I once received an e-mail from a reader, thanking me for posting pictures of my house when it’s a mess. She said that she enjoys looking at those pictures because they make her feel normal (see My Real Life and Major Mess Recovery).
I remember thinking, “Oh boy…if she only knew.”
The danger of writing about topics like organization is that people may get the impression that you are always “together,” when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Honestly, the main reason I write so often about organization is because I’m always desperately trying to achieve and/or maintain it in my own life.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I sometimes think the writers of The Middle are looking in our windows because, as I said to my husband this morning, we are The Hecks. There are some major differences, of course, but we have a lot in common with that family, right down to the Midwestern, 70s ranch house, the kid who spends all day in underwear (or pajamas – Cakes) and the brilliant, bookworm kid who whispers (from kindergarten through the first half of 2nd grade, Bee had a self conscious habit of repeating herself in a whisper). Despite our best efforts, we can never seem to keep up, and something is always going wrong. I don’t write The Crap Family Chronicles for nothing, you know.
Just as an illustration, let me walk you through my morning:
7:45 A.M. Overslept because I was up late, painting (remember when I posted that we’d finally started the kids’ bathroom remodel? Over a month ago? Well, zero progress has been made since then, which is why I stupidly decided to paint the vanity and trim yesterday. DJ stuck his fingers in the paint 4 times, one of my MP3 earbuds fell out of my ear, and landed in the paint pan, and now I have a repetitive use injury).
7:50 A.M. Right arm is so sore that I have to hobble out to the kitchen, holding it stiffly by my side like Igor from Frankenstein. Cakes is sitting on the couch, sobbing, with hair plastered to her face, and standing up around her head in a halo of static. She informs me that she’s quitting preschool. Outside it’s snowing heavily, but ours appears to be the only school in the area that doesn’t feel the need to close, or even start late. DJ has peed through his pajamas. Husband informs me that he “woke the kids for me,” and is now going downstairs to work.
7:55 A.M. Cakes has changed out of her clothes and back into her nightgown. DJ is begging for a “kink” (drink), and clinging to my leg. Change him and give him some juice, while yelling repeatedly at Cakes to get dressed, because she can’t just quit preschool every time she’s tired and doesn’t feel like going. She continues to protest. Pick her up under my arm like a sack of flour, haul her into her room, and maneuver her flailing arms and legs into some clothes (pants too short, sleeves of sweater too short, can’t find matching socks). It’s like trying to thread a needle with cooked spaghetti.
8:00 A.M. Rush around getting everybody breakfast. Pour two bowls of cereal, then discover that the milk is gone. Pour cereal back in the box and spread cream cheese on some bagels. Yell at the girls 47 times to hurry up and eat. Nobody has brushed their hair or teeth. Nobody can find any of their stuff. Run into bedroom to get dressed. Discover that at some point when no one was looking, DJ has scratched up the front of our dresser with a rock that one of the girls brought into the house. He has also thrown an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet. Throw on jeans and husband’s sweatshirt with a big grease stain on the stomach. No time to do anything with hair. Put on a stocking cap.
8:10 A.M. Stomp out to the kitchen and announce that there are going to be some changes around here! No one pays any attention because they’ve heard this before.
8:15 A.M. Realize that Pumpkin has to go to the vet this morning, and we have to leave in 5 minutes. Husband brings in filthy, 25-year-old “Pet Taxi,” which is growing mildew spores on the inside, and is covered in paint splotches, dust, and years of grime. One side looks as though it may have been run over by a truck, and the door has been mangled by animal teeth. Everyone rushes through the house, yelling, “Pumpkin! Where are you?! PUNKY, GET OUT HERE! PUUUMMPPKIIIN!!” Husband finally locates cat, who is cowering in the basement, and wrestles him into the carrier, where he begins to yowl pitifully.
8:25 A.M. Drive Bee to school at a snail’s pace because the roads are covered in snow and sludge, with Pumpkin meowing loudly, and having what appears to be a cat seizure the entire time. Cakes has already managed to lose a mitten. When I open the van door to let Bee out at school, 30 pounds of assorted crap, including junk mail, a pacifier, a shoe, and a sippy cup, flies out and lands in the snow.
8:30 A.M. Drop Pumpkin at vet’s office and take Cakes to preschool. Stop at grocery store to get milk. Cashier keeps staring at me with a puzzled expression. Get in car and examine face in mirror. Realize that I forgot to wash off the thick, white layer of Proactiv Refining Mask, which I’d plastered on the side of my face the night before, in an attempt to get rid of a particularly bothersome pimple.
9:00 A.M. Rummage through fossilized french fries, mold-infested sippy cups, crayons, used tissues, and other revolting detritus on van floor, in search of baby wipes. Can’t find any. Resort to scrubbing face vigorously with fast food napkin dipped in snow.
9:05 A.M. Return to vet to get Pumpkin. There is a lovely young couple waiting at the counter, with a sweet, impeccably-groomed cat in a pristine, immaculate cat carrier. This good-natured cat does not make a peep, but Pumpkin is howling like a banshee in the back room. Pretend I don’t know him.
9:15 A.M. Receptionist shows me up by bringing out Pumpkin, in his disgusting, roadkill Pet Taxi, and plunking him right at my feet. She then proceeds to help the well-dressed, clearly childless young couple with their perfect, well-behaved cat. Subtly attempt to zip coat to hide stomach grease stain, but zipper is stuck. Clear throat nervously, and try to calm Pumpkin who, at this point, is clearly hysterical. His tail is puffed up to three times its normal size, his eyes are like dinner plates, and he’s thrashing around like one of those crazy Weasel Ball toys you see on display in the mall. Hair is flying everywhere. Occasionally, he thrusts a paw out and meows at me, wild-eyed and manic, like a crazed lunatic in an asylum.
9:20 A.M. Apologize, shamefaced, for devil cat’s behavior. Decide to take him to the van so he isn’t so disruptive, and to spare myself further mortification. Park Pumpkin in the backseat, and inform him, with teeth clenched, that if he doesn’t quit freaking out, I’m going to take him back to the shelter.
9:30 A.M. Vet says Pumpkin is healthy, but too fat (16 pounds!) and he should only have 5/8 cup of food per day. With a Sharpie, the vet marks a measuring cup so we know how much to give him. Drive home with Pumpkin STILL meowing. Go downstairs to put measuring cup in cat food bin, and find identical, marked cup already there. Ask husband, who is in charge of feeding Pumpkin, if he’s been following the 5/8 cup rule. He sheepishly tells me that he “might” have forgotten about that, so instead he’s been giving Pumpkin 2 full cups of food to compensate for days when he “might” forget to feed him.
I can hardly criticize. When my husband was in Florida in November, I forgot that Pumpkin was even here.
But we keep trying. We really do.[print-me/]