Everybody has it. It’s the energy that fuels life. If you don’t have enough stress, you probably would have been eaten by something furry back in prehistoric times to keep you from reproducing your laid-back DNA. Stress kept you on your toes back then.
Nowadays, however, it tends to be a corrosive that eats away at your central nervous system unless you learn to deal with it in someway. Today was a test of my emergency stress management responses. You may have handled things differently–probably averting the same crises with ease. But, I defy you to read the following and not at least have a little sympathy for a mom who just wanted to read a book.
Today was supposed to be a relaxing day. Yesterday was Friday, I kept my kid out of the house for approximately five hours while someone installed a new cabinet and microwave in the kitchen. Despite being drag-ass tired, I was really grateful the heavy work was done.
So, when I got up today, I intended to laze the hours away with a good book.
In the horror movies, this is the part where some sound effects guy would introduce the scary music or creeping whisper of dread into the scene. Go find something appropriate, I’ll wait.
I managed one hour of blissful reading. The kid was fed and relatively calm. I got some serious chapter-munching in before I remembered I hadn’t taken meds yet–nor given my kid his. I put my book down, reading glasses exchanged for seeing-far-stuff glasses, I move to do the good-mom delayed reaction and get my kid his pills down from the cupboard.
It was as I moved to the sink that something underfoot went SQUISH!
Apparently having my bathroom sink go kablooey last week was the signal to the kitchen sink to have a nervous breakdown. I strip everything out of the cupboard underneath–all the while my son is having hysterics that I’m keeping the doors open and water is oozing out onto the already wet floor.
After every dripping cardboard box and cleaning supply is removed, the water mopped up with a bathroom towel, I can see that the u-bend pipe has come undone from the drain pipe. Nothing I can do will marry the two back together. It’s like they had irreconcilable differences and a really vicious divorce.
I text the guy who was nice enough to install the microwave and cabinet yesterday and ask for the name of a plumber. He offers to check my sink but I’m all, “No, no. Let me see if I can find someone first. Thanks.“
I call the plumber and then find out exactly how much it would cost to have them just come out on a weekend.
Me on the phone: “It’ll be how much just to come out and take a look? Oh. I see. $129 just to look at it and then time and a half to fix it afterward?”
I text the nice guy back and gratefully accept his offer of help instead.
This is the part of the day that goes right.
The Nice Neighbor is ridiculously–well, nice–about it. When he gets to the house he points to this upper ring I hadn’t even seen and says, “See that corrosion, you’re gonna need a new one of these fandangle-hoppers.” (Not the actual name for the item but for the life of me, I can’t remember what he called it. It was a mouthful, though.) I give him the $20 I’ve been saving for a treat, and he runs to a store, picks up the doohickey–two of them–they apparently need to sell you two even if you only need one. He’s back and installs it all in the time it takes for us to make a homemade pizza from scratch. So, about one hour and forty-five minutes.
I feed my kid his lunch…as a teenager it’s his second lunch. I wasn’t hungry because I’ve been downing caffeine just to cope with everything. I leave my half of the pizza cooling on the counter. I can always eat it later.
I am ready for a little ME time. I settle back down on the couch to read. I manage, maybe three pages, before it starts.
Creative License Alert: I am altering the dialogue for all our sakes. Wherever you read the word “Pumpkin,” I want you to picture something like what you find when you open up a can of puree to make a pie. Proceed with caution.
My non-verbal child uttered a sentence. I cannot stress enough how significant that is. Nor how particularly dense I was in responding to him.
Me from the couch, while reading: “Uh, hunh. Honey. Yes. You need to pumpkin? Go ahead.“
Maybe a minute goes by and again, my forlorn child calls to me from across the room.
I sigh, look up and say, “Honey, you know where the bathroom is. You know how to pumpkin. So just go!“
I’m wearing my reading glasses, so I don’t really see him, but he stops asking and moves to do other things. I return to reading.
DISCLAIMER/BAD-MOM DEFENSE: Before we go any further, may I just point out that my son also asks me to repeatedly supervise many, many tasks that he is capable of doing without my help. He will call me to pick out his shirt or his pants. He will ask me to help him shower. He will ask for juice. I have slowly been trying to wean him off these demands by ignoring them and encouraging independence.
But after today, I will never ignore a cry of “Pumpkin” again.
This is the only soundtrack appropriate to what is about to happen.
After a third cry of “Momma, Pumpkin!” I put my book down. I get up, cranky, and move to the bathroom
It’s only when I cross the threshhold and see what my son has been trying to tell me that I understand I should have listened.
Everywhere I look–I see pumpkin.
And yes, you should read the above phrase in the same way the boy in The Sixth Sense delivers the line: “I see dead people!“
It’s on the white bathroom counter. More specifically, it is smeared down the recently-unplugged sink. It’s on the bar of soap he tried to clean his hands with. It’s on the towels. It’s all over the toilet–both inside and out. I didn’t realize this in my haste to try and clean everything up with the single pack of wipes I have available. So, when I discover my son’s particularly bad aim and his impressive pumpkin propulsion powers, I find myself cleaning behind the toilet and in the farthest corners of the room.
I clean pumpkin from the metal legs of the towel rack that briefly impeded, but didn’t prevent, the sheer volume of orange-brown pumpkin juice my teenage son produced from spattering everywhere.
I dare you to read or watch Harry Potter ever again without picturing this version of pumpkin juice in the mugs!
He was quite prolific. If he’d been a farmer, he probably would have won some kind of 4-H prize for his enormous pumpkin patch.
The room is so filthy, I don’t stop to get my rubber gloves because then, I would have had to throw them away. I’d rather wash in bleach than use my kitchen gloves in this pumpkin-laced nightmare.
It’s when I reach for the toilet brush that my heart melts just a little–you know, after I stopped gagging–I could see, my son had tried to clean up his mess by himself. Evidence was everywhere.
It is impossible to clean the pumpkin-y grossness without getting it on myself. I had just washed my lymphedema sleeve–but even just brushing against the bowl was enough. After carrying the rugs–yes, I’d put the kitchen rug into the bathroom to drain–downstairs in the washer, I spotted some smeared on my sleeve. I stripped my clothes and the sleeve off and tossed them in the pile to be dealt with after the rugs were done.
I marched upstairs and got out the Lysol I’d managed to find just last week hidden in the cupboard under the sink–and I sprayed every surface I could find. I wiped every crevice and counter with disinfectant wipes just to be safe.
Finally, done, I walked out and looked over at my pizza resting on the counter uneaten. It is only then I realize a very important fact. I couldn’t remember whether Alexei had eaten before…or after…he started talking about Pumpkins.
I asked him. Nay, I pleaded with him.
“Honey? Did you go pumpkin before you ate…or after?” I ask.
No amount of asking or rewording my inquiry elicited a response. My kid who probably knows every single sunrise and sunset timetable chart throughout history–couldn’t answer this basic question.
I was pretty sure he’d eaten before the Great Pumpkin Apocalypse…hadn’t he?
But then a new question occurred to me. Had he touched my pizza AFTER his little pumpkin explosion occurred?
I decided the truth didn’t matter. I’ve had Salmonella. There is no way I am going to eat that delicious looking pie with a pumpkin seed of doubt in my mind.
I’m afraid to pick up my book again; these things run in threes, don’t they?
I think I’ll just use some of the decorative soaps my friend Donna just mailed me and take a really cleansing shower.
I can promise you this: I won’t give my kid a can of prune juice just in case he’s constipated, without thinking twice, ever again.