I came home from work this evening to see my kids running up to me with joy. They both took a springing leap into my outstretched arms as I knelt down to say hello. They were so excited about their days they started clamoring together. I got a few snippets of “and then we went outside and saw…” and a bit of “Janey played a princess, and I was…,” before I laughingly told them to slow down and go one at a time. As I stood to listen to their stories, a wonderful smell wafted from the kitchen. I walk in to see my husband cooking away at a bubbling, sizzling stovetop. He looks up and smiles and says, “How was your day? I got off early, picked up the kids and thought I’d start dinner and surprise you.”
Later that night, I sit next to the tub, playing along with a riveting adventure between Ariel and Nemo, while the kids giggled and splashed away. Then, after they were dried and nestled in their beds, I laid in bed with them, read them each a bedtime story as they sleepily yawned and asked for another one. I shushed them with a chuckle and turned out their lights, kissed them lightly, and snuggled them down in their covers. I shut the door to begin my evening with my husband, which included a few TV shows and casual conversations about our day.
AND SCENE. You didn’t really think that was my day did you? If so, you haven’t scrolled down to read much else I’ve wrote yet. The above little fantasy world is what my idiotic brain thought marriage and having kids would be like. Yes, I knew kids were hard, marriage was work, but really, I thought, how hard could it be?
Fast forward to my real life. I have two children, a full time job with no sick days, only precious few “Paid Time Off” days that are rapidly dwindling to single digits and it’s only the beginning of April, and a husband that we are lucky to see every weekend, because the only job he could find that didn’t pay minimum wage and involve a spatula was located on the east coast. 500 milez away.
What kind of idealistic weirdo was I to think I could live this charmed life? Besides, who lives this way anyways? Give me any parent and I’ll show you someone who would sell their souls to be given one lousy day where they get to do whatever they want. Where no one needs something from them, where no one hides from her brother under their shirt and then proceeds to tell said parent they have a big fat bootie. Where their kindergartener doesn’t act like the five minutes of homework he’s been given to do over spring break isn’t the equivalent of ripping his limbs off. Where no matter what they cook, they hear “THIS IS GROSS!” Even if it is the food they loved last week and were screaming for even though they knew you had ran out of it and hadn’t had time to get to the grocery store for more.
My life is actually quite charmed and I am very lucky, but screw that it’s a wonderful life bullshit and let’s get real. I’m in a mood. I’ve just spent two straight days with my children. Not the above mentioned joyful loving children – my actual children. And to make matters worse, both were in some stage of sickness since Saturday, which ups the normally whiny and bitchy quotient by 100. Ever get waken up by a sneeze? One that’s aimed directly at your face and showered on you at point blank range? I have. Ever get waken up by hearing, “QUIT WATCHING MY KINDLE, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN!” Moment of silence… then, “MOM! GRACE IS BREATHING ON ME AND WON’T MOVE!” This is then followed by a scream that gets louder as it screeches down the hallway to find you to tell you all about her brother just punched her? Check.
These have been my “vacation days” for the past three years. The first year Mark went back to work after his yearlong lay off, Gracie was 13 months and Will was 3, and I ran out of PTO by June. I took the rest of my days off unpaid and luckily didn’t get fired for taking a whopping 27 days off that year. The next year was better; I gained more time off for being there longer, had slightly less sickness and made it until October before I ran out of PTO days. Christmas shopping? HA! Done online, by a husband 500 miles away, or amidst the crazies on the weekend, squeezed in between parties and bake offs and general holiday “merriment.”
I know I am whining and people in third world countries are saying, “bitch please,” but really, we all know they aren’t reading this anyways, unless Oprah has given them a computer and internet access, so I can whine away to my first world parents who feel me.
I just never pictured life where a shower would be optional. I never thought my kids would want three freakin meals EVERY SINGLE DAY, prepared by me every time. Seriously, when I was growing up, food just magically appeared, and I was pissed because Mom called dinner every single night just as The Monkees was starting. To add to that annoyance, there was no pause button. You either watched it at 6 or you didn’t see it AT ALL. But I digress. This magical food every single night appeared in serving dishes (my kids think serving dishes are pots with potholders under them and a cooking stone topped with bagel pizza bites) and included, no kidding, a meat, a starch and a veggie, and oftentimes rolls or biscuits. Every. Single. Night. Like magic.
So I grew up thinking when I had kids, this magic fairy would show up at my house and cook, clean, and do the hard part of parenting. Stupid fairy never showed. Well unless my mom or mother-in-law shows up, then my house breathes a sigh of relief from being cleaned and the stove gets woken up by someone actually using it. But then, when they do show up, all I am free to do is attempt to sift through that paper mountain of filing that hasn’t been touched in 5 years or play find-the-throw up/poop/pee-smell. Or if I’m really lucky, I can sit down and watch TV…Backyardigans, Cat in the Hat (If I ever meet Martin Short, I am ripping his larynx out…Yes, your mother does MIND if you do!), or the original Benji…from 1974, with my kids. Or maybe I can go outside and watch them ride their bikes and yell in a panic every 5 seconds at the top of my lungs CAAARRRR!!!! Or maybe I can go downstairs and eat some fake food in the playroom and get bossed around about how I’m eating it wrong and not making appropriate yummy noises. Or maybe we can play legos, where within 5 minutes I am like, “Where is that freakin red piece the size of an atom?!”
Then once the bedtime routine is over and silence finally descends on the house, I have dishes, cat litter, and laundry among other things giving me dirty looks. Sometimes I do it, begrudgingly and half-assed, all while promising myself I’ll deep clean “later.” Sometimes I say Fuck IT and sit down to read a book or catch up on actual enjoyable adult TV, only to be interrupted by a 14 year old cat who steps on my face like, “What the fuck woman? Remember me? The one who can tell all your drunk college stories AND your most recent sexcapades? Yeah, well, it’s time for some kitty loving. And don’t mind my snotty nose, I’ll just wipe it all over your shirt.”
So then at this point – it’s 11:00. Time to give up, fall asleep in my contacts and makeup, only to hit the snooze to start it all over again at 5:30 the next day and tick the days off until my husband can join me for our fun-filled, family-time weekends, which include dragging our asses out of bed at 7 (if we are lucky) and making those two days not only productive and efficient, but also the best freakin 2 days our kids’ lives, all to alleviate some of that mommy and daddy guilt that plagues us during the week.
Thanks. I feel better. Feel my pain people! Help me to know I’m not alone.
PS – Now I’ll go watch my kids sleep like angels and fall in love with them all over again…or at least enough to start fresh tomorrow… or tackle the midnight fever or vomiting episode.