This is the question that used to set me into a full on rage all the while sink me deep into a dark place that scarcely could perceive light. And yet my husband would come home and ask me this every single day until I stopped talking to him….The End!
No just kidding, I have low self-esteem so I suffered in silence, like some do. I never told him how it made me feel. I simply would go into fits of rage and balanced that with inconsolable crying. You know, like a grown adult!!!!
Some of the things I would do during the day I could no longer think about because he was coming home to a house that smelled of dirty diapers, grape jelly, baby powder, sour milk and failed dreams, there were clothes strewn about because some of the children would either be buck naked or wearing some inappropriate apparel, like underwear on their head and a towel as a cape. I would be sitting on the couch or the floor (depending on whether or not I have totally given up) and staring off into space. He would come home in a suit and tie (clearly over dressed for what I’ve got going on here) and the things I had done all day was completely undone by these tiny little humans that have invaded my home.
So to set the stage: In walks this handsome man with blonde curly hair, blues eyes, clean-cut and wearing a suit. The door swings open and there is a waft of warm air that hits him in the face and it smells like regret and disappointment. The kitchen is decorated with some breakfast cereal bowls with milk and Cheerios, a high chair smeared with strained peas and failed attempts at introducing new foods, there is a crust of a sandwich pressed against the rung of a chair that is glued with peanut butter and good old-fashioned gumption and a sink full of sudsy water with a sippy cup floating on top. The dog has run to greet his master and probably telling him to run. This handsome man has decided to venture further into the den of these wild beings and he has now reached the living room where he sees one child standing inches away from the television screen singing into her microphone that has had the batteries removed to save her mother from a complete mental breakdown. (batteries are expensive in the fact that it costs one mother’s soul and sanity to have a child’s loud toy going off every few seconds. “Mom, can you replace the batteries?” “I’m sorry dear, batteries are too expensive!”) This child is wearing no pants, no shirt, and yet has both a crown and pink sandals on. The second child is wearing a shirt and underwear his face has a brand new sharpie mustache compliments of his sister and he is yelling to his sister “Move I can’t see the tv. Mom, make her move!” The youngest child is laying on the floor completely dressed because she is too young to remove her clothes. Mother is sitting on the floor in front of the youngest child playing peekaboo. The living room looks like a toy store had vomited everywhere and the mother seems completely oblivious to this. She looks as if she hadn’t showered today, because “When? When would she find the time to shower? The mustache happened while she was in the bathroom.” She looks up at her husband happy to see him and hopeful to have a conversation about anything else besides “fill in latest children’s show here!” That’s when she sees the look of horror on his face and there it is the question that breaks her spirit and undoes any self-esteem she may have built up during the day…….”Hi, Honey, What have you done all day?”
Oh besides having my soul leached from my nipples, and also breaking up the many fights over who is faster, and cleaning, the never-ending cleaning because those breakfast dishes are from third breakfast today, and the opening of the juice but not pouring it because “I can do it myself!”, and cleaning the entire bottle of juice off the floor because they definitely cannot do it themselves, and changing nine thousand diapers, and coloring, and giving baths, and taking them outside so that they can all cry about having to be outside until it is time to go inside to take naps in which case they cry because they don’t want to go inside, and the many hours it takes to convince three children to take naps, and they do…..but at separate times in those many hours, and the sink full of dishes that you washed while the baby was sleeping but she woke up when her brother was yelling at his sister for standing in front of the tv, and the washing of the bite marks that was the result of the standing in front of her brother when he was watching tv, and the moral teaching of why you should never bite your sister ever, and the lunch that you made and inevitably no one wants that, so the other two lunches you made, and the introduction of peas to the infant (its funny how little those jars seem when you buy them and yet when they are spitting them at you it looks like the exorcist movie) and reading, the reading of books, reading and reading and reading, and the one moment when you were in the bathroom and every thing got eerily quiet and you came out to a tiny little sponge salesman wearing his underwear and one of his father’s ties and has a nice villain mustache which makes you both laugh and cry at the same time and the bath that he gets now to try to remove the mustache and cleaning up the sponges that your son took out to become a salesman and also cleaning up the contents of dad’s old briefcase that he used to be “said sponge salesman” and the talking to your oldest daughter about never writing on her brother ever and losing that “talk” because her uncle has a tattoo and I have simply given up and the watching and encouraging the baby to play on her stomach (which she hates because she can’t see her clowns that entertain her all day long, her older siblings) and the telling the children to stop shouting, inside voices, inside voices, inside voices, inside voices, inside voices, inside voices, inside voices, and taking them out to check the mail twenty times today because getting the mail has always fascinated my children (I don’t blame them it is a connection with the outside world) and now we are sitting and partially watching this sing along that is mostly being watched the oldest one because she is the one who turned it on and therefore the one who gets to stand in front of the tv and ruin the viewing pleasure for anyone else in the room.
I don’t think to defend myself and say all of this because this may have been my day but that isn’t what he’s asking me, what he is asking me is “What have you done today that was a success?” Or at least that is what I am hearing. I look around at the last stage of giving up that is usually what he comes home to and I realize that he sees my defeat. He thinks I do nothing all day. At least he thinks I do nothing productive all day. Or maybe he doesn’t think that at all, but I THINK he thinks that. I look at this adult man wearing his clean and pressed clothes and look down at my……OH MY FUCKING GOD AM I STILL IN MY PAJAMAS? I went outside several times today….in my pajamas, luckily I sleep in my bra because my breasts leak otherwise (my husband woke up to a nice milk shower one morning and I’ve slept wearing a bra ever since and that was six years ago.) Yes! I see it and I feel like a failure. I think back and I’m like “What have I done all day?” I don’t even know. So I look at him and shrug.
“You didn’t do anything at all?” he asks and he looks disappointed in me.
“I did stuff!” I say
That’s when his son looks at him and says “Hi daddy!” with his purple villain mustache
“What is all over your face, buddy?” my husband asks.
“I am a salesman!” he says.
“From the vaudeville days?” he asks, “My God Becki, what have you done all day? How could you let this happen?”
I look at him and I can’t speak because of the lump in my throat!!! I’m both angry and sad and I start to cry because I am so sad-angry. I put my arms up and I say loudly because when you have a lump in your throat you have no control of the volume and I say “I survived! And you know what, I will do it again tomorrow too!” I go to storm off because what I really want to do is to take a nap because I didn’t get one….but he stops me which makes me sob even harder.
My husband hugs me and he smiles and he says “I am not trying to make you feel bad!” (he should have stopped here) “I just feel like you could do better at organizing your time!”
Moral of my story: Mothers wake up with certain things they want to accomplish and some of those things actually get accomplished and undone all in one day. We put in a full day of work and typically have nothing to show for it but smiles on faces and maybe a mustache or two depending on how the day goes. If you come home to a mother (or father) that has been home all day with children and the house looks like a small insane asylum, just know that it will look like this for a while and that’s okay. My children were happy, healthy, loved and well cared for. That was the measurement that should have been taken, not how many cookies my husband found smooshed into his briefcase…fig newtons are great for smooshing and not really any child’s favorite cookie. I stopped buying them because they also got smooshed into the computer cd drive and the vcr. (you’re old) Be kind to stay at home parents they work hard and they do it for free…I mean who even does that…I have no retirement plan! I’m sad, I got to go lie down!