When I was a kid, I daydreamed that Larry Bird was my biological father. I concocted a whole back story. He was a poor, naïve kid who got his high school sweetheart pregnant. They weren’t ready to be parents so my folks, distant relatives, adopted me as their own. Older and more mature, Larry arrives on my doorstep. He, along with my mother and rather, breaks the news to me. We become one big, happy family and move to Larry’s mansion in Indiana. During the NBA season, I sit on the sidelines with the Boston Celtics as their official water girl. In the off season, Larry teaches me to shoot the three pointer. My mad skills and genetic makeup create a star athlete. I’m the standout of the sixth grade basketball team, and eventually become the first woman in the NBA (this is pre-WNBA).
In my teens, my fantasy took a turn toward rockstar muse. Front row at the Nelson concert, Gunnar Nelson spots me and motions to security to escort me backstage. As soon as he’s done with his final encore, he rushes to shake my hand and introduce himself. He puts his arm around my waist and leads me to his private dressing room, expecting to have his way with me. But he finds in addition to being attracted to my physical beauty, he is equally captivated by my charming personality. We stay up all night exchanging witty banter and a few heartfelt revelations. In the morning, the smitten rocker finds he’s just not ready to say goodbye. Instead, he invites me to go on tour with him. I call my mom from the road, leave high school behind, and begin helping him write his magnum opus After the Rain- Again.
My twenties were spent creating the illusion of realized fantasies. My persona was crazy girl- the life of the party, always up for a good time. I realized that the line between wild and pathetic is very thin. I had a few years to act upon my foolish instincts, and I wanted to walk away with the stories and the photographs to prove I had stuck it to the man and lived life. I partied with bands, went on impromptu road trips, and walked out on jobs. Every day was a new version of “what I want to be when I grow up”- perhaps a painter. No wait, a singer. Wrong again- a writer. I ended my twenties with a lot of credit card debt, no practical work experience, and the skill to avert my eyes and pretend I don’t know people when they try to summon me to say “hi” on the street.
Now, I fantasize about two things- sleep and putting on makeup by myself.
I was woken today at 5:15am by an alarm clock in the form of a child screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Daaaddddy!” I have tried to impress upon Liam that he does not require our presence to use the restroom in the morning, but Liam has other ideas. Ben escorts Liam to the restroom, waits for him to pee, and then advises him to return to bed. I haven’t actually done anything yet. I am still laying in bed, trying in vain to convince myself that I can return to slumber, but we all know better. A few minutes later, Kellen begins kicking the wall and chanting “Milk! Milk!” Ben is preparing to go for a run at 6am, because that is the only time he can squeeze it into his day (the things no one tells you before having kids). I somehow stumble from bed to attend to Kellen.
All week long, as I suck down gallon after gallon of coffee to stay awake, I tell myself that soon it will be my blessed day to sleep in. Sleeping in just does not mean what it used to. Remember in high school when your mom would pound on your door until you emerged from your coma-like state to unburrow from the covers and shout “WHAT?” She would annoyingly scream “Get up! It’s after noon, for Christ’s sake!” You’d grumble, stumble from your cave, retrieve a bowl of Kix and go back to your room for the remainder of the day.
My grandmother has not worked for at least twenty years. Yet she starts the day by 8am. I used to wonder why she didn’t sleep in? Now I know. If you have kids, 8am is sleeping in. By 8am, the children are ready to roar “BLASPHEMY!!” with every last ounce of breath in their lungs if they are told “Quiet. Mommy is sleeping” just one more time.
This brings me to my second fantasy. Most days, I resemble the before photo in a makeover. I do not wear makeup. I do not comb my hair, but rather pull it back into a ponytail with one of the many rubber bands that are now permanently around my wrist. I dress in clothes that may or may not be clean, and tie it all together with a pair of flip flops. Shower, blow dry, and moisturize is completely out of the question.
The one exception to this routine is when I have a to go to the doctor. I have no idea why, but I do not want a doctor, a man or woman of science, privy to the fact that face washing has now become optional. I gather the fortitude to apply makeup and for a few minutes delude myself into believing I could do this every day. Then my boys come running into the room.
I strategically left them playing with a favorite toy, thinking maybe if they are already entertained, I might be able to get through my routine without interruption. But there is some signal embedded in their brain that alerts them that I am about to apply on makeup, and that means they too should put on makeup.
I try to appease them by providing them with makeup that doesn’t make a mess – a powder compact, a blush brush. Those items are not interesting. Liam begins demanding “Mom! I need lips!” with Kellen chiming in “Lips! Lips!” Against my better judgment, I let them color their lips, hoping it will fascinate them long enough for me to finish my own face. Nope. They then bust out the glitter eye liner, shadow, and any other colorful items they can get their hands on. They are careful to make sure to gather the rouge under their fingernails, and then smear the excess on my walls and countertops.
Just a few more minutes. The finish line is right there. I take out the blow drier and turn it to the cold setting. I instruct them to dry each other’s hair while I finish getting ready. I spend ten seconds applying a coat of mascara and a smidge of lipgloss and declare that is as far as I’m going to get. In that time, Kellen has now somehow managed to open the drawer with the tweezers, scissors and nail clippers, and is attempting to cut his nails the way Daddy does. Liam has found my box of tampons under the sink, dumped them on the floor, and is now calling them little fingers and asking me what they do.
I swear off wearing makeup ever again, wash their faces, and clean up the mess. I ponder those makeover shows where the consultant pleads with the mother “can you spend just five minutes a day on yourself?” The mother responds in the affirmative, but she’s lying through her newly polished teeth. As soon as she returns home, she’ll be back to sweat pants and chapstick. You know why? Because there is no such thing as five minutes on yourself when toddlers are involved.