We’ve been through pestilence this winter: flu, lice, Fifth disease (which I correctly diagnosed using pediatric medicine sites prior to a doctor’s visit). There were family visits that involved hosting a dozen different relatives in the space of a week between Christmas and New Years’. I served orange juice to my young niece and nephew in shot glasses while adults sipped champagne out of sleek stemware. My husband’s three-week business trip coincided with 1) Snowmaggedon 2015, 2) my Ides of March manuscript deadline, and 3) my son’s first ER trip for a broken collarbone. I even pulled a wiggly tooth that gushed blood everywhere a mere 54 hours before the designated blood-and-guts parent returned home. But the event that has finally led to a blog post after a long drought occurred this morning when I greeted a neighbor who was out walking her energetic dog at 8 am while I was elbow-deep in my own trash dumpster.
Shit gets real fast when you’re explaining that behavior.
Aside: My neighbors probably didn’t bat an eye when they saw me curbside pulling dripping garbage bags from the plastic can. I’m that crazy neighbor who yells at her children to “get the hell inside NOW,” thereby scaring the sweet girl from across the street who immediately disappears into her house while my two hooligans gauge how serious I am. First, the retirees in my neighborhood live vicariously through my parenting fails. I remind them of simpler times when they had to work and parent school-aged children instead of vacationing in Mexico and Key West during February. Second, other parents of young children take solace in my presence because I make them look good. Third, childless couples conclude they’ve made wise life decisions.
In the spirit of over-sharing, I’ll confess that I was searching for a lost Kindle Fire (my son’s gateway drug). Like any saavy kid, he had the good sense to hang back in the garage to hide when he saw the neighbor lady walking her dog. I charged out there to eliminate one more possible hiding place before the trash guys arrived. I should have been inside packing lunches or listening to my daughter practice the piano. Instead, I attacked that week’s worth of garbage with the energy of someone who snorts cocaine.
Aside: Rest assured, dear readers, I do not snort cocaine. It is a metaphor. Your kids can still have play dates at my house. I have imbibed with the occasional cocktail, but always after lunchtime, except for that one time I put Bailey’s in my coffee when school was closed due to snow for the fourth consecutive morning or the time I had mimosas with a friend after putting the kids on the school bus to celebrate a special occasion that I can’t clearly remember right now.
Back to the over-sharing part: while standing outside on a humid, 30-degree morning the day before the official start of Spring, a day that weather forecasters predict may include some snow accumulation, I was mad. Mad at myself for giving a six-year-old boy a device that he really isn’t old enough to be responsible for. Mad at myself for engaging in a housecleaning blitzkrieg that amounts to stashing shit anywhere I can before the cleaning lady shows up to sterilize the place. Mad at myself for accidently wheeling the recycling bin in last week before the pick up, thereby resulting in 2 weeks’ worth of newspapers and plastics to sort through. Mad at myself because my kids are growing up with a ridiculous amount of toys when there are kids in our community who eat two of their three daily meals at school and wear clothes that I place in goodwill boxes.
Aside: Now, back to the shit part of this post.
My lovely, kind, wonderful, slightly twisted neighbor catches me dumpster diving and promptly tells me a story of someone losing a pair of eyeglasses among seven garbage bags containing freshly raked leaves. Unlike my son’s Kindle Fire, the glasses turned up in the second to last bag. I laugh and turn to resume my task, but not before she adds, “At least there isn’t poop in there.” Because it can always be worse than it is…
Aside: If you’re of the Catholic persuasion, consider praying to whichever saint finds lost shit for my son’s electronic device. The rest of you, just send good vibes and keep those misery-loves-company stories flowing.