Monthly Archives: May 2008

Bunches of Gripes


So I have to gripe here, for a minute. Just lay it out. Just so I don't, you know, say it out loud, or something like that. Although maybe I should. . .

I have one parent that called me at three pm today, saying she was getting off work early, so I didn't need to pick up her kids from the after school program. Okay, well, Marty already went to get them, so you'd better just meet them here, because he's going to show up any minute.

Okay, she says, sounds good. I'm going to make a stop or two first.


It is now almost ten o'clock. At night. And not a word from her. Is this where I call CPS?

Gripe number two.

Boy is supposed to show up at five in the morning. Which means I have to be up and showered, etc, by then. So I'm up, clean, dressed, door's unlocked, all that good stuff you want to do at four in the morning. She doesn't call, doesn't come–UNTIL THREE PM.

Oh, hey, I say to her. I thought you were working at five.

Yeah, she laughs. Me too! But they changed me to the swing shift yesterday.

(And you didn't call????!!!!

You think I get up at four for fun, and then I stay up until midnight when your oh-so-amusing shift change has run it's course?)

You know what? The thing that gets me is that I didn't think or say any of that at the time. I have to be relating the story to someone else for the indignity to really register. I just take it, and take it, and here I am, at your service, twentyfour hours a day, six days a week. Fifty two weeks a year.

Gripe number three, four, and five. All from different families. 

You don't show up for a week and a half. Then show up again, without any explanation. Or say you washed your cell phone. Or the kids were sick. And just expect me to be here, waiting, with an empty spot for your child. 

You show up, then on your way out the door, say, oh, she vomitted this morning, but I think she's fine.

You call me and accuse me of ridiculous things, horrible things, because your child has symptoms that your doctor has told you, repeatedly, are in consequence of your own behavior and parenting style.  And then you show up two days later, sweet as sugar and expect me to have just swallowed the accusations, to stand here and keep smiling at you and your child, welcome them back in, no questions asked. You tell me what the doctor said, what dietary changes we're going to make, that I already suggested, and no appology for your behavior. Act like we never had those one sided phone conversations.

Because I do.

I smile at you when you come in, seven hours now, after your shift ends, and I ask you how your day went. And did you find any good deals at Fashion Bug? Yes, that's a great shirt. I sit here, my hands poised over the blog in which I am lambasting you with such venom, and I smile at you and make small talk about your night on the town.

Hypocrite, me. Don't trust my smiles, my good will. You don't know what lies beneath.

Am I?

Maybe the real me is the one who takes the crap and just bounces back. Maybe the me that's typing this is just the tired, disillusioned mortal talking. Because when I smile at you and take your baby off your hip and talk to you about your day when my own has been unspeakable, when I don't point out all your thoughtless behavior–that feels right to me, when I'm doing it.

It's just all such a contradiction. That I can see how ridiculous and thoughtless people are, and yet not let it bother me enough to do anything about it. It seems like I should. But then when I imagine doing anything, it just seems as ridiculous as their behavior. Moreso, because I know better.  

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Memorial Day

Six days ago!

How has it been six days since I wrote. See, this is why I always lose my journal–I think I just wrote in it yesterday so it has to be right . . . here. And I can never find the thing. Pretty hard to lose my computer.

We went up to Leavenworth–a little Barvarian village Northwest (ish) of Wenatchee–for Memorial day. Not too bad of a drive–if you disregard the child who had sulfur burps. You know what I'm talking about. How that much gas can come out of one animal is a mystery to me. Incredible. All the way up, all the way back. You couldn't even talk to this kid without wincing. And then you'd feel bad because of course everyone was on them, every time. Oooh!, they burped again! Open the windows! Poor kid, not like they had any control over it.

Went up Icicle creek/river/canyon, whatever it's called. Aunt Sandra says it's a great place to swim. I think she probably meant some time during the month of August, not during May flooding. It was beautiful, though, and we hiked around. Marty even took the kids up some seriously big cliffs that had me more than a little on edge, so they could look down on the raging torrent below.

I thought, seriously, if somebody falls, we might as well just get back in the van and drive into town, start making funeral plans, because they aren't going to survive. I uploaded all the pictures to facebook. Well, not all. But some.  

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Kimber, what are those buttons for?

Well, this one washes big pots and pans, this one (now imagine trying to describe in minute detail to a four year old all the workings of your dishwasher, at five o'clock in the morning)


Well, then I don't have to wash them in the sink.

Can you read me the buttons again?

(Repeat, several times.)

What's this for?

That's a mixer.

What does it do?

It mixes things.

Like what?

Whatever you want to put in it.

Oh, I get it, so whatever I want, I just turn it on, and it makes it.

Well, no, it's a mixer, not a maker.

What if you put a banana in it?

It would probably get mushy.

What's mushy?

Soft. Squishy.

OH! (jumps on the couch) Like this cushion. How would a banana get as big as a cushion?

Mmmm. Well, mushy means soft and squishy and wet. Gooey.

Ooh. Yuck. Will this loaf of bread get mushy if you put it in?


What will happen?

It will turn to crumbs.

How do you know?

I just do.

Where's the kids?

In bed still.


They live here. This is where they sleep.


I'm their Mom. This is their house.

You're not a mom, you're a babysitter.

I'm both.

Why are you their mom?

Because I love them.


That's what Moms do. They love their kids.

But what about that big giant girl? Why are you her mom?

Wow. All I can say is, wow. He never stops. All day, why? Why? When? How? They say this is a sign of a scientific mind.

It amazes me how different children will act for their own parents. They can be angels (noisy, messy, obnoxious, but angels) all day and then their parent comes in the door and it is immediate meltdown. They want their shoes a certain way, or their socks unrolled or whatever it is, and they throw these gargantuan tantrums. Why is that? Do they just not trust me enough to be themselves here? Or do they just know I'm going to ignore the bad behavior? Not sure, but there are a few that really have their parent's numbers, I tell you what.


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Pocket full of Pollys

Naptime. Everyone is laying down. Grace, who is four, keeps getting up and messing with something in her pocket.

Me: Grace, why do you keep getting up, what are you doing?

Grace: When I lay down, they keep coming out.

Me: What keeps coming out?

Grace: The roly-polys. Maybe I should take them outside.

She had eight live potato bugs in her pocket. Plus various other bits and pieces of ones that didn't fare so well.

Charles sits up. Lets me know that he smashed all his, so he "wouldn't have to carry them anymore".

Ahhhh. And I thought they were playing some kind of money game with bits of gravel. Now we use bugs for currency.

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Everyone is gone.

The laundry is almost done. Speaking of which. I'm not all that convinced that these new (really expensive) laundry machines are all they are cracked up to be. That or I just need to learn to use a new machine.

I could go to bed.

I had this epiphany tonight, however. I was washing off the table with one hand. I know you've been there–bending at the knees to reach the table, trying to keep the baby against your shoulder.   Winslow is in the tub, two hours after bed time, having a grand experience. All the beds are stripped still from laundering.  

I consider asking someone to make up the beds–but I know I will end up doing it anyway. So I ask someone to help Winslow get out, get his pj's on, and brush his teeth. This, of course, is heard as a request to simply relay the message that Mom says it is time to get out and brush teeth.

So I am putting mattress covers and sheets back onto beds, baby is crying, and Winslow is hollering at me that his pj's are not in his drawer, so I find them. Now they are inside out, will you fix this, etc.

First of all, why do I just stew over it, and then do it all myself? Why can't I say, hey, I asked you to do this thing for me. I really need some help. Or maybe. Would you rather put these sheets on, or hold Dustin, while I help Winslow? See, that would be a good way to phrase it.  But I don't. For fifteen years, I've just done it myself. 

So now that I'm finally saying, hey, I need some help, how can I really blame anyone for not getting it? They have no clue what I really mean when I say clean your room or get the kid out of the tub–I've always done it all, and made it look easy, because I'll be darned if I'm going to let you see that I'm ready to crack, that I'm so tired I want to sit down, right here in the middle of the Walmart parking lot and cry because I don't think I can get these carts up the incline to the van. (Do all Walmarts pave their lots that way, or is it just Moses Lake?) 

Honestly, it's not pride, so much as. . .

I don't want to criticize, you know? I don't want to be that wife or mother that's always nagging, or complaining, ordering people around. Peace at all costs.  I don't want you to think that it's your fault that I'm exhausted, or that I'm upset with you for being thoughtless; so I pretend like you're not, even when you absolutely are. And so you think I like this–doing everything my way, on my schedule. You think you are being helpful by staying out of the way. And here I am, smiling at you, praying fervently for the strength to love you across such a vast distance. 

I realized that I tend to not ask people to do things until I am desparate–until they needed doing ten minutes ago, and then I get uptight when the person doesn't jump off like a shot and go and do. After all, if it didn't need doing RIGHT NOW, I'd do it myself. Poor planning on my part does not constitute an emergency on anyone else's part, I know, I know. I also realized that I don't ask people to do the simple things that would help so much because . . . it isn't THAT much harder to do it myself. Like. If you were running a marathon, and you asked someone to carry you the last three yards. You wouldn't, even if you were staggering and blinded with exhaustion, you'd go those last few steps, because you've come all this way yourself already, right?  Now that's pride.


Should I wake up tomorrow and the floor was mopped, the laundry folded, and you'd brushed your teeth. Would I let on how huge a relief it is for you to have done such a thing? Do I throw my arms around you and burst into tears, and let you know that I wasn't sure I could drag myself one more step until I saw what you had done for me?

No. Because . . .

Because . . .you might feel bad that you don't do it more regularly? You might know that I'm not sure I can make it even one more day, and you might feel bad for letting me carry this load alone for so long. And so I'll smile and make light of it, and thank you, but not too profusely, and you will feel cheated, because you wanted to make a grand gesture, you wanted to be needed, and now you know, you're just as inconsequential  as you expected.  

I don't know, people. I think I've dug myself quite a hole. Even recognizing this thought process for what it is, I don't think I have the will power to change it. Tomorrow, I will be making a bottle, and the phone will ring, and someone will run out of toilet paper, and you will be sitting in the only chair in the room, with your feet in the air, singing a song, and I will not ask you to move. I will wedge the phone between my left shoulder and my ear and straighten out the insurance mess while I tear open the TP package with my teeth, replace the roll, and wipe the behind with one hand;  I will sit on the floor while I feed the baby, and I will ask you how your day went. And I hope you will know that I really mean it. Even if ten people interupt us, and the phone rings six more times and the baby vomits and I have to get up before you get to the punchline. I want to know that you're happy. And I'm sitting on the floor because I want you to be so comfortable in my chair, that you never want to leave, that you will  stay there and talk to me all day if you want. Because I love you, and if I don't make you feel needed, or wanted, it's just that I don't know how. That's who I am. And I'm sorry. 


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The Frisbee chair

I have an idea.

Why doesn't someone invent a sort of hovercraft to sit on that zooms into place at specified times during the day, then zooms itself over to the sink for a quick rinse off, then into the cabinet until the next meal? Brilliant, I know. If only because if you didn't come for dinner when called, you might not have a seat when you finally get around to showing up. Hehehe.

Mom wouldn't have to sweep or mop around 36+ legs three times a day. Nobody could tip them over, or climb onto them to reach things they shouldn't. They would automatically adjust for height. I'm telling you, the American household would never be the same.


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You know, I've never had to test the theory, but I have always thought that if anyone I knew died, ANYONE, I could look at that death and say, hey, they are in a better place. Lucky them. Logically that makes sense to me.

So why did Mirra's funeral affect me so profoundly last night? I sat there just trying to breathe, through most of it. And afterward, I wanted to sit there in the parking lot and cry–sob, like I was thirteen years old.  If I was alone, I probably would have. As it was, I put on my sunglasses and tried not to vomit.

There is this thought. Very little to do with the maelstrom I successfully repressed last night. But has been niggling all day.

When a child dies in infancy, it is enough to say you loved them, that you felt their spirit, and loved them. People get that. Your heart and your mind get that. You are overwhelmed and awed and dumbfounded by the depth of it.


What if this child died ten or thirty or sixty years into his life, what then? Is it still enough to say, I loved him? Or do I want to say he made me laugh or mowed my lawn every week when I was sick, and blush to consider his faults? Do I love him less, because I know him more? Has his value decreased because he has grown and progressed and his skin has outgrown my own and shelters secret joys and pain and longings I cannot comprehend?

I think I have been trying to love grown and semi-grown people because of what they do for me, or I for them. Or what I hope they one day will do. 

Why do you love the ones you love? Really. I haven't been able to define that for myself. But it's bothering me. 

Not as much as the fact that I haven't been able to use the bathroom once today because Dustin gets hysterical if I set him down. Well. That's not true. He's hysterical right now, because although I have him on my lap, he does not have my undivided attention. So I could concievably set him on the floor and let him be hysterical there instead, while I use the bathroom for thirty seconds. But his mother has been due to arrive any minute for the last hour, and I, deciever that I am, do not want her to walk in while he is hysterical and by himself on the floor. It's all about appearances. And kidney damage. 


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