Mr. Clean

Quite out of the blue, my wife recently said to me, “You should start doing a “guy vacation” to go play golf or something every year. A lot of guys at work do it and they have a lot of fun.”

While interesting, I’m not quite sure how to take this. I have several thoughts on it though:

  1. My wife, realizing that I’ve been quite on edge since the baby was born, is truly concerned about my snapping at an inoportune moment (such as at the beach in two weeks when one of the other in-laws says something annoying to me) and desires that I get away and do something selfish for a while
  2. My wife really wants to go have a “girls vacation” and is using this as justification at a later date

So let’s think about these two things. Option 1, is very plausible. My wife has become astute at reading my moods over our near 8-year marriage; probably because when it gets to be “my time of the month” I just clam up, stop talking and start cleaning. Been doing that a lot lately. But as any concientious father will tell you, this whole “go do your thing” idea is fraught with guilty perils. Were I to go on said trip, I would constantly worry about how my wife is getting along with the boys. And then when I returned, I would constantly be trying to “pay her back” by allowing her to go do all sorts of things on her own. Which I wouldn’t mind doing, except that I neglect things around the house enough as it is. If I’m suddenly watching the kids all the time…the house, and yard will go downhill fast.

Then there’s Option 2…the idea that she really wants to go do her own thing. There are couples I know who do everything together, and there are couples I know who do nothing together. I feel bad for both. Too much of a good thing…well, isn’t a good thing. On the flip-side, if you don’t spend some time together away from the rigors of daily life, what kind of relationship are you building…and believe you me, marriage is never a done deal…you must always be working at it.

At 34, I’d like to think that I’m above naked jealousy, but the fact is that I’m not. When guys go out, they go out with a purpose: I’m going to play golf, or I’m going to have a beer, whatever. But you ask a group of women what they are going to do, “We don’t know. We just want to get out and have fun.” When a guy hears this, he hears, “We don’t know…all we know is that we’re bored with staying home with our man and we want to go out and do something different.”

Trust me when I say that “doing something different” conjures up all sorts of wild and crazy ideas in a husband/boyfriend’s mind…and not in a good “wild and crazy” way that involves kinky going’s on when she comes home.

So, I’m not sure I’m kosher with this “guy vacation” idea, as much as I long to get away. Not to mention, it’s financially unfeasible. I mean, we barely have the money to get away as a couple, so I’m not sure how I’d justify dropping $500-$600 on a guy vacation.

Even at 34, we still play games. Good? Bad? Who knows…alls I know is that I had better find a good, cheap replacement housekeeper before I rub a hole in the carpet trying to get out out my frustrations at nobody and nothing in particular!

Today’s Bible Lesson Brought to Us by…

Ecclesiastes 7: 15-18

7:15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.
7:16 Be not righteous over much, neither make thyself over wise; why should though destroy thyself?
7:17 Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish; why shouldest thou die before thy time?
7:18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea also from this withdraw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.

Having grown up in church, I pride myself on having at least a working knowledge of the Bible. So imagine my intrigue when I read the above scriptures the other day that when paraphrased in the New Living Bible, basically said, “I’ve seen good people die young, and wicked people live to a ripe old age. So don’t be too good or too bad because if you love God, he’s going to take care of you either way.”

Wow! Now doesn’t that just fly in the face of “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because your are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16 NRSV Bible)

This is what drives me nuts about the Bible, and about churches. They take one scripture and translate it literally, and then they take another and try to translate it into a metaphor that they live by. Either the Bible is literal or it isn’t.

At any rate, I’ve decided that this is how I live my life–not too good, and not too bad. If I were to put my life on a balance, I hope that I far outweigh to the Good side, but who knows?

However, lately I might be adding to my Bad balance because I’ve been sneaking out at night watering my yard and bushes even though there is a complete watering ban in my county during the week. I get it that we all share the water and if I take more than my share, others suffer, but Dangit! I just spent $2K on new bushes and such and I’ll be darned if I’m gonna let them die. Plus, if my grass dies, my home owner’s association says I have to immediately fix it. And then what? Put new grass down, water it with a 30-day permit, which might take me through middle-August, and then it dies again because I can’t water it but one day a week.

Ya know…just sue me…cuz I’m gonna water my yard. I just hope God doesn’t hold it against me.

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

We bought the house we now live in late last year and when I first toured the house with the Realtor (I’m not sure she’s an actual REALTOR) one of the first things I did was look at the backyard. After walking out on the deck and peering over its edge onto a backyard that had a severe slope that started right after the deck supports and ended up about 12 feet down the hill, I immediately said, “No way!”

But after looking at a dozen more houses and finding nothing comparable for the price, I did what we all do when we REALLY want something, but when there are valid reasons for not getting it…I rationalized.

I rationalized that I could plant grass and shrubs on it and it would be beautiful. I rationalized that I could build steps down the side leading to the flat area down by the creek. And indeed, all these things have come to pass (well, I wouldn’t call it “beautiful” at this point just yet).

However, having had to weed-eat this hill (since it’s far too steep for a mower), while trying to keep from sliding down the hill at every step, I finally decided maybe it was time to re-think my idea. And again…I rationalized, except this time I started thinking about this hill and my caring for it when I’m in my 50s. It went something like this:

“Do I really want to be trying to cut this grass without breaking my neck when my body is 15 years older and more beat up than it is now? Will I be able to afford some kid to come do it for me? What if they don’t do a good job? What if he hurts himself while trying to cut it and he sues me?

So, I finally decided that, while I could leave the shrubs and small trees, perhaps I should just lay down a thick carpet of pine straw and be done with it. And so, I headed to my local Mega-Home Upkeep Mart and bought 12 bales of pinestraw.

It didn’t even cover a 1/3 of it. And have you ever tried to walk on pinestraw? It’s very slippery, especially on a 15 degree slope. There’s apparently some trick to laying down pinestraw on a hill and as far as I can tell, it’s basically that you put the bale on your left, grab some in your hand and throw it on your right. Forget trying to do it uphill/downhill. As I found out, you’ll only sliiiide down the hill every time.

So now I’m considering having someone drop me off another 30 bales and finishing the job. They wanted about $5.50 per bale (spread) for someone else to do it and I can buy just the bales for $3.49 at the Mega-Home Upkeep Mart, so that’s a good bit o’ savings. My only question now is how I’ll refresh it every year. I won’t be able to climb all over the hill to lay a new layer like I did this time. I might just have to stand at the top and toss it down. I’m sure the coverage would be excellent (NOT!).

Why We Have Children

In the last three years, I’ve often pondered how we as a species, continue to populate the planet. Parenting is not easy and statistics show that affluent families are having fewer children, or waiting to have them much later than their parents did, while lower income families (often single parent ones) are having the same numbers or more children as in the past, and at a relatively early age.

When you consider the cost of raising children, one wonders how we do it. Those who can conceivably afford to get help, have elected to forego children. As I often do, I again come back to blame the dual income family. This lack of children among the affluent almost always coincides with a dual income household. The really interesting thing is that I can watch this little mystery unfold in my very home.

My wife comes from a very large family of 7 children. Dad always worked and mom was always there for the kids. My wife always felt that she wanted lots of children; in fact we used to have mini-arguments about how many we would have. I wanted 2, she 4. Nearly eight years into our marriage and two boys later, my wife recently turned to me and declared, “If I say I want more children, shoot me.”

My my…curiouser and curiouser.

The question is then, “What changed?” Had my wife never become successful in her career, would she be happy as a stay at home mom? As it is, weekends wear us out watching just two kids, much less staying home and watching them for a whole week. I find it interesting that this whole “nurture” thing we’ve grown up expecting women to feel towards their children is all but a thing of the past.

The point being, that raising children is not easy. We thought we dodged the “terrible twos” bullet with our older son, only to have it rear it’s ugly head in his “threes.” And now of course having a newborn in the house, old questions as to “why” and “how” this whole children thing continues its popularity plagues my soul as I’m sitting in the Dutallier rocking my grunting son at 2:30 in the morning.

There’s an old saying of mine: “You can do a million things right and never get any credit, but you do one thing wrong and people never forget you for it.”

With children, I think the opposite is true: “Your children can act like the spawn of satan for a solid week, but when they get up in the morning, come over to you and give you a genuine hug–you know, one of those that they don’t immediately pull away from–you realize that it was all worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still only want two children, but it is in times like this that I realize how and why our species will survive. We thrive on love and acceptance, and children offer these without asking anything in return except our own love.
I get it now. It took two kids and months and months of sleepless hell, but I get it now.