I’m guest posting at The Writer Revived today. Check it out at the link below!
I’m guest posting at The Writer Revived today. Check it out at the link below!
It’ no news to me that my stats for this thing are way, way down. And it’s no wonder, given the irregularity and infrequency of posts here lately.
Now I knew I wouldn’t be able to post much during the craziness that was most of April and all of May. But I kind of expected that once summer got here I would settle into a once daily schedule again. What a wealth of things I would have to tell y’all about!
So what’s my problem? It just came to me.
I’m an introvert, and I am still exhausted from all that socializing. I want and need to crawl into a hole and be alone for a few weeks. But I still have six other people living in this house. (Will any of them ever leave?) It is summer–Lorelei and William are home ALL DAY. The big kids are in and out. Day in and day out they want and need things from me, and one of those things that some of them require more than others is emotional energy. Energy that I can never get enough alone time to fully replenish.
And to complicate matters, I am an introvert married to an extrovert. An extreme extrovert who wants to be AROUND PEOPLE ALL THE TIME. When I could just SCREAM AT THE THOUGHT OF HAVING TO TALK TO ONE MORE PERSON.
To John, April and May were heaven on earth. All the commotion! All the parties! All the people! (I am getting tireder just thinking about it.) Now that it’s all over, he’s depressed. (Guess who supplies the emotional energy to help him recover from depression? Hello!)
And today I realized that although I am alone (I hope) when I write my blog, it’s still a social activity of sorts. I have an audience whom I hope to engage with my writing. So it does require some of the same kind of energy that I use for socializing, the kind of energy that I don’t have nearly enough of. (And if you will recall, I also work at home. So there’s that.)
And now I am off to finish getting ready for the Father’s Day cookout. It’s a small affair–only 14 of us.
We had a big morning planned (two lectures and a tour) but we kind of forgot about it and slept in instead. We had to take a cab to make it to Georgetown in time for the Family Picnic (which we would totally have bagged too except we already paid for it). The food was good, though. We chilled (or tried to chill. It’s in the freaking 90s here and the humidity is around 85%. I mean it is brutal.) for awhile until time for this afternoon’s panel discussion: Cementing a Legacy: Analyzing a Second Term President (do we Georgetown grads know how to party of what?).
This thing was held in the brand-new business school building which is all stone and old-fashioned looking on the outside and all glassy and modern inside, and the reason they were holding the discussion in the fancy building was because C-Span was filming it! And you know, it was really an interesting panel but I woke up with a headache and the medicine I take for that knocks me out completely. It just does. So if you watch C-Span don’t think that sleepy woman in the audience isn’t FULLY CAPABLE of following the nuances of the conversation. She’s just on drugs, okay?
One of the graduates in the audience asking a question was just completely obnoxious. He made me remember that I went to school with a fair amount of obnoxious people back in the day. How shall I put this delicately? Let’s just say, there are not many folks of the Southern persuasion here. And I am back to being used to my polite and friendly fellow Southerners, after twenty-five years away from this place.
And have I mentioned the heat? Yes, it does get hot at home. But it cools off at night. And there’s less asphalt and concrete. Or something. We are walking along like we are REALLY old, just not kind of old. I’m telling you, it is sapping all of our energy. We’re longing for our hotel room at about eight, and when we were here in school we didn’t even START partying until after that. Things are later here. That’s something I forgot. You can walk into a restaurant at seven and get a seat, no problem. It’s at eight that things are busy. That’s backward from Knoxville.
But different is good, right? So after the panel we went for another walk, this time down Wisconsin Avenue. Most things we remember are gone, but my favorite ice cream place–Thomas Sweets–is still there! Then we retrieved our car from the parking garage where we left it over night at less than half the price our hotel wants–take THAT, Melrose Hotel! and went driving into Virginia to visit some of our old haunts there, including a favorite restaurant from the year we lived here after we were married. Then we took the car back to Georgetown and took another little walk around campus–short walks are much more manageable in the heat.
We ended up in the library. This is a place where I spent a LOT of time, folks. Not because I was studying. I never once went there to study. I worked there, though, at the circulation desk, for 12-15 hours every week for four years. It’s so fancy-schmancy that I don’t even recognize it now, but the reading room next door is EXACTLY the same. I think even the furniture is the same–it sure looks like it. And the books that line the walls–books I’m pretty sure no one even opens any more–are encyclopedias. Encyclopedias about everything–art, music, history. Also the Oxford English Dictionary. And all kinds of guides to periodical literature. The kids probably sit there and laugh while they look all that up on their iPhones. But I’m glad they haven’t thrown away the books yet.
We took a cab back to the hotel and now we are trying to work up the energy to go back downstairs and take a hike to the White House–seven whole blocks away. Will we make it? Find out tomorrow . . .
So this is where I am today!
Twenty-five years ago (yes, that does constitute an actual lifetime!) John graduated from Georgetown University, and we are here for his Reunion. (He’s older than me. We just won’t discuss when my 25-year Reunion will be. Until I blog about it next May.)
This is the final installment of the two months of travel, celebration, fun, and stress that I wrote about two months ago. (Did you notice I kind of stopped blogging for the duration?) But this is by far the less stressful occasion, and do you know why? We are here BY OURSELVES. Yes, we took advantage of the fact that three of our kids are adults, at least technically, and abandoned the little ones to their care. So here we are, just like the old days.
Except we are older and fatter.
We aren’t staying on campus this time because it now costs–I kid you not–$180 a night to stay in a DORM ROOM and after all the time I spent cleaning Village C (a whole summer scrubbing toilets and making beds) they ought to be paying ME to stay there. So I scored us a four star hotel on Hotwire for a two star price because we are GROWNUPS. It’s a mile and a half away and we are busily coming up with ways to avoid paying $45 (yes you read that right) a NIGHT to park at the hotel, so we left the car at Georgetown last night and walked back, which was not so bad if it weren’t for my uncomfortable shoes and the 90 degree heat. I used to routinely walk from Georgetown to the Mall and the monuments and the Smithsonians, and sometimes did round trips of ten miles, so I can handle this, right?
As grownups, we decided to go to the grownup restaurant last night too. While all John’s classmates were attending a raucous celebration in the Tombs, we stayed upstairs at 1789, where we had never been. It was awesome enough to make up for being older, fatter, and greyer, seriously. It’s dim and old world and all the waiters have French accents which they are not faking. Every item was exquisite, from the amuse bouche to the coffee. (Fair Trade, French press) Maybe by next year we will have saved up enough money to go there again.
On the agenda for today were lectures and receptions on campus. Because this is Georgetown the lectures have names like “The State of Security: Balancing Foreign Relations with Domestic Concerns” and the receptions have free wine and beer and actual food enough to make a meal of (as some enterprising students have been known to do, since no one is checking your i.d. at these things). We had three lectures planned but we slept in and then ate lunch at Mr. Smith’s instead. And we did go to one of them. It was held in one of the few big lecture halls at Georgetown (because most classes are small, y’all!). This happens to have been where I took “Physics of Energy and the Environment” along with all the members of the basketball team and many other non-scientists. Today’s lecture was much more inspiring, I promise.
Tonight we should have been at a tent party. Except $100 PER PERSON is a lot to pay to party under a tent in 90 degree weather. I can get drunk for a LOT less than that, should I want to. I didn’t like tent parties when I was 21 and my opinion hasn’t changed. It probably doesn’t help that the last one I attended as an undergrad ended with me vomiting in the grass and then returning to the apartment and passing out. So we went down to M Street, had dinner, and walked back to the hotel where we will soon be passing out from heat exhaustion instead of drunkenness.
To Be Continued . . .
Dear Mom in the Pew in Front of Me, the One with the Rowdy Kids:
No, I am not going to write about how much your kids disturb me during Mass. I’m not going to suggest that you take them to the nursery (we don’t have one anyway!) or sit with them in the cry room or tag-team with your husband so that you don’t have to bring them at all. I’m not going to criticize your parenting or tell you to feed that baby with a bottle when you are at church. And I’m not thinking those things either. Nor are most of the parents in this congregation.
It doesn’t bother me when your kids make noise. They are just kids and an hour is a long time to be quiet and sit still. When your three-year-old escapes you and runs up onto the altar, I’m just glad it’s not MY kid–because it just as well could have been.
What I want to tell you is Thank You. Thank you for bringing your kids to church–both for them and for the rest of us. Thank you for being open to having a large family. Thank you for nursing that baby when she needs to be nursed; and you really don’t need to worry so much about that blanket–if I am staring, it’s only because of fond memories, not judgment.
If kids are not welcome in a Catholic church, there is something wrong with that church. Jesus loves the little children. That’s not just a song; it’s in the Bible too–and if you look up, right over your head, you’ll see that scene in a picture on the ceiling. ”Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not.” That’s what He said, and what all of us should be saying. So thank you you for your little visual reminders, these “least of these” that Jesus wants us to love as He did.
If during Easter Mass some cranky submarine Catholic turns around and tells you that your babbling toddler is “ruining it for everyone else,” (and yes, this once happened to me) I want you to know that if he thinks that he doesn’t know what “it” is and he is the one who is ruining things. I’d rather be like the woman who after a Mass during which my children were even rowdier than usual turned around and patted my arm and said, “It gets better.”
Because 18 years ago–yesterday–I was sitting in that pew with three rowdy children aged four and under (actually not in THAT pew–you are already smarter than I am by choosing to sit up front where the kids can see instead of in the back so that you can make a quicker getaway!). I have been here almost every Sunday for over 22 years, and for years on end I couldn’t listen to the homily, couldn’t even pray. This six foot muscly fellow next to me, the one who read the first reading today–he was the babbling toddler who was ruining things for everyone else. These two younger ones weren’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and now the youngest will make her First Communion next week. They sit quietly. They make the responses. Some of them even sing. And I listen and pray. It goes so fast. You think people are just making conversation when they say that until IT GOES SO FAST.
So ten years from now–tomorrow–there will be big quiet kids in your pew and you will be able to pray again. No one will be staring at you except to admire your lovely family. You will be the one smiling indulgently at the cute toddler playing peek-a-boo with you over the back of the pew.
But until then, remember, you are doing a wonderful job.
My sweet friend Maggie is a wonderful writer and she has a big heart as well. She’s blogging today on her fundraising efforts for child abuse prevention via Childhelp. Will you take a minute to visit her site and consider making a donation? And while you are there, read her other posts. You won’t be sorry because she is amazing.
Most of the time five kids doesn’t seem like a lot to me, it just seems normal. I can blithely respond to that ubiquitous comment, “I don’t know how you do it!” with “Oh, after three it’s not any harder, just louder,” and mostly mean it.
But there are times when I just want to turn to John and say, “We have too many kids.” Not that we’d send any of them back . . . (well, only sometimes!). I don’t know if it will make me feel better or worse to reel off the reasons I am feeling that way right now, but at least I will get some sympathy–right?
1) John is currently en route to pick up Emily for her Spring Break. She will be home all this week, and so will William. However, Lorelei’s break is next week, when William will be back in school. So no vacation OR staycation for me.
2) Easter is one week away. That means five baskets full of candy, and bunnies, and maybe some new clothes, and sweet rolls, and lots of church this week, and Easter dinner, and lots and lots of money (and did I mention my car is in the shop and will cost over $1000 to ransom?).
3) On Easter Monday, the ONE DAY when all the kids have off, guess who gets to drive Emily halfway back to Mobile? I bet you’ll guess it in one.
4) That same week Teddy is going on his first road trip to Florida with his friends. (Good news–he saved money for this so that at least is taken care of!) During the week he is gone I expect all his college letters to arrive, so it could be a good week, a bad week, or a mixture.
6) April 21 is Lorelei’s First Communion. (I’ve got the dress, thank God, but not the veil and the gloves she insists on. Or a present for her. And I’ve got to plan some celebration afterwards and make sure people are invited.)
7) April 26 is Prom Night. Jake and Teddy are both supposedly attending proms (in two different locations). Tuxedos have to be ordered. Rides have to be arranged. And MORE MONEY.
8) April 27 is my birthday. Somehow I doubt I will get to spend the weekend away alone, which is what I like to do.
9) May 4 Emily graduates from college. IN ALABAMA. We need hotel reservations. We need to buy her a present. We need to figure out the logistics of having John’s mother get there from Baltimore. We will have to take two cars, and we will be bringing her and all her stuff back to Knoxville for the coming year. Did I mention we need more money?
10) May 18 Teddy graduates from high school. Another celebration will need to be planned!
11) At the end of May we are all supposed to go to Washington for John’s 25th college reunion and to Baltimore for a visit. Granted we would be doing this regardless of the number of children we have but supposing they all go it now requires two cars and three hotel rooms and needless to say MORE MONEY which we therefore somehow have to continue to earn throughout this two month period of craziness because we are self-employed. And don’t get paid to go on vacations.
Now I realize that except for the taxes these are all joyful celebrations for which I should be grateful, and of course I am. And a wonderful things about having lots of children is that there are so many more celebrations.
But why can’t they be spread out just a little?