I used to love Alexander by Judith Viorst when I was little. I still have my original copy. I used to tell myself “maybe I should move to Australia” whenever I was having a particularly stupid day. Being a parent changes your view on things, however. And this sweet little story about a little boy’s rotten day (and keeping it in perspective) metamorphosed in my head yesterday. If that day was bad for Alexander, imagine his mom’s corresponding day.
For instance, if Alexander awoke with gum in his hair, it’s his mother that will have to remove that gum from said hair (and possibly bed linens as well). This will cause the whole morning routine to screech to a halt. No time for bitching about who gets what breakfast cereal or toys inside. Shut up, eat, and get to school.
I’ll skip Alexander’s foibles at school. It’s rather nebulous what his mother does, but let’s just assume she’s a full-time stay-at-home mom. While her 3 (!) sons are away at school, her domestic drudgery begins. I can’t imagine the laundry of 3 children (plus 2 adults) or the mess/clutter/kitchen debris that would surround her. Instead, I’ll insert some of my own chores/experiences into this block of time. Every morning, there is breakfast crap to clean up. This is soon to be followed by lunch crap, packing lunch (for the next day) crap, and dinner crap. There is laundry to do at least every 3-4 days. There are bills, errands, maintenance cleaning and straightening. I find if I don’t do a toy pick up at least 2-3 times a day, we’ll all be wiping out and landing on our butts pretty quick. All the while, of course, Stella is underfoot (all of Alexander’s mom’s kids are school age, so she’s graduated past this) and needs to be looked after and entertained. You can’t leave the TV on all day.
And every once in a while, something unexpected happens that requires immediate attention. Like a cat pissing in your purse. True story. Happened yesterday. I won’t share details. But like gum in hair, you can’t put that on the back burner for later.
We’ll resume when Alexander’s mom picks them up from school for a ride to the dentist (where she’ll have to listen to the bitching and sweat about how to pay for cleaning and NOW cavities), shoe store (where she’ll have to listen to the bitching and sweat about how to pay for all those shoes), and finally to pick dad up from the office. There, she’ll have to try to corral the kids and then listen to her husband bitch about how the kids are mucking up his office.
There are still dinner and baths to go. More bitching. More kitchen debris.
For Alexander’s mother, there is no respite in daydreaming about Australia. After all, she knows that the world’s deadliest creatures live there (box jellyfish, funnelweb spiders, and all those bloody snakes!) and all that outback dust would be awful to keep off the floors…. Quit your whining, Alexander. You have no idea.