A Letter to People Without Children

Dear People Without Children:

Hi. I used to be one of you. While my life has changed into an almost unrecognizable version of itself from, say, 7 years ago, it’s not so long that I don’t remember. I recall just what it was like when my responsibilities included: my job, my spouse, my apartment, my social life. Back then, a day off would mean tending to some combination of all of those things.

These days, a day “off” is so dissimilar than those of yore, that it ought to have a totally different name. Let’s call it “Marty”. Marty is a day when my kids are in camp or school for a few to several hours. When you hear that a parent has a Marty on his/her hands, please don’t ask, “So, what are your plans for the day?”

This question makes us feel bad and uncomfortable. We expect that you expect some answer that includes items like sitting in a coffee shop, reading a book, going for a long bike ride, getting a manicure, shopping for fun, or just lazing around. We feel really lame when we have to tell you the truth.

Today I’m having a Marty. I was asked that very question. Here’s the truth:

  • After a solid 40 minutes of driving and dropping people off, I will workout.
  • Upon returning home I’ll sort a giant pile of dirty clothes into lights, darks, and sheets/towels.
  • I’ll put a load into the washing machine.
  • I’ll spend the next 30 minutes preparing dinner which includes trying to cut all the fat off of the on-sale organic chicken thighs I bought. (I’ll remember why I always buy breasts instead.) Then I’ll attempt to turn the mangled remains into pretty 1 inch cubes.
  • I’ll mix up a marinade and toss in the chicken.
  • Then I’ll move the wash into the dryer and reload the machine.
  • Then, I’ll sit down at the computer to check email, Facebook, and write this post.
  • I’ll go downstairs to find that the dryer is not yet dry, but the second wash is done. I’ll do what I always do, and always regret, and take the wet clothes out and put in a new wash, creating a dryer bottleneck.
  • Now I get to take a shower! I realize that I’m shivering because I’ve been in sweaty workout clothes this whole time.
  • After my shower, I’ll unpack the three still-packed bags I have from my last three weekends away. This will create more laundry.
  • While I’m elbow deep in my closet, I might sort out some clothes that are ugly or don’t fit and add them to my giveaway pile.
  • This will inspire me to do the same in the kids’ rooms.
  • Now the dryer will be done. I load in the wet pile from the floor, empty the washing machine, and put in another load. Still a bottleneck.
  • I’ll bring the first dry load up for folding.
  • I’ll get distracted by Facebook.
  • Now it’s early afternoon and I’ll realize that I haven’t had lunch yet. I’m STARVING. I decide to make a very healthy and reasonable lunch.
  • While I wait for my lunch to be ready, I’ll snack on everything within arm’s reach. I will not notice the snacking at all. Tomorrow when I get on the scale, I’ll shake my fist at the heavens for the injustice of it all considering how little I ate yesterday (today).
  • Shit! I’d better start folding that laundry. Let me have a cup of coffee first. I’ll push the button on the Keurig.
  • I will forget about that cup of coffee and it will sit there until tomorrow.
  • As I begin to fold laundry while watching a DVR’d What Not to Wear, I’ll get a call which will lead me to do some other task. It might be calling the mechanic, doing some research for my husband, making doctor’s appointments. I can’t predict it. But it will happen.
  • All of a sudden I’ll realize I’m late getting my kids. How am I always late?
  • Kids home, house destroyed within minutes. That basket of unfolded, clean laundry is an invitation for them to go bonkers and throw shit everywhere.
  • Which reminds me that I need to take the next load out of the dryer and reload it.
  • Now I need to prepare the rest of dinner. Chicken out of the marinade and onto skewers for the bbq.
  • I will need to wash my hands several times in this process to tend to the kids’ needs. Kids + raw meat = parental nightmare.
  • Next I’ll prepare the veggies and sides.
  • Stop hitting her.
  • Stop annoying him.
  • OK, I’ll sit with you for a minute.
  • We’ll turn on the TV.
  • This is ALWAYS when my husband arrives. He sees: a house that looks like an after picture from a natural disaster, dinner 2/3 prepared, and me lounging around in front of the TV.

So, that’s the real answer to my plans for my day off Marty. This is why I vaguely say something about errands and change the subject.

So, please, Childless People, stop asking us.

Thank you.


A Mom Who Needs to Check the Dryer Now

My House was Robbed! Oh, Nevermind.

Upon returning home from dropping L off at school this morning, I was shocked and terrified to open my door and find this:

An after picture of tornado damage?

Was my house ransacked and robbed while I was away? I looked around and spied my TV, computer and iPad all where I left them. Unless these were criminals after something other than expensive loot, it was not a robbery. I continued my investigation and found this:

A trail of shoes, what could this mean?

Looks like three people were here, but left without their shoes? This is confusing. I turned another corner and another and found more of the same.

Washcloths? Puzzle pieces? What's going on here?

To my horror, this destruction was not limited to floor space.

Can you spy the broken sunglasses? Two pair of swim goggles? Hours of fun!

Clearly, someone who hates me has been here.

With dread and bitter disappointment, I realized that my house has not been ransacked nor has it been ravaged by Mother Nature. It has simply endured a typical morning with my children. This mess was made between the hours of 6:30-8:00 AM. In that time the kids also brushed teeth, got dressed and ate breakfast. Which means that they made this mess remarkably quickly.

I know what you’re thinking: they didn’t mess up that kitchen, you did it, Allison. That is true. But in my defense, the center of that counter top is just about the only place that no kids can get to. All day long objects are torn from grimy little hands and placed into that one kid-free zone. As the center pile grows, earlier confiscations migrate back to the edge. Like the scissors perched just within L’s reach. Don’t you think it all enhances how lovely my peonies look?

What about the shoes? Well, that would be S. All day she puts on different shoes, walks three steps and discards them. In this way she effectively covers my home with shoes of all types and sizes and guarantees that when you are in a hurry, you will only have one shoe.

Now I will go about the process of picking it all up. My efforts in this area make the game of “find our crap and throw it” so much more fun for my kids.

Now you know why I need at least 36 hours notice for any visitors.

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Child’s Play Isn’t as Fun as I Remember

As a stay at home mom, I think I’m supposed to spend at least some of my time playing with my kids. Not only is the act of playing with L not at all fun,* but it inevitably leads to tears and screaming, (I’m not telling who does which). Sometimes I feel like it’s just not worth starting.

I have fun playing with S because she’s just in such a delightful stage, but I know what lies ahead. (Bad stuff.) Even as giggly and sweet as she is, I get bored with peekaboo, this little piggy, trot trot to Boston, etc pretty quickly. And I’m especially sick of the she-takes-everything-out-of-my-cupboards-and-I-put-everything-back game, which is naturally her favorite.

Does it ever get fun to play with your kids? Or will it always be a chore to endure? It must be normal for an adult to not like playing with little kids, right? It seems like the other moms I see don’t look as harried and miserable as I do. Maybe the love they feel for their kids trumps how annoying it is to play with them? Or maybe I really am just a huge douchebag and the rest of you are having the times of your lives playing with your toddlers and preschoolers! Either way, the bottom line is that I’m a crap mom. Again. Damn that bottom line.

*OK, I reluctantly admit that it is sometimes fun to play with L. Like when he plays Charades. But today he was a little turd all day and I’m extremely, very much looking forward to when he’s asleep and I can begin to feel fond of him again.