Well Done

*Composed after my first homemade vodka cocktail since producing, birthing, and weening second son, aka 2014.

Don’t ever, for a second, take a moment to congratulate yourself. On anything. Not just parenting wins, but any sort of success you may have, should be kept to yourself lest it somehow morph into an epic failure for all to see. If you even mentally pat yourself on the back, something ridiculous and terrible will happen.

It started last year, when we thought we might be moving to El Paso, so I started to fix a few things around the house in case we needed to put the place on the market quickly. I was doing things myself, ahead of schedule, so that I could make the transition to a new city as smooth as possible for my family. I repainted an offensively red wall in the living room that the previous owner had clearly been proud of, and as I awaited praise from my peers for my hard work, the roof started to leak. I re-caulked a shower by myself, and as I posed, Rosie the Riveter-style, for Instagram photos to document my success, a giant storm blew down our fence.

And then it got worse. I got the entire house cleaned and cleared out in a week once we got the call that we needed to relocate, and then we immediately left town so the place would stay immaculate for open houses and showings and would sell quickly. I took the kids to visit my parents in Wisconsin and Hubs stayed at their condo in Austin so he wouldn’t have to fluff pillows and hide his toothbrush at a moment’s notice. Our realtor set up and open house to get things moving along, and then it happened. A major storm hit about a week before the event. The roof was fixed already, the fence was reinforced, and everything looked fine. But it didn’t smell fine. Our poor realtor texted to say something smelled a bit off in the garage, maybe a dead mouse? Had we noticed it before? I was horrified. Mice? No one would buy a house that smelled like dead rodents. Our realtor was sugar coating the situation. Hubs returned to our place, after what I’m sure was a horrendous open house, to discover rotting carcasses in the outdoor freezer. The storm had knocked the power out in the garage and the freezer never switched back on. Hundreds of dollars worth of meat from Costco had warmed, rotted, and exploded out of the packaging all over the freezer. The stench had Robby doubled over, retching in the driveway. Did I mention it was July? In Texas? You have never known a smell so foul unless you have stuck your head inside the belly of a large, dead animal that has been fermenting for a week in the hot Texas sun.

So there I am, expecting praise from my realtor and his potential buyers. You cleaned this whole house by yourself? And with two kids? My goodness, you’re a hero! Instead, my poor realtor was trying to convince people I may have left 700 pounds of shitty diapers in the garage before I left town and definitely wasn’t hiding a dead body in the freezer or a colony of rats in the foundation. Though, of course, we had moved the trashcans to the side of the house and took all our other trash to the dumpster at the condo because we didn’t want the garage to smell. Ha.

This is a recurring theme for me, as this weekend proves. I don’t want a minivan. I pity people who drive them. A minivan says you never plan to drive anywhere without your children and their friends and a trunk full of extra pants in case someone poops all over themselves between ChuckECheese and the playground. This is it, it’s over, you are a VanMom and that is all. I do know, deep down, that vans are made for families and that they make life easier for everyone. Tons of space for kids and their gear, comfortable seats, practical accessories, slidey doors so you don’t have to climb through the sunroof to buckle your kid into his car seat when a Tahoe parks too close. And so I decided it was time to give up woman up and get a van for my family. You know, make a sacrifice that is adult AF, because I’m a wonderful mother and wife.

I cleaned up Robby’s little Focus and took it to the dealer to see what they’d offer us, and picked out a van. I wanted the red one because it was sexy (as sexy as an 8-seater blob can be) but it had more miles than the prison grey one that was otherwise the same. I extra-adulted and got the grey, waiting for people to say how wise and responsible I was being. While waiting for Robby to arrive with the brood to sign papers, I took our little red Focus for one last spin to get coffee. I had made good decisions. It felt good, but not fun, because if it was fun then it wasn’t adult enough. I pulled away from Starbucks and took a sip of my coffee, which was not my coffee but the coffee of someone who likes milk and sugar, but it was too late to turn back and complain. Not whining and making do with the gross cup of nastiness was also adult, I felt. And then I spilled the coffee. In the car I was about to sell. Much swearing followed, as well as frantic mopping with the 700 napkins I found crammed in the glove box. Thank goodness Hubs never throws anything away.

I knew after we got home our lives would change forever. A van made everything easier. The kids could stretch out! Our families could ride with us! I could store so many extra pants under the seats! The next day Jackson demanded we go somewhere fun. I remembered there was a new McDonalds opening down the street with a huge new play place. Not exactly bottomless mimosas at Sunday brunch, but a fitting first outing in our new minivan as minivan people. I waited for the thankful smile from my son, telling me he was having a wonderful time playing and thanking me for bringing him to this magical place. I ordered our food (sodium with a side of grease), and was told they were out of toys for the kids’ meals. This was going to be difficult to explain to my 3yr old, because they still had the toys on display and he was very excited. Oh well, I thought. He’ll be so stoked about the play area he won’t notice. I went to find my family and he was in tears already. Did he hear about the toy shortage? No, he is upset that some older girls are screaming at top volume inside the tunnels. They were finished eating so I assured him they would be leaving soon. Then Hubs returns to tell us they have misplaced all their high chairs and there’s nowhere for Archie to sit. So Mommy had this great idea to make everyone happy and take them to a brand new place with brand new stuff to play on, and basically everyone is crying. We get a refund for our order before it arrives (because as well as being unprepared for children in a restaurant aimed at getting kids fat for life, they are also painfully slow and preparing “fast” food) and stomp outside, back into the safety of the van.

After many tears we agree to find another “restranaught” that had toys and appropriate seating. We made it through lunch and returned home and forced the kids to nap to preserve our sanity. After a brief moment to regroup, I started dinner. I am about to congratulate myself on whipping up a taco feast out of random ingredients in the pantry and a package of ground beef, when I drop a casserole on my foot and it shatters all over the kitchen. I hobble around sweeping, bleeding, and cursing, all while trying not to burn the ground beef. What is happening? The van was supposed to make everything easier. It makes me a responsible adult and a self-sacrificing parent! Why am I being punished?

Thankfully, I have a loving family and we have a good life here in El Paso. I love our house, too, and I chose it, but I won’t give myself too much credit for that, lest the house burst into flames.

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