Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Now Doing the Work of Four People

My mother had four kids, just like me. So when she says on the phone, "I don't know how you do it," I have no ready reply. What do you mean, you don't know how? YOU HAD FOUR KIDS! Just like me.

But when my mother's youngest child was three and her oldest child was eleven, her marriage crumbled and she lost custody of us. So, I guess she really doesn't know. I can't imagine what that would be like, to go from sticky Cheerio bowls and bickering in the backyard to visit once or twice a month. After the initial relief, does deep, dark depression set in?

So often, I feel like I am doing nothing, just refolding the same laundry, sweeping the same floor, cooking the same meals, wearing the same jeans, picking up the same toys--and it feels like nothing. I know, of course, that I'm doing everything, what with raising human beings from cradle to adulthood, but the progress is slow and I'm not even sure if we're heading in the right direction some days.

And then my mother exclaims, "You do the work of four people!"

I laughed. Maybe four extremely lazy, unambitious people.

She said, "You homeschool." (I mentally correct her and say school-at-home in my head and then I think of how many times in the past week I have yelled at my Reluctant Student who drags his feet.)

She said, "You take care of other people's kids." (Well, true, but only for the money. And they nap.)

She said, "You have your own children and you're the chief cook and bottle washer." (I think of my inadequate housekeeping, my pitiful meals, my disgusting toilets. I think of the board games I don't play, the times I am desperate to get away from these kids, how insane it makes me to hear them chew.)

She said, "Then you volunteer at the church." (But I know that really, all I do is teach a Sunday School class for preschoolers and direct Vacation Bible School, and compared to other pastor's wives, compared to other Church Ladies, even, I do practically nothing. I am a sorry excuse for a pastor's wife.)

I wonder if it feels like I'm doing nothing because I do what I do simultaneously? I am hardly ever focused on a single task. Even at this moment, I am half-watching the American Music Awards. Can I just say that I thought Mariah Carey's opening song was dreadful? And I think Mariah Carey is one of the most amazing singers ever. I also practically blushed with embarrassment on behalf of Hilary Duff--how can she not be mortified at herself, bopping around on the stage, singing a silly song about heart beats? What ridiculous lyrics and crazy dancing and what a truly ugly dress she wore.

Um, what was I saying? I seem to be a little sidetracked.

Well, tomorrow is a half-day of school, then Thursday is Turkey Day. I'll be staying home, cooking everything myself because I am just that stupid fabulous. And because I turned down an invitation to my mother's tiny apartment because my children annoy her (let's just be honest) and there isn't enough room in her abode for us to spread out, especially in light of the fact that my brother (The Prodigal Son) and his wife and my grandmother (almost 100 years old, be impressed) and my cousin and her new boyfriend and her same old daughter will also be there, taking up square footage.

Seriously, there isn't enough room for us. We'll probably go over for dessert. Maybe. Well, probably. It's only three minutes away. How can we not?

One final note. In my family, we put green olives and raisins in our stuffing. What else would you expect from someone who grew up thinking pickles and ketchup belong on tacos?


Blogger WordsRock said...

Green olives and raisins? How interesting!

There's more to say but no words to say it. Have a nice holiday, Mel.


6:09 AM  
Anonymous mopsy said...

Have a very happy Thanksgiving, Mel.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I think your Mom is right, and I also think you are not giving yourself enough credit.

Of course, I do the same thing so I totally understand you.

Pickles and ketchup on tacos? LOL! I guess that's no weirder than mayonnaise on baked potatoes!
Mmmmm :-)

6:35 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

How about a peanut butter and Dijon mustard, bologna sandwich. (Oscar Meyer gets all the credit for my ability to spell bologna not to mention Oscar Meyer).

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Ms. White Red girl in a Purple state.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous surcie said...

Sorry excuse for a pastor's wife? Girl, hush your mouth. You are not the church's wife. Your husband happens to be a minister and you are an awesome wife and mom. That makes you a great pastor's wife, IMHO.

7:19 AM  
Blogger The Dung Beetle said...

"I can't imagine what that would be like, to go from sticky Cheerio bowls and bickering in the backyard to visit once or twice a month. After the initial relief, does deep, dark depression set in?"

For me, there was initial relief once the legal wrangling was done, and though there was no depression, I don't believe that this is something that I can ever really get use to.

Have a happy and safe turkey day.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Mel!

I have an uncle who used to pour pork and beans right from the can onto his mashed potatoes. The canned beans were his family of six contribution to Thanksgiving Dinner.

Nothing surprises me anymore.

1:02 PM  
Blogger ellipsis... said...


you are, bar none, the coolest Church Lady I know. Not that I know many, since I am, well, a heathen and all-round naughty girl, but you get what I mean. Have some turkey and green and red stuffing and smile.


6:45 PM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

Raisins and green olives in the stuffing?? That's the grossest thing I've ever heard!

About being a pastor's wife...Is your husband complaining? If he isn't then you are obviously fullfilling your job of being his helpmate. Who (other than a lot of blue-haired old church ladies) says a pastor's wife has to teach classes, play the piano, sing in the choir, serve on every committee and show up every time the church doors open?

8:01 PM  
Blogger dinodoc said...

Methinks the lady that completed (& wrapped) all of her Christmas presents BEFORE Thanksgiving does not have a very accurate picture of herself. Silly Mel.

And seriously, not a good pastor's wife? Must I come slap you? ;)

And last but not least, I hereby decline any future stuffing offers (shudder)...I'll just heap on the cranberries instead.

3:45 PM  

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