I crave the satisfaction of being able to check something off of my to do list. Anything. I am bouncing around the house trying to pick up the scatter of clutter that easily accumulates with each passing minute, while never quite rejoicing in the victory of having an entire room clean. There is still one thing left to do that leads to another and another. I cleaned the babies’ room, but the mess of clothes is still sitting on the dresser; I cleaned the kitchen but there is still a rack of dishes to dry and put away. I sit in my room, trying to get into writing mode. My headphones are in tact, cancelling out the chaos that is my husband and my children trying to navigate a world I am absent from, even if for just an hour. My headphones block the after school chatter, the toddlers demanding to watch TV, Josh taking over the kitchen and I am hiding from the chaos. All of it – centered on our disorganized family in our disorganized little life. What is it like to have four kids? Complete fucking chaos, all the time. My corner of our house, my room, is a complete cluster of clothes that I keep putting off organizing – just like everything else.
Four Against Mom
It was that day. The day I managed to piss off all four kids. It started with Layla’s snarky slamming of the front door in a huff on her way to school and it ended with Liv’s matched slamming of the bedroom door on her way to bed. It was one of those days, the one I realized that I had two full-blown toddlers, and two full-blown teenagers on my hand, and the one where I ended up inadvertently turning on my windshield wipers hoping to clear my face from the sobbing tears that occur when I am just past my threshold.
It started with Layla slamming the door and my internal questioning gears spinning. Don’t be mad! I yell out to the empty doorway. When do I trust her to start making her own decisions, or would it be better if I just made them all for her? I asked the living room air, still lingering from her departure. I could blame it on the morning or her pending high school application essay that we (of course) waited until the last-minute to fill out. Her phone isn’t charged and her day’s fate a mystery, and I am too tired to care right now. It is early and I need coffee.
My journal is open in my knit blanket covered lap. It is just another evening, all the things that may make this a Monday, but who knows anymore. My body is resting from the increasing time I spend behind the bar, pouring drinks, talking, running – fast on my feet and quick with my hands. With my pen, I am suddenly there. I look around the room, waiting for someone to eyeball summon me. This girl is telling a story. I don’t care to hear it, but I listen anyway like it is my job – to just listen. Other stories are swirling around like a mirage of conversation and small talk. Is it office politics or a Tinder date? It all meshes together after they drink enough whiskey, or after I do. Tomorrow is for shopping at Ikea but tonight is for eating pizza. A woman tells me to which I can only reply with unquestioning laughter. Two grad students chatter away about going to Iceland over spring break -because that is the new “it” destination. They clink their copper mule mugs together, to Iceland, to their youth. I pause to turn the page and I am back in my living room. I realize I am writing the same word, first in perfect cursive then in really neat print, audience. I am telling the story now and I am suddenly very aware of my audience.
To be absolutely clear: I need to write like I need to breathe. Inhale and exhale the words onto the page, a release of expression, aaah so freeing. I say anything I want. As I am still navigating my way through this new life, I take pride in the evolution of the process. But seriously, how do I ever find any time to write? I actually get this question quite often. I have four kids and as many jobs, and routine dedication to writing is an ongoing attempt to manage my sanity, to compress my anxiety and filter out the toxic thoughts. I fear the person I will become if I don’t write. (The person I was). Write in the morning. I tell myself. Write at night. Write while the kids are eating lunch, write while they are playing outside. In reality, I scamper through my house with my notebook tucked under my arm, trying to jot a few things down, hopeful for a prompt for later or a feeling that just needed to come out.
Love of Health
Last day of the month. Love month is almost over and this post almost didn’t make it. When a family of six gets sick, it is pretty much game over.
I have plans. Big plans. The week started with a list of demands that has me wondering if I am, once again, “just trying to get by” at too many jobs. But isn’t that what motherhood, or just adulthood, is? I sat on my bed, my to-do list physically sprinkled about my cross folded legs. This is how I work best, sitting on my bed with everything laid out in front of me. My slippers slide my running shoes under the bed and cuddled onto my feet in silent encouragement that it was ok to skip my run today. My stomach dipped. I instinctively knew to lie down, slowly pulling my legs closer and closer into my chest. Suddenly I was nestled deep in my to-do list and I wanted to sleep. My stomach quivered in the way that is usually reserved for anxiety. Great, I have overwhelmed my self to sleep like a scary lullaby – a rocky –a- bye baby for the modern world. But it wasn’t anxiety. Fuck. I realized. It was nausea. I don’t have time to get sick. I cursed. Josh was home to work to check on me shortly after. I got the nap blessing and the “take all the time you need” reassurance to my health. I knew it was short lived, Layla, Jackson and Cece had been infected, and it was only a matter of time before we turned to puke zombies and healthy babies outnumbered healthy adults. I tried to force sleep but my stomach taunted me to stay awake. Just say it. It would say. No. No. I pleaded, desperate for sleep. Say it! Fine. I want to throw up. Please, I just want to throw up. My wish was granted. Infected count: 4-2.