Today is the first day back to school after the Christmas holidays. The holidays were the first time in, um, ever (maybe) that we all got to hang out at home with nothing pressing to do. (Of course, by “we all” I mean both myself and Ed. God knows that hanging out at home with the kids has been my freaking raison d’etre for the past 6 3/4 years but who’s counting. It is a joy and an honour and apples of my eye and so on.)
So clearly I had time to pre-write blog posts into March and pitch a million different freelance ideas and update my resume and organize the office and the mud room and the pantry and my bedroom closet. “There’s a week between Christmas and New Year’s,” I said over and over and over again. “I’ll take care of [insert important task I’ve been putting off for weeks] then.” Clearly.
Except that our marathon of Christmas festivities includes the 26th. This left only the Thursday and Friday of the week of Christmas which we spent in recuperation mode, trying to find the floor in the the sea of wrappers and bows and packaging and toys and holy hell, do not open that Lego set right here, right now, for the love of god. It also meant chugging back egg nog and cramming shortbread into my face while the going was still good. (I am currently snacking on dry, “sprouted grain” toast, a New Year’s penance for my transgressions.) Then there was the weekend and it’s corresponding social obligations, New Year’s Eve was Monday and Ed was back to work by Wednesday. So that “entire week off with the endless hours of productive fun for me” pipe dream I was selling turned out to be just that, a lie.
And that’s how I wound up doing the week’s worth of grocery shopping at 4:00 pm on a Sunday with a toddler in tow. Did you know that everybody else was also doing their shopping at the exact same time? And in the hipster-parent paradise where I live, at least half of my fellow shoppers also had a baby or toddler with them. Pure chaos.
Irene greeted me at the door, eager to help lug the bags of groceries into the kitchen. “Now we can sort the food! Colum! Colum! Colum! Colum! Let’s sort the food!”
“Pasta!” one of them said, “What food group does this belong in?”
“Bread and cereal.”
“Bread and cereal.”
And so on until every last item was categorized. Ohmigod, they are such nerds.
In the meantime, the kitchen was one level short of being declared a toxic waste disaster zone. Because if you accidentally take half a day off from aggressively fighting the indefatigable front of dirty dishes, spoons, sippy cups and pots and pans you come very close to losing the entire bloody war.
So every last iota of concentration and energy I had was focused on unloading/loading the dishwasher, washing/using pots and pans, clearing out/stocking the fridge all at the same time. I was cooking and cleaning, clearing out the fridge and putting away groceries, helping to categorize every last food item that I bought and fending off a hungry and tired toddler at once.
“Mommy, can I help make the salad?” Don’t even get me started.
I dropped dinner on the dining room table an hour late and started to dole it out. “Colum has more salad than me! I want more! More! Whaaaaa!” Of course she only picked at her salad and refused to eat any noodles with sauce (the horror!). Cooking for four year olds is the worst.
Just as I finally started to serve myself, Mary started freaking the hell out. She was flinging food off her highchair, spilling milk and throwing forks and spoons clear across the room. I can ignore that, I thought, and took a bite. That’s when she started with the horror movie soundtrack noises. She was screaming and yelling and shrieking at top volume; it was only a matter of time before the neighbours called the police. So I took her out of the high chair and pointed her toward the toy box in the living room.
No such luck. She insisted on being held on my lap and then started clawing at my shirt, reaching her hand down to cop a feel and then repeatedly banging her face into my chest.
“You are asking to be weaned,” I said.
“I think she’s asking to be fed,” said Colum.
I like him. He ate all his dinner plus seconds.