Thursday, April 16, 2009


Earlier today, and repeatedly, I had ideas for things to write -  I felt witty and pithy (sing it with me "and gaaaaay! And I pity, any girl who isn't me today..."), but I didn't feel I had a spare few minutes to get those notionally clearer-than-usual thoughts onto paper. So...

I did not write.  
I did not clean my house, or even put away the clean dishes or make the beds.  
I did not put away the ironing board or go pay for my expiring car tags.  
I did not write thank you notes to people near and far who did wonderful things for me for my birthday.  
I did not go to the post office and mail packages I have around the house, or return overdue library books tucked in most corners, or overdue DVDs Blockbuster has called about.  

I did not have lunch with a friend or take a walk on the nicest day in months with my kids.

I did take my in laws to the airport at orange o'clock, and got back in time to work 6:15.  

Then, I "worked." 

I shuffled things and parsed things and "uploaded" and edited and stared confusedly at a version of a Gantt chart.  I trained someone on some software, and I listened for an hour to someone else sell me something - even though I was halfway dozy and will not, ultimately, be the buyer. 

I took my husband to the car rental place and grumbled as he climbed into someone else's SUV (without expired tags) alongside colleagues, with whom he shares a real, honest-to-god credentialled-and-respected career...and drove away for the five days ahead of him. 

At the kitchen table, I acted as a helpdesk and I formatted a bunch of communications to send off in mass corporate emails in the morning. Then, I collected my kids from schools, where they had lingered until nearly six PM.  

We then dropped in on a treasured friend, bearing a very tiny Easter basket and three kids.  She gave me wine and all of us Chinese food.   

Things were looking up.

After two hours, we returned home... oops... late.  

Where there were books to be read aloud and homework to be finished and loud cavorting to commence...and be interrupted by... shouting.

(We are, regrettably and embarrassingly, a shouting family.  You might as well know that about us.)

I shouted at my children because pajamas weren't getting on and faces weren't being washed...  
...because they weren't brushing teeth quickly enough.  
... because I had to finish my "work."  
...because the Thursday night TV line up was about to come on and I wanted to settle into my spot on the couch with my open computer and my to-do list.  

I shouted at them because the house is a disaster and I will need all three hours in the morning to clean it before the house cleaner comes at noon, and I have to work during that time.  
... because when she gets here to clean, I will have to tell her that I need to cut her to once a month.
..because when I pay her tomorrow, the check might...just... bounce.
... because of those damn car tags.  

I shouted because the Big One did not tell me he was going on this trip until the last minute and there are five non-negotiable sporting events and a public school pre-K registration to deal with this weekend - sans him.

And when the shouting stopped?  And they were mostly nestled all snug in their beds?

The littlest Who in my Whoville... sweet, vexing, mouthy, unstoppable, unflappable, often-jolly, wildboy pPod said from his cloud of messy, rumpled, pulled-out-at-the-bottom-of-the-mattress bedlinens... in his best littlest-Who voice:


...Why did you have to get mean?"

And, Grinch that I am,  I had no good answer for him.  

Because it was all those reasons in that paragraph up there. Which is a list.  But not an answer that makes an ounce of sense to a four-year-old.

Or to any of us, really.  

Instead of an answer, I gave him a kiss.  And an apology.

And so now, in the darkest hours (that's a reference to the actual time, not a mental state), I am so pleased to be at peace, with work done, with all their faces relaxed in gentle sleep.  And I like them this way - giving me the quiet space to feel truly guilty.

I peeked in on them.  And I felt my two-sizes-too-small heart grow.  And was certain then that anything else I ever need to say... to any of them...could be said in a whisper.

We'll see about that.


  1. You can't be so hard on yourself! I have met your kids and I adore them! They are smart, funny, clever, impish, kind and lots of fun to be around. They will never grow up afraid to voice themselves or to tell their parents anything. You are giving them a gift of a mouth. Speaking as one who grew up in a house where "everything is fine" when it clearly was not, they are very lucky kids!!!

  2. I love it! Ah, the honesty of parenthood. I still get mean, grumpy pants, and I don't have kids! What's that say about me? :)

  3. Another awesome post! Me, totally. I have "grown" enough in my parenting skills/experience/behavior to observe both my kid and myself sometimes before The Loudness descends. And I will note, while it's happening, that I have asked her to take her shoes to her room once...then twice...without yelling...and I see her respond to this request by petting the which point, I say, "See the results I get by not yelling? My not-yelling-voice gets you to pet the cat. My yelling-voice gets the shoes moved. Hmmmmmm. So you WANT me to yell? Because we both know I can! I can also get Mean Mommy to show up. I think I hear her car now." That usually works.