The Week “Off”

December 28th, 2021

It’s 9am of holiday “break” and I am trying to rescue my new merino wool long underwear out of the dryer so I can wear them all week long in a complete state of sloth. It’s a dream I have. Walking through the dining room, completely naked but carrying an enormous basket of laundry, I hear a very familiar refrain: “MAMA!!!”

I look at Phoebe. “Yes?”

“Can you help me with these legos right now?”

Motherhood is not for those who need to be seen. 

My daughters are almost seven and I have decided it’s time to teach them about personal boundaries. Mine, that is.

I’ve been practicing a lot of refrains such as “Not now, because I am doing something” and “Can I have enough room just to use my elbow while I eat” and “I can help you find that single sequin on the giant multicolored woven rug after I get myself some coffee.”

It’s going not great

Last night, Jon’s birthday, we tried to watch a movie together. This is something we never do, and Jon has been asking to watch the new James Bond movie with me for weeks. Once we got the kids to bed, we hunkered down in our bed with his laptop, so excited for this special treat. Less than one minute later, Phoebe was in our bed: “I’m not tired.” This is a first, by the way.

“You know what?” I suggested, “You can stay in here with us and snuggle, but we’re going to watch this grown-up movie that you really won’t like, so you should close your eyes and fall asleep.”

I don’t know if you’ve seen No Time to Die, but it is quite possibly the worst movie in the world to let your sensitive, sheltered little kid watch. The movie opens with a terrifying masked villain murdering a drunk mom in cold blood and then chasing her young daughter out onto the ice, where she falls through and nearly dies, trapped under ice, while the villain points a gun at her face. Cut straight from there to a steamy sex scene.

That’s as far as we made it, with Jon holding the comforter over Phoebe’s eyes the entire time. We ended up turning the movie off, and I read the incredibly wholesome book Old Mother West Wind until she fell asleep in our bed, then did a crossword puzzle while Jon researched motorcycle jackets. Sigh. 

Screen Shot 2021-12-28 at 7.58.58 AM

This morning, as I write this, they are sitting across from me at the dining room table working on origami projects. Every few seconds or so, one of them shouts out MAMA CAN YOU HELP ME. I’ve already lost points this morning because Santa, the idiot, got Phoebe all-blue origami paper. WTF Santa!

I am holding strong, though. “Just keeping trying,” I repeat like a mantra.

Oh wait, what is this? 

Eliza holds up the origami object with a huge smile on her face. “I did it!” she exclaims. “And all because I kept on trying!”

Later in the morning, I hear Phoebe bragging to Eliza that she got to stay up and watch a movie with us last night where “a guy shot his girlfriend” which is not what happens with the movie, but anyway, she got the gist, and I have remorse. 

Points for making one child learn the pride of doing something herself, even as the other is scarred for life by her first R-rated movie. 

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