Over the past week I’ve watched myself go from blissful to panicked, enraged to submissive, energized to depleted, and shaky to strong. Why? In an emergency 2-second decision Nettl and I took custody of the kids. My once quiet haven of incense, bubbling fountains and Mozart andantes has, literally overnight, turned into a video arcade, movie theater, co-ed scout camp, emotional service station, psychiatric couch, telephone exchange, and a vast field of hormonal land mines.
I have no experience with girls. As a parent, I mean. Both of my kids (now in their 30s) are of the male persuasion and I find myself retreating to my computer, hoping we made the right decision. I know we did, actually. No child is going to live in fear on my watch, regardless of what that demands of me.
Last Friday I sat here at this very same desk, on a day very much like today, looking forward to the kid’s spring break visit. One week. Big deal. When the kid tornado hit us and flip-flopped us around only to set us back down in unfamiliar territory, my son and I flew under the beds like a couple of electrified cats. We’re coming out now, looking around, and realizing that everything’s all right. School is still in session and we have our quiet daytimes.
I’ve been a Hausmandl for the past year–a job for which I’m well suited–but now my workload has increased monumentally. Just cooking for seven people is a daunting task, especially when three of them are at the peak of their growth cycles. And let’s not even mention the “I know all about it” eye-rolling routine. Part of being a teen is actually believing you have the answers for everything and that adults are just plain stupid. My greatest consolation is that in the next five to seven years these kids are going to be amazed at how much smarter their mother and I have gotten.
The hardest part is that until we move into a larger house at the beginning of August, there are seven of us in a 3-bedroom house, and that includes my semi-invalid elderly mother for whom I am both caretaker and (in her opinion) personal valet. My job this weekend is to make a family room/kids’ den out of the finished garage I just cleaned. A TV and all the game systems will go out there, as well as a futon couch and an air bed, worktable, toys, collectors dolls, empty Capri Sun packages and rolled up Hershey’s Kiss foil wrappers. I may actually get to watch Good Eats, MXC, and Mythbusters again.