4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
I just realized that I hate to be alone.
I was standing and wiping the counter, putting dishes in the dishwasher, mindlessly eating granola off the kids’ plates, and I kept looking for my youngest daughter at the kitchen table. But she’s not there. She’s in kindergarten for her first week of school, kicking butt and taking numbers.
And by the way, if you had told me five years ago that I would be lamenting the absence of my four children, getting all weepy verklempt over the sweet, sweet sound of silence, I would have told you to shut the front door.
Like, literally. Here’s my keys, there’s the minivan, make sure all four of them put their seat belts on, I’ll see you in three hours and SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. Because five years ago when I had four kids in diapers (how you like me now?) I would have given anything to have a moment of peace to go to the bathroom, then take a shower, then actually dry my hair. In that order. Included in that would be the scrubbing of incessant fecal matter out from under my nails.
But now… Now my hands are poop-free, or as poop-free as one can hope in a house filled with dirty kids. And the quiet mom-only hours of the day are spread before me like a vast and endless ocean of clean laundry that covers the entire laundry room floor waiting to be folded.
And it’s not that I don’t have anything to do. I have lists of things to do. My lists have lists.
In fact, yesterday I was looking through the cabinet over my desk for something to write my lists on. I’ve been stuffing all manner of deskish thing into this cabinet for five years. And just as I went to slam the cabinet door shut, a perfect little blank journal fell out and hit me on the head, like a flash of inspiration from the heavens. And so, today I’ve begun my many lists in that journal.
The list is getting longer by the moment. There’s a reason I’m a stay-at-home Mom, and it doesn’t involve eating bon-bons or registering for an account at Ashley Madison. I have to go to the grocery store and Dick’s Sporting Goods and the farmstand and the doctor.
But without the weight of four kids grabbing stuff from the shelves as I trudge down the aisles schlepping $250 worthy of groceries plus 200 lbs. of kid flesh, I feel sort of untethered. Like the huge Hello Kitty balloon that flew away at my daughter’s fourth birthday party last year, over the trees and the houses, out to some distant ocean for a one-hundred-year-old sea turtle to choke on.
And in this real-life metaphor, I’m the balloon, untethered. And I’m also sort of the choking turtle.
There was a mother at the library yesterday with a newborn baby and I walked so closely behind her attempting to sniff that new-baby smell that I’m pretty sure she almost called the police on me. Because… baby stalker. And today a friend stopped by to drop off some awesome hand-me-downs, and I sort of wouldn’t let her leave. Even though her car was running. And she kept stepping out the door away from me. Then I went to get a mammogram so that people would talk to me and hang onto my boobs in a slightly aggressive way.
Like my kids used to do. (Sigh.)
In silence there’s just me, amplified. There’s the me I was when I was a kid and the me I was right out of college and the me when I worked my butt off full-time. Mostly though, there’s just stay-at-home me, with all the other delightfully distracting noise turned off. Is she going to write a book or make some art or do something interesting? I don’t know. I mostly stayed away from her these past five years. She was such a hot mess.
So for now I’ve got to add that to the list, somewhere between 4.) Fold twelve loads of laundry and 8.) Take a shower.
Here’s to all the moms making lists now that the kids have all returned to school. Join me.
5.) Figure out how to be alone.
Because that lady at the library doesn’t want either of us that close to her newborn, and insurance only covers one mammogram a year.
Yes. It’s time.