Day Two

Tuesday, April 19. The year is 2011. The writer is a woman just beginning her battle. She is slowly realizing that the only war she needs to win is the ongoing war within her own brain.

Its 9:20 in the morning and I’m attempting to work in the hours that I’m most creative, but with the distraction of three children at home. Ominous music from level two of Super Mario Brothers pours from the television in the kitchen and mixes with a deeply philosophical conversation about the origins of Mario’s villains. Gwen wonders if the one wearing pink is named Lady Gaga.

In the family room, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse isn’t entertaining enough, so Kate has crumbled bits of Irish soda bread into the sisal rug and the tufting of the leather ottoman. She put the finishing touches on her mess with a series of milk sprinkles and smears across the leather. I know this because she entered the kitchen bearing a proud smile and wet hair…hair washed in milk that caused me to sprint through the house to investigate the damage.

Sigh

Yesterday morning I felt guilt. Guilt induced by the Facebook statuses of people who are currently enjoying beaches and Disney World with their children. Those people who, as I began to tell myself, were better parents than me. The photographs of their smiling children continuously tell me so. Those people didn’t sacrifice family vacations for stints in graduate school. Those people are no longer saddled with student loan debt from the family’s last stint with graduate school. Those people started their careers as grown-ups in a manner more timely than David and I did.

Yes, I was feeling guilty yesterday morning so I suggested a ride to pick up some new crayons and craft supplies.

I’m a stupid idiot.

On the way, I suggested that maybe we could all get some lunch. Immediately, Gwen assumed that we’d be dining at MacDonald’s. As a parent, I’ve grown to abhor McDonald’s. My overly-dramatic mind has spun the Golden Arches into a den of fat-laden death and Ronald McDonald has come to resemble the clown from Stephen King’s It. Pennywise has nothing on the evil corporate giant backing Ronald McDonald.

They don’t even like the food. It’s the toys they’re after and for some reason, McDonald’s suddenly made me see red yesterday afternoon. I inwardly sighed and said, “You know…there isn’t much that I’d like to eat at McDonald’s, maybe we can try a different restaurant.”

From the rear of the minivan Gwen vehemently shouted, “NO! I WANT McDONALD’S!”

Joe met my gaze in the rear view mirror. “Maybe we could go get pizza, right Mom?”

“That’s a great idea! We all like pizza, right?”

“NO! I WANT McDONALD’S!”

“Gwen, McDonald’s isn’t good for us. Besides you don’t even eat the food…”

“I. WANT. McDONALD’S!”

My hands gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter and my teeth clenched. “Why don’t we try to agree on food that we all like?”

Joe’s eyes told me that he wanted McDonald’s too, but was struggling with compromise. At six-years-old, he is developing reason and consideration. I love him. “I know, Mom…why don’t you get something that you want first and then we’ll go to McDonald’s and get what we want?”

“That’s really nice of you, Joe…” I am interrupted by Gwen’s screaming voice.

“I’M HUNGRY! I WANT TO GO TO McDONALD’S RIGHT NOW!”

At that moment a woman stepped in front of the car without looking and the wheels of the minivan brushed against the curb as I turned the corner of the crowded mall parking lot to avoid her.

That’s it.

“Gwen, do you care at all that Mommy doesn’t want McDonalds? Do you care at all about anyone but yourself?

“No.”

I sat at the traffic light, inwardly seething. My eyes shot daggers across the road at the tacky red and yellow building that has placed my children under its nasty spell. I could smell it from there. The cloying grease of those french fries coats the air and, I imagine, leaves film of tacky grease on anything that comes to rest for too long in the vicinity.

I hate you.

I pulled into the parking lot and threw the van into park. When I grabbed my wallet, I saw that my bank card was missing. My thoughts went back to Sunday when I swiped my card to buy expensive gasoline and placed it in my coat pocket – the coat that was now neatly hanging in the closet at home.

Do I need to describe the chaos, crying and yelling that ensued when Gwen and I experienced our dueling meltdowns?

David took a 1/2 day after my psychotic phone call. You know the one. It’s filled with things like “I hate my life” and “selfish kids” and “spoiled brats” and other filthy expletives.

Before I knew that he was coming home, I made the kids egg salad sandwiches. David entered to find those spoiled children polishing off their cupcakes. The ones we baked on Saturday.

April Vacation – Day One

Look around you and you’ll see a collective look of terror in the eyes of mothers across the country. Millions of mothers woke this morning (hopefully) prepared to enter battle. Like finely tuned machines, the organized mothers planned a week full of fun activities and the mothers with extra loot in the bank booked a vacation to a destination full of sunshine and beaches. Hell, I imagine that millions of children will even be visiting Mickey Mouse this April vacation. I am not one of those mothers.

April Vacation.

Here in Maine, it’s not entirely warm yet. The ground is slightly mucky and there are still a few random piles of granular snow clinging to the earth. The sun is warm, but that breeze is actually bone-chilling for my tiny little Kate. It’s true. She’s thrilled to be outside and stretching those little legs, but the minute the air begins gusting at the top of our hill, our tiny little toddler emits a howl that rivals the wind.



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We’ve been outside doing a bit of post-Apocalypse restructuring. No, I’m sorry, that’s not true. I’m completely exaggerating. We’ve been outside performing a bit of spring clean up. You know…the standard fare when it comes to yard work – raking, dog poo search and destroy missions and perennial inspections. I cleaned up the children’s garden a bit, did some pruning and raked the wood chips into some semblance of order. 

  

 As I dug down into the cold brown soil, Kate sauntered over and squatted down next to me. “Dirt, Mama?” she wondered.

“Yes,” I answered. “See these tiny green leaves?”

“Weaves, Mama?”

“Uh, huh, those are our flowers beginning to grow again.”

Her eyes lit up with excitement. “Fwowers, Mama?”

She leaned in and performed an exaggerated toddler snort near the dead stalks of last fall’s coneflower then smiled as if she had whiffed magically fragrant rose. I snapped the old, grey stems and handed them off, providing her with her own skeleton bouquet.

I dug down into the cold dark earth and found a rather sluggish earthworm. Kate was terrified. For her, that worm’s pathetically slow writhing on my palm was akin to the sighting of a giant and hairy man-eating tarantula. Oh, the shrieking that ensued!

What do to…what to do…?

Let me just say this – having added graduate school to the already tight family budget, we’re not able to hang out with Mickey Mouse. To be honest we’re not really even able to go out to lunch without feeling the pinch, but Kate doesn’t “do” worms.

I feel guilty.

They’re watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on television. They’re playing educational games on pbskids.com and Super Mario Kart on the Wii. I printed out some springtime craft ideas which led to their current coloring of sparrow and bee shaped paper airplanes. They are honing their fine motor skills with their crayons and safety scissors.

The other moms are taking their girls to Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique.

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My little guy caught the cold that his sister had. He woke with a cough and an ear ache. We snuggled on the couch; we scheduled a game of Super Mario Kart for later so that I can take some time to do some required reading and writing.

I’m being selfish.

Our local library has events set up for vacation. Things like Robot Day and a wildlife rehabilitator will be visiting with his animals. We’re going to do those things. We’re going to spend time together and they’re going to like it. Mommy doesn’t do Disney.
 

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