There’s a bobby pin shoved in my bathtub drain right now, propping it ever-so-slightly open to let the bath water out, since the drain is finicky and only decides to open sometimes, just like my kids eating vegetables or doing their chores, all, “I just did that LAST WEEK,” and, “Seriously? AGAIN? I DO ALL THE WORK around here and NO ONE ELSE does ANYTHING, EVER.” My bathtub drain has a serious work ethic issue, and I? I am an enabler. Because instead of insisting it does its job, I just prop it open myself, using a bobby pin from the toothpaste-encrusted counter, or a fork from the plate of lasagna I snuck into the tub, or the leg of a Barbie who’s seen better days, all water logged and tangled and little bit moldy; a visual representation of how this mama can sometimes feel.
There’s a bobby pin shoved in my bathtub drain right now, and my bathroom sink doesn’t drain, either, or at least does so slowly and with great reluctance out of solidarity and sisterhood with the tub. I can still shave one leg or the other in it, dribbling off-brand shaving cream and stubbly leg hairs onto the floor, before the sink fills to capacity and must be drained, at which point it whines and fusses, making a glub, glub, glub sound for 15 minutes or so, but eventually I get the second leg shaved, so I’m not winning every battle, but I sure am winning the war.
None of this has anything to do with anything and neither does the next thing I’ll tell you.
“Did you bring us anything?” asked Cai, who’s 9 year old.
It’s the usual question after mommy’s been traveling, and I was in South Carolina last week (staying in a hotel with BOTH a tub AND a sink that drained!), so the kid was on a Need to Know. An urgent Need to Know basis.
“Did you bring us anything, Mom??”
I don’t always bring the kids things because a) five kids is a lot of things, and b) we do NOT need any more things in this house.
But this time I HAD. I had brought them something because I’d spoken about Jesus in the Mess at a lovely Southern Baptist Church where the women are smilers and huggers and would win Worldwide Hospitality Contests, hands down. I was called sugar and honey and darlin‘, and I drank sweet tea like a champ… like I was born to sweet tea drinking, y’all. And since there was a bazaar at this ladies’ event, I’d picked up sugar cookies iced like little pink pigs for my kids which I distributed and they ate with relish. I mean, not with relish, because that would be gross, but with great enjoyment, they ate their South Carolina cookies.
And as I unpacked my suitcase, which was a miracle in itself, my usual M.O. being to leave it half full in my bedroom for months, I came across one other thing I’d brought them.
Oh yeah, I thought. This is awesome! And it was, because it was cool and interesting AND, for the mommy win, an educational item. I mean, I can’t get my kids to do their chores without rolling their eyes and making the same glub, glub, glub noise of reluctance as my bathroom sink, but I can educate the heck out of them. WINNING THE WAR, mamas. Winning the war.
I knew my kids, raised in the Pacific Northwest of our great United States hadn’t seen a sprig of cotton before, which I’d discussed with one of the bazaar ladies before she gifted me a piece. I knew this would be as fascinating to my kids as it was to me. After all, this is the fabric of our lives, Kids. The Fabric of our LIVES.
So I hauled Cai Cai back to my room and sat him on my unmade bed and said, “LOOK! Look at this, Cai. I brought this for you guys, too. Pig cookies and THIS. Isn’t this cool?” And I showed him the pretty bag with the cute red tie, because the ladies of the South do not give things that aren’t packaged adorably, not even when that thing is a piece of dried plant.
“Do you know what this is, Cai?” I asked him.
“Yes, Mom,” he said, and, “Duh, Mom,” and, I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that my cool thing wasn’t as cool as I thought it was, which is when he said, “It’s cocaine, right? That’s fluffier than I thought it would be. Pretty bag, though.”
It appears, therefore, my kids think Mommy travels to speak at churches and brings home baggies of cocaine. This isn’t exactly what I was hoping to accomplish with the whole parenting gig. On the bright side, they also think Southern church ladies package cocaine nicely. So that’s good?
In conclusion, I may not be winning the war anymore.
P.S. We still a few spots available for the January 2016 Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat at a stunning beach house on the Oregon Coast. If you’re a writer or you know a writer who’s looking for a supportive community of writers and top-notch writing instruction in a relaxing environment, this is the retreat for you.
(Please Note: “Top-notch instruction” is offered by writing professors and *ahem* not by me, since I tend to write stories about bringing my children baggies of cocaine, which may not be exactly what you’re hoping to do with a writing career. I do, however, facilitate discussion groups and pour a mean glass of wine.)
You can find all the retreat details here, and you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (put “retreat” in the subject line, please). I’m considering opening up a limited number of discounted, single occupancy bunkbeds for this retreat; if that interests you, let me know ASAP so I can send you the details. I’d love to spend a long weekend with you.