I’m not allowed to tell very much about my typical day, seeing as I’ve taken the Housewife’s Pledge of Double Secrecy, but I can tell you this: The days are getting shorter.
I’m not talking about Daylight Savings Time or turning back the clocks, the sun, moon or the tides. I’m talking about how much I can get done from the time the last kid leaves the house in the morning to the time the first kid comes home from school in the afternoon.
It has something to do with the number of years I’ve been at home without a real job. If I made a chart, there would be a scraggly line going down like a child’s drawing of an Alp. The days have gotten markedly shorter since I first became a stay-at-home mom.
The first year, it was heaven. I woke up that first morning of no daycare/no career, saw that my son had the sniffles and had made up three different lies about why I had to miss work (including seriously considering a self-inflicted gunshot wound) before I realized I didn’t have a job to go to. Wow! I could stay home all day wiping snot with a Kleenex and no one will care! That day I cleaned our entire house, washed the windows inside and out, baked four loaves of homemade bread, did two years worth of Christmas shopping, wrote and directed a Sleeping Beauty play, did seven loads of laundry, reorganized the Ninja Turtles by degrees of evilness, made a needlepoint pillow and set beer traps for the slugs in the herb garden that I planted.
Cut to yesterday, 17 years later. I woke up, drove the kids to school, walked back and forth in front of the kitchen cabinets a couple times, went to the bathroom, let the dog out, checked the clock and – oops! Six o’clock! Time to go get somebody from cross country practice.
Some days go so fast I can’t even mark anything off a list. And for a list slave like myself, that’s really, really bad.
One day a few months ago my husband innocently asked me what I did that day. An innocuous question, but I struggled with my answer. I had spent the day doing the following:
* Looked up the phone number for the lawn fertilizing guys, but was distracted by a slip of paper I found in the phone book that said, “Diane - don’t forget 11/9 trist varble NIMPS!” and forgot why I had the phone book out. Spent the next hour trying to decipher and remember what nimps I have to varble on the 9th.
* Mapquested directions to the nearest DMV. While I was on the computer I printed out the soccer team snack schedule and played 25 games of Free Cell. (Okay, I know what you’re thinking . . . Shut up.) Used the last piece of printer paper. Made a mental note to myself to buy more, a note that sprinted through my brain and out one of my ears.
* Drove to the DMV to pick up a driver’s ed booklet for my son. “We’re out,” the guy tells me. “Downtown is out, too. You could try Jessamine County.” I walked around in a circle in the parking lot and then got back in the car.
* Stopped at the shoe repair place to pick up my husband’s shoes. I had no cash and had to write a check for $4.30.
* Headed over to the religious stuff store to look for a baptism gift for my niece, Lilly. After spending 25 minutes trying to get from one end of Nicholasville Road to the other, found a parking place and got in the door. Couldn’t find anything larger than her fist.
* Started cleaning the upstairs, stripped the beds and gathered up dirty towels, then realized I was out of Windex. I decided to avoid the upstairs altogether until tonight when the kids complain they have to sleep on bare mattresses again.
What did I get done today? “I – uh - picked up your shoes!” I told my husband excitedly. He gave me that You’ve-Got-The-Life look and walked away, presumably to check to make sure I really did even that.
I have a recurring dream that I’m trying to run to get away from something. I’m trying so hard to run, but something keeps stopping me. Most nights it’s a garden hose on the ground that I keep tripping over.
Some of my waking hours are like that. I try to get things done, I really do. But I can’t seem to finish anything.
And then there are days that I actually do trip over the actual garden hose. Note to self: Put on list for tomorrow - pick up garden hose.