Great Expectations

297

Isn’t it amazing how motherhood makes us abandon our principals?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a pretty solid plan as to how our lives were going to go. Simplicity, elegance and restraint were going to be key in our lives, in our clothing, our activities and decor.

The books and the midwife assured me that breast milk was the best milk, and it was, until I was able to hand grind food in the Happy Baby Food Mill and introduce new organic meats and veggies to her budding palate. It went great.

During those sweet times, we didn’t have a television, and so my time at home was spent focusing on the baby, her needs and my desires for her. I managed her wardrobe with precision: if someone bought something for her that I didn’t find appealing, out it went. The same went for toys – I appreciated simple, educational items with a small carbon footprint.

Fast forward about four years: Disney cartoons are blaring from the 48-inch television as my now older daughter navigates through the plastic toys and laundry strewn across the living room. I’m asleep on the couch and my husband is feeding the new baby formula because he doesn’t want to wake me up to nurse her.

“What should we have for dinner?” he asks when I wake up three hours later.

“Whatever, pasta,” I answer. “We’ll eat some vegetables tomorrow.”

Next thing I knew, the kids were eating week-old Doritos off the floorboard of my car. Did I care? Of course not! They were helping me clean.

Here are my most oft-used phrases lately:

• I told you so.

• Do you think I care what your friends think?

• No.

• Hell no.

• I don’t care. Do the dishes.

• All of the dishes.

• Do it now.

• Now!

• Go! Move!

• Oh my God, I’m going to kill you.

All my dreams of simplicity, elegance and restraint have been shoved into a huge pile of clutter in the middle of the floor. There are dance classes, gymnastics classes, shopping trips to Beckley, plastic bags full of outgrown clothes, a laundry basket full of unmatched socks that we just keep adding to.

The toilet paper holder fell off the wall two years ago. We have five animals – two dogs and three cats, and yet, just yesterday, I realized we also have a colony of mice living in our desk.

We have mud on our floors and the children wear what they like. Most days I don’t even know what they are wearing – I just hope it includes a coat.

This morning, I looked at the kitchen clock and watched second hand drag about a half an inch of dust around its face. I’ve been doing this every morning for a month.

I stopped buying organic vegetables because I just can’t justify the cost anymore. I’ve been packing my older daughter pepperoni in her lunchbox.

My kids drop their candy wrappers on the floor.

But! I have new plans! Because:

• One day they are going to move out.

• And I’ll convert their bedrooms into elegant reading nooks.

• And my house will be free of the detritus of childhood.

• My dishes will be clean.

• And my socks will be put away.

• I won’t have any pets.

• Okay maybe one small dog.

• And one cat.

Ah, but we all know about best laid plans. Honestly, I’ll probably spend all my time watching Game of Thrones and eating popcorn. I’ll live in my pajamas because no one will force me to do laundry. It might be (gasp!) almost exactly the same way it is right now.

And, of course, before we know it, one of those girls is going to move right back in.