my track record is suffering

There have been moments since my oldest child was born that I have felt a bit cocky about my parenting abilities.  You know those events when you simply do or say the exact right thing and walk away feeling like the best mother in the world.  Unfortunately, my track record has suffered lately, as I have made a series of parenting mistakes.  For example, I allowed my four-year-old to walk around with pneumonia for three weeks before taking her to the doctor–not a stellar move on my part.  And last week when my youngest was throwing a tantrum over the fact that our new puppy didn’t want to snuggle with her, I said, “The next time you scream like that you better have a bone sticking out and blood gushing all over the floor.”  Perhaps not the most nurturing of responses.

Last night I went out to dinner with my girlfriends.  My oldest daqughter, Meg, was at soccer practice when I left, and I didn’t see her until I returned home.  When I walked in the door, she asked, “So, what teachers did you meet?”

I looked a bit like this:

deer in the headlights

deer in the headlights

as it dawned on me that while I was chatting, laughing, and eating with my girlfriends, hundreds of mothers and fathers where at the high school parent-teacher night, which I totally and completely forgot about.  The other disturbing information that came out of this exchange is that my son, husband, and youngest daughter all knew I was out to dinner, but no one bothered to pass this key piece of news on to Meg.  Apparently, when I am not home no one in my family talks to each other.

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stop touching me!

I do not like being touched when I am trying to fall asleep.  Let me be clear, I don’t mind being touched prior to falling asleep.  I don’t mind hugs, shoulder rubs, hand holding; those are all good, but in the moments before I fall asleep, I don’t like any skin touching my skin.  I like to fall asleep comfortable in my own space and fortunately for me, my husband gets that.

Unfortunately for me, my husband is in China, and my bed buddy this week has been my four-year-old daughter who does not appreciate my need for space.  When her dad is gone, she likes to have sleep-overs in my bed.  This has been a long week of glowing-blue night lights, stuffed animals, and feet touching me.

This week I have felt like the five-year-old me buckled in the backseat of our old Ford Torino with my brother on full-pest-alert.  I have found myself screaming inside my head, “STAY ON YOUR SIDE!  QUIT TALKING!”  While on the outside I am quietly telling Ella to, “Skooch over a tiny bit.”

Last night, Ella plopped herself horizontally in the middle of the bed and piled countless stuffed animals around her.  After I mentioned that I needed a bit more room, she replied, “Mom, you have the biggest bed in the house.  We could fit Meg, Cole, Daddy, and Chaucer (our dog) in this bed.  You have a million-times enough room.”

I was too tired to argue.  I curled into a fetal position in the three square feet she had left me, Ella’s feet tapping and tickling the small of my back, and screamed inside my head, “STOP TOUCHING ME!”

Home

Yesterday, the sale on my childhood home closed.  the little brown rambler at the end of the cul-de-sac no longer belongs to my family.  I lost my first tooth in that house, kissed my first boy on that porch, parked my first car in that driveway, and learned how to swim in the pool in that backyard.  It is simply a great house, and although I am melancholy at letting it go, I am happy it will continue to be full of life.

A few years ago, I took a writing course and in that class I was required to describe the home I grew up in.  So, thank you little brown rambler for keeping my family safe and warm all these years.  I will miss you.

Home:

The forty-two-year-old linoleum in the entry way is beige (but perhaps it used to be white).  It has a chocolate-brown scroll design that looks vaguely Greek, like a pattern one might find etched into marble somewhere in Europe; only here in the 1960s rambler it is dated and odd.  Does anyone still build houses with linoleum entry ways?  The wooden baseboards are chipped where the vacuum cleaner has crashed into them a thousand times.  As I round the corner into the family room, I can see the kitchen with its cream paint and oak cabinets, a bit sticky-looking from decades of chicken-fried steak and burnt cookies.  I can feel the draft that always comes from the small chip in the kitchen window.  Odd how such a small hole can let in so much cold air.  Through the dining room with the popcorn ceiling.  The dining room chairs with the splintered wooden legs that had been gnawed on by one of the puppies.  Down the stairs into the rec-room I can smell the burnt logs from a thousand fires in the wood stove.  The TV, so dated it is not rectangular, but square.  The sofa, a concave mess of navy plaid, yet still so comfortable and warm.  A cozy place still equipped with a VCR.  My bedroom last, a yellow puff of girly dreams.  White canopy bed with rainbow curtains.  The closet and dresser are empty which seems shocking, the void depressing and unsettling.  I don’t live here, haven’t lived here in over twenty years.  Still, my empty closet sends me to tears.