When I picked the big girls up from school the other day, Rachel greeted me with her usual knock-me over-like-you-haven’t-seen-me-in-a-year hug and screech of “Mommyyyyy! You baaaaaaack!!!!!!” Because 4 hours to a 4 year old is like an eternity.
So as I struggled to stay upright as she attempted to bring me down like I was the 50 foot woman, she asked, “You were cleaning the house?”
So I responded, “Uhhhhh….What?”
“You were cleaning the house?” she repeated, still trying to knock me off my equilibrium.
I gave a little laugh, and looking back, it was probably more of a huge snort and guffaw, because I certainly do a lot of things when the big girls are at school and it’s just Zoe and me, but cleaning the house is not exactly one of them.
Then I started to get all paranoid that Rachel thinks our house is so unbearably unkempt that of course I was cleaning it all morning long while she was singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider with her friends.
So I rubbed her little head playfully. “What made you ask that?” No really, what made you ask that??? Did she tell all of her classmates how Mommy had to dig hurriedly through the basket of laundry this morning to find something for her to wear, or did she repeat some of the curses that flew from my mouth as I tore their room apart looking for their water bottles, or maybe she told everyone about how my bedroom more resembles an IT nerd’s wonderland than a romantic boudior?
I guffawed some more because guffawing is awesome. “No, I wasn’t cleaning the house, silly!”
That’s when her teacher, Ms J, came breezing over and said, “Oh! I told her that’s what you were doing when you weren’t here — that Mommy goes home to clean the house!” She smoothed Rachel’s hair and gave her a squeeze.
Huh. So I said oops! and that I was actually running errands and voting for the President and stuff. And then I checked my calendar to make sure that it was indeed still 2012 and I had not time traveled back to the Betty Draper days.
Now I’m not a staunch feminist. I don’t think. I just thought it was kind of a weird thing to say. Is my daughter going to think that this is in fact what mommies do? Or worse…is she now going to have massively unrealistic expectations for a clean house when she comes home from school?
I could just see it: I pick them up, they joyfully tell me about their day in the short car ride home, and then we walk through the front door and commence tripping over the shoes and blankets and toys that were all strewn about as they dressed for school and are still in the exact same places they were when we left. And she’ll scold me: “Mommy! You did NOT clean the house while you were gone!”
So I wasn’t so sure how I felt about this whole “Mommy goes home to clean the house while you’re at school” thing.
Until someone obviously smarter than me (which it’s not hard to be, by the way) pointed out that maybe Ms J told Rachel that I was going home to clean the house so that when she misses me, which she is prone to do about halfway through the day, she doesn’t think that I’m off doing fun things without her. I’m just home cleaning.
Well. That makes a bit more sense than Ms J living in the 60s. Deep down I didn’t really think she was the type to be all, “Rachel, your mom’s home scrubbing the floors and washing the windows in her heels and pearls because that’s what mommies do, so you’d better get ready for a life of servitude young lady. I knew I liked her.
And let me tell you, Rachel — going to the grocery store with a toddler is loads of fun. Loads. YOU ARE MISSING OUT, KID.
So the next time I dropped her off at school, she gave me a hug and said, “You going to go clean the house?”
I patted her on the head, gave her a kiss, and gave her my best boring-sad face, “Yes. Yes, I am.”
And then as soon as she was safe in her room, I skipped off down the hall, my 2 year old’s hand in mine, because the joke was on her.
I was really going to Starbucks.
(Pssst! Visit Because that’s what mommies do? part one!)