Domestic Bliss and Wrappers

As I discard the wad of lint containing an embarrassing number of mini Cadbury Cream Egg foil wrappers that I accidentally left in a pocket, I have a moment of silent gratitude that I am the only person who would ever clear out our dryer lint trap. My mini Cream Egg secret is safe. As the only person who does many household things, I can keep many secrets.

My children don’t use the garbage can. This is very useful because I can eat their candy and throw the wrappers out without worrying about being caught. Likewise, I don’t have to bury thrown-out child-made masterpieces in the recycling bin as it’s a place they’d never look. When they have garbage, they just drop it on the floor where they stand. So my secrets are safe in the trash can.

I can hide birthday and Christmas gifts in plain sight. The plainer the sight the better in fact. I live with people who can’t find the ketchup while looking in the fridge, even after I say, “It’s on the left side of the second shelf in the door with the other condiments – where it always is absolutely always every single time without exception like last time and the time before that.”

Really though, I have a great family. Each person does a lot to help around the house. My kids wash the bathroom floor! Well, they wet the bathroom floor, and sometimes soap it. And they often then leave towels and underwear on it, certainly in an effort to dry it. What swell kids! They clean my couch daily. Clean it of those pesky couch cushions that is. Possibly misguided efforts, but they’re young and it’s the thought that counts. I have a couch cushion strewn floor to prove that they’re always thinking of ways to help out.

My husband is exceptionally helpful. I hear horror stories about other husbands but I can’t complain. I don’t even have to ask for him to clean most of the dishes after dinner. He also empties the dishwasher unbidden, and puts most of the stuff away. He considerately leaves his laundry right near the laundry basket so all I need to do is pop it in! Always a gentleman, he thoughtfully leaves the butter and jam out on the counter for me, in case I want toast at some point during the day.

The truth is that if the family was more domestically involved, I would have a harder time hiding my stashes of good things. I have small presents secreted away that I sometimes remember, caches of candy, and even an emergency bottle of wine. So, as I don’t bother burying my candy wrapper filled dryer lint in the garbage, I’m reminded of how very lucky I am.


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I love me some YMCA

It seems that winter might actually give way to spring one of these days. We made it! There were times I wasn’t so sure we would. This winter has been a rough one around here. My kids watched a gazillion hours of TV; my house suffered messes so extraordinary that arson seemed like the only way out; we all ate mountains of carbohydrates; and they drank buckets of hot chocolate to my buckets of red wine. In all of this indoor festering, we had one saving grace: the pool at the YMCA.

Had it not been for the pool, my children’s little bodies would have fused to the couch. Instead, they had a healthy activity to keep them just on this side of ‘persistent vegetative state.’

I spent hours in the muggy heat, breathing in the steaming vapor and watching my kids bob around in the warm kid-broth. We were not the only people with this outlet. Some days, the pool was so crowded that it was difficult to locate which heads belonged to me as they swarmed in a noisy, watery mosh pit of other heads, pigtails, snot, and pee.

I had to tread a careful line all winter. My kids needed to know that the pool was a bastion of unblemished awesome, but at the same time they needed to know that under no circumstances would I be joining them in the bio-brew. Sure, I could have gone into the pool, like those good parents. I know that the high chlorine levels obliterate any organic matter smaller than a child within nanoseconds. The problem was just that I really, really, really, really didn’t want to go in. I’m not interested in marinating in recently obliterated bio-matter the temperature of Baby Bear’s porridge.

Also, there’s the matter of expectations.

My job is largely about managing expectations, and it’s a delicate balance. I want my kids to have fun, and I want to have fun with them, but most of the time I want them to have fun without my involvement. Join in once, and it will be that much harder to bow out the next time. I am not the mother on the play structures in the park. (Except in cases of necessary rescue.) I am not the mother joining in impromptu soccer games. (Are those mothers always wearing sports bras just in case the impulse to run around strikes? That impulse never strikes me. Never ever.) I am not the mother in bounce houses or on trampolines. (See note about sports bras.)

I am the mother fostering their independence while protecting my inclination to really, really, really, really not want to.

As the sun finally starts to melt the 400 feet of snow outside, I look forward to outdoor pools, to lakes, to rivers and the ocean. These I’ll go into with my kids. (When not freezing.) But until that time, thank you, YMCA, for your chlorinated feculent pools of awesome.

The Truth about the Seeds

“Those seeds aren’t magic, you know.”

Every time Luke says this I panic and sternly hush him. Luckily, he’s king of the non sequitur so Sally usually doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But I know. At any mention of magic, Luke says something about knowing The Truth about the Seeds. He’s threatening to ruin an Easter tradition.

Let me explain: years ago on Easter eve I gave my then-toddler Luke a small handful of magic seeds, a.k.a. Nerds, to scatter on the lawn before bed. In the morning, lo and behold, lollipops sprouted from the grass where the seeds had been sewn! The excitement and wonder in his little face at the sight of this sugary crop was pure magic. Pure magic is like parental crack. We must do this again and again and again and again. Thus traditions are born.

From the start Luke was suspicious. He was pretty almost positive that the seeds were candy, but his curiosity about the magic and the weirdness of me instructing him to throw candy on the grass kept him from simply gobbling them up. Each year his suspicion has grown, and the relationship between his wonder and his desire for Nerds is starting to tip towards gobbling.

I don’t know if all kids are like this, but my kids talk about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all year round as if they’re relatives we see occasionally, like cousins. Awesome magical cousins. As such, over the years Luke has periodically and randomly tested out this theory on me. “Those seeds are candy right? I know they’re candy. They’re candy. Right?” Now that Sally is bigger, Luke seems to have it all figured out and all he wants to do is tell her.

The problem is that I see The Truth about the Seeds as the first step towards a complete loss of magic. It’s one short step to There’s no Bunny Hiding Eggs and then just a wee leap to Ew, You’re Collecting my Teeth, There’s no Santa, and, finally, Can I Borrow the Car?

I’m not ready for them to drive, so I quickly shush and change the subject every time Luke brings up The Truth about the Seeds. But it was just a matter of time. Recently, he was too quick to get the whole thing out. I cringed as I readied myself for a little bit of my daughter’s innocence to wither away forever.

“Those aren’t really magic seeds, Sally. We just sprinkle them on the ground, but they don’t magically grow lollipops.”

“Yes they do!”

“No they don’t. The seeds aren’t magic. They’re just candy. After we go to sleep…”

Here it comes.

“After we go to sleep, the Easter Bunny comes.”

Who the what now?

“He digs holes where we dropped the seeds and he plants the lollipops. So the seeds aren’t magic. Mom and Dad are just tricking us.”

I have never loved him more.

“Oh. That’s what you think happens?” I ask. “No. that’s what I know happens.” Nothing gets by this one.