If you haven’t met Keely, you’re missing out. I haven’t known her very long (okay, I’ve never “met” her in real life), but she’s one of my favorite people. She writes at Lollygag Blog, and she’s hilarious. She’s a playwright, she’s a mom of two and one on the way, she’s a wife. She keeps the perfect balance between writing the hard stuff and writing the breezy stuff, all in a way that makes you think that yeah, everything’s gonna be alright. I absolutely love that about her….her space on the Internet really is “more fun than your 9th birthday.”
Thank you so much for gracing us here today, Keely!
This morning, I scraped seasonal gel clings from my kitchen window. They had melted and fused to the glass, acting as a catch-all for gnats, dust, and the occasional flying cat hair. I tugged at the stubborn corners, telling myself that I was better than this. That I used to be better than this.
Because the gel clings were Easter bunnies and carrots, and they had been there since March.
Eleven years ago, I began my job as a (really, really good) nanny. I was a pre-Pinterest craft maven, and knew how to prepare organic, gluten-free snacks that looked just like Dora and Elmo. Not that we had time to watch TV; we were way too busy sketching at the Art Museum, building paper cup sailboats at the lakefront, and napping in blanket tents which spanned entire bedrooms. I knew kids, babies, nap schedules, and doctor visits. And when I became pregnant with my firstborn, I knew I’d be an ace parent. How could I fail? Aside from the whole “birthing” thing, what was left to figure out that I hadn’t mastered?
Turns out, some other things I knew included: Ending my workday at 5pm. Sleeping in on weekends. Showering solo in the mornings and cooking meals for myself without toddlers climbing directly into my nostril. Regrouping, recovering, and recharging.
I had never planned on the disappearance of down time. This meant that, while on vacation, my only trips to the bathroom would include hovering a preschooler over a questionable toilet, begging her not to touch anything, while simultaneously marveling at the proximity of my face to an auto-flush sensor. At the doctor’s office, having the nurses take my kids to feed the fish so I could go pee into a cup would feel like a solo day at the spa. I may as well have been a former lumberjack, I was so poorly prepped for the sheer In Your Face-itude of 24/7 childcare; especially when an unfair proportion of those 24s and 7s include sanitizing wall splatter at 3am. My goal-oriented brain operated rather well within the structure of a traditional Monday through Friday schedule, leaving me plenty of time (and hands) to sort out the Everything Else. In my new life, the lines between time of day and day of week blurred into one big stew of non-stop action, with a nice side dish of panicking about the future.
While I had guessed at how full my heart could get, I couldn’t have imagined the finite capacity of my grey matter. And that sometimes meant that items previously of the utmost importance (showering during daylight hours) would jump off of my brain cliff like so many lemmings. I sometimes wouldn’t even realize what I had failed to do until the middle of the night. (“Have I showered? Have I seen the cat this week?”)
I know that my kids don’t care what season’s decorations grace our home; they’re just stoked to spend the entire day with me (even if I spend a confusing amount of time weeping at gel clings). I know that my older daughter is thrilled to no longer be playing third fiddle [car seat?] to another family’s series of lessons and activities, the way she had to as a baby. And I know that having happy kids is kinda the whole point, even if the other day’s arts project consisted of fishing an entire box of pasta from the radiator.
So I’ll just choose to be happy about the fact that my kids are happy. At least until I find myself folding a winter wonderland nightgown this August, taking me firmly out of the running for World’s Most Efficient Mother. Which is just as well.
That title would look really lame on a mug.