Now We Are Thirty-Nine

The past two weeks have hit me like a steam roller. First, everyone had the stomach flu. Then Michael left town on business for a week — more work at Johnson Space Center. Then we had Cassie’s fifth birthday (the day Michael left) and of course I had to plan a party. I am one of those moms that refuses to do a huge party where Cassie can invite all of her little classmates from preschool. I don’t have the time or energy to invest in that sort of 3-ring circus, and quite frankly, I hate those sorts of parties anyway. I don’t know any of the other moms of Cassie’s classmates. I live in an entirely different world from these people. I’ve been to a couple of the parties they’ve thrown for their kids and quite frankly, I’ve either felt like a complete outsider (a feeling I should be used to, but still don’t enjoy) or else I feel overwhelmingly disgusted by the sheer excess of a party thrown for a four- or five-year-old that involves an inflatable moonwalk, an over-priced magician, some clown doing balloon animals, face painting, a five-tiered cake, pony rides, and a visit from Spiderman/Sponge Bob/Dora the Explorer. Cassie would love to have a party like that, but you know what? I can’t afford it, time or money-wise, and I think that kind of excess for a kid’s party is just a really bad idea. Birthday parties should be spent with family and close friends. They should be a celebration of life, not a gift grab. My girl got presents all week long anyway, and I swear her grandmother knows no limits on sending presents. On her birthday, Cassie received more Barbie dolls in one day than I ever owned in my entire life. Yep, she got five Barbies… IN JUST ONE DAY. A bit much, neh?

But we did have a party, and though it was a small affair, it was just big enough to nearly kill me. Since my birthday was Saturday, the same day as Cassie’s party, I decided to do two cakes. Cassie wanted this princess cake from one of her kids’ cook books, and I thought that would have been too small to feed all the guests (but in hindsight it probably would have been just right). So I decided to do a cake for me as well. The only problem was, I had almost no time to do it in. Cassie wanted to help make both cakes, and while I am not huge on over-indulgent parties, I am big on mommy-daughter bonding activities, and cooking is one of them. So I set up a schedule that a) allowed Cassie to participate in the making, baking, and decorating of both cakes, and b) nearly insured that we had no cakes at all in time for the party. See, she could only help me when she was awake, and given our hectic schedule the previous week (remember, Michael was away), my free time during her waking hours was just about nil. I actually got up at 5AM on Saturday morning, the day OF the party, to bake my own cake. Then Cassie got up around 7:30, and by 9:30 we were all dressed and ready to make her cake. Unfortunately, we needed to leave the house at 10:30 to meet people at the Virginia Living Museum for a pre-party play date, and one hour just ain’t enough time to bake and frost a cake.

We did get the cake baked, but then when I tried to remove the layers from the pans before racing out the door to the museum, the bottom layer split, in half, horizontally. Imagine the swearing that accompanied that event. Then double it, because by that point, I was ready to tear out my hair and someone else’s.

Fortunately, Michael was home by then, although he had to go to VIRTUS training for the Catholic church. Boy, was I swearing about that too. Of all the mornings to not be available to help, that was a baaaaaad one to pick. I let him know that later. What made it worse was the fact that he did not get home from his business trip until almost midnight the night before, so I only got to see him for five minutes the next morning before he headed out for the church. But he did get home before the party started and he did manage to fix and frost Cassie’s birthday cake, and he ordered all the pizzas, so we did manage to pull off the party, and Cassie enjoyed it even if we didn’t hire Ringling Brothers to provide the entertainment.

My biggest disappointment over all this is the fact that all I can remember of the weekend is all the swearing and shouting I was doing, and the momentous struggle I felt like I was going through to make things happen. The same damned thing happened over Christmas — illness, business trips, too much work, not enough sleep — and the holidays were gone like that. I didn’t get to enjoy Christmas, and to be honest, I didn’t get to enjoy my birthday either. I had a brief period where I got to enjoy Cassie’s birthday, but that was only after all the screaming and ranting were over and we were in the middle of the party. The whole mother-daughter bonding while baking thing just added to the stress, so I didn’t even enjoy that like I thought I should have.

So what to do? Obviously, things are out of control here at la casa de Madden. I’ve got too much work, not enough time, not enough sleep, and Michael will be heading out on even more business trips in the upcoming months. It’s killing me, and I need to find a way to slow things down. But it’s going to take some effort.
The first step will be to clear some of this work off my desk. I’m proofing one book, writing another, putting together three art commissions, putting together articles for ERWA and doing the podcast. Plus I need to work on promoting my writing, and I’ve got EPIC VA events to coordinate. That’s a lot of work. I need to winnow it down, and then I need to not take on anything else for a while.

I wonder if it will ever really slow down though. I’ve already been approached to do some artwork for a major website, and I’ve got some conventions coming up that I’ll be participating in. And I don’t want to turn away paying work or promotion opportunities. I’m going to have to make a decision soon on how to handle all this. Cassie is going to be home this summer before starting kindergarten, and I don’t want the entire summer to steam roll over us the way our birthdays did.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.