out of milk and bananas: a superhero tale

I've had a whole pot of french press and now I've given myself 30 minutes to write and publish a blog post before I go wake up Buster and pick up Chicken from school and then come home and bake banana bread because NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!

And sometimes you just have to put your head down and go, bitch, go. That's the theme of this 30-minute post: Just hunker down and get it done.

Q: What's the secret to motivating yourself to take 2 kids to the grocery store in the pouring rain?

A: Be out of both fruit and milk (2 of the 3 food groups in my house, the third food group being of course cheese quesadillas). Have literally no other time that you can shop for food.

The secret of my motivation is "lack of options," and a kind of willed deafness to the voice in my head that says "Oh, no, Katie. This is going to suck."

You know that voice - it's the "Ew, honey, your life should be funner than this" voice.

It's the one that tells you to walk out when the dentist is running 8 minutes behind schedule, the one that says, "8 minutes! This is RIDICULOUS! You showed up ready for a cleaning and it's THEIR fault you have to go to Starbucks and Nordstrom Rack instead."

It's the voice that Juliet drowned out when she was like "O happy dagger, this is thy sheath..." and the voice was like "GIRL YOU ARE 15 YEARS OLD AND PARIS IS HELLA CUTE PUT DOWN THAT DAMN KNIFE," and she was like "Hummina hummina hummina hummina I'm not trying to heeeear youuuuuu because I know you're riiiiiight so I'm just gonna staaaaaaab me real quick!"

It's the voice that's like, "Don't do laundry. Watch Gone Girl," and then the other voice in your head, the one that's like the Put Your Head Down and Get Shit Done voice, says, "You can totally start a load of laundry and then get the clean laundry and fold it while you watch Gone Girl," and then the first voice comes back all slinky like, "Ooooooor you could just NOT... and watch Gone Girl. Oooh look... the couch has a fleecy blanket on it already..."

(PS - how many dollars you wanna bet me that when Ryan reads this blog post he does not understand the concept of the dueling voices, but that when my mom friends read this blog post they are like OBVIOUSLY there are dueling voices?)

As I pulled the car into a spot blessedly close to the entrance, the pouring rain more of a roar than a patter on the roof of my car, I actually felt the shadow of that voice fall across my mind.

Oh, no, Katie... this is going to...

I KNOW, okay? I know it's going to suck. But we have no bananas and no milk and they already had quesadillas for breakfast so...

I shut that voice down. I threw the car into park, twisted the keys out of the ignition, and turned around to my boys to seal my fate. "You guys want to get some yogurt raisins while we're in there?"

Once yogurt raisins were on the table, there was no way I could back out. We did it. On this day, we grocery shopped in the rain. And lived to tell the tale.


I keep thinking that a day will come when I no longer congratulate myself for accomplishing the daily, necessary chores of a fully-functioning adult parent. I keep thinking that I'll wake up one morning without needing credit from the Internet for both doing the dishes AND THEN wiping out the sink.

But it's hard to ignore the feeling of triumph when I look down at that shining stainless steel. It's hard not to feel like a hero when I dash through the parking lot with rain curling my hair and dampening the hems of my jeans, just to get a bunch of bananas, a carton of milk. Oh, and yogurt raisins.

I've grown weary of the "Stay at Home Moms are Superheroes" cliche, because it's so common now that it reminds of me the line in the Incredibles when Elastagirl tells Dash that everyone is special, and he responds, "Which is another way of saying no one is."

If every mom is a hero, and every day she saves her own precious world, then what's so special about that?

Don't Hero Moms need people who aren't heroes to compare ourselves to, to feel stronger than? Don't we need an enemy or at least an ordinary schlub to outpace humbly in public, and with a swagger when we retell the tale to our husbands in the kitchen that night?

Dash's point is that is everyone is special then nobody really is, and I'm applying that concept to maternal heroism by asking, "if every mom is a hero, then is any mom a hero?"

The answer is yes, of course, yes - because we DO have the enemy, the ordinary schlub to outpace, to defeat. In fact, you've already met her, just a minute ago, just a few paragraphs ago.

She's that voice. That "Oh, no, Katie, this is going to suck" voice. SHE is the villain we have to overpower each time the sky opens up and the empty milk carton rattles in the fridge door and she unfurls in our heads and says, "Oh honey... look at that storm outside. You don't need to go right now..." even though yes, if you're going to have milk, you need to go RIGHT NOW. You actually need to go five minutes ago.

She's the siren who calls us to the couch when the kid's lunch needs to be packed. She's the cold-eyed devil on our shoulders whispering, "you don't have to brush his teeth every night..." And maybe she doesn't mean to destroy us; maybe her intention is just to give us a break. But the path of a champion is steep and lonely, and there are some parts of parenting that are just going to suck. And still have to be done. Every. Single. Day.

The heroic part is the choice we make to clean the sink even though nobody is coming over. The heroic part is the work we do that will never be recognized unless we brag about it, which, okay, we do sometimes. The heroic part is how many times a day we actively choose to make our lives harder and our selves more depleted, how often we willingly draw from our reserves even when the warning lights start to blink. The heroic part is when we sit, dripping, in the driver's seat, not having left the driveway yet, and the boys could go right back inside and watch a Dora and you could just curl up with them, and zone out for awhile, but instead you start the car.

It is hard to describe the paradox of how silly I feel when I write about buying milk in such grand terms, and how true it feels to write about buying milk in such grand terms.

But either way, it's 2:05 pm, which means my 30 minutes are up, and it's time for me to wake up Buster, load him into the car, pick up Chicken from school, come home again and bake banana bread. It's time for me to put my head down and go, bitch, go.

this picture is the part
at the end of the credits for the avengers movie
that like gives a teaser
for the next movie
just like imagine ultron's voice saying
"oh but Katie
you don't have to do the dishes

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