Monday, December 13, 2010

Hamsters, Homework, Haircuts and Havoc

The day started with the expiration of our hamster, Rhino.

He lived a surprisingly long little hamster life, given that our track record with small-ish critters is less than stellar.  Steve and I knew he was ailing, and it had become part of my morning and night routine to peer cautiously into his cage to see if he was still among the living.   

This morning, he wasn't.

I waited until the kids were home from school to tell them.   Lots of tears ensued, followed by the Circle of Life talk. 

"Wino (I love that Finn calls him that because he can't say his "Rs" correctly) is in heaven, wight?"

"Yes, Finn."  

He thinks for a moment.  "So he's playing wif Coalie? And Yellowy?  And Taily-Tail?  And Harry I, II, II and IV??"  (our kitty, favorite chicken, leopard gecko and a series of Betta fish, respectively).

I grimace.  "Yes, they are all together now."

Greta took Rhino's passing in stride, for the most part.   She cried for a while, then wiped her tears away and said, "even though it makes me sad when they die, I'm glad we have pets."


My days are jam packed.   My business is busy, and the kids' schedules are hectic.   I hit the ground running at 7am every morning, and usually don't get to bed until after 11pm each night.  

Every inch of today was full.   With both kids in school until 2pm,  I spent the morning delivering local orders, catching up on work emails and going to several stores to buy materials and office supplies.   Finn got home first, and I forced myself to carve out some time and play a game or two.   Greta came home at 3:30pm and found me where I usually am at that time:  scrambling to finish orders and get to the post office by 5pm.   

After the post office we went to Target for some much needed groceries and gifts.   Home by 6:15pm, unpacked groceries, fixed dinner, supervised baths, gave Greta a hair cut that is long overdue and read a bedtime story.   Steve came home at 8pm and we held a little ceremony to say goodbye to Rhino, and then Steve buried him back in the woods.   More tears, a couple of back rubs and two fetched glasses of water later I limped downstairs, exhausted, to work some more on orders.

Every day feels just like the last one.   There is often some unexpected hurdle (like the death of a hamster), but for the most part every day unfolds just like the one before.   And there is never enough time.

I keep waiting for the panic monkey to strike.    Last year at this time I was a wreck; I felt like I wasn't measuring up on any front.   I almost shut down the business.  I almost stopped blogging.  Everything was so dramatic

This year feels different, and I've been trying to figure out why.   Part of it, I think, is that I adjusted my expectations.

I go easy on myself about things like laundry and housework.   I'm asking for help from family, friends and babysitters instead of resentfully doing it all myself.   When doubt and shame creep in and whisper to me that I'm not spending enough time with my kids or the house looks like a tornado hit, I tell myself that I simply don't have time to listen. I know I'm doing the best I can, dammit, and I'm too busy to feel badly about any of it.   So there.

I have my moments, to be sure.   There are times I feel like my head is going to explode:  when I'm trying to get orders done and I have to get up every three minutes to break up a fight, adjust a channel, find a lost toy or fetch a snack, I can get resentful.   But it doesn't last long. 

Last year at this time I felt like I was chasing my tail.    This year I feel swept along by some unseen current, and instead of feeling panicky and out of control, I feel mostly curious.   I wonder where it's taking me?

I haven't posted since last Thursday - haven't even thought of posting - and that's a long time for me.   I told myself I wasn't going to post just for the sake of posting, but I need to decompress, think things through.  I need to stop, once in a while, and writing a few words on my little acre of the internet helps me do just that. 

Thank you for listening.   I'm grateful for this space where I can just ramble, unwind, decompress.    Eventually I'll get back into writing; I'm not worried about it.  

Everything works itself out, I'm learning, if I can just be patient enough to let it.


  1. SO excellent, Ellie! This post is just what I (and I'm sure so many others) needed this morning! I am in panic-mode lately. For me, it brings about eventual rage, which is such a reminder of how I was when I was drinking. Under the rage, I know, is fear. Thank you for helping me to see that I don't -have- to be afraid of doing it and doing it all perfectly. As a friend of mine likes to say, "Everything is perfectly imperfect". Thank you for sharing and my condolences about "Wino". I love the angel hamster picture. Bless his (and your) heart.

  2. The panic monkey! I love it-- that's exactly how it feels, isn't it?
    Usually I am in panic mode by this time of the year. This year, I'm not! I am happy with myself, but also somewhat curious about the fact that I'm not freaking out. I think about everything that remains on my to-do list, the fact that I am hosting Christmas, and the condition of my house, and the laundry that threatens to take over the laundry room, and I'm like, "Meh. It'll all get done, and if it doesn't they will just have to deal with the great laundry disaster of 2010."
    This is the first time in a long time that I'm okay with that.

  3. I totally know what you mean. Unfortunately, I'm struggling with panic mode...distracted by all there is to do, lately, I find myself paralyzed, doing nothing, or the lowest priority items. I'm trying breathe and calm down. Thank you for the reminder that beneath the panic is a fear of not being good enough - I'm going to try to shut down the nasty commentary running through my brain.

  4. Thank you wise one, Elli-wan kenobe. The Panic monkey can't be at your house this year because it is at mine. I look forward to the time when I just feel swept along with the tide. I know this will come in time - moving towards perfection is enough - baby steps (or as my 4 year old says, Barbie steps).
    ps. Sorry about Wino - but I did love the angel hampster.

  5. Ellie, thank you so much for introducing me to Brene Brown. After you posted the link to one of her TED talks, I watched all of the YouTube videos with her and then bought her latest book. I am only about half-way through it but it seems to me that what you are experiencing is well on the path to living with your Whole Heart--you are setting boundaries and expectations and loving yourself more kindly. When life calms down a bit, if you get a chance, the book is wonderful. --Barb Cooper

  6. Thanks for the recommendation, Barb! A good friend is going to lend me her copy soon - I can't wait to read it! I watched all the youtube videos, too... I just love her message. :)