Friday, May 20, 2011

Can't Stop! Don't Stop! Won't Stop!

Click-clack. Click-clack.

All the trains rush down the track. Where is Thomas going?

Wait! That's not where I meant for this to go.

It was supposed to be my heels. My high low (I'm clumsy, with weak ankles; I don't do high) heels click-clacking on the hallway floors as I rush back and forth, over and over again, every day, delivering reports and reminders, escorting students and staff to the Next Important Event that Simply Must be Completed Before the End of the Year, checking post-its for phone calls to return, and the copier for copies to collate, and the fax machine for faxes to file, and the supply room for posterboard for parenting projects (we're out, don't bother to dig, I already looked everywhere yesterday) and ... And ... ANd ... AND ... itNEVEReverEVEReverSTOPS!

Can't Stop! Don't Stop! Won't Stop! Get it! Get it!
Can't Stop! Don't Stop! Won't Stop! Get it! Get it!

Sorry, thought we could all use a dance party break there. What? That was just me? Oh.

I knew when I came back to work at the end of my maternity leave that I was looking at the toughest three four (?pleasedon'tbefiveorsixorseven!) months I've ever navigated in this job.

I was right! I was riiiiiggggghhhhht!

And never have I been so dissatisfied to be so dead on. Can I get a refund on my right-ness? I want my maternity leave back! I'd like to take a moment to mourn, just a little jiffy to cry like a baby here in my own special space. Boo-hoo-hoo. (Babies don't say boo-hoo-hoo! Who came up with that?) WAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! There, that's better. Life is sooooo hard, and the world's tiniest violin is playing a special tune, just for me and my first world problems.

No, really. I hear it somewhere in the distance.

Oh, that's just my ringtone? Another phone call I'm ignoring? Another voice mail I will reluctantly retrieve later with another little job I will promptly forget to do after jotting it down on another little piece of paper which will vanish into the ether (or more likely the mountainous paper pile that feels like it follows me around at all times, invisible, but there. Can to-do lists come back to haunt you if you've killed them without actually completing all the items? If so, I am so fucked.).

Basically, I'm drowning here. But it's Friday and lack of sleep along with a serious case of weekend-itis, topped off with an over-consumption of caffeine, has made me a little loopy. So rather than focus on the drowning, I would like to throw on some of those little arm floaties (they should fit my wrists; my upper arms are looking a little linebacker-esque these days and have no desire to be squished into floaties, adding indignity to the drowning! Plus fat floats, so they should be fine!) and call it a pool party.

Wanna come? Thomas the Tank Engine will be there, click-clacking down the track! He's going to Knapford Station! We'll have a lil' hip-hop dance party (Can't stop! Don't stop! Won't stop! Get it! Get it!)! And all the while, the world's tiniest violin will be playing in the background.

Pour yourself a drink! Toss it back and think of me! Nah, none for me, thanks, I can't afford to be hungover; my to-do list is ten miles long. You're going to have to party for the both of us.

Are you up for this challenge? I'm thinking it might require shots (for you, of course. I hate shots, but these are desperate times, and desperate measures might be required. Again: for you. I have quite enough desperation already, thankyouverymuch).

I would love to say I'll be napping while you do your party duty, but I'm pretty sure that won't be happening. If there's one thing I know, it's that: Life?

Can't stop! Don't stop! Won't stop!

Get it! Get it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Christ Is In All of Us, Right?

After a long and stressful day at work I came home to change my daughter's explosive diaper. Noticing how far up her back it had travelled, how infinitesimally close it was to staining her freshly washed onesie, I was heard to utter the Lord's name in vain.

Of course the almost-three year old picked up on it. Of course.

You said 'Christ', Mommy?

Eager to correct my errant ways, or at least cover my ass for the time being, I replied: I did. I said a prayer to God. I'm asking 'Christ, please help me clean this mess'. (I take a generous view of those of us calling on the Lord in less than orthodox ways.)

My son, ever certain of his exalted place in the world, responded to my plea: No Mommy, not right now. I don't want to help.

Well, thanks anyway, kid. I wasn't previously aware of your divinity. Perhaps you can nip your sister's explosive diapers in the bud and we'll have more time for your regularly occurring temper tantrums there, Jesus Himself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Personal and the Political

Osama Bin Laden was killed last night.

* * *

I had already gone to bed by the time it was announced. The only conversation I had later in the night was with my husband, who woke me up to ask why I always leave the unfolded laundry on his side of the bed. I mumbled something in response; I don't know what I said; I don't know why I always leave the unfolded laundry on his side of the bed. It may well be that I leave it on my side, snuggle in underneath it, and gradually kick it over to his side as I get overheated. Or maybe I pour it onto his side straight from the basket? I don't know. I don't pay much attention to the laundry, to tell you the truth, even though it's my chore and I do it. I do it quickly. Half-assed. It's how I'm doing almost everything these days.

* * *

So Osama is dead and the laundry is -again- unfolded.

* * *

I found out this morning. I was standing at the kitchen counter debating between peanut butter and jelly on a deli round versus chopped chicken breast and a slice of whole grain (for my son; I'm eating chicken quinoa soup this week), and all of a sudden my husband says: Osama Bin Laden is dead.

It's not even like it was the first thing he said to me! We had already talked about the water pressure in the shower and the whole unfolded laundry issue. I had semi-apologized, while at the same time noting that we really have no workable system for our laundry. He had simultaneously grumbled at my poor laundry-putting-away skills and grunted acknowledgement that Martha Stewart herself would battle with our poorly-developed laundry system.

And then it's pb&j versus grilled chicken and: Osama Bin Laden is dead.

* * *

Did I brag on this blog about how my two-month baby was sleeping through the night? I can't remember if I said it here or on facebook, but I knew -even as I typed each foolhardy letter- that bragging about your sleeping baby to the internets was just asking for trouble.

And sure enough, it hasn't lasted. My four month old could use some lessons from two months ago. Ah well, it'll come and it'll go. Sleep, that wily bastard. She's too busy chewing her hands and drooling enough to soak her tops straight through.

On the other hand, my daughter? The teething, awake-far-too-often one? She's a riot! She is the grinniest and giggliest thing I've ever met, but when she wants something she just goes ahead and yells out whatever it is in her loudest, most demanding voice, and the rest of us pretty much step to it. And then she laughs at us.

I adore her!

* * *

So Osama is dead, and the laundry's unfolded and my daughter's teeth are teasing us all with their elusive presence, and what she lacks in sleep she makes up for in magnificent smiles, looking coyly up at me from the breast and giggling that hoarse baby giggle that sounds like it should come from the lungs of a long-time smoker.

* * *

I wonder if Osama Bin Laden's mother breastfed, if he ever suckled, hungry and innocent at someone's breast, if he laughed. I wonder if someone held him, loved him beyond measure when he was just four months old.

Where is she now?

Can you imagine?

I don't think I can.

* * *

September 11, 2001 was my first day teaching preschool in conjunction with the local school district. All I could think of later was how much time, effort and energy had gone into planning and preparing for that first day of school. While I had been doing that, other people were planning and preparing for 9/11. It all seemed so incomprehensible.

We watched it on our neighbor's TV because we didn't have one. They had NASCAR decor in the dining room and made vaguely racist comments about their daughter's failure to win the public school talent show. Still, they seemed mostly goodhearted.

We lived above an African imports store, which was short-lived, and a long-time beauty shop. We were only blocks from one of the natural wonders of the world, but already neck-deep in poverty, crackheads in the alleys, unlocked cars picked over in minutes.

We lived in my hometown, which I loved and hated in equal measure. It was just over a year after we got married. The fall before I had walked to the Convention Center two blocks from our apartment to vote, early in the morning, before work. I walked the same direction to get to the local newspaper, where I stopped in on my lunch break one day to drop off our wedding announcement, that same fall as the election. The fall before the planes crashed on the first day of school.

* * *

I'm listening to the radio in the car in the morning. After a certain time it becomes clear that all the information they have has been imparted. Facts are repeated. This is what we do. We keep talking when there is nothing more to say.

My son says, from the backseat: I don't want any more talking on this radio, Mommy.

Do you want music? I ask, my hand hovering over the scan button, ready to run through stations until we find a song we like.

No, he says, I would like quiet, please.

I turn the radio off and we drive in silence through the rain. Trees are budding green all around us, and daffodils, crocuses and tulips are popping up in all the yards. My children are warm, dry, and safe with me for the time being.

I don't know the meaning of life and death. I don't imagine I ever will.

I know the washing sense of relief when your babies are safe. I know how to drive through the green and the rain. I know how to be silent.

And so that's what I do.