Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Nuts & Bolts, Teens, Wisdom of Youth

a boy and his vacuum


I’ve either done something right or terribly wrong.

Our very first vacuum was an Electrolux from our Wedding Registry, 1990. It was with us through our move to Vermont, through the birth of two kids, and into the home we built together.

Our oldest was 15 & youngest 10 when we had to replace our old pal. The kids were ecstatic. I was alarmed.

Should kids be this happy about a new vacuum?

Did this mean they were too involved in housekeeping?

Or were their lives unduly deprived of new things?

We did lead a very frugal life. I did expect them to be full participants in caring for the home we shared. Maybe I had gone too far.

Fast forward 7 years…

We’ve been without a vacuum for over a month now. It’s the second time this new Electrolux has stopped working. My husband and our youngest have been in a stalemate over how to move forward.

Repair–for this machine whose life was a quarter of that of its predecessor; or
Replace–and with what? Another Electrolux? Something new?

My husband wanted to play it safe.

Our son, the high school engineer wanted something technologically advanced.

I finally intervened.

“He only has a few months left at home,” I said, “Let him have this.”

“Exactly,” my husband said. “Why should we get the vacuum he wants when he’s leaving.

The Dyson V7 HEPA arrived today. The moment I messaged him, Aidan wanted to leave school.

When he walked through the door at the end of the day, he went right to the boxes (which I had to promise that I would not open without him) and he began unpacking, affectionately examining each piece, and bringing them to me, one by one, to illustrate the technology and the design (are those two different things?), and particularly the interlocking components.

It looks like a Cuisinart to me.

I will never be able to operate it.

But right now I’m headed to my husband’s yoga class and by the time I get home, no doubt I’ll have clean floors again.

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Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Round Two, Teens

Laundry day

Aidan & another insect. #laundryday 2017, Kelly Salasin

I borrowed my son from his bedroom for his height–to remove a grasshopper from the inside of the screen door off my bedroom.

He hesitates, so I press, “Just lift it up and put it outside!”

Aidan is absurdly afraid of spiders, but grasshoppers?

He is also an engineer.
(Well, a 17-year-old with an engineering mind.)

He taps the screen and the grasshopper jumps onto the glass door.

“Now what!” I say, aggravated with the delay, but he only smiles.

He quickly pulls the screen closed so that the bug is on the outside of the glass door without return access.

“Engineering,” he says, with pride.

Relieved, I return to folding laundry, but distracted, Aidan remains at the door, which has become a specimen jar–eye to eye.

“Come look!” he says.

But I am not interested in grasshoppers–the whole point was to get rid of the grasshopper. But this is his last year at home.

“Watch,” he says, giggling, as the grasshopper pulls down its antenna, like a girl playing with her hair.

Each time Aidan laughs, the grasshopper does it again.

“He must be a comedian,” I say.

“He’s looking right at us,” Aidan says.

“Doesn’t it seem like he’s wearing a metal shield on his head?”

“Exoskelton,” Aidan says.
(He is also a scientist.)

I don’t know how to get from this story to what I want to say.

It’s a leap, like the grasshopper made from the door back into the world.

I’m grateful for this pause with Aidan and the grasshopper for the way it reminds me to stop trying so hard.

Like the Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön says:

There’s a kind of basic misunderstanding that we should try to be better than we already are, that we should try to improve ourselves, that we should try to get away from painful things, and that if we could just learn how to get away from the painful things, we would be happy.

I want to know this.
In my bones.

Posted in Insight, Mid-Life Mama, Mother to Crone, New Mother, Nuts & Bolts

It all begins in the kitchen

“Wednesday is Anti-Procrastination Day,” and it still is, all these years later.

It began when I was a new mother, overwhelmed by keeping house, until exhausted by my own whining, I said:

“Kelly, you ran a classroom, a restaurant, a nonprofit, YOU can do this.”

And so even though housework did not deserve my best, especially as I had witnessed the unfair weight of it on my mothers & grandmothers, I set out to study the art and science of household management, as a matter of survival.

I created systems of sanity, engaging everyone in the household in routines that continue to this day. “I stayed home for the children not the house,” was my motto.

My sense was that this role was both sacrifice and blessing, but never an assignment to do everything alone. Along the way, a woman (and email subscription list) called FlyLady was an ally in staying the course, but this was long before I realized that housework was political.

Moral.

I hadn’t understood then that homemaking meant that a women’s brilliance was unavailable in other spaces where it is was so desperately needed. I hadn’t understood then that refusing to do everything myself was not only an act of self-preservation but a revolutionary act of consciousness.

Sharing housework with my family from the very beginning created increasing space for me to begin exploring other aspects of myself, which are still unfolding as my youngest prepares to fly from the nest.

During my first year at United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2012, I heard women from developing countries emphasize how much their voices were held back by an unfair share of caring for home and family.

This year women from these same regions expressed their surprise to find that #metoo was epidemic in our developed nation.

Equality, it appears, is far from being achieved, anywhere.

It begins in the home. In the bedroom. At the kitchen table.

It seeds a more just world,
For everyone.

Posted in Insight, Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Mother to Crone, Parental Adolescence, Round Two, Teens, Wisdom of Youth

A LINE

I’m not sure if it’s #45 or #metoo or Menopause, but suddenly I have access to something I never had before and it’s something which I expend too easily like the first paycheck in my kid’s pocket.

“Don’t be a fucking idiot!”

A few weeks back, I spewed this at him.

(This, in a household, where I’ve long drawn a fierce line at: Shut up.)

Actually, a stream of sentences with fuck (highlighted in various forms) came out of my 54-year-old mouth, one after the other, none of which I could entirely recollect afterward–a sure sign of trance–but not one I’d so fully occupied before.

Anger.

Not just at the behavior at hand, or the accumulated attitude of his adolescent years or that combined with his older brother’s (and even their father’s) but all the ways that all women/mothers/wives are maligned for the same things for which we are relied upon.

“I’m sorry that I put that all on you,” I said to my son when he returned from hitting the speed bag in the basement.

But what I didn’t regret was the line that I had drawn, and that I will now draw forevermore, and which I appreciate that he also drew for me:

“We don’t talk to each other that way, Mom.”

Posted in Mid-Life Mama, Milestone Moments, Round Two, School, Teens

the firsts of the lasts…


I didn’t have time to really think about the fact that tonight was my last parent-teacher conference, ever.

And to bring it full circle, the very last of tonight’s meetings was with with his collegiate sociology teacher who also happens to be his… father.

While more than a dozen years ago, his earliest conferences in preschool and kindergarten included me, his mother, as parent and teacher.