“Why do people do this stuff to me?” I asked.
“Because you let them,” my teen said. She climbed out of the car and reached back in to grab her backpack. “Get mad for a change and we might stop.”
She was right, I thought, as I drove away from the school. People took advantage of me because they knew I wouldn’t get angry. I don’t suffer in silence. I speak up. Just not in a tone or with a volume that disturbs their world.
I sighed. I had no interest in playing either Martyr or Rage-Monster. Neither was my true nature. Why should I change who I was, fake anger or woundedness, to manipulate others into treating me with consideration? No. Pretending to be someone I wasn’t was not a solution. It would simply create a different problem.
As I turned off the main road I decided I’d wasted all the time I was willing to waste on that problem today. The sun was shining. The weather was perfect. The kids were at school, the husband at work. The house needed a serious clean but it could wait. Today would be my day. Suddenly I felt almost giddy. I’d rock some writing projects this morning, then wander over to a favorite patio café for a quiet lunch and write some more. Maybe in the afternoon I’d indulge with chocolates and a bubble bath.
On the seat beside me my cell phone buzzed. The caller id said it was a dearly loved relative. I pulled over to answer. Coming to town? Tomorrow? Really? Great. No, no trouble at all. Really. Great.
It took six hours of no-breaks work to put the house in company shape. But the mountain of dirty laundry was now clean and tucked neatly away in drawers and closets. The floors were mopped and vacuumed, the bathrooms scrubbed, the sheets changed, the kitchen sparkled, and everything which had found its way to a place other than where it belonged had been returned to its true home. Upstairs and downstairs, while it may not have been house beautiful, it was certainly house beautifully clean.
I ached to take a hot bath, put my feet up, and read a good book. Unfortunately, my husband and the kids would be home soon. They’d be hungry and there was not much in the refrigerator to offer them or my guests tomorrow. So I pulled on a pair of comfortable shoes, combed my hair, and rushed off to the big box store for groceries and items essential to a successful company visit like soap and toilet paper.
Hubby and the kids were home when I returned and they were starving. I was ready. I’d brought hot fried chicken from the store deli. They devoured it almost before I could set it on the counter. Later, after returning my kitchen to its pre-chicken sparkle, I stood in my bedroom contemplating whether to take a hot bath in my wonderfully clean tub or read a good book on my marvelously clean bed. I decided to do both. I stretched out on the bed for a few minutes with my Kindle first, then it’d be on to a nice long soak.
The Kindle fell against my chest as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke to a dark room and the insistent ringing of the phone. I fumbled for the Kindle but couldn’t find it. I reached for the phone. It was my relative. There’d been a change of plan. They wouldn’t be coming to visit tomorrow.
I sighed as I hung up. A whole day of writing lost to preparing for a visit that wouldn’t take place. Still, the house was spotless and a candlelit soak in a pristine tub waited. I entered the master bath and stopped short. The smell of bath salts perfumed the air. Clothing littered the floor. Used towels and wash cloths hung over the side of the tub. Flecks of toothpaste swam in toothpaste foam in my sink. Worst of all, the toilet seat sported a suspicious brown streak. The bathroom fairies had visited while I slept. And not the good ones. The Kindle that had been resting on my chest when I fell asleep now lay on the damp floor near the tub.
I plodded out to the living room and looked up to media room balcony above where my husband and kids were watching TV. Accusing one of them of using my clean tub before me seemed petty, so I concentrated on the misdemeanor that I could take dignified exception to: using my Kindle near water. No one would own the toothpaste mess or the suspicious brown streak, though my husband was curiously silent. My daughter confessed to the damp Kindle, the clothing tornado, and the dirty tub.
“Why didn’t you use your own tub upstairs?” I asked. “It was perfectly clean.”
“Still is,” she said. “But yours is bigger and nicer and has candles and bath salts.”
She has dozens of scented products upstairs, all fancier and more expensive than mine, so that last excuse was a stretch. But my bath salts can be poured from tall elegant Arabian-style bottles which I bought at a decorator store and fill myself with inexpensive favorites. And she was right about the candles. I don’t allow candles upstairs. Ever.
Needing a calming moment, I went into my office to check my email. I heard the creak of many feet coming down the stairs and a few minutes later going back up again. When I came out of my office my bathroom had been restored to useable.
Okay, so I didn’t get to use my tub first. I was still going to have a long candlelit soak. And though I don’t normally keep alcohol in the house I’d bought strawberry daiquiris to serve to the guests who wouldn’t be coming now. Sipping a frozen daiquiri in a warm bubble bath sounded heavenly.
I walked into the kitchen and stopped short. Again. Nearly every inch of counter space was covered with dirty dishes, pizza sauce, and brownie batter. The freshly washed tile floor was speckled with baked brownie droppings, crushed into tiny round moles and long dark smears by numerous feet.
So what did I do? I invited Martyr and Rage-Monster to sip daiquiris with me in a bubble bath. But first we made a short stop beneath the media room balcony to let off a little steam at the naughty fairies watching TV above.
So how does any of this make me a bad mommy? I’m not sure, but it must because I certainly feel punished!
How about you? Do you ever feel like you’re being punished when you thought you’d done nothing but good for your family? Please share by clicking on the number near the title above.