As the mother of two small children, I was in a constant state of exhaustion mingled with a nagging notion that there was always something waiting to be wiped, washed, warmed, whisked, plucked, patted, preened, sterilized, sewn, sorted, darned, dusted, or dipped. I felt as if I was part of some odd lab experiment, the sole purpose of which was to see how physically active I could be while actually accomplishing very little.
One particular day began as many others. I opened a weary eye to the sight of a jumping, half-naked 5-year-old. He was so thrilled he'd stayed dry during the night that he insisted on peeling off his pants and waggling them before my half-opened eyes. I honored the dry underclothes with awe and reverence.
Before long, child #2 appeared at the foot of my bed. The 21/2-year-old crawled slowly forward, smiling like an angel with his beautiful golden curls shining in the predawn light. The sweet cherub opened his mouth to speak the first encouraging words of my day: "Ick," he said. "I'm wet." And so we begin another day.
After successfully caring for my children's personal hygiene, I began the wild quest to attend to my ownbut this was not to be. Instead, as I made my way to the kitchen, I was mystified that a pile of dirty clothes had magically appeared overnight.
I wondered if I had created a new amino acid in the drain of my kitchen sink. I wondered what type of foodstuffs in my bathroom could be so tantalizing to so many tiny ants. I wondered why dog hair floats in the air for days, only to landall at oncein any egg dish I happened to prepare.
In the midst of all this wondering I became aware of the yowl of our disgruntled cat waiting to be let out. I opened the kitchen door a crack and he ran under my robe and out the door.
Not wanting our pet to end up as pat矦or the neighborhood pit bull, I ran after him. While wildly shrieking, "Heeere kitty-kitty-kitty, he-ee-ee-ee-ee-ere kitty-kitty-kitty," I was suddenly aware that I was hydroplaning across the patio on a midnight deposit made by our elderly dog. I'd been up for an hour, and the only thing I'd accomplished was attracting stares from the neighbors.
At that precise moment there came from inside the house familiar rumblings of two hungry young men who were already foraging for food. I was still entranced in my odious two-step and could not immediately get them their breakfast. In trying to swab the dog poop out of the creases of my unlaced sneakers, I managed to smear a goodly amount of the terrible stuff on my hand. In a flurry of motion, I raced frantically through the house toward the one sink that could handle such a job. After dodging the sink ants and completely sterilizing my feet and hands, I crunched my way into the kitchen on a trail of Cheerios left by my little foragers.
Stuffing a handful of cereal into his mouth, my oldest asked if we could "kind of take all the blankets out of the cupboards and throw them over the chairs and make the front room a kinda maze or somethin'."
I opened my mouth to refuse his request when the two little imps grinned in unison. My pursed lips froze in mid-no. Their eyes looked hopeful and I found my resolve weakening.
I made my way back through the war zone known as our front room and dug armpit deep into the stack of blankets in the linen closet. "These ought to do for starters," I said. We gathered up every chair in the house and patio and made the best blanket/chair maze ever.
When my husband came home for lunch that day, he froze at the door and looked over the sea of blankets and Cheerio dust. He slowly and somberly asked, "Just what do you call this?"
Hunkered somewhere in the northeast corner of the front room, the boys and I stifled laughter. I glanced at our still pajama-clad, jelly stained forms, the blankets, the chairs, the chaos. I looked at the faces of my two grinning boys and said, "I guess it's called accomplishing something."
Adapted from Stop and Smell the Asphalt: Laughter and Love Along the Highway of Parenthood (Filbert Publishing), by Lindy Batdorf.
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