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Back to School Breakdown
I’m here to bust some myths, people. Now that school is back in session mothers aren’t worrying about whether they bought the right Toughskins and Trapper Keepers for their kids. They aren’t fretting over whether Jasper will be okay on the bus, or if the lunches they packed reflect the new food pyramid. (There IS a new food pyramid, you know. But I figure it’s like the metric system and won’t ever really catch on.)
No, now that kids are back in school and structure has been re-established in homes after the carefree, chaotic days of summer, mothers are freaking out about what to do with their lives.
Or at least, I am. And I’d like to think that I’m not alone.
So humor me. Please.
In all the time I haven’t been blogging I’ve been busy having an excellent and comprehensive panic attack about my life. I’m questioning whether our kids are at the right schools, whether we live on the right coast, whether I should forge into a fulltime take-no-prisoners job, or should stay home and hand-sew clothes for the whole family and churn our own butter. I’ve even been questioning whether I should be doing yoga, the Dailey Method, or just walking.
Oh, and I want a dog. And a new car. And after 30,000 hours of watching HGTV (a feat for which I feel I should be awarded some kind of doctorate in interior design) I want a house. A big swank fabulous house perched on the edge of a cliff in Malibu.
It turns out that when I decide to have a crisis it decimates everything in its path. It’s like some ginormous house-sized meatball rolling around rampantly picking up mailboxes, Priuses, and alley cats in its wake. It sees another anxiety and heads for it at full bore swallowing it up in one gulp, burping loudly, then moving on to find more.
Oh, my poor sweet husband. He comes home from work and really should have a riot shield at the ready to deflect my assault of ideas.
“Should we really be paying so much freaking money for private school? With Paige starting kindergarten next year maybe we should rethink this whole tuition thing.”
“Should I cut my hair short? Or just let it go gray?”
“I was thinking we should switch from Skippy to Jif. Thoughts?”
Okay, so I’m not really wavering in my allegiance to my hair color, but I am considering jumping ship on our peanut butter.
Other thoughts I’m wrangling with: Is California really worth it? Or more specifically, the freaking expensiveness of the Bay Area? Would we be just as happy in Indiana? Tennessee? New Hampshire? Or maybe happier because, I don’t know, we’d live in some subdivision like the rest of the universe and eat at Applebee’s and life would be simple and easy and all-American?
The other day I even had the thought that I should get fake boobies. I mean, this was a fleeting thought and I honestly don’t remember what brought it on (I was clothed at the time), but it DID drift though my mind. Crazy, right?
Wait, this is seriously starting to sound like a midlife crisis. Pardon me while I self-diagnose here…
But now that I’m thinking of all this I will say that [WARNING: Over-sharing about my body] I’ve been having the most hellishly colossal periods lately. (I know, suddenly we are talking about my menses. This has gone a place you have totally not expected nor wanted to go to, but I’m telling you, that is how the meatball of my life has been working lately. Welcome to my world.)
Yes, so I’m doing things like sitting on my daughter’s bed and standing up later to see a marvelous pool of blood that I’ve left behind. (Guess it’s time to have that “Us Girls Get Something Called Periods” talk.) I mean, I like a good laundry challenge as much as the next masochistic housewife, but leaving large blood puddles around the house? I’m happy to revel in the traditional realm of grass stains.
Anyway, I went to my Girl Parts Doctor, who’s office happens to be on Bush Street. No joke. She took a look under the old carriage (or rather into it) and announced that all was in order. This, she said, is simply what one’s mid-forties are like.
Perhaps this Back to School Mental Maternal Meltdown is simply related to oldness. Like, maybe if I buy a red sports car and have an affair with my secretary — after getting a secretary — I can work through it all like men have been doing for generations before me. I’ll start wearing my hair in a comb-over and will blow all our savings on a bungee jumping trip to New Zealand.
Wait for THOSE blog posts, people.
More likely though it’s not about age at all. If I know me it’s prolly just that I have too much time on my hands. I guess I’m like a blender that way. Last week while making a smoothie our blender started to smell like it was going to explode. The Husband, a.k.a. Mr. Gadget, walked through the kitchen to inform me that it would work better if I turned it up. Like, when it’s on Low and I think I’m coddling it the engine is actually angry and impatient, but when it gets fired up and can work hard it’s happiest. That is SO me. I’m like a blender. Who woulda guessed?
Until I find the perfect part-time job or project I’ve channeled all my energy into signing up for every frickin’ committee at Kate’s school. I’m so typecast as an urban/suburban mother it’s ridiculous. I can’t even have a crisis like a man (read: car, secretary, Grecian Formula). Plus I don’t even know whether I’m urban or suburban. If someone knows where I live and can help me identify the nature of my surroundings I’d appreciate it.
Well then, I think that about covers what I’ve been up to. [She smooths her skirt over her thighs and smiles serenely.] I’d love to hang out more but I have cupcakes to bake for a fundraiser, parents to enlist for a field trip, and I need to make the crippling decision about whether to go to yoga, hop on the elliptical, or take a hike.
Wish me luck.
Kristen McClusky lives in Oakland with her two young girls and geek husband. She hates mayonnaise and parallel parking is her super power. She blogs at motherload.