The back-to-school honeymoon we enjoyed in those fresh-faced few weeks of summer is clearly over. We are swimming in the deep-end now. We are in full-on homework agony. The scheduling squeezes of after-school clubs are putting a vice-grip squeeze on us now. The once sparkly-new, back-to-school tennis shoes have turned into worn-down stinkers that fill the mudroom with an aroma worthy of a Febreeze commercial.
I work in a cubicle farm. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. My cube is larger than most I’ve seen on television. That’s a plus, I suppose. Although the way my computer is situated in the corner, I cannot see people walk up behind me. Others in the farm have mounted mirrors to the left and right of their computer screens, so they are alerted when someone is behind them. It’s a little long-distance truck driver for me, but it must work. They are never caught by surprise. Last week, I carried on an entire conversation with a co-worker while she looked at me in her rear-view mirror. It was a little off-putting.
Working in a cubicle makes me feel like a little girl who has been put in the corner for punishment. Being sentenced to standing in the corner was a big deal when I was little, it was a space I wanted to escape quickly! As a grown up with a family that needs relatively affordable group health insurance, you learn to sit in the corner. With a smile. All. Day. Long.
Just like nearly every other woman I know, tonight after I got home from my full-time job, I started my second full-time job. On this particular evening, in addition to the typical routine: supper prep, supper clean-up, laundry, and homework assistance, I also peeled 8 pounds of russet baking potatoes.
Loaded baked potato casserole is one of the essential side items requested for Colin’s birthday dinner. The menu also includes fish sticks with honey mustard on the side, steamed broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and something he calls ranch salad. The recipe for ranch salad for those who are curious: chopped iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing, and croutons. For dessert, he’s asked for a Dairy Queen ice cream cake. I’ve got this.
“Mama, I’m hungry.” If I had a quarter for every time this was bellowed down our hallway, whispered into my ear, or declared aloud at the exact moment I finally sat down from any number of chores, I’d be a millionaire.
After nearly two weeks at home over the holidays with my boys, I’m convinced one of the reasons I am not a millionaire is because Jamie and I feed two children every three hours. They go through food like a buzzsaw through plywood.
Things were getting better. The initial shock was wearing off, and folks were busy with clean up, insurance, estimates, adjusters, livestock, crop evaluations. There was still no power, but we were all making do. It’s amazing how clean you can get with a bottle of water and a washcloth.
Out at Mama and Daddy’s the “Little House on the Prairie” camp was working so well, they reported they “lacked for nothing.” A friend had come by with a chainsaw and made fast work of the few trees still down, doing in 30 minutes what was taking hours for us to do with a band-saw and a hatchet. Now, Daddy’s primary concern was the pecan tree balanced on top of the gas tank in the backyard. “What if it explodes?” I asked. “Well, I guess we’ll find out,” he answered.
Sunday brings with it the promise of a fresh start, an opportunity for change, a new way forward. Sunday’s place on the calendar is consistent. For centuries, it has come once every six days and follows Saturday. No surprises.
Sunday, unlike the other six days of the week, is rumored to be a day of rest. I’m not sure for whom that is true, but that is beside the point. Although considered the first day of the week, it is the final day before a five day stretch of the haram-scaram, free-for-all otherwise known as our normal Monday-Friday routine.
For whatever reason (theories abound) I frequently overlook the fact that just like every other day, Sunday is made up of only 24 hours. For it is on Sunday that I try to jam as much as possible into the handful of hours allotted before Monday morning.
You know, marriage and motherhood is a funny thing. If you stick with it long enough, eventually you will experience surreal moments that can best be described as out-of-body experiences. Moments that leave you wondering, “How did I get here? Who am I?”
In my wildest imagination, I would have never believed that one day I would find myself ring-side at a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) wrestling match. And yet, that’s exactly how I spent Saturday night.
Hoss and Nana are “big city” grandparents. They live about four hours away from us, so they don’t get to spend as much time with the children as they’d like, but summertime means special trips and changes in scenery. So, last week the boys were camping with them in north Georgia.
With both Jamie and me working fulltime, the boys’ school breaks would be very difficult to manage if we didn’t have grandparents as willing volunteers to “keep” them. It’s special when they can go to Atlanta, too. It’s good for them to get away from us and their old routine.
Selfishly, I also appreciate the time gifted to just Jamie and me. As I often do, I romanticize the week without children. I imagine we will read our favorite books in the living room, television turned off, gazing at each other lovingly in the silence. Or, binge-watch “Downton Abbey” in our pajamas and eat take-out. Maybe we could pack a picnic and go out to the farm, where the stars really shine and sip chilled wine and talk in the quiet.
I don’t like leaving my office during the day.
First of all, it’s South Georgia in July. So, I may as well be living on the surface of a very humid sun. For example, I straightened my hair this morning before work. Then, I walked the dog which took all of about seven minutes. I put Paisley back inside, grabbed my keys and purse and just happened to catch a quick glance of myself in the reflection of the oven door. Roseanne Roseannadanna has nothing on me. Ponytail it is!
“Babe, we might have to call somebody,” I said, using the small, quiet, whispery voice I use when I’m breaking bad news. After the thorough cleaning I’d already given it, the smell emanating from the refrigerator should’ve disappeared, but it hadn’t. Within 24 hours it had gone from curious and off-putting to unbearable, and I was convinced, potentially toxic.