From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

A Home of My Own

That’s it! I am done, finished, kaput. It is over. I have put up with it for years and years and years, and I am not going to put up with it anymore. I am getting my own apartment. My very own apartment. There will be one key. My key. There will be absolutely nothing crusty or unidentifiable on any of the furniture in my apartment. The dark wood will gleam richly. Delicate, precious objets d’art will be placed tastefully and to their best advantage here and there with no fear that they will meet violently with an unexpected flying object of any kind—not a football, not a shoe, not a cat. Nothing will fly in my apartment but my hopes and dreams.

All my dishes will match, and none of them will be from Taco Bell. They will be lovely, delicate bone china. Hand painted. Antique. I will never find them in the backyard. I won’t have a backyard, but if I did have one, I would never find my dishes there being used as a pill bug nursery.

I will have a brand-new toothbrush that I will know with absolute certainty has never been used for anything but my own teeth. Because sometimes I am not so sure about my current toothbrush. With wide-eyed innocence everybody always denies using it, and then just when I start to believe them and relax a little, somebody will pipe up with, “Wait a minute! I thought I was green! I was green last time! Then who has the purple one?” I hate that conversation.

After I get my apartment I will go shopping. I will buy a pair of nail clippers, tweezers, Scotch tape, pens. No! One really good pen. Some eye shadow that will never, ever, ever be used as camouflage paint, no matter what! I will buy special apartment clothes. They will never be worn by anybody else. These apartment clothes will be mine, and they will be laundered appropriately.

The clothes I have now? Well, just let me try to buy something nice. The minute my back is turned, someone in this house will root it out—ignoring the huge pile of dirty laundry that is a permanent fixture on the floor in front of our washer—root it out, I tell you, and throw it into the washer with a load of dishtowels and a quart of bleach and then into the dryer set on “nuclear holocaust” for four hours. And then whoever has done all this most recently will get their feelings hurt if I complain. “I was just trying to help!” No, you wretched torturer of fine fabrics, you were trying to ensure being grounded from using the washing machine. What a twisted joke! You know you have sunk to the very depths, the slimy, lightless chasm of motherhood, when you hear yourself saying, “That’s it, young lady! No more laundry for you! Don’t even think of it!” Oh, they’re wily, they are!

I will glide through my apartment admiring it. Barefoot. Because there will never have been a LEGO in that apartment, ever.

Then I will take a very long hot bath. It will be long because nobody will be there to bang on the door and yell, “What are you doing in there?” “Do you know where my other G.I. Joe sock is?” “How come they say it’s hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk, because I tried it twelve times and nothing fried?” “Can Johnny come in and see your appendix scar?” “Do we have anything good to eat?” It will be hot because I will be the first, last, and only person to use the hot water. When I am finished, who knows? The sky is the limit! I will tweeze if I want to tweeze because my tweezers will be where I put them, where they belong. And they will catch and pluck each tiny hair, no matter how wispy and fine, with exquisite precision because they will never have been used as a screwdriver or a bug immobilizer or a brother pincher. They will be only what they were meant to be. And they will be mine! And my tweezers and I will live the whole of our secret lives together happily ever after.

Huh? Nothing, honey, just dozing. The tweezers? I don’t know. Did you look in your tackle box?

Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal

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