Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'd Be Darling At It

There's a saying going around on the internet, I don't know what it's like to be a millionaire but I bet I'd be darling at it. It dates back to ? Kate Spade has a bag and a cuzi for your phone with it emblazoned on them.

Well, gosh darn it, Duh. Don't you think we'd all be darling at it?  Really I would. About ninety percent of the people I know'd be darling at it. It's being darling at the hard stuff that counts.

Like being a good mom. Or a homemaker. Or a cook. Or a wife. Or a coworker. Or a daughter. Or a sister. Or a skier. Or a skater. Or a seamstress. Or a whatever the hell you want to be.

You see I tried to be darling this morning.  I woke up early to get my son ready for the Klondike derby for Boy Scouts.  I went in his room and quietly whispered to him that it was 6:20 and what would he most like for breakfast?  Anything. Pancakes? Waffles? (Even though the waffle iron is down the basement and the basement is really cold this morning.) A bagel and egg sandwich?  Anything. So he placed his order for a bagel with "the egg and sausage on the plate."  As in, not-a-sand-wich. Got it.  Here comes the darling mom part.  I didn't even wake up my husband.  I was going to drive Matt to the church for his ride to the Derby so he didn't have to go out into the falling snow.  Darling wife too.  
I cooked without making any noise. Darling co-habitator.  I made eggs over-hard and over-easy.  I made my coffee and poured my cream.  I was perfectly darling. It was still before 6:30.  And then I realized there was no noise.  But then I heard it.  He was up.  We were fine.  I was darling.  And then my husband came downstairs.  Hmmm.  Do you want eggs?  No.  He reached for the cereal.  Not so darling.  Still no other noise.  Is Matt up?  NO.  Wake him up.  Ask him ten million questions.  Where is this?  Where is that?  Do you have this?  YES.  YES.  YES.  Not so darling.  Comes downstairs.  Here are your eggs.  No time for that.  Not so darling.  Where are your underarmour liner pants?  Couldn't find them.  Not so darling.  It's now 6:55.  Late.  Not so darling.  Out the door with "Dad will drive me" and a Sandwich.  No to the hot- chocolate-I-made-so-you-can-stay-warm-on-the-drive?  Not so darling.
It lasted all of ten minutes.  I was darling at it.

I'd also be darling at having a clean house, if I didn't have children.
I'd be darling at having children, if I didn't have a house to keep clean.
I'd be darling at being a daughter, if I wasn't preparing a chicken pot pie at the same time my mother was sitting at the kitchen table telling me her story and sipping tea.  Why didn't I sit down and listen?  CPP be damned.
I'd be darling at cooking, if I didn't get sucked into a movie with my daughter and didn't keep saying, "Did we take the biscotti out of the oven?" Yes.  (But you forgot, darling, that you put the Chicken Pot Pie in the oven when the biscotti were done.)
I'd be darling at sitting down to play games with my kids, if there wasn't a Lego Nerf gun on the couch where I like to sit.  (They are pretty much the same thing, and they get preferred seating in our house no matter how much I yell and am not so darling.)
I'd be darling at running, if I wasn't so tired.
I'd be darling at ALL OF IT, if I wasn't doing all of it.
The part to navigate is how to seem semi-darling at all of it.  My darling moments today included answering the phone when one of my son's friends called and I didn't want to talk to him.  I was trying to be darling by using all the left overs to make a CPP.  And maybe lighting the candles for dinner.  That was darling.  Does that count?  I was trying to be darling when we sat at dinner and asked Matt 8 million more questions about the Derby that he did.not.want.to.answer. because a.) he was exhausted, and b.) he was hungry.  And then I was darling when I tried to apologize but he rolled his eyes at me and I wasn't darling then.

So, how to be darling:  I picture Doris Day, or Eva Gabor, or Marilyn Monroe or Dorothy Parker.  What did they do?

Sit on couches with long cigarettes and watch and laugh.  I'd be darling if I could get away with wearing that dress all day.
So in this era - Clear your house of all expectations.  Forget the jobs you have to do.  Forget the house and the cooking and the movie you're watching.  Don't pick up a book.  Don't get sucked into anything.  Don't have any expectations that your kids will answer questions, or wear warm clothes, or clean up their toys. Just sit and watch and wait and laugh.  You'll be darling at it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Perfectly Lumpy

It's another cold winter morning in the Northeast, with more snow predicted!  That's fine by me.  I can handle one more wintery blast, although my toes would argue.  They are in their own permafrost.  We came across an old baby calendar a few weeks ago, mixed in somehow with the Christmas decorations, and I had written down funny things the kids said.  According to the calendar, Jay called it "Snow Bites" instead of frost bite.  That's how I feel, snowbites, on my toes.  All the time.

Anyway, my surefire cure-all for snowbites is Cream of Wheat, that childhood comfort food like no other.  Morning, afternoon snack, or dinner, Cream of Wheat is so good.  Butter, honey, sugar, whatever.  The funny thing is that this is one of the few things I had in common with my brother.  He and I were very different in lots of ways, but Cream of Wheat was one of our strongest bonding points.  No one else in our family really liked it all that much, and if they did, they liked it Creamy.  Austin and I liked it Lumpy.  And I could make it Perfectly Lumpy.  I remember standing in our kitchen on the orange yellow linoleum tile and Austin requesting that I make it, not mom.  I felt so honored and so good, so expert at something.  So I did.  I made Perfectly Lumpy Cream of Wheat.  This is one of our stories.  The thing is, I can't remember all the details.  Did I make it a lot?  Was it just once?  Memories play tricks on us.  I want to know how old we were.  Was it on our way to school?  Was it on a snow day?  Why did he like mine best?  Did anyone else eat with us?  In my memory it was just the two of us, sitting in the kitchen with our steaming bowls and all the accoutrements.  Maybe watching snow fall, maybe it was a Two-Hour Delay.  Maybe it was after we shoveled outside.  I don't know.  There are lumps in my memories.  I wish I could ask him.  Wish I could go back and laugh about it with him.  Wish I could make it for him again.  I enjoy making it for my two boys; the others don't like it.  Jay and Charlie like it Lumpy just like we did.  I want to tell them, Remember this.  Remember every detail about it.  Remember our old white tile kitchen floor and the curtains and the crooked table that the bowls slide off if you're not careful.  Remember that you are talking hockey again and it is just the two of you and the others are off getting ready somewhere.  Remember that your homework is one the table and you have your orange pajamas and one sock on.  Someday these memories, these stories will bring you back to a moment that you will treasure, a nugget of gold in an otherwise crazy life.  The thing is, growing up together, it's not just that you know each other's stories, you are each other's stories.