Friday, June 8, 2018

One plus One equals Three

When I got divorced, it was rare. I remember writing letters to my daughter's teacher's to tell them about it; making sure that she was okay and constantly checking for signs that she might need help - wanting to make sure that her life stayed as normal as possible amid the turmoil.

I spent years cleaning up the messes that it caused, reassuring the people that we loved, and spending a lot of time apologizing for the disruption that it brought into other people's lives. I was determined to not throw any shade and make sure everyone, including us, was okay.

But divorce is never kind. It takes a while to move through it, and one of the things I learned was that my home truly was my anchor. That role couldn't be filled by another person or my child, but it could be filled by the warm place where I curled up to sleep and dream at the end of the day. Because that was all I could control. And it was easy.

Years later, my home is still my perpetual safety net, and I often wonder why others don't do the same thing. With divorce more common than ever, families are blending into all sorts of unusual concoctions. Some are brilliant, and they work like a dream - the family tree being a hilarious mess of people, all intertwined in a bizarre melting pot that seamlessly bends and wraps around each other. Others are complicated, and, at their worst, sad and uncomfortable, but whichever you have there has to be a blending of homes and people.

I always thought that blending homes meant a compromise of possessions. A grown-up game of sharing and giving in to the others quirks; an endless array of joint shopping experiences that ended with a bland, classical pallet that provoked neither love nor hate, just a shrug and an acceptance that this was how it was meant to be.

Now, I don't believe this. I think when we join homes with someone new, our homes should still give us joy, and they should still be an anchor. We should be able to keep what we love, and accept what the other person has, with some serious editing thrown in for good measure. In a way, one plus one equals three - yours, mine and ours.

Why should both have to give up what they have, and lose what they love so dearly, to make someone else happy in the grown-up game of compromise? It goes against the whole theory of your home being your haven, and whereas I think compromise should happen in other ways, more emotional ways, your stuff and all your funny idiosyncrasies, should be allowed to remain your own.

So, how do you do it? How do you merge two homes into one?
  • You each take what you absolutely love, and you make it work. It's like the most fabulous design job in the world - everything goes in the middle of the room, and you just move things around, and decorate until you're all exhausted. 
  • Create your own rooms (or pockets of spaces if you have to) where you promise not to mess with what the other one has.  
  • Ask first. Don't assume you can organize it for them, or that you can make it look "better". 
  • Choose and buy a few new things together. Items that have no attachment to previous lives or ex people. 
  • If it matters, talk about it. If it doesn't, don't.  
  • Find out what is important to the other person, and why. This helps you understand why they're keeping it, even if you don't agree with the "why".
  • Talk about it outside of the house, not when you're both looking at the space and items in question. It's hard to be objective when you're in the middle of it all - go for coffee or lunch, to chat about it before you start. 
  • Try to keep a sense of humor about it all. If things get tense, try to look at the funny side of it, and, if necessary, always poke fun at yourself rather than the other person. 
  • Remember, at the end of the day, creating a "home" is always more important than the stuff we choose to have in it :-) 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Day in the Life of a Mom

I wrote this poem six years ago. More of a journal than a poem, it was remembering a time when my daughter was quite young, and someone asked me what I did all day. At first, I couldn't answer them, because being a mom isn't a defined job description with rules and timelines; it's a chaotic juggle of unexpected moments where there is lots of wonderful advice, but no right answer, often just reactions and a determination to get things done. 
So, at the end of a particularly long day, I decided to write about it, and that's where this poem came from. I know that many of you have read it before but it is still very close to my heart, and I wanted to share it with you again.
Now, my daughter is almost out of her teens, and I can say that being a mother is still a crazy and wonderful experience, which I wouldn't trade for all the butter pecan ice cream in the world. It has taught me to love and appreciate the quiet, beautiful moments, to laugh as often as possible, and to always let people, especially our children, be exactly who they are, not who we feel they should be. 
Wishing you all lots of love and a very Happy Mother's Day.                                                                                                                                
                                                                                   - Wendy 

If you give a Mom a minute, 
she'll want a cup of tea and a magazine.
Reaches for her favorite mug,
but starts to unload the dishwasher instead.

While putting away the dishes,
she rearranges the cupboards.
Decides to put some dishes aside for a garage sale.
Calls her friend for advice,
but forgets to ask about garage sales.

Goes to the toilet, and notices the shower is dirty.
Sprays and scrubs the shower stall,
while she reorganizes the body scrubs and shampoos.
Throws away expired medicines,
and cleans the bathroom cabinet.

This reminds her to call the Doctor for a check up.
On the way downstairs to get the telephone number,
she notices the floor needs vacuuming.
Gets the vacuum cleaner,
and sees all of her handbags hanging on the hooks.

Distracted, she starts to look inside them.
Throws out a a pile of old lists,
seventeen hair ties and a melted lollipop.
A dirty cigarette packet,
but knows she doesn't smoke.
Puzzled, and embarrassed,
she remembers picking it up off the lawn months ago.

Thoughts of smoky handbags remind her to do the laundry,
and she forgets to call the Doctor.
As the laundry spins,
she begins to tidy the cellar.
Makes another pile of things for the garage sale,
wondering why on earth she wanted to do one in the first place.

The laundry done, she hears a drip,
but decides to ignore it.
Folds the laundry, opens the mail,
and fills the tea kettle with water.

As she waits for it to boil,
she absentmindedly wonders why the water is still running.
Perhaps the washing machine has turned back on,
or maybe it is starting to rain.
A lot.

She hears more noises in the cellar.
The cat is crying, and the phone is starting to ring.
So she just stops listening.
Her child is sick, at school,
and must be picked up immediately,
if not sooner.

Before she hangs up,
she is sweetly reminded that tomorrow she has to bring seven dozen sunflower yellow, frosted cupcakes to school.
473 dark blue napkins, 8 dozen bottles of water and 84 handwritten name tags.
In black ink, not blue or red.
Tomorrow. By 7:30am.

It's Children Appreciation Day.
Oh, and don't forget -
no gluten, no sugar, no peanuts, no dairy, no food coloring, and absolutely no mushrooms.

She drives to the school,
brings her child home, and puts her to bed.
With a bucket.
Which reminds her of water, and the crying cat.
Marooned on a shelf,
she finds him calmly watching as the water laps slowly, almost poetically, against the side of her new washing machine.

With the cat rescued and her daughter asleep, she turns off the water and fixes the burst pipe herself.
The Plumber can wait. 
She fills the tea kettle with water, 
finds her favorite cup,
drops the teabag in,
grabs a magazine,
smiles to herself
.....and finally takes that minute.

Written by Wendy E. Wrzos (Copyright 2012). The photograph is of my daughter, after she had baked her first batch of Butterfly Cakes, and the poem was inspired by Laura Numeroff's wonderful books for children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Best Laid Plans

Some days don't always go as planned. I admit, I have been a bit neglectful (okay, a lot neglectful) with some parts of my life lately, but it's all good stuff, and I just know that one day it will all balance out and it will fit perfectly into the spaces where it is meant to be.

Anyway, this one particular morning, a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to catching up with two of my dearest friends - one in the morning for coffee, and one in the afternoon for a cup of tea. It was important, and I couldn't wait to get in the house, take a shower and get my day going.

So, I arrived home early in the morning, turned the key in the lock....and it wouldn't open. It has been a little temperamental of late, so I wasn't concerned at all. Usually a few jiggles does the trick. I could hear the deadbolt click back and forth so I knew that it just needed a bit of coaxing to let me in. Meanwhile, my dog is crying on the other side; waiting for a quick pat on the head, a run outside and his cup of breakfast food. So, I try it over and over - almost convincing myself that perhaps overnight I had forgotten how to open my own front door, but it wouldn't budge.

Not wanting to give up, I went to the garage and grabbed a hammer and a screwdriver, sure I could just pop the lock. Surprisingly, that didn't work, and neither did throwing myself against the door like a raving lunatic. Not to be daunted, I grabbed the hammer and slowly waded through the thigh-high snow to the back door (hard to believe, but we had over two feet of snow quite recently). My thoughts of prying open the door, or climbing through a window, quickly became laughable as I realized my house was locked up tight and I wasn't about to squeeze my very ample bottom through a window any time soon.

Fortunately, a call to the local locksmith had him out in an hour, everything was replaced in record time, and I could happily get on with my day. But, a week of barely being home meant that my house did not look very clean and welcoming on that cold, Spring morning. It looked dusty, and, once again, there was that neglected word dancing around in my head, laughing and teasing me with its free-spirited taunting.

But, there was no time to clean. I literally pulled a brush through my hair, put on lip-gloss and left the house again. Several hours later I arrived home ten minutes before my friend arrived, and this is what I did in ten minutes.
  • Opened up the windows to freshen everything up.
  • Grabbed everything off the kitchen table, wiped it down and tipped my glass of water into a nearby plant.
  • Moved the few dishes from the sink to the dishwasher.
  • Checked the toilet was clean and wiped the counter with a wet glob of toilet paper.
  • Turned the tea kettle on, grabbed some clean cloth napkins and put a couple of chocolate biscuits on a pretty plate. 
Y'see, cleaning up doesn't have to be an all or nothing gig - a little something is always better than a whole lot of nothing :-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Things to Do!

So, after last month's blog, I got a few requests for some decorating ideas - quick things that people can do to cheer up their home (especially during these drab, Winter months) without spending a lot of time or money.
For this week, no-one wants me to wander down some random path of thoughts, pontificating about something abstract that takes too long to read. And, honestly, I love that! I love it when reader's (and friends) tell me what they want me to write about, and when they share their thoughts and ideas with me.
Please never hesitate to make suggestions, or ask me to write about your favorite dilemma or topic. But, until I hear from you, here's a quick list of some things that you can do.
Wishing you the happiest of years!
With love and a hug,
- Wendy

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Girl and her Car

Some days, I can't write about decorating ideas, but my head is still filled with observations of life, and the most infinitesimal, yet joyful thoughts that happen inside us every single day. Here is one of mine.

I was in the car dealership earlier this year, waiting to get my car checked, when I noticed that someone had left a newspaper on the chair next to me, and the magazines (all about automobiles and sports, not a feminine thing to be seen) were scrunched in an almost impossible pile of paper mess on the table. The guy before me had also left his empty, paper coffee cup there; pretending to ignore the garbage can a few feet away, as he rushed off to his haircut appointment (he actually told me he was in a hurry to get his oil changed because he had a haircut appointment, which made me smile).

After a few minutes, I was the only one there, and I tried not to look at the mess laid out in front of me. I watched the morning show on the television, and pretended to be really interested in what percentage of people showered every day, and how John Cena had proposed to his girlfriend last night during a wrestling match, but I still couldn't stop looking at the pile of papers.

Eventually, I thought that if I grabbed one of the magazines, I could accidentally straighten the pile in the process; who the heck accidentally straightens a pile? Me. So, I picked up a magazine and casually straightened the first pile at the same time (so nervous in my self-perceived, organizing insanity, that my bottom almost missed the chair when I hastily went to sit down again).

My eyes went back to the television, as I wondered what type of coffee had been in the cup, and how long it would sit there before someone tidied it up. I thought of bringing some magazines from home, for the women to read while they waited for their own cars to be fixed, and if I should offer to answer the phone as I heard it ring endlessly then go to voice mail.
I sat there, wanting to help and wanting to clean up (first impressions and all that) until I heard fast heavy footsteps behind me. While I was lost in my thoughts, the mechanic had flung open the door, and was now sitting down next to me. And he was calling me "Ma'am". He was barely a few years older than me, and I had just been "Ma'am"ed.

My thoughts turned to the extra ten pounds I had put on, the frumpy skirt I was wearing, and the fact that I hadn't slept more than a couple of hours last night, and I suddenly felt every inch a "Ma'am". Feeling as if I had just aged a decade in just a few seconds, I said a polite thank you and paid the bill.

As I sadly walked to the door, I looked back up at John Cena on the television, beaming broadly at his new fiancee; the Ma'am comment had stung a little, but I realized in that moment that they were just words, and they hadn't actually changed me into someone else. I was still me.
So, I flipped my hair back, turned myself around, straightened the mess on the table, threw the coffee cup into the bin, and smiled at the man behind the counter as I waved him a cheerful goodbye.

p.s. Thank you to John Cena and Twiggy for being so original, and inspiring me to be the same.