Thursday, January 26, 2017

Behind the Scenes

This little blurb incidentally features cooking dinner, but also highlights the unvarnished struggles behind so many of the pretty pictures on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, you-name-it.

Because they need to be out there too.

Mom is wrapped in a blanket, sitting listlessly on a couch as kids walk in the door from school. She’s dressed at least, not in pajamas (she always manages that). But it’s a busy day and she obviously hasn’t started any of the necessary tasks that are now looming, and there are visible tear streaks on her face. One child, the oldest, looks briefly at her and asks if he can do anything for her. She shrugs a dull negative, and he settles in on a couch nearby with thick textbooks and an intent expression, quickly absorbed in pressing homework. Another child comes and gives a hug, then disappears into the bathroom. When she comes out there follow conversations about a contest she won that day, mostly one-sided, aided by her brother pitching in a few comments and details. She wanders off to homework as well.

An hour later two more kids arrive home. Mom has at this point managed to drag herself up to stand in the kitchen and start the dinner that will need to be nearly-finished (ready to throw together and heat after some activities) within fifteen minutes. She has a pot of rice on one back burner and a skillet of some butter and vegetables she is stirring. A couple of cans wait to be opened on the counter. Her next daughter, who has just arrived home, also won something at school, a drawing for tickets to a favorite author’s presentation. All the kids are excited about their generally lucky day. Mom tries to keep out of their way, to minimize eye contact. It’s good they have such events to be happy about.

The last child is the one with the looming activity. Mom leaves the prepped dinner on the stove and drives over to the church with the youngest daughter. She brings some printed papers she has cut into slips and a box of spoons; she’s in charge of the activity. It goes neither horribly well nor horribly badly, except that said daughter spends most of the time in deep distress and sobs because she thinks she missed an answer and isn’t good enough. It’s hard to be 9 and have hormones; this happens sometimes. But it also makes Mom droop as she comments, in ongoing apology to the disrupted group, that ‘she gets it from me’.

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