47: The Longest Day Ever

47: The Longest Day Ever

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

The Longest Day Ever

It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge.

~Phyllis Diller

Running a household with a pack full of kids can result in some bad days, even on my day off from work. My day started with a very expensive trip to the grocery store, a broken jar of jelly, three neighbors who dropped in for tea, a missed doctor’s appointment and an Avon lady who talked about my sagging chin and crow’s feet.

Add on to that the four kids and their eight friends who tracked mud all over the house, the fifteen phone calls (all for the kids), one phone call for me from a guy desperate to sell me a new roof, the bag of un-popped popcorn that split and tumbled out of the cupboard and into the innards of the gas stove, and the roller skate at the front door that I tripped over and thus skinned my shin.

But the event that did me in that day, that tempted me to turn in my motherhood button once and for all, came while I was fixing supper. I told my two-year-old to go down to the family room and turn off the TV Sesame Street was over and Andrew was upstairs insisting that he help fix supper. Believe me, a tired, harried parent doesn’t need help from a two-year-old at that time of day.

I knew Andrew could follow simple directions. So I said very clearly and slowly, “Honey, go downstairs and push the button on the TV and turn off the TV” I repeated it three times, emphasizing the words, push, off, and TV I knew he’d figure it out. He knew where the off button was. After all, he took delight in pushing it in every night during the climax of every movie we watched.

So downstairs he went, to do a nice deed for Mommy. I went back to the sink to wash the carrots and cut the broccoli. Then it happened. The loudest crash ever heard in our house. I was so startled I couldn’t move. I kept waiting for Andrew to scream. But the silence was more frightening than the crash.

I raced down the steps, half expecting to find Andrew lying unconscious midst shattered patio doors. I blurted out a fast prayer. Then I stopped cold.

He was standing there behind the TV stand, smiling a banana-sized grin that said, “Aren’t you proud of me, Mom?” That smile just kept radiating across his whole face as he said, “Andrew pushed off the TV!”

There was the TV, face down on the floor. Two of the knobs were broken off. The screen was smashed. The plants I’d watered that morning that used to sit on top of the set were oozing mud and goo into the carpet. Broken plants and smashed ceramic pots were spread all over the room.

And there was Andrew, smiling, because he had done just what Mommy asked. He’d pushed off the TV. Boy, did he.

I pulled him into my arms and sat on the couch rocking him back and forth. I thanked God that he wasn’t hurt. I prayed for patience. I prayed that I wouldn’t take up child abuse for a hobby. I prayed that this day would end.

That’s when my best friend rang the doorbell and walked inside. By the time I got upstairs she was pouring water into the teapot and had crushed a few more popcorn kernels into the new linoleum floor. She asked in her since-you-only-work-part-time-and-today-was-your-day-off envious voice, “Well, what did you do to keep busy today, lady of leisure?”

Somehow, I don’t think she’ll ever ask that question again.

~Patricia Lorenz

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