Saturday, January 09, 2010

I need to be slapped

To think of the days I spent, sitting in my beautiful, sunny, warm post and beam house that my husband built, lounging by the Finnish masonry stove, reading to my children, occasionally glancing out the window at the rolling countryside, dreaming of life elsewhere. You know, somewhere different, somewhere exciting, somewhere that didn't make me feel as if I was falling asleep at the wheel because I had traveled the same damn road so many damn times.

To think of how obvious it is, to everyone but me, that I got that wish. I so got that wish. I'm living, breathing and smelling that wish. And all I can do is complain about it.

But then I catch myself, or my readers catch me, mid moan, and I realize, just as many of you said, I will most certainly be laughing about all of this one day. And I want to be laughing with fond, entertaining, ridiculous memories, not cursing myself with regret for not carping the diem, that is seizing the day.

So, one week into this new place, our new digs, and I'm realizing that kids are amazing. It's the crusty old grownups who have a problem behaving. It's the grownups who need a finger wagged in their direction and to be told, "I don't like your attitude."

Esther and Isla like it here. They don't care about the stains on the floor or the lack of comfy chairs or, the furry bathtub or this is a big one, the fact that we no longer have access to a kid-friendly DVD library, we don't even have a TV, like we did at the last place.

They think the long narrow corridor, the one that originally made me think of an inner-city crack house, is the shit, and they spent all morning pushing every toy they have with wheels on it, back and forth through it.

I spent a whole afternoon scrubbing every painted wooden door in the place, there was definitely something growing on them, and scrubbing the base boards in the corridor, and the effect was instantly gratifying.

Inspired by that experience, I made room in a cabinet and started to put some of our books and games away, and rearranged Esther and Isla's room in a way that made it feel less like a cheap hotel and more like a kids bedroom.

I bought us all new pillows and bug-proof mattress covers so now I don't get that vague feeling of my skin crawling when I lie in the beds here.

The place is even starting to smell a bit better. Just us being here, infusing the rooms with much-needed life, along with garlic, chilli powder and a dash of cumin, is dispelling some of the desolate air and replacing it with something decidedly more hopeful.

And the sound of Esther hitting runaway high notes on her new recorder could send any bad spirit with ears off in search of a new dwelling place.

We had our favorite neighbors over for a glass, or three, of wine last night while the kids, there were six of them at one point, stirred up some more good energy, yelling, screaming, strewing the place with odd socks. Why do kids always take off their socks when they come inside?

This morning, Ian and I lingered over our tea in the kitchen. We listened to French radio, picking up snippets here and there, "They are talking about the weather, right?" and discussed the fireplace-- it works, we just need some wood-- while the kids watched BarbaPapa reruns on YouTube, and I determined that it wasn't even remotely close to the end of the world.

Then I finally got started taking our clothes out of our bags and putting them away. This is huge.

Speaking of moving forward, I've written about Esther losing her favorite stuffed bear here.


Anna said...

if you were enjoying it all the blogs would be boring as hell. I'd much rather read about your realistic take on it all. What about a book. You must have thought about that. So many of those travel/ex pat booksare so polyannish and dull. Anyway, no matterr what - your kids will thank you for this someday.

Emma said...

Good on you, Betsy. Nothing wrong with having a whinge now and then, it would be insufferable to read a 'pollyanna' account as Anna just said. Kids so find the funniest things great, don't they? Ruby was inconsolable the other day because I told her that one day the cardboard ceiling in the kitchen (long story involving years of renovations!) would one be a lovely real plasterboard ceiling.

Liz said...

I don't always leave a comment, but I always read and I totally agree with Anna and Emma's comments above. It's your very "realness" that keeps me coming back.

Emma said...

ps, Betsy I have found the perfect t-shirt for you.
(i hope that link works)

Anonymous said...

Betsy, I know Barnus can't be replaced but check this out...

It looks very similar.

Jenn W

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

"if you were enjoying it all the blogs would be boring as hell."

I literally laughed out loud, and hard, at Anna's comment!

Emma is right, too -- I am a big believer that we HAVE to whinge and then have people who nod and pat us understandingly and gently on the back in camaraderie. The we can set about creating order out of disorder. But sometimes a good, long whinge is just what the doctor ordered before getting on with getting on.

That place sucks, no doubt about it. I would hate it, too. But I loved reading this post of transformation, of trying to find the redeeming in the unredeemable, and it near made me weep with how you have begun to do that so successfully. It's so *real life* (like Liz commented), so in the very place where many of us are: trying to scrub the stink out of things and give them new life, whether it is a home, or a self, or a career. Man, you knocked my socks off with this post, chick, and I am beaming and clapping.

Keep on with your bad self, and please, please keep writing about it, warts and all. :)

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

"The we can set about creating order out of disorder."

THEN we can...

(Wish I had edited more carefully in Preview Mode. :) )

Sprite's Keeper said...

Anna is so right. Who wants to read about someone's perfection? Keep writing the way you do. It's who you are!

Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt said...

If it were that easy more people would be doing it. It takes a strong person (like you) to make such a move. Keep up the good and honest work.

mooserbeans said...

Betsy, it's your honesty that makes your blogs so wonderful. I feel like I'm sitting down with a best girlfriend and some wine to whine. We all need it. Remember you're the one leading the fight against super mom. Think about the stories your girls will have as adult about their time in France. And think of the laughs about the furry bathtub (the picture is hilarious really). You are raising such flexible girls. This will make them the most resilient women. By the way, thank you for posting on my blog. It means a great deal to me.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

I have missed you. I miss BabyCenter! I miss it all! But... perhaps like your house... I need to enjoy what I have here right in front of me. And seriously, if ever you find yourself in L.A., come stay with me! Our kids would get along lovely. We even have a furry bathtub for all to appreciate. PS: I did not take your comment on my post to be dismissive. I know most people don't really call Oprah's magazine and expect a call back. But really... why should we not all shoot for the top if we have the goods to do so? (Not that I'm so awesome... but I'm okay... and I am ready to blog for Oprah! LOL!)

Tilley said...

Nothing wrong with letting it all out now and then. People underestimate how hard it can be for adults and children to change cities, let alone nations. I think if it helps you to keep on an even keel, then let it out!