HUB IN THE HOOD: Nothing Is Sacred
Our Home Is A Hub
After work today, I came home and changed into my comfy clothes. By comfy, I mean my soft-and-they-don’t-touch-me-anywhere clothes. I made a cup of hot tea – because I am now at that age where a cup of coffee at 3:30 in the afternoon would have me cleaning house until 2 AM with enough enthusiasm to make Mary Lou Retton wither. I was attempting to do something about which I have read; it is called relaxing. All the good seats in the house were taken – the couch, the armchair, the kitchen seat with the puffy cushion. So my hot tea and I found a corner in the kitchen. That is when I remembered those special cookies I bought last week – and hid – for just such a fleeting moment.
Imagine my surprise when I went to the pantry to retrieve said special cookies. Oh, I found them – the four which were left – sitting warily in their torn packaging. How could this be? The cookies were simple, plain butter cookies – but I love them. I announce to the walls, “WHO HAS BEEN IN MY SPECIAL COOKIES?” I hear feet shuffling and voices turn to whispers. Mothers can hear through walls, and within seconds I detect a possible suspect. “WHY?” I asked. Why indeed. Our kitchen contains a plethora of Little Debbies, brownies with hordes of rainbow sprinkles, ridiculous amounts of flavored potato chips, five kinds of trail mix, and – like any mother worth a mothers day gift – a mountain of fresh fruits. The children preferred my plain butter cookies to an omage of sugar? It would be like the kids walking past Disney World and Toys R Us and the County Fair so they could play with a cardboard box. Our beautiful children went straight for my stash – nothing is sacred. After asking my husband how this could have happened, he shrugged and said, “Duh – because they’re yours. They just sense it.” I decided it was time to take stock of my surroundings – maybe implement a new plan.
The first thing I noted was the extra kids – and there are always extra kids around my house. Our loving post-war cottage (that's what the Realtors call it) is the hub of our neighborhood. Today we have five extras – which bring us up to eight. Oh, did I mention we live in 900 square feet? The entire house? It’s like squishing puppies into a shoebox and taping the lid shut. The kids I don’t mind – a few are purging their competitive nature on my Wii as we speak, while my daughter and her friends gently force doll clothes onto a confused kitten. My oldest son and his friends are discussing their desire to join the robotics team and build rockets large enough to catch the attention of local law enforcement. As I continue to meditate on my surroundings, I see my loving spouse. My husband is playing his favorite game with my dog – it’s called “let-me-irritate-you-until-you-snap-at-me" which always starts when he pokes my Corgi in her rump with the toe of his shoe. It escalates until he is finally flailing like a ninja, grabbing her leg and releasing the appendage just before her teeth sink into his phalanges. Apparently she adores this because she begs for more. Did I mention the noise? Between his laughter and her vicious growling, the dinosaurs and gunshots on the Wii, the cat howling, the girls giggling, the boys talking smack and the front and back doors slamming simultaneously every fifteen minutes, the sounds remind me of the Back To School Sale at WalMart last week.
And now that I am thinking about sales, I wonder how it is that my daughter and I survived WalMart the night before school started. I just needed a gallon of milk and some cheap but not-too-scratchy TP. No John Wayne paper (rough, tough, and won't take poo off anyone), but more like Brittney Spears paper (cheap but still manages to get the job done). When we entered the building, it was a war zone. Children crying, teenagers skulking, mother’s screaming and waving their crumpled, Starbuck's-latte-stained school lists. The WalMart employees were obviously ill prepared. They were caught between the raging hormones of tweens and the raving maternal figures like deer in the headlights. There they were – in the midst of the carnage – cowering and stuttering. Two mothers were grappling over a red vinyl binder – their grotesquely distorted faces made me rethink Botox injections. Another mom said something so vulgar to her teenage son, I had to cover my 10-year old’s ears. The deadly recipe of angst-riddled procrastinators mixed with a paltry inventory of over-coveted school supplies made the NYC New Year's Eve bash look like a child's birthday party. Did I mention we live in the Bible Belt? Oh, and this was on Sunday, right after evening service. I grabbed a package of TP and ran to the self check out. Too bad they don’t sell wine on Sunday.
Speaking of TP, I realize I can’t remember the last time I went to the bathroom without any interruptions whatsoever. It never fails – wait until everyone is preoccupied, run to the bano, and lock the door. Two seconds later, knock knock knock. “Mom, are you in there?” (fingers wiggling under the door) “I can see your feet…What are you doing?” Sometimes I hear my husband’s voice and once in a while he chases them away…but more often he, too, will join the group session at the bathroom door. “Hey, Babe…where’s my cell phone?...” Since when is my uterus a tracking device? Isn’t it bizarre how these tiny pieces of information are only utilized during moments of severe privacy? Some women I know have adopted a defeated stance on this topic. In other words, they don’t even bother locking the door, because they know it’s no use. I can’t bring myself to be that open, no pun intended. As far as I'm concerned, my bladder is my saving grace. Some folks have a condo, some folks have a getaway...I have a weak bladder and a love of strong coffee. It's the only way. Other than the bathroom, sleep is pretty much the only time I am alone with my thoughts – and not even then. I think every mother knows this feeling.
Back to the moment at hand – I am eating the last of my stale special cookie. Three elementary aged boys are whooping and cheering as they shoot a T-rex onscreen. The sundress-clad kitten is mewing and my dog is now silently licking something suspicious while lying on my clean clothes. The neighbor’s kid is begging for a snack – I can barely hear him. I am crunching on my brittle cookie as hard as I can. My husband is in the living room, waiting patiently for me to abandon the computer. Every 6.3 minutes he cruises by like a shark nonchalantly circling its potential prey. And yes, the tea is delicious. Just think, tomorrow I get to go to work, where I can rest. Go figure. Looks like I’m going to have to find a new hiding place.