Some of my friends keep track of their schedules in planners. Others type them into their PDAs or cell phones. Personally, I have a wall calendar where I have the lists of events color-coded. For each child I use a different color of Sharpie fine-point pen: green for Ethan, blue for McKay, red for Gabie, black for Mom, purple for Nora who admittedly doesn’t have much of a social life quite yet but I’m fond of purple and sometimes I use it arbitrarily to note that recycle day is coming up. I like to appear organized. The calendar makes me look like I’ve got my act together even though some days I forget to look at it until it’s too late and we’ve missed something important yet again.
Today, I’m marveling at how much of my life is composed of the unexpected, the unplanned, and the unpredictable. I can get up in the morning, envision that my day will go a certain way, and then watch it all get derailed by one dead cow on the tracks after another. There aren’t enough different colors in the Sharpie collection to forecast the spectrum of the things that actually wind up happening in my day. Some of them are good surprises. A fair amount of them involve extra loads of laundry.
Yesterday, according to my trusty calendar, I planned to attend Gabie’s school program, pick up Ethan and a few extra kids from the Junior High after Knowledge Bowl, and get ready for class. Really, that’s quite a reasonable day’s work. Knowledge Bowl even got cancelled so I was off the hook there. Someone might glance at my calendar and think, she’s not busy at all; what’s she always whining about?
Since he had forgotten to tell me about it earlier, McKay and I spent the two hours before school decorating a box to look like a train engine for his valentines. (It turned out very cute if I do say so myself. Pictures to follow if it survives the week at school).
I got a last minute phone call from a woman in McKay’s carpool who temporarily has no car with which to pool and asked me to drive the kids today. This involved pulling Nora out of bed earlier than she’d like and getting rid of Gabie (sorry, shouldn’t put it that way, but I had to drop him off early at a neighbor’s house or not have enough seats in the van).
Nora gave herself a yogurt scalp treatment at breakfast so I had to throw her in the tub for a quick bath before Gabie’s school program. Nora promptly (and once again, I must stress that this was nowhere indicated on my calendar for the day’s events) pooped in the tub. Did I mention she’s had diarrhea lately? I won’t describe the details for you because I’m worried that this is turning into one of those poop and vomit blogs. Just picture me with a scrub brush and a bottle of Softscrub with bleach and a very beleaguered expression on my face.
The school program was a school program. But I had planned on that.
At lunch, Nora dumped purple grape juice all over the floor and down the front of her new shirt, the cute shirt that had caused me to do a little happy dance at the thrift store where I found it last week, the shirt that had probably survived years of light wear by an entire family of well-behaved daughters only to be ruined in its first day of usage into our home. Go ahead and ask what kind of an idiot would give a 20-month old child (with a penchant for dumping things) a cup of purple anything. I’m wondering the same thing myself. Maybe I just have a thing for purple. Various attempts at rinsing, soaking, and Oxycleaning, have thus far proved ineffectual at getting out the stain.
Today’s dead cow in the tracks was when Gabie was playing with my keys (yeah, I know. What kind of an idiot would give a child…?) and got the house key hopelessly stuck in the front deadbolt. No amount of yanking or twisting would get it out. In the end, I had to unscrew the whole deadbolt and drive it to the locksmith’s, an errand I’m pretty sure was not part of the plan today, although I have to admit I haven’t looked at the calendar yet so it’s possible I just overlooked the little note in magenta ink: spend an hour dealing with recalcitrant key. Ah, yes. There it is. Right next to the green reminder about the trumpet lessons Ethan forgot for the second week in a row. Drat.
And sometimes the train skips the tracks for better surprises. I had no way of knowing when I got up that Nora would choose to add a new, very practical word to her growing vocabulary today. I suspect the addition was a direct result of the aforementioned events but I’ll take the trade because, now that I’m on the other side of the tub decontamination session and the grape-juice debacle, it’s almost funny and Nora is just so adorable when she says her new word, clear as day: MESS!
I wrote the word in purple on my calendar just now so I’d remember the first day she said it.
So to sum things up, I want my days to look like a Piet Mondrian painting.
Compartmentalized. Balanced. As linear and sharply defined as the grid on my calendar. Predictable.
My days are, in reality, far more a Jackson Pollock painting.
Anything but tidy. Organic. Alive. Improvised. Full of surprises. Messy in a sublime kind of way.