sour grapes

grapes

Today was the eighteenth anniversary of the day I got married. Today was the seventh anniversary of the day we signed the closing papers on our house. Today I made my eight year old cry when I told him we would not be going on our annual camping trip. Today I have been thinking a lot about the quick blink of passing time, about unexpected settling, about disappointment.

For the record: this has been a rotten summer. The older kids have declared it “the worst” but I can’t even whisper superlatives without worrying about superstitiously tempting fate. Oh yeah? You think this is bad? Just wait. I know it doesn’t work like that, but I am spurned into a practice of gratitude anyhow. And even if I can’t avoid difficulties simply by focusing instead on whatever is vaguely good, I can try not to make it harder. Life can be hard enough.

Seven years ago, we moved into a house that had a recent but poor exterior paint job. We intended to paint as soon as possible. Turns out, it wasn’t possible until now. Turns out, we might be attempting the impossible.

We would have deferred this task longer, if it weren’t for chunks of our house beginning to crumble away to dry rot. We’ve had a lot of other stuff going on over the last few years; we put it off as long as we could. And, like everything we do, we’re doing it ourselves. I wish I could tell you it’s all for DIY bragging rights, for industriousness, for hubris. But the truth is that we can’t afford to pay someone else. It’s not glamorous to talk about finances. But I have never aspired to glamor and I know other families must be in the same predicament. We are a one income family, and while that income is decent we have a lot of expenses related to some rough blows we’ve had (a year of unemployment, lengthy hospitalizations) and keeping afloat feels like accomplishment. Any extra costs are not easily absorbed.

We are losing a whole summer to this project. The husband even took off a week of work and spent the equivalent of his usual (50 or so hour) workweek power washing and sanding and scraping. We might not even finish by the time the rains start (we live in Oregon: it’s wet here) but at least the house will be waterproof and the walls won’t wash away.

We didn’t do anything special for our anniversary. Heck, we didn’t do anything special for our marriage, so I guess it’s tradition. We don’t have the time nor money (nor extended family) for special. Frankly, when regular life is so tight and stressful, we don’t have the energy for special.

Tonight the husband and the two oldest are sleeping outside on the trampoline. It was the teenager’s idea, and the eight year old wanted to do it, too. But he was kinda nervous so the dad said he would join them.

This isn’t where I envisioned we might be, eighteen years ago. But I know that my marriage and family aren’t going to wash away. We might have rough times, we certainly have areas that aren’t lovely, but we keep at it, and we patch it up, and we do the best we can. And, in doing so, we set a new precedent for our children. We will always be there for you, we tell them, in everything we do.

It’s a bummer that we can’t go camping this summer. It’s a bummer that the only thing we hoped to do was a simple camping trip, and even that proved to be too much. We have good reasons to be very disappointed. And we have many terrific reasons to be very proud. My children know they don’t have to shoulder the burdens of this world alone. We have given our kids something that we didn’t have. We have given them stability and authenticity. It might not always be wonderful, but it’s always real. It might not always be fun, but it’s always dependable. I think that counts for a lot.

briansanding

(grape picture snapped today in my backyard. august is all about sour grapes, literally and figuratively. if you’re wondering: yes, we were practically babies when we got married. he was 23 and I was months away from my 21st birthday. i was going to post a picture of the two of us together, but i couldn’t find one. not even one! although, we didn’t even have our picture taken together the day we got married. civil service at a courthouse. we had no attendants or witnesses of our own. same as it ever was. the husband doesn’t know I took that pic of him today and he’s asleep and certainly doesn’t know I’m posting it. I think it’s ok, though. it’s a good capture of our life lately. he’s way up on a ladder sanding, sanding, sanding. he’s a good, solid, loyal person. i’m glad he’s mine. and, I hate to jinx myself, but I am going to try to write in this blog more regularly. maybe even tomorrow! I have a lot updates about Uly to share. somebody is still reading out there, right? maybe?)

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Categories: life, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “sour grapes

  1. Yep. Just read this after a glamorous 5:30 am wake up call due to a Charlie horse iny calf, followed by a crying baby. And now I can’t sleep. So thanks for the read. Happy Anniversay.

  2. YES. Let’s keep blogs alive–I love yours, and this post is full of familiar details/feelings. My husband and I have been married 24 years, got married as babies, have never managed to get our heads above water financially (though we’ve made a beautiful life, full of things that make me proud and happy, especially our kids). We do EVERYTHING ourselves, and as a result my husband is great at plumbing, electrical work, and I am an awesome indoor painter, etc. People are always so impressed at what we manage to do ourselves, and I bite my tongue. At this point, I can’t even imagine paying someone to do something I’m capable of doing myself (even though the doing costs so much time). Anyway, keep writing, I’m reading.

    • you do have a beautiful family! I really enjoy following along on instagram and seeing your mostly grown kids! maybe I should voice post while I’m painting and kill two birds at once, since time is my biggest impediment for not writing as often as I’d prefer. . .

  3. Donna

    So glad to see a new post! I’m still reading and always enjoy your thoughts.

  4. Sharon

    I’ve been awaiting a post of you and yours. Drop me an email? I’ve got something that your oldest may enjoy. Teens. Camping. Water.

  5. Deb

    Happy anniversary, April!

  6. grace

    April, I could’ve written this same post, almost. Our 15th anniversary was 10 days ago. My husband is working 50 hours a week or so for $10/hr. It’s very crappy. Our food stamps were reduced by 50% this month. We painted our own house—well most of it, except the back, which is still waiting, last year. We had to replace lots of siding. Our house was sided with cardboard when it was built. Seriously. We did not replace all of it.

    I keep thinking, “I hate everything.” Except, really I don’t. I love my good husband who loves our babies. I love our sweet four children. I have hope that maybe, just maybe, my husband will get a better job before this year is out.

    Happy anniversary, April. Wishing you all the love and joy in the world!

    • I can get bitter when I think of how very hard we’ve worked and how seemingly little we have to show for it! but I try to snap out of it quickly and remember the good stuff. I hope your family gets a break soon, too.

  7. Jana

    I still read when I see it cross my computer. I enjoy how you write. I am sad for the struggles but elated at all the good things you recognize. Especially about being authentic. That was a good word. Happy Anniversary even though it doesn’t look like you are celebrating. 🙂

  8. growingwildfarm

    I could cry thinking of mr. eight year old crying about the camping. No one here can really believe that it isn’t happening, and on such a hot summer, that lake! Sometimes, there really isn’t a lot of glamour to living, but you guys are the best, always, and full of all the real shiny stuff that matters most.

    • he was already working on some new spooky stories to tell around the campfire! although the way time has been flying, it’ll be next august before we can blink!

  9. That Asian-Looking Chick

    Happy Anniversary! =) Yes, please write more in your blog. Your writing is a delight with its excellence and crisp and luscious economy of words. I’m always left wanting to read more. It’s also your voice, poetic and approachable (the two are not mutually exclusive, and you demonstrate that beautifully). I hope you have a lovely day filled with quiet celebrations. oxox

    • “lucious economy” might be one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me. i will remember that for a long time. thank you, kristi!

  10. Sue Berger

    Yup, reading along. Pulling for you and yours. Hoping for the sweetness for all of us.

    • I do like knowing people are reading, otherwise I feel a little silly staying up late and neglecting dirty dishes to type some words on a screen. thanks, sweet sue!

  11. Faith

    I’ve scrolled through to check up on Uly. We shared the same birth month on the Mothering site, and I think about Super Uly often. Can’t believe our babies will be 3 soon 🙂

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