Worth [very nearly] 1,000 Words

If my week were a photograph, it would show a tiny corner kitchen. Crusty dishes swell like a wave out of the sink–a new black plate already chipped on one side, five (thousand?) saucepans stacked like Russian nesting dolls, a spaghetti server caked with dry tomato pulp that might as well be rubber cement for how easily it will come off. Brown-rimmed coffee cups lurk on the stove, under the dish towel, behind the water filter–self-medication for restless naps. That filmy tangle of plastic wrap in the corner is left over from Wednesday, when it shut out air from my morning and stuck my afternoon in all the wrong places. That gummy wad of Cheerio crumbs, smashed peas, and stray Playmobil pieces? Used to be the floor.

In the high chair, just visible to the side, sits a tired baby adorned head to toe in rice mush. Her cranky pout could be due either to boredom or to the angry red hives popping up around her mouth from tasting formula. From where I stand, it looks like a prescription: Exclusively breastmilk, five times a day, until college.

I am the one crumbling by the sink with stringy hair and yesterday’s makeup, looking exactly like those moms I used to pity. That white patch on my shoulder is spit-up, naturally, and that green glint in my eye is all the bad words I want to say…

…but won’t because of the short girl tugging on my shirt. It’s not evident from the photo, but she is chattering in Ancient Mongolian: “Fleeshle waboom botchgoin mickaiwogo toks meegwam clombish lobblelobblelobblelobble popcorn for breakfast?” She may have been wearing those stripey pink socks for three days straight now, but her mother declines to comment.

The photo shows grease splatters on the range hood, rainy pockmarks on the window, and dust bunnies curled in the least-reachable corners. It shows the nuclear fallout from last night’s souptastrophe. It shows the disparity between sticky note to-do lists and hours in a day. What the photo doesn’t show, however, is the front door, just out of sight around the corner. It doesn’t show the moment tonight when that door will open and my husband will be home again. It doesn’t show Natalie shrieking “DADDY!!!” (in English, praise be to Webster) or Sophie bursting into giggles or me sinking into his arms like a damsel quite suddenly out of distress. It doesn’t show the dirty dishes fading into the distance or smiles eclipsing my lack of makeup… but who cares? This is the point when I tear the photo into Cheerio-sized bits and toss it into the mess that used to matter.

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  1. Fantastic! Gotta love messy, delicious reality.

  2. i do so wish i could see this photo… although i am thinking it is an amalgamation of a lot of mental snapshots….

  3. Oh, I remember, I remember! Not that my kitchen looks much better these days, but those messy toddlers have turned into interesting caring adults. I do, though, still feel the same lift of spirits when their Daddy comes through the door. Your time will come.

  4. I can see the photo! And I love your tag, “no such thing as the real world.”

  5. what a beautiful portrait of a day in the life!

  6. Also, I second the “popcorn for breakfast” request! 😀

  7. Oh what a fantastic word photograph! I can see every messy, tired, aching moment of it.

    You do have your hands full, don’t you??

  8. O the tangles of what isn’t real at all because we don’t wish it to be real!

    Loved the way this evolved!


  9. What a picture! I can see every little detail clearly. Roll on that moment when the door does open. Hang in there! …

    And, if you can’t have popcorn, I’d recommend what I’ve just had – corncakes with peanut-butter and raspberry jam. Goooood!

  10. What a picture! A beautiful way of describing your everyday, with an ending that brings closure and a smile to my face.

  11. such a vivid picture. thank you for engaging my imagination so eloquently!

  12. You write so well! I can see the mess and feel your exhaustion which is lifted by the arrival of your dear husband. Nicely done!

  13. Well done. I see your week so clearly. My photo would be of hormonal teens and preteens playing loud obnoxious video games. But who cares about the details. They are all parenting moments.

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