Let's Connect and Share!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Have Yourself A Merry Little Prison

If there was ever an errant, flickering moment when I thought I might like to quit my job and stay at home, my 2014 holiday time off provided some strong reminders that have forevermore eradicated that notion.  

Now, don't get me wrong.  We had some awesome family time and a lot of laughs.  But I think we can all agree that being cooped up together at home for any prolonged period of time will test the patience of anyone with a discernible pulse.  Couple that with freezing temperatures and zero planned activities and what started out as your holiday vacation now feels like your holiday prison.  The following is a small sample ('cause there were a hell of a lot more) of the questions I asked myself during our hostage scenario...I mean, holiday stay-cation, and why I am ever so thankful to be back at work:

1. Where did all of our money go?  Any diversion from the non-holiday grind almost always results in total and complete abandonment of the budget.  Literally, every single day of vacation, one of us ends up at some type of store to buy some item that we are suddenly out of and cannot survive another second without.  The amount of butter, eggs, paper towels, bottled water, apple juice, yogurt pouches and Annie's mac 'n' cheese necessary to sustain ten days of good ol' family togetherness is somehow repeatedly underestimated, resulting in multiple trips to the grocery store.  And, as we know, every trip to any store results in a spend of AT LEAST $50.  That, my friend, is the very definition of unsustainable.  I'm pretty sure that a conversation this ridiculous took place between Jason and me, two gainfully employed individuals:

Jason:  "We need paper towels and toilet paper.  Just don't spend more than like $10."
Me:  "Um, OK.  I'll get like a four-pack of TP and a two-pack of the cheap paper towels."
Jason:  "Yeah, that will get us through until I get paid on Friday."

That is the dumbest conversation that two people with full-time jobs could possibly have. Needless to say, I was ready to come in perfectly under budget, but then realized that we also needed coffee and pulled that trigger without question.  Coffee is not only an absolute necessity, but serves as the glue to keep us from being one of those "unfortunate stories" on 48 Hours.  Oh, and in case you didn't know, paying for K-cups with the change from the bottom of your purse is pretty f%$^ing embarrassing.  

2. Do I need to "make" another playmate for my child?  And by "make" I mean sew some fabric around pillow stuffing, give it arms and legs, draw a face on that and stand it up like a scarecrow.  So here's where being "One and Done" shoots me in the foot.  I am 100% prepared to be Dallas's alarm clock, personal chef, boo boo kisser, lullaby singer, book reader, potty champion, disciplinarian, and chauffeur (amongst many, many other things), but when I stopped to realize that I am my child's ONLY playmate, cabin fever set in like a mo-fo.  I actually thought to myself, "Um, I made him a play room so that he would go into that room and PLAY!"  But it doesn't quite work like that, does it?  Turns out, even tiny humans enjoy the company of other humans.  Again, how dare they?  I didn't remember "one kid a-whining" being on the list of things my true love gave to me, but that's what was happening all "vacation" long.  So, as firmly committed as I am to being One and Done, during this particular holiday break I may have entertained a brief, but very satisfying, fantasy that involved two small children playing blissfully together.  Sure, there's probably some fighting and bickering mixed in, but perhaps it takes place after a solid thirty minutes of happy, cooperative play?  Long enough for me to drink an entire cup of coffee or watch a gripping segment on CBS This Morning?  I can hear you scoffing through the interwebs.  Pipe down, MKPs, this is my fantasy...  And please don't worry.  I'm done "making" people in the traditional sense.  Insert collective "phew!" from all of humanity.

3. What did he just say to me?  OK, I know.  You and your boo consistently demonstrate profound love and respect for one another and you have an amazing bond and partnership...until you're home together for more than 4 straight days.  Let me break it down from my perspective.  Days one and two are lovely.  At this point, you're both still basking in the joy of unhurried schedules and not fighting traffic.  You find yourselves saying things to each other like, "Wow, it's so nice to have all of this time off." and "I can't wait to relax and just be together."  I'm paraphrasing, but you know that's pretty damn close.  On day three, the tension begins to rise just slightly - a rolled eye here, a snippy retort there... Just a bit less blissful than yesterday.  By the end of day 5 you have weathered A LOT.  Your child is whining at a fever pitch, there are toys strewn everywhere, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded AGAIN, and if you have to pick his dirty socks up off the living room floor one more time, it's going DOWN.  It's too damn cold to go anywhere, including your own backyard and these people (your loved ones, to be clear) are, as my mother would say, "working your last nerve."  It's only a matter of time before a "What the f@*% is your problem?" slips out on either side.  My extensive analysis has revealed that there is no real solution for this.  Count to ten, bite your tongue and keep sipping your wine.  We do what we must to preserve the union.

4. Who fired the damn housekeeper?  It's much harder for your house to look like a sh^%hole when you aren't at home.  It sounds simple enough, but for me, this was a profound realization.  Host the family Christmas, then stay home for eight more days and you suddenly find yourself cleaning messes that pale in comparison to those of a normal work week.  And I'm not just talking about the actual night of Christmas.  I was able to mentally prepare myself for the natural disaster that was 8pm on December 25th well enough in advance.  You know... the living room floor littered with a million gift bags, tissue and wrapping paper, the kitchen sink piled to the ceiling with dinner dishes, every square inch of tabletop and counter covered with food containers and half-eaten desserts, etc.  That I can handle.  It happens every year.  Coping mechanisms for the post-Christmas hurricane already exist.  What I neglected to plan for, however, was the incessant straightening and re-straightening that would need to occur hour by hour, day by day of the "vacation".  Like, I needed Scotty to beam up Geoffrey or Tony Micelli - hell, I would have taken Mr. Belvedere's wise ass - any kind of housekeeper hero to make all of the messes disappear.  The vicious cycle that is cooking a meal, eating the meal, putting those dishes into the sink, loading them into the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher, putting those dishes away and repeating that process over and over again now haunts my nightmares.  Then there are the f^%&ing toys.  Ironically, I did this to myself.  When you're traipsing through Toys 'R' Us haphazardly tossing books, train sets, art supplies, instruments and puzzles into your cart like a happy idiot, you are most certainly not considering the countless times you will trip over and shuttle those toys back and forth between the rooms of your house, wishing that you could throw them all in the garbage when no one is looking.  People who either just don't get life or are completely comfortable just wallowing around in their own filth say things like, "Don't worry about cleaning!  Just leave the mess and enjoy your time together as a family!"  Two things... 1) If I just "don't worry about the cleaning," in three days we will be ready to star in the next episode of Hoarders. You know...Hoarders: Kids Edition. 2) I don't want to cook my breakfast scramble next to the crusty, dried up version of last night's fish dinner.  But thanks for your concern (insert my signature eye roll).

I really don't want you all to read this and think I had an awful Christmas.  That would be grossly inaccurate.  It was actually really fun and even relaxing at times.  I'm just trying to be real about the little things in life that drive, hopefully, all of us a little closer to the nuthouse this time of year, and that probably aren't fully depicted in your standard Hallmark holiday movie.  Because we all know how closely those films resemble real life... (And there's another eye roll).  Anyway, now that I'm back at my work grind, it's feeling pretty amazing, and I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one feeling that way.  And if you say you'd still rather be at home, just know that I don't believe you anyway.  Working mommies unite...to escape...from our homes...and sometimes the people living there. 

Happy New Year!  Stay sane and employed!

1 comment: