I was talking to a new acquaintance the other morning. She told me that she’d be the person dropping off her son at preschool, but that his grandmother, who watches him during the day, would be the one to pick him up. She works from home, and I mentioned something about that being a wonderful set-up because of the flexibility.
“Oh, yeah,” she said, nodding fervently. “I love it. It’s perfect. You need something outside of the kids, you know?”
I smiled, and cleared my throat. Quinn fidgeted on my hip, anxious to get down on the ground to crawl, and I was suddenly conscious of the honey she’d smeared on the shoulder of my shirt, now crusty and smelling faintly like old cough syrup, during breakfast that morning. I thought about how, in the two hours Saoirse was at school, I had to run Quinn to her baby gym class, then get to the grocery store to do the week’s shopping before driving back to the school in time to meet SK, praying all the while the milk I just bought didn’t curdle into some mutant form of yogurt in the heat of the car while we’re waiting for her. I remembered the wet towels still sitting in the washing machine and thought about the toys scattered around the living room amid the ever-present dog hair and shoes that seem to appear throughout the house like change spilled from a pocket, the iron still on the board in my bedroom. I worried about rushing home to clean out the pantry, empty out the fridge, unload the groceries, let out the dog, put away the food, prepare lunch, settle an argument over toys, change a diaper, set the table, wash the fruit, all in a half hour. I swallowed hard at the mental image of my to-do list, hoping to tackle at least two of the items on it that afternoon while the girls rested for an hour and a half, knowing that in that time, someone would poop, someone would cry, someone would jump up and down on her bed, someone would beg to be let out of solitary confinement (“Mom? Is it 3 o’clock yet?”). I knew that from the instant I walked in that door a little later, the rest of the day would be like a race to the finish line, only to cross that line and have to fold a bunch of laundry. And I nodded, and agreed with her that yes, yes, we definitely need something outside of the kids.
Yeah. You don’t say.