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Mea Culpa

Dear Future Daughters-in-law,

(Unless one or two of you are men, which would be fine too.)

I am sorry. I feel I should apologize now, while it’s all fresh in my mind, because who knows, when you’ve got them, I might be in a sanatorium and mostly non-verbal. By them, of course, I mean my sons, fine young men that they are.

And fine they are, as obviously you know, unless you’ve only married them because they’ve become fabulously wealthy, in which case, you don’t get my sympathy.

If, though, as I suspect, you three have fallen madly for my sons’ considerable charms, and find yourselves hopelessly bound, you ought to know how sorry I am and how hard I tried.

For years I’ve toiled, unrelenting and with all the enthusiasm of a true believer. “They are smart boys,” I’ve told myself. “It is a small house, not so hard to keep; of course they can learn to put things away, and to find them.”

I am here to tell you, defeated: I was wrong.

There is no hope.

One of Them: MAMA!

Me: Yes?

O.o.T.: MY MITTS ARE LOST!

Me: I doubt that.

O.o.T.: NO THEY ARE! THEY ARE GONE AND THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES THAT FIT AND MY HANDS ARE GOING TO FREEZE AND I’LL GET FROSTBITE! AND I’M GOING TO BE LATE FOR SHCOOL! AAAARGHH!

Me: Look down.

O.o.T.: Oh.

Or,

O.o.T.: OHMYGOD I DROPPED A PIECE OF LEGO AND IT’S THE ONLY ONE WE HAVE LIKE THAT AND NOW IT’S LOST!

Me: Lost? Like, forever?

O.o.T.: YES! AAARGHH! (Tears, garment-rending, much gnashing of teeth)

Me: Where did you drop it? (Outside? At school?)

O.o.T.: THERE! UNDER MY DESK!

Me: (no words)

Me: How about you GET OFF YOUR BUM AND LOOK FOR IT.

O.o.T.: I’LL NEVER FIND IT IT’S JUST GONE oh here it is.

Me, leaving: Where did I put that Bourbon?

I really have tried: I’ve used rewards and incentives and even pure common sense, and it never got any better. Liam’s actually proud of his designation of “Worst Finder Ever” and in and in a house of four men, that’s a pretty dubious distinction. Rory once said: Daddy fixes things, Mama finds things.

I had no idea that finding things was a skill. And when I discovered that it must be because I had it and no one else I live with did, I thought: it must be something I can teach them. I have actually spoken the words: “You have to actually MOVE things to find something.” It was a shock to them that the thing they’re looking for could be there even if it’s not SITTING RIGHT ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE. “Pick stuff up! Move stuff around!” All a huge mystery, every single time.

It’s crazy how much of my time is spent moving things around. Seriously – I pick things up, and move them somewhere else, mostly where they’re supposed to be in the first place. I move Liam’s clothes from all over the living room, Rory’s art stuff from all over the house, and Finn’s books and paper from wherever he was when he suddenly finished using them.

And it used to drive me up the wall – “WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE SO DENSE? JUST PUT THINGS WHERE THEY BELONG, AND THEY’LL BE THERE WHEN YOU WANT THEM!” But I’ve come to the conclusion that it just might be a hopeless thing, a lost cause. Evidently, like generations of mothers before me, I am raising three men who will leave their socks in the middle of the floor, eleven inches from the hamper; who will ask where the scissors are every, single time they need them; and who will, instead of putting special things directly into special places, put them in an “on-the-way” place, like on a ledge, and then freak out when they can’t find them.

They really are fine young men. Wonderful, in fact. And fortunately, they’re very generous with compliments, which makes all the putting away and finding somewhat more rewarding. But there will be times, I’m sure, when in addition to cursing them under your breath, you’ll probably want to curse me. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you any of this??”

Tell you what. Save your breath, leave the spatula maddeningly “hidden” in it’s usual place beside the stove, and come on over to my place for a drink. I know just where the Bourbon is.

7 comments to Mea Culpa

  • Frank Daley

    Yes, well, as I recall, you DID say you wanted children. Must have; there they are.

    This happy dream was probably based largely on your own parents’ experience of raising children which was not at all as you are describing.

    Mostly.

    Ok, somewhat. Occasionally, you and your sister were a trial but for diffeent reasons than you are relating here.

    But you were girls and you have boys.

    I always said that that’s not as big a deal as parents of boys continue to advance as arguments for disasters. (“Oh well, you had girls… that’s easier,” they always say).

    Maybe. A whole other topic. But you also have three chldren and you were one of two. Exponentially different.

    Then there is the sanity question. Not the parents’, the children’s. Yours seem somewhat crazier than you were at their age.

    Sometimes.

  • GINETTE

    Laugh out loud.

    I have 2 girls who couldn’t find their own beds!
    These people just expect us to be there for every thought and need they have. And this is the exhausting part for us. This is what makes me feel like my brain will explode. And this is what makes me explode every few weeks, or day!

  • Chris

    Regan please do not despair when you read this. I have a 24 1/2 year old who STILL asks me where is this thing and that thing. Never bothers to look. He just asks because apparently over the years he has figured out that I KNOW where EVERYTHING in this house is! Sad part is I usually do, so I cannot ever break him of this habit. I find myself wondering many times throught out each passing week how he will ever manage when he is finally out on his own. I fear greatly he will just phone me and ask! Arggggghhhh!!

  • Mom

    You are so wise! And so funny!!

  • Kim

    Oh Regan, I feel your pain. I have six male children to deal with (5 sons and one husband). Not to sound sexist or anything, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to be that ridiculous Y chromosome that carries the “I can’t find it” gene and is the root of these (and many other) problems. And with my youngest being almost 18 now, I don’t see it as something that any of them will grow out of. After all, that’s why Bourbon was invented (and by a mom, no doubt!)

  • Regam
    I listen to Steph complain about the same thing!!!!!! No one puts anything away. I have a rule a Gran’s house. NO Child leaves till it is all put away it belongs. I will take the Bourbon Or Wine was invented.
    Sioux

  • Oh, boy-we’ll have to set one of those boys up with my hapless daughter. They’d either drive each crazy or live in hog-heaven. This is my first time on your blog but I just got your cookbook as a an early Christmas gift. I made the chocolate fudge cookies last night and took them around the neighborhood for gifts. My first phonecall this morning was a request for the recipe. Thanks! I’m excited to bake my way through.

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