Cobwebs and Clarity

Last week I quit something.  I didn’t feel very good about quitting, as I’m generally pretty big on commitment.  But this particular commitment was the result of being a little bit flattered, and letting that feeling convince me to say YES when I absolutely should have said NO, or at the very least Not Now.  It was the result of wanting to say Yes and not wanting to admit that my children are in two different schools on two different schedules (and it’s killing me), and my day job has taken on new levels of demanding-ness (and it’s depressing me).

Commitment or no, there are times when you simply cannot do all the jobs and be all the things to all the people.  Sometimes you need to remind yourself: Wait!  All I really want to be is a good mom and a good wife and daughter and friend (and hopefully a professional with some shred of poise left).  Sometimes you have to acknowledge that this well-intentioned Yes-Yes-Yes-Yes-Yes thing you have going is chipping away at your ability to be good at what really matters.

And, frankly, lately, all the commitments were chipping away at my ability to be SANE.  (My husband, mother, sister and probably my children will attest to this.)

I knew I had made the right decision when, after a week of agonizing and feeling horrible, I woke up on Friday downright giddy.  I felt so light, so free, so totally the opposite of crying-in-my-car-crazy.

This was a great feeling, and obviously it was the perfect opportunity to clean out my fridge.

I go on manic decluttering binges a few times a year, usually when I am purging some emotional stuff (see here and here).  It had been a long time since I tackled the creaky old Frigidaire — Mustard that expired in 2013, anyone?  No? — and actually it was kind of fascinating to see what has piled up: Our  Year in Unfinished Condiments.

Two open jars of cocktail sauce, each missing no more than a serving or two, probably held over from last crab season (before global warming turned all the crabs poisonous…heartbreak).  The aforementioned hot-sweet Russian mustard from sometime (in 2013, presumably) when we hosted a party and served a buffet of sausages and roast chicken with greens and assorted mustards.  The never-ending fish sauce that inexplicably comes in a massive 750ml bottle even though I have yet to encounter a recipe that requires more than a teaspoon of the stuff.  Spicy pickled asparagus spears from an array of cocktail condiments I bought as stocking stuffers for my husband last year when he requested new barware.  Brown miso that I bought when I actually prefer white miso, so the brown miso just languishes there, unloved and unused.

We cook pretty much nightly and we’re not big on leftovers, so aside from condiments there wasn’t much to deal with, but I do have some freezer issues I should probably talk to someone about (see: hoarding bread and parmesan cheese rinds).  A dig in the deep cold revealed freezer-burned ice cream and gluten-free broccoli nuggets that were wholly rejected by the children, slices of raisin bread from Christmas brunch back when I used to host Christmas brunch (ahem, 2013), random ends of bags of frozen peas, corn, broccoli…

All of it had to go, and off it went.  Clear fridge warm heart can’t lose.

That night the Embarcadero Center was lit for the holidays.  I grilled up a platter of chicken and made a pomegranate salad.  It was a proper celebration.

Friday afternoon my husband took Babygirl to Oregon for the weekend to visit family.  LittleMan and I did what we do when left to our own devices: two happy homebodies, lost in our thoughts with occasional check-ins to read chapters of Harry Potter or run an errand or two.  On Saturday night, we hosted three of his buddies for a sleepover, which largely consisted of four boys gleefully screaming, lightsaber-duelling, climbing terrifyingly up and down the bunked, tearing the apartment to shreds, and asking for food (like, incessantly) while I followed behind them putting things back in place, dimming lights, and talking in mellow tones in the hopes of mind-tricking them into calm.  (It did not work.)

On Sunday afternoon, after a tired and quiet morning of puttering, LittleMan ice skated for the first time.  He didn’t want to, because he does not like to try new things with a high possibility of failure…but still, it was his suggestion and I know that he did it for me — took a risk for me — because I wanted to be outdoors and do something festive.  (Maybe it was his way of thanking me for the weekend.  Maybe he’s getting a bit mature like that.)  We held hands at first, but he was determined, and my heart soared to see him fall and get back up, again and again, stubbornly shaking the wet off his hands.  His tenacity grows with each year.

I am working from my couch on this Thanksgiving Monday as the city begins to slowly empty itself for the holiday.  The skies are gray and cold-looking, and I’m eating oatmeal with sliced persimmons and indulging in Christmas carols a week early.

For the first time in a long time I don’t feel overwhelmed.  I feel…peace.  This is a great feeling.  And since there is nothing left to clean, I can sit quietly and revel in it.

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