A Once in a Lifetime Moment

Yesterday, no different than most days around here, upon arriving home from school pickup with all the muppets, I could do nothing except sit on the couch and survey the FEMA-like setting of my living and dining rooms. It was bad. An inconceivable number of shoes was strewn about. Newspapers were falling off of the coffee table. School papers (oh, bane of my existence) threatened domination. This morning's oatmeal sat crusting in bowls, while companion cups of 7-hr. old milk settled into a souring pattern. The floor was covered with cheerios and grit.

It was bad. It was depressing. I had to do something. Often, I am too defeated to handle this level of destruction, unless I've had massive amounts of coffee and it's early in the day. But I just couldn't take it; something had to be done.

I enlisted the help of my grumpy children by ordering the three eldest to take turns washing dishes. I set about collecting recyclable paper and finding the pairs for all of the shoes. I cleared surfaces and swept the floor. I did all of this while feeling very sad and sorry for myself; in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that all of this work would be in vain, since it would probably last less than an hour.

But I did it anyway, and about 45 minutes later, there was once again enough oxygen in my house that I stopped hyperventilating just from looking around.

When the work was finished, this was the scene in my house: Two kids were sitting at my finally (mostly) cleared off dining room table, doing their homework. The oldest was in the kitchen finishing up his dish-washing stint. I was sitting on the couch, in front of a freshly empty coffee table, with my Kindergartner, showing her how to match pictures with sounds for her cute little homework assignment.

And lo and behold, a miracle did take place. A neighbor knocked on my door, the preschool teacher who has taught all of the kids, who has a special place in her heart for Elizabeth. She was stopping by to see how Kindergarten was going. So I, Queen of Chaos, Duchess of Dirty Laundry, Lady of Lego-Related Injuries, was able to invite her in to my, for once!, slightly cleaned up living room, where she got an eyeful of children doing homework and washing dishes surrounded by clean surfaces and a newly-swept floor. The clouds parted. I heard angels singing. I looked like I might just be the Boss around here, and that my subjects were firmly entrenched in the habit of doing my bidding.

I so needed this.

I spend so much time feeling like such a screw up, such a disorganized, haphazard mess, that the experience of appearing to have it all together was positively exhilarating.

After she left, I looked around, laughed like a hyena, and waited: sure enough, 12.34 minutes later, the house looked like hell again. But for that brief moment in time, I looked fabulous.

* * *


Viv said…
I LOVE, love, love when that happens! You go girl!
Anonymous said…
You Rock!

Hey, I found you from your introduction on Conversion Diary, and was so happy to find another mom of five who sounds exactly like me. Wow! My kids are 4 to 13, but you're not too far behind me. My husband just left his small business in August for a "real" job. I will not miss the hours. I do freelance on the side. Like I said, many similarities! Oh, and Catholic too. Many blessings as you raise up your five. I'm at Peace Garden Mama (you can Google it). Would love to share posts now and again.
Ooops, forget about Google. Just click on the icon. Hope to see you there sometime.
Unknown said…
Muppets rule! Your Muppets also happen to be the best Muppets ever as evidenced by all five hands going up when I needed someone to climb the ladder and let us into my house this afternoon.
Gabriele said…
Don't you LOVE those moments! I agree, YOU rock!!!....and what a writer to boot!!
kerri said…
awesome. i should have stopped in for a beer that day.

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