Monday, February 7, 2011

Cuz Mom Needs Tools Too

When Husband walked through the front door, the box and panels of Styrofoam strewn on the floor proved that the vacuum cleaner standing in the middle of the living room was brand new.

He called, “What is that?”

Mom shouted her reply as she climbed the stairs to put baby down for his nap, “Isn’t it awesome? I got it on clearance. $200 instead of 3!”

Husband’s briefcase fell from his hands as he shut his eyes and mouthed the words, TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS? He quickly examined the handle for the embedded diamonds, the canister for the self-cleaning button, the USB chord that would allow you to download your favorite iTunes to play while you worked, but as far as he could see, the paycheck guzzler looked as plain and basic as the vacuum his mother had—except this one paraded colors that could blind a hawk. He read the labels still decorating the exterior. It only promised to do what every other vacuum promises to do…SUCK.

Mom pranced into the living room, clearly still on her bargain high. “I couldn’t believe it when I found it.”

Husband decided not to start any debates with himself about whether or not to say what he was thinking: “Don’t you already have like 4 other vacuums?”

A moment of silence preceded the lecture.

“I have a sweeper for the kitchen, a canister vac for the cars and now I can demote your mother’s heirloom to the basement just for the throw rugs that are down there. The new vacuum will eat those right up.”

“I just don’t understand why you need so many vacuums when they essentially all do the same thing. Especially not for another $200.”

Her glare could have made Mike Tyson whimper, and he winced as she began disassembling the vacuum to repackage it.

“Honey. If you think you need it you can keep it. I’m sorry.” Without another word, she dropped the Styrofoam and left the room.

That Saturday, Husband looked forward to releasing his work stress. He was going to put tools in his hands and fix something. Whistling like the eighth dwarf, he strutted through the garage to his tool shed and opened a cabinet to choose his best hammer to finally get all the family pictures hung on the living room wall.

His jaw dropped when only a single 16-lb sledge hammer with a 36” hickory handle, which he used once to bust out the old cement stairs of the front porch last summer, stood propped on the shelf with an index card:

“Couldn’t understand why you needed so many hammers when they all essentially do the same thing.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Grab the Phone--Mom's Sick!

    The alarm blares, and Mom keeps her eyes shut as she registers her condition.  Head pounding, breath compromised, stomach creeping into places it doesn’t belong.

 She pops upright in her bed and shoves her husband’s shoulder.

 “Get up, honey, and grab the phone.  I’m sick!

 “First, call a chauffeur so the kids can get to school, soccer practice, karate, and violin.

 “No wait—first you’ll need the stylist to get everyone dressed and hair combed. So call her first, then the chauffer.

 “Dial a substitute preschool teacher to practice colors and letter sounds with the three year old throughout the day.  Since the teacher will be busy with her, a babysitter can take care of the toddler.  Her number’s seventh on the list, I think.  Make sure to find the pediatrician’s number and program it into speed dial, just in case someone gets hurt or starts coughing.

 “Someone call the back-up chef for meals and the baker for snacks.  I almost forgot the janitor—a janitor to keep the floor clear of toys, shoes, backpacks and papers.  Might as well find a substitute dishwasher and laundry person to ease the burden.” 

 She pulls a tissue from the nightstand and brings it to her nose.  After a wipe and a sniffle she pauses for a minute, eyes staring at the ceiling. “Okay, I think that will take care of everything.”

 “But dear—”

 “No wait! You’re also going to need an etiquette specialist to make sure the kids mind their manners.  And a tutor to help everyone with their homework.  I think it’d be a good idea to also find a mediator to settle all the arguments and tantrums.

 “An actor to properly read stories, a coach to organize and play games, a planner to jot everything down that doesn’t get done today that will need to be done tomorrow.”

 She relaxes, and her head almost makes it to the headboard before she straightens again.  “And a courier or a delivery person or something—anyone who can be trusted to make a run to the grocery store for things we’re running low on.”

 She takes a deep, nose-clogged breath and pulls the blankets to her chin. Now she’s pretty sure everything is covered for the day.  Her husband leans across the bed, kisses her cheek and gazes into her eyes.  Mom smiles, but anxiety ticks at her nerves.

 “You should hurry. You have calls to make.”

 “But sweetheart,” her husband whispers.  “It’s Saturday.  I’ll be home. I can take care of everything.”

 Laughter triggers a coughing fit, and she wraps her arms around her man.  Grateful for his confidence, she leans back and cups his face in her hands. 

“In that case, you can leave out the call to the chauffeur.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

When You Give a Mom a Moment

Because Mom is always the first one with her eyes open (whether it's hours or minutes before the house will be awake) she relishes a moment where her thoughts are the only sounds in her head.  But as her vision adapts to the darkness, reality surrounds her just as it did before she dreamt and in her stolen moment, she rolls onto her back and slides an arm across her brow to think:

Can I really do this again?

That's all she gets before the door interrupts the silence with a creaky groan, and Mom turns to watch a dark and lumpy apparition toddle to the bedside--blanket rags tucked under a nose buried behind sleep disheveled hair.  The shadow clambers onto the mattress and claims her territory with the words:

"I have a bad dream."

The child's tiny bump nestles and kneads itself over Mom's womb, and a sigh escapes before daughter drifts into comforted sleep.

Mom reaches to wrap her fingers around the soft skin stretched over pudgy toes, and a smile escapes as she closes her eyes before another day.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

When You Give a Mom a Cookie

Based on a True Story

When you give a mom a cookie, she’ll want to put the baby down to play with his toys. This way she can take her time enjoying the delicious treat.
But she will see dust and pet hair coating the rug, and she can’t lay the baby on that mess.  Motherly obligation calls her to vacuum the carpet first.
So she will cradle baby with one arm and haul the vacuum down the stairs, only to realize that it isn’t going to do a very good job with a filter that looks worthy of an ancient artifacts museum…
She will set the baby in his swing, which he will hate, and run to wash the vacuum filter.
But at the sink she will discover an army of breakfast dishes staking their claim under the faucet and daring her to bathe them in mucky filter runoff.
Her shoulders will sag, signaling surrender, and she will wash the dishes—which first requires emptying the dishwasher.
This she can finally do.
The filter will wait on the counter, and the baby will cry while mom empties the dishwasher, so she can wash the dishes, so she can wash the vacuum filter, so she can vacuum the rug, so she can put the baby down to play with toys and finally have some peace while she enjoys her cookie.
The dishes will be clean, the vacuum will be clean, the rug will be clean, and the baby will poop.
So next mom will tuck baby under her arm and carry him upstairs to change his diaper.  But he will also need a change of clothes because baby stuff doesn’t always like to stay inside the diaper, no matter how new it is.
Once the baby is changed, his clothes will need to be scrubbed out because no one likes a stain.  Then mom will figure that she may as well throw the rest of the baby’s laundry into the washing machine since it has already been waiting for over a week.
But when she gets to the laundry room she will discover the load that she put in yesterday afternoon. Now it stinks worse than the diaper she just changed and has to be washed again.   She will know that she needs to empty the dryer so that it will be ready when the clothes finish washing.
Ten shirts, four jeans, and five pairs of socks later (three without matches), the baby will be hungry.
So mom will feed the baby.
The baby will fall asleep.
So will mom.

And the dog will steal the cookie.