Beware of Mama

You know those days, those days when you’re pretty sure you’re not going to make it to tomorrow? Let me rephrase: You know those days when you’re pretty sure your children aren’t going to make it to tomorrow? Yeah. Fortunately, they rarely occur sequentially, but they’re never convenient. And I’m always kind of surprised by them: like, it never occurred to me that morning that seven hours later my children and I might – just possibly – NOT be sitting around singing Kumbaya in rounds. I know, right? Crazy.

Rob thinks I’m a pathological optimist with a really short memory.

He’s probably right, but I’m going to choose to look at it as a pretty good coping strategy.

The other day, we all had an early evening meeting with a family therapist and her associates, who are working with us to manage the many, many challenges we seem to come up against in our life as a family. I like them, Rob likes them, even the boys, I think, like them as people, and don’t even mind the being there part. It is, after all, only one hour every two weeks.

But my kids don’t actually like going anywhere. They like BEING places, sure. But the actual leaving-of-the-house, the conceiving-of-the-outing-and-its-duration-and-its-degree-of-time-wastingness, THAT part sucks massively. I would not hesitate to use the word Heinous, even.

And yet, go places we do. I should clarify, at this point: for the older two, “wasting time” consists of anything that is not related to a computer. Rory’s a little less defined in his objections, but just doesn’t do well with all the minutia of the act of leaving itself: the putting on of shoes, the going to of bathroom, the deciding what to take, the sudden and overwhelming irritation of pants’ waistbands or shirts’ collars. All this comes up in the half-hour (ok, really, the ten minutes) leading up to leaving the house, regardless of whether we’re going to the dentist or a movie.

So the other day, me and my short happy memory cheerfully agreed to pick Rob up at the studio on the way to the appointment, rather than have him come home. And help. With the crazy. But whatever, I thought, it’s no big deal, it will be fine. We have more than half-an-hour from when the big boys get home and when we have to leave – lots of time to get organized.


It went something like this: Rory’s recently become addicted to the computer, and uses my laptop upstairs. So he comes home from school and immediately a) BLOWS UP because he HAD NO IDEA we were going anywhere, and he really wants to play on the computer till tomorrow. As I am trying to patiently and with much calmness remind him that he’s been told four times – TODAY – that we had an appointment, but maybe there are 10 minutes free, if he’s all otherwise ready…. Liam and Finn burst in the door.

There’s really no other way to describe it – no “Hi, Mama! How was your day?” No “Do we have time for a snack before we go?” No-no. It’s all “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE TO GO! LIKE, IN ONE MINUTE!”

Me: Actually, in about 35 minutes.


Me: Um…. not real-…


And then follows the whole, “Why do we have to go to that stupid place it’s not even helping!” thing, to which I respond that it’s only been three meetings and anyway we’re still going.

Me: So put your backpacks away, go pee, wash your hands, and we’ll find a snack.

I turn around to deal with Rory, who’s just discovered that his recent cold has bestowed upon him the most grating, screeching whine ever heard by man or beast, and is now making long, drawn out cackly moans with the words “Iiiiiiii waaaaant to uuuuuuse the cooooompuuuuuter!”

By the time I turn back to Liam and Finn, they’ve disappeared, and I hear them yelling at each other downstairs, in the office. Wherein lives the computer.

I thump my way down, and Finn’s sitting there in front of their computer, coat still on, backpack still on, obviously not having visited the washroom, and Liam’s hollering at him that HE gets to go on first.

“ENOUGH!” I shout. “YOU: get upstairs, take off your stuff, go to the bathroom, and then we’ll talk! YOU: stop shouting!” (The irony did not escape me, but sometimes there’s nothing for it.)

My shoulders are now halfway to my temples, and I can hear Rory creaking on about things from the living room. I’m just about to give Liam the “If I have to mediate the dealings with this computer no one will get to use it” speech, when he jumps in and starts growling about having NO TIME TO DO ANYTHING tonight. My teeth are starting to hurt. “Why,” I am thinking, “Why are you people such pains in my bum sometimes?”

And all of a sudden, through the open door from the office to the laundry room, BUCKETS of water start pouring out of the ceiling. Big, wet, splashy buckets. A deluge, even. And because this has happened before, I know exactly what has happened, which is that Finn has overlooked the fact that the main floor toilet is packed full of paper, but a curious lack of water, and oh yeah, had been plugged for two days. And he flushed.

I could write all the many words that came out of my mouth at that point, but my mom reads this blog. Suffice it to say that my children were appropriately shocked and awed, and I more or less didn’t care. At least for the first five minutes. I think maybe it’s impossible to simultaneously be mopping up PEE WATER from your main floor hallway before it reaches the pile of FRESHLY LAUNDERED BABY CLOTHES (and bedding, and gear) for your sister’s new baby, AND care that your kids heard you say the word f***. Really.

So I’m shouting and carrying on, and mopping, and throwing sodden towels in a heap and thinking – well, a lot of things, actually: One, that this WOULD happen to me, now, because that’s just the kind of day it is; Two, that I’m really ticked off that the stupid toilet hadn’t been unplugged; Three, that I probably should apologize for the utter fury and foul language my kids just witnessed; and Four, I am really, REALLY not sorry yet.  Also, that I profoundly regret telling Rob he could stay at work, because somehow I’d like to be able to rant at another grownup right about now. And Rory’s voice is now so high and loud it’s almost inaudible, because how he’s not only miffed about going out, and the computer, but he’s upset cause I’m upset, and his voice can’t express all that in normal decibel ranges. And Liam’s crying, and Finn’s really sorry, and I’m still MOPPING and thinking how bloody much water there is and I haven’t even LOOKED in the powder room yet, and then there’s a knock on the door.


You have got to be kidding me.

My head snaps up, and I glare through the glass door, half-crouched over, arms full of pee towels, and there’s this GUY standing there. He’s young-ish and well-dressed but with a square hair-cut, and I think instantly that he’s probably selling something and I hate him a little bit. Somehow, this is his fault too….. But he’s right there, and he can plainly see I’m home, and he’s got that simpy “Hi There” face, and a voice very far away in my well-brought-up head says, “What if it’s important?”. So slowly, still clutching my towel, still bent over, still scowling like a complete hag, and with what must have been LASER BEAMS coming out of my eyes, I move towards the door, and he starts BACKING UP.

Really. I made the poor man recoil in horror.

He hadn’t quite fallen off the porch when I got to the door (it’s a very small house), and I held the dog back and opened it a crack.

“YES?” I barked, rather louder than I’d intended.


“Ya think??”

“Sorrytobotheryou, pleasetakethisenvelopeThankyouverymuchHaveaniceevening.”



Oh bollocks. I just scared a guy. Well, some days are just like that.

3 comments to Beware of Mama

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>