Between wanting to be the Mother Teresa of the neighborhood, and wanting to throw tube socks stuffed with bars of soap at everyone.
When I was a young, fresh mommy, I had dreams of my future. I wanted to be the house where the kids would gather, after school or on sunny summer days. I wanted to be the house that you'd walk by and be greeted with a pot-pourri of Bounce scented dryer exhaust, Pine-Sol and fresh-out-of-the-oven brownies.
I imagined myself dispensing Band Aids, water bottles and advice to the rivers of children who would pass through my front door.
And you know what? It all came true. On any given day (mostly during the summer, but surprisingly enough, it also happens during the school year) you can find a sort of mish mash of kids here. Of course, I generously supply the first four children, but anything over that is above and beyond my normal load. It's not uncommon for me to wake up, stumble/trip into the kitchen and see several pairs of shoes that I don't recognize lined up by the back door. I've found teenage boys snoring out on the porch, which would freak some people out but it doesn't faze me in the least. I will shake them awake, ask if their moms know they're here, and then let them snooze.
I have cautiously entered the man-cave when it has been taken over by my daughter and her group of hens...being careful so I don't step on heads, legs or hands as I go through and pick up the 7,000 candy wrappers and half-eaten pies. Yes, I said pies. We live within walking distance of a Perkins, and the girls like pie. Don't judge.
I have made waffles, pancakes, oatmeal and bacon for the masses, and done so with a smile on my face. Because, after all, this was my DREAM. Washed clothes, offered up showers and Axe deodorant and spare socks...just keepin' the dream alive.
Of course, I never counted on being single and poor while living the dream, but hey. Forrest Gump's Mama was so right. You really never do know what you're gonna get. So, you just keep chuggin' along.
Before I go on, and you know I will, let me state one thing: I won't trash kids. There are very few things in life that I believe in strongly, like pit-bull strong, and not dissing kids is one of them. Want to earn a spot on my shit-list? Bad mouth a kid. Yes, I know that some of them really are devil spawn, and you know which ones they are almost right from the start. But even Satan himself was once a kid, and I'd like to believe that maybe, just maybe, if someone had been nicer to him he wouldn't be so....evil. Not saying that I think I could have single handedly changed Jeffrey Dahmer into Gandhi, but it never hurts to be kind.
Anyhoo. So as I was saying, I love having a houseful. But, as most moms know, there is an unwritten rule in the Mother Handbook regarding reciprocity. Kind of a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" philosophy except it's more like, "you feed my kids, I'll feed yours". I know very few of us who keep track of who's fed who, who drove which herd where, etc., but it really is a kind of give and take deal. Sometimes you go on a long streak of supplying the chicken nuggets, strawberries and Babybel cheese, but it all evens out in the end.
Usually. But this summer has already proven to be one of uneven proportions. There is a child who has befriended one of my kids. Sweet kid, he is, and I truly enjoy having him here. I recently learned that he lives in the neighborhood with his dad (yes, Single Dad, and that used to send my love-antennae into a quivering salute...but this is SUMMER and I don't have the time or energy to play with myself, let alone entertain the thought of showering or putting on lipstick and doing the Do-Si-Do with a new prospect). Dad leaves said kid home alone during the day while he goes to work.
I'm not judging. Not a bit, seriously. You do what you have to do, I know this. My brother and I were latchkey kids, and we survived. And it's not like this kid is in diapers or anything, he's at an age where theoretically he can get by on his own for a day. But I am, to my core, a Mommy. And just like George Bush, I believe in No Child Left Behind. Or I guess in my case it's No Child Left Alone. So we have kind of taken him in.
What's my point? Whom, exactly, is my tube sock full o'soap aimed at? No one in particular, I guess. Maybe myself for feeling a wee bit of resentment when the doorbell rings at 8:00 a.m. and our little adoptee is standing there in his bike helmet, waiting to be let in. Not resentment towards him of course...he's a kid. This is a house with kids and a mom and food. I'd be here too.
Maybe I'm feeling it towards the dad...but just a tiny bit. I don't know. I understand that men are somewhat oblivious to the minutiae of this childcare thing so I will cut him some slack. But I already have one man in my life who expects me to raise his kids for free, do I really need to open the door to another?
And then just this morning, I overheard my son and this child having one of their funny, earnest conversations. Our guest said to my child: "You are so lucky. Your mom is really nice."
I am going to wipe the tears from eyes and go make a butt-load of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now. The tube socks are going back into their holsters.
Carry on, mommies.