Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Good and Bad (05/07/09)
TITLE: Diapers and Endorphins
By Kristen Hester
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“Mimi.” My wide-eyed toddler, Joey, smiled at the picture of his grandmother. His focus quickly shifted to the blocks that were scattered across the floor amongst broken crayons, cracker crumbs and spilled juice. “Sit!” he demanded.
“I am sitting,” I said from the couch.
“No, sit!” he said pointing to the sticky floor. When he added “Pwease,” I reluctantly obliged.
I repeatedly stacked blocks that he excitedly knocked down. Seeking alternate stimulation, I slowly edged myself to where my book lay on the counter. When Joey was momentarily distracted by a tumbling tower, I reached up quickly and grabbed my copy of The Shack. I hid the book discreetly in my lap and started to read. “Good job,” I commented periodically, hoping he’d accept this as interaction and allow me to finish reading the page I’d been unable to complete for two days. My plan was successful for one minute and thirty two seconds.
“Mommy, play!” Joey said when he discovered my betrayal. He took my book and tossed it across the room. I pouted playfully, but my disappointment was authentic. An apologetic Joey wrapped his chubby arms around my neck and planted a wet kiss on my left eye. I smiled as I blinked the slobber away. Perhaps I could accomplish something when he took his nap...
An hour later I made my third attempt to escape from Joey’s toddler bed without waking him. I gingerly moved his arm, then rolled off the bed and hit the floor with a thump. I lay frozen on the ground until I was confident he was sleeping soundly. I crawled from the room. When I reached the hallway I shut the door and stood in victory. “Yes!” I whispered, then hurriedly tip-toed into the kitchen to find my to-do list.
I always judged the success of my day by how much I accomplished from my list. It was a good day if I got everything done, bad if I left items unchecked. Before kids, I’d sprint through my list, but lately I hadn’t been so successful. I longed for the endorphin release I received from marking chores off my agenda. I smiled when I looked at number one. Take a Shower. The items on my list were much simpler these days, but as a stay-at-home mom any completed job was worthy of a check mark.
As I headed toward the bathroom, I heard a dreaded sound. I tried to ignore it, but when I started to leak, I couldn’t deny that my infant was awake. I hung my head and walked to the nursery and lifted my hungry daughter.
I sat down on the couch and thought that at least I could read my book while she nursed. As soon as I found my page, the phone rang. Where was the phone? I stood up, accidently unlatching Caroline’s vacuum grip. I winced in pain as I followed the sound...to Joey's room! Now his cries joined the ringing phone and Caroline’s wails.
“Hello,” I said breathlessly into the receiver.
“Hello, this is a automated courtesy call from your vehicle’s warranty division. Your warranty will exp–“ I ended the call in frustration, then tried to soothe my two crying children.
Five hours later my husband found me sitting on the couch. There were noodles in my hair, circular stains on the front of my pajamas, and I’d just discovered poop under my fingernails.
“Did you have a good day?” my husband asked.
“I didn’t accomplish one thing.” I felt defeated.
He took a sleeping Caroline from my arms and patted Joey on the head. “Did you feed the children today?”
I was confused. “Can’t you tell?” I picked a piece of macaroni off my shirt and, without thinking, popped it in my mouth.
“Are the kids safe?” I nodded. “Happy?” I nodded again. “Did you play with them today?”
“That’s all I did.”
“I’d say you accomplished everything that mattered.”
I smiled gratefully at my husband. “When you put it that way, I guess the day wasn’t too bad.” I reached for my list and a pen. I had some endorphins to release.
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