In the past, days like today would have driven me straight to the mall. Nothing particularly bad is happening, but everything feels just a little stale. I'm really tired--both kids were up last night because of wicked colds--and I've got some biggish projects at work I'm not looking forward to starting. Both require I be relatively clear-headed, and I'm not. I don't cherish teaching when I'm sluggish and cloudy either, and I don't feel like exercising, even though it's what would probably make me feel better.
Instead, I want to crawl into bed and watch Cameron Diaz movies, eat pints of chocolate frosting with a spoon, and go splurge at the Gap. Anything that will take me out of the dullness of the present moment, promise a more stimulating life, make things shiny and new again.
I'm not going to do these things (well...I did eat some frosting, but just a few bites). For one thing, I don't get to crawl into bed--I've got three sickies at home to take care of, and growing piles of laundry, and growing piles of dog hair on the rugs. And Cameron Diaz movies are out of the question. Instead, I have to watch an old Mae West movie to prep for class tomorrow. I know, I know: not exactly Chinese water torture, but nothing takes the fun out of watching movies faster than having to watch a movie. And I'm not going to the Gap, because I apparently need to start saving up for a night guard so as to avoid chipping any more of my own teeth.
Instead, I slinked into the office this morning, slurped down a few cups of crappy coffee, and sat in my dark office, slogging through my to-do list. I'll teach this afternoon, then race back to Denver to pick up Addie before her preschool closes. She and I will then race to pick up Nolie at her daycare across town by 5:30, which is just about the time both girls lose it because they haven't had dinner and they're tired and cold. I'll carry them both into the house (Addie insists on removing her shoes EVERY TIME we get in the car, and I'm too lazy to put them back on EVERY TIME. "Why do you take your shoes off, Addie?" I ask. "Because I do," she'll say). Then, I'll carry into the house the one thousand and one bags it takes to make all of this working mom stuff possible--diaper bags, lunch bags, purses, briefcases, canvas bags full of work books, library books, student papers, Addie's art from school, her shoes, the toys and sippy cups and scarves and hats and mittens.
Then, my face melts off as I try to simultaneously nuke a hot dog for Addie, let the dog out to pee, feed the cats, feed the baby, feed myself, open the mail, listen to the phone messages, get myself out of tights (oh, god, the feeling of freedom when that flesh meets the open air!), turn on the heat, read Addie's progress report, clean up the breakfast mess, and so on. If I'm lucky, I remember to pee. If I'm not lucky, I forget, and then sneeze, and...you get the idea.
Eric will get home and start dinner, and everyone will finally have eaten, and Nolie will go down, then Addie needs a bath and six-hundred books read to her and a story and a song (which now has to be about her mommy, daddy, bear, bear, Elmo, coyote, and whomever else happens to be in bed at the same time), and by 8:30 the kids are (hopefully) asleep or at least locked in their rooms. I'll do some lame-ass exercise tape while Eric does dishes, then Eric and I pick up, get the one thousand and one bags ready to go out the door the next morning, fold laundry or pay bills or argue or make love or disappear into our sanctuaries (me, the tub--him, the basement). We may reconvene in bed later to read two or three pages of the books we're trying to slog through before we pass out from exhaustion, only to be wakened a few hours later by one or both girls.
My nails need trimming and my hair needs coloring; I need to balance the checkbook and buy birthday gifts. The stack of books I need to read is a mile high and growing.
It's hard not to get caught up in all of this, not to feel sorry for myself, and like I deserve a treat--In Her Shoes, or Duncan Hines, or a new hoodie. It's hard to remember that this is the treat itself, this getting to spend such hectic moments with people I love and at a job I love. That we're saving money so we can enjoy big treats, like a new house. It's easy to forget that hair on the rug and an extremely long thumbnail are not such big deals in the grand scheme of things. That, often, I'm really deliriously happy with my life.
But days like today...