With my children being the ages they are, my days are fairly manageable. The older one is in school between the hours of 8 and 3, and this leaves me with just the baby. She is not too difficult as long as we stick to the routine — a morning nap, lunchtime, and some afternoon playtime. And I usually have no problem getting my work done within this routine.
It’s when both of the kids are together that things start to unravel and I feel the strong desire to do what David Sedaris describes his mother doing to him and his sisters one winter in North Carolina. (See “Let It Snow” in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.)
He prefaces the event by explaining that an out-of-the-ordinary snowstorm kept the five of them at home for several days.
As Sedaris relates, “Our presence had disrupted the secret life she led while we were at school, and when she could no longer take it she threw us out. It wasn’t a gentle request, but something closer to an eviction. ‘Get the hell out of my house,’ she said. We reminded her that it was our house, too, and she opened the front door and shoved us into the carport. ‘And stay out!’ she shouted.”
Sedaris is one of my favorite humorists. I have to read his works when I am alone because his autobiographical depictions of life usually have me rolling. And although I really have nothing in common with the man, I can somehow relate. In this case, I can certainly relate to his poor mother.
Her kids, who are normally in school, are suddenly there with nothing to do for five days straight. Last year, my daughter had to stay home for three days, and by the fourth, I was more than ready for her to go back. And this was with the man at home to help out. This woman had no help, so her next course of action almost seems inevitable.
As Sedaris tells it, he and his sisters played for a while and then returned to the house. But mom is not ready to let them back in.
Sedaris continues, “Normally she waited until five o’clock to have a drink, but for the past few days she’d been making an exception. Drinking didn’t count if you followed a glass of wine with a cup of coffee, and so she had both a goblet and a mug positioned before her on the countertop.”
Seems reasonable to me. I usually wait until the kids are in bed to have my drink (or two), but there are definitely days when I eye the bottle of wine on the counter or the beer in the fridge during their waking hours. And if I’ve had a particularly rough afternoon, I will start the drink I’m going to have with dinner (because it doesn’t count with food) while I’m preparing the meal. That way, I’m not really doing anything I wouldn’t have done anyway. I’ve just gotten an early start. The logic is the same, right?
As I write this, the house is quiet. The baby is taking an uncharacteristic after lunch nap, and the older one is still at school. That will all change in a matter of hours. And, lucky me, this afternoon and into the evening, I will be on my own.
So if you come peeking into my window (which would make you crazier than me), you may find me in much the same state as Sedaris’ mother. Only I may skip the coffee and pour the wine directly into the mug.