Life's journeys: Language, culture, communication

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All in a day’s work. A mother’s day

Woke up at 6:46 a.m. from a bad dream. Stumbled into the bathroom, then into the kitchen to prepare my daughter’s baby formula. Did that, took care that it doesn’t get too cold. Then laid out the clothes I was going to wear for the day (clothes – what an euphemism for jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt). My daughter started whining, I took her out of the kids’ room and bottle-fed her. Then we cuddled for a few minutes. Then took her into the bathroom, changed her diaper and her clothes and entertained her. Came back out, set her down and let her walk around the house a little. She walks like a little duck. Or a penguin. In the meantime, went back into the kitchen and warmed up the milk for my son’s cereal, took the garbage out into the stairway (they’re collecting the recyclables tomorrow, but my bag was already full), put the laundry into the washing machine and set it to “schnell waschen, extra spülen“. My daughter was getting vocal.

7:08 a.m. Decided to go wake up my son, but got startled by his very presence in the hallway. He frowned and scolded me how come I hadn’t woken him up too. I guess we got off on the wrong foot this morning. He’s not his usual cooperative self. I ask him nicely to go to the bathroom, pee, wash his face and put some clothes on. He doesn’t care. I beg. He prefers to draw a bit first. I kindly allow that and go take a sip of water (the first for the day). Then I open the windows of my room, take the pillow out into the fresh morning air. It’s already rather nippy. Go by his room again to do the same there. He’s still not dressed. I kindly put up with this for a while, but when 40 minutes have elapsed and he is still half-naked and starting to sneeze (he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on his body, he’s a bag of bones), I lose it and I snap. I yell some sort of menace at him, about not going to the kindergarten at all if he keeps this up, which throws him into a fit of rage. We make up for the next 10 minutes, amid sobs. It is 10 to 8 by now.

I heave my daughter into her chair (she’ll soon be too heavy for me to carry) and feed her her regular breakfast (the bottle of formula was barely enough to quench her thirst). As opposed to her brother, she’s a voracious eater;  if she didn’t occasionally need to sleep, I bet she’d be eating ’round the clock.

Go figure. And they both came out of me.

OK, 8:10 a.m. and we’re finally ready to go. Oh, wait, something wasn’t quite right in his shoe (the sock got rumpled) so he takes it out again. I’m pleading. He puts it back on, slings his rucksack on his shoulders. We go out of the house (hallelujah!) and get into the car. We drive downhill to the kindergarten, suddenly he’s a different person – mature. He insists to do everything himself, all I have to do is drop him off at the door. Checked. Back in the car, heading for the supermarket.

8:32 a.m. and the parking lot at the supermarket is already full. How many other moms are out there, I wonder? Finally find a slot. Unclench a shopping cart, pick up my daughter from her car seat, put her in the cart. Start pushing.

Push. It’s what I had to do when they were born, it’s what I am condemned to do for at least 18 more years, I guess. So I push. Sisyphus had it easy, I tell you. These old clunkers need some oiling. I push with all my might and the cart barely inches forward. Besides, the supermarket is uphill from the parking lot. Great thinking, guys. You couldn’t level it some more? It’s tough to get in, it’s tough when you come out, full of bags of fruit and meat and packages, and all that inertia that comes with the weight – it’s so great to maneuver that cart downhill back to your car… But it will take me the better part of the next hour to reach that point.

10:00 a.m. Finally made it back home, unpacked for like 15 minutes while my daughter was screaming desperately for grapes. Get her undressed, wash the frigging grapes and give them to her. She quiets down, the munchies gone for the time being. I hurry into my room to check my e-mails. And indeed, one of my customers wants an urgent review of a translation. Thank God it’s very short. I do it, double check and hit “send”. In the meanwhile, my daughter has cleared out half of the CD shelf.

10:20 a.m. I notice in dismay that the letter I was supposed to mail today got left behind and is still on my desk. Uh-oh. Pack the letter into my purse, put on my daughter’s shoes and jacket again, and hoist her into the car once more.  Drive, park, take her out, carry her 200 yards, come back, buckle up, drive back home. 10:55. The sun is beginning to shine, so we remain outdoors. Get her stroller and go for … well, a stroll.  I enjoy a brief 10 minutes of glorious peace, as she walks on her own in the church square, wobbling and plucking flowers.

11.35 a.m. Come back. More uphill pushing is in order. Warm up her meal, feed her, change her, put her to bed.

12:00 – noon. Phew… My turn! I breathe for 5 minutes, then quickly stuff my face. The laundry is still in the washing machine, but I don’t have time for it now. I check my e-mails, the press, tidy up the place a little, prepare some documents for printing and try to catch a glimpse of the Obama-Romney debate (taped earlier). Oh, brother. I don’t have time for this. I write a blog, make a few necessary phone calls.  Do a little reading. Hang the clothes out to dry. Time flies.

14:30. She wakes up, we cuddle, she wants her soother, I hide it from her and we play. She keeps sneezing. I get her dressed in a hurry, to go pick up my oldest from the kindergarten. The moment he sees me he asks if I have something for him. He means sweets. Sure I do, but I’m not that stupid to hand them over just like that. Heck, that’s the heavy artillery. I can’t afford to dispense with that weapon yet. He quickly puts on his shoes, packs his bag, and comes running up the stairs. Then I deliver. We chat on the way home and I do some more of that – yes, you guessed correctly  – lovely uphill pushing.

It’s not even 3 p.m. and I feel as if it should be evening already. It’s also quite dark outside. My son’s best friend is out of town, but he’s in a good mood nevertheless. He plays nicely with his sister and I get a short break. Then he wants to watch cartoons. He does – 4 episodes of Barbapapa. I take the opportunity to feed him some spaghetti. His sister wants to eat again (she ate on the way home from the kindergarten, too!). I give them fruits. I wash the dishes. I prepare dinner. I play with them some, I argue with them some. We look at books, it feels like forever.

Nope. Not forever. Just 17:02. I am ready for a sitcom. Gosh, is this me?! I check my e-mails again, I put another load of baby clothes into the washing machine. I take the kids downstairs where my printer is, because I really need to print those documents pronto. They have toys there and I ask them to play quietly on their own for a while. It only partly works.

6 o’clock. Some more cartoons. Some more dinner. Some more playing, reading and explaining. Then they play with closed doors for over 30 minutes, quiet as mice. I am very proud of them and very happy. Prepare some more documents.

Seven thirty p.m. Time to start preparing for bed. I air the rooms one more time, ask my son to tidy up theirs a bit, which he always does so brilliantly. I have a feeling he takes pride in his tidying.  Lucky me. We eat supper (long story), I wash my daughter, brush her teeth and put on her pajamas. I whisper a short prayer to her angel in her ear, kiss her, caress her and lay her down to sleep. My son and I now have to resort to sign language until she’s fast asleep. I am just about to get him into the shower when she starts screaming. My guess is, either she has a cold and can’t breathe right (all that sneezing, remember?) or she’s too hot. Thank Goodness it’s the latter. I cradle her for a few minutes, her eyelids close and she’s asleep again.

Back to the shower. Then he has to brush his teeth. I dart out for a second. I come back and he has already made himself all snugly-woogly in my bed, blanket pulled up to his chin. He wants his daily story. I make something up about a green zipper which opens onto a magical world, we talk a little about the past day, about tomorrow, try to remember all we have to do in the morning. It’s library day at the kindergarten tomorrow. That means one extra bag to schlep. He asks to go to his bed and we say goodnight.  It’s 21:00.

I turn on the hot water faucet in the bathtub, sprinkle salts and perfumed oils in it. Until it fills up, I fill out some more paperwork, dash downstairs and print it out. I’m back. But now the water’s too hot. While I wait, I also clean up the bathroom shelves and floor – yes, with toilet paper!!! Stop being so surprised!!! My husband never wonders how come the bathroom is clean all the time, he only wonders how come we’re always out of toilet paper. He’s so intrigued by how much I supposedly wipe my ass. He should put a sock in it! (not my ass, his complaining 😛 ). Anyway, he’s away on business now. And I am finally soaking. The downside of taking a bath, however, is that you have to clean the bathtub afterwards. And blow-dry your hair. Or at least mine.

10:30 p.m. Done for the day. Started writing this blog. Couldn’t help it.

11.45 p.m. Finished writing this blog. Plans for the future? Whisper a prayer and crash in my sweet soft bed. Hopes for the future? That my kids stay healthy and that I get a good night’s sleep.

I’m going to need it tomorrow.

Which reminds me, have I set the alarm?


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