Photo: This picture represents a summer of knitting for me. That’s a 40-inch baby blanket in basket-weave stitch, and those are the cutest little garter-stitch baby booties ever! My awesome neighbors are expecting their first grandchild, and I couldn’t think of a better way to thank them for their kindnesses than to present them with these gifts yesterday. I’m looking forward to playing with my sewing machine over the next few weeks and then taking up sock knitting! My friend is gonna teach me! Can’t wait!
I recognize that I will lose control of this weekend as soon as the sedan with the Maryland plates climbs up my driveway.
I cannot control what my in-laws will say.
I cannot control how they will act.
I cannot control how my nephews will behave.
I cannot control how my husband will deal with the added pressure of having everyone here.
That is a lot that I have no control over. There is a lot that I can control, however, and the first and foremost of it is my own reaction to what happens around me. I have control over my patience and my tolerance, my flexibility, my compassion and empathy, and yes, my grace, if any exists at all. I also have control over my home, which is spotless, my menu, which is fabulous, and my fridges, which are stocked with food and Fall seasonal beers. I’m ready to do what I must and I’m ready to give it my best.
My mother gently chastised me for this yesterday when I was explaining all that I needed to finish in order to feel like the house is presentable and ready for company. She told me that it wasn’t worth it, that the expectation isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a clean house. I thought that was bullshit.
I want the house to be as warm and welcoming as I can make it. I want every inch of it to feel accessible. I want to showcase it under the best possible circumstances. If I personally invite people to stay over for three nights, I need to provide what I can in the best way I can.
Even if these people aren’t my favorite people. I respect them enough as people, and respect myself even more enough to give this my absolute best effort. Because I expect no less. They can go back to Maryland and call me a bitch up and down, but I want it never to be said that my house was a mess, that I was unaccommodating and that my kitchen wasn’t open and full of good food. That’s my damn standard, and I will meet it.
I recognize that I won’t be perfect this weekend. I’m sure that I’ll make a face, or let loose my sharp tongue, or walk away instead of listen… but right now, I’m striving for 100% control over myself and my behavior. I have to set the tone and the example. I never want it to be said that I was a bitch at the outset. Let’s start with decorum and courtesy and see where we land.
So I’m off to bake bread in preparation for tonight’s dinner: I’m creating a brilliant dinner of linguine served with grilled sausage, pepper, onion, roasted garlic and spinach. Served alongside it will be a crisp salad and the fresh-made bread (with a little olive oil with fresh cracked pepper and some roasted garlic.. and some Parmesan if I can manage). We’ll have buttercake for dessert, which I baked on Tuesday in celebration of The Husband’s 31st birthday. The Sam Adams Oktoberfest is plenty cold and ready to be opened as well. This is what I do: present a beautiful table and a bright, beautiful meal, a good smile and an optimistic attitude. Hopefully, it will set the right tone.
Before I leave you for the weekend, I wanted to share that a break-up of the Great Nap Boycott of 2014 finally happened yesterday. My Mother, master manager that she is, gave me a pretty awesome union-busting tactic: direct intervention and menacing threats. I’m calling it Operation: Don’t Touch The Lava.
How it works? “The rule is: When Mommy says ‘go to bed’ that means little don’t touch the floor until Mommy comes to get them. If they break this rule, it’s a big damn deal, just like if they break any rule. Get in bed, stay in bed. You wanna play quietly, that’s cool. Don’t put your feet on the floor. You are gonna have to spend a week in there with them until they nod off, but I’m tellin’ you, this week of investment is going to save you years of aggravation later!”
What about Ursa Major? He is dropping his nap and that’s natural? “He’s stays in bed and trusts that mommy will come get him when little brother is asleep. If his feet don’t touch the floor. Stay in bed. Let your brother sleep. Mommy will come get you.”
Welp. I tried it yesterday. I say in the rocking chair and the boys were in their beds. I didn’t interact with them but to tell them either no, you can’t walk around or no, you can’t jump in your bed. They eventually got bored. And Ursa Minor went to sleep. After 5 minutes of making sure he was really done, I picked up Ursa Major and tip-toed out the room.
He slept until 5.
And Ursa Major played quietly in the playroom.
And I got some freaking work done.
And it was the best afternoon we’ve had all week.
Mom is the freaking best!
Today? Well, today is all up in the air because of the impending in-law onslaught. And I needed to get this post done before they show up, so I’m posting instead of union busting. Inconsistent? yeah. Am I gonna pay for it later? Hell yeah. But we’ll be back at it next week. The point is, I have a strategy and it works! BOOM!
On this Friday, I wish you patience and grace of your own. If you are heading out to the big-box stores for that last-minute back-to-school shopping, I wish you patience with all the people who stand between you and the items on your shopping list. If you are heading off to college, I wish you light traffic, easy moving, and happy good-byes. If you are seeking your next adventure, I wish you grace under pressure as you hit the pavement for that next interview. For those who may be heading to the last family event of the summer, I wish you an easy smile, and easier laugh, and good food. I wish you all a good story, a smile from a stranger, a phone-call or text from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, and a walk in the park at dusk or dawn. Whatever you do between now and my infamous in-law post on Monday, I wish you warmth, joy and love.
Until Monday, take care.