"Mommy! Annemarie says you pay people to watch me when you practice for the show. That's SO silly! You can watch me for free! I can watch you for free too. See? You are watching me right now mom..."
|Here was her exact expression, captured a couple months back...|
Actually I wasn't. I was staring at the world of Minecraft, trying to help my 11 year-old find out how to change armor in a make-believe medieval world. Someone has stolen her wild wolf turned tame dog... I have to fix that too.
"Mom, let me just kill this guy, see? Oh don't worry he'll regenerate..."
I don't have the wherewithal to explain the finer points of babysitting to my four year old right now. Having gotten a new virtual horse from an egg that my 11 year-old has to hatch by cracking it on black wool and then train to follow her commands (my 1980's brain just exploded), I went for a good old, paperboard book for my disgruntled Cecilia. Felicity clambers onto my lap too. They both fight over my right knee (who knows why?) kicking and screaming. I settle them, and then read to them about what Elmo is thinking about today.
I read the words from memory while parodying them in my head: "What's Elmo thinking about today? Ya da da daaa!! Drowning! Yeah, drowning! Dorothy's thinking about drowning too! Isn't that right Dorothy! Ha ha ha! Whoops, where's Dorothy? Lets ask Mr. Noodle! Mr. Noodle, that's a puddle; that's not how you drown! Silly Mr. Noodle..."
I look at my watch. Darn it. Should have left 12 minutes ago, to the Christmas germ swap... I mean craft and cocoa homeschool event.
I slide two unhappy preschoolers on my lap, who would have preferred to hear Elmo 12 more times. I call on my 11 year old to leave Minecraft world. "Just one more minute mom! I'm opening an inn!"
"Err... Okay just open the inn, and hurry!!"
Turning to the sock laundry basket known as Luck o' the Drawer (no two are alike... not sure how we did that) I find a pair of socks that just really almost matches... One white ankle and one really faded pink crew. She can deal. I pop them on the four year old, and then go on the oft-recurring "Search For the Other Shoe".
Meanwhile, Cecilia peels a banana completely, breaks off half to eat, and leaves the other on the rug. This is stepped on. By the white ankle sock.
We leave 12 minutes later. We scramble up the stairs and start unwinding the kids from hats and scarfs and coats and boots. The things I do for socialization with other homeschoolers...
"Oh, how ARE you! So good to see you again!" I adjust my falling ponytail, grab someone else's doll from my daughter who is about to feed it cocoa, and glance up mid-scream at the woman.
Why does everyone else look so put together? I wonder sometimes. I mean, we moms probably all feel disheveled and distracted to some extent at some point, but man... Sometimes it's worse than others. And today was pretty bad. Neat as a pin, and flanked by two equally neat kids, the woman carried an older toddler with suspiciously flushed cheeks. Maybe it wasn't a fever... right?
I was just soooo not in the mood for this.
I recognize this lady, a friend of a friend, but I misremember her name. And I'd love to chat. I truly would. If one child wasn't screaming and the other wasn't touching every cookie left out on that handy table.
"Yes. Good to see you. Yes. Well...." I half grinned and looked pointedly at the screaming toddler, who had apparently gone unnoticed. (You'd be amazed what we moms can tune out, you really would.)
"Oh! Oh I won't keep you, I just wanted to say hi." And Mrs. Calm Cool and Collected--somewhere in the time it took to calm the screaming toddler and collect a flung hat--was gone.
Defeated and fearing I'd come off as plainly rude, I started hot-gluing popsicle sticks and pom poms as my toddler "made" ornaments. And I thought about you guys. How I haven't been able to write in days, between Minecraft, homeschooling, Christmas shopping and preparations (mostly the Christmas stuff), and oh yes: being the wife of two men, one by day, one by night. Okay that's called hyperbole: Bob Crachitt is nearly twice my age. :)
My this acting stuff... it's time-consuming. It's tiring and fun. And flattering and bizarre to have--like I did a couple hours ago--over 800 people applauding our show.
But just to keep myself from getting a big head, I have a frumpy bonnet and the biggest, most unflattering dress you can imagine to wear on stage. I'm supposed to be poor and maternal. Two very fluffy, sumptuous light-colored skirts that layer and flare out from the widest point of my child-bearing hips... yep, that fits the bill nicely. As one kindly woman told me, "You're good! But oh, that costume is the most unattractive dress I've ever seen, bar none." Yes, she said "bar none."
|Photo by Rob McKirdie|
Sigh. Looking at the pictures, I'm cringing at my far less-than-perfectness amidst the so much more put-together magical "Ghosts" of Christmas... but smiling at the same time. I'm grateful to be part of something so absorbing during an emotional season of the year for me.
Darn all those "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments... just, humbug.
I love that the Christmas Carol is a story of redemption. A story revealing that happiness comes from selflessness. A story about the value of the whole human family. A story that shows that, whatever bad things have happened, love can overcome.
A story where, in the end, Tiny Tim does not die. I'm so grateful.
“He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church,
because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them
to remember upon Christmas Day,
Who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
Mr. Crachitt― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol