Mom, Interrupted

Before I launch into the actual post, I just have to share the wonderful news that, according to my insurance company who would otherwise be paying for my acne drugs, I am officially too old to have acne!  I am relieved to know that I have finally graduated from this dermatological affliction and look forward to 37 days of clear skin before the wrinkles begin to overwhelm my face.  Thank you, Aetna!

OK now for the post.

I think the enduring thing about motherhood that drives me most crazy--an ever-constant feature of every stage of your child's development--is the constant interruption of every single freaking thing you do and every single freaking thought you have and every single freaking conversation you try to have from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep.  And then there are many nights, even when they are way, WAY past being too old, when even your sleep is interrupted.  My son will come all the way downstairs at 2 am to tell me he is thirsty when there is a cup of water sitting expectantly on his dresser not 2 feet away from his bed.  I guess life just isn't meaningful until your mother knows about it.

Kids have a sixth sense for when the ideal time arrives to demand something or ask some burning question or have some catastrophic accident.  That time is not when a mother is sitting right beside them asking them specifically if they need anything or inquiring more generally about their well-being.  They never need anything and are always "fine" when you are poised and ready to deliver a service. It's when you've moved on with your life that they are suddenly desperate to be near you, like some kind of deranged ex-boyfriend who dumped you a few minutes before not being able to live without you.   I will be out of bed in the morning and in the kitchen, and they will be playing video games.  I will loudly ask them, "What do you want for breakfast??" 87 times.  They will ignore me.  I will then return to bed with my coffee.  Exactly 2 minutes later, they will demand their breakfast and when i say, sorry, you missed your window, they will collapse into frantic whining about how they might die at any moment from starvation and neglect.

The most stressful thing I do all day is cook dinner, because my life is terribly cushy, and it's a good thing, too.  First of all, I despise cooking.  I hate everything about it.  I hate the endless decisions of what to buy, when to buy it, what can I do with that eggplant that is about to rot and that thai curry paste that has been in my fridge for 7 months, what will my children eat, what will my husband eat, when should we eat.  I hate following recipes, trying to read all kinds of details meanwhile the oil in the pan is about to catch on fire and OH MY I DIDN'T REALIZE NOW WAS WHEN YOU HAVE TO HAVE THAT CELERY CHOPPED!  Even more than reading recipes, I hate how all the cooking websites now don't just give you the ingredients and bare bones instructions up front but instead lead you on a photographic-literary journey of culinary wonder in which they wax eloquently about butter and navy beans and you have to scroll down about 3 miles to get to the actual instructions.  I have pretty much dispensed with all recipes and now cook everything with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic.  Sometimes lemon or soy.  If I need anything more than that, forget it, not happening.  My brain can only take so much.

Then there is the fact that my children have apparently set up a sophisticated electronic surveillance system that notifies them, probably though their video game console or some other device outside my radar, when I have entered the kitchen.  THEY KNOW.  At that point, they descend, like velociraptors who have been silently stalking you for miles as you tour Jurassic Park in blissful ignorance.  Children who can apparently go days without eating suddenly become ravenous restaurant critics.  Children who have not spoken to me for hours because they are so a engrossed in their dinosaur cock-fighting game are now hanging off my limbs, pleading for attention.  What are you making? What is for dinner? Ewww I don't like that! I want chicken nuggets! When is dinner? I'm starving, I won't make it 2 more minutes!  I am going to shrivel and die right on this floor!  But eww I won't eat that, why are you even making that?  Can I help? I want to help! Why don't you love me?  Why?  Can I have a snack?  Just a teeny weeny snack? Mom, Lawson just hit me!! Charlotte started it!  Let me tell you all about my day in great detail and don't just respond with Uh-huh, I need very specific feedback that tells me you are hanging on my every word.

They also have their surveillance system set up to alert them to various other ideal circumstances for entering my life, to include, but not limited to:
-When I enter the toilet (obviously)
-When I enter the shower
-When I am trying to construct an outfit to wear or donning said outfit
-When I make a phone call
-When I am engaged in some enterprise that cannot easily be immediately interrupted, such as fixing a sink, painting furniture, planting a shrub, cleaning out my closet or bathing the dog
-When I am reading a book
-When I am writing
-When I am working out (this is why I almost always LEAVE THE HOUSE to do this)
-When I am trying to discuss vacation plans with their father
-When I am doing..other things with their father
-Immediately upon my arrival home from somewhere, before I can put my things down, change my clothes or go to the bathroom.  No matter that their other parent has been with them for hours prior.
-Just when I have drifted off to sleep
-Of course, when it is bedtime.  That is when most of the problems of the world need to be solved right away!!  That is why the Senate voted on health care at 1 am.  They were waiting for their child/President to go to sleep.  Or, they are the children and had left it til that time because they don't want to go to sleep.

More bizarre than my children's psychic ability to interrupt at the worst possible times is my brain's reaction to it.  According to my brain, we are living in North Korea where one must always be attuned to the demands of one's rulers and follow orders to a tee or risk certain death via hard labor.  So when a child interrupts or demands or whines, my brain thinks our immediate response is a life-or-death choice.  I don't know if this is particular to me, or if evolutionary biology has pre-conditioned women in particular to overreact to the needs of their offspring.  In any case, we can never relax, my brain and I, not while the children roam free and awake in the house.  We are like Pi in Life of Pi, floating on a boat in the middle of the Pacific with a carnivorous tiger.  We are always on edge, always waiting for a shoe to drop, wary to get involved in something that needs our undivided attention, like a phone call to a friend or assembling some IKEA furniture.  But then if we do nothing, the kids are invariably happy, and we are bored.  So we end up doing mindless things, like playing Settlers of Catan on our phones or checking the Washington Post YET AGAIN to see if Trump has been impeached yet or stress eating a bag of Goldfish crackers.  We waste time, our ability to concentrate atrophies. We gain weight.  We slowly go insane.

Which is of course what the children want.  That is their ultimate goal always.  But we need to flip the script, my brain and I, to call their bluff.  We need to ignore the adrenaline spikes and millions of years of human evolution.  We need to tell these small, cruel people that WE HAVE RIGHTS DAMMIT and besides that YOU WON'T DIE IF I IGNORE YOU.  We need to boldly launch into fixing the VCR at prime kid time, to dare them to yell at us to do it faster.  We need to write that book with them standing over our shoulder.  We don't need to cook the dinner, however, because we still hate that with a passion and because no one eats it anyway. We can just go to Taco Bell again.  But the other stuff, we need to do it.  We can always go in our room and lock the door and become immune to the screams and the clawing to get in.  We need to reclaim our dignity and our....



Post a Comment

Popular Posts