Monday, January 29, 2007

Rejected, so here it is.

Well, they rejected the article I submitted to Today's Parent magazine. Not upset really - I'm sure they get inundated with all types of submissions. I should consider taking a writing course if I'm really serious about it. Mind you, I just read an article in the newspaper about how all writing courses at university and colleges are overflowing. Everybody thinks they can write now that the universe of blogging is available. Fancy that. Why can't I catch the wave before it becomes a tsunami?

Anyway, here is my article. I think it's good for a laugh anyway. True story, names have not been changed so innocent are not protected.

“ Luke -- I am your MOTHER!”

When I decided to stay at home with the kids, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But life is too short. The kids grow up quickly. Little did I know what was yet to come.

It was a very hot week. Ian was away on business. We had established a school routine for L, with 18 month old G happily in tow. When L woke up with a terrible stomach ache on Monday I was concerned. Was it appendicitis? Why is Ian not at home again? Our pediatrician was on vacation so I called Telehealth. They assured me that it was likely a stomach virus. By late afternoon L was still in great pain. That was it – we were going to the hospital. But he started screaming because he was afraid. So I told him to go to the washroom one more time. It worked. End of incident number one.

The next day was uneventful. A deceptive lull, as we were to find out.

On Wednesday, I decided to organize the lower kitchen cupboards. While I sat on the floor, Liam wanted a snack. I reached above me and grabbed something. Do you think I remembered to close the door? As I got up, my head hit a sharp corner. A stream of red came flowing over the lens of my glasses. L looked at me screaming – “Mommy– it’s very disturbing!”. Since I couldn’t see the wound, I asked him to go to the neighbour’s. He brought them back, as I had visions of going to the hospital. My neighbour told me to stop cleaning while my husband was away. Sage advice.

The next morning, I noticed that our laundry room smelled suspiciously “bleachy” clean. Accompanying this olfactory onslaught was a menacing hiss. WHAT!!!! This wasn’t the pattern. I was supposed to have another day before the next catastrophe! We had five minutes before school started. I got the kids into the car and drove.

I did a mental MacGyver, fashioning protective gear to investigate the situation. I’d need a mask of some sort, and a full suit of armour. I asked L if he still had his Power Ranger Mask. He told me it was too flimsy. Darth Vader was a lot sturdier, and even had breathing holes. The Dark Force would definitely better suit my needs.

With L safely at school, we headed back home. I tentatively opened the laundry room door. The hissing was in earnest, the smell almost palpable. I carried G to the safety of the family room. Donning my long sleeved shirt, heavy jeans, boots and elbow-high gloves I located my face protection from the dress up box. I decided to google “bleach” and “danger”. Up popped several hits about mixing bleach and ammonia, about nerve and toxic gas. I was truly expecting something to explode or certainly splash. I stood in front of the mirror and became Darth. I ventured back into the “spewing” chamber.

What did I find? Bottles of bleach and ammonia in the same cupboard. And a can of varnish, its contents dripping into the sink below. The heat of the room had likely created the toxic mixture. The offending players of this drama were removed. Windows were opened. Mystery solved. But guilt washed over me as I removed my mask, revealing the real mother.

How could this happen? What kind of mother was I? What other dangers would my kids be exposed to? Thoughts raced through my head as I checked in on my daughter. G was now using her milk to create a tribute to Jackson Pollock on our carpet. I moved quickly onto the next crisis de jour.

I decided that Ian was no longer allowed to travel. Well, that wasn’t realistic. So I cut myself some slack. There’s no manual or school, no magic formula for being the perfect stay at home parent. I’m a work in progress. It’s tough to become the 24/7 caregiver after being in the workforce for over a decade. I’m my kids’ mother. They love me for who I am. They love that I’m home. And Ian’s happy to have some semblance of calm (on most days) in our lives.

I sometimes long for coffee time with my colleagues, the cooler talk about the newest reality series, or the excitement of a successful negotiation. But this time with my children is precious. Work outside the home will come. These memories being created now are to be treasured forever. The Force is indeed with me.

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