My sister tells me via e-mail that I wear her out. I don’t mean to, really. This is just the way things are, and I am as willing to admit I have too much of the “perpetual motion” gene in me for my own good. I try to downplay the goings-on around these parts, but I always come across as some sort of whirling dervish…I wear myself out, too.
Yesterday morning I asked, for the millionth time, if anyone here has any idea of what I do all day. There were feet shuffling, eyes rolling to the ceiling and shifting suddenly to the side, throats being cleared…and a meek “no, not really” from my husband. “I know it’s a lot, though,” he added. I told him, point blank, it isn’t…it seems that way, but it isn’t. And that is the truth…at the end of the day I usually realize I’ve been mired in trivialities that, regrettably, amount to a lot if they go unattended for too long. I am the whirling dervish of folderol and all things trifling.
I would love to make everyone think that, after everyone leaves each morning, I take a secret elevator to a secret underground level where I work on my plans to improve mankind. Not like the Batcave, please…Batman is all gadgets and I tend to break things. Not like an alternate location to Krypton…or like Aquaman’s underwater residence. Just a cave where I am able to solve every domestic issue, plan for every domestic contingency, remove every stain caused by even the most harmless-looking substance that could mar any garment. In this cave I am able to return the sweater that my “helpful” husband shrank when he threw it in the wash after I’d worn it only once and left it on the chair while I went to address some sort of family crisis involving the difference between “pine green” and “forest green” crayons. This cave holds a treasure trove of protractors, compasses, cardboard sheets, construction paper, no. 2 pencils, white glue, paper cement, dowels, and any other hare-brained request a teacher might make in August and a child might remember at 11:45 P.M. on a Sunday before it is due at 7:35 a.m. on a Monday…without fail!
This cave is equipped to easily produce 36 cupcakes of any flavor, and taking into consideration all the nutritional restrictions and allergies, of the entire population of a grade-school classroom. This cave is equipped with a sensor that detects when a child is about to say “my mom can do that” in any location within a 200-mile radius and, through telekinesis, will make sure that child’s mouth stays impenetrably closed during the “who wants to volunteer” portion of any interaction with teachers, scoutmasters, den mothers, etc., etc. I am invincible in this cave. I can solve anything in this cave. I don’t have this cave…
Every morning I do the same things: I go through the daily chores and tasks with as much alacrity as I can muster so that I can get all those things out of the way. I have no desire for perfection; I have no illusions about my “blank canvas” remaining blank. I am happy when, like morning glories, my family’s presence climbs and curls up and clings to the structure of my everyday existence. Morning glories are infinitely preferable to Venus Fly Traps, don’t you think?
I am a multi-tasker by necessity, not because I thoroughly enjoy picking things up from the floor with my toes while talking on the phone and folding clothes. I marinate tonight’s meat while tomorrow’s chicken is slowly defrosting in the refrigerator because I have often realized “oh, shit! It’s almost five and I forgot the chicken!” J gets his shave and his face scrubbed in the tub while he bathes because he is contained to one area and won’t protest being interrupted while he’s doing something else to interject something he considers unnecessary. I schedule certain things for certain days because it’s easier to address them in J’s calendar than to try to persuade him spontaneously. Yes, sheets are changed on Sunday…if it’s on the schedule NO ONE complains, but heaven forbid I should say on a Wednesday “doesn’t your bed need clean sheets?”
My sister thinks I “wear her out” with my constant activity because I like being recognized for it. Really? I want to be known as the lady who has a neat house? I have a piece of paper hanging on the wall over my desk that reads: dull women have immaculate houses. Yes, I would rather be in a constant flurry of housewifely activity than watching Gilmore Girls episodes back to back to back while eating popcorn. My day, as it were, wouldn’t be complete without cleaning the granite countertop (which, by the way, has quickly and incorrigibly become a part of the list entitled “the banes of my existence.) I wear her out because I have to be focused on Monsieur Autiste once he gets home and that means dragging the menial stuff out of the way (kicking and screaming, by the hair if necessary) so that I am not bogged down by “the friggin’ chicken isn’t defrosted” once J gets here.
I think every mom out there can say she does a million menial things each day. Once you attach the words “sprinkles,” “gymboree,” “dry cleaners,” “Rasta hat” to anything it’s evident that we’re not up there with Dr. Christian Barnard or Henry Kissinger. Or…are we? In the limited scope of our family lives, we ARE the end-all, be-all… All of us, to one or another degree, solve a crisis each day (and that’s on a slow day,) and try to carve out one second of peace and quiet and individualism for ourselves.
You know the second I mean: the one when you’re not thinking about dinner, laundry, little Annie’s school project, Tommy’s jock strap for Little League, whether that was a frayed edge you noticed on your husband’s shirt when he left this morning, if the car is due for maintenance, did you send the check for lunches, the electric bill, do you have enough groceries to cover you ’til next paycheck, do you have time to squeeze in a little bit of yoga or should you eat those cookies that forgot to put in Mickey’s lunchbox… I finished my book this morning while the cats were meowing because the milk was too cold for their taste; I ate my leftovers while watching the news (and immediately developed acid reflux because it’s not even February and we have months and months of political campaigning to be drummed into our brains until November…)
I don’t know you…but I’m worn out already…and it’s only Monday.