You ever feel like you’re just gliding through?
Everything’s going smoothly. And so I ask myself, “Wait, is it going too smoothly?” And my self replies, “Oh no, we’re not doing that shit. That fatalistic shit’s too good so shit’s going to go bad nonsense. You’re too old for that.” So I just relax and cruise through with my currently healthy kids and husband who’s home more during the slow season.
And dammit if he’s not really helpful when he’s not tired from working seventy hour weeks. He’s playing board games with the kids and having them help make homemade pasta. He’s researching Lego pirate ships online. He’s making waffles from scratch after dinner. He’s forcing everyone to go sledding. I’m arguing that it’s too cold, that there’s not enough snow. I end up having a fantastic time.
After the kids are in bed I have a glass of wine. Later in the dark I reach across the bed and stroke his winter beard and say, “I love you. Thank you for being such a good Daddy.”
In the slow pace of winter I feel like I’m not doing enough. I’ve gained weight. I’ve been letting the kids watch more TV than usual. I started out feeding them only organic food and now McDonald’s has worked its way into their vocabulary.
I remind myself it’s December.
After the holidays we’ll get our shit together, or rather, I’ll get my shit together, I tell myself.
My brother comes to dinner and asks, “So what have you been up to?”
My mind goes blank.
I know I’ve been doing things, all the things. Preschool drop off, mixing pureed spinach into the boxed macaroni so I feel less guilty, I’m at the gym, I’m at Target again, I’m drinking Starbucks in my minivan, I’m eating far too much hard salami and cheese, I’m cursing how the dirt from the car rubs onto my pants, I’m changing Lids into her leo at ballet, I’m shuttling Oz to gymnastics on Saturday, how is it Saturday again already? I’m hating winter, I’m doing the scary yell while the kids whine, I’m realizing it’s 3:30 and I have no idea what to feed anyone for dinner, I’m feeling bloated and useless, I’m realizing my two-year-old has learned the F word, I’m screwing around on my phone while the kitchen sits filthy.
But this is not the answer to “What have you been up to?” So I just say, “I don’t know really. The usual stuff.”
I’m wishing I had my own income. My husband sits there with his sexy beard and his mad sledding skills with his pockets full of money. But it’s his money. He is unconsciously smug in his financial contentment. Technically his money is “ours” but I want my own. I want to feel that contentment again. I wonder how the power balance would shift if I won the Pulitzer. I wonder how J.K. Rowling feels sitting high atop her game. I wish he was a little scared by my hot body, by my ability to support myself, but he’s not because I don’t have either of those things. If I complain about anything or want to “check-in” on our marriage he obliges me by listening and replies, “Hey, things are great. We’re good. The business is doing great. The kids are gorgeous.”
“Damn it, they really are gorgeous, right?” I’ll reply.
Conversation over. Mentioning how cute our kids are will end pretty much any argument or discussion. Check and mate.
Well played sir, well played.
But I do this. Every few months I feel the need to check-in. He does not have this same desire. I’ve come to realize it’s not the marriage that makes me antsy. It’s me. It’s my utter lack of direction outside of the kids. The clock, it ticks. Soon the little one will be in preschool and I’m expected to do something with my time, once I have time again.
Oh, and I feel old as fuck. Have I mentioned that? I know dropping weight would make me feel younger. I lost seventy-five pounds in a year once. I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t feel amazing. I was swift like a fucking ninja. Running and jumping over shit just because I could.
I could sit here and tell you I care about that, about how I look, about being like a ninja. And I do, but in my mind there’s part of me that will always be the old lady doling out advice to young pretty little things. This has always been my personality. It’s easier to drink wine in front of the TV, it’s easier to be invisible to all the white boys who don’t know what to do with all that ass.
[I don’t do vapid.]
It’s always been easier.
Easier to spend his money and convince myself that it’s ours because marriage says so, because the law says so, because I’m the mother of his children dammit!
But I want my own shit. This is the problem with staying home. Perhaps my goal for 2016 should be to get paid to write, or finally decide what to go to grad school for.
Oh yeah, and lose some weight. You know, because America hates fat women and empty resolutions are fun.
So the next time someone asks what I’ve been up to I’m going to say, “You know, just fuckin’ hustlin.”
But you’ll know what I mean…