Tuesday, December 14, 2010

this is what it's like.

Dear Lissa of 10 years hence,

Here is what your life is like right now.

4 am: 2-year-old is up for the day. There will be no more sleep for you. Finally you accept this and get up, tossing the bedding into a furious pile in a fit of pique when you realize it is keeping you from opening the refrigerator. Remember that? You lived in a really, really small house.

4:30 am: to keep from screaming at your exhausted, whiny, runny-nosed infant and his propensity for throwing various glasses of fluid all over everything after taking just one sip and then begging piteously for another glass of a different kind of fluid until finally you cave and yup, he tosses that one all over everything too, you stand in horse and do grim-faced kung fu, looking at yourself in the mirror and telling your purple-eyed saggy haggard face that all of this is your own fault and just deal with it.

5 am: wipe up large puddles of various kinds of fluids from floor. Throw cloths in a pile of similar cloths from yesterday that already smell mildewy. Add laundry to your list of things-to-do-ha-ha-yeah-right. Begin to wash accumulated dishes while child whines for attention. Giggle sarcastically to self as you remember what a Waldorfy fairyland mom you thought you were going to be, child playing with little lacquered acorns on a radiant-heated wood floor by the fire while you played lute to welcome the morning. Betcha never thought you'd be pretending not to hear your kid, green stuff running down his face, begging for a cookie at 5 in the morning. Or that you'd growl at him under your breath "you're supposed to be ASLEEP you horrid little beast. I can't believe you think it's okay to ask me for ANYTHING right now."

6 am: Cook egg that child does not eat. Make juice that child will not drink. Run a large bubble bath and plunk disgustingly green child in it. Sit next to tub with head in hands and try not to fall asleep.

6:30 am: ignore large pile of new dishes, large pile of toys, and pile of bedding. This is difficult to do because it is a small house and these piles are very prominent. So it takes a half an hour.

7 am: read story after story to child in hopes that he will take an early nap. No dice.

8 am: Anainn's favorite toy horse breaks a leg. Rummage through bin-o-toys and find dismembered plastic paw from some action hero or other. Hot glue it into place.

8:15 am: get out paints to finish painting holiday cards. child has lots of fun. change child's clothes for 3rd time in 2 hours and add to the accumulating lifeform in the hamper.

8:30 am: plunk child into stroller and walk to Target to buy bike pump to inflate tires so that I can ride bike to pick up Xir later in the day. (Old bike pump did not survive game Xir invented in which it featured as some kind of "bad dinosaur" that eventually gets its comeuppance via decapitation.) Get heebie-jeebies from horrible plastic-scented fluorescent-lit store but nevertheless buy a lot of things. (Warm clothes for the boys, on sale. Little toys and coloring books for a long upcoming plane ride. A garter belt. (it was on clearance!) oh yeah. A bike pump.)

10:00 am. Pump up tires. pack toys, snacks, water, rainclothes, reflective vest for when I bike home at night...have I forgotten anything? Pop baby into bike seat, adjust his harness, put his helmet on, lock gate. Oh no, I forgot my phone. Take off baby's helmet, unstrap his harness, lift him out, unlock gate, get phone. Repeat.

10:30 am. Stop by library to drop off overdue books. Read a few stories to Anainn, remind him for about 20 minutes, fruitlessly, that libraries are quiet places, finally give up and leave.
Bike across town.

12:20 pm. Reach Brentwood and stop to play in a park and have lunch. Exhausted child swings and sobs, slides and sobs, digs in sand and sobs. Staggers facefirst into a bench and I have to make him a plantain poultice. Why do I feel dizzy? Oh yeah, I haven't eaten or drunk anything all day. Shoot. Forgot to pack lunch for self.

1:15 pm. Burst into tears as I pull up at Anainn's father's house to drop him off. All my annoyance with his whininess and refusal to sleep is forgotten. I sit on the wall and hold him in my lap with his warm little cheek pressed up against mine. It is only a day, I tell myself. Only a day, only a day. "Do you want to go in and see your Baba now?" I whisper. "No," he whispers back.

1:30 pm. Pull self together and walk to Xir's school to pick him up. Put on lip balm in hopes that my shiny lips will distract those other, non-divorced mothers from my bloodshot snotty-nosed custody-transfer face.

1:40 pm. Walk to library with happy, chatty Xir. Manage to read him two books in the short time we have together, but on the way home he stops walking and won't budge. "My legs are too tired, Mama." Try not to panic. Have to be at school half-hour away to teach class in 25 minutes. Finally put my backpack on my front, put his backpack on his back, and lift that 80-pound sucker right up into a piggyback. Stagger the final mile back to his father's house under what has to be, total, a 95 lb. load. Xir is so happy. (In his defense, he's been quite sick for a few days.) Why am I so dizzy? Oh yeah, I've been awake since four, have been on the move all day, and STILL haven't eaten or drunk anything. Must remedy this. But first must have second breakdown of day when drop Xir off.

2:55 pm. Sniffle as I bike hell-for-leather into Santa Monica. I'll see him tomorrow, I'll see him tomorrow, I'll see him tomorrow.

3:14 pm. Sweating like a pig, I show up at the gate a whole minute early! My class of eight girls are raring to go. Total chaos ensues. Art is made. Room is trashed. It's by far the easiest part of my day.

5:35 pm. Finish cleanup. pop on reflective vest for ride home (thank goodness I remembered it, lo these many hours ago!) Bike home to culver city.

6:30 pm. Why am I so dizzy? Must be the 6 miles of secondhand marijuana I inhaled biking down Venice boulevard. Oh wait, did I ever eat anything?

7:oo pm. Decide to write down the course of the day in order to understand why it was that I went all day without eating. In writing it down, realize that my older self probably would never have remembered quite how involved life was in these days when the kids were small if I didn't take the time to write down even the insignificant details. In writing it down, realize that I FUCKING ROCK, even though I'm not quite as Waldorfy as I'd once hoped. I need to tell myself that more often. Oh yeah, and did I mention that halfway through the day I got my period unexpectedly? Fortunately we were still on the Ballona Creek bike trail at that point, where there are cattails, the down of which makes a lovely impromptu pad. Whew.

Now I am going to eat dinner.


  1. You absolutely ROCK and are so inspiring and lovely! Also, I too, suffer from post envy, usually after reading YOUR posts! I amazed at what you are able to accomplish... And that you bike while doing it! I gave up my bike after Charlie was born!!! You ROCK!!!

  2. Bravo! You do rock.
    If you want, I can teach you to ALWAYS have food on your mind so you'll never go a day without remembering to eat. :)
    And cattails as pads?! You're an earth-mama-genius!
    xo t