“What does she do all day?”
My husband likes to play the part of the martyr because he works full-time and still has to make his own dinner more than 50% of the time. I overhear him talking to his handful of high school friends every now and then, and he tells them about having to make his own meals and how he helps put the kids to bed. They are aghast. They have professional wives, or staff, or live-in grandmothers, so the idea of having a stay-at-home wife and having to make their own dinner is foreign to them. They judge me without knowing a damn thing about me.
Well, gentlemen, my shoes are a size 7.5. Come take a walk in them.
Once upon a time I had two young kids, a work-o-holic husband, and lived far away from a familial support system of any kind. Somehow dinner was on the table every night and the house was clean at some point at least once a day. (With two small kids it never stayed that way for long – but it saw a clean moment at least daily.) How did I do it? Well, I just did it. It wasn’t even hard. It was lonely. But it wasn’t impossibly hard. I was young and healthy.
Now I have three young children, two in school, one at home, a work-o-holic husband, and I still live far away from a familial support system. But a lot more than the kid count has changed. The biggest change effecting my ability to keep up with the daily demands of running a household would be my health. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say I am no longer full of the vitality I was five years ago.
I’m going to walk you through yesterday. Try to imagine experiencing/doing all of this while recovering from the flu. (That’s the closest I can come to describing my current health.) Also, I have a head cold. (Not trying to score pity points. The toddler and I both have a gross cold with snot aplenty.)
I will keep this as short and succinct as possible. Believe me – you’ll thank me for leaving out certain details.
I slept in until 7:00, then got up, got the older kids ready for school, and made school lunches. My sister just happened to be in town visiting. (First time in 4 years!) She was getting ready to leave.
As we’re buckling Seren into her car seat we notice it is suddenly covered in shit. Covered. In. Shit. I pull her out of the car and run her to the side of the house, all the while telling her not to touch me, but she keeps reaching for me with her shit encrusted hands. I strip her down and have her touch the wall of the house for support as my sister brings me a single baby wipe. I look at her and laugh. She says, “This will help get her in the house at least…”
I just shook my head and proceeded to hose my shit-covered child off as she screamed. When she was clean, my sister appeared with a towel like an angel of mercy and shepherded Seren into the house for a warm bath while I took the kids to school with the windows rolled down. Silver lining? My head cold helped block some of the stench. (My sister must have said “Oh, honey,” to Seren as she bathed her because Seren enjoys re-telling the tale and keeps re-enacting that part.)
I guess I lied about sparing you the details…
I am volunteering to foster kittens at the moment, so when I came home from school drop-off I quickly fed the kittens and cleaned them (more shit!). As my sister entertained Seren I began the arduous task of dismantling the shit-smeared car seat. The only thing worse than cleaning up diarrhea or having to take out a stupid car seat and bloody your knuckles on the LATCH system, is having to do both of those things at the same time. At least it gave me an excuse to do a deep cleaning of the Cheerios and raisins and sand that lives beneath every car seat.
As the seat cover spun in the wash and the foam pad dried in the sun, we bid farewell to my sister.
Unable to run errands without a car seat, I cleaned the kitchen and folded laundry. My dishwasher recently died, so we have a brand new one. Lucky me! No – I hate the new one. Its little pokey things are all too close together to hold my dishes in the proper position. They all wobble around and knock against each other, and the silverware basket falls down if you look at it sideways. So charming. Not rage inducing at all. My sister named it Roy. It helps if you can swear at it by name. “Dammit Roy!” Roy’s a sonofabitch, but he gets the dishes clean, so I guess that’s what’s important.
Finally, once the car seat was put back in order, we went to the car wash so I could vacuum the rest of the car and enjoy a few hours of cleanliness before picking up the kids from school and having it ruined by their STUFF. Next stop – gas station, where I filled up on gas while jumping around and making faces in my windows like an idiot because one does not simply stand still and pump gas when one has a two-year-old in the car.
Then we went to the grocery store where Miss Independent insisted on pushing the cart herself ie. running into people because she can’t see where she’s going and she screams if I try to steer the damn thing. We needed baking supplies so I could bake stuff for Brecken’s ancestor brunch on Wednesday.
Came home and made lunch for the kid. Put her down for a nap.
Time to relax, right? Hahahahaha! Nope. I did take a minute to eat my own lunch. Then I called the party place to confirm details about the birthday party we’re having on Thursday. It was a rather confusing conversation about how many different ways the place was going to rape me for money. Always a pleasure.
Seren will take a two hour nap if I’m lucky. I threw on some old grubby clothes and ran to the garage to work on this amazing wicker chair I found at a garage sale over the weekend. It will most definitely be featured in its own blog post! Just know that I am restoring it, and it is taking many grueling
man woman-hours to complete. I have to prime every inch of it with a small detail paintbrush.
I got in a solid sixty minutes of fume-filled, back-breaking painting before I had to wake up Seren and go pick up the kids. When I found Karis at our pick-up spot she had forgotten to get Brecken, so I waited for her to run back and get him. Poor kid. We made a quick stop at the library on the way home to return some cook books after a failed attempt to get the kids interested in menu planning.
Once home, it was homework time, and I trimmed the kittens nails and gave them much needed baths.
Mondays are theater carpool days, and I kept going back and forth about whether or not it was dress rehearsal for Karis’s theater class. I decided it wasn’t. We loaded up and went to pick up our fellow theater kid. I was wrong. It was dress rehearsal. We rushed back home and grabbed Karis’s stuff, then hauled ass to the theater. We were twelve minutes late, but it was so chaotic no one cared.
It was trafficky on the way home and Jesse called.
“Where are you?”
“Driving home from theater drop off.”
“Oh. I can never keep track…”
Which brings us to why he was cooking his own dinner last night. When he gets home before I do, he cooks his own dinner. He has a special diet, and eats a completely different dinner than the rest of us anyway. On the days when he is coming home late, I generally have his standard weird meal ready or at least started for him.
When he finished in the kitchen I started making dinner for the rest of us. As I was cooking, Seren pooped her pants again. She politely informed us of that. Jesse made a half-hearted attempt to get out of cleaning it up, but I was cooking, so he took one for the team. (If we’re keeping score, I’m ahead on poop cleaning points ranging somewhere in the millions across all the years and all our kids)
As I was plating the food I heard the shower start. I guess he couldn’t handle the wrath of Seren’s bowels with a mere baby wipe either.
Karis came home and everyone ate.
I decided to sneak away for the last hour of sunlight to paint the chair. It’s useless trying to paint it in the dark – you miss too many spots – and I can’t paint it during the day when the kids are around because of the fumes. When I came in from painting the chair I overheard the last part of Jesse’s martyr conversation, and yeah, I got a little pissed. I thought back over my day, and thought about you, whichever one of his buddies was on the other end of the line, wondering what I did all day, and why I wasn’t in the kitchen cooking. I’d love to know what you think I do all day. What do you think I SHOULD be doing all day? How could I better be spending my time?
I went upstairs and found my baby had already been “put to bed,” but she wasn’t sleeping comfortably. Her nightlight wasn’t on. Her music wasn’t on. She didn’t have her blanket. When she heard me she jumped up and reached for me. I picked her up and she snuggled into my side. We lie together a while, and then because my day wasn’t over yet, as I adjusted her pants my thumbs stuck into another load of diarrhea. Jealous?
One clean, properly tucked-in child later, I said goodnight to the older two, then I showered as well.
And then, yes, I had an hour of me-time, because my life isn’t only shit and doing for others. I made some hot cocoa, settled into my spot on the couch, and caught up on the latest episode of Outlander.
And that, to answer your question, is what I did all day.