Losing It

When I served my oldest daughter
two plates of spaghetti in a row last night, I was finally convinced that, yes,
maybe I need a break.

On autopilot, as usual, I prepared
(a mostly out of a box) dinner for my daughters. I put the spaghetti on the
plate just like the oldest daughter likes it – extra noodles, medium sauce not
mixed up with the noodles, and “shaky cheese” on the side. I took the plate to
the table where she was sitting and doing her homework.

Within seconds, I repeated the process.

Kate: “Uh, mom? Why did you just give me another plate of
spaghetti?”

Me: “What? Huh?”

I look over and sure enough, two
full hot plates of spaghetti were sitting in front of her.

I couldn’t even use the excuse that
I meant the second plate for her sister. She was already devouring her bowl of
pasta, prepared just the way she likes – bow tie pasta, butter, a tiny spoonful
of sauce on top, meatballs, no “shaky cheese.” I completely forgot that I had just
served my daughter dinner, thus the second dinner.

Me: “Well, I guess if you want seconds, then it’s ready for
you.”

Kate: “Mom, I think you’re losing it.”

She may have a point. This is just
a small example of my behavior lately. In a month’s time, I’ve managed to lose
then find my phone and keys at least a dozen times. I don’t mean lose them for
five minutes and check the usual spots until I find them. I mean lose them and
find them in the pantry or in the guest bath. Sometimes I lose them right where
they should be – in the front pocket of my purse. I’ve lost two pair of
sunglasses this year. I’ve been wearing a pair my sister left behind, but only
when I’m driving. I’m afraid to wear them outside of the car, because I don’t
want to have to replace them. I can’t afford her taste in protective eyewear. I
can’t find my favorite pair of black pants. I’m embarrassed to even tell you
where I found the remote control last. This morning, I back out of the driveway
and glance at the trash cans in front of the neighbor’s house. “Why would they
be putting their garbage out a day early,” I ask….out loud, to no one in
particular. Kate asks, “What day is trash day?” “Thursday,” I reply. “Um, mom,
it’s Thursday.” I can’t risk Kate being tardy so I drive her to school, navigate
the carpool line, then rush back to the house to get the trash can to the curb
before pick up time. I have, literally, seconds to spare. Trash guy gives me a
big grin and a wave. Yeah, as far as he knows, I knew it was trash day all
along. I just like to live on the edge is all. That’s my story.

I’ve left my garage door open twice
this month. We’re all still alive, so clearly no one made themselves at home
thanks to that mistake. Last night, I dropped my daughter off at her piano
lesson 40 minutes early. I thought her lesson was at 5. It’s a 5:30 – every week.
How can I forget something I do every week? When I came to pick her up, I
waited with her little sister in the car. We played “I Spy” until it became too
dark, then we discussed the highs and lows of your average day at preschool. As
I watched the clock tick past 5:30, I started to silently curse the piano
teacher. “How dare she keep an eight year old this late! The poor kid has
homework, and it’s well past dinner! Give her a break!” Then it dawns on me. My
“poor kid” has been at the piano teacher’s house for almost an hour and a half
– because of me. I got the times wrong.

Kate: “MOM! Do you know how many lessons I had to sit
through? Do you KNOW how starving I am? My teacher said next time you shouldn’t
drop me off so early and I couldn’t even get a drink of water!”

Me: Well, there isn’t a quote here, as I drove home in
stunned silence, glancing from time to time in the rearview mirror to see if
CPS is following me.

            What the
heck is wrong with me lately? For the love of all things Pledge and Pine Sol, I
cannot keep my house clean. It’s a disaster area 6.5 days out seven. I have to
push piles of sheer CRAP to the sides to carve a path to the bed every night so
that I can at least collapse on something soft. As tired as I am lately, I’d be
more than happy to sleep on the dining room floor, mostly because it’s the only
room in the house that’s clean.

When I get a call from my Realtor
asking when the house will be ready for an open house, it takes everything I
have not to pull the sign out of the front yard, whack her a time or two with
it, and just scream “FORGET IT!” I mean, seriously, apparently the only reason
anyone looks at my house is to relieve themselves after a night of bad Mexican
food. That’s right, during a recent showing, a man (obviously of epic
proportions in size based on what he left behind) decided to use my guest bath
as a public urinal. It took professional plumbing equipment and sterilization
techniques like those used in an OR to get my bathroom back to working order
and suitable to re-enter. It was a crime against humanity. During the chaos of
The Bathroom Incident, the cat managed to run away. This is the same cat that
also bit me just weeks ago, right in the stomach. Did I let it run? No, because
clearly I love pain and punishment. Instead, I scoured the cul-de-sac with a
tiny Tinkerbell flashlight, yelling “here kitty, kitty” shaking a jar of
treats….looking for a solid black cat…at night…in the rain and mud…wearing flip
flops….while my sobbing children are on the front porch whining, “Mommmyyyyy
you haaaave to find Coco! You just haaaaaaaave to!” (Yes, I found her. No, I’m
not happy about it.)

            Let’s
see….. not enough? Ok, then. What else? I apparently broke my pre-lit Christmas
tree when stuffing it back into the box last year. Well, I broke one-third of
the Christmas tree, as the bottom branches all droop way down now. Have you
ever taken a match to a few hundred dollars? Well, that’s kind of what it feels
like to break the pre-lit Christmas tree you bought just a year ago.

            Speaking of
taking a match to something (sorry PETA) but I’d like to take a match to the
tree every time the damn cat climbs up in it, swiping at me with its devil claws
when I try to coax it out from the branches. Every time I lunge, she swipes and
every time we go at it, more ornaments crash to the floor as the tree sways
forward, almost on top of me. By the time the cat is out, I have scratch marks
all over my hands and wrists, at least five more broken ornaments, one cussing
mama, two crying kids, and a fallen (grapevine wreath) angel. It’s kind of like
a partridge in a pear tree, minus the partridge and the pears.

            I finally
found all of the remote controls to the televisions after one year of living in
the new house, which I’m now selling thanks to me NOT KNOWING WHAT THE HELL I
WAS THINKING BUYING A HOUSE LIKE THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE DURING A
RECESSION…. But I digress……Thing is, I can’t figure out which remote goes to
which television. I tried to match up the brands but only one works. I think.
So I threw them back in the box. I’m kicking it old school and turning the
television on and off by getting up off the couch and physically doing so.
We’ve done it for a year and no one’s died from it. Sigh.

            Another
thing I found? Artwork! Not stored paintings I forgot about, but artwork done
by my youngest daughter, Olivia. At almost 5, she has discovered the joys of
expressing herself on walls, doors, coffee tables, my shoes, her shoes,
herself….the list goes on. I thought this was more of an age 2 or 3 thing. I
finally found all of the paint samples underneath all of the Christmas
decorations in the garage, which were next to a dead snake in my garage. At
least I can cover it up so she can start over again. I can’t even talk about the snake. (shiver)

            And if her
“doodling” around the house isn’t annoying enough, let’s talk about the cost of
this kid’s baby teeth. Annoying doesn’t begin to describe this. Since her first
dental visit at around age 2, her dentist has said she has “weak teeth” as
evidenced by a fine white line on her teeth, just under gum line. Apparently,
they were strong enough to chew up lots of candy and keep a death grip on the
sugar. More than $3,000 in out of pocket dental expenses later, her teeth are
nice and patched up…and ready to fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth
in a year or so. I wonder if we can eat off her teeth at Christmas, like fine
china? Maybe I can frame them since they cost about as much as a nice piece of
art. Get them made into jewelry, possibly?

            Honestly,
it’s no wonder I literally fall into bed every night…..it’s two against one in
my house and I’m barely staying ahead. I love my kids — honestly I do — but I’m seriously considering applying for a zip code for my own butt because every time I turn around, that’s where they are! Can I enroll them in self sufficiency boot camp? It’s like they’ve taken up residency there! Working full time at a very demanding
job downtown, commuting two or more hours a day, homework, housework, laundry,
bills, errands, house being on the market, and being on duty for all things
“mommy” 24/7 might be reason enough to forget I just fed my kid dinner and then
feed her again.

            Or maybe
I’m so distracted trying to figure out where all of my money went this year
that I’ve become a bit forgetful. Yes, this has also been the year of
disappearing cash. I realize most parents experience this every time they get
paid. It sits in the bank for about a day and then, just like that, it’s gone.
It’s like children are a magnetic force field that automatically sucks up every
dollar and cent, gobbling it up then coming back for more. And if it’s not the
kids, then it’s the house. If it’s not the house, then your sister decides to
get married in Puerto Vallarta
this spring. And if it’s a trip to not Puerto
Vallarta (which by the way won’t suck once I get over
the sticker shock and love you Deb), it’s a pediatric dentist bill that costs
more than a mortgage payment. If it’s not a dentist bill, then it is Christmas
presents for two kids. If it’s not presents, then it’s the HOA threatening to
sue you for having “overgrown grass in the flowerbeds.” If it’s not the
flowerbeds, it’s time to pay the bill for your daughter’s “one year no
interest” furniture. If it’s not trying to  back interest penalties, it’s paying for
parking at work. (WHAT? Yes, really.)  If
it’s not parking, then it’s trying to pay off the divorce that made me so poor
in the first damn place.

And then of course, there’s the
little things – school pictures, school book fairs, school fundraisers,
“supply” fees at your daughter’s preschool, lunch money, new shoes every time
you turn around because the kids’ toes are busting through the edges, a new
coat to replace the lost coat, ballet shoes, sheet music for piano….and on and
on and on. I have writer’s cramp from handing out so many checks lately. Now
that I drive the tollway end to end every day, I also spend the equivalent of a
moderate car payment in gas each month. Don’t be surprised to see “gasoline” on
my Christmas list this year. Really. I’ve decided to take up sewing because the
only two purses I have that are even decent to carry both have huge rips in the
lining. Many of the things I’ve lost, I find down in the abyss of these rips –
except the sunglasses of course. Because of “all of the above” I can’t part
with the cash to buy another purse, but I think I can afford a thread and
needle.

            Maybe.

That is, if that damn HOA lady will
stay away from my flower beds this month. And if I don’t lose the thread before
I even get it home from the store.

(Deep breath.)

That’s better.

Especially with a glass of Bailey’s
on ice.

…. Til next time….

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4 Responses to Losing It

  1. Ian says:

    Hey Jen,Do you still check your yahoo email?~~~Secret Reader~~~

  2. Patricia says:

    Ummmm….I think I will just say..Bless your heart Jen. Your line that nobody has died yet sums it up. That\’s at least one accomplishment right? Oy Vey!

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