You are in your kimono robe and slipper socks, having just pried your nine-year-old out of your bed. Your teenager has been in the basement office doing remote learning for close to an hour, and time is running short to get your younger child ready for the morning. You say a prayer of gratitude that this process does not actually involve leaving the house, and hastily prepare a bagel for her to shovel in while completing her daily worksheets. She is not in a fantastic mood. The morning routine goes poorly, and is undoubtedly a foretaste of the rotten feast to come.
But you don’t have time for that shit, for making coffee or helping with math facts, because all of a sudden your dog is barking ferociously, an unacceptable disruption to your high schooler’s Zoom learning already in progress. You suspect the millennial neighbors’ cat has gotten into your yard but no! There is a strange work truck parked in your driveway! This could be less surprising, because you are in fact in the middle of a kitchen remodel (actually, 7/10 of the way through it but who’s counting at this point HAHAHAHA) because you are certifiably insane and a glutton for pandemic punishment. But it is still a surprise, because in fact nobody informed you that a delivery or installation was imminent.
You glance down at your attire– MTV pajama pants from Target, the aforementioned kitty cat slipper socks, and robe. Well, that’s embarrassing. You can’t just shed your robe because you are in fact braless and your tank top is a thin piece of crap. Spotting your daughter’s discarded hoodie, you toss it on, lower half of your body be damned, and greet the men with “Heyyyy I’m actually not sure who you are or why you’re here?” In other words, the tagline of women who frequently appear on Dateline as idiotic victims of some sort of nefarious crime.
While standing in your driveway wearing a too-small mask one of your kids tossed on the floor, you beg the dudes for five minutes to move your child, still eating and grumpily completing worksheets, to the designated “Kitchen workers are here go to your bedroom” learning area, contain the dog, and throw all the crap on top of the ping pong table top that is currently serving as the counter about to be installed before they enter your home.
While showing the counter guys your kitchen, you holler up the stairs that 39 is not a prime number, but rather composite, as it is divisible by 3 and 13. “Yes,” you confirm to your 4th grader, “Those are the only factors.” You smile at the clearly impressed workers and reaffirm to them that yes, your life is ridiculous.
This unexpected interruption should not cause you to sweat profusely, shedding the slipper socks and hoodie as you run back and forth between your children’s learning stations, informing them that kitchen loudness may ensue. You should not be flustered upon microwaving your oatmeal and brewing coffee before quickly corralling with the dog in your bedroom. You should not be surprised that you are once again unable to complete a task. What task was it, again? What are you supposed to be doing? Oh, god, teaching a Zoom class in 35 minutes! Surely they will be gone by then?
You float above your body to hear yourself call to your mid-meltdown offspring: “When I’m done pooping, I would be happy to help you, but I’m going to ask for you to use a calm and pleasant voice!” You strip off the hoodie you just put on again, as you’re now sweating while coaching your child, who is writhing on the floor, through a text structure assignment involving signal words. Perhaps you should create signal words for your family; when they hear you shrilly proclaim that “You are doing the best you can,” are a person too,” or “just need to finish what you were doing!” it’s time to back away slowly and STFU.
You text your husband with such gems as “Hi we are having a really terrible day here, ” and “Both kids are completely freaking out right now.” You wish you could find the time to actually write something about your life that you could polish and publish, but let’s get real here: Coherent sentences are not currently in your wheelhouse, and stream of consciousness career success went out with Faulkner.
You glance at the list of yesterday’s failed tasks– You did not upload your photos to your laptop, despite turning the house upside down looking for a cord that worked, finally finding one, and then crashing your computer. You did not finish your weekly meal plan. You did not remember to go to the grocery store. You did not remember to remind your kids to clean up their rooms. You have perpetual task completion blue balls, as you constantly find yourself in a state of taskus interruptus. Your theme song is “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” and you turn it into a depressing Dr. Seuss-like poem.
You can’t remember to bathe your kid.
You cannot find the fucking lid.
You can’t recall why you entered the room.
You’re late for a meeting that’s on freaking Zoom.
You cannot finish a single thought,
You can’t remember the online shit you bought.
You cannot find your favorite mask,
You can’t complete a basic task.
You’re interrupted in the bathroom,
You’re interrupted by Google classroom
You cannot find peace in the car,
You cannot (should not!) go to a bar.
You can’t remember what you were going to say.
No satisfaction, on any day.
No satisfaction while you type
There are worksheets to print
And asses to wipe!
You cannot have it in your dreams,
Or reading the news,
Or scrolling through memes
You cannot have it while watching a show
Your kids need you,
Back upstairs you go!
You cannot do it, Midlife Mom
This school year is a ticking bomb.
Since your pandemic jam is The Rolling Stones, and satisfaction is out of the question, you switch to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” when you’re feeling more resolute and serene. Cross your fingers that (maybe maybe maybe) if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need. (Survival. Survival is what you need. And maybe sanity.)