Deep philosophical question: If a phone rings in a house, full of teens and, oh, let’s say a spouse (Smart Guy), and Mom’s not home, or is making dinner, or is busy doing something else… does the phone make a sound? Does it still ring? Or, does the call not matter, since “it’s probably for Mom anyway…” And, if it’s not for her, the others don’t need to answer it, because she should be the one to say “just a minute, I’ll get him/her.” Is it just me, or does it seem very strange that regardless of what I’m doing, the phone in our house can ring and ring and ring, while others (often sitting less than 10 feet from said phone) continue to play video games, listen to iPods, read the news, or just look confused as to why that thing continues to make noise? When I’m not home, I call the house (knowing that three people are there) and still get no answer. If I wait for the answering machine, and yell into it: “Hey! Is someone there? Please pick up the phone! Helloooo! PICK. UP. THE. PHONE!!” No answer. So, I come home, find a few people milling around the kitchen, where the answering machine is and ask, “Didn’t you guys hear me call a few minutes ago?” “Um, yes, but I didn’t think you needed me.” What? Was I calling myself?
The idea that the phone, the doorbell, and dinner, have become my soul property and territory, drives me nuts! To some degree, it’s true that more calls are for me; but actually, there are quite a few that are nebulous: various organizations, solicitations, etc, calls that pretty much either adult could certainly answer. However, no matter where I am in the house, or how busy I am, the phone will ring away, unless I answer it. On occasion, to make a
passive-aggressvie point, I’ve let it ring, and watched a room full of people glance in my direction. I may have even walked over to the phone, noted that it wasn’t for me, or was a neutral caller, and said “Hmm, it’s for _______.” The outcries are amazing when I stand there not answering! “Well, why aren’t you answering it.” I might have said, “It’s not for me.” It would be surly at the least, a touch passive-aggressive I guess (something I’ve been working on; read: Extra! Extra! Passive-Aggressive Control Freak…), or even bitchy to do that. And, I may have done it, once or six times. Who’s counting? The others, that’s who. Apparently, it’s a serious crime for me to not answer the phone (even if it means running from the other room, while others sit much closer), while it’s standard protocol for anyone else in this house to ignore it, on the assumption that it probably isnt’ for them anyway. (Yes I’m aware that the visual, doesn’t really work today^^… I’m just feeling that old and cranky!)
The same rule applies to the doorbell. If it rings, all heads turn. “Who could that be?” is generally uttered as if no one would ever come to our door. Faithful dog, Luke, barks enthusiastically, but has not mastered actually opening the door. So I go. Like the phone, it will probably be for me anyway, right? If it isn’t obviously for me, it’s something I should deal with. Mail, UPS, campaign solicitations… you name it, it’s for Mom to deal with. Strangely, it doesn’t seem to be a manner thing. I hear all the time, from others, that my kids are “so polite.” They know how to answer a phone or door and handle these complex situations, but they along with Smart Guy have simply been brain washed into believing that it isn’t safe for them to do these tasks. It must be a matter of safety, right? Deep seeded fears of answering calls or opening the door? Otherwise, why would they avoid it so completely? It can’t be lazy, entitled, ridiculous notions that it’s just my job, right? That can’t be it!
Dinner. That is the Queen of all mysteries. While it’s true that I “stay at home,” and thus would be more likely to make the majority of dinners, I’m not at all sure when it became a set in cement thing that it was my job, always, and completely… Forever. It is even further beyond my comprehension how the question “What’s for dinner?” became a widely accepted form of greeting in our house, only when greeting me. I generally say “Hi! How was your day? School? Your case, etc” Not, “Hi, what’s for dinner?” Yet, I am greeted every single day, by each of the people living here, with the words “Hey Mom/Dawn/honey, what’s for dinner?” Strange how this seems to work for China and Denmark too. “What’s for dinner” seems to be a universal greeting for, Moms, around the world. I’m trying to embrace that those three words must imply love, respect, good things, because they all say it so enthusiastically, and then look disappointed when I am not excited to receive the blessing.
Mind you, when you are greeted the same way every day, there are less and less enthusiastic ways to describe the various meals I make, or thank them for asking. I may be a good cook (I am), but describing dinners is just not exciting enough for me to feel invested in answering this question each day… with a smile on my face. In fact, it might be possible that I am not as nice about it as others believe I should be. I might even admit that I am sometimes… well, unpleasant about this question… particularly when I am asked by each member of the household, separately (though frequently, when others are in the room and conceivably would have heard it asked by another?), in torturous gaps of time… say, 10-15 minutes apart. Add in the days when I am asked this question, or greeted this way, multiple times by the same one or more members of the family, and I could just about explode.
Trust me, I am well aware that there are many other mothers out there who may read this and question my constitution (Sorry, I’ve just come off a Dowton Abbey bender and find words like constitution, oh so pleasing). I agree, I am weak. I did in fact want to stay home to raise my kids; I did choose to surrender my career (ironically, as a child/teen therapist… oh, such irony!) to enjoy these privilegs. I embraced the idea of being a good cook and making our house my domain. But, I never really understood where that road led, until I was at this seeming dead end. “You made your bed…” But, why when I want to lie in it (the bed) past 7 AM, do I feel guilty? How come Smart Guy can enthusiastically discuss options for his retirement, but my semi-retirement seems to only further solidify these roles I didn’t anticipate. Two of my birds out of the nest, four mostly grown people now live in the house (including Smart Guy), and they all still turn to me each and every day and say: “What’s for dinner?” (If I could insert special effects, that would be said in a slow motion, deep echoing tone… that hangs a few seconds in the air.)
Then, there is the litany of
complaints comments, faces, and helpful suggestions (especially well received when offered from people who never cook dinner), when I announce my plans for dinner. “What! I hate tomatoes!” Or, “I don’t like cheese.” Or, “Oh, I had pasta for lunch today,” as if I should also track what each person has eaten while they were out, and cross referenced for overlapping food items, double cross referenced against the various items, likes and dislikes of each individual, and provide something that excites, for each person who asks the Godforsaken question: What’s for dinner? And while I’m clearly in a hissy about this, I’m trying to avoid dissecting how it got to this point. Since this is my domain, theoretically, did I create this monster? How did it start, and then get this far? Chicken or egg kind of thing, accept that while one is in the mood for chicken, another prefers to have egg! Either way, I know that each day they will hover around the kitchen as it gets dark and watch me for clues. What will she pull out of that stainless steel hat tonight? What’s the answer to the great mystery, tonight? Unless that is, the phone is rings.
Shout it out: What drives you nuts in your home? What things did you not see coming, that you would change, with a twitch of a nose? Or, is it just me?
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