Monday, November 16, 2009

Nature, Vacuums, Kitties, and Sundry Things

My week started to go awry on a Wednesday, when my son was scheduled for his 2.5-year check-up.  Our "pediatrician" is one of those mega-offices employing two dozen practitioners in half a dozen different offices.  I picked up my son from school and sat in the waiting room for 10 minutes before learning that I was in the wrong place (wrong city, even).  No worries, I was told -- they could squeeze me in.  I might have to wait "a little while."  Were I using my brain, I would have canceled on the spot.  But of course there's that Mommy Guilt.  And so I drove and waited -- 1.5 hours -- to have my son seen for 5 minutes and to learn (as I already knew) that he is perfectly healthy, even if his projected adult height is 5'2".  I missed the start of naptime at school, so Mommy didn't get much work done that afternoon. 

Thursday afternoon, my daughter had a sedation dentistry appointment for two cavities so tiny they didn't even require novacaine or drilling.  Six hours and many tears later, we were finally home.  Success!  But again, Mommy didn't get much work done.

Friday, both kids had no school.  I had a conference call mid-day and somehow acquired a neighbor child for a play date.  Five minutes into the call, my kids got into a tug-of-war over a bag of Goldfish, with much shrieking entailed.  (Of course everyone knows when Mommy is on the phone with work, it's the best time to cause much mayhem.)  The highlight came (at a moment when the phone was not muted, naturally) when my daughter exited the bathroom, shouting, "Mommy, is my butt red?"

Saturday, my daughter woke up with sniffles, rubbed all the skin off her toe at a play date, and cried when we tried to leave her with a sitter, which we ultimately did not have the heart to do.

By Tuesday, she was home sick.  Wednesday -- more of the same.  Thursday she was better but not better enough to go to school.  I dragged her with me to the community college where I teach.  "It will be boring!" she wailed.  It was a 45-minute trip, and she asked to stop twice en route to use the bathroom.  Once we arrived, she asked for cereal.  She asked for a drink.  Finally, she tugged on my sleeve and said, "Mommy, is it okay if I sleep on the floor?"  And then she lay, flat on the tile floor in the middle of my classroom.  "Maybe we'll end early," I said to the class.   On the way home, I got a call from the air duct cleaners who had previously been scheduled to try to eradicate the odor of cat urine from all our vents (courtesy of one territorial kitty).  He (the man, not the kitty) was early; he did not speak English; and he was lost.  He called four times.  We beat him to the house and quickly departed for a hastily-arranged appointment to check my daughter for a UTI.  This time we made it to the right office, but my daughter refused to pee in the cup, so all was for naught.  We were sent home with a new cup, just in time to see the air vent cleaner (yes, I left a stranger in our house alone) depart.  Our house still smells like cat pee.  My daughter, meanwhile, was so determined not to pee in the cup that she "held it" for over 12 hours.  I decided this capability ruled out a urinary tract infection, master diagnostician that I am.

They say nature abhors a vacuum.  Our vacuum cleaner is, of course, broken.  

After many days of watching me "work," Kate made me proud by declaring that she wants to be a writer when she grows up.  Or a cowgirl, she later amended.  Yee-hah! 

Someday all these crazy years will make me a better writer and not just insane, right?  Someone please reassure me if you've made it this far!  Does anyone have any tips for Butt in Chair that don't involve shaving any more hours of sleep or neglecting my children any more than I already do?  All you Mommy Warriors who have been there -- please share!  TIA and with much gratitude!   JM


Carmela Martino said...

Let me be the first to reassure you--it's all grist for the mill. And, as they say, "this too shall pass." The only thing I can add is something I read on another blog: "The days are long, but the years are short." I know it doesn't feel like it now, but these times will soon be over. So let go of the guilt of being unable to keep "butt in chair," and enjoy your kids.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Well, Jeanne Marie: it's obvious why you excel at writing Soap Operas!
Katherine Paterson wrote in her collection of essays Beyond the Gates of Excellence that the very people who take us away from our writing are the very people who give us something to say!
And, I happen to think reading is often the same as writing,especially if you get in the habit of reading as a writer.
Treasure and love up those characters of yours!They're enriching your writer's plotline!

Michelle said...

Who wrote this entry? Hm...sounds like my life. :)

My only saving grace is that my son still naps for about 90 minutes in the afternoon while my daughter is in school. Other than that, it's all found time - whether it's while the kids are playing together or my husband is playing CandyLand with them. Sometimes I sit down to write after they go to bed. Other days it's before they get up. Sometimes on the weekend, I'll declare family nap time, meaning my husband and son nap while my daughter plays quietly in her room.

Oh, and my house is messy. Watch out for toys on the floor. Hey, something's got to give! :)

Rosanne Parry said...

These were the years when I learned that I didn't have to be in a mood to write, or have the correct pen, or a good outline, or any other excuse that keep words from hitting the page.

I used to sit at breakfast every day and list the next 3 things that needed to happen in my story, and I promised myself to write at least 2 of those things. Sometimes I wrote on the floor, or in the car while the kids slept or at the park, but simply promising myself I'd write the next 2 things whether it was 50 words or 500 kept me from giving up entirely.

It's not easy but one thing I've come to appreciate very much is how good it is for my children to see me working hard at something I love. That is worth a messy house!

April Halprin Wayland said...

"Mommy didn't get much work done" is inaccurate, my dear friend.

Mommy got a BOATLOAD of work done...just not the work she THOUGHT she was supposed to do. Mommy got MOMMY WORK done.

Take a deep breath.

Tell yourself that your agenda may not be the universe's agenda today.

Be present for yourself and your kids.

Feel the steering wheel, feel your girl's hand in yours (really feel it), smell the booksmell in your classroom.

Remember to breathe.

This day is yours.

Sarah Campbell said...

My oldest son recently told me that if he had as much free time as I do, he would have cured cancer by now.

The middle one once told his teacher that I didn't work. When pressed (she knew what I did), he said "well, she makes lunches."

I decided I needed a PR agent.

I agree with what the others said. I have clung to that Katherine Paterson quote many a day.

I also practiced storytelling in doctor's offices or long lines at the grocery story. I "changed the subject" many a day by suggesting we hit the couch and read. I read and read and read.

That's the best prep a writer can have. Keep on keeping on.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Thank you, wise mamas everywhere!

It's easy to enjoy the moment when they're saying, "I love you, Mommy." It's a little harder when it's, "I wish I had a new mommy."

Thanks for the inspiration, the commiseration, and the reminders of where to find joy in the moment!