Oh sweet mother of pearl, why are there so damn many people in my house? I love them, but they cannot loiter around me asking me to explain every noise I make and every look on my face for the next seventy six days of summer break. Why am I so fascinating? I don’t want to be fascinating, and they need to get the hell out of my house, bless their little hearts.
I cannot even think straight.
Studio work is ok, because I can put in earplugs and pretend I can’t hear them. But the writing? I do not have two lucid thoughts to rub together. It would be so rude to walk around with earplugs in all day, but I’m considering it.
And the big one. Oy. The big one? He needs to get a damn job, but quick. Dude’s making me nuts.
Being a parent would be so much easier if there weren’t actual children involved. And there are so many of them, I swear they’ve multiplied like rabbits in the past week. Like fucking rabbits.
All the parents reading this are probably nodding and saying, “Oh, I’m so with you sister. What do you say we duct-tape the darlings in the closet and meet for a drink?”
All the non-parents are saying, “That is horrible. Those poor babies.” But the non-parents don’t yet know of the moments when biting your tongue is a major achievement, and loving your children in theory is as good as it’s going to get. Ambivalence is a concept you come to know well once you procreate.
They are precious, they are wonderful, they are beautiful. They need to get the hell out of my house now.
Thank you for listening. I feel nicer now. And a bit guilty.
In my thoughts at moments like this? David Sedaris’ “Let It Snow.”
Let It Snow
by David Sedaris
Winters were frustratingly mild in North Carolina, but the year I was in the fifth grade we got lucky. Snow fell, and, for the first time in years, it accumulated. School was cancelled, and two days later we got lucky again. There were eight inches on the ground, and, rather than melting, it froze. On the fifth day of our vacation, my mother had a little breakdown. Our presence had disrupted the secret life she led while we were at school, and when she could no longer take it she threw us out. It wasn’t a gentle request but something closer to an eviction. “Get the hell out of my house,” she said.
We reminded her that it was our house, too, and she opened the front door and shoved us into the carport. “And stay out!” she shouted.
My sisters and I went down the hill and sledded with other children from the neighborhood. A few hours later, we returned home, surprised to find that the door was locked. “Oh, come on,” we said. I rang the bell, and when no one answered we went to the window and saw our mother in the kitchen, watching television. Normally she waited until five o’clock to have a drink, but for the past few days she’d been making an exception. Drinking didn’t count if you followed a glass of wine with a cup of coffee, and so she had a goblet and a mug positioned before her on the countertop.
“Hey!” we yelled. “Open the door. It’s us.” We knocked on the pane and, without looking in our direction, she refilled her goblet and left the room.
“That bitch,” my sister Lisa said. We pounded again and again, and when our mother failed to answer we went around back and threw snowballs at her bedroom window. “You are going to be in so much trouble when Dad gets home!” we shouted, and in response my mother pulled the drapes. Dusk approached, and as it grew colder it occurred to us that we could possibly die. It happened, surely. Selfish mothers wanted the house to themselves and their children were discovered years later, frozen like mastodons in blocks of ice.
My sister Gretchen suggested that we call our father, but none of us knew his number, and he probably wouldn’t have done anything anyway. He’d gone to work specifically to escape our mother, and between the weather and her mood it could be hours, or even days, before he returned home.
“One of us should get hit by a car,” I said. “That would teach the both of them.” I pictured Gretchen, her life hanging by a thread as my parents paced the halls of Rex Hospital, wishing they had been more attentive. It was really the perfect solution. With her out of the way, the rest of us would be more valuable and have a bit more room to spread out. “Gretchen, go lie in the street.”
“Make Amy do it,” she said.
Amy, in turn, pushed it off on Tiffany, who was the youngest and had no concept of death. “It’s like sleeping,” we told her. “Only you get a canopy bed.”
Poor Tiffany. She’d do just about anything in return for a little affection. All you had to do was call her Tiff, and whatever you wanted was yours: her allowance, her dinner, the contents of her Easter basket. Her eagerness to please was absolute and naked. When we asked her to lie in the middle of the street, her only question was “Where?”
We chose a quiet dip between two hills, a spot where drivers were almost required to skid out of control. She took her place, this six-year-old in a butter-colored coat, and we gathered on the curb to watch. The first car to come along belonged to a neighbor, a fellow-Yankee who had outfitted his tires with chains and stopped a few feet from our sister’s body. “Is that a person?” he asked.
“Well, sort of,” Lisa said. She explained that we’d been locked out of our house, and, while the man appeared to accept it as a reasonable explanation, I’m pretty sure he was the one who told on us. Another car passed, and then we saw our mother, this puffy figure awkwardly negotiating the crest of the hill. She did not own a pair of pants, and her legs were buried to the calf in snow. We wanted to send her home, to kick her out of nature just as she had kicked us out of the house, but it was hard to stay angry at someone that pitiful-looking.
“Are you wearing your loafers?” Lisa asked, and in response our mother raised a bare foot.
“I was wearing loafers,” she said. “I mean, really, it was there a second ago.”
This was how things went. One moment she was locking us out of our own house and the next we were rooting around in the snow, looking for her left shoe. “Oh, forget about it,” she said. “It’ll turn up in a few days.” Gretchen fitted her cap over my mother’s foot. Lisa secured it with her scarf, and, surrounding her tightly on all sides, we made our way home.