Well, I was trying to watch TV.
I remember peering around her, to catch a bit of Scooby Doo, and she was trying to buckle my overalls. I thought I was just stretching around her, but I was probably actually writhing around like a crazy wild animal, and she got fed up with trying to ask me to stop moving.
“I’m leaving!” she told me. And she got up and went to the door.
“Where are you GOING?!” I yelled to her, but still had my eyes on the screen.
“I’m running away!” she answered, and out the door she went.
My heart just fell right into my stomach. I was never going to see her again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to tell my dad.
Then I finished watching Scooby Doo.
By the time the show ended, my dad came home. “Where’s Mom?” he asked me.
I immediately burst into tears. “She… Ran.. A… Way…” I said between gulps.
He stayed remarkably calm and we walked outside. We found her within a few minutes, sitting at a bench. I can’t remember the discussion that happened next, but I guess she changed her mind about leaving, because she came home with us. I was pretty relieved. I never did ask her exactly what caused her to reach the end of her rope.
Today I came home from work and for the first couple of hours that I had with the kids I was pretty calm. I just tried to focus on having fun with them and their needs. I put some beans on to boil very early in the afternoon, since beans are a pretty easy dinner, really.
Then things started to fall apart.
Every single night, when I make dinner, my baby cries. Not just a little crying, the huge, I’m going to die and you’re a horrible mother cries. He can’t stand being put down for one second in the evening, and certainly not for twenty minutes. Yesterday I put him down to open a can of chili and heat it up in the microwave, and his fits of screaming were absolutely maddening. Amaya only helps by pointing out that he wants me, and that she wants to eat dinner. By then I’m ready to whine myself. We’re melting into puddles of whine.
It was 8 pm before I admitted defeat to the pot of beans that refused to soften on the stove. I had done five minutes of prep otherwise, but my baby was screaming and when Jake came home from his class at that exact moment that my entire brain was ready to crack in two, Amaya said,
“Dinner’s not ready.”
I said: “AND IT’S NEVER GOING TO BE!”
He got the baby and asked if he should take the kids for a walk. That’s when I said, “I just want to run away!”
The second those words left my lips, I had a moment of clarity.
Mom, I understand completely.
At 9:30 pm Jake and I sat down to a dinner of Subway sandwiches after we put the kids to bed.
I’m not quite ready to face the mountain of homework I have, the stack of mail from the last two weeks, the never ending to-do list of paperwork, the house-cleaning… but I think eating dinner at least gets me past wanting to run away.
I wish I was the kind of person that could just eat cereal for dinner. But I’m not.
Dinner is what sets the world in order, for me. If only for a moment.
I can’t wait until my mom gets here in May. She’s going to be completely disgusted with how dirty our house has gotten since she was here last, and that I didn’t only use the dish cloths she bought only for drying dishes, but she’s still going to love us. And she definitely cooks dinner.And dessert.
I have a lot of friends that cook dinner every night. Most of them have more kids than I do. I so admire that.
Do you cook dinner? Every night? HOW THE HECK DO YOU DO THAT?
This is not a recipe. This is assembly. Because you don’t have time for recipes.
Follow the package directions for a 8x8” pan of polenta. This just means that you stir water and polenta in a bowl with some salt, and then pour that into the pan. Actually, you might be able to just mix it in the pan itself, because who does dishes anymore?
You’re going to bake it, because stirring it on the stove top is ridiculous, and your baby is refusing to be put down. Put it in the oven.
Cut up some mushrooms and sauté in butter until cooked. Crumble some goat cheese over that and stir briefly. After the polenta looks a bit set, put this mixture all over the top of the polenta. Cook the polenta longer. It takes forever. Something like 1 1/2 hours.
Take it out of the oven when it doesn’t jiggle around so much. Eat it when it cools down or wait until the next day when it firms up.
Eat it, and pat yourself on the back for making dinner. This means you’re amazing, and someone should totally give you a raise. .