Marriage and motherhood is like being the person who trails after the elephants at the circus and cleans up their crap.
This morning I wiped a smear of shit off of the toilet seat before sitting down to use it. It may have been from Jack, but I am more certain that it was the workings of my husband.
Is this what I have been reduced to? Is my mommy-blog now a place where I bitch about wanting to pee in solitude or vent about stepping on legos and my battle shoveling stuffed Elmos against the tide?
That I have become so ubiquitous warrants a huge sigh and copious eye-rolling.
This week, I have been trying to practice what Pema Chodron calls “pausing”. At random moments during my day, or when I am feeling particularly frazzled, I pause to take three mindful, deep breaths. I try to think I am in the midst of “Life As It Is,” and radically accept the ripening of my karma*.
But really? It isn’t enough that I have to clean up my children’s shit (and I mean their literal shit), but my husband’s shit too? Really karma? Reeeaaaallly?
For the record, I have never minded changing my children’s diapers. While Jack has been potty trained for over two years, Emily is still in diapers. As wacky as it might sound, I think of diaper changes as a chance to be a mom, to care for my child.
The things that drive me crazy are when people are just thoughtless and sloppy. It drives me crazy when it seems like I am the only one who knows how to put a can in the recycling, load a bowl into the dishwasher, or wipe pubes and shaving stubble off of the bathroom floor. Speaking of the bathroom, it drives me crazy when my son sprays urine all over the floor like he is trying to put out fire. Even though she is still a baby, it drives me crazy when Emily dumps out a whole crate of toy food onto the floor and then just walks away from it. It drives me crazy when my husband “tries to be helpful” by doing a load of laundry, only to leave it for me to fold at an inconvenient time.
It is like I got some super-secret-elite degree in basic cleaning when no one, least of all myself, was looking. Maybe I got this degree in my twenties when I was stoned and dreaming of becoming a rich soccer mom, a dream that clearly has not come to fruition.
It is impossible to have conversations about chores because my idea of “Clean” and my husband’s idea of “clean-ish” are so fundamentally different. Usually, I throw an affect-laden tantrum and storm off to elicit his response of dragging out the vacuum. We argue about chores like 11 year olds to the point that I sometimes expect Mom to intervene. Then I remember that I AM Mom.
I am a mom who is tired and overwhelmed. I am a mom who just wants to walk through the apartment without feeling the need to pick up, straighten, wipe down, and put away everything I pass. I am a mom who might just snap if she has to wipe up or flush anyone else’s shit on or in the potty one more time.
Okay, so I got that unflattering rant out of my system. Deep breath.
It strikes me that maybe being the elephant lady at the circus isn’t such a bad thing, because maybe I would get to pet and talk to the elephants once in a while. After all, being so close to a mammoth creature of such sacred beauty is a pretty special occasion.
Marriage and motherhood has its perks too. Thanks Karma.
*I do not really know what “karma ripening” means or feels like, but I hope to one day. And in the meantime, I love the way it sounds.