Things I totally can't figure out

As I thought about what makes life easier, I couldn't help but also think of some of the things that still…well, they completely baffle me. I don't know if I just haven't been bothered enough by them to put in the work of finding a solution, or if they really are that thorny of problems. But here are a few:
  • Putting away suitcases. Maybe it's just because we use them so infrequently, there is no designated time or way they would naturally be dealt with? Or because they go on a higher closet shelf that I have to stand on a stool to reach? But our suitcases sit out for months. Taunting me with their reminder that the brief shining moment when I needed them…is gone forever.
  • Minor repairs. The microwave light has been burned out for about 6 years. I bought a replacement bulb, but even with the help of the internet, can't figure out how to put it in. It seems ridiculous to call a repairman. (But not at all ridiculous to just put off doing anything for 6 six years…?) Same with various dripping sinks, slow drains, broken dishwasher settings, broken sprinklers. If it's not major and pressing, I don't know quite how to make it ever appear (or stay…long enough for me to…shoot at it? this metaphor is getting messy) on my radar.
  • Getting places on time. I can tell you how to make it to church on time: get called to be the organist or the chorister. We are (nearly) always there 15 minutes early when I have those callings. But it's because I KNOW I must be there. And telling myself I "must" be other places right on time—when I know that a few minutes here or there don't actually matter—requires fooling my brain in a way that my brain (that smartie!) can see right through. Same with setting clocks fast, or other "tricks." I've read the articles about "Why it's rude and inexcuseable to be late" etc.—and I DO excuse myself with the fact that we aren't "chronically" late. I'd say we're right on time about 50% of the time. But the other 50% just seems totally out of my control (not true, I'm sure).
  • Dusting fans. Cleaning blinds. Other people do these things, apparently.
  • Lunch. Let me get this straight. We wake up, figure out what to have for breakfast, make breakfast, eat breakfast, clean the table, wash the dishes, put away the food…and then, 4 hours later, I'm supposed to head up this same Herculean effort again??! When we have leftovers to heat up, I can cope. (Finding things to put in school lunches, when I did that, was worse, if anything.) But in an ideal world I would much prefer to eat a bigger and later breakfast, skip lunch altogether, and concentrate my energies on the impending dinner. Think about it. This idea is like the time I got hit by a bird while I was out running: surprisingly appealing, once you get past how unusual it is.
  • Keeping my own room clean. This is a tricky one because it's the one place in the house I can't completely blame on my children. (At my insistence, they and I do a pretty good job of keeping the rest of the house passably tidy.) I know my mom would say it's simple: just never leave the room before you've made your bed, never let your clothes touch the floor (hamper or hanger only), have a place for everything, and deal with clutter before it ever covers a surface. This is very sound advice. However, I use my bed throughout the day for nursing, so it seems a waste to make it. And since the baby sleeps in the closet, he's always in there when I need to hang something up. Also, I was looking for the sort of advice that wouldn't require me to exert any physical effort or get up out of my chair after I've collapsed into it after barely making it to the "finish line" of cleaning up dinner…
  • Weeding and yard care. This seems like something my kids could do. But that would require me to teach them (the blind leading the blind). Also, it's often hot or cold or otherwise unpleasant out there. On the upside, Abe does mow the lawn very nicely!
  • Getting kids off to school. Took care of this. And my life is so much richer for it. :)
  • Dry cleaning. Oh, I've managed it once or twice, when it was urgent. But it's not on my regular things-to-do radar, and it always seems like a waste to take one thing…so I wait for months…and then forget which other thing needed it…and pretty soon, in our minds, it's like Sam doesn't even OWN a Sunday suit.
  • Clothes rotation and storage. Yes, I have large Rubbermaid boxes in the storage room, labeled with sex and age. But I never feel on top of it. One of the kids is always wearing something too short, or they're too small for the clothes that go with their age so they wear a jumble of sizes, and then the clothes are all out of order in the boxes for the next child, and I intend to fix or patch things but don't do it, and then things wear out to the point where I'm pretty sure D.I. won't want them, but they contain…some usable cloth, so I don't feel I should throw them out, though heaven knows I'm not going to make a patchwork quilt from clothing scraps anytime soon.
  • Pack Meeting. I have read various people opining that the girls of the church are neglected because the Activity Days program doesn't have an equivalent of Cub Scout Pack Meeting. To which I say: are you kidding me?! You would like, with your girls, to go sit on folding chairs in the church gym and try to keep your children quiet while they fall through the backs of the chairs and bonk their heads and cry (or, alternatively, climb on the folding chair racks, trip on them, bonk their heads, and cry), while doing "The engineer cheer" and "The roller coaster cheer" and your girls get various things pinned and handed to them? Hmm (I say, to this hypothetical person I'm still talking to). Well, I AM COUNTING DOWN THE YEARS till I have girls in pack-meetingless Activity Days! I mean, I'm not interesting in debating the Scout program right now; I think we can all agree it can potentially be great for boys, and my particular boys' Scout Leaders have been wonderful, but when it comes to getting us all to Pack Meeting monthly, I do NOT have it figured out.
  • Enrichment night, (or Relief Society Weekday Meeting, as nobody calls it). Oh hey, while we're on the subject of things that happen monthly on the precise night I feel least able to drag myself out of the house! I love the idea of getting together with women I love and admire, and I was Enrichment Leader myself for awhile, so I know how much you want people to attend and appreciate the things you've worked so hard to plan! But while I'm really good at marking my calendar and sitting in church nodding and making polite "oh-that-sounds-lovely" noises while the announcement is made: when the night comes, it's inevitably the very night the baby starts throwing up…or we got caught in traffic coming home from piano lesson…or I actually DID have dinner planned and it looks like it's going to be a tasty one…and I don't end up going. Even though I know I would have been glad I went, had I gone.
  • My hair. Seriously. Is it straight and flat, as I thought it was for 30 years, or sort of semi-wavy-but-not-in-a-nice-way as it has been for the past five? Also, no matter how often I get it cut/shaped and become more satisfied with it, it just keeps re-growing and needing attention again! Come on! I don't have time for this.
  • Oh, and Lipstick. Like wine-drinking, it's a world that all seems so mysterious, from the outside. Finding the right color! Making your teeth look whiter! But I usually just feel like my lips are two unmoistened slabs of fish, tinted pink and drying in the sun. I just…don't get how it's supposed to work? And look natural?
  • Dealing with drawing/scribbling/wiping bodily fluids on the walls. Not my own, but the children's, of course. I never know who has done it or when; but these "decorations" just keep appearing on the walls, as the dew from heaven distilling. I think maybe, like with graffiti, the best thing to do would be to immediately paint over any offending area, but this is logistically difficult…not to mention a Sisyphean task that would require an unending supply of paint and/or Magic Eraser. And for what? To do it all again in a week? Sigh.
  • Decorating for holidays besides Christmas. (Although we did have an Easter crèche this year!) It seems like it would be so fun. And I do have a few decorations I've collected over the years, but first of all you have to get them out…and then after a few short days/weeks you have to put them away again…so, that sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it?
Well, that concludes this episode of "Things I Just Can't Figure Out." (Next time: Meat! Can someone teach me to cook it?)


  1. Oh dear Marilyn. You are so fantastically real. Amen to all of the above. Especially keeping my own room clean. Why, oh why is that so incredibly difficult? I always feel so guilty when I tell the kids to clean their room and then I look at my own disaster...I tell them it is because I am always cleaning their messes. And the enrichment night (or whatever it is called...calling it a meeting makes it seem so ominous), aargh. There is a reason I just got that calling. Most likely that reason is because I do not attend said ominous "meetings.".

  2. Those darn blinds. It just seems so hard. It really truly never occurs to me. In general though my focus is, of necessity, keeping up on constant and obvious surface mess -- all the visible stuff -- that deep clean anything is rare. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone just do all of that stuff for you? And Enrichment. Why won't I? It's like I've just established myself as someone who doesn't and I can't imagine changing it. And clothes rotation. I'm so sad when I actually buy my kids new church pants or whatever and then find they had two pair in a box in the basement. The best thing is that Anders is catching up in size to Jesse, and Penny to Goldie (even though in both of those scenarios there is a three year gap) and so, at least in those instances I have started being able to, when folding laundry, just stick something that was looking small on the last wearing straight into the younger sibling's pile. But those gaps where you need to actually sort through and box up clothes and then bring them out again for the next kid at some point? Impossible. Same with shoes.

  3. That thing about your hair is me exactly. I've never owned a blow dryer, but I've heard that's a thing...

  4. Jena: Haha! Yes, when I had the calling I said to myself, "From now on I will ALWAYS attend enrichment meeting." But after I got released . . . well . . . here we are. :)

    Nancy: argh, SHOES! Don't even get me started. Keeping my kids in shoes is a full-time job. And it's not like they can have just one pair each, either! Sunday shoes . . . sandals . . . regular shoes . . . boots. I can't keep up!

    whyimconservative: I know! Some people use $200 blow-dryers and swear it makes a huge difference, too! I'm almost tempted because it takes so long to dry my hair (when I dry it) (which is rarely).

  5. I love this! You and I have more in common than I thought, which makes me very happy. Amen to most of it, especially the blinds. I wanted curtains so I could just stick them in the wash to clean them, but Mark wanted blinds and since he does all the installing around here.... He even cleans them once every five years. :) I do actually love pack meeting and I do think girls are a little neglected in the church as far as opportunities to learn useful things like hammering and fire building, but I only have three kids and they like to go to pack meeting because they get a treat. Thanks for sharing the wonderful things you think about. Here's to being practical!

    1. And THAT is why you are such a good cub leader. You see the good in pack meeting. And it's true, the kids always love the treats!


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