You’re a stay-at-home mother of three. And it’s going to be one of those days. You can tell.
You haven’t slept well for a few nights. You’ve got a perpetual low-grade headache. There are million things to do. The whole world rests on your shoulders.
How did motherhood happen? You wanted to be a writer once. You wanted to be a journalist, or a novelist. “Hah hah!” your brain often reminds you. “A writer! That’s a good one!”
You’re a soccer mom now. The laundry pile always grows. The dog always wants outside. Your husband always asks for clean underwear. And what in God’s name are you going to have for supper tonight?
Supper. This question plagues your life like a recurring case of Bangkok Flu. “What’s for supper?” your kids are always asking. Sometimes, even strange neighborhood children appear from the shadows simply to ask this question. Occasionally you fantasize about setting fire to your house just to avoid this question.
Making dinner is not as easy as it sounds because it means you must cook something EVERYONE loves. If you don’t, your children might refuse to eat and they might get so skinny that school teachers will alert Child Protective Services to haul you away because the word around school is that your kids are starting to look like refugee prisoners on a hunger strike.
And when the school counselor finally asks your child why he’s been losing weight, your son will simply burst into tears and says, “My mom always makes frozen lasagna!”
On second thought, Child Protective Services can have that child.
Speaking of kids. Their extra-curricular schedules get more complex every day. There’s volleyball practice. Baseball practice. Your youngest wants to go to her friend’s after-school party at the “ball pit.” Truthfully, you don’t even know what a ball pit is or whether it’s safe. So you pack her a turkey sandwich.
At the end of this tiring day, still the question of supper remains. You check the fridge and realize that you’re out of everything, even frozen lasagna. Great. Just great.
You slam the fridge and you say, “Well, [cuss word]!”
Your youngest daughter is listening. She says, “Mom, you said [cuss word].”
“No, Mommy didn’t.”
“But I heard you say [cuss word].”
“I don’t care what you heard.”
“Can I say [cuss word] too?”
“How about [different cuss word], can I say that one?”
“Go ask your dad.”
The worst part is that nobody notices you. They claim to care, but they certainly don’t show it. You can’t remember the last time you did anything fun.
Last week your friend Margaret said she was going on a cruise with her husband. A CRUISE?! You were so jealous that your toes curled. Margaret was so excited, talking about all the fruity drinks she was going to have in Cozumél. Drinks with names like “Moscow Mule,” and “Juicy Lucy,” and “Sand in Your Crack.”
You’d give anything to be adrift in international waters right now sipping a Bahama Mama.
You always thought life would be different. As a young woman you were an aspiring author. People said you had talent. You won a few writing contests when you were seventeen. You majored in English for crying out loud.
But life stepped in. You married him. And he gave you them. Of course you love them, but your son needs new gym shorts, your daughter is using four-letter words, and your kids are about to be hungrier than baby wolverines in one hour.
You’d better go grocery shopping. If you don’t hurry, tonight’s supper is going to consist of expired cottage cheese and a side of canned pumpkin.
So you rush to the supermarket. You sprint through the aisles. You race back home. You pull into your driveway, jog up the sidewalk, open your door, and you see your husband waiting for you in the den. He’s all alone. He’s wearing a strange look on his face.
Something is wrong.
“Will you come with me?” he says, jingling the car keys. “I want to show you something.”
He asks again.
You say, “I can’t go anywhere, I have to make dinner.” You’re getting worried now. This is weird.
“Dinner can wait, Carrie,” he says.
He crawls into the driver’s seat. He drives you across town. And you have this looming feeling. You’re not sure what this is about and he’s not talking.
He pulls into the parking lot of a little office complex. He is at the back door, fiddling with the lock. He opens the door.
He leads you through a long corridor until you reach a door with a nameplate on it. The plate bears your name. Before you can ask a question he throws the door open.
Your children are waiting inside. “SURPRISE!” they yell.
In the center of a mostly empty office is a desk. On the desk sits a brand new laptop, still in the box. There is an office chair, and family pictures hanging on the walls.
“What’s all this?” you ask.
“It’s your own private writing office,” says your husband.
“Yeah, Mom,” says your son. “So you can write that book.”
Then they swarm you. And you don’t stand a chance against their mass hug. You’re holding them. They’re holding you. Everyone is holding each other tightly. And you’re thinking, “Who needs cruise ships when you own the whole world?”
“Happy birthday, Mom,” your kids say.
Your husband says the same thing.
Here is to a grand forty-sixth birthday for Carrie the Super-Mom.