Didn’t realize it was a holiday yesterday until I pulled up into the empty Aldi parking lot and sat there for three seconds, cursing the darkness. Except that it was a bright cheery day so not really. Turned back around and got nearly everything I needed at Price Rite. I think I’m the only person in Binghamton who really likes Price Rite. Where others see doom and gloom, I see piles of vegetables that aren’t Aldi vegetables. Except yesterday, when there was nothing there, because of it being a holiday.
Monday holidays always mess me up. Monday is always not exactly a holiday, but more of a day of rest than any other day. It’s the single day I might lie around, and the only day to catch up on the house and grocery shopping. Whatever other people do on Saturday and Sunday, that’s what I do on Monday.
Except yesterday, because there’s no way I’m resting on any day until I get that school room done. It’s on the third floor, what we might call the attic, except that it doesn’t feel like what I would normally think of in that way. It’s got rooms, whole rooms. One of them being a bathroom. So now the single big room where we will indulge in 80% of our scholastic pursuits (look at me, throwing around a number, school might as well have started already) is a brightish apple green. I think. I couldn’t really tell by the time we were done. And the trim is all antique white, which is really just cream.
Elphine hovered outside the door and pouted about life in general. I had the brilliant idea that she and her brother should make lunch, since Matt and I were diligently painting, and have only a small window to get the whole thing done. She thought that was a terrible idea. Cook? With her brother? What kind of monster am l? They argued and bickered their way through to a really glorious tomato sauce involving fresh tomatoes, finely diced onion, and some very nice beef from the day before, over pasta. I was shocked to sit down and find this big gorgeous concoction, perfectly seasoned, a smug Alouicious, and the still pouting Elphine. “What could possibly be the matter!” I cried, “This is delicious!” Seven hundred hours later, after being asked for the umpteenth time why she was so sad, she confessed to having a bad mouth sore that made it hurt to smile. Honestly. “Why didn’t you say first thing?!” I shrieked. “I would not have made you eat a vat of tomato.”
It’s these little dramas, splayed out in each and every direction, each child caught in his, or more often her, personal trial, that makes it seem like women can multi task. It’s not so much that there are simultaneous tasks going on, it’s that in your head are all the hundreds of little issues borne along by each person, and they are all connected, thread like, to you, the mother. It’s not just that you paint the room. You paint the room and negotiate the teenager’s happiness, mediate the little girls’ conflict, tell the two middle ones to find their shoes and where they can find them if they would only look for longer than one half of one second (those don’t count as numbers because I wrote them out as words, see, not ready to start school yet), and keep listening to the lengthy and heretical Andy Stanley sermon that your husband thought it would be fun to listen to together, he saved it, see, because he likes being with you and talking theology. Meanwhile you are beating back the encroaching List of All The Things, trying to remind remind yourself that because you are painting, you can’t be that moment dashing off an email. You can’t, because your fingers are encrusted with dust and paint, and your phone doesn’t respond well to either of those things.
As the long day wore on I whispered to God, who I haven’t been speaking to very much lately because I can’t get a word in edgewise, that if I could have only one thing in life, it would be to have a couple of days to perfectly organize all my new closets. Wouldn’t it be great, I said, if I could just have a few uninterrupted moments to perfectly organize every single household closet. Because, see, then I would have ascended the true mountain of holiness, I would know what I had, I wouldn’t be given over to wastefulness and all manner of vile licentiousness. Having properly ordered closets and cupboards is not only a rest to the psyche, it is a mark of truth and goodness.
Really? Spaketh the Lord unto my Spirit. (That’s not a direct quote, please don’t add this to your bible.) Would you really be happy if all your closets were clean? Wouldn’t you mad at yourself for shoving off all the concerns and anxieties of your children, which is what you would have to do, to first order the closets and then keep them ordered, because as soon as you’ve got one done, all the other ones will fall into disarray, that is the meaning of your life.
See, said I back to God, this is why I haven’t been so chatty lately.
Stop being so anxious, spaketh the Lord, quoting himself.
I’m not anxious, I reposted, I’m just never going to finish this room.
And, because it is true that I’m never going to finish, but not true that I’m not anxious, I went to bed and read the Internet. I should have read a book, but instead I read about the dumb stuff humanity is doing in every corner of the world.
And that was Monday. Tuesday, I bet, is going to be wonderful.