Like most moms, it would be nice to use the bathroom or even take a shower once or twice without the risk of watchful eyes peering through the shower curtain. I wish that I could exclude my husband from this obvious affront to my privacy but there are times when even he makes the list. Additional members of the “can’t-give-Mom-5-minutes-to-herself” club is ancient cat and the emotionally-stunted German Shepherd. In the case of the animals, there seems to be an unspoken agreement of whoever gets in the bathroom first with Mom gets to stay and the other one is shut out. (It’s a daily fight.) You’d think after all of this time that I would get used to someone staring at me- I never have.
Every once in a while, however, I am able to steal away and read 3 or 4 pages of a good book. Of course, this happens only when my daughter is in school and my husband is working or traveling. So even if I have finished much of the housework, I feel immense guilt when I sit down to read. What should be an enjoyable 15 minutes turns into 15 minutes of guilt and anxiety. I feel like I should be doing something else that is for the betterment of the house (like the laundry or rescuing an action figure from the whirlpool of the toilet) and not taking time for myself to relax. Sound familiar?
“Mommmmmm! I need you!”
A call in a high pitched child’s voice beckons from somewhere downstairs (in the dark recesses of the house.) My mind whirls: Is she trapped under a large piece of furniture? Broken some priceless piece of art? Just needs a hug? What is it? What can be so important that my name must be bellowed through out my otherwise tranquil home? Regardless of the actual need, I have been issued a “demand:” my presence is not requested but demanded. And there is no other choice but to oblige. Otherwise the calling will get louder and more urgent.
Our 8 year-old daughter uses The Demand countless times throughout each day: In the morning when she can’t decide what to wear or is to lazy to select something, when she is eating breakfast and realizes that there is some last minute item that needs to be taken to school or at night when she decides that she is hungry right before “lights out.” When he can’t find a particular item beneath the mounds of paper and technological parts that live on the floor of his side of our room, my husband will also make The Demand. I try to remind my wonderful spouse that his mother does not live in our house.
Our animals, particularly the dog, is a master at The Demand. Each morning between 5:30 and 6:00, she awakens and does everything in her power to get me up. She cries, she moans, she jumps on me, licks me and shakes her neck and torso so her license tags make as much noise as possible. If I don’t respond within the expected timeframe, she knows that I know that she will run downstairs and promptly soil my white dining room carpet. So guess what? I get up…and fast. The cat? She also has her own form of The Demand saved especially for me. If she is not fed at a time convenient for her busy life (sleeping, licking herself, sleeping, using the litter box and then sleeping some more), Sabine with throw up on the white carpeting or worse cough up a nasty hairball to go with the regurgitated food on the rug. According to my daughter and husband, neither of the animals will put on quite as grandiose a show for them as they do for me.
The Demand. I understand that it is bittersweet. There will come a time when I will miss getting called from all parts of the house and the back yard and alerted that I am needed. Perhaps that is why I am not as organized as I could be: maybe in my own way, I kind of like it. It is great knowing that people are counting on me for help; even if it is just to find a sock or a glove or a missing part of a homework assignment. On the other hand, it is the MOST ANNOYING PHRASE spoken in this house. The very tone that comes with phrase is enough to get the hairs to stand up on the back of my arms!
There is no lesson to be learned from this post. No item that I want to promote. But as I sit in my quiet office listening to a Bach Concerto, I have to admit it’s a bit too quite in the house today. The dog has been fed and gone out. The cat is, of course, sleeping and the rest of the family is out of the house.
Maybe there is a part of me waiting for The Demand so I have a reason to come running.
The post was inspired by another “The Demand” post by a wonderful writer and blogger, Kelli Nelson Malik .