Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Did You Do All Day?

I used to get a little irritated when my beloved would ask me what I did all day. We might be sitting down to a meal with our children and everyone would be reporting on their day and my husband would look at me and say "And how was your day? What did you do all day?"

Now, I know that deep down, he meant it in a kind and loving way and was just including me in the conversation. But the insecure, bored, tired-of-the-laundry mama of little ones would feel a kick to the ego and would often come back with a snarky comment.

As my children have grown, the list of things that occupy my time has changed from chasing toddlers and changing diapers and making sure that all of my offspring stayed alive from moment to moment to things like driving children to practices and movie theaters and working part time. Less stress about choking hazards, but still stressful. And sometimes the stress is all mental; things like "who is Child X meeting at the movie theater?" and "did Child Y get enough studying done for Super Hard Class?" and "did Child Q offend one of our neighbors?" My life is not all rainbows and unicorns since my children are older, is my point.

Today, my beloved called me from the road and in the course of the conversation he used those six words: "What did you do all day?"

Without missing a beat and hardly stopping for air I said:

I woke up, showered, and dressed, took the dog out and fed her, said goodbye to the oldest child while taking note of what she was wearing in case I might need to report it to the police in an emergency. I asked the second child if he'd remembered to brush his teeth and countered his sarcastic remark with a sarcastic remark of my own while emptying the dishwasher and making two lunches. I bid him goodbye and forced him to hug me while reminding him to take it easy on his injured knee. Then I battled to get third child out of bed because he didn't want to go to school. As I was helping fourth child get dressed, brush teeth, and comb hair, I argued the merits of an education with third child. After getting third and fourth children downstairs, I made them breakfast while loading the dishwasher and scheduling a doctor appointment for first child. Then I took the dog out, guaranteeing that she wouldn't have a repeat of Poop-Gate: The Turds of Doom in the house again while coaxing the children to gather their backpacks and lunch bags. I dropped third child off at the bus stop and waved to the neighbor who always pretends not to see me while calling "have a spectacular day, unfriendly neighbor!" through the closed windows.

I made it to work 15 minutes before I was to officially start work so that I could get things done before the duties that I'm required to do made it impossible to get these other things done. (Not complaining here, just stating fact. Sometimes I need to get there a little early or stay later than I'm officially paid because there's work to do and if I only do it during my paid time, it would never get done.) Then I corralled, cajoled, corrected, admonished, admired, attended to, laughed with, led, and listened to 24 first graders. I supervised and cleaned up after two lunch shifts. I battled both the copy machine and a stubborn stapler. (I am happy to report that I won both battles, although it was a little dicey for awhile.) I waved goodbye to 24 students, got hugs from two and captured blown kisses from one more.

After leaving work, I ran two errands and made it home in time to eat a cheese stick and some couscous while phoning first child's school to tell them that I'd be picking her up early for a doctor's appointment. I took the dog out and made happy noises at her so she wouldn't feel neglected while I checked email, verified football practice times, and cruised school websites for events calendars and homework. Then I went to get first child and ferried her to a doctor's appointment for her injured ankle. (Who knew that band class could be so dangerous? Seriously. That is some talent to injure an ankle during band. Not marching band, mind you, concert band.) After the doctor recommended x-rays, we stood around killing precious time while we waited for the office staff to figure out which printer the orders were coming from. Then I hustled first child back to our neighborhood for her afternoon babysitting job, hovering just over the speed limit so that she could get there to meet the kids at their bus.

As I walked in our house, fourth child was dropped off by our carpooling friends. I met her at the door with a hug, took her gear, and was rustling up a snack for her while second child peppered me with questions about first child's ankle. Meanwhile third child came in the door and immediately said he wasn't attending football practice because football was stupid. I debated the merits of football and its relative "stupidness" while washing out drink coolers and gathering up cleats and pads. Then I threw some chicken nuggets (where exactly is the nugget on the chicken, anyway?) in the microwave while checking email and Facebook (priorities, here, people!). As children two, three, and four were eating and I was checking homework folders and cleaning out lunchboxes, child one came home from babysitting. First child then asked "What's for dinner?" causing me to temporarily lose consciousness due my head exploding and my brain melting. When I came to, I informed her that she could eat whatever she could make and eat on the fly, as we were getting ready to go to football and then the imaging center for her x-ray.

After getting everyone in the car and having my eardrums blown out from a very loud, screaming argument that children three and four were having over the placement of fourth child's car seat, I managed to put the car in gear while mediating the argument so that we wouldn't all asphyxiate from the fumes in the garage. Then I very kindly threatened to make children run to the exit to the neighborhood if they didn't shut their big, sweet mouths. After dropping second child at his practice, first child and fourth child hit the playground. Third child and I did homework in the van. Then fourth child needed to use the bathroom. I helped third child finish his homework and get his gear on while telling first child that I was taking fourth child across the street to the gas station. After hearing fourth child talk about the similarities of gas station bathrooms for longer than anyone should, we headed back to the field, got third child to practice and then I took first child and fourth child to the imaging center.

First child sat slumped in a chair--motionless and dejected--after being told at the imaging center that she needed to turn her cell phone off. I sat with fourth child on my lap and answered 367 questions about what was going on and why we were there while checking first child in. After 20 minutes, first child's name was called and she was gone for 5 minutes. In those 5 minutes, fourth child and I took turns reading a book about Mickey and Goofy skiing in the Alps with Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie. (I cannot make this stuff up, folks.)

As I drove first child and fourth child home, I played Tweeter with a cheating first child while explaining why I wouldn't stop at a fast food restaurant when there was plenty of food at home. After dropping those two off at home with instructions to feed the dog and take her out, I headed back to the football field.

When I got there, I saw Clean Your Windows Neighbor. I walked up to her and started chatting, forcing her to talk with me like neighbors are supposed to do. After doing that for a very uncomfortable 15 minutes, I ran to the other field to get second child and then brought him back to third child's field where practice was wrapping up. Then I drove a very smelly van full of two very hungry boys back home while they called my beloved so that they could report about their practice.

After arriving home, I fixed yet another dinner for children two and three, got fourth child into the tub, looked through my children's book library for books by a certain author to take into school, started a load of laundry, took out recycling, checked homework, picked up the family room, checked the lunch calendar, took the dog out, and got out my clothes for work tomorrow.

"So you know. Not much. The usual," I told my beloved. "And what did you do all day?"

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