“Why don’t you keep those toys in the garage? Aren’t you glad it snowed?! Now you don’t have to rake. harhar. Maybe you should get a fence!”
My brain did not register your helpful comment, fortunately for you, until I had already herded my, well, herd of small children into the back door. Yesterday it snowed, and though I managed to shovel my sidewalk by bribing two older children with a half hour of Magic School Bus and heartlessly sticking the third in his crib in a vain attempt at a nap that didn’t involve me sitting there patting his back the whole time, I can’t say I did the job well… so combined that with the fact that the four year old does not actually have shoes at the moment and was plodding through the snow NEXT to the haphazardly cleared sidewalk in his fuzzy house slippers, the 19 month old was limply napping in my arms that were also lugging in two diaper bags, several half eaten candy canes, and a very old banana that I fished out from under my seat, AND the six year old was trying to open the outer door while the two and a half year old tried to helpfully CLOSE the same door on our porch which is exactly 3×4 feet with two stairs… well, engaging my brain on your comment was down there on the priority list with things like picking up those the toys in my yard.
I don’t know you. Maybe you have kids? Maybe you don’t? But you look like you had a full night’s sleep, a hot cup of coffee, and enough leisure to find time to purchase a matching jogging outfit. You even have enough time to USE the matching jogging suit. I bet that you even have the time to SHOWER after you use the matching jogging suit. I used to be you, so I absent-mindedly nodded and continued with my first priority which was Returning Small People to Containment.
To you I now address this plea: give the young mother some slack. I do not have family nearby. I do not even have a husband-with-free-time. The only friends I have around here that I know well enough to lean on also have Small People. So leaning on them is a chaotic, head-spinning, calendar-juggling exercise in mutual exhaustion only attempted in DIRE situations like “my four year old needs shoes and I need to go shopping before someone calls CPS please help.”
I know you think the yard is bad. I think the yard is bad. We murdered all the bushes so that it would at least look more like we hadn’t landscaped and less like we were too busy this fall keeping toddlers from eating mushrooms in the grass to do the pruning. I challenge you sometime to do yard work with three or four small people under six. (Please get someone to observe so that when you fail, no one will die. If the someone does not have kids, please find multiple someones.) We did not buy a fence, because we bought a furnace. If you feel deep in your heart that we need a fence, we gladly accept $3000 gift cards to Home Depot at this point. Beautiful hedgerows can wait.
You are not the first person to make thoughtless comments and you won’t be the last. Even people who have been there and do know better make comments. And this letter is to all of them too, for the sake of all those young mothers with small people out there.
I wake up at 3:00 a.m. every day because that is when my 19 month old wakes up. He does not go back to bed without an up-and-down unpleasant business of me or my husband going in and telling him to lay back down. Meanwhile the rest of the kids are also awake and silently pleading with us from their beds to Make It Stop. Around 4:30 he goes back to sleep until 5:15 when he wakes up for Really Real and I bring him with me to bed so that I can at least close my eyes for another hour. He sneaks out around 6:15 while I try unsuccessfully to pry myself out of bed and my equally-exhausted husband covers for me until around 7:30 when I finally admit the gig is up and try to be thankful that I had five hours of sleep. Sort of. This has gone on in varying severity for the last seven years. We are surviving. Survivors do not trouble themselves about plastic lawnmowers half buried in snow.
Yes, the plastic lawnmower has been in my backyard for three months. There’s not really any point in returning it to the garage as my children will just retrieve it. I choose to think that it is much less offensive to look at than
this sculpture ^
in Allentown and at least has the benefit of being only temporarily an Emmaus fixture. Would it help if I put up a circle of bricks and a plaque with some sort of historical nature listing the other backyards where it used to be on display?
The list of things in my life that matter are as follows: a house clean enough that we don’t all die of some horrible disease like dysentery, meals in bellies that once a day involve vegetables, and trying not to raise sociopaths who can’t read, write, or balance their budgets.
If I have any free time left, I try to find ways to generate extra funds to repair the long list of household items my small construction crew has helped us begin remodeling since we moved in this place. Around the year 2017, you will see improvements. And starting around 2027, be grateful that you live in a world that is still full with young adults who love and procreate and build their communities instead of neighborhoods of retired people with no one to rake leaves for them or fork over taxes. The price you have to pay for that is a handful of years for each household to raise Small People into Medium People during which their yard will look, frankly, terrible.