Just Another Day in the Life?

I’ve been swamped lately. More than usual, I’m afraid.

I …may have taken a bit (a lot) onto my plate -a plate that was a bit (a lot) full to begin with. I believe I did so because I was bored, and/or may have finally had a good night’s sleep.

Besides this lovely blog that I love writing upon and the lovely people whose blog posts I actually do read, I’ve also been attending school. Of sorts. It’s called Pathways, and is like preschool for adults. This quarter (?) is on math (or, maths, for Brits) and has a teensy bit (a lot) of busy work each week.

Add a few life events like almost-everyone’s birthdays, a birthday party, and a baptism this Saturday.

Then sprinkle in a paid job I was doing but (perhaps fortunately) am not any longer.

Plus the children’s school is winding down.

Plus the ever-present duties of house and home (and now yard).

Plus caring for an at-home dice business that I don’t think I’ve ever talked about.

And, just for kicks, throw in a planned visit from our relative who has 8 children….

Yeah.

I’m not actually the Supermom sort. I’m not the Superanything sort; really, I’d settle on an edible chocolate ribbon for Best Example of a Flawed Human Being.

But I’m toast. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Even a bit ill.

I can’t help but look around at other people and wonder how they do it, especially those who work as full time teachers at my kids’ school and have children of their own. I asked one of their Vice Principals that question in jest. She laughed and said her kids tease her for running their house like her classroom.

-But that may be the answer I seek.

So, for reals, how do you run your household? Do you schedule the hours? Minutes? Especially when you have a job and/or children, was it all set up? Outlined? Assigned?

I really do want to know.

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I sort of wrote things this week, and here they are:
Wednesday, May 8: Questioned the legitimacy of personality tests and their appeal in “Are We Our Personality Types?

Thursday, May 9: “The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender,” the final suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, May 10: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Michael Fishman!

And posted “Should You Have Kids If You Have a Mental Illness?” over at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog (now say it ten times fast).

Saturday, May 11: Announced the 25th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is an elegy to your most commonly misplaced household item. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, May 12: “Gramma Dear,” a poem about my grandmother, in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, May 13: An inspirational quote by Mel Robbins.

Tuesday, May 14: Nothing.

Wednesday, May 15: Halfwayish through the month!

I also posted a bit at my motherhood site. I’m pretty sure I need to stop trying to keep that one afloat and have downgraded to a free plan again.
Anyway; I wrote “Take Time for You. Ish” and “Happy Mother’s Day?

 

Photo Credit:
Andrew Neel

THE Battle of the Sexes

That’s it. I’m throwing the gauntlet DOWN.

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I want to determine, once and for all, who has it harder: men or women.

Let’s take men first. For this purpose, I have brought in my masculine side. It’s just survived a long weekend with all four boys home from school for a holiday, worked outside in the yard, and done some manly exercises like …girl push-ups.

I say that men have the short end of the stick. Why?

  1. Men are expected to work for their entire lives. Even in a ‘woke’ society of both sexes working, or just the woman heading out in a business suit, a man is not considered a whole man unless he pulls his own weight.
  2. The male species cannot feel anything like sadness, vulnerability, or silly joy. Those are weak emotions, symptoms of an insecure or incompetent man.
  3. They have to deal with, date, and understand women (assuming, for this argument, they bend that way). And not offend any of them. And still be manly.
  4. Men must initiate relationships. They must often pay for a date. They must read what a woman (for sake of this argument) wants without asking blunt questions (see #3) and without getting accused of harassment and rape later.
  5. When a man gets sick, he gets mocked. Who cares if he literally feels at death’s door? Let’s kick his pride while it’s convalescing.
  6. Males are often stinkier. Practically everything sweats, and in large amounts. Thank goodness for deodorant, aftershave and cologne. And windows.
  7. Men are expected to be good at most things, especially where fixing stuff or sports are concerned. They are also supposed to only be interested in those topics. As before, lack in these areas is a sign of weakness.
  8. Similarly, a man must be strong. He needs to look fit and be ready to move a couch or a car with his bare hands.
  9. If a woman feels like it, she may pick on a man. She may slap him, belittle him, and accuse him. He may be strong, but man is not allowed to hit back.
  10. Even though men spend hardly any time at home (see #1) and are not supposed to get involved in decorating the house (see #7), they must figure out where their tools have been moved to and why a couch (complete with an obscene number of throw pillows) is now where their favorite recliner was.

Women think their life is difficult, but it’s a bed of roses (that match in color, and were complimented on by their hordes of friends) compared to a man’s.

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Now, in order to prepare an adequate female defense, I must think more girly. Allow me a few hours on Pinterest ….or not. I’m not the most feminine representative of the female sex, but I’ll try my best.

Women have a harder life, hands-down.

  1. Periods. Since many men do not understand this sensation: picture a sharp knife inside your lower abdomen that scrapes at your organs. Once a month-ish. Not only that, but you must endure odd hormonal effects like loss of mental capacity and car keys just before the fun starts; plus, blood.
    If all of that weren’t enough, people snidely tell you that you’re grumpy because of PMS or that you ought to just “deal with it” when crumpled over a toilet.
  2. Childbirth. It’s not much of a break from the alternative; especially since menstruation and pregnancy share symptoms like pain, forgetfulness, and grumpiness. Being pregnant is just weird, and delivery is the worst pain many have ever been in. Ever.
  3. Menopause. Imagine a relief from the #1 issue, that was designed by a drunk engineer who didn’t care how (or if) the machine functioned after it ran the full program.
  4. If the first three points didn’t win this debate for women, the judges have obviously been bribed. The women recommend that each judge pass a kidney stone before being allowed to vote. -Which leads to a real #4: more health issues because of female organs. One doctor visit for one symptom leads to an overall diagnosis of “because of womanhood.”
  5. Shopping for women’s clothing is enough headache and cost that they just might need a government-sponsored representative. Seriously. Men get measurements for everything and one name for each color. Women get inaccurate numbers by 2’s and colors like “blue with gray in it” or “gold that may be black.”
  6. In a traditional home; a woman needs to stay home, take care of the home, raise her children to not be psychopaths, and feel fulfilled doing so.
    In non-traditional homes; women need to do all of the above, plus work a job and arrange for childcare …and keep themselves sexy but not too sexy that they’re attracting coworkers.
  7. Females need to look good. If they buy into the ‘inner beauty’ and ‘be yourself’ crap, they have few dates and few friends. If they, instead; nip, tuck, makeup, inject, smile, style, and flaunt; they get a lot of positive attention.
  8. A woman is a b*tch if she’s pushy. She’s unfeminine if she (necessarily) picks up any ‘masculine’ slack. Her opinions are emotional ones, and therefore not as valid or as sound as a man’s.
  9. When a woman takes a younger man, she’s a cougar. If she sleeps around she is a slut. If she dresses attractively and flirts then she is “asking for it.”
  10. Women are expected to arrange everything around the house to buy some social cred, make friends (to admire the house), and plan fun family or couples outings. They are also expected to not overspend their budget doing this.

Men get ‘that look’ when they come home to a house full of pillows, but say they don’t want to go furniture shopping. They say they have simple needs, then demand that women look good and feel sexy after doing all the laundry. Face it: men hold the power and prestige, and women hold the garbage bag.

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In developed countries, the battlefield of the sexes is nearly even. In terms of permanent penalties, however, I feel that women will always have it worse. I’m not looking for compensation (though, some sort of temporary transferal of woman parts might be nice); I’m looking for agreement.

Do you agree? Do you not? Let’s hear your reasons. Don’t be shy; I’m a fair moderator.

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While you gather your thoughts and rebuttals, look at what I posted this past week:
Wednesday, March 13: Talked about Dr. Pickell and our ignorant influences in “Do You Know Your Influences?

Thursday, March 14: “The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 15: Versed “Prometheus,” in response to Frank Prem‘s poem.

Saturday, March 16: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Bruce Almighty Goodman!
Announced the Xth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is verbosity. I haven’t had a lot of entrants, so PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, March 17: “Crescent Illusions,” a sci-fi response to D. Wallace Peach’s popular prompt.

Monday, March 18: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Six.”

Tuesday, March 19:  An inspirational quote by Trent Shelton.

Wednesday, March 20: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Why Oh Why Must We Have The Teenage Years?,” “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” and “Five More Minutes” (a poem).

 

Photo Credit:
Image by VIVIANE MONCONDUIT from Pixabay
Image by Josethestoryteller from Pixabay
Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Time in a Bottle

“Step forward -that’s right! Now, grasp this sand -yes, in both hands. That’s right, sir.”

Wondering, he thrusts both hands forward. Sensing the weight against calloused palms it overflows, draining with the pull of gravity to spill upon his shoes, the floor, the table legs.

“That’s right: step forward to the table. Quickly, now! Choose which of these bottles in which to pour your sand.”

Gravity is cruel. It pulls more and more from his hands as he frantically searches for an identifier on the glass bottle fronts. Which is which? How will he know what he is choosing -!?

“Your time is running out and you cannot get more until tomorrow…”

A blue bottle catches his eye; a portly one which reminds him of a fat man. He leans and manages to dump a measure in, to a halfway point. -Not too much, though; what if he chose poorly?

“That’s it. Good. But what of the others? Do you wish to spend all day at that one?”

Probably not, he thinks, and thrusts toward the nearest bottles. A squat red jar, two narrow green-tinted vases, and a pinkish jug each receive a bottom’s full. The red jar’s neighbor, a dubious black container, accidentally receives a bit more than even the first.

“Hmmm…”

The booming tone frazzles his nerves, already high-strung from the continued loss of sifting hand-sand. With not much left, he jerks his cupped palms hither and thither. The table claims much if not most of what’s left. Ten random jars each carry a small dusting. He looks round; no one seems to be watching. Quickly, he gathers table sand and deposits it into a comely emerald urn. He dusts any lingering pieces from his fingers, his heart racing.

“Ah, I see you are done. Let’s see: Fortunately for you, your first choice was sleep. Some poor fool last hour completely neglected that one. Not a bad number in exercising, either. Work has even more than sleep; yes, this black one, here. I’m not sure how you’re going to feel much accomplishment from only a few grains in household upkeep, budgeting, personal hygiene, nor expenses. The fewest grains seem to be, here, in leisure….”

His hopes raised at the news of sleep; deflated somewhat at the exercise. He was just going to ask whether leisure might be a bit higher than budgeting when he notices a shadow frowning over the green urn.

“Hmmm. Odd. You’ve a fair bit in meals, here, but they’re not the best quality. It’s almost as though some other, older bits of grit are in here. …Perhaps the urn wasn’t quite cleaned -or the sand. Well, I’m afraid your nourishment will not be the best sort. At least you’ll have it though, eh? Not like that woman just yesterday…”

He watches in astonishment as arms wave over the table and every bit of sand within the containers rises into the air. They’re colored like the vases or jugs or urns they traveled from and dance in a dusty swirling cloud which follows the circling arms. The cloud condenses within the taskmaster’s shaping hands and resolves into parchment.

“Your day. You’ll see it has everything you chose. Now, take it and exit behind me through the large wooden doors. Move along, move along.”

He stumbles unsteadily out the exit indicated, an exit he swore was not there when he first entered the room with the pouring sand and the table. Between his careworn yet clean fingers he clenches his hard-won paper prize. From the closing door behind him calls the echoing voice again:

“Next! Now, don’t be shy -don’t be shy. Step forward, ma’am, and take your sand…”

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Food on Your Family

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There is a recall out for chopped Romaine lettuce.

Normally, I am unaffected by produce recalls because my lettuce was purchased thirty days ago and I am still telling myself that I’ll eat it. I can cut around all the brown spots, right? We’d hosted a family party Sunday, however, so I bought that huge package of Romaine hearts from Costco the day before.

As each heart was ripped out and discarded, I had the mental image of pulling cash from my wallet and throwing green bills away.

Which leads me to a common question I hear: how much does it cost to feed a family?

I have four boys. They’re young, and have always had modest appetites. My husband, who has never passed 150 lbs in his life, says he feels full after soup. Still, our food costs are going to be more than a young couple working full time or a small family of three.

Plus, kids grow. They eat more when they grow.

I lived with my younger brother when he was a teenager. I’m safely estimating that I’ll have that TIMES FOUR in a few, short years.

One perk to having children is that people will occasionally offer me free food. As in, Chelsea, I’m moving and am just throwing away all the food in my fridge. Do you want to come over and see if you can use any? Or, I’m going on a restrictive diet and left some pantry items on your porch. Give away what you don’t use.

It almost makes up for how much I spend otherwise. Actually -no, no it doesn’t.

Whenever I think I’ve got it bad, however, I think of larger families. We’ve hosted my husband’s sister’s family of eight children a handful of times. Don’t worry -we’ve returned the favor. But adding six people to ten is easier: just kill two chickens instead of the one and throw a bit more flour into the roll dough.

I may go into Costco to buy bread and come out with a new set of tires, but my weekly trips and expenses for food are about equal to my sister-in-law’s daily ones.

One of my favorite films to watch growing up was Yours, Mine, and Ours, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Although it has many pertinent scenes, every time our relatives come stay I replay the grocery store part in my mind. In the film, the poor cashier enters the products manually. Tub after tub of oatmeal follows bags and bags of Wonder bread, AND they have two more shopping carts to go after all that. The cashier totals it all up; they spent $126.63 (the equivalent of $920.87, using online inflation calculators).

The North family really could have used a Costco.

We took our ten house guests to the world’s largest Costco last time they were here. My husband was at work, so we may have resembled members of a certain lifestyle involving two wives. Each adult manned a shopping cart and helped herd the dozen children roaming around us.

It was somewhat exciting to purchase 36 hot dogs, multiple loaves of bread, 5 lbs of cheese, and enormous bags of chips -and know that we would eat it all within the week. We filled the carts with food and diapers, plus children in time-out.

I felt overwhelmed projecting how much regular grocery bills must cost. And, as with any large organization (recalls aside), their family has waste. have waste, and feel that I do fairly well planning out meals and reusing leftovers.

I find myself mentally calculating what the cheapest take-out meals are (Chinese food, pizza, or chicken “on the bird” from Costco), least-expensive home meals are (bean soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup, pancakes), or how often we can visit relatives at mealtimes.

I mean, when the boys do hit puberty, I’m going to be in trouble. Donations? GoFundMe, maybe? Actually, taking a full-time job might be the best option.

I wonder if Costco is hiring.