This Morning

Kate heads out the door and I hold back tears. Real tears. I don’t want to do this again. I’ve been doing this for five and a half years but it doesn’t matter somehow. Every morning I’m back to the beginning.

On good days, I’m Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill. On bad ones, I’m more like Prometheus chained to a rock getting my liver pecked out by birds. Replace “birds” with small children and “liver” with sanity and/or masculinity. But it’s great, being the stay-at-home parent. Because amidst the Greek tragedy are sprinkled little moments, “privileged moments” as Proust called them. Moments like this morning when I was trying to get a tangle out of my three year-old daughter’s matted hair and she’s kicking me and then suddenly stops, turns around and asks me, “can Daddy’s go to work too?”

Or, maybe later this morning, after dropping the kids off at school, when I walked into the kitchen and found the trash spread out across the floor and drops of blood trailing into the living room, where I found Greeley, our dog, the guilty party. While dragging her over to the mess I noticed something wrapped around her muzzle. I assumed it was just a rubber band one of the kids slipped on there. I go to pull it off and see it’s just a string slung across the top of her nose. I pull it and see that the other end is in her mouth somewhere. I pull some more. It keeps coming. And coming. I’m at about four to five feet of string when Greeley starts to gag. I stop. She stops. I look at her. She looks at me. I pull again and BLAAAAH. She throws up everything she just ate out of the trash. As well as what appear to be Bendaroos, wax-coated strings the kids spent the morning playing with/fighting over. I throw Greeley outside and spend the next twenty minutes cleaning trash, puke, and blood off the floors. It occurs to me now, writing this, that it never occurred to me check where on Greeley the blood was coming from. I hope it was from her eyeballs.

Then there’s the rest of my morning –the next forty five minutes culminating in me sitting here at Starbucks eavesdropping on a gaggle of Lulu Lemon clad forty-somethings gabbing about summer rentals. The kitchen floor now clean and the Bendaroos back in their box, I take a moment to consider the remaining three hours of my day (At 1pm I have to pick the kids back up from school). My wife’s voice passes through my head. “Try to get something done today.” Those were her parting words this morning, her response to the sight of tears welling up in my eyes. Screw it, I say to myself now, I’m going to try to get something done today. Instead of spitefully getting nothing done, I’m going to get something done.

But what? I could pick back up with the soul-crushing transformation of my office (which, honestly, I never really used) into the new baby’s room (I don’t have to have actually used it for the symbolism to crush my soul). Only problem with that is I really don’t want to. What else? I could put the doorknobs back on the kids’ bedroom doors (I took them off when I painted their room six months ago). But I bet I won’t be able to find all the pieces.

I could repaint the portions of the wall that Louisa, our three year-old, likes to peel off with her fingernails. The basketball-sized spot that she likes to work on while laying in bed appears to be down to the 1902 paint-layers. I consider for a moment that there’s a good chance Louisa goes to sleep each night with lead paint caked under fingernails. I’ll do that tomorrow, I decide. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to find the paint.

I could feed the dogs. But Greeley probably got enough to eat from the trash and Angie, our other dog, got out last night and rolled in what smells like human feces. I know from experience that while she’ll happily eat human feces, she usually doesn’t roll in it. But this smells too bad to be deer shit. Kate pulled her into the kid’s bath last night. She still stinks and her breath –which I got a good whiff of as she curled up next to me in bed this morning– makes me think that she ate some of what she rolled in so she’s probably fine for a while too.

A few other ideas pass through my head. Kate’s pleading to have me register George for kindergarten next year (deadline is in a couple days) registers but there are so many forms and I think it’d be better if we did it together tonight so she feels like she’s a part of her kids’ lives. Showering comes to mind.

Instead, I decide to go to Starbucks to do some writing. I get in the car and drive a mile or so into Upper Montclair Village. There’s a parking spot right in front of Dunkin Donuts. I pull in quickly. I feel strangely empowered by my quick, authoritative swerve into the spot. Dunkin’ Donuts instead of Starbucks. Shit yeah. I like the reduced fat blueberry muffins there quite a bit. But it’s not that nice in there. I sit in the car thinking about what it would be like to sit in there. After about five minutes of thinking about it, I decide to push on through to Starbucks. I pull out of my prime spot and head down Valley Road to the parking lot behind Starbucks. The lot has new-fangled pay centers where you punch in your spot number, put in money and get a ticket. I don’t have any money. I go through the car, pulling up floor mats, sifting through cheerios and…what appears to be a nearly uneaten turkey sandwich underneath the car seats. Two nickels. In the whole car. I go over to see how much time two nickels buys me. Nothing. Two nickels doesn’t even get you started. I say screw it, and walk up to Starbucks without getting a ticket. Then I think about how I’ll get a $35 ticket and how mad Kate will get at me. I turn back around, get back in the car and drive home. The house is really messy so I grab a few quarters and head back to Starbucks.

That’s where I am now. I’m most of the way through my “half-caff” and the time is about up on my quarters. I’ll head home now and try to figure out something to do with my remaining hour and a half before the birds get a hold of my liver.


  1. Elizabeth says

    this is amazing

  2. Nat Noone says

    You not only make me laugh but I relate on mutiple levels then get a bit depressed so looking forward to the next one to laugh again.