Love and a Little Crazy

Have you ever found yourself standing in a basement room at 5am, gearing up for two loads of laundry and a two-mile run before breakfast, wondering when, exactly, you started sprinting through life?  5am is not really a reasonable time to do anything besides sleep or drink coffee, and yet here I am using it, milking it, this precious hour before people wake up and start needing things.  When did the rest of my life get so squeezed?  What (misguided) choices am I making that drives me to this point?

I like to think I am a good multi-tasker but lately I wonder if I’m actually really inefficient.  Or do I just not delegate enough?  Do I place too much of a premium on sleep (obviously not, at 5am)?  Too much of a premium on leisure?  On reading, watching TV, sharing a glass of wine with my husband?
Who are these women who have three, four, five kids?  Single moms?  Moms with Big Jobs?  How the hell do they do it?
Hullloooo out there!  Are you all up at 5am too?  Should we have a conference call?
The past three months or so have been like this.  There were all these unforeseen bumps in the road: the broken toe, the stall in one major work project, the advent of a new major work project, spontaneous weekend travel, stomach bugs, headaches…I suppose when you are a parent you should adopt a kind of “expect everything” approach but I am a Planner so that’s hard for me.
About six weeks ago I fielded a phone call that wound up having a major ripple effect through our lives.  I still don’t know where those ripples lead so it isn’t worth getting into right now, but suffice to say I cried for about two hours then dried my tears and did what the women in my family are prone to do when they feel overwhelmed by something: I threw myself headfirst into a completely unrelated and massive Project to Change a Few Things.
THIS was the time to completely redecorate the kids’ room.  GET RID OF EVERYTHING!  Start fresh!  Toss the old, germy stuffies!  Purge the baby books!  Drive to Goodwill!  Twice!  And then sell all their furniture on CraigsList and go to IKEA.  On Presidents’ Day (Observed).
“I don’t know about this,” my husband said.
“You won’t even have to think about it,” I assured him.
“I’m not sure you’re really thinking about it,” he replied.  “This is a much bigger project than you seem to believe.”
“I’m telling you, there is, like, an app for this kind of thing,” I said, giving him a hug.  “You are going to go to work on Monday morning and when you come home there will be a few boxes.  You will go to work Tuesday morning and by the time you get home the kids will have a completely new room.”
He remained unconvinced.  “You are talking about building a bunkbed with an IKEA screwdriver.  You are going to need some help.”
“My mom’s gonna help me.”
He looked at me, furrowed his brow.  “I’m worried about you.”
My toe was still in bad shape at this point so I was somewhat limited in speed and agility, two essential skills for running the IKEA gauntlet.  I compensated by organizing a shopping list online in advance and using my iPhone to keep track as I went.  (There IS an app for this!)  Despite a brief moment of insanity in the lower-level shopping forum — salad spinner!  shower curtain! — I stayed very much on task and emerged into the warehouse with cart stocked and flatbed empty.  Bring it, IKEA.  Bring. It. On.
IKEA brought it.
The bunkbed came in three, 70-lb boxes.  Getting it onto the cart almost gave me an aneurysm, and I stood there, breathless and suddenly frightened at the prospect of the 8-drawer dresser, desk, bookshelf, and chair.  Not to mention the mattresses.
I am Changing a Few Things and I’m doing it today, so help me.  

I sidled up to the young man at the customer service desk.  “Hi.  So, I have this list.  And I really, really need these items in my living room by 5 o’clock tonight so I can start building them at 8:45 tomorrow morning.  And they are all…just…really kind of a lot heavier than I sort of anticipated.”
The kid looked at my list and then looked at me like I was totally insane.  “You are trying to get all of these things?”  He looked over my shoulder and around me, as if to indicate that my entourage had run off and left me alone, an impression he followed up with a question: “Are you alone?”
I was very sheepish.  “Yes, I am alone.  I may have bitten off a bit more than I can chew.”
He looked at the list again.  “Can you fit this in your car?  Do you have a truck?”
“No.  And no.  I need someone to bring these things to me.”
He looked around again and then he — this young savior of mine — shrugged and said, “I’ll help you.”
The boxes were deposited in my living room at 4:45pm.  All nine hundred of them.  There was no space to walk.  My husband smiled softly, said nothing, and gamely stacked them in our bedroom for the night.The next morning I realized we would need to dismantle the crib and the toddler bed, and move an armoire out of the kids’ room in order to proceed.  My husband smiled softly, said nothing, gamely tracked down the specialty tools for the crib, personally dismantled the rest of the existing furniture, and moved everything into our room for sale or disposal.  He was an hour late for work.

Sometimes I feel so lucky that he loves me even though I am a little crazy.

I took the kids to school and fetched my mom.  (My mom pretty much invented the notion of the Project to Change a Few Things, so she was totally pumped about this plan.  We both knew that the world would look much sunnier once we redecorated.)  There is a six-inch height differential between us, which means lining up the beam for the top bunk was a little tricky.  Somehow, using the wall and sheer will, we managed to get the three main sections of the frame together.  We stepped back to admire our building prowess and of course, just like in the movies, the entire thing immediately collapsed in a loud, clanging heap.

“Oh shit,” we both said.
“That really can’t happen once the kids are in it.”
“Should we try again?”
“Should I call your dad?  He’s working from home today.”
“I think we can do it.”
“I agree.  And I don’t really want to call your dad…I want us to do this.”

(You see where I get it.)

Try and try and try again.  We did and we did and and we did, and by lunchtime we were putting Star Wars sheets on the top bunk.  With no time to rest, we plowed through the remaining furniture, although we gave up on the dresser drawers after only four were completed, and finally called my dad in for back-up when the legs just wouldn’t attach to the desk chair.  5 o’clock hurtled towards us; we turned on the lamps, and when my husband got home that evening the kids were having an “adventure” in their new bunk bed fort.

Sometimes I think a little crazy is a good thing.  The room is perfect.  Beautiful and bright, with more floor space to play and wonderful prints on the wall.  The toddler bed remained stashed in our room for a full six weeks before we found time to unload it, and the Legos are still all over the dining room table, and I keep talking about vacuuming rather than just doing it…but the kids’ room is DONE, an oasis, a testament to the fact that if you take 24 hours to stop everything and do something, completely, you can move mountains.

Or at least you can move 500 pounds of IKEA furniture.  With a little help from the people who love you.  (And the guy at IKEA.)

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