I realize at some point in every stay-at-home-parent’s existence, a list is made. A “What the hell do I do all day?” list. And thanks to the Internet, I also realize many of these lists have been published somewhere, and have circulated, mostly on Mommy websites, in Mom-to-Mom emails, and as “rants” on those ever growing cliches called Mommy Blogs.
Today I made a list.
I made a list and put it in an email and sent it to my husband. In hindsight, I maybe should have done this before I called him and went off about the garbage. We used to have an agreement that whatever I was mad about after he left for work, I had to type it as a Google Chat message and he’d read it when he arrived. I was allowed to use all-caps if necessary and he promised to hear the anger in my voice, as such.
Well, we had a rough morning. Somehow, all-caps cursing via G-chat just wasn’t going to do it for me today.
Mornings. Mornings are always difficult due to their unpredictability. If we have somewhere to be by a certain time, my children will inevitably sleep in. If we have no where to be and absolutely nothing to do (and especially if I’ve successfully extricated myself from the hypnosis of 3-6am coma-sleep) my children will be awake with the birds and already bored before breakfast. If we successfully get dressed before breakfast, Carter won’t be in the mood to eat anything. Even strawberry muffins with zero nutritional value whatsoever. Even if I tell her it is “cake.” If we successfully get dressed and eat breakfast in time to leave, Carter will poop the milisecond before I put her in the carseat. And if we are dressed, fed, changed, and out the door on time, likely I have mixed up Tuesday and Wednesday in my head and the empty parking lot which I am for the first time early to arrive to gives away the fact that I should have slept in that day. And, if everything is right in the world of Carter and my days are not mixed up, Eliott will be having what I like to call pre-school PMS.
I cannot win.
Eliott is enrolled in 9:15 am swim lessons at the YMCA. They are only a half an hour long for 2 weeks. We need to not be late. We need to not miss a day. And, we all really need to poop before we leave the house. Can I say, for the record, how debilitating it is to revolve a large majority of my schedule around my children’s digestive tracts? And this has nothing to do with potty training and accidents and diapers and all that. It simply has to do with the availability of a bathroom when it is time. There’s no such thing as telling a four-year-old to “hold it.” And because the diaper baby does not hold it, there is no such thing as, “Here, change your own diaper real quick while I parallel park.”
So my YMCA time today was spent on a couch in the lobby with my iced coffee and my iPhone (which I never got rid of by the way), emailing my husband in a rage after I spent the majority of the morning fighting with both children, ants in my kitchen, and the garbage (because it is Tuesday). It hit me at about 10:15 that all I ate for breakfast was half of Carter’s strawberry cake.
If personalities were measured like cup sizes in bras, then my husband would be an unpadded type-32-double-A. His sense of organization, adherence to rules, and inability to function without the use of or ability to deviate from a list goes so far beyond the confines of Type-A that it needs a category all to itself. I personally know many women who would murder me with a butter knife to know how often this personality actually frustrates me. With a man who will do anything, as long as it is written down, why am I complaining? Why aren’t I bottling him up and selling him as a remedy for their blobs of ESPN couch goo?
Maybe I’m a little spoiled.
But excerpts from my email went something like this:
…the thing is, if I have to come up with the list, organize it, and figure out by when it needs to get done, I’ve already tackled more than half the battle and I might as well just do the thing myself. Need I remind you that I get 90 whole minutes to myself every day?
…I’m sorry that the garbage set me off this morning. But really, it was the garbage, the blankets, the ants, Carter not eating (you know I’m still spoon feeding our 2 year old three meals a day), getting out the door on time, thinking about what kind of picnic dinner I can pack for your soccer game (which we will probably skip by the way), thinking about when Carter will poop and how many diapers I need to bring with us today… I didn’t even eat breakfast. So now I’m also trying to figure out what is easy to grab and eat on the road…and all because I forgot to write bananas on the grocery list for you…
…I know that you are stressed out by work. I know you have a lot to do and not enough hours in the day to do it all. I also know that I am selfishly holding you back from working until 9 every night, which, I KNOW, you could easily do. But I am tired. All the time. And the thought of sitting in an office on a computer for 8 hours a day, dealing with adults who all want to sue the police, defending child delinquents, looking up case law, writing angry demand letters, fighting with AT&T over yet another screwed up bill on the phone, setting up new office furniture, organizing paperwork, driving to and sitting through court in three counties, and creating a system for an intern to start doing half my work actually sounds like a relief to me right now. I know. The grass is always greener. No, I don’t want to go back to work. I just want someone to understand the difficulty of my existence despite what the numbers may say.
I’m not actually going to re-type my entire personal list of “What Do I Do All Day” (which was Part B of the above email). At least not today. And I admit, if I would just embrace John’s system, things would be more than fine on my end. But we don’t have any bananas because I forgot to write it down. So maybe in addition to everything else he does all day, I want want him to read my mind. Without a list. That I create. Read my mind IN my head. Read the mind that I am often unable to consciously express.
I really don’t think that I’m asking too much here.