My daughter Patti is going off to kindergarten in September and I feel, well, thrilled! I suppose admitting such a thing makes me a mother of questionable character. This is the time of year we usually read tearful stories by mothers who aren’t ready to push their little birdies out of the nest.
I, however, dream of the day when both my girls are in school for hours at a time and I am — anticipatory shiver — alone.
It’s not their fault. I love my girls dearly. It’s just that lately I’ve developed a serious case of mommy memory loss. I can’t seem to get anything done well or in a reasonable amount of time. My train of thought has derailed.
Take shopping. For now, this consists of hoisting a little one in and out of the shopping cart as well as careening down aisles to deliver a child to the rest room “just in time.”
Every now and again, I can almost envision a shopping trip where I don’t forget half the items on my list and the ice cream isn’t melted before I leave the store.
Speaking of stores, I have a hazy, distant memory of being able to run errands efficiently. I could hit six locations in the space of a couple hours with breath to spare. Now I don’t have the brainpower to plan that many stops, let alone the energy to get two girls in and out of the car seats 12 times.
But it’s at home where my memory loss and lack of brain power really seems to kick in. For example, I make a simple plan to wash the kitchen floor in the morning. I start to sweep and then my youngest, Suzi, asks for an apple. As I peel it, she begins screaming that she doesn’t want it cut. I spend 20 minutes drying her tears and demonstrating that I’m peeling, not cutting. Tantrum over, she sits at the table munching the bald apple, humming happily.
I vow to jam the apple peels down the disposal after I finish sweeping the assorted dirt, crumbs and cat-food bits into a dustpan. But then my oldest, Patti, makes her grumpy first appearance and demands a lollypop.
“You can’t have a lollypop for breakfast,” I tell her as I lean on my broom. “What else would you like?”
She doesn’t reply, but stomps through the kitchen toward the television, kicking the pile of muck all over the kitchen. The day goes on accordingly. By the time my husband comes home, he trips over the broom and drops his briefcase, which lands into the long-forgotten pile of dirt on the floor. The apple peels have taken root in the sink and I’m staring at him, soiled pull-up in hand, trying to remember his name.
Is it any wonder I need some time to myself?
Don’t get me wrong, though. I know it’s not all about me. On Patti’s first day of school, we will send her off looking lovely and well-scrubbed in a pressed dress and perky pigtails. My husband and I will take photos and shed tears. And I bet that first day I’ll sit and wonder what she’s doing, whether she likes her teacher and what she’ll be when she grows up….
And, after I’m done with all those nice, this-is-the-way-moms-should-think thoughts, I’ll jump up, take Suzi to her preschool class and head for a coffee shop. There I plan to spend my first free hour and thirty-six minutes nursing an iced Chai tea. At that point, I can only hope that my fizzled brain cells will take the opportunity to start regenerating.