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.