When I was at the Artist’s house last week, she asked me if I could pay a visit to a friend of hers. She is a stay-at-home mom with three kids and she’s gotten behind on the chores. “Sure,” I said. Having no children of my own, I love helping out moms because I know it can be the toughest job in the world, besides teachers, I suppose.
So I went yesterday morning. And when I got home, I slammed a bottle of wine and thanked god he spared me the anguish of what I had just witnessed. I thought about going for a second bottle but my wits slapped me in the face and said I had to work tomorrow.
When I got to the Mom’s house, I had to knock on the door several times. I knew someone was home because I heard shouting, and what I can only describe as banshee screaming. As I was about to walk back to the car to check the address, the door flung open. Two children ran by me with forks in there hands sword fighting. Then a small, middle-aged woman with frazzled hair and a ketchup stained shirt that could have been mistaken for blood, appeared and blew an air horn in my face. I could see her mouth the words “I’m so sorry” but I couldn’t hear her over the ringing in my ears.
Then she ran past me and blew the horn again at the children. They dropped the forks and ran back in the house. She picked them up and motioned for me to come in. I debated on whether to run for my car but my feet had other plans and walked right in.
The house itself looked like a war zone. Chairs were toppled over. Laundry and dishes were everywhere and most of the cabinets were wide open. The floor was a minefield of toys spanning as far as the eye could see. Obviously “behind on chores” was code word for “total carnage.”
The Mom sat me down on the jelly-stained couch. Thankfully the ringing in my ears was now a low buzzing.
“I’m so sorry about that,” she said. “It’s the only thing that can make them stop anymore.” She explained to me that the two boys were 10 and 7 and they have all been together in the house 24 hours a day for six months. I thought it amazing she can still communicate with adults.
“And there’s another one around here somewhere. And now they’ve pushed school back another two weeks.” As she was talking a small toddler with curly blonde hair came around the corner with a can of frosting, most of it all over her mouth. “Oh there she is. Can Mommy have some honey?” The toddler held out the can of frosting and, without skipping a beat the Mom grabbed it and tossed it across the room like a hand grenade. The toddler ran out screaming.
“And now,” she continued, “when they do go back, Michael is going to go Monday and Wednesday with a Friday half day and Kevin is Tuesday and Thursdays with the rest virtual.” I thought to myself planning a coup wasn’t as complicated.
“How am I going to do that?” she said chuckling while reaching into the couch and pulling out a bottle of wine. At that point I was hoping she would offer me a glass but it was obvious she needed it more than me. She poured some into a sippy cup and proceeded to chug the whole thing.
She rambled on, now fortified. “And their father. He gets to go to work everyday. Essential worker my butt! Let him sit here with his spawn of Satan with no parks or pools or play dates!” She grabbed her hair. “My hair is falling out in clumps. He’s already bald!”
My gut was telling me to just walk away, to get the heck out of there. But I couldn’t leave this poor, frazzled soul to fend for herself with this war raging around her. So I stayed.
“Well, I can certainly get you back on track house-wise,” I said as I stood up.
“I can’t thank you eno–” then there was a crash upstairs and she grabbed the horn and ran off to what I can only imagine was another skirmish with her battle-ready children.
So I took a deep breath and dove into it. It took me five hours just to get the downstairs back into working order. All the while I heard stampedes and air horns overhead. This wasn’t just a war zone. It was Lord of the Flies. It was survival of the fittest and Mom was losing.
By the time I was ready to head upstairs, an eerie silence had fallen over the house. I walked up the stairs hesitantly, half expecting to run into a pig’s head on a stick and unimaginable carnage. Instead I found all four of them in the Mom’s bed, snoring like little angels. A valiant battle had been fought, only to retreat and fight another day.
Thankfully I only had to clean the bathrooms upstairs which I did as quietly as I could. They were still sleeping when I was done, so I tiptoed downstairs and left a note. I could wait on the money. A rest like that is priceless.
Guess I can put another entry onto my resume. “The Great and Selfless Cleaning Lady.”