When the husband leaves I think, “this means a whole night of writing!” and immediately begin forming blog posts in my head. But that’s when I’m shaping meat into patties.
By the time I’m putting a lid on the salad, I’m onto a third blog post, which will meet a timely and catchy conclusion as the last of the dishwater runs off the pan and the kitchen is wiped down for the night. Immediately following, with the words still simmering in my brain, I scuttle children off to bed–there are six of them, remember–finding as I do that this daughter cannot go one more night without a hair wash, and that toddler cannot possibly take his black fingernails into the morning.
Twenty minutes later, hair washed and nails trimmed, I bravely charge up the stairs to Kid Land with my entourage in tow. I am confronted by a peculiar stench wafting arrogantly through the air. The mother-conscience arises: a hunt for a devious sock commences. We open windows, we sort laundry, we find the culprit, we start a load.
Now it’s time to tuck down, to kiss, to ask for water and giggle during prayers, to show Mama the secret alphabet we’ve been writing, to wonder when Papa will be home, to worry about which clothes have the least stains and the most unnoticeable snags, so that we can wear them to church.
Kissing him goodnight, I discover that the toddler has hidden an ambulance quite the size of his head beneath his covers, and I make a mental note to pull it out after he falls asleep. I fold clothes. “No,” I answer the tiny girl voice coming around the doorframe, “Papa will not be home until it’s almost light. What? Yes, he’s gone to Tulsa to take care of a mortar shell that’s sitting on a granny’s couch. No, I’m not sure if he’s using the robot. Goodnight.”
“Ah!” I think to myself. “That’s right! I was going to write about the mortar!” I laugh just as the washer turns off, my laughter turning to a groan as the silence of the washer ushers up the distant wailing of the infant. The stairs are taken in a leap. How long has she been crying? There is a slight twinge of concern for the baby, but really–and I know you all know this is true–my breath is held in hope that maybe, just dear God maybe, it hasn’t been long enough that shoving the pacifier back in the flailing mouth will fail to do the trick. Praise the Lord, it works. She takes it and though she moans dramatically for a good ten minutes, teasing me without mercy, there is finally a sigh and she is deeply asleep.
My body melts in relief. Nursing will wait. So will laundry, now, apparently, because I shove the rest of the unfolded clothes into a corner and douse the light. Instead, I text with my husband. I share hilarious stories with a friend. Then I pull out the computer, lift my fingers to write and–and I find have nothing to say. The wires in my brain criss-cross with tiredness.
The scintillating title “Granny Has A Mortar Shell” just mocks me with its call to represent–so with a sigh, I press delete and I replace it with something a bit more workable. “When The Husband Leaves” I pen, and now you’ve heard the tale.