I woke up yesterday morning, excited about the day. I was going to do 3 fun things for ME!
(9:30) – In the morning I was meeting a girlfriend for coffee (with Grant along for the ride, but that’s no problem because each of them like each other more than they like me… I was just grateful to be there.)
(4:00) – Then in late afternoon I was getting my hair done for the first time since June. (I need a good stylist who will listen to what I want, talk me out of bangs when I decide to try them again – something I do almost annually – and who has a good “bedside manner” so to speak. I find it incredibly awkward not knowing if we should continue with the painful small talk, or if I should just do what we both want me to do: shut up and read my magazine…)
(6:00) – From there, I was going to meet two girlfriends for drinks. (We do this every 4-6 months or so.)
That’s what I had on my calendar for yesterday.
What wasn’t listed:
11:00 – 3:30 – Did laundry, folded clothes, made beds, made lunch, cleaned kitchen & bathrooms, fed dogs, started crock-pot dinner since I wouldn’t be here, answered emails, scheduled appointments, drove Devin’s musical equipment to a friend’s house*.
It should be noted at this time that Devin and his two friends (all sophomores in High School) arrived at the door, with Dev asking permission to go to his buddy’s house.
Mom: “Do you have homework?”
Dev: “Yes, just a little. Like two little things.”
Mom: “Where does Dylan live? In the neighborhood?”
Mom: “Where do you live?”
Dylan: “I don’t know the number, but I can tell you the street.”
Mom: “You are a sophomore in High School and you don’t know your own address?”
Dylan: “No, but it’s on Street A just past Street B…”
I agree to let Dev go. Much discussion amongst the 3 boys how they can get to the mystery house. One says he knows how to get there and will ride over with Devin. I suggest they all ride over together. Then they decide they want to take amps and guitars, so they load my car and I follow them over. When this is over, I have 10 minutes to make a 15 minute drive.
The guy at the salon is great. Good hair cut, good “bedside manner.” Nice, funny, personable. Didn’t break my neck when washing my hair. And? He got me in and out of there in just over an hour. Something unheard of with all the hair I’ve got.
(5:15) – Hair done and dressed for a Girls’ Night Out, I run into the grocery store and pick up stuff to make lunches the next morning. With only peanut butter, bread and bananas in the cart, I am sure I look like a Real Housewife of Orange County who doesn’t know how to cook.
With non-perishable groceries stowed in the car, I head for the restaurant. On my way, I called home to check on Conner and his homework progress. Everything is going well, except for:
Conner: “Mom? Something is ticking. Can you hear it?”
Mom: “Ticking? Where are you?”
Conner: “In the kitchen”
Mom: “Is it the clock?” (I had to ask…)
Conner: “No. It is random ticks.”
Mom: “Go to the oven. Do all of the dials point to ‘off’?”
Mom: “Look at the stove. Do all of those dials point to off?”
Conner: “Wait. Which one is which?”
Mom: “Ugh. The oven is in the wall, the stove is on the counter. Regardless. Are all the dials on both of those appliances turned to the off position?”
Mom: “Check the crock pot…”
Conner: “Wait, there is a crock pot here?”
Mom: (getting worried that Girls’ Night Out is about to go the way of the DoDo bird…) “The crock pot! It’s on the counter. It’s the thing that I pointed to and said ‘Dinner is in there when dad comes home…’ and it is the thing that is simmering with pasta sauce in it!”
Conner: “Oh, OK…”
Mom: “Sometimes when it has a really good simmer going, the lid will rattle a little.”
Conner: “Not the lid..”
Call waiting beeps through. It’s Devin. I hang up with Conner, take the call from Devin. I tell him his brother is wigging out. He should call dad and make arrangements to get picked up.
I call the house again and find Conner, near tears, telling me that there were about 7 ticks in a row, and they happened right after I hung up. Also, he may or may not have watched a TV show at Mike’s that had something scary in it….
We go through more possibilities. No dice. I call Rich. He tells me “Go! Have fun. I’ve got it. Don’t worry.”
I’m no dummy. I go. Turns out that the scary TV show was Dr. Who, and the ticking sound preceded time travelling creepy beings who materialized out of thin air and murdered you. Charming.
One of my observations about being a Stay At Home Mom is that my job often has what I call Negative Visibility.
No one notices that the refrigerator is full… they notice if we’re out of sour cream. No one notices the linen closet full of clean towels or their drawer full of clean socks and underwear. They only notice when they want for something. If they never want for anything, it never occurs to anyone exactly how food gets into the cupboards and fridge. How dirty clothes turn into clean clothes. How on certain days they go to the dentist or the orthodontist… Basically, if everything is humming along smoothly, no one notices me.
Sometimes it messes with my sense of self a little to be the invisible woman. I’m smart. I’m capable of a lot of things. People used to pay me with money, not just with a casual “thanksmom” tossed over their shoulder. Don’t get me wrong. I’m lucky to be able to stay home. I’m good at what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but there are days when I feel like a Non-Person.
On that note, I was really looking forward to being with a couple of people who would see Me. (Me, as in Vivienne…) I was going to get to be A Real Person.
Then I walked into the restaurant.
I arrived a few minutes early. The hostess at the front desk didn’t lift her gaze from what she was doing. That’s OK, I’m going to duck into the bathroom really quickly anyway. (Because how embarrassing would it be to not know if I had those little tiny pieces of hair stuck to my face from the salon…)
I come out of the bathroom. No hostess. I sit on a bench in the lobby. The hostess returns, looks at something on the desk and turns away from me. I wait for her to notice me, greet me, speak to me, something. Anything. She leaves and goes to talk to a busboy. I wait. I stare.
She returns to the desk and leans on it, facing away from me.
Now, I know she is aware of my presence. I am sitting right in front of the desk. She is purposely not acknowledging me. I am quite sure she is actually avoiding me.
(Have you ever had someone cut you off in traffic, or swerve into your lane, etc, and you end up next to them at a stoplight or something? You know how they won’t look at you? They just stare straight ahead and pretend you aren’t there? Sort of, “Nope. Never happened. Can’t see you. Can’t hear you. Never happened…” That was what this girl was doing.)
I stared at the back of her head. Every few moments she would turn and quickly look down at the desk, then just as quickly, turn back and continue to survey an empty dining room. I continued to stare. I willed her to notice me. I waited and waited.
After about 4 minutes, (real-time) I finally spoke to her. I quickly realized that this restaurant had an expanded diversity in hiring policy: They hire beautiful girls with partial frontal lobotomies.
Me: “Excuse me, but I have to tell you: you are the most attentive and friendly hostess I have ever encountered.”
Pretty Stupid Girl (PSG): “Oh, thank you!”
Me: (shooting her what I hope is a withering glare) “Um, I was being sarcastic…”
PSG: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were already here.”
Me: (amazed that this vacuous bimbo is able to breathe unassisted) “Um, yes, I am here….”
PSG: (giggling at how silly I am) “No. I mean I thought you were already there.” (jerking her thumb over her shoulder towards the empty dining room).
Me: “No I arrived about 5 minutes ago.”
PSG: “Oh, I thought you were leaving.”
Me: “Hmm. Even so, it appears you don’t say hello or goodbye to people in your lobby.”
PSG: (confused smile) “Yea-aah. Sorry!”
Me: “I am meeting two girl friends here, but I’m going to wait for them in the bar. One is a tall brunette, the other is a petite blonde.”
PSG: “Are there more?”
Me: “Um, nooooo. Just the two I mentioned: A tall brunette and a petite blonde. They may come in together, they may come in separately. Either way, they will be looking for me. My name is Vivienne and (very slowly and carefully) I Will Be In The Bar……”
PSG:(brightly) “OK! Welcome to Tantalum!”
Me: (another attempt to deliver a withering glare.) “I. Will. Be. In. The. Bar.”
I had a lovely evening with my friends (who found me without assistance from PSG) and enjoyed a few hours of being with grown-ups. I headed for home, feeling a bit recharged: good hair, nice evening out….
Although my husband is incredibly capable, my children often are not. I opened the door to child-created drama, people in trouble, poor decisions, homework not finished, showers not taken, etc.
I would not appreciate my Girls’ Nights Out nearly as much if I did not have moments like these to compare them to, but I am already trying to plan the next one.
Wait! What the heck was the ticking sound? What that every discovered?
I liked your negative visibility description. Very accurate.
No! We never discovered what the ticking sound was! Perhaps it was the sound of Conner’s imagination fighting with his common sense?
I’d never heard of “Dr. Who” prior to this… no more episodes for Conner!
I think every mom understands negative visability and the feeling of being taken for granted.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
The Chicken Lady says
OH MY GOSH! Viv, I can just see and hear you talking to that little ditzy hostess chick. What a dork. I was giggling as reading, as usual. 🙂
I know how you feel about being invisible. I absolutely hate that. I rag on Travis all the time about not listening or paying attention, even when I’m telling him something important. He’ll be living by himself for 2 months in a 19 foot trailer. When I get out there, he’ll LOVE me! 🙂