Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hey, I Remember That!

"Hey, I remember that!" said the Moose in response to seeing his dad on the floor doing sit ups. We haven't seen much of his dad or his dad's routines for several months, until recently. The sight of his dad on the floor crunched over his knees stirred a memory and the comment has been reverberating around in my head the past few days.

Barring any last minute snafus, my husband retires from twenty-one years of active duty service at the stroke of midnight on New Year's eve, not that we're counting down.

Becoming a family again has meant that we have undergone some recent transitions including a move from Japan to Ohio, a change of residence from a rental house and a room in a barracks hall to our own house, from active duty to the civilian status, and from being singularly in charge of priorities, plans, and menus for the day to accommodating spousal needs, priorities, and extra curricular activities.

Day one. Newly arrived husband announces, "It's too warm in here." All thermostats are lowered. My eyes rolled slightly. I put on a sweater. Later, I started complaining (my circulation stops in my extremities when I am chilled). He explained, "With the temperature lower, we can use the fireplace." I had stacked a cord of firewood earlier in the fall so that it would be ready for the resident pyromaniac. Problem was we have a energy efficient Canadian fireplace with which he was unfamiliar. It took a few days to work out the kinks meanwhile I shivered. Now there is some kind of schizophrenic weather fluctuations nullifying the need for heat just when he's earned his fire building badge.

New priorities aren't always easy to accommodate. He tried renegotiating pizza night (he wants all of his favorites at once).  I replied, "Talk to the Moose, but be warned it's been done and it was u-g-l-y." We ate pizza.

Holiday lights and evergreen garlands adorn our front entrance. The Christmas tree twinkles merrily in the living room. A small santa collection adorns the Korean chest. With my husband is in his decorating trance, it's possible that our children could left to starve or stay up all night. A friend reminded me, "Just because there is help at home, doesn't mean that the other spouse has the responsibility for taking ownership of the home routines." Things like meals, schedules, and making homework happen stay with the primary homebody which in our house is mama.

I really like being a mom, but sometimes I want a break and after not having a husband around for several months I was thinking it would be easier with him home at last. I didn't account for the need to adjust to those different priorities or for how quickly he would begin the implementation stage.

I've had to account for a scrape on the car's front bumper, darned parking garage pole; a rather large pile of books on the living room table, I was sick of hauling them upstairs and asking and sometimes yelling at certain children to do it; the state of the leaves in the yard, the front yard looked ok; the dinner menu, there are a lot of spinach and potatoes, not together of course. You get the idea, he was questioning everything. I had to remind myself to be cheery, pleasant, and that the inquisition was a long time ago. He's adjusting too.

In the military this is called reintegration. We should be experts by now, but we're not. The good news is that this is likely the last time it is forced upon us and that we're making headway toward finding a new even keel again.

We've hung pictures, planned a holiday party (theoretically), and he's using the industrial chemical gloves from the hardware store to help with the dishes (water removes the skin on his hands when it comes out of a kitchen sink faucet). Life is beginning to feel more sorted, more settled. He's getting the rhythm of munster meals, you know what the kiddos will actually eat versus what he wants them to eat which always ends with a lot of requests for yogurt, apples, and cheese for dessert. He's even been moosed out of bed (remember we live with a Moose). We're learning to account for each other and as new memories are made about where things go, how things work, we dance around instead of into each other. Were working on checking in with each other before committing to new activities.

I thought about the Zen Buddhist aesthetic in Japan of irregularity and imperfections. A flaw is left by a master as a reminder that in nature things are never perfect-- the cloud in the sky, the grain in the wood, the shape of a rock-- nature is irregular. The Zen master strives to be no better than nature; the mistake is a reminder to be humble (that's why I leave all of the spelling and grammar errors!).

Perfection is over rated.

We are negotiating our way back to ordinary times around here, but the bumpy ride is ultimately better than the solo flying we've each been doing. I'm trying not to jump to conclusions, and I'm working on my assumptions, but I do like having a roaring fire, sparkly lights on the bannister, and the sound of two kiddos and one husband laughing over Bugs Bunny cartoons again.

It's all good, even the crack.

decking the halls