I am a complete neat freak. I like order. I like to put things away in the right place. Organization is the love of my life. Straight cushions, wiped counters and wrinkle free bed linens fill my heart with joy and satisfaction.
Neat freaks should not have children. My 2 ½ year old daughter is like a wrecking ball in my apartment. Within minutes of opening her eyes each morning, she is dismantling my living room. Her toys sit quietly in the corner like unwanted house guests while she rearranges our kitchen drawers, smears her fingerprints on our computer screen and empties our bin of dog toys. Anything without a child lock is up for grabs.
I try to be calm. I give myself mantras like, “it will all be cleaned up in time.” I tell myself that these are just material objects while my daughter is a living, breathing amazing person who is discovering the world. Why am I so neurotic? I could leave dirty laundry on our kitchen counter for days and my husband would never even notice it. But for today, I can’t take the chaos anymore. We are headed to the playground where my toddler can be free to explore and I can be calm.
I remember when I was a teenager, I would chat on the phone with my girlfriends, dissecting every nuance about our favorite crush. Did he say hi in the hall? Did I say hi back? Was he just being nice? Does he have a girlfriend? Why is he always hanging out with that annoying girl Stephanie? We would laugh and chatter and finally say goodbye but then keep talking for another half hour. Finally, I would hang up the phone. My mother would then ask me a simple question like, “Would you like casserole for dinner?” and I would grunt a reply, ignore her and start reading Seventeen Magazine. One day my mother said to me, “Why can’t you be as nice to me as you are to your friends?” I was suddenly paying attention. She had a point. Why wasn’t I as nice to her? I promised to do better.
Today (20 years later) my husband asked me the very same question. He hears me chat with my friends about preschools, potty training and why a 2 ½ year-old absolutely insists on wearing pajamas for nap time every single day. We laugh, joke and commiserate about this crazy ride called motherhood. But when it comes to my husband, we aren’t laughing as much as we used to. Instead, we argue over the bottomless laundry bag, the dishes that never stay clean and the thank you notes begging to be written. I wonder why he can’t seem to put our daughter’s bagel on a plate in the morning, instead tossing it casually on the counter. When was the last time he ate a bagel off the counter? He wonders what happened to that funny, compassionate girl he married. Instead, each morning he wakes up to a cranky, tired 30-something who nitpicks about bagels and counters.
But why can’t I be nicer to him? Why can’t we laugh as much with each other as we do with our friends? I mean, isn’t he the most important person in the world to me. Of course he is. As I once read, no matter how much we try to put the brakes on time, our children will grow up. They will eventually leave us. Hopefully, our husbands won’t. So he makes a good point. I can be nicer to him. I promise to do better.
I’m not a fan of reality TV. It likely goes to back to when I was 24 years old and out of 20,000 applicants, I made the top ten for Real World San Francisco. Then I was cut from the potential cast. I didn’t make the final six and I’ve been a bit bitter about reality TV ever since. But my in-laws love reality TV and my mother-in law has such enthusiasm for things that she convinced me to watch “Dancing with the Stars”. Well, I wasn’t actually sold until I heard Apollo Anton Ono was one of the celebrities. I adore Apollo. He is the prince of speed skating. I love my husband very much but I have a super crush on Apollo. So I sat down to watch the show.
I came away from the episode with three observations. First of all, Apollo is adorable on the dance floor although he must must must get rid of the red bandana. Secondly, Heather Mills is one impressive dancer with only one real leg and despite all the bad press surrounding her divorce with Paul McCartney, she actually seems kind of nice. Finally, I hate everyone who has never had a baby. Their boobs are perky and bouncy. Their stomachs are flat as my hardwood floors. No stretchy skin. No droopy breasts. It could make a girl cry looking at the bodies on those dancers. You see? This is why I don’t get involved with reality TV. Somehow it always breaks my heart.