Friday, November 20, 2009

Bless this mess

Since I seem to like airing a certain amount of dirty laundry online, I thought I'd share with you what my house looks like after three days of single-parenting (the Mister is on a very bromantic hiking trip until 5PM today).

I used to get so irritated at my mother's poor housecleaning when I was a kid. I would mop the kitchen floor and wipe down the oven doors just to satisfy my own standards of clean (oddly, laundry didn't concern me and instead of washing my clothes, I took to dousing them in Jean Nate and going to school smelling like a molding citrus).

But now I have a little more sympathy. In order to keep this place clean, cleaning is literally ALL I would be able to do. And frankly, washing the sippy cups, and cleaning up the wooden train parts, and folding the laundry, and vacuuming up the sand, and sweeping the crumbs, and putting the books away gets old real fast.
So, here you go, a before and after. Boy, will I be happy to see the Mister (and not just for his superior dish washing skills).

The house as it is normally (or a little better than usual)

living room

Our bedroom

The bathroom

The house after three days of going it alone.

The living room

living room (with diapers)

Our bedroom (Maggie peed on the sheets 48 hours ago and I haven't changed them yet)

The bathroom (why pick up the bath toys
when you're just going to get them all out again tomorrow?

The hall (sadly, you cannot see the grime on the rug)

The kitchen (this is looking pretty good, actually.
I recycled the paper and put the oatmeal bowls in the sink)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Riddle Me This

Our preschool does not allow "superhero" play. You can be a superhero (capes, super powers, and jet packs are okey-dokey, but you can't run around reenacting the last episode of Spiderman or shooting people). But that doesn't keep my kids from being very interested in the idea of super heroes ("they save people") and, even more intriguing, bad guys.

Today they were asking me about bad guys on the way home from school. I was trying for the life of me to remember what was so terrible about the Penguin (was it the scary waddle?), until I thought to ask them to tell me about bad guys they know. And here, for all you struggling comic book writers out there, is a list of the best bad guy names ever, courtesy of Oliver and Maggie. We want royalties.

1. Elias Battle (he'll lure you with promises of honey but then he'll "take your honey bunches")
2. Tiger Roseshoe (same thing, but with ice cream cones)
3. Horesey Tatorsey (not exactly sure, but he does have guns and a mean laugh)

Monday, November 16, 2009

I am woman, hear me dither endlessly

I just had my 80-minute Healing Hiker's massage (nyam, nyam) and although I do hate to leave my Four Seasons suite, I miss my family and am looking forward to a little three-year-old action. Plus, this desert air is murder on my lips; they feel like bark.

Flying over the Grand Canyon

Flying over the Grand Canyon

While I was off hiking the Grand Canyon and kayaking the Salt River and climbing the Praying Monk and dining on seared scallops with butternut squash ravioli, my kids were kind of missing me. Maggie especially.

The Mister told me this morning that she woke up at 1am last night crying and saying, "I need someone to talk to. I miss mommy." I know. The heart. It hurts.

I've always been a firm believer in taking a break. Being away from the kids for a few days always felt like a good thing, a much-needed refueling for me. But as my friend Vida pointed out to me long ago, your kids don't care about your success or your career or whether or not you need to refuel. They don't even care if you ever publish a novel. They just want you to be soft and loving and available.

This is the rub of motherhood, I suppose, the place where your sense of who you want to be and your sense of who you should be stand across from one another glaring and whispering cruelly. One says, "You cannot make anyone else happy unless you yourself are happy and fulfilled." The other one says, "Shut up you selfish twat and make me a pie."

It's a place where I feel particularly judged. I get a lot of raised eyebrows and disapproving comments disguised at declarative sentences. Things like, "Wow, you are so lucky. I could never leave my kids for five days." Or, "I just feel like I've lost a limb when I'm away from my little darlings." Comments that simultaneously fill me with guilt and murderous rage (I'm not even going to discuss the sexist double-standard here. Fathers, as we know, are pretty much free to come and go as they please).

I don't know what the solution is. I miss my kids and it pains me to know that they miss me. But I doubt very much that the next time someone offers me a free trip to, well, anywhere, I am likely to turn it down. Traveling is one of the great joys of my life. Free traveling is one of the great bargains of my life.

I am almost certain I am not doing my children any permanent damage by leaving them with their loving and capable father for a few days here and there. What that bilious combination of guilt, freedom, joy, sadness and self-recrimination is doing to my own psyche, however, I cannot say.

I could say this picture is about being on the edge
of something, but really I just want to show you again what a badass I can be
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