When You’re Gone

September 19, 2013

Linking up with MamaKat today answering the prompt: tell us what your day looks like while your child is at school.


Mama’s Losin’ It

I couldn’t resist this prompt because last week, Miss D. actually had the audacity to utter, “So, Mom? What do you do all day when I’m gone?”

My first instinct when I heard this was to take a hard swipe at her saucy little mouth. Or eat her head with a side of tartar sauce, which is what I do to dang near anyone who dares ask me that question.

But then I realized that she asked without any hint of irony or malice.

To my horror, the little shit was being genuine. She honestly could not imagine my life carrying on without her.

Now look, I could ignore the stupidity of that question if Miss D. were…say…five years old. Little kids just assume that they’re the sun and the nexus of your universe, and it’s your job to circle around them and admire accordingly. But the child in question here is almost twelve years old. I’m pretty sure she knows that clean laundry doesn’t magically appear in her closet, the house doesn’t tidy itself, and there’s definitely no such thing as the Sack Lunch Fairy.

The girl is eleven. She knows this. That was my first thought.

My second thought was, “she does know this, right?”

Third thought: “Aww, man. This kid needs more chores in her life.”

She does. This is my fault, and I’ll cop to it. I have stay-at-home mommy survivor’s guilt, and I do almost all of the household chores with fairly little fanfare and (relatively) minimal bitching. Somehow, I just figure it’s my job to do all of that stuff.

Result? Somehow, some way, at some point, my hatchling has decided that she’s entitled to a fucking maid.

That maid be mommy.

That be a mistake.

Mommy’s also the personal chef and the organizer of all activities and the chauffeur and the only person in the house who knows where her missing White Stripes t-shirt is.

Readers, I’m raising a diva, and I let it happen. I’m an enabler! *sob*

If Miss D. thought she’d get away with it, that kid would demand I wipe her fanny with Veuve Cliquot and feed her peeled grapes while she lazed on the veranda, reading Neil Gaiman.

So not happening, honey.

Thus, my nexus and high priestess, I made a detailed list of activities shit I get done while you are pretending to learn at school. Look and learn.


Shit I Do in My Older Daughter’s Absence:

8 am: Drop older daughter off at school.

8:15 am: place lunch and water bottle and snack and planner in younger daughter’s backpack. As I close the refrigerator, I realize that OD (older daughter) has forgotten her lunch.

8:15-8:40am: get YD (younger daughter) dressed. Attempt to comb her hair without suffering bodily harm. As per request, make third breakfast of the day for her. Feed the cat and hamster. Notice that YD has just spilled third breakfast down the front of clean outfit. Run upstairs to find another clean outfit. Remind YD to brush teeth and go potty. Search for YD’s shoes. Fail. Search again. Fail. Inexplicably, find one shoe in the study and one in the mud room. Grab YD’s backpack and jacket and corral child in car. Back out of driveway and shut garage door. Remember that OD’s lunch is in the refrigerator. Stop car, re-open garage, snatch lunch, back in car.

8:40-8:45am: drive to school, trying desperately to ignore the fake coughing suddenly coming from the back seat. Turn up volume of radio. Roll eyes as more coughing ensues. Inform YD that “there’s no way in Hell you’re sick and cut it out now. You are going. to. school.” Rummage for tissues to console now crying/wailing child.

8:45-8:50am: arrive in hug-and-go lane. Hand YD backpack. Demand she exit car. Wait. Wait. Put car in park, exit car, open back door, wrestle struggling child from back seat. Attempt to calm child. Bribe child with ice cream after school if she will get her butt inside her class. Consider giving honking cars behind me the finger. Bribe successful. Wave. Run back to driver’s side. Exit.

8:55am: arrive at middle school. Park. Join the long line of harried mothers also making emergency trips to school. Smile weakly in recognition. Wait for turn, hand off lunch box.

9:00am-10am: clean up breakfast dishes, clear morning clutter, load dishwasher. Gather laundry. Search for any and all fatal undies in OD’s room. Get laundry started. Open email. Respond to three. Answer phone. Apologize for forgetting orthodontist appointment for OD. Reschedule. Write reminder sticky note for new appt. Check laundry. Start dryer.

10am-11am: unload dishwasher, open refrigerator, scan ingredients for potential dinner that won’t suck. Possibilities are grim. Grab car keys, make precautionary trip to bathroom. Glance at spectacle that’s in the toilet. Gag. Try to narrow down list of suspects. Shut bathroom door. Climb upstairs. Pee. Add Drano to mental grocery list. Drive to grocery store.

11:20am: exit grocery store with Drano, pork chops, tomatoes, diet Coke, Rice-a-Roni, Clorox wipes, backup plunger.

11:25-11:20am: unpack and put away groceries. Attend to Drano/toilet issue. Decide it’s looking like a soaker. Shut bathroom door again. Place “out-of-order” reminder sticky note on door.

11:20am: open blog. Go to New Post. Sit blankly at computer. Decide it’s time for a snack. Snacks + Writing Process= Gold!

11:23am: jump up from chair in alarm, curse, attempt to get Hella Huge popcorn husk out of the back molar/gum area. Fail.

11:25-12:00pm: Sit, looking at New Post. Cannot write a damn word because thatstupidstinkingcornkerneliswedgedinthatbackmolar. If it stays in there, is infection possible? Obsess.

12:00pm: check laundry. Put clean laundry in pile. Consider folding. Snort and abandon pile of laundry.

12:10pm: answer phone. Commit to bringing cookies to bake sale next week. Hang up and kick self for being weak. Make brine for pork chops. Forget to write bake sale reminder note.

12:15pm: answer phone. Assure husband that yes, you are still (barely) sane and yes, YD did get out of the car this morning. Accuse husband of huge doody in toilet, now marinating in Drano and stink. Accept denial. Answer the “what’s for dinner” query.

12:20pm: check toilet issue. Close door.

12:20-12:40pm: whytheeffingeffcan’tthiscornkernelcomeloose? Attempt extraction effort #44. Fail. Close blog post. Realize that public appearances have happened without a shower. Run to master bath, look in mirror. Recoil. Take shower.

12:40pm: remember pork chops that were waiting on counter for brine. Do mental calculations. Weigh risk of salmonella poisoning. Vote Team Apathy.

12:45: seal bag, put marinating chops in refrigerator. Weigh lunch options. Stand in front of open refrigerator. Shut refrigerator. Grab box of Triscuits. Lurch to couch, turn on tv. Promise that after 15 minutes, writing will commence. Chew guiltily. Flip to the I.D.: Discovery channel.

2:00pm: gangsters are messed up people, you know? So are people who think it’s easier to murder a spouse than to get a dang divorce. How come so many in the latter category are religious? How soon will it take the jury to deliberate, given that most of the evidence is circumstantial? I bet they still fry the guy…SEVEN kinds of owl shit! It’s 2:00?

2:00pm: Toss empty Triscuit box. Assess toilet issue. Dire. Call plumber.

2:10: Is that still a corn husk in my back molar or is that a shard of Triscuit? Why do I like foods that fight back after you eat them?  Attempt extraction.

2:12: answer phone. Apologize to trainer at the gym for forgetting appointment. Reschedule.

2:15: attempt to write or fold laundry Mt. McKinley? How can I jazz up tonight’s Rice-a-Roni so it won’t seem like Rice-a-Roni? Open refrigerator door, riffle around. Aw Jesus, what did that thing in the crisper drawer used to be? A cucumber? Bell pepper?

2:15-3:00:empty refrigerator and offending detritus, scour drawers and shelves, wipe down with Clorox, toss out any remaining unidentifiable objects.

3:00pm: Cellphone alarm goes off.  It’s 3? Whaaa?! Throw any perishables back in refrigerator, scramble for shoes, head out for school pickup. Lament day’s failure. Deposit YD in car, answer query re: “dinner.” Rewarded with gagging sound from backseat.

And then, my little daffodil, I pick you up.



That’s what I did while you were away, my darling older child.

Doesn’t it sound like a blast?

But hey, I did shower.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

D. A. Wolf September 19, 2013 at 8:16 am

I love this topic! (And it’s always shocking when we get that question from our kids, and even more so (or should I say insulting) when we get it from other mothers…) And oh, how you make me remember – and laugh!

The days are / were / (still can be) exceptionally long, tedious, and unrewarding as too often the nitty-gritty details of holding together other lives goes utterly unappreciated. (I still get calls from my sons from hundreds of miles away – they need something – and I’m running around to get it and provide the information. “Mother as repository.”)

I was a SAHM for many many years while also working (for pay) from home. Insane. And yes, occasionally, you get to shower!

(I hope you don’t mind, Dana… this post isn’t that interesting, but the discussion that follows in the comments is very rich. http://dailyplateofcrazy.com/2012/05/01/stay-at-home-mom-with-kids-in-school/ That we continue to discount the value and sheer work involved in raising children and running a household is very very sad.)


Shannon September 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

I hate that question. I have given up answering it in any productive fashion. I now just respond, “Eat Cookies.”


Melinda September 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

Ha ha! I LOVE this post! I go through something very similar, but with my husband!


Melissa September 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

How timely–I’m in the middle of writing a blog post on this very topic, since my youngest just started full-day kindergarten. I’m barely making a dent in the amount of work I could do to improve/maintain this home and family, but I still feel guilty for having 6 hours a day in which to chip away at it (or not). We could use a little extra income–damn if those sports and music lessons don’t add up!–so I’m on the hunt for a little work that pays.


Rob September 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

Even worse than your own child asking such a question out of pure innocence is when some working woman asks you what you do all day – followed by something like – Don’t you get bored? “Hell, yeah – on occasion! I bet your job is exciting and exhilarating, and aren’t you so lucky that nothing boring ever happens in your day, because you’re not a SAHM.” Now that my children are out of the house, I still get asked the question, because of course I have nothing left to do anymore without them to take care of. “Don’t you want to work?” asks my two CEO friends, my friend who manages the editing department for ABC in Philly, and just about every friend I have that works. Why don’t they ever think how lucky I am to have been a SAHM and that now I have some me time. Geez! Please, send me your tartar sauce recipe :)

Your last post made me a bit teary-eyed. So happy to know you and your family are safe. My son used to beat me at Monopoly every time. At least I stood a chance of winning when we played Candy Land.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 19, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Haha! This has to be the main benefit of actually being in employed in an office, I hardly ever get that question.
But I still have to deal with the dinner querry though. Damn


Katybeth September 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm

We try to keep it a secret, we know it’s best to keep it a secret, but the children know–it became all about them the moment we heard the heart beat, and it will be all about them until we take our last dying breath and then we will see. We get all that stuff done (which is mostly about them) so that when they come home we can once again get them our undivided attention. .
They can’t imagine our world doesn’t revolve around them because it doesn’t—except when we do our best to make sure that they don’t think the rest of the world feels that way–and then we help them practice by pretending we are part of that other world. I think they are on to us. . .
What is for dinner?: Ham, Spam and Spider Ghouley, of-course. Gag.


Charlene Ross September 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

This was hilarious! Love your sarcasm and your writing style. And BTW – my kids would be thrilled to get Rice-a-Roni rather than just plain brown rice (“Put some butter on it, it will taste better,” I tell them). And it’s good to know that I’m not the only one met with gagging sounds when I answer the dinner question.

And yes – absolutely – give those girls more chores! :)


Contemporary Troubadour September 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

On floor laughing from start to finish. For now, I just try to prevent O. from falling into the laundry basket (or upending the thing onto himself) as he tries to pull up on it while cruising all over the living room — this, in order to distract him from taking down the clean laundry mountain on the couch. I see I have much to look forward to.

Re: the dinner query — I’d tell the fam that thanks to the item marinating in Drano, I no longer needed to marinate the pork chops I’d planned on. That might, er, flush out the guilty party … ;)


Robbie September 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Sounds like another day in paradise :)


Jamie September 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Team apathy on the salmonella as well. I forget to put the sour cream back in the fridge after taco night EVERY. TIME. and we haven’t died yet!


Gappa Guy September 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Swear Jar = $15.87
But Awesome.


Naptimewriting September 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

I love you.


Arnebya September 20, 2013 at 6:23 am

My day would pretty much go like this: leave before you’re up, go to work, read blogs, quickly minimize screen when someone walks by, pretend to work, lie about work, extend deadlines, leave 25 minutes early because no one is looking or knows what time I got in, meet you at home.


Even working outside the home I feel like all the domestic shit is my responsibility. The girls may sweep, wash an occasional dish, but every time I try to institute specific days for specific chores I’m all nevermind you little fuckup, I’ll do it myself because this is how you do it correctly. Pretty sure they’ve learned to half ass everything just so I’ll do it anyway.


Caitlin September 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Arnebya – I think my day at work would look similar to yours! Except, my company blocks all blogs so I have to write in a word doc then transfer to my iPhone. Ah, the misery.

TKW – Awesome post per usual. I love your writing style; you didn’t miss a beat at any point through that post! :)


Maggie S. September 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

My mantra when the girls were 11: “I will not punch her in the neck. I will not punch her in the neck.”

This sounds so attractive, I am going to quit homeschooling TO-DAY!!!

Seriously, I really needed this today.


Kel September 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm

It’s funny to see this today; I had just posted on my status the other day that I’d decided to quit my job and focus on my family by becoming a stay at home mom again.

The fact that my youngest baby is a junior in college and the only two are in grad school should be, and is, quite irrelevant. =)

Because, really? When my kids were young, being a stay at home mom was beyond insane, chaotic, and exhausting. At this point, I can get so much more done that I actually want to do!


Alexandra September 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm

My kid asked me this and I told him. I sit on twitter and type “Kids are gone. Hashtag wootwoot.


Alison September 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm

“Seven kinds of owl shit” – giggle.

There is an offender in my household who clogs toilets with big doodys too. Ugh.


Dawn September 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Guess I should not ask my husband what he does all day while I’m at work. Darn.


Tiffany September 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I hope she reads this!


Jennifer September 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I’m pretty sure if Cady knew what all I did she would cry and beg to stay a kid forever. She already tells me that it’s really hard to be a mom.


Liz September 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

There are days (like yesterday) when I think: I can NOT teach for another 15 years….and I romanticize about the few months I stayed home with the babies….and then I remember how I felt like I was going to go insane staying home…and then I think but I am so beat down from teaching for 19 years in the public school system and wouldn’t it be nice to be home and clean the house and blog and pick up the kids…and then I think No that’s not for me…and then I read this and LAUGH and think maybe I could have done it?


Biz September 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I am not sure I’ve asked this of you, but do your girls know of your blog? My daughter was 16 when I started mine, so she’s always known. And after a while stopped asking if her picture was going to be on the blog because she already knew the answer was yes!


TKW September 27, 2013 at 9:42 am


They know of it but neither one has any interest in reading it. Thank goodness.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri October 1, 2013 at 10:44 am


Loved this. I’ve had a couple of adults ask me that question. Maybe I should forward your post to their email. Lol.


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