As soon as I emerge from my silence-induced coma, I am able to see the sad state of my home. Toys are piled up like the rubble from a collapsed building, and it is only then that I realize I forgot to have the boys pick up before lunch time as is usually the routine. Although, if I forget to have them do it more than I remember, I guess the real routine is for me to do it myself while grumbling about all of the other household tasks I have yet to tackle.
I sort two hamper's worth of laundry into colored piles, mentally noting the subcategories to which all of our articles of clothing seem to fall. Stuff Crusted in Food. Stuff The Cat Threw Up On. Teeny, Tiny, (Dirty) Underpants.
Rinse the dishes in the sink and open the dishwasher to load them, only to find that I never emptied it after its last cycle. I contort to kick myself and, despite the fact that I will have to empty it sometime, I opt to stack the rinsed dishes back in the sink. Totally not worth the extra effort.
Check email. Respond to blog comments. Read friends' blogs.
Did I ever have lunch? By this time in the day I've probably downed three bottles of Diet Dr. Pepper, but did I actually eat any food?
I dig around for leftovers and throw some couscous in the microwave and cut up some mushrooms to make it a little more exciting. I spend three or four minutes ruminating over the fact that I just found mushrooms to be exciting before grabbing a drink from the fridge. A
I turn on the TV just as I hear the doorknob turn.
"Mommy? Can I have a treat for not waking up Graham?"
What has happened to my parenting skills when my son expects a daily reward for not doing something naughty?
"Five pieces of candy."
"Nope. If you want candy, you may have one."
"Okay, half of the banana and half of the cookie."
"Nope. One cookie, one candy, or one banana."
"Ugh. Fine, Mom! I'll have a peanut butter sandwich."
Glad I could be of service today.
The noise of our snack-time debate leads to a scratching sound in the boys' room. I pray silently that the cat has simply gotten trapped in there, but as I look at the ledge behind the sofa and find him, eating my couscous straight from the bowl, I know that the sound can only be coming from Graham. As I approach his door, I try to prepare myself for any number of possible offenses.
He could be clawing at the door, desperate to get out and further disrupt the two minutes of my relaxation. He could be scaling the wall in an attempt to reach the shirt he'd flung over the ceiling fan in a fit of giggles last week. He could even be trying to jimmy the lock on his window and make a break for it.
I can relate.
But when I open the door, it becomes apparent that Graham hasn't been doing any of those things. He has all of his clothes stripped off, save for his diaper, which is soggy and stuffed with a pair of Cael's socks and his primate friend, "Cheeky Monkey", who he has tucked off to the side like a gun in a holster.
"I have poo, Momma. Mommy?"
I ask the boys to head upstairs and retrieve their shoes so that we can play outside. I'm not really sure why I continue to make this request because, while they are perfectly capable, I already know with virtual certainty that they will go to the shoe closet, get distracted, pull down as many of my shoes as possible, and parade around in the summer's hottest shoe trends.
Oh, who are we kidding? All of my sandals came from Target. Four years ago. Before all of my money went to the kids.
Finally outside, I remember exactly why we splurged on fencing our backyard. The kids run free for quite some time without fear of them scrambling into the street and being hit by a car. But it's not that simple, is it? Without the temptation of the highway, my two fiends manage to find their own trouble.
First they climb on Daddy's lawnmower and discuss how they will shove rocks into the engine so that it will break and be "so, so, funny!" Then they locate their squirt guns and, catching me on a generous day, I agree to fill them with water so they can douse each other. But I'm too busy eyeing the lawnmower and wondering what disastrous event will take place next to notice that Cael has bypassed the water pistol completely and is spraying Graham down with the hose-- first set on "mist", then on "shower", and then on--
"Cael! Put it down!"
Too late. Cael rotates the sprayer into "jet" mode and the tight beam of water passes across Graham's legs, knocking him to the ground where his lower altitude makes the spray pass across his forehead, throwing him back onto the grass. Into the house for another round of clean clothes.
Is it too early for pajamas? Probably. But we haven't had dinner yet and I'm fishing for Graham's fourth outfit of the day, so I give in and pull his Mickey Mouse pajamas over his head.
"Mommy, I not want to go to bed yet!"
"You don't have to go to bed yet. I just don't want to get another outfit dirty."
"Otay, I get Mickey dirty then."
Knowing that I need to make dinner, I offer to put a movie on for the boys and immediately regret the request. They enjoy the same movies but enjoy arguing even more, so they refuse to agree to one film, and I eventually give in and put two shows on different tv sets so I can finally get dinner started.
As I walk back upstairs, I remember the laundry that I abandoned earlier in the day, so I swap the loads out and dump the few clean items on my bed to sort after dinner.
I snap out of a haze and realize I've been staring at the refrigerator for five minutes and don't have a clue what I'm making for supper. Sometimes I slip into auto-pilot and pull out something like a jar of relish and an apple and bang them together on the counter before I regain consciousness. This time it is Joel's return home that beings me back to reality, and I settle on grilled chicken with pasta and homemade pesto (which I mercifully made the day before) and some foccacia bread.
I am happy to relinquish control of the boys to Joel as I cook, but as they jump on him and ask him a line of 58 consecutive questions, I recognize the same look of haziness in his eyes after his long day of work, so I set the table and throw dinner together as quickly as possible.
We all sit down to eat and as I taste the chicken I realize that I haven't eaten since the ill-advised banana I downed in the car as I took Cael to school. Joel and I quickly finish and look to the boys' plates to find that they have been gumming their bread and haven't touched the chicken or pesto pasta.
"Mommy. This is yummy. This is the only yummy meal you've ever, ever made!"
An insult disguised as a compliment. Thanks, Cael.
Joel heads outside to work on the new basketball hoop, and when I come around in front of him to check his plate, I find that he has, indeed, cleared his plate, but rather than the noodles and chicken finding their way into his stomach, the green bits are in his ear, inside his (fresh) pajamas, between his fingers and toes and all over his chair and the floor. Even Oscar, who has been scavenging below, has flecks of pesto in his hair.
I have enough filthy beasts in the house... scrubbing his furry back ranks low on my priority list.
Bathtime. I hadn't planned on bathing them tonight, mainly because they have sensitive skin and too many baths will make them scaly like the dinosaurs they pretend to be. But then again, how much of my day has gone according to plan?
And I still have laundry to do.
After a bible story that I essentially read to myself, Graham is in bed. He's not sleeping-- God only knows when he'll give in enough to do that, but it is no longer two against one. I get Cael in his pajamas and agree to his final few minutes of iPad time. As I reach to hand it to him, I watch him kick the dog-- kick the dog-- and snatch the tablet back as quickly as possible. We have a no tolerance policy with dog abuse (I'm not referring to doggy dental neglect. We don't need to revisit that.) so I rescind the video game time I would have allowed.
These are the hardest parenting decisions; the ones that you know will make your life harder but that you also know are in their best interest. And I want to be a good mom, but I can't help but wonder sometimes... who is making decisions in my best interest?
See? NOT Supermom.
We decide to read his bible stories early instead of while in bed, and he completely confused the stories as well as the intended message. "Noah made an ark out of animals?" "Joseph has a coat with lots of colors?" "Did he get it at Target?" "Wait-- Adam and Eve were NAKED?"
As I look at him in the dark, I'm always amazed how the atrocities of the day are erased. I can't imagine sending him to bed not knowing that I love him and am proud of him, so I whisper these thoughts to him and kiss his (still) sticky face. When I've quietly closed the door, for one second I feel a pang in my chest and miss them, almost turning around to go back and snuggle up next to each of them.
Nah. I do a tiny jig instead.
Since I can't sleep without a bath, my biggest self-indulgence, I fill the tub with super-hot water (if you're not red when you get out, it wasn't hot enough) and climb in. And I think about nothing. It's my favorite thing to do, especially in the tub. I can very easily waste away an hour and a half in a bath, or even more if I am writing, reading or being otherwise productive.
When I hear Joel back in the house after slaving over his basketball production, I get out, dry off, get dressed and remember that I have nothing written for the blog tomorrow. I sit myself up at the counter, willing my brain to be creative, and falling very short. In the meantime, I notice the stack of dishes and decide to tackle them now so they won't be even crustier come morning. I toss several of the dirty forks and spoons in the silverware basket and slap a soapy hand to my forehead.
The dishes in the dishwasher were clean.
I pull them all out, wash all the silverware by hand, unload the dishwasher, put dishes away, load the dirty ones inside, and head to the bedroom for a dry shirt. But where are all of my shirts?
Oh, that's right. They are in a big, wrinkly pile on my bed, and two loads of darks and towels are still waiting in the laundry room. I complete the task, grumbling a bit if I'm honest, and turn out the lights.
I climb into bed and as my mind drifts to sleep, my eyes snap open. I had a blog post to write. I never dumped out the moldy marinara.
And the cat is still eating my couscous.