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.

Sincerely,

A Mom Who Needs to Check the Dryer Now

Family Quality Time, or, Why I Have a Headache

I’ve had many of rude awakenings on this whole motherhood journey. Many of my lovely images and excited anticipation have been bashed with the hammer of reality. One of these mega-disappointments has been cooking with my kids. I imagined flour smears across cherubic faces, giggles, a few stray egg shells and a bit of a mess but all worth it for the quality family time. Nice image, right? Reality involves much more pushing, crying, illegal knife wielding, disinterest, fingers in noses, and whining to make any of it worth it. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s Saturday/rainy/freezing. These days are loooooooooong days that need filling. This Saturday’s project: pick a recipe, buy ingredients, cook, eat.

The kids’ interest waned long before any ingredients reached our kitchen. And yet we persevered. Once again, I snapped photos which capture what the experience should be because I know that one day my memory will falter just like everyone’s does. I can show these photos to my future daughter-in-law and prove that I really did treasure every moment. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

My kids are not 6 feet tall. They are standing on a wooden bench.

See Sally in the corner there? She’s screaming that nothing is fair. Those shallots in the pan? Burning.

Now I’m holding Sally. She’s hitting me, and still screaming. I wanted Luke to keep his hat on for the pictures. He threw a fit, “I don’t even care what you want!” Oh well, look how cute the photo is!

Sally was just beyond miserable by this point. So we offered to turn on the TV for her. Luke thought that wasn’t fair. He wanted to watch TV. He no longer gave a flying chef’s hat about the sauce. TV! TV! TV! So, in order to have him come back and finish the final steps, which involved a blender for goodness sake, poor Sally had to just suck it up and cry more.

But, we did it. The kid made tomato sauce that came out great. There was yelling done by all four members of the family, tears from two, some wine consumed; a couple of promises of “never again!” got thrown out, and a couple of assurances of “I don’t even care!” thrown right back. When Luke got overly fresh while we ate dinner Tim reminded him that I had just done this super nice thing with him. Luke’s response? “Mommy didn’t even do anything. I cooked dinner.” Ah, quality family time on a Saturday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

Worse than Nails on a Chalkboard

The good days with S are so over. She now thinks it’s hilarious to climb up the stairs, uproarious to clamber up onto the (slippery granite) coffee table, so-freaking-funny to stand and jump around on the couch. Not only am I fairly certain of mortal injury, but also a bit concerned about her sense of humor. Seriously? Standing on the coffee table is laugh out loud funny?

I say “No” and distract. I say “No” and distract. I say “No” and distract. I say “No” and distract. I say “No” and distract. Repetitive, isn’t it?

So, I’ve put her in lockdown. The only way I can cook dinner is to have her in her high chair. I give her toys. She throws them down. So she has no toys. Which leaves her with only one option: “Mamaaaaaaaaaaa! Mamaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Ever notice how another person’s baby crying doesn’t bother you at all? But your own child is genetically dialed-in to a specific pitch that can send you into epileptic-panic-stress-frenzy in a matter of seconds. It is the most annoying sound in the world.

So now we’re having this inane conversation:

S: Mamaaaaaaaaaa!
me: I’m sorry, I just can’t trust you not to kill yourself and I have to make dinner.
S: Mamaaaaaaaaaaa! Mamaaaaaaaaaaaa!
me: Well I told you not to jump on the couch/climb the stairs/dance on the coffee table.
S: Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
me: Stop it, S! You’re driving me nuts!
L: That’s not nice, Mommy. She’s just a baby.

Great. It’s always a bad sign when L is the one telling me that I’m out of line in my parenting. Worse when he’s right.

But that noise she’s making.

That gawdawful noise!

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