11:04 PM: Oh. It’s later than I thought. I guess I won’t read tonight. Straight to sleep!
11:06 PM: Shoot. I sort of need to pee. But so comfortable. So cold out there. I’m just going to ignore it.
12:35 AM: I HAVE TO PEE! But so cold out there.
12:45 AM: (Finally gets up to pee)
1:15 AM: (Can’t fall back to sleep. It’s hot. Kicks off a blanket.)
1:34 AM: (Can’t fall asleep. It’s freezing. Puts on a blanket.)
2:02 AM: Fuck this. I’m still awake. This sucks. My feet are cold, my middle is hot, my shoulders are cold. (Arranges blanket to cover feet and shoulders only. This is not easy to do while keeping blanket on sleeping husband.)
2:27 AM: Why am I lying in this weird contorted position? No wonder I’m awake. I should lie in a way I actually sleep. (Rolls over.)
2:35 AM: Nope, not like this. (Rolls over.)
2:41 AM: Nope. Not like this. (Rolls over.)
3:00 AM: Why am I lying in this weird contorted position? No wonder I’m awake. I should lie in a way I actually sleep. (Rolls over.)
3:03 AM: Nope, not like this. (Rolls over.)
3:07 AM: Nope. Not like this. (Rolls over.)
3:15 AM: If I roll over one more time Tim will smother me with a pillow. How many hours have I been awake now? Ummm, numbers are hard. I think I slept for an hour. Tomorrow should be a great day. Go to sleep NOW!
3:18 AM: WHAT WAS THAT NOISE?
3:18-3:40 AM: Goes through 7 different home invasion scenarios. If the bad guys do it just right, we might just get out of here alive. Chances of living through the night? Probably about 36%.
3:41 AM: What’s that car doing on our street? Who drives around at 3:41 AM? Killers, that’s who.
3:42-4:00 AM: How long would it take before someone discovered that all of us have been murdered? Who would find us? How long would it take before someone noticed we were missing and got worried enough to check it out? No one expects us at school or anything. Oh, Tim’s work! They’d call in the morning when he didn’t show up. Then… what? They’d call a few times. At what point would they call the police? That seems so extreme. Who would call my mom? How would all my friends find out? Maybe my sister would post it on Facebook. I guess that’s what you do these days. Cleaning out and selling the house will be a terrible job for my mom. My poor mom. Ugh. Who would buy a house that my entire family was murdered in?
4:01 AM: Shut your stupid thoughts down, Allison. This is dumb. Why am I lying in this weird contorted position? No wonder I’m awake. I should lie in a way I actually sleep. (Rolls over.)
4:03 AM: I have a great idea for a blog post. I should write it down. Or, I could just get up and go downstairs to actually write the whole thing. I’m awake anyway. But so cold out there. I should definitely write the idea down at least. I always forget. Nah. I’ll totally remember.
4:07 AM: Wait, what was that idea again? It’s just out of mental reach. Fuck. Why am I lying in this weird contorted position? No wonder I’m awake. I should lie in a way I actually sleep. (Rolls over.)
4:08 AM: Holy crap I’m so thirsty. Think I might die of thirst. No wonder I’m awake. (Takes sip of water from glass on bedside table without sitting up properly, dribbles everywhere. Flips pillow.)
4:15 AM: FUCK THIS! IT’S FUCKING FOUR FUCKING FIFTEEN IN THE FUCKING MORNING. THIS SUCKS THIS SUCKS THIS SUCKS. Why am I lying in this weird contorted position? No wonder I’m awake. I should lie in a way I actually sleep. (Rolls over.)
4:20 AM: fucketyfuckfuckfuckfuckfucketyfuckfuck
4:22 AM: (Gets up to pee.)
4:25 AM: This is serious now. Sleep dammit!
4:26 AM: Look at that bastard over there sleeping. What the fuck is his problem. Jerk.
4:27 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:29 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:33 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:34 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:39 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:42 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:45 AM: (Rolls over.)
4:46 AM: (Hears thud from daughter’s room.) WHAT WAS THAT? I should probably go check on her. Oh, she’s fine. It’s cold out there. And I’m finally feeling sooo sleeeeeppppyyyy.
4:46-5:05 AM: Goes through several different scenarios in which daughter dies. (Cries while imagining the horror of discovering her.)
5:06 AM: Fuck this. I’m going to sleep.
5:09 AM: OMG HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE TOMORROW? I’ve had an hour’s sleep. I’m going to die. And it’s school vacation. And it’s rainy. SHIT! I’m going to actually murder the children tomorrow. I am the worst mother. Fuckety fuck fuck. Fuck insomnia. This sucks.
5:20 AM: I’m so tired. So so tired. I think I might be able to finally…
6:02 AM: (Startles awake) What was that? Oh, I was actually sleeping. Wonderful, beautiful sleep. I think I might be able to just….
6:49 AM: (Startles awake as Tim gets up to shower) Sweet sleep…
7:00 AM: (Startles awake as Tim gets out of the shower)
“What time is it?”
“Really? Good I got some sleep.”
“No, not really. It’s 7:00.”
“Shit. I had the worst night’s sleep ever.”
“Yeah, I know. You were really annoying.”
“Sorry. Well, the kids were up late. Hopefully they’ll sleep in.”
7:05 AM: (Bedroom door opens) “Is it morning, Mama?” Sigh. “Yes it is.”
I am many things, but naturally neat and tidy I am not. My habitat quickly matches the chaos of my constantly addled mind. Papers, pens, shoes, discarded children’s socks, toys, and my sunglasses seem to creep like ivy and move around of their own volition until my house looks like a windstorm swept through it. Keeping the main thoroughfares free of tripping hazards, and the actual cooking surfaces free of fire hazards, is generally enough of a steep uphill battle for me. With selective tunnel vision, the disorder of my house almost doesn’t bother me. Almost.
Like the burst of motivation from a New Year’s resolution fad dieter, I occasionally become tyrannically devoted to cleaning. I whip the house into shape, and if your beloved objects end up in the bin or donated, well it’s your fault for not taking better care of them in the first place. Then, like the fad dieter, I return to my bad habits and my mess grows ever fatter. Sometimes, like the poor resolutioner might do at the gym, I overdo it in my zeal for cleanliness and order. Instead of sore muscles keeping me from exercising again, I develop a relentless apathy towards the growing mess.
About six weeks ago Luke had a birthday party at home. Ahead of the party I cleaned the house so well that my husband accused me of hiring a cleaning service on the sly. It was a terrible mistake though, because I have not lifted a finger since.* If you’re wondering what a house looks like after six weeks without intervention, the answer is NOT GOOD.
Our walking paths are not clear of tripping hazards. In fact, this gigantic bear has been lying in the center of the living room for weeks, directly in the pathways between my desk and the kitchen, and the couch and the kitchen.
My husband is a good and patient man. If one of us cared more, our house would be tidier, but alas, neither of us care more than we don’t feel like fixing it. He has tactfully refrained from mentioning the state of our home.
At the same time our house waves the white flag to entropy, we have experienced a minor miracle. The Dollar Store helium balloons we bought six weeks ago are still aloft. They had enough helium for maybe six days, but to last six weeks? I’m tempted to bust out the menorah. Now stringless, they litter our ceilings and we are forced to wait for the helium to slowly leak from the surprisingly impermeable balloons.
The balloons have been there so long I no longer really see them. They’re just part of the house like the lights and fans. Yesterday, however, Tim brilliantly summed up the current state of our house: “I’m so happy that we figured out a way to also have trash on our ceilings.”
So, there you have it, folks. I’m the mom who makes you feel better about your messy house. The things I do for you.
*Confession: I have cleaned toilets and sinks.
“Mommy, can we please use your makeup?”
“But please? We asked really nicely. We want to play nicely together.”
“That’s sweet, and you did ask nicely. Thank you. But the answer is still no about my makeup. I’m sure you can find something else to play nicely together with.”
“But we really want to use it and we never get to and we’ll be really careful and we’ll be good for the rest of today and we’ll go to bed really early and not come back downstairs and we’ll be good tomorrow too.”
“I’m sure you’ll do all of that anyway because you’re such great kids. The answer is still no. I’m not going to change my mind.”
“But why, Mommy?”
“This isn’t open for discussion. I said no.”
Luke has a hard time with no. Many kids do, I realize, but every other kid on the planet (I’m pretty sure) will drop it eventually. Not Luke. He will take this to the nth degree. I don’t want to engage. I have a nice evening planned and I don’t want to have to take it away. I want to drop this so we can move on. So I’m staying calm, remaining firm, and not giving him any reasons why. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? That’s what the books say.
“No. Please stop asking me.”
“This isn’t open for discussion.”
“But just tell me why. Why can’t we?”
“I’m not changing my mind and you’re going to make me angry. It’s time to drop it. Luke, really, stop.”
“But just tell me why?”
I don’t answer. It’s over if I don’t say anything, right?
“Mom? Mom? Mom? You can’t ignore me. What if I got a knife and cut my head off, would you ignore me then? Mom? Why? Why can’t we use your makeup? Why? I don’t get it. You’re so mean. Mom? We’ll be really good. We just want to play together. Isn’t that what you want? That we play nicely together? If you don’t let us use your makeup I’m going to punch Sally in the face and break her things and it will be your fault. Would that make you happy?”
“Luke, this is me warning you. I’m starting to lose my patience. You need to stop yourself. Now.”
“Just tell me why!”
“This is the last warning. I’m getting angry. Do you understand?”
My voice is still calm and even. I am going to diffuse this fucking thing if it’s the last fucking thing I fucking do. He storms away, knocking a book to the floor. I let it slide, not needing to lock horns with him now over picking up that book. I hope this is over. It’s not. He comes back with a note that says: “You are a jerk.”
“Go to your room.”
“No, I’m sorry. Why? I didn’t say anything. I didn’t mean it. It’s not about you. No, please no. Please, please, please no. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
“I’m angry now like I warned you. Now go to your room please!”
Speaking sternly, but still not yelling. I’m going to fucking win this fucking thing!
“No I’m really really really sorry. Here, I’ll write another note about being sorry.”
“Luke, go to your room!”
And there it is, folks. The last straw. He hasn’t budged towards his room. He is staring me down. Calling me a jerk to my face and defying me. I’ve been here before. There is only one way to get him to actually go to his room. The only thing that works. Why did I put it off for so long anyway? I scream at him:
“YOUR ROOM NOW, LUKE! GO! GO! GO! NOW!”
“I hate you! You are such a jerk!”
He stomps off to his room.
And this is how it goes here. I can’t win. No matter my intentions or mood to start, no matter how calm I remain through so much disrespectful behavior, he eventually pushes me over the edge. Every time. If I didn’t blow up then he would have escalated further – hitting his sister and destroying stuff. He will always get the reaction he wants eventually.
He wins again and I lose. Of course his win is a loss for all of us.