past five days due to the illness of one family member or another:

  1. Playdate to maintain sanity on school day off.
  2. Ballet lesson.
  3. Any errands to any store that don’t involve buying juice or ibuprofen or decongestants or cough medicine or …
  4. Playdate to maintain sanity on MLK day.
  5. Chad going to work this morning.
  6. Me going to a yearly ladies’ night out this evening.

I don’t even know why I MAKE plans this time of the year. I think the high – THE HIGH – today was zero degrees fahrenheit. The only reason I left the house at all was a) prior to this morning, I had not stepped outside for four days running, and b) it was the only way to have four glorious child-free hours.

On the plus side, I myself am not sick. Yet. And I showered, so at least I’m clean. And … lessee … I made pumpkin bread last night, and we have a house with a functional heater. Also I don’t have leprosy and the sky isn’t raining blood. THINK POSITIVE.

Winter. Discontent. Is now.

This is the time of year I start planning my escape. I’m sitting here, watching the Vicar of Dibley – because that’s what I do when I’m feeling not-wanting-to-be-hereish, I watch British TV, usually Sherlock but I’ve just finished my 4th re-viewing so I felt it was time for a switch – and mulling over my (lack of) options for living somewhere that doesn’t make me want to off myself 3-4 months out of the year.

(Ed. note to my mother: this is one of those times where I’m using hyperbole for effect, and also alleviating depressive symptoms by writing about them. Pray do not take alarm: I do not actually want to off myself. For one thing, I just ordered some super cute shoes online.)

Ahem.

Of course, I realize that I’m nuts. Don’t think I don’t realize THAT by now! Let’s review the facts, shall we?

  1. Born in Athens, GA.
  2. At age of ten, ruthlessly uprooted from southern soil and forced to move to the wilds of St. Cloud, MN. Stupid academic job market.
  3. Middle school-High School years spent in central MN with brief exception of semester in Salzburg.
  4. College years also spent in central MN (thank you, tuition remission for faculty brats!) with brief exception of semester in London and summers in Michigan or New York.
  5. Graduate from college and high-tail it out of state for grad school, first to Columbus, OH, and then to Santa Barbara, CA.
  6. Get first real job offer from alma mater, move back to central MN.
  7. Meet future husband, fall in love, get married, move to Minneapolis, have kids, quit job, etc., etc., the rest is history.

So as you can see, even with the most generous accounting, I’ve spent about 25 of my 41 years here in this godforsaken tundra-like misbegotten land of ten-thousand lakes. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Continue reading