Anne Bradstreet, How did you do it?

See more about Anne Bradstreet at: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/naal8/section/volA/workshops/poetry/anne.aspx

You can’t tell but I’m making dinner right now.  The pasta sauce is simmering  and the fettucini boiling.  Phone rings.  Noodles were slipping into the hot water as I nod my head.  The callers questions are answered relay style.   Before I finished these sentences, I am interrupted and given instructions on how to do a trash run.  Trash runs are an extremely important covert operation.  I am sworn to secrecy. Enough said.

Less than 1 minute has passed.  In walks my daughter who is watching a show on Hulu.

“This is the best show ever!” she says as she hugs me.

I love her and her hugs.  She has no idea that I’m keeping tabs on the interruptions to prove a point.

From the next room, husband shouts, “Noodles have 15 seconds.”

I feel like I’m on Mission Impossible.  “This tape will self destruct. . .”

“Do you want me to drain these noodles for ya?” Husband asks.

“Yes, please,” I say.

“OK?” husband calls.  “Do you want me to butter these noodles?”

“No,” I say.  “Just dump the sauce on them.”

I stop for dinner.  The voices of the jungle keep me on the move.

Thirty eight minutes later, I’m back at the keyboard.  My eye is twitching.  Lack of sleep and a busy day contribute to this obnoxious nervous tic.  It is one of many nervous tics that I try to hide with questionable success.  Multi-tasking has a price. Suddenly, there is a lull in the activity.  No one has tried to engage me for the last 4 minutes.  I’m not sure what to do with this “free” time.  I sit waiting for the next interruption, the next call from another room, the next question.  Another minute has passed.  I think I could have done a much better job of utilizing the last 5 minutes.

In the next room, both children laugh.  I can’t tell what they are talking about but I occasionally hear my name or more accurately my title denoting my status as a bearer of children, “Mom”.  Do I really want to know why I’m appearing in a conversation that involves lots of weird noises and laughter?  Part of me does.  Part of me doesn’t.

Finally, I have to play the trump card.  “Andrew!  You’re the dishwasher.  Get crackin’.  You still need to take a shower this evening.”

I expect an argument or at least a lot of procrastination.  That is the norm.  I am surprised by the sound of the skillet lid rattling against the sink.  He is beginning the dishes.  Wait.  He needs a bathroom break.  This is part of the routine.  When it’s his turn to do dishes, he puts his hands in the water, tentatively begins and then says, “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Some times children are so predicable.

Before we had kids, we adopted a dog.  Maggie was the best dog in the world.  She never talked back.  She was always delighted to see me and she was the only creature that seemed to listen to every word I said.  Until Maggie, I had no idea how wonderful this was.   She was mine only about a month.  She got really sick and I had to put her to sleep.  I burst into tears at the vets and cried for several hours.  This isn’t my usual style.  I like to think I’m a “tougher cookie.” Maggie pierced my armor with her faithful love.  She opened a door in my heart for my children to walk through.

The first few days we had Maggie, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work it took to train a puppy.  Then, I had children.  Training puppies is not hard at all.  Training children. . . now that’s a challenge. . . like getting them to do chores or to stop arguing.  Doing the dishes myself would be easier than trying to get the boy to the sink. WAIT!  He’s back.  Water swooshes in the sink, then nothing.  Now what? I think to myself.

Again, I hear the sound of dishes.  The sound of arguing quickly follows.  “GRRRR, I made it up!” the boy says with a voice loud and tense.

“No, I made it up,” says my daughter.  I’ll wager this is said with a wry smile.  Some times I hate a wry smile. . . like when my child’s face is behind it.

My sons responds by dragging out his sisters name into seventy syllables and follows with words delivered in a rigid staccato.

“Stop it, ok!  I told you like five times!” he says.

I’m not sure but I think my daughter might have actually chirped in reply.  Not sure what a chirp means but I know it’s NOT good.

Back to the sounds of dishes.  Daughter has left room.  Son calls, “Shannnnnnnooonnn, there are still some things to dry!”

Again, he calls, “Shhhhhaaaannnnnnnoooonn.”

Husband says, “Be nice!”

Does he think those are magic words?   Those aren’t magic words.  Magic isn’t happening here.  “Be nice!” didn’t put a dent in this argument, the point of which completely escapes me. What is the problem?  WAIT.  I don’t want to know.

Son calls twice more and stomps down the hall to sister’s room.  “I’ve been calling you for a long time.  Why can’t you hear me?”

This argument has a life of it’s own.  It isn’t going to die an easy death.  Pushing the opponent’s buttons is just too tempting. They are both distracting, fascinating, sickening, compelling and mine, all mine.

Today in Junior English class, I found out that the Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet had eight children.  How did that woman ever find time to write poetry?

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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