So I had this friend in high school whose mother drove me up the wall. We would be all ready to leave her house - hair teased, tye-dye's side knotted - just grabbing our fab purses from the Limited. And just as we were about to slip out for a viewing of the Little Mermaid and dinner at Pizza Hut, or some other dorky, straight-as-an-arrow activity, Amy's mother, I remember her name was Barbara, would call out:
"Amy, did you fill up the Waggoneer with gas?"
"Amy, don't forget, you need to return those Reebok hikers tomorrow."
"Also, please take your brother's ski poles out to the garage."
And just as the question/answer/task period got excruciating, Barbara would call out, "Amy, come here a minute, I need to talk to you."
At which point, I would wait at the front door, peer at myself in the mirror in the hall, and contemplate how inferior my clothes, and general being were, to Amy's. My obsession with my lack of cash relative to my peers has happily followed me through life. Back then, I wore Amy's dress to homecoming. Not the new purple ribbed and double-vested one that she had purchased especially for the occasion, of course, but some utterly unflattering dropped waist type like the one Chelsea Clinton later made famous as a pre-teen at the White House.
Eventually, we would make our escape, although I don't believe Amy ever considered the at-the-door exchange with her mother something to escape. That booby-trap feeling, like the hole in the woods covered with a precarious layer of sticks and leaves, that's bound to cause me a delay, is particularly my own. It's bloomed over the years into a proper pet peeve, and I find, especially with a spouse and children, that I am surrounded by such bear traps.
I knew when I first met Hub that he had some Barbara-like tendencies. Inevitably, during those first blissful days of dating, when we were are all buckled into the car, ready to head out to a sunny baseball game, and then to loll away the rest of the evening at a rooftop bar, Hub would jump out of the car several times to get his sunglasses, or his chapstick, or his little bag of meds that med-types must carry with them at all times. The process would burn me up.
My children too, just like Barbara (and apparently Hub), seem to exist in my life to seek out things to keep me from what I want. Just when I settle in to check my little sites on the computer after a hearty lunch, a kid will scream from around the corner. Inevitably, someone has tripped on a hula hoop, hit their toe wrong when jumping off a bathroom stool, or reached the point of no return because they can't wrench a plastic train from behind the dresser. The process that ensues, when I have to get up, find the child, reprimand the offending object, console the kid, give a little kiss and pat, before finally returning to my rightful place at the kitchen table, is simply exhausting.
It also leads to resentment, hours of "kid shows" for my precious ones, and the urge to simply give up and stay in my pajamas all day. Like today. It's as if I'm still in that dropped waist dress of Amy's. Still resentful, and still wondering if I'm going anywhere anyway.