Sunday, June 09, 2013

Running way

I have been uninspired lately --- have you noticed? Nothing new here in over two weeks! A bad case of the blahs.

And then along comes Isabelle, and in an instant, effortlessly lays inspiration at my feet.  In her recent post "Walking Away," she mentioned Anne Tyler's book   "Ladder of Years"  in which Delia, the main character, while on holiday with her family, goes for a walk on the beach---and doesn't come back----simply keeps walking!

Isabelle's remark, at lunch with friends, that any woman who is married and has children has probably had the urge, at one time or another, to simply go for a walk---and never come back met with raised eyebrows and demurring. Really? Unless they have already been canonized and have a firm grip on their halos, I'd dare to say they are lying to themselves. I probably lie to myself as much as anyone but I'd be the first to admit I entertained fantasies of running away when I was in the throes of raising children.

It all came to a head one snowy day in Montana. It was freezing and frosty outside. The children had just spilled in the door from school; the dogs, seeing the door open for a moment, had darted in too. Bedlam ensued, dogs dancing on icy toes, barking and jumping excitedly, kids divesting themselves of snow-encrusted boots, backpacks, and heavy jackets all over the kitchen floor. And the baby howling. Where was the Mommy, delighted to welcome her children home and offer them hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies? Missing in action. And in her place an overwhelmed monster who suddenly roared.....

"Out! All of you! Out of my kitchen!"

I wasn't much of a roarer, so that got their attention and they left quietly, dogs in tow, leaving me alone in the middle of the kitchen, distraught. Writing it down has always been my therapy. I grabbed a notebook and pen and sat down, not on a chair, but in the middle of the floor and scribbled feverishly...

Wanted immediately:

Young, energetic woman to care for five children, their father and their dogs.
 Must be a person of refinement and even temper; kind, understanding and infinitely patient.
 Must be content to work for love, not money. 
Must agree, in writing, never to get the flu, cramps, a headache, an "off" day or anything that might hinder the proper discharge of her duties. Said duties to include cooking, cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, shopping and laundry.
 In addition the applicant will be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. This cannot be over-emphasized as unforeseen emergencies frequently occur. 
A dim view would be taken of an applicant liable to come unglued at the sight of broken bones, split chins, gaping wounds and gushing blood. An iron constitution is imperative; a working knowledge of  First Aid a definite asset.

The successful applicant should be a person of humble, self-effacing disposition as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies might lead to discord in the household.
Of course this requirement would be waived in the desirable, but unlikely, event the applicant gets fulfillment and personal satisfaction from polishing silver and removing splinters from childish thumbs.
The person selected will spend her days caring for the children, ensuring they are, at all times, clean, warm, well fed, rested and healthy. The  Baby is non-ambulatory as yet; the next in line has a penchant for running naked in the snow; the boys show little interest in season-appropriate clothing and have a particular aversion to baths and tidy bedrooms. It would be expected of the successful candidate that she could overcome these minor difficulties in a cheerful and positive manner. She should strive to maintain a calm, harmonious atmosphere, and never resort to such extremes as locking the little darlings in their rooms and "losing" the keys, or God forbid, forcing them to go to bed without ice cream. 
Gentle persuasion is preferred at all times to ranting and raving, especially in family room combat situations
She must be mindful always of their fragile psyches. Hers however should be of tempered steel.
The applicant will find it is easier to achieve peak performance in her duties if she can arrange to have at least six hours more in each day than the usual twenty four.

For the few hours that the children are in school she will have complete charge of the family dogs.
Their intake of playdoh, which the little darlings generously share with their beloved pets, must be carefully monitored to ensure that it does not exceed the USRDA for dogs under one year.
The applicant's chances of securing this job will be greatly enhanced by the ability to wield a poopy scooper with skill and panache.

The father will be the easiest part of this job, departing, as he does, before dawn, and returning well after dusk.
He requires minimal care --- sporadic feeding, clean underwear and shirts occasionally, and peace and quiet on his rare sojourns at home.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available only because the person presently holding the position is losing her grip on reality and is leaving tomorrow to take up beach combing in the Bahamas.

I never did get to the Bahamas. I regained my sanity and my sense of humour almost as soon as my pen fell limply into my lap, exhausted from its labours. So I never sent it, as I'd intended, to the classified ads in the local newspaper. And someone out there was deprived of the job of her dreams.

This is a little bit of cheating since it was originally written more than a quarter century ago! But hey, a post is a post, and it was prompted by that post of Isabelle's. At the time I never expected to get out of child rearing alive, but here I am, older, wiser, but still kicking.

I bet there are more running away stories out there. Come on, 'fess up!


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I felt like this almost every day at some stage between three in the morning .... the eldest didn't need much sleep , apparently .... and midnight . Quite possibly it was just sleep deprivation ....

Elephant's Child said...

I would still like to run away. Often from myself as well. In my next incarnation I hope to be a pampered house-cat. Preferably (and I know this raises the bar) one of mine, since I am told that no-one spoils the furry little beasts more than I do.
And I loved your advertisement for a super-hero (which all mothers have to be).

Secret Agent Woman said...

If anything, I'd say mothers who are not married feel the desire to walk away even more strongly. I love mine insanely, but sometimes the idea of little in a little hut on a beach ALL BY MYSELF appeals.

Pauline said...

I walked away, more often than I want to admit to, especially when there were three teenagers and an eight year old all together in a cabin with no running water, no electricity and no central heating. I remember one awful day when I told them, "Don't kill each other before I get back," and just walked out the door without looking at them. I returned half an hour later to four subdued children. The guilt is still with me.

Wisewebwoman said...

OMG I can so relate to this Molly. I remember, dementia setting in one afternoon with a screaming crawler and a yelling toddler and I took the crawler out of the playpen and climbed in myself, me and my book, and let the two of them take over the house, stairs 'n all. Two sets of stairs. The older one showed the crawler how to negotiate. I was completely burned out. But my hours in the playpen (it became a habit)were so restorative.
A few times I could have walked away. I read that book.

Thimbleanna said...

Hmmm, well, I supposed because I had an insufferable job, my fantasies were more along the lines of running away from the job, rather than the children. I really wanted to take the children and run away from everything and everyone else -- I figured if we could just sit and play and not have housework and cooking and whatever else, we'd have a grand time.

I probably want to run away more now than I ever did when the children were young! Yes, that's it. It's a daily fantasy.

Jenny Woolf said...

What brilliant therapy writing can be :) I bet your kids smile now to see that.
I once went for a walk to clear my head and FORGOT my baby was at home alone. I still can't believe I did it. I think I must have been pretty tired after those broken nights, and the first one is always more difficult. I did realise after about 15 minutes but it took me about a week to get over the shock!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

I still would like to run away.
Who know
since I believe in miracles
it may still happen :)

Isabelle said...

And you kept it all these years just in case you suddenly felt the urge again...?

officeprojects said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee said...

God! I feel like running away every day! More probably, hobbling away...because I've got a crook hip - the dreaded arthritis set up camp in it a couple of years back and refuses to move!

Writing your emotions down on paper obviously was cathartic - as it most always is.

We all have our "moments". ;)

Susan Kane said...

I had a 'run away' moment or two. It was after supper, the kids were fighting and my husband was ignoring them. So I took the car keys, went to a coffee and doughnut place. Came back after an hour, and no one! had noticed that I was gone.

Julie's Journey said...

A long time ago, and I cant remember exactly why but it was probably in the teenage years, I pushed my children out the front door and shut it. I think it was my defensive mechanism activating itself or else I might have done something bad. They just walked around the back and came back in but the ensuing 5 min break was enough.

Dee said...

Dear Molly, I've been away from reading and commenting on blogs for three weeks and I return to discover that you, too, have taken a hiatus. That's so necessary I think if we are to keep blogging a pleasure and not a chore.

I've never been married or raised children and so I read your advertisement with growing alarm--all this and you stuck with it. My life, except when I was in the convent, never called for an advertisement that would get me "unstuck." But oh, you raised five children with, I suspect, mostly equanimity. Wow! Peace.

David Oliver said...

I remember once when my sons were young and I was working a lot of overtime and feeling sorry for myself. I had called home on a Friday afternoon and told my wife I had to work over, yet again, and would have to work the weekend.

She seemed to have no sympathy whatsoever saying, "well, I never get a day off."

It was not until I was single and taking care of my son (we had 50/50 custody) that I had any clue what she was talking about.

Vagabonde said...

I enjoyed reading your want ad for a mother type person – it was very witty. Five children! I don’t think I could have managed at all – two were quite a lot for me. You must have a strong constitution to have survived all this!

Relatively Retiring said...

I've been slow and reluctant to confess.....but yes, I've been there, done that. Also hidden in the house on more that one occasion - once behind the sofa with a Mars bar. I could hear them looking for the Mars bar, but not for me. Bless!

dianne said...

i remember the one time i ran away from home ... i had had ENOUGH ... i drove to the King Soopers on the east side of Federal Boulevard (which has since moved to the west side), bought a chocolate-frosted Long John and sat in the car, watching the sun go down as i gulped it down between sobs ... thank gawd for no cell phones or pagers ... when i arrived at home twenty minutes later, i found that my four kids (17, 16, 11 and 7 at the time) had called their father five times, telling him that i was gone and was never coming back because they had been SO AWFUL ... i don't remember what was the last straw, but it must have been truly hideous...

sensibilia said...

Hi Molly

Originating from Isabelle's post, just wanted to say THANKS for recommending "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson. I read it and loved it! Have reviewed on Amazon under pen name "Addictive Reader" 22nd June if you want to share my thoughts.