Tuesday, April 7, 2009
If You Give a Mom a Headache...
(Adapted from "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Joffe Numeroff)
If you give a mom a headache, (because of children who were up crying all night), she’s going to want a drink. Since drinking grain alcohol at 7 a.m. is taboo in our culture, she’ll head for the coffee maker hoping for a stiff caffeinated pick-me-up. After pouring her mug of coffee, she’ll need to have some creamer. She’ll open the refrigerator looking for the creamer and feel like Erin Brokovich because of the vast empty space looming before her. While she doesn’t spot a roach, mom will notice lots of molding food crumbs and sticky orange liquid that has melded underneath all the produce drawers. She’ll make a mental note to clean the fridge later.
Mom sucks down her coffee with creamer while scribbling miscellaneous food items onto a grocery list. While thinking of her grocery list, it will occur to her that her husband’s birthday is Friday, the in-laws are coming on Thursday night, and Easter is Sunday, and she has no food, no plan, and no lists going for any of those events either. Mom will sigh and wonder what is so wrong with drinking grain alcohol at 7 in the morning. Glancing at the clock to confirm it is still 7 in the morning will remind mom that she needs to call the doctor’s office when the phone lines open at 8:30, in order to take (one of her up-all-night) daughters to have her ear checked. Thinking of her poor, ear-achy child will make mom wonder if there is any way she could still go to school today and how long Motrin will last, but since child neglect is also a social taboo, mom calls the doctor and gets an appointment for 9:45 a.m.
Mom heads to the doctor with two children, three errands to do, and a scribbled down grocery list. While driving to the doctor, mom notices that her gas light is on and she needs to stop and refuel. She’ll stop for gas, even if it means she’ll be a little late to the doctor’s office because if she runs out of gas, she’ll be really late. After gassing up, mom drives to the doctor and gets the confirmation that her daughter does indeed have an ear infection. Mom will rejoice at the diagnosis, not because she wants her daughter to be in pain, but because it means her $30 cop-pay wasn’t in vain. Thinking about that little ditty makes mom laugh to herself because she is such a good rhymer. Laughing to herself will make mom think about how mentally unstable people laugh at themselves, and since she feels a little unstable, tired, and overwhelmed herself, mom makes it a point to be in a non-humorous mood the rest of the day, for fear of being thought crazy.
Being in a negative mood and thinking about crazy people will remind mom that the next stop on the list is Price Right. She’ll head to the grocery store to purchase ridiculously cheap food and try very hard not to think about why it is so ridiculously cheap. When she enters the grocery store, she’ll notice carrots, and noticing carrots will remind her to get out her grocery list, and as she’s searching for the grocery list, she’ll remember that it’s sitting on the front seat of her van. Too tired, too cold, and in too foul a mood to go get it, she’ll impulse buy from one end of the store to the other, throwing unhealthy snack foods at her two daughters to keep them quiet. One hour, 7 bags of groceries, and $96.72 dollars later, mom loads the kids, the food, and herself back into the van to go home. Upon getting in the car, mom will spot the list on the front seat and remember that she has to stop by the pharmacy to pick up her daughter's prescription so she won’t cry all night and will be able to go school tomorrow. Thinking about her daughter going to school the next day puts mom in a suddenly decent mood, and she speeds all the way to CVS. While at CVS she picks up the prescription and drives home to unload the kids and the groceries.
While unloading the groceries onto the counter, mom remembers the spilled orange drink and moldy food bits in the fridge. She decides to wipe out and clean the icebox since it is so empty and shouldn’t take long anyway. While wiping down the shelves, mom notices that the rubber lining around the freezer is caked with additional dried food bits. Mom moves from the fridge to the rubber freezer lining, using her fingernail to shovel out the nastiness. Deciding that she’d rather use a knife to unencrust the rubber grooves, mom goes to the silverware drawer to find a sharp, pointy object. While rifling through the drawer, mom will be grossed out by how many chunks of food live here too-and vows never to eat off her utensils until that drawer is clean. Thinking about how much the drawer needs to be cleaned reminds her that the hovel she lives in also needs to be cleaned before her in-laws arrive on Thursday.
Thinking about Thursday will remind mom that today is Tuesday, the very day that one of her assignments is due. She’ll glance at the clock to see what time it is and realize with horror that it’s already noon and she has gone to the doctor, purchased groceries, picked up a prescription, cleaned the fridge and freezer liner, but has not done any writing. Panic gripping her, she realizes that she also used a good portion of the baby’s nap to clean the fridge, instead of sitting at the computer to bang out her assignment—one that actually helps contribute to the family bank account. She races to put the food away, swearing about the condition of her house, and making another mental note to add it to the list.
While mom is downstairs in the office working, the baby wakes up. Her other daughter’s ear is hurting again. Her son comes home from school with a friend. They need to eat, they need paper, they need to use the phone, the baby is crying, can I have, can I get, can I go, can I bring…while being bombarded by the children and overwhelmed by the events of the next few days and stressed out by her deadline, mom gets another headache. And if you give a mom a headache, she’s going to want a drink to go with it.
Only now it’s not 7 a.m.