14 years ago, I was having an existential crisis of the parenting kind. Every day I did amazing things with and for my children and took great pleasure in them, but when things would go a little wonky I would often feel a little tear in the fabric.
Here is an excerpt from my dairy back then:
Wednesday August 30th 2000
Today….oi, today. It started off hot as blazes but we walked to the library anyway. Because we had to get a library card, see. That and our bag of books was due back today. Call me a wimpy, relenting mom for allowing Fi to get her card after only one day (I was making her wait because she had written on the couch, and also because she wasn’t confident she could write in cursive and cried over her attempts), thus making my word unreliable to her. Whatever. She forgot about the 2 day delay anyway by morning, and unless I wanted to make 2 trips to the library this week or pay a $5 late fee (as usual) I had to relent. Especially when I have had only $3 to my name for the week.
We had to throw away the first application, not because Fi couldn’t write her whole name in cursive, but because mom couldn’t be bothered to read the application in advance. I accidentally had her sign the parent section while I signed the applicant section. Oops. Consider that a lesson on the importance of following instructions I informed her. Anyway, Its not like she couldn’t use the practice with her handwriting.
Her shaky, adorable and legible scrawl was greeted with a knowing smile from the normally gruff librarian guy. “Did you get your card?” he asked, handing her the green and white ticket to all human knowledge. She was able to pick out 5 books. She was so excited about this that we forgot to pick up the Baba Yaga book we planned to read.
When we came home, the chaos really took over. I should have recognized it when we got to the library earlier and it wasn’t open yet. Or when the Goodwill wouldn’t take my check. At home, I needed to pump breastmilk for the baby so Ken and I could go on a date later. Not only could I not find the phone number for the babysitter, I also broke the pump somehow.
Then, while making pizza dough for dinner, the bread machine crapped out on me. During quiet time, the phone rang a lot and Fi interrupted my futile attempts to nap at least 3 times until I gave up. So then I decided to go online and do some coupon hunting before I went grocery shopping with Tracie later, but the computer locked up on me. Twice. I cried and tugged my hair. “That sucks!” Fi said by way of sympathy. I asked her not to use such terminology and she looked at me as if I were insane. She was stuck to my heels like gum all day too. Did I mention the mirror fell of the door sometime during all of this?
I was by then feeling freaked and tired, but I read her a whole magazine about crocodiles, a book about rhymes and chants, a book about a brave girl and a book about a wolf who goes to a pig ballet. I even went food shopping, though I was careful not to touch any electronic devices. I made sure Tracie drove.
The sad thing is, I know I yelled too much today. Sure, I made up for it by cutting up lemons, potatoes and star fruit so Fi could stamp paint and make a holy mess in the kitchen. But I couldn’t bear the idea of playing doll house after the day I’d had. And the date with my husband wasn’t going to happen.
Yesterday at the story hour, I met a mom who crystallized my identity crisis for me. She said it was her first visit to story hour. The first rule of story hour is that we don’t talk about story hour. She looked hip and young and seemed smart. She had a 3 and a half year old child and a 2 month old baby. Our kids ages lined up….we could possibly be pals, I thought, and hang out. Then she told me that in one month she would be returning to work. She was an architect.
“Oh great,” I said. Then I was silent because I couldn’t yammer about my return to anything. My future is uncertain.Teacher, homeschooler, tutor, writer? Housewife? Shark hunter? None seemed substantial enough or true enough to impress. Did I want to impress? No, not exactly. But I certainly didn’t want to dull either. I don’t want to be someone in mixed company who elicits no curiosity or queries because who wants to know details about parenting?! About frustrated creativity? I guess I ought to find more outlets for expression, like right here. Its cathartic and ridiculous at the same time.
Even though I yelled too much today, I have another chance tomorrow. I can yell less. Be more fun. Write more. Teach more. Babble less. And tomorrow we are going out to celebrate at the dreaded Chuckie Cheeses. We’re going out to celebrate because our daughter is a published author (that’s another story), a library card holder and an independent reader of one book. And also because we finally got paid and can afford it. Dinner to celebrate was Ken’s idea. The locale was Fi’s choice. She asked “Hey, can we go to Chuckie Cheeses?” We both gave each other strained grinning nods and said “Sure, honey.” She smiled innocently and asked, “Do you know why I picked Chuckie Cheeses? Its because I know you guys really don’t like Mc Donalds that much.”