Sunday, September 2, 2012

I need sexier pajamas

When I was in my early twenties I got a job as an editor at a gourmet food magazine. I wrote about this a while ago—mostly so I could explain my fondness for men named Rico—but lately I've been thinking about someone else from that time in my life.

I don't even know the woman's name, but she was a freelance designer for the magazine, and I hated her with a passion.

Hated her.

Every month, she'd mail me a disk with her intricate food drawings, and even though I kinda sorta knew what I was doing, she'd insist on talking on the phone and walking me through each drawing, and where it was supposed to go, and how it should be labeled, and what side of the page it should be on, and how many pixels it should be.

She was a major pain in the ass about her work.  

The whole time we were on the phone, I could hear kids screaming in the background. She'd cup her hand over the phone and hiss, "I'M ON THE PHONE," but the kids would keep screaming. Sometimes she'd talk over their screams, and I'd have to hold the phone away from my ear.

Every month. 

I always imagined her standing in her kitchen in a ratty pink bathrobe. Pancake batter stuck to her sleeve. Kids climbing her legs. Her beautiful drawings created a strange dichotomy in my mind. Was she haggard or poetic? Dingy or magical? 

Until today, I hadn't thought about that woman in years. Then there I was, on the phone with a new client—why hello, new WAH life, where Sundays are actually part of the work week—when Junior decided to pitch a fit about something absurd.

I think he found a brown spot on his banana.

I covered the phone and hissed, "PLEASE STOP." The client didn't laugh when I made a joke about children and bipolar behavior. Actually, I didn't make a joke, I shouted a joke over his fit.

I picked him up, handed him to Chuck and raced outside, where I finished the conversation on my front steps—in my pajamas.    

After the call was over I sat there a while. I looked down at my crummy pajamas. The peanut butter on my pajama pant leg.

Stupid freelance woman. 

Here's the thing. I thought I hated her for such simple reasons: she was anal and her kids were annoying. But now I understand. I hated her because she was who I someday dreamed of being: a mom and an artist. I hated her because she didn't seem to know how her children fit into her professional life. I hated her because she wasn't perfect, and because I was young and idealistic and wanted her, a working mother, to be perfect.  

She probably hated me too. I was curt and impatient. She probably wanted to say, "Look, I have kids and I'm trying to be true to myself professionally. It's not easy, so fuck off."

Ah, now that. That would be a satisfying thing to say. I mean look, the last time I was outside in my pajamas, I made a run for it. I actually ran.



S said...

WAHM Solidarity! By no means do I have it figured out, but one thing I've learned is that your kids will eventually "get it" and for the most part, they'll work with you. My daughter now knows that for 30 minutes every morning, I have a meeting. "Mommy, you have a meeting today?" "Yes, so you're going to...?" "Go into my brother's room and play with him until you come get us." "Right!"

Does it always work? Hell no. Sometimes I go upstairs after 30 minutes to find she quietly dumped all the lotions out on my bathroom floor. But 8 times out of 10, my daughter entertains my son quietly and only yells for me if something urgent happens (usually her needing to use the bathroom).

It'll work out. You'll find your balance.

Keely said...

I'm super jeal. For real. You'll find a balance, or you'll cobble along until they're both in school and you have up to 5 free hours in a day.

Leanne said...

YES. And it can't be done smoothly all the time so we just have to laugh about it, cherish the days that it does actually work and uh, drink. ;)

SmartBear said...

THIS post? This is why I love your blog, girl. I could try and comfort you with the whole "you'll get it figured out" schpeel, but what I really want to do is applaud your honesty. Because seriously...the older I get, the more I realize I have no idea what the hell I am doing.

Mrs. Tuna said...

Thank goodness for cordless phones. When I was a kid, my mom stretched the cord into the pantry to get away from us.

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

There comes a time in your WAH life when the act of getting dressed is so foreign and exotic that it's something not even attempted until Wednesday of the week. I now look at my closet and can't imagine how the pieces all go together. And heels? Converse all the way. There's got to be balance in there somewhere.

The Kind Of Post — except the part where I don't "kind of" have 3 kids

I've been thinking about going back to work full-time instead of cobbling together my income with 7+ freelance jobs, part-time work...