Saturday, 24 September 2016

How to be good at chores in 16 easy steps

Parenthood is an unrelenting barrage of chores. It's a barrage of other things too, but the chores - good god the chores.

Now, to be clear, I don't really care about chores. My house is not one of those pristine magazine houses. On a good day, it barely passes for hygienic. My house is a solid tolerable, and often in some state of repair or renovation (thank you Hubby).

Generally my house borders on embarrassing, but can sometimes look like at least I turned on the robot vacuum.

However, I still do chores. A fucking endless, painful, surprising series of chores that keep my house precariously perched on the fence between "hmm what's that lingering stench?" and "holy shit we gotta call someone my socks are stuck to the floor wait is that poop of course it is what else would it be."

So today I had a single chore goal. Usually, I have zero chore goals. Each day passes with a three-year old yelling and running and making all matter of messes (including, but not limited to, playdoh on the table, milk on the couch, rice on the floor, and paint in her hair) as well as a six-month old who actively spits all of his saliva, food and breastmilk on any and all surfaces.

Whatever chores get done in between all that are a miracle. On an average day, the dishes don't get done and piles of clean and/or dirty laundry become excellent floor pillows for Hubby and I during our best "yes I'm parenting even if I am laying on the floor with my eyes closed" moments.

But this morning, Fraggle marched into our bedroom at her precise 7:17 and announced that her nighttime diaper had leaked into her pants, and therefore into her sheets.

Enter: chore goal.

Today's chore simply had to ensure that I am a good enough parent that my kid doesn't have to sleep in a possibly pee-ish bed.

Chore goal failed, as I'm sure you predicted. Because life.  Fraggle napped in her possibly pee-ish sheets this afternoon.

BUT - I did not allow myself to be deterred. I swore, tonight I will be a better parent than I was this morning. Tonight I will change those godforsaken sheets if it kills me.

And kill me it nearly did.

After washing windows, making dinner, sorting closets, and then feeding, bathing and bedding the baby, this is what it takes to complete a single chore goal in my house:

Step 1 - Strip the pee-ish sheets.

Step 2 - Realize you don't have a clean sheet.

Step 3 - Go down to the main floor to retrieve the clean laundry hamper, for the clean sheet.

Step 4 - Return upstairs, put away those clean clothes, spread out the clean sheet but then realize you don't have a clean towel to lay under the sheet to protect the mattress from other pee-ish nights.

Step 5 - Go down to the basement to retrieve a clean towel from the dryer.

Step 6 - Fold all the laundry from the dryer and put it into a hamper.

Step 7 - Put the wet stuff from the washer into the dryer.

Step 8 - Put new stuff in the washer.

Step 9 - Carry the hamper up - wait, stop - scoop the kitty litter.

Step 10 - Wash hands.

Step 11 - Carry the bag of cat feces up to the garbage.

Step 12 - Take the recycling out because it's overflowing on the back deck and Hubby keeps ranting about it.

Step 13 - Wash hands.

Step 14 - Return to the basement to retrieve the clean laundry hamper, dig out the clean towel buried at the bottom because fucking idiot.

Step 15 - Heave the clean laundry hamper up the stairs and make the child's bed.

Step 16 - Put the pee-ish sheets into another hamper - wait, stop - all the hampers are already in use fuck that - launch the dirty pee-ish sheets over the stair railing.

Oh, and, you have to do all that silently because - duh - sleeping baby.

There it is.  Now you, too, can be the best mediocre parent. You're welcome. Pass the beer.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Two days later

Two days past, and a hazy sadness lingers.

The Tragically Hip's 30 years of music is still playing on a desperate loop in my house /in my heart /it's in my pockets and in my eyes /in my blood.  The poignant conclusion to their final tour on Saturday - culminating in their (and my) hometown of Kingston, Ontario - has brought with it a sweeping sense of grief.

"I understand now how you feel about them.  I hadn't paid any attention before. I'm a fan! The whole thing is really hard to put into words." -- My mother-in-law, emailing to see how it all went.  She has captured the crux of this particular beast, hasn't she.  This idea that we all get it, even if you didn't before.

Try watching commentators and journalists grasp at thin straws of what this has meant, this swan song tour and its final show.  Yes, The Tragically Hip is quintessentially Canadian.  Yes, there is a simple pleasure in the mention of our hometowns in a lyric. Yes, the band has been around for 30 years. And yes, Gord Downie is a poet, and a nice guy. And yes, he is dying.

But it's more than that, isn't it.

It's pride. And I suppose a form of awkward, indefinable patriotism (as patriotism often is). There's new appreciation for the band and their accomplishments, even though they have, until recently, been avoided or gently ignored by many and sometimes considered inadequate by others.  Now, The Tragically Hip is hoarded and held closely to our collective heart in a "you can't have them, they're ours" kind of way. Now we all finally get it. Now we all endear them, as we should. (Although, those who always did will happily prove it.)

It's talent. True, impressive, undeniable talent. The uncommon kind of talent that can be legitimately referred to as art in its uniqueness, its composition, its performance, and its literary prowess. A conscientious, intentional, intelligent - while imperfect - talent that often goes unnoticed until all of a sudden we notice it.

It's longevity.  Thirty years, the same five guys, consistently touring the country with our favourite soundtrack and a few new tunes tossed in.  The reliability of "Well, I saw them last time, so maybe I'll skip this one and see them next year." Each song and show with its own story to tell, and a dedicated crowd competing for who knows them better.  Songs that everyone knows, even if they don't, and with an endurance that most artists work their entire lives to achieve.

Add to all of that the profound sadness that our glorious, always recognizable frontman is dying.  He's dying, and somehow, as some unbelievable gift, he has offered us the opportunity to reflect on what he and his band have meant to us - and we've finally caught on. We've followed their biggest tour yet and then watched across the country with 11.7 million tv, radio, and internet feeds, of course on nothing other than the CBC.  He, and we, have been given the chance to /bask in the golden light/ one more time.

And this is the most intensely heartbreaking part: That Gord Downie's cancer will take his /world possessed by the human mind/ away.  And that it took this for us to really consider how much he and his band meant to us - even if we already knew it meant, well, a lot.  But he hasn't left us yet.  Not before we sang with him, collectively, simultaneously across the country, one last time.  Not before we figured it out.

Ultimately, it's this series of contradictions that ruin me.

It's the irony.  

It's the irony of our patriotism for a self-described non-nationalist, our new or revived appreciation for his talent, the end of what seemed like an endless loop across our country, and the dripping, cascading empathy for his diagnosis.

I can see now why it hurts so much - because irony is the surely the fiercest and sharpest ache in anything so definitively tragic.