Friday, 28 May 2010

I sound like my mother...

I threw a granola bar across the kitchen tonight. Someone had spilled water on the clutter and not-yet-put-away-grocery strewn counter and not cleaned it up. The oldest boy was laying on the couch with dark circles under his eyes, looking gaunt after 2 ½ days of flu induced starvation. The youngest was in a sling laying his snoring head on my chest because he refused to be set down long enough for me to make dinner. The middle was fake crying because I used a stern voice the third time I asked him to complete his chore. Sicked-on laundry and an overflowing diaper pail. A broken washing machine. A sink and countertop of dirty dishes because the dishwasher hadn’t been unloaded. After two Diet Cokes and ½ a chocolate bar dipped in peanut butter straight out of the jar I’d lost all coping mechanisms. I threw a granola bar because of spilled water. It wasn’t even spilled milk for crying out loud. “I’m living with a bunch of PIGS!”

The proverbial ‘they’ always say that one day you’ll wake up and realize you sound just like your mother. This was my day.

It was a Sunday afternoon and we’d both apparently read the ‘for teens’ column of the Parade Magazine. Kids had written in about what their parents did that drove them nuts. She sat on my bed and asked me what she did that drove me nuts. I remember quoting her, “I live with a bunch of PIGS!” I remember I made her laugh as I recounted how sometimes all of the sudden she’d suddenly freak out about the state of the house when it didn’t seem to bother her a few minutes—even seconds—before.

It occurred to me the other day that when my mother was my age she had four kids and the youngest was already 4 years old. As that realization washed over me I was flooded with forgiveness and awe. Oh. Wow. I get it. I totally get it. The m&m’s as ‘good mood pills.’ The sudden freak outs about the laundry pile or the dishes or the dirty room. The deeper moments of frustration and confusion about how in the world to raise this gaggle of kids. My dad wasn’t from the generation of men who do their share of the cooking or housework. She did it all. When her mother visited she didn’t do laundry and bounce babies. She drove my mother crazy and stirred up derision.

She may have lived with a bunch of pigs, but I don’t remember her ever throwing a granola bar.

Hey Mom? Thanks. You amaze me. And I don’t care what ‘they’ say. I don't mind sounding just my mother.


I have these moments. I’m sitting down. Finally. I pull out my computer, excited for the opportunity to write an email. Finally. I’m lonely and excited and I have so much to share. Friends have written and they have so much to share and I want to respond. Finally. An email. A two handed email. As opposed to the one-handed and generally one-lined iPhoned attempts. Ahhhhhh….finally. Halfway in, the big boys begin an epic light saber fight and Caid makes an excited exclamation. Bam. The baby wakes up. Nothing will console except a cuddle or a finger to suck on (he won’t take a pacifier) and well…maybe just a one-handed email to let them know I at least read what they wrote?

Tonight Scott had the baby and was cooking dinner. I had finally taken care of a couple of my “need to order online” list items. The new Court Yard Hounds album was rocking on Spotify and I was about to finally start writing. So much to write about. Homebirth. Wellies. The 100 Acre Wood. Birth. Mothering an infant. The journey. But here was a sweet 5 year old. Longing to read me a book. Cuddled up close and interrupting every few minutes. “Mama? Wanna know what that says? Aaaaalllllllrrrrrreeeeeddddddyyyyy. Already!” And how can I not be so excited. And how can I not drop everything for what is really his first attempt at reading an entire book by himself? And how can I not set aside my computer and cuddle him up and drink in the moment. But…see…it’s the first time in nearly a week to sit by myself for 20 minutes and the first time in six weeks I’ve had to sit with my computer and TWO HANDS and do whatever I want to do. For just 20 minutes. Finally.

These moments. These tradeoffs. These are the tensions. The issues. The balancing act of taking care of children and trying to look after oneself. A household AND the people in it. Do I sleep for an hour or make sure everyone has clean underwear? Make the journey to the grocery store with three boys in tow or eat peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner? These are the days of snatching a conversation with my husband while I shower since the water sounds sooths the baby and he doesn’t cry. The days of “I’m not sure I brushed my teeth today” and “Can you just wear dirty jeans for one more day?” These are the days of a cupcake being the fastest available lunch vs. “sure wish I had a pair of jeans that fit.” These are the days of baby cries that break my heart and my will and baby smiles that light up my whole world. Of snatches of conversations. Of broken sleep. Of tradeoffs.

It’s a lot of work. But it’s good work…if you can get it.