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  • Boundary Issues

    March 30, 2009

    Antique Daddy was out of town one day last week. He works from home, so the three of us are together a lot. A lot. Of togetherness. All  together. At one time. In one place. Often.

    So, on those rare occasions when he’s out of town, I miss him and all that, yada yada yada, but it’s also kind of nice for Sean and I to do our own free-form, free-spirited thing as that’s the kind of people Sean and I are – two zany Bohemians.

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand (which I haven’t really thought of just yet but give me a minute) AD has always worked from home and for the most part, it’s a really good deal, but on those rare occasions when he is not here, it’s kind of extra special to have the little boy all to myself. Sean and I like to violate all of daddy’s rules when he’s gone like eating in the car, eating in the den and watching cartoons in mommy’s big bed, while eating. When the cat’s away the mice will eat anywhere they want and feel no remorse.

    Well, it turns out I did not have a subject at hand, so here’s a post from December 2005.  Man, that was a long time ago.

    * * *

    Today, on the soft fleshy party of my right hip (as if there is place on me that is not soft or fleshy) I am sporting an exact replica of South America, only bigger and with more purple and yellow. And the reason I have this bruise is because my husband works at home.

    Antique Daddy is a WAHD (Work-At-Home-Dad) and I am a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) and we have a SWIFT (Sneaky-Wily-Incredibly-Fast-Toddler). WAHD + SAHM + SWIFT = boundary issues.

    We have both always worked from home together and it has always worked for us. The upside to this scenario has been that we get to eat lunch together in our jammies and grope each other when we pass in the hallway – both of which are frowned upon in a regular office.

    We established boundaries early on so that each of us knew that the other was working and not available for sex or help moving the furniture. The downside is that more often than not, the workday doesn’t ever really end, but working extra hours in exchange for groping your spouse in the middle of the day seemed like a fair trade.

    As you know, we recently added a toddler to the staff here at AntiquesRUs and the boundaries have shifted. There is far less hallway groping these days, maybe because the hallway is now blocked off with a gate and the grope-ees are both chronically tired.

    Now I know what you may be thinking when I use the term gate. You have pictured in your mind a device that prohibits the entry or exit from one location to another. Oh but you would be wrong. It’s not just a gate – it’s a baby gate, which means the only person in the house who can easily operate it or scoot under it is a baby.

    Now some of you may be wondering what Antique Daddy does that he gets to work at home and the answer to this question is I don’t really know. Here’s what I know: He sits in a chair all day wearing a Borg implant and speaking in acronyms to other members of his Collective whom I think are located in a galaxy far, far away, like New Jersey.

    So a few days ago, Antique Daddy informs me that he has a very important call and that he will be speaking to very important people about very important things and that it is very important that the boy not join the discussion. And because I have a college degree and he spoke very slowly making sure to enunciate the multi-syllabic word important, I understood the importance of what he was saying to me.

    So then, I made sure the baby gate was securely shut and latched leaving Antique Daddy to manage in peace all things important. But soon thereafter, the boy felt it was important that he speak with his father immediately regarding an important matter. And so he brought this to my attention by rattling the gate like a gorilla and screaming DAHDEEDAHDEE which means, “Father, may I please speak with you?”

    I informed Sean that Daddy was on an important blah blah blah important and that … It was then that I saw the vapor trail that lead under the gate and towards Antique Daddy’s office at the speed of light.

    I knew I couldn’t unlatch the gate without the assistance of a toddler, so I hurdled it Flo Jo style and sprinted after him hoping to tackle him before he reached the end zone.

    I congratulated myself on clearing the gate and managed to snag his shirt tail just before he breached security, but not before slipping on a Lego and landing squarely on my right hip with the boy on top. We both laid there on the floor for a moment, me unable to even moan in pain due to the lack of air in my lungs and the boy laughing hysterically saying “Do again Mommy! Do again!”

    At this point, Antique Daddy has completed the very important call, opens the door and looks down to find the boy and me lying on the floor. “Are you just going to lie around all day?” he asks.

    The next time I’m at the doctor’s office and he asks me “Is everything (doesyourhusbandabuseyou) OK at home? I’ll tell him no, everything is not OK. We are a WAHD-SAHM-SWIFT and it’s brutal. Is there a state agency for this?

    And Then I Bought Myself A Rubber Snake

    March 27, 2009

    Before I could put the car in park, he was unbuckling his seat belt. We were at Sonic where he is allowed to climb into the front seat with me and eat his burger.   If it’s nice, I open the sunroof and it’s our own version of a picnic.  We’ve been picnicking at Sonic since he was two and it’s kind of our thing that we do together, a time when we talk.

    Going to Sonic with Sean is special for me because I went there every Tuesday for lunch when I was pregnant.  I hosted a small Bible study at my house with four older ladies.  Afterward we’d all pile into one car and go to Sonic and have lunch.  They would fuss over me and give me advice.  It was like having four moms which I really needed at the time since my own mother was three states away.  Even at my advanced maternal age, I needed and craved mothering.

    Later, when Sean was two and started a mother’s day out program, we’d go to Sonic after I picked him up.  With just the two of us in the car, I’d discreetly reach over and turn on my little voice recorder while he chattered away.  When I go back and listen to those conversations and hear that sweet baby voice it turns me into a big gloppy mess.

    As we sat in the car waiting for our burgers, we watched the car hops whiz by on roller skates.  I looked at him standing up on the passenger’s side, peering out the front window.  Tall and skinny, his head almost touches the roof. But in my mind’s eye, I saw a little boy with long blond curly hair who couldn’t see over the dashboard.

    I asked Sean if he remembered the time he spilled the blue coconut slush in my car.  He said he did.

    “Do you remember that I yelled at you?” I asked, wincing and hoping he didn’t.

    “Yeah.  I remember,” he stated as a matter of fact with no trace of lingering ill will.  “I bumped it over on the seat.”

    “Well, I know I’ve said it before, but I’m really sorry.  I wish I hadn’t yelled at you.”

    “That’s okay,” he said. “You’re getting to be a better mom and I’m getting better at being more careful.”

    “Well, just the same, I’m sorry,” I said again, not so much because he needed to hear it but because I needed to say it.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think how I’d like to do it all over again, start over right from the day I found out I was pregnant.  I’d do it better this time. I wouldn’t yell.

    After our picnic, I took him to Target to let him pick out a toy for no particular reason other than he’s been a really good and helpful boy lately.  We’ve done some stringent expense cutting at our house since before Christmas and he has not once complained.

    When we arrived in the toy department, a bin of rubber snakes caught his eye.  For twenty minutes or more, he went through the entire nest of snakes, examining each one like a jeweler with a loop, looking for the most perfect and flawless of rubber snakes.

    ‘Which one do you like best?” he asks holding up a baby blue cobra and a lime green rattler.

    “I like the green one,” I say.

    “Oh,” he says flatly.  He looks from snake to snake and I can see on his face that he can’t make a decision. He wants them both.  But he doesn’t ask.

    A minute passes.

    “You need to pick one; we can’t get both,” I say sounding like a bonafide grown up.

    “I just can’t decide,” he says and sighs heavily to convey that the decision is causing him a great deal of angst and pain.

    Even though it’s only a $3 snake, to give in and let him have both would be a mistake. It would be a violation of our family’s new financial philosophy.  And I had already clearly stated that he could only have one.  I had to stick to it. And I hated that.

    “Well, if you don’t mind,” I said, “I think I’ll buy the green one for myself.  I’ve been wanting a rubber snake.”

    “Really?” he asks, bewildered.

    “Yup. Always wanted one.”

    I grab the green rattler from him.

    “I didn’t know that,” he says narrowing his eyes in disbelief, waiting for the punch line.

    We lock eyes. He searches my face to see if I’m yanking his chain. He cracks a little half smile, not quite sure about his wacko mother.

    “Let’s go pay for these,” I say.

    He reaches for my hand and we turn and head towards the front of the store towards the cashiers, each clutching our very own rubber snake.

    The Artist’s Way

    March 25, 2009

    The other day I needed Sean to be occupied in such a way that did not involve me pretending to be on a boat using Hot Wheels tracks to row said boat, so I gave him one of my old digital cameras and sent him off on a photo safari.

    In keeping with the true nature of any artist, the first thing he did was turn the camera on himself.

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    After he masters the art of self fascination using a camera, I shall get him his own blog.

    Hug Someone Real Tight Today

    March 24, 2009

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    Here’s another picture I found in my mother-in-law’s box of old family photos.  According to the back, it was taken in May of 1944.

    Everything about this picture — the black and white composition, the shady, tree-lined street, the little girl cradling her big cat — speaks to a long gone innocence that is appealing to me. What the picture doesn’t reveal is that just across the ocean, World War II was excellerating and Europe was going up in flames.

    Unfinished Business

    March 22, 2009

    In 1982, a woman I worked with named Jackie introduced me to art of cross stitching.  I watched her work on her cross stitch projects during our lunch hour,  how her fingers tenderly and precisely poked the needle through the fabric and how she gently teased the thread through to the other side and then started again.

    It was rhythmic the way she worked that needle and almost hypnotizing to watch.  She said she found it relaxing and it was easy to see why.  She inspired me to want to make beautiful cross stitched things too.

    I was 22-years-old at the time and had just moved to Texas from the Midwest and didn’t know a lot of people. Consequently, I had more time than friends and I thought that maybe cross stitching would be a good way to absorb some of those long after-work hours that I spent alone as well as satisfy the itch to do something creative.

    I went to a craft store and picked out a cross stitch kit with a butterfly motif.  As I handed over the few dollars I had to the cashier, I fully believed with all my heart that like Jackie, I would finish it in a week or two.

    As I walked out of the store with my new cross stitch kit, I was already envisioning the glory of the finished product and experiencing the glow of satisfaction I would feel as I gave it to my mother for Christmas.  She would be delighted and awe struck that I had created such finery for $3.99.

    I worked on it faithfully every day for a few weeks, tediously stitching and un-stitching the rainbow of thread into butterflies.  Then one day, I decided to take a short break and set it aside.  It was another year or so before I picked it up again.  That was 1984.  I haven’t touched it since.

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    Every once in a while, as I’m looking for something, I’ll find it tucked into a box of odd things that fail categorization.  I suppose I could feel badly that it has remained unfinished all these years, but for me there was tremendous value in the doing, if not the finishing.   And besides, we will all leave this life with unfinished business.  None of us will finish all we set out to do.

    I just hope that when I leave this world, that any unfinished business I leave behind is no more consequential than butterflies.

    * * *

    Anyone else have an aging and unfinished project tucked away somewhere? Anything older than my 25-year-old butterflies?

    Let Goliath Fall

    March 21, 2009

    I was listening to a popular financial radio show the other day and a caller asked the question that people like me have been thinking:  Why do we “have” to bail out the automakers?  Why couldn’t we just let GM fail?  Two of the reasons the talk show host cited was because it would damage the US economy too much and because no parts could be made for existing cars.

    First of all. What?  The economy is already a gaping bleeding wound, so what’s the point of putting a zillion dollar band-aid on it only to rip it off two minutes later and apply another one.  Sometimes wounds heal up much better if you just leave them alone.

    The bailouts might alleviate some pain in the short term, but I don’t want to be the generation that goes down in the history books as having put a financial cement yoke around the necks of their great-grandchildren.  Instead of the Greatest Generation we will be known as the Stupidest Generation or the Greediest Generation. The sins of the father indeed.

    To his second point, I would bet my hat that if GM (or the automaker of your choice) closed its doors, that 100 companies would pop up overnight to make parts for existing cars and wouldn’t that be good for the economy?  My theory is that when big companies fail, opportunities are created for smaller, smarter, more agile companies.  That’s how supply and demand works.

    My third point is this:  I think economies that hinge on a handful of  bloated mega companies are dangerous.  They don’t allow Financial Darwinism to work because we can’t (or won’t) allow them to fail — and that is fertile ground for greed, corruption, mismanagement and criminally ridiculous executive compensation packages.  It is not an environment that brings out the best in people, but the worst.  It makes them untouchable as is evidenced by the “retention bonuses” given to the very people who couldn’t be trusted to manage the companies in the first place.

    I say let Goliath fall and let the sound of his corpse hitting the dirt be a warning to all.

    Playing Favorites

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    The Tupperware Lady

    March 20, 2009

    I sat at my mother-in-law’s dining room table and looked through a box of her old photographs.

    Each picture, a tiny serving of frozen time.  Smiling faces peer out of a black and white world,  telling stories of the past and explaining something of the present.

    At the bottom of the box I find a large brown envelope. Inside is a photograph of my mother-in-law. She is young, tall and thin, pretty. She is standing on a stage with her husband and two other official looking people in some sort of ceremony. In a manner slightly exaggerated for the camera, she is reaching for a set of keys.  Everyone is smiling and looking into the camera.

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    It is the late 60s in southern California.  She is a housewife in her mid-30s.  Her children are in middle school, high school and off to college.  When her husband encouraged her to sell Tupperware to make a little mad money, she discovered that she liked it.  And she was good at it — so good that she won a car and quickly rose through the ranks to become a sales director.

    It wasn’t long after the picture was taken that her husband was thrown from a horse and suffered a serious head injury. He lingered between life and death for two days before he died.  And then the world that she knew spun completely off  its axis and crashed into a million pieces.

    When all was said and done, she packed up the Tupperware car with two of her boys and what was left of her life and drove back home to Texas to find healing among her family and to try to figure out how to be a single mom.

    It wasn’t easy, but she carried on.  She supported herself and her three boys selling Tupperware.

    I’ve always admired that about her.

    Family Photos

    March 19, 2009

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    Every once in a while I’ll get an email asking me why I never post a picture of AD. Well here ya’ go.  He’s the one in the center with the sour look on his face.

    The past few days I have been in Tuna celebrating Aunt Jean’s birthday and hanging out with AD’s people.

    While I was there I took about 800 pictures.  I love living in the age of digital photography and having the freedom to take as many pictures as I want.

    About 500 of the pictures I took were actually pictures of pictures.  The other 300 were of Sean being cute and irresistible.

    Like most people, my mother-in-law has boxes of old photographs that I would love to have, so I went through the box and took digital pictures of the pictures I wanted.  I know that sounds lame but it works – it’s cheap and easy and far less laborious than using a scanner, which I don’t have.

    If you want to try this, here are some key things to keep in mind to get better results.

    – Find some good light, bright but indirect sunlight is best.

    – Turn off the flash to avoid a big white spot – you may need a tripod if your light isn’t great.

    – Stand directly above the photograph when taking the picture to avoid skewing the perspective.

    – Use a piece of white foamcore board (any craft store) and a few straight pins to anchor a photo that is curling on the edges.

    – Keep a list of picture notes which correlate to the .jpg number. For example, number 2 on the list would relate to 002.jpg and you might have a note that says who is in the picture, when and where it was taken and anything that was written on the back.

    Here’s another picture of AD that was taken that same day. The unexplained white gloved hand on the left and the inconsolable baby makes for a weird composition, so weird it makes me laugh.  I have entitled this picture “It’s Too Level”  — a story about AD that I will share with you maybe tomorrow.  Feel free to leave your own funny caption in comments.

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    Here’s a more recent picture of AD.

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    Back to spring break and editing photos!

    Awesome Dudette and Birthday Girl

    March 17, 2009

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    Today is my Aunt Jean’s birthday. She is 91. This is a picture of her that I stole off my mother-in-law’s desk.  Actually I didn’t steal it. I asked her if I could have it as I was putting it my purse. Along with some stamps and a brand new tube of lip gloss.  She sighed and said something like, “I suppose” which I took to mean “Yes, please, I want you to have those things.”

    This is a government worker ID mug shot of some sort which I think was taken  around 1937.   It had her name on the placard, but I Photoshopped it out because I am so very clever. Plus I don’t want y’all to know her name because then all the internets will show up on her doorstep begging that she be their aunt too and that she make them the best ever cherry cobbler.  No! No I say! You cannot have her, she is my aunt —  mine, mine, mine! And about 53 other cousins. But clearly she likes me the best.

    I keep this picture on my desk.  I enjoy looking at it off and on throughout the day because I think Aunt Jean is so pretty. And she inspires me to look more carefully for the goodness in people, to choose words of kindness over criticism, to focus outward and upward.

    Happy Birthday Aunt Jean!

    * * *

    If you are new around here, here are two classic Aunt Jean posts:

    Limit Two Protocol

    and

    It’s Not A Party Without Properly Cleaned Switchplates