“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not the Way I Planned It

As my first year of being a stay-at-home mom comes to a close, I reflect back on what my plans were this time last year. As with most things, the way I pictured this was NOT the way it ended up happening.

First of all, I imagined I'd wake up at 5:30 every morning, like a farmer. (Or do they wake up earlier? I guess I really don't know). I'd shower and put makeup on, because it was going to be the same as "going to work." I'd wear an outfit, not my sweats.

Next, I'd go in the kitchen and make a well-balanced breakfast for my family. Fruit, pancakes, maybe some bacon. Juice and milk. I'd finish this up as my family joined me in the kitchen and then we'd sit down together and have a lovely meal to start our day.

I'd pack my husband and school-aged son healthy lunches, send them off to their respective jobs, and then Noah and I would do some laundry. He would love this, the doing laundry. By May he would know how to fold clothes and would assist me in this task.

Noah and I would go on an educational field trip, perhaps to the science museum or, weather permitting, the zoo. We would have richly educational conversations and I would turn him into a child prodigy in more than one area.

Noah would take lengthy naps and I would become a for-real novelist.

Joey would arrive home from school to a healthy snack, and he, Noah, and I would complete an educational activity that made us all laugh and hug at the end because we are so happy to be together.

The boys would entertain themselves by performing one of Shakespeare's best (in Old English) while I prepared a wonderfully delicious dinner for the family. My husband would arrive home, and for the second time that day, we would sit and eat together, perhaps joining our hands in a prayer of thanksgiving before digging in to a meal of such splendor that I'm asked to have my own cooking magazine.

Before I tell you how things REALLY went, I want you to know that for, like, two weeks last summer this all totally happened. It DID. Then I went and stayed at the beach with my parents, and THEN Joe started his job in Pittsburgh and was gone all week long, so...


This morning, Joey and Noah came downstairs hollering and hooting that it was a new day. They attacked me in my bed, shaking me ferociously and shouting, "Get up, Mommy! Get up! We NEED FOOD!" Their voices get all Hulk-y when they say this. My husband Joe, who missed me terribly in Pittsburgh (wouldn't YOU?) and has since moved back to Buffalo, rolled out of bed before me and trudged to the shower.

After a full five minutes, I myself rolled out of bed and stood unsteadily, hating the sun and hating the morning and hating the world in general. I went into the bathroom and washed my face because if I don't, my eyes will not stay open and I will bump into large inanimate objects, like the wall. I made my way to the kitchen, where my children bounced off walls and windows and sang too loud for any human before 7 AM. Joey had an Eggo waffle and strawberries and Noah had sugar toast and watermelon. After they were set, I had granola.

In the middle of the granola Noah yelled at me, so I went to his new behavior chart and gave him a big black X next to "Be Nice To Mommy." This enraged him, so he jumped off his stool and attacked me, insisting that I erase the X. I gave him another X for this, which made him call me a name. This brought him his third and final X before he shouted, "FINE! I'LL BE A NICE BOY! BUT I WON'T LIKE IT!"

Joey helped me clear the plates and then went to play on the computer. Noah joined him. I did the dishes and made myself tea which I forgot about. It got cold. I went and found my husband, who was readying for his day, and we talked about our plans for later. Dinner at my mom's of course, but what time? He said, "Do you really hate cooking that much?" and I said, "Yes. I HATE cooking THAT much." He laughed and said, "That's okay."

Joe was ready to drive Joey to school, but I had forgotten to get him his clothes. I raced to the dryer and dug through a mountain of clean clothes searching for Joey's uniform shorts and shirt. I found them. They were wrinkled, but I have decided that no one probably notices that.

I realized next that I'd also forgotten to make Joey and Joe's lunches, so I flew into the kitchen and yanked out bread and peanut butter and cold cuts. I slapped together their sandwiches and put them in their lunch boxes (Batman for Joey, Yoda for Daddy) with a Sani-Hands wipe that I'm pretty sure they both ignore when they are away from me.

At this point, Noah looked up and said, "Mommy, your hair is CRAZY." Joey jumped to my defense, "Don't say that! She's beautiful!" Then he looked at me. "And don't listen to anyone. You don't NEED any makeup." I was not reassured, but always appreciate a compliment.

Joe and Joey left, so I sat down to go on Facebook and Pinterest. I can't do this when Joe is home because he might think it's all I do all day. I looked out the window and saw that Joe was coming back into the house; he'd forgotten something, too. I snatched up my laptop, shoved it under a pile of laundry, and breathlessly began folding clothes. Joe dashed past me, paused, and said, "Don't forget to have some fun today." Snicker, snicker, snort.

Let me fill in the rest for you. I am still in my pajamas. My house is NOT immaculate. Noah will go in for a nap, but he will not sleep. He will jump up and down and sing rock songs, but I will continue putting him in because it is my only few moments of sanity during the day. I once had a glass of wine during this time. Judge all you want. You haven't met him.

I have not written a novel. I write a blog, and I have about five local readers and one random one from Russia who I am confused by but appreciate.

My mother is a waaaaaay better cook than me, and I'm okay with that. I hope she is, too. Noah and I will spend the morning on a field trip to Target, because I like to put him in places that keep him contained and distracted, and shopping carts are good for that. I will beg my mother to come with me so I have adult company. Noah will be jealous of SOMEONE and complain often and loudly.

I will come home to feed him chicken nuggets from the freezer and we will watch Miss Spider. He will pretend he's going to take a nap and I will catch up on laundry and/or cleaning. I will not finish. I might head out into the garden. It is soothing and I will daydream instead of actually gardening.

Noah will need to be saved from himself eventually, so I will get him out of bed. We will wait for Joey's bus to come, and then we all play a noisy and insane game outside, because we are noisy and insane. We might play loud music and dance around. We will eat popcorn or cookies and drink Capri Sun and wait for it to be time to go to my mom's. If my mom is ever away on vacation, my children wail, "WHAT ARE WE GONNA DOOOOOOOOOOOO??????"

At my mother's, my children watch television, play Legos, and deliberately annoy my father because he has worked all day and is easy to annoy. Joey cannot sit still after a long day at school so everyone takes turns asking him to please sit down. Sometimes we add, "Both cheeks on the chair!" This is what they said to me when I was little, and it annoys me that Joey is no better than I am.

My mother clears away the plates before I am satisfied that my children are REALLY done eating and she feeds them candy and cookies and ice cream. When they have a good, thorough sugar rush going, we head home, snuggle on the couch, and make plans for tomorrow.

Joey and Noah have their bath, and morph into sparkling, smiling angels. They snuggle into me on the beanbag chair in Joey's room and together we read a story. Last night, Joey read to us. He told jokes in between the pages, and we all giggled. Noah and Joey hugged each other good-night and said, "I love you," and then I tucked Noah in. I used my "Mommy Magic" to make him feel safe and sang, "You Are My Sunshine," because it's true. For all his bad-itude, he is the sunshine of our family.

Then I went and tucked Joey in. He snuggled under his Batman blankets and whispered, "I hope you had a good day, too, Mom." I used Mommy Magic on him, too, and sang him "Dream a Little Dream of Me." He made me check around his room THREE TIMES (once using X-Ray vision, because I have that) and then finally, I went back downstairs where Joe was microwaving leftovers from my mom's house. He smiled, retrieved a fork, and then came his usual greeting.

"How was your day?"

It's not paradise, and it's not perfect. But I think it's pretty great.

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