Yesterday mom was here and in the two hours it took me to run errands alone-oh-joy-oh-bliss, she had the kitchen swept, dishes washed, and the baskets of clean but wrinkly laundry folded. As she pushed a pile of clean clothes back on the table, it shoved a cup of water off the table. No big deal, but of course it was rinse water from Jude's peg-doll painting. And he'd been painting with black.
I'd just replaced the broken heat-vent cover that the kids kept stepping through with a nice, shiny white one. We've also just put up new white bead-board in the kitchen. Guess where the black painty water splashed?
Mom said, "One step forward, two steps back!"
That's the way things feel these days. The dishwasher broke, and I've gotten used to washing dishes by hand again. I find it kind of meditative actually, and the kitchen is cleaner in general because I can't pile dishes on the counter all day. I also feel good about cutting a bit on our energy and water use. So we decided to just leave it broken.
Then I registered for a course, after much deliberation and figuring out how to summon the time, energy, and money for it. I had the exact amount in our savings account, just in case (of car repairs or broken appliances) but decided to go for it and trust that nothing would break before I rebuilt that fund.
Last night, the washer broke.
And to make it even kind of funny, my old glass-and-wood washboard fell off the shelf a few weeks ago and smashed on the floor so I can't even was the clothes by hand.
Kind of funny. But not really.
It seems to be the rhythm of life with small kids, though. You save money on groceries one week, just to find that your kids have all outgrown their shoes the next. You clear out two bags of clothes to give away, then find three bags of second-hand clothes on your step, left by a kindly friend. You put away the last of the clean laundry, grin in satisfaction at your empty laundry baskets, then find the pile under your child's bed. Okay, honestly, that never happens (the empty baskets thing).
I could go on and on about this dance of one step forward and two steps back...tidy the house for a birthday party, then end up with a messier house than you started with. Have all the dishes washed, then find that your husband has cleaned out his car and filled the sink with moldy containers. Get all the garbage and recycling ready for the dump to find that you don't have a card for the dump (and the store that sells them is all out). You finally put the baby down for a nap as your preschooler barges in the door roaring and crying for a band aid.
This morning Robin went to school in Birkenstock clogs and asked me if they looked funny with his dress clothes. I said, "Kinda". Then he told me that he has NO clean socks because he hadn't been putting them in the laundry this week. That kinda turned into kinda sad at that point.
If you're a mother of small kids, or have ever been a mother of small kids living on a tight budget, you know the steps well. If you try to lead, you end up stiff and awkward. If you just lean into it, trust your partner, and handle it with grace and a smile, it's not so bad. I do find the occasional curse whispered under my breath helps, too.
On the bright side, it's an opportunity to show your children how to handle (first world) adversity with grace, faith, and patience.