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April 28, 2011

Tap Dancing, Baths, Beef and Did Easter Really Just Happen?

Monday was Thing Two’s nine-month birthday (or anniversary or milestone or bat-mitzvah or whatever), and also the first day in her life she didn’t cry during her bath. In nine months all she has ever done is wail when I lower her down, like she is in a hot tub with a few Mideast warlords.

I’m ashamed to admit it — but you know by now how little shame plays into my decision-making — that Madeline’s trouble with baths probably stems from the fact we don’t bathe her very much at all.

That is, until I start noticing a bright red streak under her neck where her double chin meets her chest and I start to think, “Hmm, if she has processed a crock-pot’s worth of Velveeta cheese in her bodily creases, it might be high-time for a little Ivory or Dove or what have you.” I told my friend Schuyler about this back when Maddie was only a month or two old and I think she’s still deciding whether to call CPS now or wait and see how the summer plays out.

Maybe it’s a second-child thing. Who knows.

The truth is, I’m still exhausted from Easter. Are you? I love Jesus, really I do, but this holiday is such a beating. My kids are lucky to get fed anything not chocolate or in the shape of a bunny, much less get bathed.

I made it worse by hosting a dinner party the night before Easter at our house. I love our supper club and I love to host our supper club, but sometimes I get a greedy little glint in my eye when it comes to scheduling, like if I’ve already got one big-ticket item on the agenda — Easter — we might as well pack in a few other major initiatives and see how many balls we can keep in the air all at once, like if FranklinCovey had a stupid human trick.

I started preparing for the dinner club on Friday, which involved braising four pounds of beef in red wine. You can imagine how domestic this made me feel. I also went to Marshall’s and bought an actual tablecloth because I have never owned a tablecloth before and felt it was necessary now that I’m out of my 20s. As a matter of principle.

Dinner club Saturday night would have been smooth-sailing except I had a call-back audition that very afternoon at 4 p.m. Wait a minute/back that up, I hear you asking/ballyhooing, what’s this? Auditioning? Is she finally putting that Jay Leno chin to good use? (More on that some other time.) And, did she really just use the word “ballyhoo?” Suffice it to say, I do a little singing. A little acting. On the side, way, waaaay on the side, as far away on the side as Drew scoots his peas.

Speaking of peas, the part I was auditioning for WAS the part of a Pea in a Circle Theatre production in Fort Worth this fall. (Did you like that smooth subject matter transition? Or was it like popping a wheely in a Vin Diesel car chase?). This was a panto-play that’s basically Shrek for the stage. And what, pray tell, does the Pea have to do? Two words: tap dance.

Did I spend four hours before my dinner club, before the day of Easter, tap dancing? Yes. Yes I did.

Did the tap dancing last until 8:20, after my guests had arrived and consumed the braised beef without me? Yes it did.

And, was it actual tap dancing or only me pretending to tap dance like a desperate lunatic, wishing I had a very large meat fork with which to thrust into my eyeball?

The latter.

Did I get the part? Doubtful.

But the beef turned out OK.

The tablecloth rocked my face off.

And, inevitably, Easter came the next morning, with all its activities, and I’m still tired.

(You can see why.)

On the night of Easter, Gordon and I watched 60 Minutes. This is our habit and does NOT mean we are 89 years old. The lead story was about Mount Athos, a sacred Grecian archipelago where for centuries monks have lived in about 20 different monasteries. They get up at 3 a.m., have an 8-hour prayer service, go about their various duties in relative silence, and eat their two ten-minute meals to the sound of a brother reading sacred texts.

No women are allowed on Mount Athos. The monks believe the Virgin Mary is the owner of the Mount and therefore no other woman should set foot there out of respect. The other reason, as you can imagine, is that women can be a distraction, and not only because they bring along their breasts. Female tourists would inevitably also bring their children, which would “disturb the peace” of the monastery. And in a place dedicated to “growing closer to Christ”, the absence of children and therefore the keeping of “peace” is necessary.

If the recipe for staying close to God is to be away from kids, then we mothers are more pagan than all the inhabitants of the Jersey Shore combined plus a Lohan or two and some small dogs with rhinestone collars. Sure, we run around tap dancing and braising beef and bathing our babies every so often, but at our core we must have shriveled black devil-souls.

Do you accept that premise? Neither do I.

If Easter means anything to me this year, it’s that in the midst of a crazy/hectic/messy life, I can depend on something that rises above this endless day-in-day-out panto-play existence, giving structure to its chaos and purpose to its grime.

I hope you have that hope too. We all need it. Especially mothers. Especially me.



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