is the water over your head

The water is, in fact, exactly at my head.

I promised myself this blog wouldn't turn into the Poor Katie show, and when I feel tempted to just wallow in self-pity as if it were six loads of clean laundry heaped on my bed, cold and wrinkled and standing between me and a half night's sleep, I try to ask a harder or more revealing question than, "who else feels bad for me and wants to bake me something?"

oh hey
robert frost
i'll take your
"miles to go
before you sleep"
and raise you
"four hundred mismatched thumb-sized socks to match
before i pack tomorrow's lunch"
i win
(but if i won
why am I so sad?)

What's changed? Why is life harder now than it was a month ago?

Because that's the way children operate, ya fucking rookie. As soon as you get comfortable, BAM, Chicken starts to have nightmares about becoming a grown-up and Buster figures out the toilet lid opens and BONUS, there's a private jacuzz in there! I can't believe we are still having this conversation. Three years in and you're still surprised to learn that you don't know what the fuck you're doing? Denial. It's not just a dyslexic mountain in Alaska, am I right?

Also, I took a part-time job. 
Also, I renewed my commitment to a long-form writing project. 
Also, I still have two toddlers, a husband and small group of determined friends who have the audacity to occasionally need something from me, and an appetite that just won't be satisfied on six cups of coffee and pre-masticated cheese that I ate automatically when Buster spit the shining yellow gob into my hand.

Actually, nope, that was a lie. It wasn't automatic. I looked at the cheese glop for a good minute. I looked closely. I looked at the shiny, slimy, warm, tooth-pocked cheddar ball in a pool of foamy toddler spit in my palm and I SAID YES. YES, I should eat this fast before the spit cheese juice drips through my fingers onto the floor at the Little Gym. YES, I did it in public. And NO, nobody wants to be my friend there.

What do I really have to do right now?

I have to write a fucking blog post for once this month just anything just whatever, just what has Chicken said lately that was funny. 

I have to keep my children conscious and mostly clean. 

I really have to move the laundry. I thought one of the kids hid a post-fish-stew diaper in the closet, but it was really the load of whites that had lay, fecund and damp, sealed in its own juices in the 70-degree hallway for no less than 72 hours.

I really have to get this fucking turban squash seeded and sliced, JUST STAB IT STAB IT STAB IT ANYWHERE AND KEEP STABBING UNTIL THE BITES ARE MOSTLY NOT THROAT SIZED.

I should probably take a shower.

What do I WANT to do right now?

I want to write a good blog post, thoughtful and funny, one of the four that has been living in my head for the last couple of weeks, about Chicken's alter-ego, about friends who go back to work, about the exhilaration of dangerously over-committing oneself, about co-parenting.

I want to sit on the couch with Chicken and help him learn to write letters. He watched his friend spell his own name this morning, his face the same one I make when I learn that my friend has baked this bread from scratch. "What is this white magic? But when? But how?"

I want to fold the laundry and then put it away and turn back over my shoulder in the bedroom doorway to savor the smooth, empty dresser top, the air-filled empty corners where so many socks used to nest.

I really want to sip a cup of hot coffee and watch mindless television while slicing this turban squash into lazy, lovely, uniform cubes, and enjoying the feel of the slick, firm flesh, the satisfying snick of the blade when it meets the cutting board.

I really want to go for a run and then not shower. What can I say? The whole "no time for a shower" mom cliche never hit me that hard. I've always viewed bathing as more of a hobby than a habit.


It occurs to me that my have-to and want-to list aren't so very different - I want to do the same things I need to do - household tasks, writing, caring for my boys. Even though they feel so different, I could measure the gap between the day I'm slogging through and the day I dream of savoring with a single word:


I need space.

I need temporal space. The time to perform a necessary task with even more necessary leisure.

I need creative space. (Yes, I rolled my eyes when I typed that. Yes, I'm a douche sometimes.) The acre of time and quiet needed to write something that feels good to send out to you, wherever you are, reading now.

I need physical space. There are only so many hours of the day I can have a Chicken on my shoulders, his fingers impossibly deep and coiled in my hair, and a Buster in my lap, holding both my hands as if they were gear shifts, while I attempt to be a horsey from the neck up and a tractor from the belly down.

I need to come out of the water for a minute. I need to not be surrounded entirely, just for a minute.

I need the water level to drop enough that my limbs don't remind me of how slowly I'm moving, as I struggle to stay on pace.

Oh, if needing made it so.

I recently told a friend that the thing about parenting kids my age is that the only way out is through. It doesn't last forever except in your mind, and you really have no choice but to put your head down, declare "good enough," and cut open the carton of soup for dinner.

After I put the boys to bed tonight, I'll watch mindless TV as I cut the turban squash into perfect, even cubes. I'll sweep the orange hunks of flesh from the board into a bowl. And I'll roast them tomorrow.


1 comment:

  1. Man. You beat me to this (beautiful) post I wanted to write. About this very thing. Space. Space, where have you gone? Thank you, Katie, for putting this out in the world. I can go to sleep now knowing that it's there and I didn't have to write it. :)