Sadly, said sweating goes far beyond the garden-variety neuroses I’ve described in the past, eclipsing my obsession with the worst-case scenario game I play as a matter of course. It also exceeds the bounds of reason with respect to the picayune nature of my parenting gripes. That said, I sweat the small stuff in a very large way. And at no time does this particular foible become more apparent than now — as I’ve recently joined the ranks of the Sandwich Generation, a group of individuals who try (and often fail spectacularly) to attend AT ONCE to the many and varied needs of a young family and ageing parents.
Indeed, this is perhaps the worst time to be stressing over the notion that my husband forgot to rummage through backpacks for important school papers virtually every day that I was gone (i.e. in and out of hospitals helping my parents)… or that he allowed our brood to pile sinful quantities of their beloved schlock upon the kitchen table at will… or that he let them wear skinny jeans (gasp!) to basketball practice.
Not because they had nothing suitable or clean to wear, or because our dear children suffered a mental lapse regarding the whereabouts of their shorts, but because I wasn’t there to flatly deny said request, to enlighten all interested parties that “dark jeans will transform perfectly wonderful underwear into hideous-looking, permanently ink-hued garmentage you’ll vehemently refuse to wear ever again!”
“Besides, jeans don’t breathe especially well, and by wearing them you’ll get teased (read: mocked unmercifully by eleventy-seven of your closest peers) for committing a heinous crime of fashion.”
Mister Mom apparently caved in on the hotly contested ponytail wearing issue, too. I can only imagine my charges’ unbridled manes flopping about across their faces as they raced around the gym in a euphoric state of defiance. Oy.
Stupidly, I let this sort of thing bother me, along with the deluge of homework that was completed “differently” than I would’ve liked over a 10-day span, and the vat of laundry that was folded and arranged in a manner that offended my sensibilities — as if it really mattered how the socks were mated and the shirts were stacked. Never mind the library books that may or may not have been returned on time or the journal entries that fell embarrassingly short of the standard three-paragraph length I routinely insist upon. It’s rumoured a 22-minute telephone rant involving the aforementioned points of contention may have occurred. I blame my sleep-starved condition, an intolerable dearth of sunshine and an incapacitating need to control my environment.
As a result, and as a complete fool for the duration, I heaped mounds of undeserved criticism upon my husband — sending him the stingingly clear message that he was somehow “doing it wrong,” never mind the impossible task with which he had been charged — to parent, to provide and, at all costs, to resist the urge to tackle the laundry. Of course, in my absence he also lobbied hard for the release of a certain pet frog into the wild (and succeeded!), held a funeral service for yet another frog that met an untimely demise, dealt with a plethora of thorny pre-adolescent issues, got our progenies to bed at a reasonable hour each night and onto the school bus each morning with a smile, and faithfully delivered them to an ungodly number of sporting events and/or music rehearsals.
Needless to say, the man deserved a medal — not only for his solo parenting feats, but for providing me with a soft spot to land. It’s good to be home.
· The author is the winner of the 2009-2010 Mid-Atlantic Community Papers Association Editorial Award for Original Writing — Category: Personal Column.
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