Eating Dinner Standing Up

On any typical fall afternoon, you can find me seated in a lawn chair in the front yard, more like the driveway, stealing a few minutes with a good book.  The kids are running in the street, (literally since we live in a cul-de-sac) and our dog has planted herself at my feet, gauging the kids’ play for the perfect time to intervene with much running and chasing.  My hubby is somewhere, possibly in the office or on the phone and the sun is casting a heavy ray of sunshine just before it drops behind the trees. 

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year.  By the time October arrives in Arizona, we have witnessed a few more days out of triple digits and have begun to re-explore the neighborhood just in time for Halloween tricks and treats.  As the month creeps on, neighbors will prep pool toys for their winter slumber, lawn chairs will find their way out from fenced backyards and the summer zombies will creep from the air conditioned comfort of the indoors.

One particular afternoon a couple of years ago, a neighbor came to visit.  Her stride, slumped and dragging, carried with it a sense of toil and labor.  Her son gleefully toddled ahead of her sputtering two-year old lingo in the direction of my boys who appeared to be caught up in the grass with a bug or something...

"Hey, pull up a chair.  What's going on?" 

It was clear as I said this, there was indeed something going on….  I am of course going to be extremely general here in my description of this particular person but let me just say, since she became a mother, she did not seem to be mastering the stamina necessary to multi-task.    

I would like you to imagine a brief pause here as she maneuvered around several toys, bikes, legos, chalk and God knows what else had been scattered over the drive.  Finally she landed in the chair next to me.

“Pppphhhhhhhhhhhh..”  A long escape of air left her lungs through her pursed lips.  Clearly, her white flag was up and waving. 

"Wow.. tired?"  I said as I watched my youngest begin working on taking his pants down.........

"Hey, knock that off!  Go use the bathroom in the house!"

Yes, the bathroom is sometimes outside at our house…. I love having boys but their timing and understanding of convenience and appropriateness can be challenging to manage. 

Little chuckle.  Nice timing kid. 

Shortly after the pants episode, she finally spoke.

"How do you.... do you get any help from Bob? 

(let's just call my dh, Bob-shall we?),

… know, with the kids, or house?"

It’s clear she was still banking on the dreamer package to the mommy club..  The vision of the black and white portrait of the perfectly round belly draped with sheer linen and holding the blooming pink orchid had become a cavernous stretch mark...  Oh.. poor dear. 

"Little overwhelmed, huh?"

Duh.. I couldn’t figure that out. This is the same person who after having child number 2 a year later got a babysitter once a week so she could do laundry... no... I am not kidding.

I tried offering a little insight, "Well..... Bob primarily takes care of the outside of the house.  I do the inside.”

Bob would speak up here; noting that my version of clean is a bit different from his.  Let us just say, I am an awesome re-arranger and NEAT. 

“...And when it comes to who has to clear several calendars in order to go the dentist?  Well, that would be me.  And let’s see… who has to pack for 3 people instead of 1 when we go on vacation?  Uhhhh…. me...And finally, who eats dinner standing up more nights than not? yea…me."

Now, keep in mind, my dear hubby, Bob-is a fan-TAS-tic daddy.  He organizes after dinner wrestle time, gives hiccup inducing horse bites and has no problem using daddy spit to clean faces.  Daddy adores his boys and they love him unconditionally.  But we agree on this; mommy is the primary care taker. 

Mommy is still one the who does the majority of the childrearing, the finding of misplaced favorite monkeys, replacer of ripped socks, child version encyclopedia to the difference between bumble bees and wasps and why the dog food is not as good to eat as you would think.  

I informed my somewhat weary neighbor, much to her paralyzed dismay, that she is the one who has to hold down the fort.  Fathers have become more like daddies since I was a kid and they do far more now than they ever have.  Still, the "mommy" is the one the kids seek out when knees are scraped, pants are pooped or food is spilled. 

Maybe it's the cop in me.  I was trained to multi-task and yes, it comes in very handy when juggling the household.  You have no idea how many varied tasks are involved with just a traffic stop. 

Of course I can run this household but my badge wielding at work does not have the same compliance magic at home. 

It may not be glamorous, no one will applaud or adorn you with accolades for snotty nose blowing assistance, but that is just fine by me.  I love every bit of it and even though I may misplace things, throw a dinner together with only three ingredients and mix my kids’ names up, my children hold me to life and I embrace my part in their day with compassion, determination and a little bit of silliness. 

What my neighbor was really looking for was another mother to join in her misery.  To march to her beat of "I need a break and you need to get in here and assume the role while I take a hot bath, go get my hair done, take a nap, have drinks with the girls, go to the bathroom without someone following me and asking me why does the dog like birthday cake?”

Well, excuse me if I don’t join in.  What I say instead is,

“Put your big girl panties on and get on with it!”

Now, if only I could remember where I put mine. 


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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.