“Why is that plastic wrapper there?” my husband innocently asks me, staring down at the kitchen floor at the glistening remnant of our son’s juice box straw, a few minutes after he returns home from a long day at the office. “Didn’t you notice it?”
I pick it up and throw it in the trash.
I’m sure you don’t mean anything by it, but nonetheless, my spirit dampens and I feel as though I let you down somehow.
There are so many reasons the straw wrapper is on the floor.
Around lunchtime I hand our boy a box of apple juice, because he is begging for a drink. This is right after I clean up the kitchen from last night’s dinner, loading the dishes in the washer, hand-washing the pots and pans, and wiping down the counter surfaces and hardwood floors. I seem to remember removing the straw from the plastic and placing it on the counter, but it must have blown to the ground.
After changing diapers, I put the children down for naps and attempt to squeeze in a little bit of work for about an hour. When I walk into the kitchen to grab some water, I notice it sitting on the ground. I am about to pick it up when the baby wakes up from her nap and starts wailing from the nursery. Intuitively I rush into the other room to pick her up and nurse her. While I am nursing her, staring deep into her baby blues and making funny faces at her to provoke a smile, I hear our boy’s little voice trailing down the stairs.
“Giant poo poo mama,” he whines.
So I quickly change her diaper and go upstairs, setting her on the floor of his room so I can change his as well.
As I am walking back down the stairs, I think about the straw wrapper for a brief moment, but then I hear the drier buzz. So I put baby into her swing and go into the laundry room and remove some clothes and bed sheets. After folding the laundry and putting everything away in the proper room of the house, I head into our bedroom and make the bed. The baby starts crying so I return to the living room and our son is thirsty so I get him some milk and a snack. I change her diaper again, and while I am cleaning her poopy butt with a wipe, I remember: the straw wrapper.
I start to walk toward it and have every intention of picking it up when I hear a plastic cup topple to the ground and milk splash across the floor.
“Oops,” our son says.
So I clean up the milk.
It is a beautiful day, so I decide to take the kids to the park, and on the way pick up dry cleaning and run to the store and pick up a few things for dinner. With our daughter secured to my front in our baby carrier, I run around the playground with our boy like I am a kid again — I even take baby down the slide with me — and we are all laughing with pleasure.
When we get home, after shaking all the sand off our son and changing both diapers, I turn on the television for him and put our daughter on the ground to roll around so I can put away the groceries and start prepping dinner. I see the wrapper on the ground and I tell myself I will throw it away after I am done putting away all the food. But then I remember that I have to feed the baby. So I nurse her, and while she is suckling away, the drier buzzes again, so I walk back into the laundry room and fold another load.
After returning to dinner prep, I realize it is time to feed our son, so I start cooking his mac and cheese.
And then you come home and ask about the straw wrapper.
These days, months, and years it often feels as though my mind is not working properly. I have every intention of doing things, like picking up straw wrappers or dryer sheets off the floor, putting away clothes, or throwing out old food in the refrigerator, and then life just gets in the way. I am constantly doing, doing, doing and then often, at the end of the day, wonder what exactly I have gotten done. I get upset at myself for forgetting things I meant to do, but didn’t.
I wouldn’t trade staying at home with my children for the most lucrative job in the world, but sometimes I miss the sense of completion that I got in the working world. A mother’s job is never done. There is always one more load of laundry, dish in the sink, face to be washed, slide to go down, choo choo to push around the track, sleepless child who needs comforting, or straw wrapper to be picked up off the floor. And then at the end of every day, I remember five things I forgot to do, and three that I wish I could have done differently.
But I just do the best I can.
So when you ask me about the straw wrapper, dear husband, I simply tell you the short version of the very long story of my day: I forgot.