Bad Hostess

Posted: April 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Boredom, Parenting, Working World, Writing | 9 Comments »

I think I forgot how to write. But maybe if I just start doing it again it’ll all come back to me.

You see, for a while—this fall and winter—I had a freelance job that paid me money. Like a big girl! And I showered every day and drove on highways during the trafficky times and went to lots of meetings. One day I was even the last parent to pick up my kid from preschool. (Although, blessedly, she said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I think it’s cool.”)

I had forgotten so much of this life. When two parents are working and there’s milk in the refrigerator it’s a freaking MIRACLE. Wheat Thins can become the main course in a working parents’ family dinner because, hey, they’re wheat. And one can quickly adopt a European “wear it twice before washing” attitude about laundry.

My circadian rhythms were out of whack too. I started using an alarm clock again—sometimes even waking up BEFORE THE CHILDREN. And I don’t want to brag here, but a few times at the end of a long work day I managed to stay up past 8:30. That’s a solid 30 minutes of Me Time after the kids went to sleep.

I did NOT however maintain my consistent workout and daily green-juice-drinkin’ routine. But I did replace that with a rigorous I’m-stressed-so-I’ll-treat-myself diet that included the M&Ms, potato chips, and candy-like granola bars that the agency I was working at kept on hand. In my three months of office work if my FitBit could’ve talked to me I’m sure it would’ve just laughed.

The thing is, my gig wasn’t even full time. I was cruising in mid-morning after dropping the kids at school and darting out early some days to chauffeur them to ballet and the horse ranch. Then we’d swing by the grocery store at 6PM in a mad dash to forage for food. So I guess when I think of it that way it was really more like I was doing two jobs (but only getting paid for one).

And let it be known my volunteer commitments didn’t lag. I still ran the school’s monthly coffee party (vintage tablecloths, home-baked muffins, ‘n all), kept Room One’s parents abreast of upcoming field trips, and hit up unsuspecting families to donate to the school—all while typing emails on my phone and taking conference calls in the short-stalled girls’ bathroom.

I spent plenty of time at my office too. I perfected the art of tossing carseats on our front porch on days that I knew might go sideways. If I sensed a meeting would run late I’d text a slew of sitters in the hopes that one was free to zip by our house, grab the boosters, and careen over to the kids’ two schools in time to lay claim to them before after-care ended and CPS was called.

It was like playing with fire—not knowing if my client presentation would sink or swim, while concurrently wondering whether my girls would be busking on the sidewalk for dinner money by the time I got over the bridge to fetch them.

If this sounds like a stressful, miserable existence, you might surprised to hear—now that the project I was on is over—how desperately I miss it. How muchly much muchly I was energized by every over-scheduled minute.  And how, dare I say it, during that time I appreciated every moment with my children and engaged with them wholeheartedly, unlike these days when I sometimes go to the bathroom just to hide from them.

Here’s a shout out to the Grass Is Always Greener Working Mother Club. I’m here to tell you how incredibly boring it is to have a fully-stocked pantry and fridge. Clothing that’s clean—and folded—and put away—for the whole family. And a fresh filter in the water purifer. My typical tower of store returns—various things we didn’t need, that didn’t fit, or were found to be faulty or broken—is non-existent now, which I tragically see as distressing since it means that I have no errands to run.

I mean this is how bad it’s gotten: We don’t have A SINGLE OVERDUE LIBRARY BOOK.

I think what I miss is the stress of having something challenging in front of me, and having to think, hustle, work away at it and finally conquer it. Try as I do I’m not getting deep satisfaction from having discovered new lunch items Paige is willing to eat at school. (Sliced turkey is a contender over the poppy seed bagels we used to pack every day. Huzzah!) Nor am I smug with satisfaction because I’ve read several novels, gotten back on the elliptical regularly, joined the coconut water craze, or finally tended to our front porch ferns that had experienced a savage two-month drought that I’d cruelly imposed upon them.

They are, unsurprisingly, not springing back to life. Yet.

And to show you just how freaking bored and on top of the homefront shit I am, I even pulled out my scrapbooking box. Kill me now! I have made a total of nine—count ‘em NINE—scrapbook pages in my life. (All frickin’ works of art, mind you.) They include me pregnant, Kate as a newborn, Kate’s first Christmas, and a road trip we took when she was like 5 months old. Someday when we are decrepit and infirmed, Mark and I will reflect on those four events, without so much as one photo of Paige to jolt our addled Alzheimer’s brains into remembering that we did in fact have a second child.

Despite how very little attention I’ve given to the housewifely art of scrapbooking (far less than I’ve ever bestowed upon our ferns) I appear at one point to have spent roughly $2,000 on every possible scalloped-edged photo cutter, colorful adhesive-backed letter, patterned background paper, and floral sticker. Really, I could pay for two semesters at Harvard with the money I spent on that crafty crap.

Anyway, because she was home sick but wasn’t really sick (long story) I got Kate to make two scrapbook pages. Then I tucked it all away for another six years. With enough neglect, all that stuff will start looking vintage. Maybe then I’ll think it’s cool and want to do something with it.

In the meantime I’m trying to remember what I used to do before my freelance project left me so stressfully, blissfully over-occupied. And I think the answer was: blog.

So here I am. I’m back.

I feel kinda like I left my own party to go to a movie or something. And now I’m sneaking back in, shamefacedly trying to hide my Raisinets. I have no idea if anyone’s even still here. And if there are people here they’re either mad at me for being such a crappy host, or are expecting me to do something really dazzling and entertaining to make up for my absence.

Trust me, if I could find that thing, I’d be doing it right now.


9 Comments on “Bad Hostess”

  1. 1 Mary Patrick said at 2:16 pm on April 22nd, 2013:

    Welcome back to your party! No excuses necessary. xo

  2. 2 kristen from motherload said at 2:27 pm on April 22nd, 2013:

    Thanks, Mary P.

    And I’m pleased to inform you that you win a canned ham for making the first comment!

  3. 3 Amy Jones said at 4:03 pm on April 22nd, 2013:

    It’s always nice to see you — welcome back!

  4. 4 Ingrid said at 4:43 pm on April 22nd, 2013:

    I love how you write, always makes me chuckle. I totally 100% get the whole “stay at home mom” malaise, vs the excitement of feeling needed in a “real job.” <> I have a part-time job too (a corporate one, not just massage) and it’s highly rewarding to be active in that dimension again. But it’s hard to juggle it too. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to more posts!

  5. 5 Jo Hadley said at 9:39 pm on April 22nd, 2013:

    It is great to have you back, Kristen. My favorite half sentence of this latest creation is, “all while typing emails on my phone and taking conference calls in the short-stalled girls’ bathroom.” The amazing part of this blog is that you really are not over exaggerating all that you do. As a fellow mom at the school, I can attest to it. I just had never put it together that you’re the room parent, fundraising maven, and host the coffee parties! You forgot to mention that you were also the M.C. for the auction party and had us all rolling in our seats as we emptied our wallets for the school!

  6. 6 Sally H. said at 6:39 am on April 23rd, 2013:

    welcome back, cuz…wondered where you had escaped to!

  7. 7 LisaHoward said at 6:56 am on April 23rd, 2013:

    Hi there! And welcome back…although, I had no idea you had left. You see, I’m a new follower. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure how I found your blog. Could have been during your pre-freelance-project days??? Either way, I totally enjoy your writing style. Consider me a new friend as well as a new fan!

  8. 8 Katrina said at 7:06 am on April 23rd, 2013:

    I know how you feel. When you do project-based work, it’s feast or famine (for the kids, because there’s no one buying the milk).

    Welcome back! Now please pass the Raisinets.

  9. 9 Tamar said at 7:34 am on April 23rd, 2013:

    I laughed out loud as I read your post (while eating breakfast AT MY JOB). I’m glad you are back because I love reading your blog … but as a full-time working mom (in the middle of reading “Lean In”) — there is a balance, of course, and it’s not always easy to do the minimum of both worlds when you are a mama and have tons of work and travel etc. One would think this would make me value my time at home even more. I try to remember this as I argue with my son about brushing his teeth and not sitting on the dog and not leaving comic books on the bathroom floor and ….

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