“MOMMY!!” The screeching of my six-year-old wakes me from the kind of sleep that I assume, not without a pang of jealousy, is what being dead feels like. The kind of sleep where I haven’t moved in hours and the shape of the pillow has left a crease in my face that will linger for hours because I’m old and collagen is no longer my friend.
I roll over and force myself to open my eyes.
“I have no pants,” she says, inches from my face. “AGAIN.”
I fight the urge to roll back over and close my eyes as the realization settles over me that yes, I forgot to do the laundry. Again.
Normally I’m better at this. Normally I fancy myself a bit of a warrior, a working mama with four children under 12 who miraculously has been able thus far to keep everyone clothed and fed while also not (yet) being fired. But now we’ve reached the point in the school year where there are only a few weeks left and here’s the thing: I no longer give any shits.
This didn’t happen all at once. It has been a gradual decline from our idealistic beginning last September of “This is the year we organize, accomplish, and clean all of the things!” to the October reality of “Wow this is really hard” to January’s “Well, maybe we can catch up on the weekends” to the present reality of “HOLY SHIT.”
But I am done with that mess now. See also: the signing of reading logs, the reading of important papers, the forcing my children to take showers, and the packing of nutritious lunches. DONE. As in checked out. The end is finally in sight, and I have blissfully, with a manic grin on my face, taken my foot off of the gas pedal. I’m coasting through, just hoping we stay alive through the next few weeks.
With the way the kids are acting, even that is going to be a challenge.
When I was growing up, there were all these dogs who lived on my street. Every warm evening, one would start howling and then it was like some dog-signal went out and all of the dogs in the neighborhood were howling at once and it was loud and weird and a little funny and a little scary all at the same time. I am reminded of that now when we pull in the driveway after school, and my kids let out squeals and warrior whoops and try to jump out of the still-moving vehicle. The other kids in the neighborhood run alongside the car, all of them seemingly drawn by some deep instinctive need to discard coats and shoes and backpacks and lunch boxes in their wake and hoot and holler and roll around in the mud, chasing each other with weapons fashioned out of popsicles sticks and half-done homework.
Which in and of itself would be enough. Except that suddenly, it’s baseball time because our lives have become one long little league game that apparently goes on and on, every day of every week, for the rest of eternity. There are only small breaks thrown in to fill up on nitrates and red dye from the concession stand and then we come home to track that red baseball dirt around the house and onto the sheets and then everyone is tucked into their beds and finally falls asleep.
HA! Kidding! No one falls asleep ever. They sneak out of their rooms to get in some last minute Popsicles and sibling-beatings, and are selfishly unconcerned with the fact that we live in an old house where the floor creaks under every step. My last nerve spontaneously combusts and I forget it’s open window season while I yell GO TO BED REALLY I MEAN IN BED BED BED BED NOW because it’s almost summer and full sentences are for September.
“Wear something of your sister’s,” I tell the six-year-old.
“Too big,” she says.
“Your brother’s then.”
“Just. Wear. Something,” I say, and this is how we get her to school in last year’s too-small Elsa Halloween costume. I contemplate sending in a note of explanation to her teacher but that would involve opening her backpack, which I have sworn off of. Besides, if there is anyone more done this time of year than moms it’s teachers. I doubt the teacher will even notice the Elsa dress in her I-have-been-doing-this-for-ten-months-for-the-love-of-god-let-it-end-soon haze, and if she does I hope it’s with a nod of solidarity and understanding. Because June.
Besides, the six-year-old is mostly thrilled with being at school in a costume. “When do I have to go back to wearing pants?” she asks me.
“September,” I say. “We’ll try again in September.”
Eh, at least it’s warm out.