I am possessed of the vague and disquieting sense of disease that comes from knowing you are incredibly behind in everything you are supposed to be doing.
Case in point: I promised my kids a month ago I would make them banana bread. I’ve tried three times, and every time I go to do it someone has eaten the bananas below the requisite number needed to make said bread. So they have been eating the Frankenberry cereal that one of the grandparents bought when we were in Africa for the past three days, a sickly, pink concoction that I keep hoping they don’t admit to anyone at school was their mom’s idea of a balanced breakfast.
I said a week ago that Brody was stinky and needed a bath. He still hasn’t gotten one. I bought the shampoo but I haven’t figured out how to get around the fact that my shower hose attachment is missing. It confounds me.
We’re behind on reading and spelling homework, behind on grocery shopping, behind on the 10 blog posts I’m supposed to be working on, and don’t even get me started on laundry.
It was in this state of mind that I arrived at the grocery store after dropping the kids off at school, when I heard a voice chirp my name from behind me at the Starbucks kiosk. It was the PTA Vice-President.
“Oh, are you volunteering this morning?” she asked. I looked around. I was indeed at the grocery store, not at school, but she asked it with such certainty that I realized that for her, you either went to work, or you volunteered at school.
“Um, no, just heading home,” I said.
“Ah, it’s so nice to have a day off,” she said. “I love being able to get the house clean.”
I nodded vaguely.
“And cook for the family.”
I covered the fishsticks in the cart with my purse. Technically that counts, right?
So it was that I took my non-volunteering butt home, walked past the piled up dishes, plunked down on the couch and motioned for my smelly mess of a dog to get up on it with me while I tried to finish a couple of things on the computer. Oh, who am I kidding. I was on Facebook. I was doing several things, none of which involved baking, cleaning, or being productive.
I say all of this because I ran into another mother this afternoon, who was having a similar crisis of conscience. “I don’t know how these women do it all,” she said. “How do you?”
I answered truthfully. “I don’t.”
I watched my kids egress their classroom, with hair in need of a trim and homework that had probably been done incorrectly, and walked back home to my wreck of a house and stinky canines. I wallowed in my mediocrity as I tried to reconcile my advanced degree with the fact that I don’t get New Math. I decided that the PTA moms are secretly popping Xanax and Adderall in the janitorial closet because it’s the only possible explanation for their overabundant energy and dedication to jazzercise at 5:30 AM.
“I’m sorry you’ve been eating pink cardboard for breakfast for three days,” I said to my kids.
“I like the marshmallows,” said my son.
“I’m sorry you are still a stinkbomb,” I said to Brody.
He licked me.
I don’t have all of anything. But I have a little of everything, and that’s enough.