I heartily resent your bean sandwich.

15 Aug

As a single mother I need to attest to a fair amount of resentment regarding certain types of people and comments. Some of this is just further proof that I’m a bit of a bitch, but a lot of it is surely driven by flat out exhaustion. You get your 5 year old to eat beans? I’m lucky to get her past the yoghurt! Yours is fluent in 3 languages? I’m terribly impressed if mine speaks english to me in the morning without the inflection of whining that she’s picked up somewhere this summer, a new variant on the past dialect.

So i’m scrubbing the bathtub this morning, the filthy tub I’ve put off for too long because dammit, when it’s 38C, I am not spending time scrubbing head down with hot water. And it’s nasty filthy, actual dirt, not just “un shiny”-and I wonder if the people who have time to do elaborate meals and outfits for their kids, who have these incredible sounding little cultured people, if they have the spotless tubs I imagine them to have? And if so, where is the time?  Do they not sleep? Do they eat? Is this why some women are so skinny?

My house is something I look at with a certain level of shrugged irritation. I can’t get ahead of it all, the cleaning, the cooking, the “educational toys and books”. My kids eat Mr. Noodle too often and spend time on the computer doing what kids in the summer do-playing, wasting time, dicking around. Presently they’ve been kicked outside as my mother would have done “I don’t want to see or hear from you in the next hour.” But I’m thinking in the grand scheme of mom war, I’d lose, Because I flat out don’t have the time.

I am jealous of those women who have the time to do all the baking and cleaning and interaction that I can’t do. I really am. I envy their lives, their plans, the meaning they give to the days. But I have a choice-I could spend my little time with my children cleaning and organizing and planning and making, or we can just hang out and be kids and Mom together in the last humid weeks of this summer.

I resent that I lose all this time with them. That parenting isn’t even benign neglect at this point, but rushing to and fro. I parent more on the walk to and from day care than I do at home. Mornings are crazed muddles and “let’s move!” and evenings a time when I have to puposefully slow myself down, so we all enjoy Equal Rights, not just me for the small victory of creating another Pratchett addicted person. I resent that these days move too fast, and I know it. I feel it rush past us, and then suddenly I know it’s not about bean sandwiches or sprouts or doing algebra. It’s about the time I lose to my circumstance, to reality, to a world I know I didn’t ask for, this one where we run and we run and nothing gets better.

I can’t get it back, any of it, and they grow older as I stand, hands slipping through time like water. I can’t stem the tide.

12 Responses to “I heartily resent your bean sandwich.”

  1. slouchy August 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I don’t believe such women, such mothers, exist.

    Those who claim to are lying.

    That conviction makes me feel better.

    • thordora August 17, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      I mostly believe that. Mostly :p

  2. Marcy August 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    I’m sorry. (And I am going to resist looking at the tubs and toilets. I wiped the counter when I brushed my teeth last night and that will be good enough.)

    • thordora August 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

      I’m fine until it gets away from me…and then, it REALLY gets away from me, mostly because my memories of childhood? Have little to do with how clean the bathroom was….but then why do I have such quilt?!?!

      • Marcy August 17, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

        My memories of childhood are full of the surprise and resentment, every Saturday, that once again we were being asked to do chores. One dusted, one vacuumed; one did sinks and countertops, one did dishes. And surely I was a teenager before I realized this was a pattern.

        I have no such chore schedule here. We have our “morning chores” which at bare minimum (except on very busy days) are to make the beds, get dressed, and put away nightclothes. Other stuff is when it hits me, or can’t be ignored any longer. I would like to be better at that — especially the stuff that isn’t obvious, or that only brings attention to itself when I’m not able to deal with it. Like noticing the kitty litter needs scooping, because I’m in the bathroom (where the litter is), but I have to finish the bath, and by the time I’ve got her dressed, I’ve forgotten the litter or it’s time to make dinner.

        I have a question. Are you feeling guilt? (The image of quilt was very amusing, btw) Or are you feeling un-peace? Or both… Clutter makes me feel uneasy, no peace — having stuff organized and easy to use makes me feel peaceful. So it’s not a bare / mere “should” but actually corresponds with a need of my personality.

        • thordora August 18, 2011 at 12:05 am #

          I think it’s a little bit of both…I feel much much better when things are tidy, but getting there is SUCH a battle for me time wise that I wonder if it’s worth it…now that’s an internal battle of mine and one that I’m slowly winning….i don’t mind some chaos but it has to make sense, and not just be that nasty dirty chaos I keep finding my house in….

          and yeah, quilt…too much pop tonight. WAAAAY too much. 😛

        • Marcy August 18, 2011 at 9:34 am #

          Time, yeah. Maybe rethinking the storage and organization stuff might help, although there’s time and money in that, too. I just learned how to make origami boxes, and now the thread in my sewing desk is neatly contained. My heart soars. Amy’s stuff is all in small baskets (when I could buy or got gifted) and cardboard boxes (from packages received) so things can be kept distinct and easy to find and easy to put away. And so on. But that’s more about staying tidy, and not so much about being clean.

  3. Deer Baby August 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    I don’t believe there are either. At least I’ve never come across one.
    I do remember my mother cleaning a lot – one of my clearest memories of her is scrubbing the front step over and over. I wanted her to just hang out with me.

    Just hanging out is what they remember not Kumon Maths and making raffia weave baskets.

    • Kelly O August 17, 2011 at 9:20 am #

      I’ve totally resisted commenting, because I realize you’re not asking for advice here. But just in case it’s helpful, here’s what works for me to maintain a reasonable semblance of order, without which I start to feel a little crazy: empowering the kids (7 and 5) to do their share. In the morning, they make their cereal while I shower and put their dishes in the sink. They have to be ready to go at a certain time. (Yeah, sometimes I bribe them with a quarter or candy.) At night, while I finish dinner, they set the table. If they don’t like what I made, they can make their own PB&Js, but they have to make it entirely by themselves and put everything away. They clear the table after dinner, and we’re working on them doing their own dishes while I put away the food. They have to take their toys to their rooms before bedtime, and they have to spend 5 or 10 minutes picking up their rooms every night. They feed the dogs and cats and make sure the water is fresh before dinner. On weekends, they vacuum and sweep while I clean the bathrooms. They fold and put away their own laundry. I’m thinking that I’ll start scrubbing the tub and sink with baking soda, so the kids can help.

      We still have lots of time to just hang out together. It’s just that we all have to chip in every day. It’s taken a lot of time, patience, good cheer, and lowered standards, but it’s getting a lot easier.

      • thordora August 17, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

        We do a fair bit of that, but a lot of the trouble has been my insane work schedule. I worked a split, then a condensed, and with them at their Dad’s 2.5 days a week, and day care most other days, it leaves us with so little time…

        Vivian just got the “chores for money” speech again, so perhaps this time she’ll do more than the bare minumum. Part of it is my fault too-when I’m tired, it’s easier to ignore it, or do it my damn self….

        I’m stealing the PBJ idea for the whiny dinner nights. Shoulda thought of that myself.

    • thordora August 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      Yeah. I’m trying the just hang out thing. In the long run I think it’s better for all of us 😀

  4. Jennifer August 19, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Somehow I don’t think that they will remember the meals or the house, instead they will remember the interactions with you. THAT is the most important part.

    I actually feel bad for the mother/friends of mine on FB that are the shopaholic/must make the girls princesses/must bake bread from scratch/must wash windows between breaks from re-tiling the antique sideboards types because I wonder just what they are filling their childrens lives with. Is it “stuff and status” or is it real life? What are they setting their kids up for in the future?

    I think the difference between that parents kids and mine will be that my children will grow up with reality, that my house will get messy, that mom will have to work instead of play and that the money does not fall from the sky.

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