PTSD: Post Traumatic Summer Disorder
Out of Order
Phyllis Diller said, ““Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Diller, whom I just Googled, was a housewife and comedienne from Lima, OH, (yes, the same town as Glee is set in) and is spot-on with this comparison. In her honor and my attempt to maintain summer sanity, I have decided that I will only do periodic cleanings throughout the day. That means that only once the space between the sink and the coffee maker is stacked at least two high with plates, bowls, forks, knives, cups, and half-eaten snacks and meals will I load the dishwasher. Sweeping has been cut back to every other day and mopping eschewed for wet paper towel hand-applied on the dirty spots. But I’m not fooling anyone, including myself, that I like my new state of housekeeping. I am anxious and judgmental of myself the entire time. And I only have three children. Diller had six! No wonder she had crazy hair (and eyes) on stage.
As part of my new regimen to do less cleaning during the summer, I mop less often but pick up and pitch the large pieces, like corn chips or Elmo stickers. Today as I was scouting the floor for highly visible mess, I spotted a clump of mud. This was, no doubt, a product of my toddler’s recent mud pie fest outside. I bent down to get it and realized as I picked it up with my bare hand that I was half right; it was a product of my toddler. Shortly after my realization, my eldest yelled down from upstairs, “Mo-om! The baby had a blow out.” Needless to say, I am mopping today. Shortly after I go to the kitchen and pour a second glass of Chardy. And wash my hands thoroughly.
My eldest son, like most young boys, is obsessed with guns. This includes Nerf, water, pellet, laser, and sticks that loosely resemble guns. Earlier, he aimed one of the sticks-that-loosely-resemble types over my head, cocked it like a shotgun, and fired it at me. I was a bit disturbed both by his accurate pantomime and his choice of target. So I asked him, “Did you know that when you are practicing to shoot a gun you are practicing killing people? Do you want to kill people?” I was pretty proud of my liberal gun agenda masked as concern for his conscience. That was until I got his response, which was: “I practice shooting so I can defend myself.” I didn’t have any liberal gun control rhetoric comebacks for that one.
The kids had a sleepover at church the other day. My kids have had sleepovers before, so I was pretty sure they would be fine. All week they were both happy and chirpy about how much fun they were going to have at the sleepover and “wasn’t it going to be sooo cool?” So you can understand why when my five-almost-six-year-old daughter followed me out of the fellowship hall packed with moms and dads and campers and counselors with very fake and very loud wailing of “I want my mommy!” left me both dismayed and embarrassed. It’s hard to get really excited about leaving your kid at the church sleepover when you feel like you are abusing your child to do so. Or since it was fake wailing (meaning no actual tears), look like you are abusing your child to do so.
My school district has mercifully only granted us 69 days of summer vacation this year. Thank goodness I don’t go to school in Danville (home of Phineas and Ferb), where they apparently get 104 days. So thanks to a traditional schedule, I am roughly halfway there. So if I pick up those mud piles with gloves next time and don’t ask any sarcastic questions without pre-prepared snappy comeback for when they answer me reasonably, I will make it to the other side with minimum effects of PTSD. With luck and a whole lot of summer camp, the kids might, too.