Sunday afternoons are my respite in this harried place. The sanity cocktail from which I draw sweet sustenance. That said, I lounge around doing as little as humanly possible, embracing my inner sloth. Old movies and blanket forts rule the day. That is not to say I haven't been inspired enough to haul my sweeper from the bowels of its dusky lair or to plant my sorry self in the laundry room despite my aversion to the insufferable place. Even on a Sunday. But for the most part, ambition is nowhere to be found during that glorious wedge of downtime -- sandwiched between the madness that was and the madness sure to come. Last Sunday, however, was different. Havoc rained down on my world, obliterating my precious corner of calm.
Oddly enough, what led to the aforementioned began weeks ago while traipsing through a store, my cart piled high with schlock I didn't need. At every turn, it seemed, I stumbled into MORE SCHLOCK and felt compelled to ogle it, to finger its veneer of worthiness and to toy with the notion of adding it to my ever-growing mound of that-which-I-would-one-day-regret-purchasing. And on the days during which I allow the guilt of motherhood to consume me, the mound is markedly higher. Needless to say, it was one of those days.
Indeed, the voices that drive much of my irrational behavior were especially persuasive that day, whispering words of admonishment in my ear and regaling in my grand ineptitude as a parent: "You're a HORRIBLE MOTHER... you don't SPEND ENOUGH TIME with your children... you MUST ACQUIRE this ten-dollar nugget of wonderfulness which promises to erase weeks of botched parenting." All the while I considered said nugget of wonderfulness: A two-pound Chocolate Cookie Halloween House Kit, complete with 47 bats; dozens of little green candies I would later damn to hell; enough gum drops to coat many little teeth (and a little expander); a defective ghost -- or rather, segments of insanely sweet candy, suggestive of something that was once intact and specter-like -- and a cauldron full of powdery mixes that were sure to deliver hours of goo-inspired, edible fun and to yield the most perfect hues of orange and purple icing on the planet).
In the end, I was shamed into buying the box of foolishness. Because that's what moms do. Just like all the other project-y stuff I haul home out of sheer guilt, never mind the techno-gadgetry thought to engender this or that brand of awe in my children. It's all about the Is-it-as-remarkable-as-a-pony factor and Will-it-expunge-from-the-record-my-screw-ups-to-date?
So I shoved the stupid thing in our pantry (good intentions and all) and forgot about it till the Halloween craze struck with a vengeance. And since the celebrated costume drama in this household was officially over, a sinful quantity of sugary treats had been stockpiled already and virtually every corner of our home had been festooned with all-that-is-Halloweenish, there was but one thing left to do- - build the stupid house. So that's what we did -- the three of us, while Dad cheered from the sidelines.
Several hours, two meltdowns (both mine) and a hellacious mess later, we had our two-pound Halloween House. Of course, the orange and purple mixes wound up adorning practically everything, those reprehensible little candies rolled near and far, fistfuls of trimmings were consumed with wild abandon and the icing was less than compliant as I shoveled gobs of it into pastry bags and squeezed the reluctant mass onto the house as instructed. Translation: The cussed gloppage in question delighted in its droopiness, defiantly sliding down walls and slanted rooftops, leaving hideous-looking blobs everywhere. Even the spider webs I made sagged to the point of looking not-so-spider-webby. But because the gods of kitchen fiascos were smiling upon me, my brood rejoiced, "The droopiness makes it even SPOOKIER, Mom! You're so AWESOME!"
Well, it certainly wasn't as grand as a pony might have been; but the awe factor of this nightmarish project was evident to at least two somebodies on the planet. And perhaps that's all that matters in the end.
Planet Mom: It's where I live (admiring our droopified Halloween house). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com and www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom. The content of this article, as it appears here, was previously published in the Khaleej Times.
Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel