Stark Survival

I want to be a calm nice loving mommy.  I want to be the kind of mommy who spends countless hours having quality time with my children.  Instead, four days every week, I am the mommy who picks my kids up from preschool at 3:30pm when I finish work (I work 24/hours a week, which seems like nothing if you’re putting in 40 – and holy crap if you are doing that and taking care of little monsters at home too – but somehow 24 hours ends up being more like 28 when it’s said and done and I still have time for almost nothing else.  That’s another post.)  So I pick the monsters up and they fight and scream in the car.  Usually Turbo has something interesting in his hands in the back seat that Lunchbox tries desperately to grab but can’t, so he ends up screaming. Or Lunchbox didn’t take a good nap at school and is generally just feeling like a tiny douchbag and so screams all the way home.  Or Turbo feels like a douchebag so he does something purposely to make Lunchbox scream all the way home.  In other words, by the time we get home, I usually have a headache and then get to play the “What the hell’s for dinner?” game.  Sometimes I plan ahead.  Like the third Thursday of every month that ends in “h.”  But only in leap years.  So usually I’m screwed.

Given that I need about 20 minutes to work my special brand of culinary magic, it seems like it’d be easy enough to set the kids up with a drink and a snack and some Backyardigans and get to it.  But instead, this is the time of day when my children are at their most monsterly (especially Lunchbox, who was once my jolly happy baby and is now my whiny, grumpy little wordless wonder.  The Major has taken to calling him “Tiny Whiney.”)

Today, as I created a new taco-type dinner food with ground turkey, canned diced tomatoes and a lot of cheese, I thought I’d scored a minor victory since the boys both went outside to play.  But I was wrong.  Instead, I proved yet again that I am not a very good mommy sometimes. I was emptying the dishwasher, watching the boys play around the slide and playhouse out the kitchen window.  Lunchbox decided to climb the ladder up to the slide. He has only done this with supervision previously, but he appeared quite confident today. Until he got to the top rung, when he slipped through the ladder, hitting his chin on the top rung just before he crashed down to the bottom of the playhouse. I think I flew out the door screaming, “oh no, oh no…” He was fine because, evidently, he is made of rubber.

Once the Major was home, I was trying to deny further responsibility for the monsters, and was sitting at the table pretending that I was reading a magazine when a commotion on the stairs raised my attention.  But not soon enough.  This time Lunchbox came skidding down the entire length of the stairs riding atop Turbo’s bike helmet.  My heart was in my mouth and I yelled things that were not as PC as “oh no” while I raced to see if he was breathing or bleeding or broken.  Again, rubber.

Lunchbox is finally in his crib, fast asleep, and I feel like the worst mother in the world. I get only a few hours to spend with these guys on the days that I work, and I spend a lot of that time just trying to survive them (and hoping that they’ll survive.) We can deny it all we want and sing the praises of work/life balance, but I think that GUILT is truly the anthem of the working mother.

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