Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold comfort

I was in the lobby of our building, getting punched in the face by 3B, who I was putting into time out for punching me in the face during the elevator ride down from our condo, hearing Barky whine and feeling him winding his leash around my legs in an attempt to get out to pee after a full day in his crate as I held 3B's head between my hands, trying to get him to focus on what I was saying, realizing that he was too young for this technique to work when a neighbor came in and asked me, "What do you think about the management company petition?"

It took all of what little restraint I had left to not deliver the Socratic reply that leapt to the tip of my tongue: Are you fucking kidding me?

Instead, I said, "I've been a little busy," and thought that I'll have to wait until next year for that Father of the Year award.

And so it went last week, while Mama was in Ghana and I attempted to do for one week what she does every week of the year: work full time and raise 3B. The week was by turns wonderful--watching 3B playing with his classmates on the playground and watching him light up as we videoSkyped with Mama--and grueling--the gasping sobbing when I dropped him off at school and watching him melt down and run away from the computer as one of our videoSkypes had a technical breakdown precipitating a small meltdown in me.

That meltdown was the nadir of the week and a reminder of the blessing and curse of my impatience. I'm constantly looking for the faster, and hopefully easier, way to do things. During the week, I needed all the faster and easier methods I could devise for everything I needed to get done, but there are some things that can't go faster--like transitions with a two-year-old.

I was ready for the whole day as soon as 3B woke up, with his snacks and lunch packed, his clothes laid out, and my work day planned around 3B's schedule. But getting 3B into that stroller as soon as he woke up so we could take Barky for a walk in the 20 degree weather was not something that I could prepare, lay out or plan for. Fortunately, 3B will do anything for his gummy vitamins, so I was able to bribe him for a few mornings.

But then he got wise to me.

And so it went last week. At some times, we needed to do things that 3B didn't want to do at that time, or ever. And honestly, they were some things that I didn't want to do either, which didn't make it easier to convince 3B to come along with me. I mean, really? Stroll around in subfreezing temperatures just so I could pick up my dog's steaming poop? Hey, I'd rather stay in too.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Mom once about doing the dishes. She was telling me that she had to wash them all while I was out for the evening, and I responded that I was going to wash them when I got home, there was no hurry. Mom replied that sometimes things have to be done when they have to be done. That's the truth, which was bad news for my neighbors seeking my signature, because that's just not something that had to get done last week.

As I stayed up late, packing snacks, making lunch, and working, Mom's words kept coming back to me. Now, however, they weren't grating at all. They were a comforting reminder that despite the punching, the meltdowns and the arctic weather, I wasn't alone in this endeavor; I always had Mom with me.

Not that the comfort kept me from asking, "Are you fucking kidding?" when I walked into those icy mornings.

And so it went last week.

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  1. I don't remember her telling me that about the dishes. I need to quote that to my kids, who seem to think that everything can be done later, much later, much much later or perhaps if we wait long enough mom will do it for us. Don't think that when he gets older, he will be in amy more of a hurry to get things done. I am still waiting.

  2. As I recall, your mother also said that all of her kids were willing until able. I'm sure that when she said "all," she meant just the first five, not me.

  3. Anonymous9:47 PM

    I think you get 5,000 points for having everything ready for 3B when he woke up in the morning.

  4. I'm just trying to keep up with Mama, who has everything ready for him all the time, no matter what happens or where we are. How does she do that?

  5. She is a mom. I am not sure how they (moms) do it. I think it is out of self defense.

    I remember the 'willing until able' one and have told my kids that many times. I also share with any mom watching and proud as her toddler sweeps a floor. Somehow that snuffs out the hope that their child may actually want to sweep the floor when they are older.

  6. I remember mom saying the willing until able thing with respect to my children, but never myself. That would be why I sent your son a mower, so he could use it while he is still willing.

    As far as having everything ready, that would be a result of not unpacking the everything from yesterday from the diaper bag. It is also why we never clean out our purses. Whatever we might need is still in there 10 years later. Or something.

  7. ...oh, it's so hard to fly solo!
    and you are so much better than me: with my short fuse & potty mouth, I probably would have said, "Are you fucking kidding me" in the elevator.
    (Hey, I'm all in for mom of the year this year...Britney hasn't procreated in a while. I think I have a real shot!)

  8. L-P, you'd love this...we were driving to le Target today and 3B announced that he wanted to hear "Johnny Cash, train comin' round the bend." I told Mama, "That's what Gage sings when he sees a train." Are you sure that you don't have my boy?

  9. "....and I ain't seen the sunshine since...I don't know when!"

    ....that actually describes Gage's life these days with all of the bugs/germs/viruses/bacteria that plague his little life right now.

    When/if we all ever meet, I'm sure that Gage & 3B will adore each other! Or---they'll be so much alike that they'll knock the snot out of each other...I'm not sure which of the scenarios would happen...