It was a somewhat typical weekday afternoon. Anna, home from preschool, perched on the family-room rug, safety-scissoring the cover of a Crate & Barrel catalog into hundreds of pieces. I sat nearby at the dining table, which doubles as my home office. My laptop screen was open to a style guide, and every now and then, I glanced at my phone. I would be talking soon with a writing-industry friend about some freelance work.
“Now remember, Anna,” I said. “While I’m on the phone, play quietly, please.” I would have turned on the TV, but had taken away TV earlier that day for…some good reason, I’m sure.
The phone rang. Anna gave me a thumbs-up. I began talking.
A few minutes later, things fell apart.
“Mom, Mom! I had an accident in the bathroom! Mom!”
I closed my eyes. “I’m so sorry,” I told my friend. “You can probably hear Anna in the background.”
My friend laughed, incredibly kind and understanding. She has young children too.
Anna ran up to me. She tugged at my arms, my legs. “MOM!”
“I feel horribly unprofessional now,” I apologized again, “but I promise I’ll do a good job for you.”
Again, she was very kind, and we hung up soon after.
I helped Anna. As I did, I said, “You knew that was an important phone call. Did you have to yell so much?”
Anna cupped my chin in her hands. “I needed you.” She looked so sweet, and helpless, and…mischievous too.
A few minutes later, things fell apart.
Not long after, we picked up Grace a bit early from school. She had a well checkup with our pediatrician. Traditionally, these checkups occur around a child’s birthday. Grace has a summer birthday, and now it’s December, so…yes, I was a smidge behind scheduling this appointment.
“Mom, will I get any shots today?” Grace asked.
“Well…” I had just signed for both girls to get the flu shot. “Let’s not worry about that right now.”
Grace groaned. A nurse called out, “Leddy!”
As the three of us walked over, Anna smiled, pointed at Grace and said, “We’re here for my sister. Her.”
Grace and the nurse looked at me with knowing smiles. I sighed…again.
Yes, Anna was not pleased when she discovered she was getting the flu shot too.
Before we left, the pediatrician asked Grace to leave a sample. He handed her a blue plastic cup. The three of us crammed into the family restroom.
Anna stopped pouting to say, “I can’t believe Grace has to tinkle in a cup.”
“This is a little crazy, Mom,” Grace observed.
Let me tell you, friends… I stood there, in that family restroom, with both my daughters, one of whom had sabotaged my work-related phone call earlier and the other holding a blue plastic cup, currently… I stood there and I thought, Yes, this is a little crazy.
At that moment, it was only 3 p.m. Later that evening, Grace had her performing-arts class, and I was going to a book club. Stanton had thought he’d be home in time to be with the girls, but found out last-minute he wouldn’t…so a super-sweet neighborhood babysitter was helping us out.
Logistics. Changes of plans (or, Plans B, C and D). Mad dashes to the ATM for babysitter money.
Blue. Plastic. Cups.
Life can be a little crazy sometimes.
Sometimes my life feels so “a little crazy,” I almost can’t believe it. Maybe you’ve had this feeling too, at some point: your life as a sitcom.
I don’t like to complain. I’m deeply grateful for my family, our good health, everything. I’m also conscious that there are folks with much graver circumstances, compared to my “a little crazy” inconveniences.
Still…it’s healthy to acknowledge whatever level of craziness exists. To take a breath, maybe even vent. Or, simply, laugh out loud.
I was venting and LOL-ing with my sister. Jenna is everything you could want in a sister. She listens, she’s objective, she often answers on the first ring. During one of our recent conversations, she said, “I can’t believe that happened. I mean, that is actually your life.”
Now, let me clarify: The words “that is actually your life” contained no envy, awe or admiration of any kind. Just bewilderment, friends. Straight-up bewilderment.
Some of our day-to-day moments can feel like an episode of “Modern Family” or “The Simpsons.” Life is happening, unfolding, getting a little crazy now…cue the laugh track…moving along now, keep it going, just keep go-go-going…
Life is happening, unfolding, getting a little crazy now…cue the laugh track…moving along now…
The sitcom-like sensation may appear particularly strong during the holidays. Stanton, the girls and I were driving home one evening, and we were admiring all our neighbors’ Christmas decorations. Strands of lights, homemade wreaths, candles in windows…
“Wow, Mom and Dad! They have a Christmas dragon!”
I peered out the window. Indeed, our next-door neighbors had set up a seven-foot, red-and-green inflatable dragon complete with sparkling lights and Santa hat in their front yard. Joy to the world.
In the spirit of Christmas, I had positioned a poinsettia in our front bay window. And had thought about lights for the front porch. But so far…just the poinsettia.
“Can we get a Christmas dragon too?” the girls asked.
I love my neighbors, and I honestly love their big, festive outdoor holiday décor. But… “I’m sorry, girls, we’re not getting a Christmas dragon.”
We didn’t even get a real Christmas tree. One year we (probably) will. I imagine the four of us would love heading out to a tree farm, all Griswold-like, and choosing our very own Christmas tree. Maybe even cutting it down. You can do that, I’ve heard.
But this Christmas…mm-hmm, we unfolded our artificial tree in the family room. The girls loved decorating it. For some reason, though, the tree leans forward, no matter what we do to fix it. Our tree refuses to stand straight up.
(“It’s pretty straight,” Stanton said, laughing, after reading a draft of this post.)
A lone poinsettia in the front window, and a pretty-straight artificial tree. Merry Christmas from the Leddys.
The sitcom-like sensation may appear particularly strong during the holidays.
Does your family send out Christmas cards? We do. We haven’t yet, but…we do…
Anna and I stopped by the post office to buy holiday stamps. I have a penchant for winter scenes: birds on branches, footprints in the snow. When it was our turn, I told the postal service clerk I needed holiday stamps.
“Do you want Santa Claus, the menorah or Kwanzaa greetings?”
“Um…do you have footprints in the snow?”
“All we have left is Santa Claus, the menorah and Kwanzaa greetings.”
I looked at Anna; she looked back. “Well, if those are our choices…we should probably get Santa Claus.”
“Santa Claus,” Anna affirmed.
Choices abound during the holidays. Santa Claus, the menorah or Kwanzaa greetings? Artificial or tree-farm-chosen?
I’ve also had the opportunity to check yes or no for some holiday-related volunteer opportunities in our community. Party planning, group play-date hosting, fundraiser T-shirt selling. Forgive me, but…no, no and no. I just simply can’t do one more thing right now, I’ve tried to explain. I don’t mean to be Scrooge, but I am not Superwoman.
My apologies…but I’m not.
I just simply can’t do one more thing, I’ve tried to explain. I don’t mean to be Scrooge, but I am not Superwoman.
This past week, a short story I wrote was published in a literary journal. Friends and family very kindly shared their congratulations with me. I was chatting with a college friend, who’s also a mom, and she said she was impressed by me.
“Please don’t be impressed,” I told her. I meant it, 100 percent. If you only knew how “a little crazy” things can get around here…and the countless creative-writing rejections I get for every once-in-a-blue-moon email that begins with, “We’d like to publish your piece…”
Do you know what makes an impression, for me? What catches my breath, touches my heart? People—families—who power through.
Power through imperfection, and disappointment, and the darkness that can fall. Power through Plan B’s, C’s and D’s to find light at the end of the tunnel.
Life as a sitcom. We all have our own cast of characters. Each of us plays the hero in our own story, of course. Then there’s the buddy character, the love interest. Beyond the characters, we have recurring themes, conflicts and punch lines.
Sometimes we’re the punch line.
But if we get to the closing credits…and see we’ve come this far, with our crazy but lovable cast of characters intact…let’s take a bow, shall we?
Because we made it, blue plastic cups and all.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short story, “Backtrack.” An engaging read that’s can’t-put-it-down good.