I used to have a pretty big brained job. It’s not like I was govenor of Alaska or anything, but I did some pretty important work. Then I “stopped working” to be a full time stay at home mom to the boys. The following is an exerpt from one of my letters in 2004 when the boys were six, four, 30 months and 13 months old.
Christmas 2004: I’m going to try and start this letter…two of the boys are asleep and the older two (the ones that are supposed to be low maintenance—hahahaha) have been in here 23 times asking me what I’m doing, who the mail was from, how do penguins pee (yes-I said how do penguins pee), and myriad other burning questions that had to be responded to immediately despite my repeated pleadings/warnings that “Mommy needed about ten minutes alone”. Sometimes when parents tell me I’ll miss these days it seems like a bit of a tease – you know, by moms whose children are grown and self sufficient. They know that those with toddlers are living in that thin place that exists between sanity and insanity and we need something, ANYTHING, to keep us from slipping to the “dark side”. So they smile with remembered nostalgia and share
“I miss those days” when we meet at the store. Then they stroll off with a teary eye and their Starbucks and I resume trying to coax my three year old off the top of the stacked boxes of Sprite that have been placed with ruler precision to form a fireplace, while I simultaneously hold one foot on the one year old as he attempts to stand once again in the seat of the grocery cart (yes he was strapped in…like that does anything but tick him off). Good news is that the two older boys are now trained to scan the upper areas of the building or parking lot to warn me of surveillance cameras that might land me on the evening news.
Once the older boys give me the “all clear” I can move on to more aggressive tactics of recovery operations that while not entailing any physical contact or use of coupling hooks, will often cause even a casual passerby to uncontrollably walk faster to egress the area of operations.
So there you have it; my synopsis of “how I like my retirement”. For the past six months, despite my best attempts with soap and water, my hands have smelled like someone else’s poop, my shirts have had some sort of spot on them, and my hair has finally achieved that “untamed” look movie stars pay big money for. (Sidebar: to achieve said look carefully mix peanut butter, jelly, soy and breast milk and lightly apply to your hair once or twice a day while maintaining a healthy balance of soap in the strands of hair that you didn’t get the opportunity to rinse completely during the bi-weekly shower that you managed to sneak in once last week.)
I know you think I’m joking. Okay, I recently “indulged” myself by changing the sheets on my bed only to return downstairs five minutes later and find that all of the boys had given themselves haircuts. To their credit, Jacob “helped” Benjamin because he couldn’t reach the back of his hair comfortably, and Sammy was diligently cleaning the fallen strands off the floor as he heard me approach. Believe me now?
It’s not that I don’t experience and cherish the special moments I share with the boys, but certainly at times I feel like I have absolutely no control. About three times a week I have about two hours in the afternoon when, if all the gods are smiling and “jupiter aligns with mars”, I may get a chance to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee. Jake and Sam are in preschool and “hopefully” Ben and Danny are down for their naps. The huge deal about sitting on the couch is that it puts my back to the room; something I would never DARE attempt if all the boys are up and about. So after doing everything else we moms do in those 2 hours (our “free” time) like dishes, laundry, vacuuming, breathing, bathroom runs and considering even taking one of our two weekly showers, I try hard to sneak in 15 minutes for a cup of coffee and a chance to put my back to the room. On one particular day, as I relished how together I was, I put my cup down on my coffee table and looked up only to find an array boogers on my lampshade. On the upside “There’s a booger on my lampshade” has become the vision I have for my first book on life. Pretty realistic way to look at motherhood, don’t you think?