So you don’t currently have a job; what do you do with all that time?
8:00a – Wake up. Wonder why I feel like a poorly-engineered hybrid between a whale and overcooked spaghetti. Wonder also why my internal organs feel as though they’ve been through a 40-round boxing match. Have the vague sense that I used to have abdominal muscles, but can’t quite remember where I put them.
8:03a – Remember I’m 7 months pregnant. Ah.
8:15a – Set table, pour juice, get out vitamins, cut bananas for cereal, gather napkins from afar… and realize husband and daughter have already finished breakfast. Feel horridly motherish.
8:45a – 10:25a – Clean up from breakfast, sweep house, primp, re-sweep house after Natalie procures fresh dirt from her secret stockpile, run two loads of laundry, water flowers, sing forty-five verses of “Old MacDonald” (including the ever-popular elephant and kangaroo variations), dress Natalie, wipe Natalie’s nose 5,142 times (how did she manage to catch a cold in August?), clean Natalie’s room, wipe Natalie’s nose another 4,916 times, and sing on demand “the Elmo song,” “the Ernie song,” “the Bert song,” “the Barney song,” “the tomato song,” and “the broccoli song” (guess how many of those I actually know?).*
10:26a – 11:45a – “Mommy, you want to read a story?” Translation: “Mommy, I want you to read me every story we own, and then some more, until your vocal chords start making horrible grating noises. And then just one more, pleeeeeeease?”
11:46a – 12:35p – Let MP3 player take over Sesame Street Sing-along duties. Channel my inner Martha and prepare an unrecognizable form of chicken for lunch, using things like capers and fresh rosemary from my little balcony garden. Feel very impressive and Ratatouille.
12:36p – Wonder why I’m melting into puddles of sweat, steaming like a teakettle, and then evaporating when such pleasant, mild breezes are blowing through the windows. Wonder also why I find myself on the brink of starvation just half an hour before lunch. Fight the urge to consume a pre-lunch snack of everything in our cupboards. Conclude death is imminent.
12:40p – Remember I’m 7 months pregnant. Right.
12:45p – Put deliciously clean, sunshine-scented sheets on beds. Fight the overwhelming urge to nap for an hour or four (see above).
1:02p – Suddenly realize gourmet chicken contraption has been in oven for… a while. Discover it burnt, of course. On cue, polenta explodes all over stove and grievously injures my finger. Feel not so much like Martha Stewart, more like Mr. Bean.
1:15p – Welcome husband home for “Blackened Chicken Medley” and “Firecracker Polenta.” Enjoy lunch despite itself. Bravely conquer dishes despite wounded finger, and feel a little like William Wallace.
2:15p – Finally collapse onto lovely clean sheets to nap.
2:45p – Can’t.
2:50p – Dan, getting ready to go back to work, invites me to go with him to the electronics store tonight. Fondly reminisce about last night’s trip to the electronics store in which I inadvertently set off the store alarm and, in my consternation over our bus being 15 minutes late, left our bag at the bus stop, giving Dan the unique opportunity to run frantically through town in the dark to rescue our new telephone, which turned out not to be in its box in the first place. I opt to stay home.
3:00p – Settle onto couch with laptop and aspirations of grandeur. Nothing will stop me from writing this afternoon!
3:01p – Natalie wakes up crying and rubbing her head. Soothe, kiss, and put her back to sleep. Wonder mildly if she could have head lice.
3:10p – Wish I knew what lice looked like. Resist impulse to reawake Natalie and search every pore on her scalp.
3:14p – Start to feel terrified of couch, bed, own hair, and every other soft substance in our house. Wonder where one goes to buy industrial-strength gasoline in this town.
3:18p – Reflect that if bugs are found occupying heads of anyone in a 20-mile radius, I will surely die.
3:19 – 3:26p – Shudder violently.
3:27p – Tired, tired, tired from all this worrying. Doze off despite my newfound phobia of pillows. Firmly resolve to be up by 4:00. I will write this afternoon!
4:00p – Press snooze.
5:15p – Wake up. Stare at ceiling during that buffer zone between waking up and getting up in which I closely resemble the undead.
5:20p – Get up, though still a zombie. Snack: brains. I mean, popcorn.
5:30p – And coffee yogurt, because I’m adventurous like that. (And also because, despite the widely-known fact that coffee and yogurt should never mix, it’s spectacularly yummy.)
5:35p – And wafers, which are basically crisped air with vanilla creme filling, yet snacks nonetheless.
5:40p – Natalie: “Mommy, my head hurts!” (Rub, rub, rub.) Me: “Why does your head hurt?” Natalie, shrugging: “I don’t know anymore.” Call husband to see if the internet knows whether Natalie has lice or not.
5:55p – The internet isn’t sure but can tell me how to save 15% or more on my car insurance. So helpful.
6:10p – Give Natalie shampoo of the century. Remind her 46 times to stop drinking the bathwater (a favorite pastime of hers since her very first bath).
6:40p – Peel off her scalp and dissect it with the finest-toothed comb in modern history. Find nothing growing on it but hair. Rejoice!
6:50p – Wonder why else Natalie’s head would hurt. Can only think of leprosy. Feel slightly like House, M.D.
6:55p – Natalie starts chanting, “PLAYGROUND! PLAYGROUND! PLAYGROUND!” Am amazed that she remembers my promise of a trip to the playground from 9 hours ago, while I cannot seem to remember why my own stomach looks like a watermelon. Revisit fears that other moms will criticize, ostracize, and possibly throw gravel at me for not speaking perfect Italian.
7:00p – Look at Natalie’s bright, expectant little face, suck up my fears, and walk with her to playground. Natalie surveys the 803 other children running amok around all the exciting equipment and opts instead to sit in a pile of gravel already occupied by a little girl, her mother, and a plastic shovel (“I help play!”). Ask the mother if it is OK for us to join them, and she briefly says yes without looking up. Awkward silence ensues. Feel like a trespasser. Quite certain of being prosecuted.
7:15p – Hear mother speaking to daughter in… well, not-Italian (something closer to a coughing fit actually). Realize that I might not be the only foreigner in Italy. Realize that I might not be the only woman at the playground afraid of talking. Realize I’ve been wretchedly pathetic.
7:20p – 8:00p – Start a conversation with the other mother. Help Natalie make a new friend. Relax. Feel like Wonder Woman.
8:01p – Dan returns from non-disastrous (i.e. – wifeless) trip to electronics store, and we settle into our evening together. Am happy to be.