The Essence of motherhood
I am bent over a cold stove, shoveling equally cold eggs in my mouth as quickly as I can manage. A thought floats briefly through my mind that perhaps I should reheat the eggs before consuming them, but the eggs are gone before I can execute my thought.
My toddler fusses between my legs, begging for juice, which I won’t let him have. He has been filled with far too much sugar lately and I refuse to give in to his cries for more. I pick up my screaming toddler and finish chewing my eggs. The landscape before me screams of my insane decision to make multiple loaves of bread. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now school papers lay among the flour and sugar like casualties of war.
I heft my toddler and go into the laundry room to search for clean clothes to wear for the day. I mumble something about folding laundry and we go upstairs. I turn on his favorite show and pray that he sits long enough for me to complete this simple task.
As my bread baking extravaganza winds to a close, I realize that an apron may have been a nice touch and I try to dust flour off my front. My toddler cries between my legs as I attempt to roll out the last loaf and I continue to plead with him to go do something, anything. But we remain, stuck in our rut.
I finish and haul my toddler to my hip while explaining to my three year old why she can’t have candy until after lunch. Apparently, “Because I said so” is not a valid reason. I fumble through the cupboard and locate the children’s Ibuprofin, hoping that it will calm my teething son. He happily drinks it down, but screams in retaliation as I calmly try to explain that he cannot have more. We go play with animals and trucks and as long as some part of him is touching some part of me, he is happy.
I feed the children lunch and wipe down the counter. I look in my full fridge for something of substance, but settle for a handful of potato chips instead. The baby yells at me from his highchair and the girls need more sandwiches. I don’t want them to see what I am eating, so I quickly chew and swallow before helping my children. I don’t want to share with them, which is the ultimate act of selfishness.
But it’s my selfishness and today I need it.
I close the cupboard and tend to the children. The baby sits in my lap and eats my bites of my yogurt even after I try to explain that “This is Mommy’s lunch”.
But he doesn’t care. There are always the chips in the cupboard.
Miss K reads aloud as I assemble the casserole and my toddler is once again between my legs pleading for juice. I open the tomato soup and abandon it to refill a sippy with milk. Mr. M asks me to help him sew his reindeer to his shirt and looks disappointed when I tell him I am just a little bit busy. Miss K begins to say, “Mom, what does P-U-L” the rest getting lost in the chaos.
I dump the tomato soup into the casserole and realize I have forgotten to make the mashed potatoes.
Miss K states loudly, “Mom! Did you hear me?”
“No, sweetie. Can you start again?” I ask.
“What does P-U-L”
“Mom, when CAN you help me sew the reindeer on?” And the water comes to a boil. I measure out instant potatoes as Miss K begins to spell her word for the third time. Miss L steps in and mercifully helps her.
“I can help you when I finish this. You can make it go faster by helping find the cheese grater.” The toddler is between my legs again, but he has to wait until I get the casserole assembled. He cries and Miss K starts spelling another word. Mr. M helps me locate the cheese grater as baby boy’s cries fill the air.
I put the casserole in the oven and help Miss K with her word and announce that she has read long enough. She happily hops down satisfied with herself and I head up the stairs to show my son how to sew his reindeer onto his shirt so he has an ugly Christmas sweater for school.