How I Know It Is Time To Go Back To Work


How I Know It Is Time To Go Back To Work

How I Know It Is Time To Go Back To Work

So, breezily, I decide to finish up my 110th Nutcracker soldier costume in the laundry room this morning. It seemed a relatively straightforward thing to do as I have had 109 other goes at it up to now.

I walk out to the laundry room singing, well, Big Balls by AC/DC… accent and all. It is an underrated song and an excellent tool for teaching children about double entendre. And also, frankly, sometimes I do think I do have the biggest of them all. You know?

Jauntily I fling a few of the costumes epaulets and all into the machine. This is a definite no-no, but nobody is watching, so fuck them anyway. Simultaneously I reach behind with the other hand to shut the door.

Uh oh. No give in the handle. So, I pause mid-verse Big Ball, laundry soap streaming unchecked into the machine as my brain grapples for a moment. Patiently I wait, we’ve been together a long time, my brain and me, so I know the drill.

One by one, I silently applaud it as it scans and then rejects the things floating around in there like little dancing glints of lint streaming in the sunlight. Big Balls, the burgeoning hotness of Shia LaBeouf (who is really MUCH too young for YOU Mrs. Robinson), deee deee dee ti di and here’s to you, mmmmmm ice cream and corn chips together in one bowl mmmmmmm, and just why the hell am I a Charger fan anyway? And then DING DING. It grasps to the fact that I have done it for sure this time. I’ve locked myself in.

I tamp quickly down on the sudden burst of terror which somehow, for me, always involves bears. I will be trapped in the laundry room forever and when night falls A bear will eat me. A lock-picking family of laundry-loving bears! Oh, fuck! This is bad…bears! I go into a quick sequence of labor breathing.

After two C-sections I am not particularly good at it, but the faintness that ensues serves to make me stop pouring laundry soap on the costumes. The forbidden attached epaulets seem to stare chilly-eyed at me. Fuck! It’s Karma. Oh, you can’t dodge Karma. I have left my children motherless with my bad Karma.

Sluggishly my brain begins to work the problem. I have at least 8 hours till night falls. No bears until then. Right? And if it is a grizzly as opposed to a black bear do I climb the tree or not? Wait! My two-year-old is awake. On the couch just inches from my head on the other side of the door. He’s right there munching on granola and bananas. Oblivious to me and my panic. Calmly and cooly I shriek out his name at a braying bucolic pitch that scares the crows from the trees.

On try two I manage a thin, breathy Marilyn Monroe Happy Birthday Mr. President version. To which I hear his little snuggly footed shuffling approach. I can hear the consternation churning in his two-year-old mind, images of Clifford the Big Red Dog brain. He thinks in pictures. I am sure. To the door, he says “Airplane, Choo-Choo, Kitty-Kitty” which I take to mean “how may I assist you, mother?” I ask him gently to open the door.

Here we must pause so I can explain that I have spent the last year yelling at this child to NEVER OPEN THE DOOR. Bad Nicholas! I’ve sent him to his room and in terror of the images I have had of him swilling merrily of the bleach and ant spray that lives in my laundry room, I confess I’ve even smacked his little hand. KARMA= BEARS! They’re gonna get me for sure.

Oh, fuck me. So, even from behind the door I can see his searching gaze. He remembers, in pictures no less, the lumps he has taken over this very door. Quietly, at a level that again sends the crows scattering, I ask him once more.

I feel his tiny hand touching the door. Then jerk back. So again in my Marilyn breathlessness, I ask him. He garbles out something in Russian and ends it with his characteristic airplane, choo-choo, kitty kitty. His hand touches the knob, and I feel it almost turn. Snatch! Back goes the hand. I hear him say in a spooky rendition of MY best kitty litter tone NOOOOOOOOOOO! Which comes out like Homer Simpson…DOOOOOOOOOOH!

My brain flips suddenly and quite spectacularly. With no brain there to guide me, my body suddenly launches into its own version of the Mervyn’s commercial. OPEN OPEN OPEN. Hand motions and all. A bear slinks out of the shadows from the corner of my eye. I go into a sudden spasm of country line dancing. The Electric Slide I think. For a moment, I am giving Linda Blair a run for her money. Exhausted I regain my focus. I ask him calmly again. The fucking crows are long gone by now anyway.

His hand is there again on the knob and this time slowly and gently he turns it. Snap back. He’s lost his grip. My eyeball just pops right out of the socket and hangs there pulsating by a thread. But, this time, truly calmly I tell him “good boy” and ask him to try again. He does. SQUEEEEEEEK the door opens. And there he stands in his lovely blue footies.

Big bobbly head and blue eyes going to hazel as serious and inquisitive as ever. As always I get that moment of heartache, the crows scatter at the audible cracking sound it makes when he flashes me one of his rare and beautiful smiles. It is his father, it is me, and it is wholehearted all his own. The two cats and the dog are with him all looking at me. They know I am an idiot. I scoop this child up and hug him ruthlessly.

I set him back on the couch and swig from my now cooled coffee. Big Balls resumes playing on my internal iPod. I better get those epaulets off I think. I step back into the laundry room with one hand I lift the lid and with the other, I shut the still locked door behind me.

As I write this Nicholas is opening and shutting the laundry room door with glee. I will not stop him. That would be cruel. He has rescued me twice from bears. I moved the bleach and the ant spray. The plaster on the wall rattles again as the door snaps shut with an exuberant fling. He looks so proud. “Airplane, Choo-Choo, Kitty Kitty!” he says.

I log back on to Motherhood and housewifery are brainy sports. Perhaps I will do better with something less so, like vascular surgery or engineering?


  1. Avatar of lisa heath
    lisa heath says

    I adored this story!! Had me laughing out loud . I could totally visualize what you were going through due to your descriptive narrative… you are very talented, indeed…

  2. Avatar of Tobie Boylston
    Tobie Boylston says

    You’re a good storyteller, and very funny!

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