Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chess. Not Checkers.

I cannot remember to what it referenced, but a co-worker of mine once said, "life is a game of chess, not checkers". I laughed when I heard this little euphemism, as I have often felt this way; always trying to stay multiple moves ahead of my figurative "opponent"...aka "life". In fact, it's a skill I pride myself in, and usually enjoy. Predicting my "opponent's" next move, trying to trip it up, forcing things to lean my way; a big huge chess game, mine for the manipulating at any given moment. I think some people have a term for this style of thinking: "control freak". Lately though, it feels as though I am playing a constant, challenging, irritating and even futile game of chess with this aspect of life called, child rearing. 

 I can remember the moment my opponent began beating me. I remember it, like it was yesterday. Every detail is burned into my brain. It's a day I reminesce about often, a day that brings a smile to my face, and sometimes even a tear to my eye. This day, is November 23rd, 2008. The day my oldest child was born. You bring that sweet, amazing gift of a child home, and think, "What next? Wait, what have I done!? This is another human. One who's survival is completely dependant on me, and who's success will be largely affected by every one of my decisions. #%*&!" At that moment, you have lost any and all control. You will successfully predict moves, avoid being captured, and perhaps even win a piece or two, but conversely, you will get cornered. There will be moments when you feel it, that rising fear, that feeling of helplessness, defeat: check. 

 For the moment, I am in check. I am in check from so many pieces, for so many reasons, that I am not even 100% sure that we haven't reached checkmate. My opponent has so many players on the board. Each child and their health is a seperate pawn. That's 8. The puppy. That's 9. Kindergarten and all the things that come with it, like carpool, fundraisers, school supplies, uniforms, schedule changes. That's 14. A new job. That's 15. Childcare. That's 16 or 17 or 18 (depending on the given moment and situation). The household, keeping it clean, organized, functional, running, non-vermin infested from the filth of 4 boys plus pets. That brings us somewhere near 20. Sounds to me like life is cheating...there are only supposed to be 16 pieces on each side. Currently, we have 2, the King and Queen. I guess, techinically, we are still in play. And, if I am to be more accurate, we do have a few pawns floating around, mostly in the form of family, that get promoted every once in a while, to become key players. Without them, we would have surely been in checkmate, at least 3 kids ago. 

Last night, after a long day of carpool rejection, I walked in the front door, ready to take on my four boys. I had already decided, no matter their moods, I would not get irritated by them. First, dinner. I step foot in the kitchen, Curtis and George immediately begin crying for gum. They're obsessed. "No, it's dinnertime." As I try to close the pantry door, I feel resistence. I look down to discover Mitch with a death grip on the door. "You!!!? Already!? You're not supposed to obssess about the pantry door and cry when it closes without resulting in a snack. Not yet! YOU ARE A BABY." Strategy change. Must provide appetizer and get children out of kitchen. Chips and guacamole outside on the picnic table it is. Phew, time throw the Costco Chicken Fettucini Alfredo in the oven for 45 minutes, and set the peas out to thaw. As I do this, I'm thinking, next I will feed the dogs while dinner is cooking. I will then get Mitch a snack. I will then blow bubbles with the boys. I will then walk the dog around the yard so she poops outside. I will have left the boys unattended in the yard too long, so I will have to work in a bath. Ok, bath can happen after dinner. Mitch usually poops after dinner, so he will go in first and for only a short time. After he is done, I will run upstairs and gather everyone's underwear and pajama's. When George and Curtis get out of the bath, Brock will go in. The 2 toddlers will watch TV and I will give Mitch his bottle and put him to bed. I will then wash Brock and convince him it is bedtime. While they are walking upstairs, I will let the puppy outside to go pee so she doesn't do this in the house while brushing the kids' teeth and reading the night time story. I will hope George has not grabbed my toothbrush and either chewed on it himself, or worse put it in the toilet, during his briefly unsupervised stent upstairs. Oh, perfect, I went to the dentist today, so my brush isn't up there! But now I need to schedule a 1.5 hour appointment to get a crown on my perma-baby tooth. Why don't I just put my toothbrush up where he can't reach it every night? Wow, that should have happened a long time ago. I will call Matt who is still out of town at some point. After they are all in bed, I will take the puppy out to make sure she poops. I will follow up on carpool emails. I will double check Brock's school supplies. I will load the dishwasher and pick up the house. I will email more people to make sure I have nanny coverage for Kerry's maternity leave. I will reschedule the cleaning lady to come on a day that there aren't 6 kids in my home. Perhaps, I'll blog about the cute and funny things Curtis has been saying lately. 

 Dinner is ready. I make their plates. Brock and Curtis don't want this dinner, they wanted pizza. They saw me put something in the oven and naturally assumed it was pizza. Boy, did I throw them for a loop. Mostly, the above mentioned plan happened. What I didn't foresee, was the dog will have pooped and peed by the time I get downstairs from the baths. My cleaning lady will basically quit because I tried to reschedule her to make her life easier. I will have made no headway on the carpool situation. I will forget, yet again, that my toothbrush is downstairs, and just forgo brushing my teeth for the evening...I left the dentist at 4pm, how dirty could they really be? I will remember that I am missing the "Wet One's" refill wipes for school. Damnit, no idea when I will get those. How did I miss that!? I only went 5 different places to collect his 11 measely school items, and still had to order the 5 boxes of Eight Count Crayola crayons! I do think I have maternity leave covered, so that's good. I need a cleaning lady, this house cannot function without one, cue groveling to my Spanish-speaking maid. Thank goodness, she will come next Thursday. I really need to meet with a financial advisor, because a bigger house would help, right? Right!? 

 I'm tired. I'm unsure of what I even accomplished today. I'm unsure how I will manage to avoid my opponent's ever looming capture of my queen, or worse, king. I really have no idea how my child will get to and from school, will he like it, will he make friends, I wish I could be more available. I really love him. I have enjoyed life so much more since that fateful day that I began losing this chess game. In all of this madness, not once did my actual child cause the stress, or put me in check. Those guys do nothing but make me happy. It's the child-rearing, and the many activites required to enrich and develop these little beings into functional, successful and most importantly, happy individuals that creates the stress. 

 And, lastly, to be clear. Though I intensly prefer winning. I ALWAYS enjoy a good game. I'm still in it, and one of these days, the tides will turn. My opponent's pawns will all make it to the other side of the board, and will be come kings (and perhaps, queen's in the case of Curtis) and begin forming a game of chess for themself. Bear with me, the chess analogy isn't perfect, it's a new style. Break away chess. Until then, check.

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