What’s Left Behind

Well, the commitment to writing everyday fell by the wayside pretty fast. I had such good intentions, too.

But then, you know, life happened.

First, my in-laws decided that while my sister- and brother-in-law were in town it was Time (with an intentional capital T) to move to the seniors’ centre they had been pondering about for the better part of a year. Boxes were filled, furniture measured, movers called, arrangements made.

I contributed nothing of note to this military-scale operation because my hands were full with a toddler who had somehow acquired thrush. My usually happy little guy had a mouth full of sores, a bright red throat, and a wicked diaper rash.

I wish I could say that we got to enjoy lots of cuddles but the reality of children who feel unwell is that sometimes that they turn not into cuddle monsters but into tiny feral dictators who cannot and will not be pleased by anything. It’s exhausting and frustrating not just because you feel so bad for their discomfort, but because they seem to be so wilfully preventing you from being the kind of parent you envisioned (“come here and let me comfort you, dammit!”).


After several days of playing “don’t poke the wolverine in diapers”, the smiley little boy we love started to re-emerge. I’ll concede that it might have had something to do with the medicine that he declared was “ooh! yummy!” for his poor inflamed tonsils. But I’m standing firm in my belief that it was mainly due to my endless though often rebuffed love and patience as a nurse (“fine, watch Minions for the fourth time this morning and ignore my attempts to give you even the smallest bit of affection. See if I care. <<sniff>>”).

When I could finally wrench myself from my now-healthy children (“bye mama! See you after Christmas! We have good time now!”), the hubs and I set about straightening up the in-laws old place.

If you’ve moved recently, you might not have completely succeed in blocking out the memory of the horror that is a newly-vacated home. No matter how clean you think you are (and bear in mind I have two kids and three dogs so I’m under few illusions of Martha Stewart-ness), there is always a ghastly amount of dust. There are always wires and papers and bits of string. There are broken glasses, outdated coupons, bottles with no tops, pictures with no homes, and always, without fail, a single, sad, dusty sock.

We packed and boxed. We vacuumed, swiffered and moped. We got sidetracked by holiday snapshots we’d never seen, high school IDs with epically bad hair, and commemorative t-shirts from 1988 still in the original packaging. We started again.

And when it was done, the things we had marked out as “treasures” to be taken over to their rightful place in the new home weren’t the fragile ornaments, the new electronics, or even the old books. Instead, it was hand-written recipes, yellowed and stained that made the top of the list along with the wedding albums and baby pictures and birthday cards from 1972 signed “all my love, always”.

In my post-parental failure fatigue (that’s a thing, right?), I thought about what the kids will recall of their early childhoods. Not much, probably.

They won’t remember weeks like this where they were sick. They won’t recall watching the same movies in infinite loops and subsisting on ritz crackers and apple juice.

But they might just remember sitting and colouring while I drew pictures of backhoes and bulldozers (why can’t they ask for normal things like cars and planes? why?). Or maybe they’ll remember the pancakes with frosting and sprinkles they asked for and actually got because I was feeling like we all needed an easy win.

And maybe, just maybe, they’ll dredge up some of the goofy selfies we took where I’m doing an impression of someone who hadn’t slept properly in a week and they look like monkeys high on pixie sticks (both accurate). Or even some of the dance parties to Disney sing-along-songs we had when they were on the mend and I was going stir-crazy from being house bound.

So while I felt like a big hairy failure as a parent (also didn’t shower much last week – sorry, TMI) because I couldn’t make things better the way I thought I was supposed to, I left the relatively clean condo hoping instead that what I leave behind from this week (apart from a well-used razor) is a few happy memories.

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2 Comments

  1. We moved earlier this year and it is so true, dust and bits of fluff and paper hide everywhere and it is exhausting. I always say never again! I remember the kids having to eat dinner at the ironing board because we had packed the kitchen table into the truck already lol

  2. Well done on surviving it all! Sounds like a very stressful time. It’s funny how we have this perfect view of how we should be and that if we don’t live up to it then we are failing both ourselves but mainly our children, yet in the long run, they will not see it that way at all because it was enough just having you there as an option and giving those happy memories. You’re right as well, there is always one sad, dusty sock that appears when it is time to move! xo #twinklytuesday