Yesterday afternoon unfolded in a pretty typical manner, which means it was total chaos.
After an especially tense lunch and an emotional chorus of, “I had it first!” I finally get the kids to settle upstairs. I had been folding laundry for fifteen minutes when I realized they were unusually quiet. I decided to investigate.
My oldest girls had set up their puppet theatre as a ‘book market,’ which was as fantastical as it sounds. They beckoned for my business as I tip-toed around their pop-up shop with a fool’s load of laundry in my arms. It’s depressingly rare that I get a chance to play along so I was happy to oblige.
Then I saw whose books they were selling. My precious hardcovers, perhaps the only possessions left in this house that have remained hands-off, were strewn about the make-believe market. The dust jackets were torn and discarded, and my place in the pages lost.
And overreaction, maybe, but my mood turned on a dime (the asking price for my copy of Bird by Bird) and I told them in no uncertain terms: clean it up.
In the meantime, my two-year-old uncovered a long-abandoned bottle of nail polish – in a colour I knew I’d never wear and should have tossed long ago – and painted the bedroom carpet a violent shade of red.
Perhaps in shock, my immediate reaction was that I cannot possibly call the carpet guy again for another emergency stain removal. Sharpie ink, chocolate stains and spaghetti vomit have been business enough for him this quarter. (Does anyone else receive a Christmas card from their carpet cleaner?)
I stand, arms akimbo, staring blankly at the state of the carpet gore, while my girls wait curiously for my next move. Despite my deep-breathing attempts, I’m the parenting version of a ticking time bomb.
I’m also a walking heartache. I’m still reeling from the recent loss of our gorgeous girl Cheesecake. She had a habit of darting through doors just as I was shutting them. As I’m closing the bathroom door after grabbing some industrial-grade nail polish remover, I instinctually check beneath my feet for a flash of white fur. Nothing.
The phone rings and rescues me from the fumes of the stain remover. I assume it’s the debt collection agency calling again and anger continues to swell inside me. (No, Armaan does not live here. No, I do not know Armaan. Yes, we’ve had this phone number now for seven years.)
It’s not the debt collectors (lucky Armaan). It’s my husband. I can see from the caller display that he’s using the phone in his office. Which means he hasn’t left yet. Which means he isn’t pulling into the driveway this instant, as I had secretly dared to hope.
We hang up, because our tone of voice reveals everything about the kind of day we’re both having. I feel slightly sorry for him, because now he knows that once he leaves his bad day at the office, he’s coming home to my bad day here. Well, our bad day, because we’re in this thing together (it’s legally binding and everything).
I decide it’s time to turn things around. It’s Thursday afternoon before the Easter weekend and our spring vacation. The house is relatively clean, the chores are relatively done, and I still have a relative grip on my sanity. (As long as I avoid any and all thoughts about where my career is going and when my goals will evolve beyond finishing chores and laundry, but I digress…)
The red polish lifts from the berber after a few pats and lots of chemicals. My two-year-old appears to be sufficiently remorseful (and covered in red polish). I gently wash the paint from her palms with a milder polish remover.
My oldest girls have resumed their book selling, so I raid my husband’s vanity for pocket change and buy back my precious hard covers. We even have a little fun.
My husband arrives home earlier than expected, ready to tag me out of the ring if need be. He’s happy to see that we’re happy, and I’m happy to report that things have been diffused.
Finally, our vacation can begin with a bang. (And not my self-implosion.)
Happy Spring Break!