“Step on the scale, Mom,” he said.

Step on the scale, Mom!

My thighs are killing me. So is my ass. And also the sole of my foot because I stepped on a stray game board-game piece, but that’s a different story.

You see, I knew I’d slipped up. The regular exercise routine I had last winter and early spring had been knocked off course by a lingering chest cold and I never really did catch my stride again after that. It was hard to find a regular time to go out for a run over the summer and this school year isn’t much better. And, on top of not exercising, I’d fallen into the habit of enjoying one or two drinks and snacking in front of the TV in the evenings.

I’d put on weight. I knew I had. I was just hoping it wasn’t that much. (My bathroom scale was hiding out in the basement so I could enjoy my trip to denial.) But then, on Thanksgiving weekend, I had a wake up call.

Now, I’m going to name numbers here because the story calls for it. Remember that what seems like a huge number for me, might be fairly healthy for somebody else. At 5′ 6″, I’m of average height, but I have a fairly slight bone structure. I was a healthy (albeit slim) 125 lbs when I got married. And when I do put on weight, there’s really nowhere for me to hide it. (This is one of the reasons people were always convinced my seven-pound babies were actually going to be ten-pound twins.)

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Altogether now, I’ve got too much damn stuff!

Altogether now, I've got too much stuff!

Stuff.

Stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff.

Stuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuffstuff.

I am drowning in stuff. Or, rather, it more like being buried alive. I live in a cocoon made of stuff and filled with more stuff. I can still breathe through all this stuff but it is chipping away at my sanity at an increasingly alarming rate.

Before I left my parents’ home, everything I really cared about fit nicely in a mid-sized bedroom with a standard closet. I then lived in a 500-square-foot bachelor apartment with one closet and room to freaking spare.

Then I got engaged and my fiancé came with half a decade’s worth of kitchen gear, assorted furnishings and boxes and boxes of stuff.

Then I got married. Oh, the stuff we got from that. Towels and linens and cookware, oh my. Glasses and dishes and platters galore. We moved apartments every couple years and shed hundreds of pounds of stuff along the way. It was quickly replaced by new stuff. I looked around at my life and thought, “How did I get all this stuff?”

Next came the kids.

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That kind of morning

white bowl

“I can’t be the only one who does everything around here!”

That was me screaming at no one in particular and everyone at once.

Apparently there was some weird and beautiful light this morning. I missed it because I was too busy yelling at my family.

It all started yesterday. Sometimes when my life is balanced on a teetering tower of Jenga blocks, I know it’s all my fault. At least I’m game to take the blame. I’m disorganized. I’m bad at time management. Maybe I decided to watch TV rather than make lunches and pick up toys all evening. The house is generally a disaster which can probably be tracked back to me somehow or other. I mean, sure, sometimes I will spend several hours cleaning and organizing the playroom, say, only to have the kids trash it before the day is over. And I don’t mean they left their toys out. I mean it looks like they drank a twenty-sixer of tequila, rocked out to a full house at the ACC and then came home to party out the remainder of a cocaine binge in the basement playroom. Only it looks a little worse than that.

But yesterday, man, I thought I was doing all right. I thought I’d done as good a job as I can ever reasonably be expected to do on a regular basis given the constraints of my very humanity. I helped two kids with their homework while entertaining a three-year-old, responding to email and cooking dinner. I then oversaw piano practice, creative play and read stories.

Next, since my husband still wasn’t home — shocker — I corralled everybody upstairs and into their pajamas. We brushed teeth, read stories, sang songs and little tots were carried back to bed a half dozen times.

Then (with the help of my husband who finally came home) I cleaned the kitchen and read all of three pages in a book before crashing for the night.

Not bad, Rebecca. It may have taken eight years, but you have finally got this day-to-day parenting stuff down.

Then somehow (while packing lunch and overseeing breakfast and orchestrating shoes into backpacks and rain boots on because it looks like rain and weren’t you supposed to leave those shoes at school anyway?) things started to unravel. Remember, I hadn’t yet had any coffee.

“Your math book, Colum. Where’s your math book?”

“No, the book we had as I sat at the dining room table last night and made sure you finished your work.”

“Where did it go?”

“Didn’t I TELL YOU to put it straight into your backpack?!”

Meanwhile my husband who has never in his life laid eyes on this math book is searching under stacks of paper where it could not possibly be. And I am doing my best to blame him for the fact that I am the only person in the house who has any knowledge of where anything goes or how anything works (which is only partially true, probably). It’s completely unfair for me to blame someone who is working out of the house five or more days a weeks for not knowing that I bought these items for school lunches which go in these containers that are half in the dishwasher and half in this drawer here because I reorganized again. And Colum’s school pants are in the dryer and Irene will just have to wear Mary’s socks today because I haven’t had a chance to do her laundry. That’s Irene’s homework there, no it’s not library day today and, what? Are you for real asking me if there’s hockey practice tonight when it’s the one thing you’re in charge of?

It’s totally not fair for me to blame my husband for not knowing the things that only I can know but must I have to know them all at the same time as soon as I wake up in the morning and WHERE IN THE HELL IS THAT MATH BOOK!?

Well, it’s gone. Might as well take that kid off the math and science track now. I spent a full 40 minutes AFTER they’d left for school looking for the damn workbook and I have no idea where it could have gone on the trip between the dining room table and his backpack at the back door, but I can only assume that we’ll never find it.

Luckily he’s good with languages.