Four things you should know before you read any further:
1. I hate making the bed in the mornings, but I’ve been with Josh long enough that it’s just habit. I mean, what’s the point? You just get back in the bed at night and mess it all up again. We’ve done away with fussy comforters and just have a simple quilt that folds at the end of the bed, so it’s pretty easy. I make the bed almost every weekday morning and Josh does it on the weekend.
2. I hate doing laundry (but I love ironing.) Again, what’s the point, you just put the clothes on and they’re dirty again. But I like sorting and folding the clothes and even putting them away. And I really like hanging them out on the line to dry, so the pros and cons about even each other out. I have a laundry schedule I stick with and I’m almost always done by Tuesday night for the week’s laundry. Somehow, I was done by yesterday evening.
3. More than anything else, I despise floor care – mopping, shining, vacuuming. Because seriously, as soon as you’re done and walk across a clean floor, it’s dirty again. Often, it even gets dirty as I’m cleaning it, thanks to two sheddy-shedderson dogs. I loathe it with the loathing of a thousand slugs. But, I vacuum every day. I have to with two long haired dogs and a crawling baby who puts everything in her mouth (particularly chunks of dog hair.) I do not, though, mop nearly as often as I should. Marion had a leaky sippy cup over the weekend and there were spots of milk all over our floor yesterday morning. They’d congealed and mixed dog hair into the sticky mess, so I had to break out the big guns of floor care and mopped the entire house while Marion napped yesterday. Strike that off the list, it was done.
4. The past two days, Marion has woken up at five a.m. She’ll go back to sleep, but I haven’t been able.
We had a follow up pediatrician appointment this morning to make sure her ruptured ear drum is healing (and it is, hooray.) Like all good pedi appointments, this one was scheduled for exactly naptime! I had planned to get out of the house at 8:00 a.m. (an hour before the appointment) drive to Starbucks, drive to the doctor’s office and read my book, while hoping that Marion would nap in the car. Of course, we didn’t get out ahead of time (much less, on time) so that plan was shot.
I usually go to Pilates at 10:30 on Tuesdays, however, we didn’t get out of the appointment until close to 9:30 and I knew there was no way to get home, get her down for a nap, get her up, then make it to class on time. So I decided to have a little treat, stop by Starbucks on the way home, put Mar in the crib and enjoy my coffee and a book while she napped. I even indulged in whole milk.
It’s been blazing hot here lately and for whatever reason, the thought of making multiple trips to and from the car to haul all our gear in (and the baby!) was just more than what I wanted to deal with. So I put my book and Marzi’s sippy cup in the diaper bag, threw it over my shoulder, grabbed my water bottle, the toys she had played with in the car seat and the baby on my hip, juggled the keys, coffee and cell phone in my free hand and unlocked the house. Stepped in the kitchen, set the coffee down, set the water bottle and toys down, set the diaper bag down, kept Marion on my hip, and moving the dogs out of the way the whole time
As if in slow motion, the book, sitting precariously on top of the diaper bag slips down, knocking the water bottle into the coffee cup. Cup hits the counter top and the lid popped off, spilling coffee everywhere. You know when you go to Starbucks and come away saying, “I paid $4 for this much coffee?” It was if I’d paid $4 and gotten the magical bottomless cup of hazelnut, whole milk mocha and it was running over the countertop, over the edge, and on to the floors below. Every last drop of it was out of the cup and on my floors.
The dogs, in their doggish excitement to see us, were running about in the enormous lake of coffee, dragging their tails through it and splattering it all over everything, leaving hazelnut scented pawprints all over my previously clean floors.
I just bawled. Did I mention that I didn’t even have a sip of the coffee in the car? It was so hot and I wanted so much to enjoy it all, that I just wanted to wait until she was asleep and I was reading. My crying made Marion cry and just served to make the dogs crazier.
All I wanted was a cup of coffee.
And then, I realized I was a mother.
Moms don’t cry over spilled coffee. They clean it up and make some more. If a mom doesn’t clean up the mess, who does? Because every mom out there knows, the longer a mess is left alone, the bigger it gets and the messiness just multiplies. Moms fix the messes.
So I pushed the dogs outside, got Marion her toys, deposited her in the high chair and grabbed all the (clean, because I just finished with laundry) towels I could find and started mopping up.
I’d absorbed all the big puddles and was ready to move in with the lysol wipes to eliminate all the traces of chocolate, hazelnut and sugar left in hopes of avoiding the sugar ants we battle with during the summer, when I noticed there was coffee still puddling on the floor. It was dripping from one of the drawers. I opened it to find our kitchen gadget drawer (everyone has one) swimming in a grande, hazelnut with whole milk mocha.
This now meant unloading the dishwasher so it could be re-loaded with all the coffee covered utensils we own. It also meant emptying out the kitchen sink so I could rinse out the drawer. More tears as it seemed each minor mess I fixed just led to another major mess that required my immediate attention.
I wanted to cry (and did) and scream (I did not.) I wanted to rage against the injustice of spending $4 for a cup of coffee only to have it go to waste and I didn’t enjoy a single sip of it. I wanted to give up at the fact that now my precious nap time hour would not be spent reading and enjoying my coffee, but instead, mopping and doing laundry.
I called Josh, in tears. Sobbing. Saying “all I wanted was a cup of coffee, is it too much to ask?” I told him I realized everyone has a bad day, but for most people, bad days mean they still get paid, still get to have conversation with adults, still get to use the bathroom alone and in quiet, and figure the cleaning crew will get the stain out of the carpet.
His response, “But you’re doing the most important job – raising a productive member of society.” (By the way, a productive member of society is about the highest praise Josh can heap upon any human being.) My wailing reply was, “Well I won’t know if I’ve done a good job at that until she’s at least 18! What kind of job do you know of that you only get a review every eighteen years?” (And if you’re my mom, she’s still waiting 29 years to find out how my brother turned out. Love you bro.)
I’d read stories like this before on other mom blogs, true comedy of errors, what else can go wrong kind of days. And I laughed. After all, they’d all ended with a bubble bath and a glass of wine, or a quick call to the maid or a drop off at mother’s day out, or a “I don’t care I’m not going to think about it right now” kind of attitude. But in the end, everything came out okay and it was something to be laughed about with the other moms over martinis at the next moms’ night out.
Real mom life isn’t exactly like that (except the wanting to end the day with a good drink part.) There isn’t anyone standing around to write your humorous ending. You have to clean up your own messes and sometimes, everyone else’s too. And you don’t get paid. You don’t get an annual review with a promotion, a fancy title and a corner office. The most you can hope for is a kid that won’t destroy the house while you pee with the bathroom door shut. You close your eyes, give it your all, and hope for the best. Some days, you fail. You lose your temper, your wallet, your patience and their favorite toy. Some days, everything that can go wrong, does. You yell, you scream, you ended up covered in oatmeal and vomit. And you never hear thank you. And you might not ever hear thank you. (Pretty sure I haven’t said, hey mom, thanks for changing my diapers for two years!) You just do everything you can to raise a productive member of society.
I realized today in one of the most profound lightbulb moments I’ve ever had, that I’m a mom and what just exactly that means. It means I might rarely get to drink a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. That at least for the next ten years, I’ve lost the ability to just pop over to Starbucks for a caffeine fix without juggling diaper bags and bottles and toys. That I’m the one who cleans up the messes now. That sometimes, little tiny things, like spilled coffee and unmopped floors will make me weep and wonder what have I done with my life. That I will forever be putting someone’s need to nap over my need to have my coffee and read a book. That while I will still have “me moments” I will never truly be able to put myself first again. I love myself and all, but I’m not even sure I’d sacrifice my life for me. But if my baby, my child, if my life needs to be sacrificed for hers, it’s a done deal.
But that, you know what? It’s all worth it.
Maybe not right then. Most certainly, not right then when I’m covered in sticky icky coffee with a baby crying who doesn’t understand the words “wait just a minute” as I’m frantically scrambling to pull the diaper bag, book, iPhone, water bottle, husband’s work out journal and cutting block out of the way, while two big shaggy dogs track pawprints everywhere. Most definitely then I wouldn’t have said it was worth it.
It was worth it tonight though. At unasked for, freely given kisses. At laughs and smiles and “ma-ma.” At squeals of joy and crawling at the speed of light when Dada walks through the door. At feeling like family.
All I wanted was a cup of coffee. What I got was to be a mom.
(And my mom, who must believe I turned out a somewhat productive member of society ordered pizza for us and had it delivered to our doorstep tonight. When I grow up, that’s the kind of mom I want to be.)