Archive for the 'parenting' Category

Cleanliness is next to laziness

(IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Before I write this post I’m going to go ahead and state for the record that I love my children and I think they’re all three beautiful special snowflakes and I consider myself very, very lucky to get to stay home with them at this stage in their lives. None of this negates that; I just like to complain.)

(Ahem.)

There are people in my life — childless people, mostly — who think that as a full-time mom, I have a cushy job. I suppose that’s true, empirically — it’s not coal-mining or brain surgery or high-seas piracy; but what it lacks in physical exertion it makes up in emotional fatigue. There is nothing physically demanding about meal-planning or dish-washing or fisticuff-interrupting or fishing coins out of the Wii. But what there is — especially since I’ve gone back to school — is the exhausting feeling of never finishing everything that needs to be done, that everything I do is a compromise, that nothing is getting my best work. I can never achieve Inbox Zero. And there are so many tasks that undo themselves as soon as I’ve done them — meals get eaten, dishes get dirtied, somebody pees on the toilet seat. (Whoever decided to put hinges on toilets obviously was unfamiliar with the urinary habits of little boys.) As soon as I’ve vacuumed, there are cheerios and play-doh crumbs in the carpet again.

And the laundry.

Laundry is my nemesis. I can get our dirty clothes washed and dried, but that’s where the process falls apart for me. After that, laundry ends up piled in the corner of the living room, waiting for me to fold it and put it away. Every morning, the boys can’t get ready for school because they don’t have any underwear or pants or socks or whatever in their dressers, and I have to dig through the mountain of clean laundry to find them some. And this usually occurs before I’ve had my coffee, so just imagine my pain.

So a few weeks ago I decided the laundry situation had become untenable. There was simply no way I was going to manage to fold everything and put it away, and because I was holding out on dealing with the pile until I had time to actually see the process through to completion, it was getting completely out of control. The giant mountain of clean clothes was growing past the point of being surmountable. It was littered with the frozen bodies of sherpas. I had to admit defeat.

I waved the white flag, which turned out to be a pair of briefs with Spider-Man on the butt.

So I bought a stack of laundry baskets. I designated one for each family member. And I sorted the pile of clothes into the baskets. Without folding. And then I put each basket in front of its corresponding dresser. And now when someone needs clothes, they can rummage through their very own laundry basket and find themselves something to wear.

It will probably be wrinkled. But I will not have to find it for them.

This new laundry method will not pass the Martha Test. In fact I suppose it’s less a “shortcut” than a “significant lowering of standards.” But with all the time I’ve saved myself, I can now sit on my couch and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas, because I am a queen of domestic efficiency.

Forty

How’s this for crazy: Peter is 40 weeks old today. Given that I was 39 weeks and 2 days pregnant when he was born, he has actually been outside my body longer than he was in it. Crazy.

If I’d somehow managed to get pregnant the day Peter was born, I’d be in labor right now. Also slitting my wrists, but that’s beside the point.

All day I’ve been thinking things like, Forty weeks ago right this minute I was sitting in my hospital bed, waiting for the pitocin drip to cause contractions that were more than mildly uncomfortable. And I sure am glad that this time forty weeks ago I let that nurse talk me into getting that epidural before they broke my water. Closely followed by, I sure am glad that epidural worked. I could kiss modern medical technology on the mouth.

Also, Forty-one weeks ago, I was using the word “cervix” a lot, even in mixed company.

Forty weeks ago, as of 1:30 this afternoon, I was being handed a wriggling purple bundle.

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Here’s what that wriggling purple bundle looked like once he’d been cleaned up and swaddled within an inch of his life:

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It’s so hard to believe it’s been forty weeks since my wee baby was that wee. In the intervening forty weeks, my baby has learned to roll, sit, crawl, stand. He can open the kitchen cabinet and take out all the pots and pans. He can eat whole peas and excrete them intact.

He can smile, laugh, play, kiss, cuddle. He is heartwrenchingly cute.

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People love to tell new parents to enjoy their children while they’re young, because they grow up so quickly. It’s a cliche that makes me roll my eyes, but I found myself saying it to a friend the other day: They grow up so fast. You blink and they’re huge. Then I apologized, and punched myself in the teeth for good measure.

But oh, how it’s true. I mean, look at him:

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He’s not my little baby anymore! Well, okay, he’s still my baby. But he’s not my tiny purple newborn anymore!

Parenting is so strange, so full of times that your heart is clenching in sadness and happiness all at once. And it goes so fast.

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