Every evening, I'm very excited to arrive home and walk through the door. The way it plays out in my head, it goes something like this: my older son runs to me and wraps his arms around my neck with a big grin. My younger son reaches his arms out for me and cuddles happily for a moment before returning to play with his toys on the floor. I whip up a quick meal while the kids entertain themselves, and then we sit down and eat together as a family as we talk about our day. Finally, we play a board game or do a quick puzzle before it's time for bed.
That's pretty much mom heaven for a weekday night.
Unfortunately, when I actually DO walk excitedly through the door, with expectations soaring high, I more often than not encounter a very different scene. One that often makes me want to step right back out the door.
First, Jacob is almost always on the couch, overly tired, and whinning nonstop. "I want a snack! I don't want dinner. I'm starving. No, I don't like chicken. I want to watch TV. Ryan is looking at me!" He repeats this as he thrashes violently on the couch. Obviously, he did not have a nap.
Then Ryan takes one look at me, smiles with a dimply, wide grin, and reaches out for me. Finally! Some love! Something is going as imagined! But the second I pick him up, he turns into one of those miniature cling-on koala bear toys.
He won't let go. The second I put him down to change out of work clothes or make dinner, or go to the bathroom, he starts to whimper and cry. He's clearly tired as well and needs to go to bed. But I JUST walked in the door from my 2+ hour commute (which includes 2.5 miles of walkng and an hour long ferry ride). I'm exhausted. I'm freezing. I'm starving. And I'm freaking wearing panty hose!
So with a chubby human koala clutching to me and my four-year old having a major meltdown on the couch that would seriously put a pampered, indulgent celeb to shame, I throw together a pathetic dinner of pancakes with ONE HAND because I'm feeling uninspired and don't have any groceries.
Then, with both kids still crying and with pancake batter dripping from my free hand all over the floor, and over the cat, and over my nice dry-clean-only skirt, and my panty hose, I fall to the floor and just sit there for a moment. Oh look, there are run-away Cheerios under my oven. Oh look, the cat's food dish has somehow cracked in half, scattering pieces of fish-smelling catfood all over the floor. Oh look, Ryan just put a mysterious crumb in his mouth.
I sit in a pile of pancake batter and with Ryan in my lap, I scootch my butt over to my emergency candy drawer. I pull out a handful of minaiture Reese's, fling the wrappers half-heartedly in the general direction of the garbage can, and decidedly feast on a dinner of chocolate and processed peanut butter. In that moment, I almost wish some of my single, kidless friends could see me. If only for their pity. Or the entertainment of seeing the horror on their faces. Then...maybe THEN they will finally understand why it's not so easy to just show up at an impromptu invitation for happy hour.
Right in that moment, I'm thinking, man, I really deserve a "participation award" for surviving life today.