Sometimes I forget I’m one of the adults in the house. It’s not that I’m leaving Lego all over the place, complaining about broccoli, or whining about having to do dishes for the umpteenth time. Well, maybe a little bit of that last one. It’s more that I forget that—beyond the basic necessities of feeding people (and the dog) and driving them (and the dog) all over Hell’s half acre—I’m supposed to remember all my seemingly extraneous responsibilities and naturally know how to handle them.
Last week, for example, I managed to come up with two days of somewhat healthy traveling dinners* that could be used for lunches the following day. This is clutch for avoiding après-activity hangriness on the drive home and for ensuring I’m not still managing bedtime at 10 and lunches at 11. Yes, it’s May and I finally figured out how to handle Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. High-fives all around.
Still soaring on this victory, I found myself in the first floor bathroom the next day and my gold star of adulting came crashing down like a dinosaur-obliterating meteor. The whimsical hand towel I had purchased at some point in the distant past hung there, feeling sad and forgotten, able to shine no more.
I’ve tried washing this thing in various temperatures with different soaps. It is permanently dirty. Either that or there is some secret to washing hand towels that has yet to be bestowed upon me by the more textile-savvy folks in my village. It literally looks like it was used to wipe the dog’s feet during the season of spring jaunts in the park. I live in fear of guests needing to use that bathroom, though most people have so much trouble figuring out the light switch, they probably just pee in the dark and blindly wipe their hands without ever knowing the horror of this towel.
So I see this towel and several things come to mind:
Do children actually use soap?
If they do, does soap actually work?
This thing needs to be put out of its misery.
Ugh. Shopping for hand towels. BO-RING.
Oh. That’s MY job. Double thumbs down.
This cycle replays itself every time I’m in there, which is probably why I’ve taken to using the upstairs loo.
You might be sitting there, scratching your head, wondering, “Clearly, she has access to the Internet… has she not heard of Amazon?” Yes, of course. I even have Prime (clutch for people like me who hate shopping—online or otherwise—and therefore put it off until the possible last moment). But there’s so much more wrapped up in making these decisions now. I’m no longer the kind of shopper who can dart into Bed, Bath & Beyond to grab some new towels. Nor am I the person who can easily toss things in the garbage once they’ve done their duty. Now, I feel the need to research what kind of fabric is used, whether it’s ethically sourced and whether the towel is responsibly made. Then I need to take the old ones to the textiles recycling depot. And, most likely, the new nice-to-the-planet towel is going to be cream coloured, an option I think we’ve established to be less than ideal.
Maybe she should sleep on it, you say. Ha! Therein lies another predicament. I recently went for a massage for the first time in forever (the last time was probably the same week I bought the ill-fated towel). The intake form asked about my mattress and pillows. I wrote: both need to be replaced.
This made the massage therapist laugh. I gathered then that I was supposed to write something like firm, soft, memory foam, feather, etc. But, again, it’s been so long that I would have no clue. What I do know is that my pillows were so bedraggled, I ended up tossing them (before I knew about textile recycling) and stealing the extra ones off my daughter’s top bunk. Not long after that, the top sheet got a huge hole after years of trying to contain my husband’s strangely sharp feet. Then, the duvet cover ripped itself a new opening.
So now we have a sagging bed with mismatched pillows and a naked duvet and I know it’s my job to Mary Poppins it all but I just can’t bring myself to care enough to move forward. Apparently, I’d rather spend an hour writing about it than figuring out how to fix it.
The cutlery drawer is another horrific example. Every once in a while, we will pull out a new kind of spoon and wonder where it come from and how it got here. I think we had more uniformly matched cutlery when we were in university, though that’s probably because it all came from the dining hall.
I guess the question is: does any of this really matter? For appearances, the towel probably does. Who wants to wipe clean hands on a towel that looks like it hasn’t been laundered since 1980? But why do I care if we have uniform cutlery or a nicely made bed? I think some of it comes down to seeking a feeling of having successfully left the nest, or at least of having figured out life enough to be adequately qualified to pass the knowledge on.
I’ll admit I often still feel like a directionless student, wondering when my train will pick a track that leads to Adult Station. The interesting thing is, I had more direction when I was a student and in my 20s. Success came quickly, children came less quickly, and now I’m facing the rest of the journey without much of a path. This isn’t a problem, it’s just a point of curiosity. What makes one feel like an adult? And, if one ever does, what happens next?
There’s more to explore but this is enough for one day. Besides, it’s Tuesday, I didn’t get up at 4:30am to write this, and I need to deliver a travelling dinner in an hour or risk having my head judo-chopped off. At least, today, I’ll remember the ice cubes.
In truth and compassion,
*A traveling dinner is one that can be transported to school at the end of the day and eaten in the car with adequate faith it won’t end up engrained in the car seat or someone’s hair. Bonus points if it resembles an actual dinner (as opposed to oatmeal or a peanut butter sandwich, both of which have their place in the dinner rotation). Demerit points if it’s blazing hot and the child with the über sensitive tongue ends up unable to eat it until you find a supply of ice. This one was recently received well.