There Are French Fries in My Purse

There are concessions every parent must make when they decide to have a child:

You may begin the day with a clean shirt, but you won’t end it with one.  Your child views your shirt as a tissue, a napkin, a burp-cloth, or (on a really bad day) a roll of toilet paper.  I’d like to think that kids under the age of three are just trying to be eco-friendly and save some trees.  But I think the real reason is more a matter of convenience – mom is usually within wiping distance.

A full night’s sleep becomes a rare luxury.  During your child’s first couple years of life, you get into your bed every night with the knowledge that you won’t be staying there for long.  And in your bleary-eyed state of perpetual exhaustion, you begin to doubt that you will ever sleep through the night again.   Your days of previously uninterrupted sleep will take on an almost mythical quality when you look back on them – surely you must have hallucinated the whole thing.

You will pack bags for an afternoon outing the way you used to pack for a two-week vacation.  As a parent, you feel compelled to be prepared for every need or possible scenario that may crop up in the span of a couple of hours.  Should a natural disaster occur while you’re at the grocery store, you’ll be ready.  Your diaper bag becomes your child’s bathroom, bedroom, playroom, and kitchen all rolled into one.  A new mother may not remember to shower or brush her hair in the morning, but she will have twelve changes of clothes for her baby on hand at any given moment.

Barring furniture, nothing in your house will ever be where it’s supposed to be.  “How did that get there?” will become your new mantra.  Cleaning your house is redefined – it used to mean dusting and vacuuming, now it just means that you managed to successfully return all of the items in your house back to their original locations before the kids had the chance to mess it up again.  The victory will usually be short lived – only a few precious hours of détente before you’re once again tripping over couch cushions and coats.  It’s like living with a pack of mischievous leprechauns and everyday is St. Patrick’s Day.

Now to be fair, and to ensure that I don’t strike fear into the heart of future procreators everywhere, I will say that having a baby may change everything, but it doesn’t change everything forever.  I don’t care what the Johnson & Johnson commercials try to tell you.  You will gain back several pre-parenthood perks….

By the time your youngest child enters pre-school, your clothes will no longer be treated as though they were made by the Kleenex Corporation.  Your child will realize there is something even more convenient for wiping than your shirt – their shirt.  Hey, it’s a step in the right direction.  Every booger stain on their sleeve is one less on yours.

You will once again enjoy the immense pleasure of an uninterrupted night’s sleep.  The first time it happens, you wake with a start because something doesn’t feel right – actually, something feels too right.  You’re well rested!!  Fear grips your heart because you know there is no way the scream machine that has kept you up for the past three months has allowed you to sleep for eight solid hours without needing to ingest or excrete anything.  Assuming the worst, you run to the crib to make sure the kid is still breathing.  And as you watch them peacefully slumber, you’re torn between feelings of overwhelming relief and wanting to kill them for scaring the crap out of you.

When you’re child no longer needs bottles or diapers, you will be able to leave the luggage home during short afternoon excursions.  The first few trips you make without a fully stocked diaper bag may feel a bit unnerving.  You were the Inspector Gadget of the parent world, and without your go-go-gadget-diaper-bag, how will you cope?  I promise you’ll be just fine.  And there are bonuses:  you no longer have to shoulder the fifty-pound bag responsible for many a trip to the chiropractor’s office, and you will feel as weightless as an astronaut on the moon.  Unfortunately, once your body adjusts to its new unencumbered existence, this feeling will subside.   But for a few days you will be able to walk around shouting, “Screw you, Jenny Craig!  I just lost fifty pounds in thirty seconds!!!”

But be warned neat-freaks, unless you plan on following behind your children with a shovel the way they do elephants at a circus, your house will always have shit on the floor.  And you will also find normal household items in totally abnormal locations.  The other day, I found a pair of dice wedged in the door handle of my refrigerator – I can’t even begin to surmise how they got there.  Was one of my kids in the middle of a yahtzee roll when they suddenly decided to get a drink of milk?  I’d also love to know why my TV remote has to make a weekly pilgrimage to the bathroom.  Or why my daughter has to store all of her personal items and electronics inside the couch cushions instead of using the $50 purse I bought her.  These are all questions only the leprechauns can answer.

I try to be a responsible parent and make my children clean up after themselves.  I want to show them that the magical house cleaning fairies of their babyhood no longer exist, and if they make a mess before they go to sleep at night, it will still be there in the morning when they wake up.  Maybe if I keep demonstrating how much cleaning sucks, they will eventually learn to put stuff back where it belongs when they’re done with it – I can dream, cant I?  But after the 4,000th time through my “if you would just pick up after yourself, you would never have to clean again!” speech, I must admit that I’m starting to lose hope.

The way I see it, there are only two ways to get the clutter under control:  I strip them of all their worldly possessions and make them live like Buddhist monks.  Or I kick them out of the house and change all the locks.  Given their options, I think they would both rather risk life on the streets than surrender their cellphone or iPod.  But their ability to speed text and play angry birds is hardly a defense against all the druggies and child molesters out there waiting to prey on them.  And I love them too much to leave them totally helpless on the mean streets of New York. So I discovered there’s an app for that –  iFightBack!  I will sleep much better at night knowing that they will know how to defend themselves in case of an elevator jacking or trouble with crack heads….

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22 thoughts on “There Are French Fries in My Purse

  1. If you’re really serious about breaking through the 100-person audience barrier, and want to increase the frequency of constructive feedback, here’s a pro-tip that really works – just send your blog’s link to all the maximum security prisons around the world! People in prison lead far less hectic lifestyles than those of us on the outside, and will almost always take the time to respond to your entries…

    I hope this helps – keep up the good work!

    • I’m not sure rapists and murderers are my target audience. But your advice might come in handy should I ever decide to become pen pals with violent and/or criminally insane inmates. I’m sure we’d get along swimmingly once I got passed the fact that they stabbed their mother or shot their wife in the face.

  2. I like the Buddhist Monk idea… in fact, this is my biggest threat… well, not making them Monks, but ditching all they toys so I don’t have to pick them up ever again.

  3. This is great Linda! So much to relate to! Just this afternoon at lunch Kathryn decided to give me a hug with peanut butter cheeks and sticky yogurt fingers :-). This is why my wardrobe consists of jeans and tshirts/fleece!

  4. I loved this Linda but all I can say is that —-eventually, you will miss the mess and the sticky, snotty hands and wonder when they all grew up. Lots of love, Aunt Sandy

    • I know you’re right – nostalgia will kick in eventually. It nearly did this past week when Aidan was sick (104 fever for four days) and he was getting up in the middle of the night with bad dreams. The first night, I kind of sighed and thought how nice it was to cuddle up with him in bed and make him feel better because he’s getting to the stage of life where he doesn’t want me to kiss boo-boos or hug him when he’s upset. But by the third night, exhaustion was taking its toll, and I was ready to tell him to toughen up because mommy needs her sleep 😉

  5. Time will blur your memory and all you will remember is the good stuff. Hold on . . . you’ll soon be a grandmother and when you re-read your blogs, you’ll wonder who those people were. ;0)

    • At this point, it’s all good stuff – even if the good stuff is snot-crusted and covered with sticky goop. Especially now that I’ve got the blog because all the quirky, messy, funny, stuff is fodder for new entries!

  6. I am sitting at my son’s basketball practice reading your blog on my phone when suddenly I’m hit in the head with a stray ball. Somehow that seemed befitting. Your blog made me laugh so hard. From one mom to another- THANKS!

    • Nanny!!!!! I wasn’t sure if my emails were going through or not – I’m so psyched you found your way on here! Sorry reading my blog got you hit in the head with Jack’s basketball – I guess I should take it as a compliment that my writing was good enough to capture your attention… even at the expense of your bruised noggin. Did the laughing at least take the sting out of the concussion?

  7. I went for an interview at the Police Headquarters in NYC (a job which I didn’t get, mind you) and to enter the building you have to give them your purse so they can search it as you go through metal detectors. As the guard is rifling through my purse, he raises one eyebrow, looks me dead in the eye…and holds up a medium sized plastic Velociraptor. All I could think to say was “what? its not a weapon.” ❤ your blog 🙂

  8. I’ve been fighting this battle with Gabe’s playroom – want to make him organize it, but know that he won’t on his own. Every joint effort leads to him playing with some toy he’s ignored for 12 months.

    • Yay, you’re first blog comment!!! We should celebrate!

      I go through the same thing when I try to include my kids in the toy organizing and donating process – they always resurrect toys that they haven’t touched in months. Which is why I now do it when they’re at school 🙂 They can help clean, but when it comes time to do the out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new, mom gets the last vote. Cruel, but necessary. If they had it their way, the house would look like a Toys R Us dump site, and I’d end up on an episode of Hoarders.

  9. Thank you for writing this – as the mother of a one-year-old, this last year has been quite the adventure. I had so many misconceptions (probably still do) about the whole developmental scene (what? she doesn’t have all her teeth by one? we’re doing this for another year?!) and have just ventured into some of the relocated objects stage – found our TV remote in the bedroom closet (and no, we don’t have a TV in our bedroom). Thanks for the laugh – I promise it’s mostly genuine and only a bit from sleep deprivation 🙂

    • Rebecca – Thanks for finding one of my old crusty, dusty blog posts and reading it! I vaguely remember what it was like to have a one-year old (my youngest is almost 8 now)… but I think most of my memories were lost in a sleep deprived haze. But that’s why they invented photographs and video cameras, right? To remind us of all the stuff our weary brains can’t manage to hold onto.

      Your TV remote is just the beginning… so brace yourself. And start checking your toilet regularly – I remember that being a favorite hiding place of toddler toys 🙂

  10. Great humorous account of being a mother. Loved the way you write. Keep on writing. You will definitely not end up being the mother of two serial killers. I can vouch for that.

    • John – Thanks so much for responding to one of my older entries. Love it when I can hook someone with my current entry, and then make them want to read more. 🙂

      As for my kids not growing up to be serial killers, so far, so good. I haven’t found them skinning any neighborhood cats, or drawing pictures of what our family might look like postmortem… at least not this week 😉

  11. Brilliant! I can totally connect with this! Although my two sons are now teenagers. Your food related observations reminded me the incident of the three week old banana, (at least I think it was banana) in the bottom of the lego box 😦

    As teenagers, now all I have to contend with is being perpetually skint and them borrowing my stuff all the time – don’t kid yourself that teenage boys won’t borrow pink stuff :/

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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