Oct 062009

Every few weeks our family’s “state of the sister” sanity system fails and I end up having a full blown mommy meltdown. I usually tell myself that this phenomenon is inevitable and justifiable due to all the laundry and whining and refereeing and bathing and signing permission slips and mopping and bending over to pick up so many things and the general, overwhelming reality of being a caretaker to several helpless human beings. But I suspect my meltdowns could be more closely traced to my low tolerance for the typical turbulence of life.

Regardless of how it happens, occasionally I decide that life is impossible and that someone must fix it.

And we all know who that someone is.

So I call Craig at work to deliver the dramatic speech I’ve been mentally rehearsing all morning and he answers with a whispered “hello?” which is supposed to indicate to me that he’s doing something important. And so I say “I know it’s probably a bad time to call but the thing is it’s a much, much worse time at home. So I’m sorry but I think I have to leave the family .” And he always responds with some version of: “Wow, honey. Sounds really bad. What can I do?” Because he read somewhere that this is a good thing to say to a deteriorating wife. And it is. So I take a deep breath and say, “Funny you should ask because I’ve actually identified some possibilities. Do you have a pencil?”

“I need a bigger house for pete’s sake and also a nanny and either one more or one less child – I haven’t decided which – and just a teeny glass of wine because it’s been years and how can anyone be expected to be a mother without a single performance enhancing drug? And I also need to quit teaching and quit writing and become a yoga instructor. Also, I need to withdraw Chase from school because the paper work is just brain shattering and I’d like to plan a two week vacation immediately and also hire a housekeeper and cook and live-in-therapist. Furthermore, the suburbs are killing my soul and I think our family really belongs on a ranch. Without any animals. And in walking distance of a mall. Then I think I’ll be fine.”

And Craig always says that yes, these are all completely normal and manageable requests. And that he totally understands and even agrees that life would be less impossible if we just made these few simple adjustments. But since he can’t take care of them immediately because he’s actually giving a presentation at the moment, maybe, just for now, I could pour myself a big glass of water and go take a bath. Just for now. And then after work we will certainly get wasted together and go ranch shopping.

And so I hang up, find a video and place the big kids in front of it with enough pretzels to last awhile. Then I decide that the baby looks tired even though she doesn’t at all, so I deposit her in the crib. Then I step over the carnage on the family room floor and gently escort myself and my glass of water to the bathtub. And I lie in the warm water and drink the cold water for a long while. And there is something about the water that helps, friends. What is it about water? It’s like morning, I guess. It’s like starting over.

And when I get out and dry off, I feel better. Even without the ranch. And when Craig gets home we don’t speak of the breakdown, because it would be ridiculous to discuss it every time, but he does raise his eyebrows which means “Are we cool?” and I don’t even nod, just sort of smile instead, and he breathes deeply. And he thanks God, probably, for getting our little family through another day.

Oct 082009

The Truth of the Thing

You and I stand side by side in the kitchen,

Spreading mustard on this bread,

Peanut butter on that bread,

Pouring a million little cups of water.

The kids wait loudly at the table.

You start to serve too soon,

So I grab a sandwich and bite it.

Then put it back on the plate for delivery.

We all sit down, say grace.

Thank you God, for this family, for this beautiful day,

help us be patient with each other.

Ten hands unfold and dig in.

You say to me,

Why do you always take a bite

before we sit down?

I cock my head in mock confusion.

I don’t know, I say.

But I do know.

I take a bite first because

All sandwiches are not created equal,

Even when one tries, a little, to make them so.

One has softer bead,

More meat, crisper lettuce,

A tomato slice of a more perfect thickness and diameter

Than the other.

And husband, I love you and I love these kids.

But I also love a good sandwich.

And that’s why I bite before delivery.

I bite the best one.

So nobody else at this table

Accidentally gets it.

Oh, you say.

Then why do you sometimes bite them all?

Let’s just eat, I say.

Jan 062010

I couldn’t sleep last night for two reasons.

First, I was so astounded by what happened here yesterday that my head was spinning. Sister summarized the day pretty well:

Don’t look now, Monkees, but if I’m not mistaken here’s what happened today:
• We were honest
• We heard and comforted and understood and challenged each other
• We were outraged and horrified by organized evil against our sisters and brothers and children and we admitted our fear and feelings of being utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of it all
• We resolved to love on our little worlds and the great big world a little more and to fear a little less
• We had k(c)rumpets
And at the end of the day, three brave children will have a loving home and a cozy bed and the only sores on them will be ones they get running and playing.

I don’t know about you ladies, but that’s the best day I’ve had in a very long time.

Hot damn I’m so honored to know you. And so very thankful for what you did today.

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction
when it can be turned into momentum.”
Frances Willard (1839-1898)


Second, I couldn’t decide what to write about this morning. I knew that after yesterday’s intensity we Monkees were going to need a little breather today. But I so badly wanted to offer you something more than a breather. I wanted to come to each of your homes and knock on your door and when you answered I wanted to yell DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? IT’S A REVOLUTION! And then squeeze you really hard and pull you out of your house and bring you along to the next Monkee’s house and then the next and the next until we reached last Monkee’s door and when she answered there would be 250 of us standing on her doorstep yelling DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? IT’S A REVOLUTION!” and I would get to squeeze each Monkee first because I get up the earliest and that’s only fair.

That’s not going to happen today, but it will happen. Oh it WILL happen. Be prepared.

So I thought and I thought and I thought. What can I do for my Monkees? And about midnight it hit me.

I get lots of variations of this particular email, which I received a few weeks ago:


I love your blog and I’m a Monkee and you’re a great writer and lovely and so on and so forth.

Could you post some shirtless pictures of husband? The ladies in my office and I would really appreciate it.

Love, Caren

This email wouldn’t have been at all unusual or surprising except for the fact that Caren is my cousin.

So Caren, and all of you Monkees whose brains and hearts are a little tired from yesterday…I give you… HUSBAND.

Don’t worry, I plan to ask his permission for this post just as soon as he wakes his pretty little head.

I love you, Monkees. You are Revolutionaries.

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