I woke up with a start. My youngest son’s fourth birthday party was today. My mellow approach to its arrival roared regretfully in my head. I hadn’t been mellow, I had been lazy. What the heck was I thinking?
Bleary-eyed and panicked I scrambled out of bed. Regardless of the preparations the day before and affirmations of ‘it’s good enough’ and ‘we’re done’ I feared we weren’t near ready. No, in my gut, I knew. We were totally screwed.
I checked the over-sized numbers on the alarm clock and counted on my fingers. I had roughly … six hours, forty-five minutes and thirty seconds before the party started.
However, we had guests driving in from out of town and chances are they’d arrive early.
Actually I had told them, “Come early, don’t worry about it. We’ll be home.”
Blast my casual we’re-so-kick-back-relaxed-like-that attitude. I’m not a hip chilled-out kind of mom. Heck no, I’m a spazoid- freak-out-and-holy-heck-folks-are-coming-to-the-house kind of mom.
Truth be told, most days my clean-freak gene lays dormant. If the house is mostly (kind of, sort of) picked up, I’m groovy. It’s not until we expect guests that this bust-out-of-the-closet dusting, sweeping, scrubbing maniac appears.
I looked over at Jim. He was sleeping alone in the California-king-sized bed. He had the covers up to his chin and his face was relaxed, worry-free and cradled by a pillow. I wanted to shake him. Shake him and snap. “Sleep on a day like today? Crazy man, get up and get your feather duster. Let’s roll.”
I wanted to, but I didn’t. Instead I searched for clarity. I went into the bathroom, found my contacts case, opened it up and pop them in. Mentally I ran through my to-do list – re-clean bathrooms, living rooms, kitchen and dust. What else? Set up table, chairs and decorate.
Then there were the kids. I must make sure they got bathed and wore decent, unwrinkled and freshly-laundered clothes. Of course, I needed to remember do the same.
That should do it. Today was doable. I could stuff Ms. Clean-Freak back in the closet. I’d play it casual and wouldn’t get ‘all up in everyone’s grill’ crazy. I’d even have time to dash to the store and pick up the birthday candles.
Then I remembered the food.
Oh no, the food! I had plans for a mostly homemade, hand-prepared spread. I had red bell peppers and garlic to roast. There were carrots, celery, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower to wash and fresh pineapple to cut and cube. I had to find the recipe for the hummus dip and get it started. Then there were the platters and bowls to dig out and wash and … and … where was my list? Heavens to Murgatroid, I needed a list.
Five hours later
I walked into the bedroom itchy from dried sweat, dust and sticky stray dog hair. Jim sat at his computer desk surfing the web.
He looked up. “Sorry I haven’t helped. I’m just trying to get rid of this headache.” He watched me warily.
He knew my Dr. Clean and Ms. Slob routine well.
I played it nice. “No problem. I didn’t want to wake you up anyways.” My subconscious laughed and called me a liar. “I had Jared help.”
I didn’t pounce on Jim that morning because he had been working long hours, six days a week. Instead I enlisted Jared and taught him how to be intimate with the dust cloth and baseboards. At the moment, he was becoming familiar with disinfectant wipes and the front bathroom.
I gave Jim my best smile and hoped it didn’t look carnivorous. “It is doable. Almost everything is done. I’m great.”
In the shower I kept my eyes closed to protect my contacts from the splash of hot water. I had time. I could take a little while to regroup and decompress. Today was about my baby boy and we were going to have fun.
I took a step and reached for soap, water splashed around my ankles. What the heck? I opened my eyes and looked down. Water was about to overflow onto the vinyl floor. Quickly, I turned off the shower. The drain gurgled. The pipe was working, but sluggishly.
I jumped out and wrapped a towel around me. “Jim. We have a problem.”
He came over to inspect. I went out of the bedroom in search of Jared. He was in the front bathroom still. “Did you have any problems with the shower draining this morning?”
“Uh, no. But the toilet won’t flush.”
“What?” I ran over and looked. I expected something murky but saw clear water instead. “It wouldn’t flush after you peed?”
“Uh, no.” Jared bounced his weight between his two feet.
My mommy senses tingled. I looked around the bathroom and then spotted it. Oh shoot me. “You flushed the cleaning wipes down the toilet didn’t you?”
He had. His expression snitched him out. I could just visualize it. He wiped everything down, crammed the wipes into a hard ball and dropped them in. The magical jiggle of the toilet handle would make them disappear forever.
Only it didn’t. Worse yet, he’d known about it for awhile and didn’t tell anyone.
I relayed the news to Jim. Irritated, he went outside to snake the trap. Swiftly I got dressed. Everything would be fine. Jim would fix it. This was just a small setback.
I had just placed the platters of food on the table when the first guest drove up and parked. It was Craig’s biological mom and brother. I dried my hands and, with excitement, rushed out of the kitchen to go greet them.
I walked right into Jim. He looked angry.
“We don’t have toilets. We need a plumber.”
“What?” His words didn’t jive with my new, glorious mood. “Detta just arrived. More folks will be here any moment. There’s no way to fix at least one toilet?”
That didn’t make sense. We were going to have thirty people – many of them children — show up in the next 15 minutes. We were going to provide them lots of food, cake and drink but no bathroom? I was stunned. What could we do?
Detta was almost at the door. My mind raced for a solution. I felt nervous giggles bubble up. I could just imagine a showman barking, “Come on in folks, eat, drink, be merry – and when in need take a pee on the wild side.”
I looked at Jim and said, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll work through this.” I didn’t know how, but we would.
I opened the door and greeted our first guest. “Welcome to our home. Just so you’re aware, the bathrooms are currently out of service. However, not to worry, we’ll have a bathroom shuttle at regular intervals.”
My mother-in-law, bless her working porcelain, didn’t know it yet, but that shuttle’s stop was at her front door.
The party was a success. Craig jumped and squealed with each new guest’s arrival. We sang him a birthday song, ate cake and watched as he gleefully opened his presents (and then thanked giver). The younger kids dashed about the house merrily, the older kids rocked out with Guitar Hero and the adults buzzed with conversation. There were a few ‘shuttle’ trips to my mother-in-law’s house and a singular dash to the nearby Target.
All-in-all it was a good day with good memories and lots of laughs.
Posted by Genevieve Feb 4, 2008, 7:17 AM