Sometimes I think I’m doing this all wrong.
There’s the sock drawer, for instance. Okay, okay. There are FOUR miscellaneous sock drawers in our house, probably more. That’s just what I know about in the laundry room. I’ve never seen the inside of my teenager’s dresser; I pretty sure there’s stale Doritoes under socks that he wore when he was seven.
It’s true. The kids’ socks don’t have matches. If you look on my kindergartener’s feet, you will see that he has on two socks, but I can guarantee you that they are not two socks from the same white tube sock Hanes package. I count on the fact that nobody goes around checking my kids’ ankles. I figure that everyone has their own lives to live. And except for the lady in the produce section at Wal-Mart last week, I’ve been basically right about that.
There are bigger fish to fry. Like the time my fourth grader was learning how to write a step-by-step paragraph. The assignment was to describe her morning. The teacher pointed out that she forgot to include getting dressed. “Oh,” my daughter says, “That’s because we get dressed the night before so we can make it here on time. We all sleep in our school uniforms.”
At least, she is the child who religiously brushes her teeth, so that saved what was left of my reputation. It could’ve been another child (who will not be named) who was assigned to write about his or her grooming habits, and if that happened, I’d be in jail right now for neglect. You have to look on the bright side of things.
There’s also all the stuff I can’t write about on the internet because when it’s all said and done, I don’t want to embarrass myself or my family. (I’m being serious.) I think you should let four years pass first, and then you can talk about it. Yes, I think four is the magic number. That sounds about right to me.
I remember being 18-years-old and walking through a fancy neighborhood. There was this house, and it had climbing roses all over it. There, I thought. Those people are happy. They have to be happy. Who wouldn’t be happy with climbing roses greeting them with a fragrant perfume as the breeze wafts into the breakfast room while bacon sizzles in the backdrop of life?
Fast forward a bunch of years. Greg planted a climbing rose by our breakfast room. (Our breakfast room happens to be the lunch and dinner room, too.) The climbing rose is still alive, but there’s no dreamy smell to the two cream colored roses it coughed up in the last three years. I’m going to Miracle Grow that baby in the spring, and then I’ll sit by the window to wait for that to make me happy.
I have this image in my mind of the way things are supposed to be. That maybe if I got my act together once and for all — maybe if my house was organized enough to find some socks around here (clearly, not a lofty goal) and my garden wasn’t embarrassing — I’d be happy. Maybe if my marriage was sparky and romantic and my friends always remembered to invite me to parties. Maybe if my health was better. Maybe if my kids wrote dazzling thank you notes and were the epitome of gratefulness. Maybe if I didn’t wrestle addictions and lose. Maybe I’d be happy if my sister was still alive.
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory, 26)