Reality Mom: Bacon, Snow and Gratitude
On the first snow day I was foolish enough to think I could still work. With one kid at a friend's and one occupied with a friend, I confidently turned my computer on. I fantasized about the gourmet appetizer I would make for Thanksgiving after I finished a few hours of writing. Fifteen minutes, and twenty interruptions later, I turned the computer off and revised my list to one thing: shower if I feel inspired.
But something about being trapped in a house, or similarly camping, brings out the procurer in me. I stare at a mostly full refrigerator and panic that we're going to starve to death. I'm obviously not the only one with a hoarder instinct, because there were at least thirty other people ogling raw meat with me at the grocery store. I haven't eaten red meat in thirty years, but I threw a few t-bones in on top of my overflowing cart and headed to the check out stand.
I triple checked that the kids were strapped in, slowly drove my golf cart over the ice and snow, and breathed a sigh of relief when we pulled into the driveway. The warmth of being home safely with a fire and newly hung Christmas lights was so intoxicating (or perhaps it was the eighth meal I had eaten that day), I called several friends to offer to watch their kids the following day.
Second snow day.
8:00 a.m. I'm woken by my daughter announcing that she is awake and wants to play Club Penguin. "Sure," I say and roll over, pausing momentarily to wonder if perhaps she hadn't asked something else, such as "Can we smoke the cigarettes we found behind the black beans?" Although I am not a smoker, my house seems to be the house where all of my supposedly non-smoking friends stash their cigs. Before I can recall how many and whose smokes I have, I fall back asleep.
10:00 I wake again, probably because the house is quiet.
11:00 I'm still in pajamas, still drinking coffee, but hoping the store bought cinnamon rolls baking in the oven will fool my friends into thinking I've been up for hours. The first friend drops his son off and immediately says, "Sorry you had to get up so early." No mention of the wafting cinnamon smell, but also an earnest look on his face that tells me he's not flipping me shit. I am reminded once again why I love this family.
12:00 All five kids are crashing from their sugar rush so I scour my well-stocked fridge for the solution: bacon. Hot bacon grease and kids high on sugar, yet keen on helping cook, proves to be a bad combination, so I convince them to play outside in the snow.
12:15 First round of bacon burns due to derailment of mitten finding and coat zipping, but no worries I have two pounds of it.
12:30 Second round in jeopardy of burning because my roommate wants my opinion on how to make sure the guy she has spent every day with and invited home for Thanksgiving knows that he is NOT her boyfriend. Before I can give this predicament the ample thought it deserves, she says, "Who's that streaking in the backyard?"
12:31 I hand my son's friend, the one with zero percent body fat, his winter coat. "I'm not cold,' he protests. "It's twenty degrees out honey, you should wear a coat." He protests again, but with a grin, so I know he's teasing me. Sure enough, by the time I return to my burnt bacon, his coat is on.
12:35 The kids return stating they are cold. I lure them back outside by suggesting they go visit our hunky neighbor and ask him if he has any chicken eggs for us. "They're going to hunky neighbor's?" my roommate says while grabbing her coat. I consider joining the caravan, but remember I'm still in my pajamas. And I still have a pound of bacon to cook.
1:15 Two pounds of bacon, one bag of popcorn, one bag of tortilla chips, a pound of satsumas and sandwiches for five are inhaled in record speed. The boys run off to do boy things and I start a stained glass project with the girls.
1:20 Girls abandon stained glass and I am left with thousands of tiny glass beads mixed in with popcorn all of which are stuck in residual bacon grease. I try to scoop them up, realize I've had too much coffee, and switch to popping vitamins: A to E with some Echinacea and Kava Root for good measure.
2:30 I'm not sure what the kids have been doing, but I sneak off to check my emails.
3:00 My shower curtain is pulled back and all five children have a question or complaint. "The cat scratched me." "Can we make the volcano now?" "I'm hungry." "Want to build a snowman with us?" and finally, the one that breaks me out of my stupor, "What's that?" as a child's hand, one that was not born from me, moves towards my naked body. I shudder at the inappropriateness, if not unlawfulness, of the situation and tell them I'll be out in a minute.
3:10 I trip over varied plastic items on the floor of the kids' room on my way to mine only to find much of the same. It looks like a war zone where, as usual, my bras seem to be the main attraction of play. I tell children there will be no volcano until I can see the carpet once again.
3:30 I ignore all warnings and hazard signs on the volcano kit and start mixing away. When the kids ask to help, I say, "Sure, just wash your hands when you're done."
4:00 Unsuspecting father walks in to retrieve son and looks dismayed when I hand him the (unread up to this point) directions for the volcano and put my coat and mittens on. Although I know the answer and now know why she so readily agreed to the deal, I ask unsuspecting father if he is aware that his wife agreed to release me from child watching duties in order to go for a walk when she showed up. "Don't worry, I'll be back eventually," I say as I walk out the door.
5:00 I return to a strangely quiet house. When I find unsuspecting father supine on my couch, I momentarily think the children killed him. He wakes up, says every thing was fine and leaves with his child.
5:15 If I plan it right, the other two kids will get picked up just as their second sugar high kicks in. With that in mind, I make brownies.
5:45 I forgot about the two remaining sugar high kids and look blankly at my offspring when they ask me what we're going to do now.
6:00 They find a CD to dance to and I cook dinner for eight, although there are only three of us.
8:30 The kids are asleep with their twinkly Christmas lights above them. I give up on working and instead take a moment to rehash the day and be grateful. Not just that it's over, but that it was spent in such a lovely way. Sure, an obscene amount of pork products and sugar were ingested and sure I flashed children that are not mine, but mixed in with the obscenities were frequent hugs and "I love yous" from my kids and squeals of delight and smiles from all of the kids. And that, is something I am very thankful for.
Corbin Lewars is a writing instructor and the author of Creating a Life: The memoir of a writer and mom in the making, which has been nominated for the 2011 PNBA book award. She is the founder of the zine Reality Mom, which is currently taking submissions. She teaches writing classes, writes and resides in Ballard.