I have all kinds of cozy spots in my house, perfect for sipping wine (yes, in the middle of the day) with my girlfriends while the kids play (silently –so silently) nearby. There’s a sofa in the living room for heart-to-hearts about aging parents, the intensity of the early-childhood years, or how hard it is to find a decent pair of jeans for less than $200.00. The sectional in the family room is just LONGING to host stupid-tv and/or Jane Austen movie pajama parties.
I make gorgeous popcorn on my stovetop (European butter and sea salt are a given), my scone recipe is superb, my soups are quite good, and I boast a truly excellent collection of coffee table books and soft throws. Throw pillows? Please. You can’t imagine how many throw pillows …so many throw pillows that it takes my husband 20 minutes to throw them all on the floor, rolling his eyes and muttering the whole time, before he can sit down (that’s how you know there are almost enough).
No big deal if your little peanut or lamby or chickadee spills or poops or pees or throws up or starts levitating –nothing we haven’t seen here before. I have juice boxes and granola bars and cheddar bunnies and apples and pears and macaroni & cheese. I have extra diapers, a high chair, a swing, a Pack n’ Play, baby gates, baby toys, baby books, baby clothes (for boys or girls) in every size. I have a weather radio, Kids’ Tylenol, Advil, allergy medicine, vitamins, calcium, diaper cream, antibiotic ointment, Eucerin, Aquaphor, and 40 bazillion Band-Aids. I have sleds, ice-skates, roller blades, bikes, helmets, sidewalk chalk, Play-doh, washable markers, washable crayons, beads for the over-threes, wooden blocks for the under-threes, Disney movies (I know where to fast-forward if your babies are sensitive); Sesame Street, Curious George, and Clifford are already recorded on our DVR. I have built a family-friendly theme-park-meets-impenetrable-fortress-meets-panic room over here.
I have built it, but nobody is coming.
Before you write me off as some sad, friendless lump, please listen to me when I tell you I have no shortage of truly excellent girlfriends. They’re funny, they’re smart, they’re universally beautiful and interesting and talented. On the few occasions when we’re able to get together, the whole date from beginning to end is marvelous fun.
There’s laundry and scrubbing sinks and toilets and tubs and volunteering –don’t forget the volunteering; you don’t want everyone to think you’re over there doing nothing.
WHEN we can get together. It’s rare. There’s swimming and skiing and hockey and horseback riding and piano and sometimes work and family game night and family birthday parties and violin and chess and architecture camp and Harry Potter camp and canoe simulations and CPR training and competitive dance and artisanal bread baking and calligraphy and glass-blowing and extreme tennis and picking up this child for a dentist appointment and dropping that one off at a birthday party and stopping by Mother’s place because there’s something going on with the dog and cleaning out the laundry room and cleaning out the basement and bringing someone a pan of lasagna because she just found out she has breast cancer. There’s laundry and scrubbing sinks and toilets and tubs and volunteering –don’t forget the volunteering; you don’t want everyone to think you’re over there doing nothing.
Even if we’re actually able to carve out some free morning once in a while, or an evening when we’re not sitting in the bleachers at some pool or hockey rink or gym, we need some time to stare at the walls, try and focus for a minute, reclaim who we used to be, at least catch up on who’s running for President this time.
Maybe we’ll get on the phone for a while with a girlfriend and that will feel a little bit better, make us giggle a little bit about something her daughter said or feel less alone about the laundry. But we’re still alone most of the time, either with or without the kids or the husband or the aging parents. That’s unnatural; women are supposed to do this job together –we’ve just become too evolved and civilized to remember that.
Here’s what I want –it’s not a lot: I want one three-hour segment of time per week –morning, noon, or night– when one or more girlfriends come over, with or without children, to kvetch and/or drink tea/wine/hard liquor and/or make fun of Donald Trump/people I can’t name here/the Kardashians with me. Or be totally quiet. Or cry. Or whimper. Or laugh really really hard, possibly until someone pees (your secret is always safe with me and I have plenty of under-$200-jeans you can borrow). They can bring their laundry to fold or we can make chocolate sauce for our kids’ teachers or cut out pandas from construction paper. Or nothing. I don’t care. I just don’t want to do this job alone.