I felt like I'd done a thousand of them and my hamper was only a third full. One load of laundry contains roughly 8 towels, 16 adult garments, or 7,641 baby garments. DAMN THESE BABIES AND THEIR TINY GARMENTS. I would throw them up in the air to make it rain jeggings, but I swear half of them would blow away, and the other half would get stuck in my eye like all the best things in the world: sand, dandruff, glitter.
(Yeah, this one's gonna be weird.)
Directly across from me, Buster stood on the other side of the bedroom door. Opening the door. Closing the door.
Directly to my right, Chicken stood in the closet where we store extra toys. Opening the door. Closing the door.
At one point Buster stopped opening the door. Red flag, people. Red flags all over. I jumped up and went into the bedroom to find him emptying Ryan's pajama drawer all over the floor. Because there was no blood, and nothing electronic was in the toilet, it didn't even register as a problem. It did not register that where before there was no mess, now there was a massive, wrinkled pile of pajamas and a lone binky, as incriminating as a stray hair at a crime scene. And was Buster going to clean it up? Can I get a HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA GOOD ONE KATIE?
What did I do? Not a damn thing. Like I said, it didn't even joggle my seis-MOM-eter (please laugh, that was all I had in me tonight.)
What, am I going to yell at an 18-month-old for touching Daddy's jam-jams? Please. I'm not a monster.
What, am I going to fall to the floor and cry into a pile of Daddy's jam-jams? Please. I'm not some tender willow sapling.
What, am I going to turn this into a teachable moment and sing the clean-up-clean-up-everybody-everywhere song? Please. I'm not Maria Von Trapp, and the Captain NEVER wore jam-jams. Don't ask me how I know.
I just walked into the room, saw that the situation was niner-niner, and went back out to keep attempting to match the world's largest collection of almond-sized, almost-matching-but-not-quite-matching white socks. I wish I could say that I even had a plan to deal with the jam-jams later. I didn't. They ricocheted off the surface of my brain like quarters in a game of Quarters. (Told you, guys. Not strong tonight.)
Do you ever wonder, like, what the fuck am I doing?
Or maybe, just, what the fuck are my kids doing? Why are they opening and closing the doors? Why, after 26 openings and closings, was it time to empty the pajama drawer? Tell me about your decision-making "process." Was it a bolt of inspiration from the clear blue sky? Or do you have a predetermined schedule, rounds you make, boxes you check? Twenty four... twenty five... twenty SIX. Whew. Okay... wait, did I do jam-jams or Mom's bedside table yesterday? Is it jam-jams today? Ron? It's jam-jams? OK, we're going on jam-jams.
What the fuck are you doing? And why? WHY? WHY?!?
Chicken? Why did you start dropping pennies in my fresh, sparkling Crystal Geyser? Not only is it weird, but it's kind of a dick move. Now I can't drink my fresh, sparkling Crystal Geyser, and I shall be parched, and therefore bitchy.
Buster? Hon? What the fuck are you doing with your belly button? It's there, man. Still there. It's chillin. You've got time. So much time to get to know your belly button. I worry, sometimes, that by the time you're 15 your belly button is going to look like a really old lady's pierced earlobe. Like, you'll find corn kernels up in there, 3 or 4 at a time.
My thing isn't that you're amazed at the permanence of your body - that makes sense to me. My thing is that you're ONLY amazed at the permanence of your belly button. Are elbows a 22-month milestone? What about nostrils? What about toenails? Why is the only miraculous crevice on your body the one that makes you look like a pervy trucker when you fondle it?
I don't know, man. If I take a step back and just look at the facts of my day, sometimes that shit is NIHILISTIC, you know? Is there a point? Is there a purpose? For anything? (Fair warning, I'm asking that question from the position of, "I believe there is no point and I'm inviting you to make an idiot of yourself trying to convince me that there is one while I sit back, a smug smirk on my lips and lonely tears welling up in my eyes." I'm that guy today.)
(Someone slaps Katie in the face.)
What just happened?
Where was I? Oh, that's right. I was telling you about the best part of my day today.
It was when I was sitting in the hallway folding the laundry. Buster was in the bedroom, opening and closing the door. Chicken was in the closet, opening and closing the door. Each of us had a project, something repetitive, something our hands could do to keep us tethered to the earth while our minds wandered, past the fences that keep us hemmed in and fully conscious when we have to navigate four-way-stops, new recipes, or figuring out what shoe goes on what foot.
We were each alone in our crowd. We demanded nothing of each other. They didn't have to perform any of their manners for me; I didn't have to sing any diaper-changing songs for them. It was peaceful.
Buster picked up his tee-shirt and touched his belly button. I love the way his whole body relaxes when he feels that it's still there, that he's still where he left himself. Then he emptied Ryan's pajama drawer, and took out his binky and set it right on top of the pile on the floor, like he planted a flag. Like, "look upon my works, ye mighty," or maybe, "the man who wears these jam-jams belongs to me, so all y'all better back off," or I hoped against hope, the Buster version of a horse-head in the bed. It was purposeful. I felt like he was sending a message, possibly even an adorable threat. He's twisted like that. I left it as it was.
Chicken dropped pennies into my bottle of water for at least 7 or 8 minutes, only his arm, hand, and eyes moving. Just drop... drop... drop... he sat, totally focused on the way the bubbles clustered on the coppery rim, the way they scattered like fireflies when the coin hit bottom. I mean, yes, I would rather have drunk the sparkling water than watch it become undrinkable. But honestly, that was just as good a use for that buck seventy-nine.
I don't know, it's hard to explain and a little embarrassing sometimes how easy it is to feel like you're touching something sublime when you're wearing socks wet with apple juice because someone figured out how to open the fridge door, and someone else didn't put the apple juice up on a high shelf, and the first someone decided to pour his own drink, and said, "I got it, I got it," before dumping half the jug on the floor and leaving it, unreported, for the second someone to walk through on her way to clean up a different mess. First thought: fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you. Second thought: Because he wanted to pour his own drink though.
If I step back and just look at the facts of my day, sometimes that shit is depressing. But what depresses me most isn't the pointlessness of the tasks (which totally depresses me, just not the most), but rather the way I have to go out of my way to sound sane when I talk about how it's possible to feel deep satisfaction, love, and gratitude while watching a child open and close the same door, 26 times.
(Someone slaps Katie in the face.)
--BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER EXPUNGE YOUR ENGRAMS AND ALLOW YOUR THETAN TO ASSUME UNLESS YOU GIVE ME TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS AND ONE BOX OF TRISCUIT CRACKERS BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN AUDITING FOR SEVENTEEN HOURS STRAIGHT. Do you want me to label you a suppressive person? Okaaaaaay, then I'd get your heiny over to the Circle K and get me a damn box of Triscuit crackers. THANK YOU. OH! Tom? Not the Reduced Fat ones, ok? I'm Paleo.
(Someone slaps Katie in the face.)