15 April 2011

All Hail the Captain

I just finished folding five loads of laundry. The Captain returns tomorrow from a business trip, and I'm trying to make it look like I actually accomplished something while he was away. Yes, I know it's ridiculous. But the truth is, the Captain does my job better than I do.

When I was in Florida, I checked in periodically to see how things were going. Everyday, there was another glowing report about fantastic Mr. Four and cooperative Mr. Five. Four was up in the morning, happy to go to school. He would hop right in the van, even though he was battling a cold. He got his homework done in fifteen minutes, before the evening commitment of Tae Kwon Do, or Five's baseball practice. He studied every day for his spelling exam, and on Friday, he got his highest score ever!  They both went to bed without snuggling!!

On the  following Monday, this is how our day began:

Four: "Am I on Spring break?"
Me: "No, honey, that's next week."
Four: "Then why did I get Monday off?"
Me: "You didn't. Today is Monday."
Four: "Oh, man. I don't want to go. Can I just have one more day off?"
Me: "No, sweetie."
Four: "But I'm tired. I can't go."
Me: "Listen, Four, you're making me look bad. All last week, you went to school with no problem for Dad. You did a great job, you got your homework done lickety split every night, and your points were good, too. Can we please NOT make Mommy look like a lousy parent?"

And you know how the next few days went. Except for Tuesday, when the Captain took Four to the dentist. He was great. The hygienist had to really take her time working on his teeth. A water pik was involved. Then, the Captain convinced Four to let them use real paste on his teeth. The minty kind. Four hates mint. But he did it anyway. They took x-rays, and discovered a huge cavity in his molar. Apparently, I was supposed to take him a few months ago to have the pictures taken. Instead, I get to bring him next week to have that sucker filled. Let's hope it works out better than when I brought Five.

Shoot me.

The only thing the Captain didn't manage to accomplish while I was gone, was a clean house. This is an anomaly. Usually, the rugs have been vacuumed, the refrigerator's been cleaned, and the kitchen floor mopped. I know it's twisted, but I was happy none of it got done.

The Captain will read this when he lands. He'll come home tomorrow morning, and reassure me that I am a great mother, and an awesome wife. He'll point out that he was able to work so closely with Four because none of the other children were in school that week. Yeah, yeah.

We've been married for twenty-one years, and parents for eighteen. He knows how I prioritize my day, and he just works differently than I do. The Captain is very goal-oriented, and routinized. He likes systems. I am much less structured in my approach to daily living.  And I am rarely motivated to clean. If the Captain catches me with the Swiffer in my hand, he has to leave the room. It's too arousing.

Logically, I know all of this doesn't matter. But I'm still going to fold that last basket of laundry. And remove that huge cardboard box that's been sitting in the living room since Monday. If I'm very motivated, I might mop. And those damn kids better not screw me over in the morning.

Wait. The Captain should arrive home right around bus time. No worries. I'm sure they'll be angels for him.


  1. Ugh. Dad syndrome. It's not you, it's not him, it's them. Really. He's not the one who's usually there, so they behave differently when he is. If he were the one home with them every day, they'd be doing the same damned thing to him. Count on it. It's frustrating and a huge pain in the ass, but it's not you. Just so you know.

    You're an awesome Mom. (And the desire to clean is not a prerequisite to awesome-momhood, btw. If it were, I'd be disqualified.)

  2. Anonymous15.4.11

    LOL! "...with the Swiffer in my hand..." You are so damn good at ALL of this!

    Remember that ONE trip I told you that I had taken? Yeah, kids were good as gold, but shit was NOT where it was supposed to be, I kept finding things in all the wrong places, for months afterwards. (And I won't even begin to tell you about how he tried to clean off the top of the 'fridge.)

    Everything will be back to normal, or better, as soon as that plane lands and he is safely home. (This is why us lucky ones are really a pair.)


  3. Heh! I think they are Gaslighting you, Megan. This is a complicated conspiracy to make the Captain appear to be awesome. The main accomplishment is that he got all five of the boys to feed you these silly stories about finished homework and good behavior. He is a mastermind!

    I kid. You have already explained it. He's just wired that way. He's organized, obsessed with cleanliness and driven to win. It's one of the reasons why we all love him! And we all love you for completely different, but equally numerous reasons. It's why you guys match so well!

    And the Swiffer quip made me laugh. Very loud!

  4. For some reason, I giggled at the idea of The Captain being goal-oriented. It almost seems like an understatement. Still it has been such a pleasure to watch you two grow and evolve as parents. In some ways, The Captain's change is more marked to me. Watching him take a breath and slow down when the boys need him to is a great lesson on how to make family life work. It is like he takes a walk with them every day. The Captain knows full well that the fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line. But the boys sometime like the scenic route. They meander, they stop to smell the roses, sometimes they dig in their heels and won't go any further. It's lovely to see how often he can set his goal aside and just try to enjoy (or endure) the journey.

  5. Ok every time I've been to your house it's been spotless. The fridge is sterile, no dustbunnies to be found, and the boys' rooms are so tidy and uncluttered. Don't tell me the captain does all of this? This is you, you undisciplined, unstructured person, who somehow seems to accomplish this AND be a savvy and COOL parent.

    I am going to tell you to STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP, but first I have to share that my hubby also is better at the housekeeping than I am and he gets much more done in a day than I ever seem to. And I do find it frustrating and defeating and know exactly what you're feeling.

    I think we're holding ourselves to the June Cleaver standard in a world where kids' activities don't support that. In truth, we're June Cleavers PLUS, for taking it all on and doing a pretty good job of it. So let's be thankful that our hubbies are so capable and know that we've created a good balance between us. Happy Friday Meg-- Love you!

    PS love the swiffer comment too.

  6. Let me illuminate this for you with the wisdom of a childless teacher:
    They will always listen to ANYONE but Mom simply by virtue of being a different voice.

    I've taught kids who threw shrieking fits every morning, then greeted me with a hug and offered to sharpen pencils before settling down to angelic task completion. I've taught kids whose parents took away everything but supper to get them to write spelling words...who practiced tirelessly with me, wreathed in sunny smiles.

    It's the novelty of someone else taking over for a week in your place. It's not you, it's them.

    PS My class will likewise listen to the reprimand of another teacher in the hall well before they notice me hissing "less mouth, more walking" alongside them.

    And if anyone mopped my floor I'd be overcome with amorous impulses too.

  7. @Chrysanthe: I'll take individual pictures of the rooms, and send them to you to make you feel better. Of course my house is clean when you visit! I clean it for parties!

    @June: I have some funny memories of our first years as parents. One of my favorites is when Two did something inexplicable, like shoving a rubber puzzle piece in his nose. After removing it, the Captain asked for an explanation.

    "Why would you do that? What made you think that was a smart idea?"
    And he seriously expected an answer. From the four year-old.

    He stopped asking by Boy Three. It's true that we've both grown. Most importantly, I think the Captain has shed petty concerns along the way. As we've grown to know each boy, it gets easier to see that they are who they are, and we can only love them.

  8. I can hear the captain asking those questions, too. Thanks for the chuckle.

  9. The Captain says: "You are silly. Everything I do while you are away, is for you. I just keep the family in stasis. Clean, fed, but in a holding pattern. You could go away for five years, come back, and nothing would have changed. You're silly."

    I tried to get him to create his own account, but I guess I'll just stay the messenger.

  10. I think it is much more fun to have the Captain quoted but never present. Adds to his mystery, don't you think?

    And he's right, of course. The Penii Collective revolves around its Lone Woman. You are the steering wheel and the spark plug. The Captain lends forward momentum and stability. (I hope that I mixed enough metaphors!)

  11. Anonymous15.4.11

    I agree with the others, it's not you, it's them.
    As for the cleaning...you're not alone there, and I only have to clean up after me and one other!


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