Diary of a Desperate Housewife Series
by Carmen Conners
Before I was fired and decided to become a stay at home mom, I maintained that women who stayed at home were nothing short of Saints.
I was a liar.
I alternately envied them for what I considered ‘that luxury’ or snubbed them, thinking they couldn’t cut it in the professional realm.
There. The truth is out.
Work was exciting, demanding of all my talents and, best of all, came with a paycheck. Staying at home was day after day of cleaning, laundry, cooking, bill paying, negotiating with a six-year-old and nary a dime for my efforts.
I wasn’t impressed.
I bore the income reduction with as much dignity as I could muster until the day of reckoning. My husband and I stood toe to toe. Staring straight into his eyes, I told him I refused to start another day, along with another load of laundry, without a mocha frappacino.
I’d be damned if I’d let the Starbucks go.
I considered every angle of getting my hands on extra cash. Garage sales, Ebay, getting the Kid to call Grandma to sell her on a fictitious college plan, everything. No luck.
I figured my failure was due to the stress being created by my husband’s obsession with cutting expenditures.
In one week, he did away with our cleaning service, the professional chef that delivered a week’s worth of gourmet meals (neatly labeled and ready to heat and serve) right to our door. He rubbed the last bit of salt in an already gaping wound by refusing my written request for a darling pair of Jimmy Choo’s I found for half off.
Don’t get me wrong; I understood that we’d have to tighten our proverbial belts. What I didn’t know was that my husband intended to squeeze a quarter so tight, the eagle screamed in agony.
I’d expected the end of luxury vacations, dining out and a reduction in my clothing allowance.
To my husband, however, this new budget meant minimal heat, even less light and hunting the wooly mammoth for food.
Oh, and he also cut out call waiting.
I pulled the wooly mammoth out of the oven (it was actually ‘rump roast’ but I was afraid to ask too many questions) and tried to think proactively. I warmed my hands in front of the oven and thought about how I could earn extra money. The dryer could only provide me with so much from my husband’s pants pockets. As it was, he could barely get through the door before I yanked them off to wash.
The caffeine withdrawal headaches were misery. The Inquisition was foreplay compared to being forced to start my day without a caramel macchiato.
I learned to embezzle from the grocery allotment by going with the ‘Loops of Fruit’ and ‘Starch-A-Roni’ instead of name brands, but it still wasn’t enough. I had to find other avenues of income.
I was still thinking about money the next morning when I took the Kid to school. Mrs. Parisi, the Kid’s teacher, waved to get my attention. I looked around, hoping it was someone else she longed to victimize, but no such luck. Mrs. Parisi always treated me with the same consideration she would a hangnail. I, likewise, appreciated her about as much as I would a butt boil, but I had to tolerate her. I was convinced she’d personally tutored Mephistopheles, Hitler and Hillary Clinton, but I kept that theory to myself.
“Would you be interested in helping us out a bit?”
“For money?” She whispered.
Well, she may have been related to the Devil, but Starbucks would accept any form of cash and the Great Deceiver’s money was green as any.
I should’ve paid more attention to the gleam in her eyes.
“One of our after school care workers is out sick. We just need someone to help with the children from 3 to 6pm. Your son’s welcome to stay in there with you. Interested?”
“Absolutely!” I said, cups of white mocha dancing before me.
It never once occurred to me that since I was having a hard enough time mothering the one I’d birthed, it would be better to avoid large groups of children. Period. However, much like the addict I was, common sense eluded me as I focused on the ‘fix’.
I showed up the next day with cropped jeans, sparkle tennis shoes, striped oxford shirt and a scarf tied to my ponytail. I looked like a manic Sandra Dee.
The group of five year olds sat in a circle and scrutinized me. I felt I was being sized up for the kill.
“Okay, kids. How about a story?”
They just stared.
“Um…okay.” I said nervously, reaching for my carefully packed tote. “I brought some books you might like.”
I took care to move slowly.
“How about, let’s see, I have Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Slave of Love…oops…not that one…”
“Harry Potter.” A tiny voice piped up. The others nodded.
I began the story of the orphaned boy who would become a great wizard and battle the evil Lord Voldemort, the murderer of his parents and general threat to the free world. The children sat wide-eyed and silent as I read the book with as much theatrics as I could muster.
“You murdered my parents!” I wailed, feeling pretty confident I captured the angst of young Harry.
I was right in the middle of the final battle, resplendent with bolts of lightning, spells and wands spitting jets of green death, when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“That is NOT appropriate reading material.” Mrs. Parisi said through gritted teeth.
“But it was in the children’s section.” I said, weakly.
“I doubt it was next to Pat the Bunny which, by the way, is appropriate material for five and six year olds.”
The kids, bored with the exchange, had begun playing. Several boys were whacking each other with their ‘wands’. A child in the corner burst into tears.
“What’s wrong?” Mrs. Parisi rushed to pick her up.
“My mommy and daddy are gonna die like Harry Potter’s and a bad man’s gonna try and kill me and I don’t know any magic.” She wailed.
I felt faint.
Mrs. Parisi tried to soothe the girl while glaring daggers at me but a shrill cry made us both jump. One of the wand whackers was holding his eye and howling.
I frantically began scanning the floor for a loose eyeball.
As Mrs. Parisi rushed to him, there was a crash behind me.
“I am Lord Voldemort.” The voice belonged to a small boy who’d costumed himself in a sparkling, princess dress. He was holding a broom. “I am coming to kill you all.” He began clubbing the children nearest him.
I ran after ‘Lord Voldemort’ to try and disarm him. I followed his destructive wake of stunned children with head injuries.
Mrs. Parisi was trying to comfort the small girl in her arms while trying to check the eyeball of another. I caught ‘Lord Voldemort’ and managed to wrest the broom away. I began to reprimand him when something smacked me on the head. I threw my hands up for protection, dropping Lord Voldemort on his rear end and causing him to scream like a banshee. Two little boys had rummaged through my unguarded backpack, found my stash of tampons and a rubber band and were using them as projectiles.
“What in the world is going on here?” Someone yelled. It was the first mother of the day arriving to pick up her offspring.
The little girl in Mrs. Parisi’s arms pried herself loose.
“Mommy! You’re not dead! Is Daddy?”
“What?” The mother’s eyes bulged and a vein began throbbing at her temple.
“That lady said that the bad man was coming to kill everybody.”
I opened my mouth to explain but was interrupted by ‘Lord Voldemort’ handing my book to the enraged mother.
“Here it is.” He said, helpfully.
It was Slave of Love
“YOU.” A voice boomed. It sounded so evil it momentarily silenced the room. I looked around expecting to see the actual Lord Voldemort.
“YOU.” Mrs. Parisi said again, baring her teeth. “You. Sit. There.”
She pointed at a chair in the corner. I sat.
A few mothers wandered in, assessed the situation and went immediately to work restoring order. The new mothers were told, in terse undertones, of my indiscretion. They threw occasional glances at me as if I was a slug and they were wishing for a box of Morton’s salt.
When the last child had gone, I exchanged a worried glance with my own kid. We were both concerned about my fate. Mrs. Parisi gave the Kid her best smile and asked him to step in the hall so she could talk to me. The Kid wasn’t fooled. He knew I was in for it.
“We will no longer require your help. I took the liberty of cutting you a check for today.” Mrs. Parisi handed the check to me with trembling hands.
“I’m really sorry…” I began but she waved the apology away.
“No need. Just go home. Now. Please.”
She went to the door and opened it. The Kid looked me up and down for any sign of mayhem. Mrs. Parisi smiled “We’ll see you tomorrow, dear! Thanks for lending your mommy to us today!”
“Does mommy have to teach again tomorrow?”
“No…she’s all done.”
They both sighed with relief.
“Are you going straight home?” Mrs. Parisi tried to make small talk as she propelled us toward the door. The Kid shrugged and looked at me.
“I think we’ll stop by Mommy’s special place first.” I said, winking at the Kid. He knew I meant Starbucks.
“Oh! Yes, we’re going somewhere special.” He said, walking out the door. “We’re going to Mommy’s special place we go to all the time.”
“Yeah.” The Kid said. “That’s why Mommy needed extra money!”
Ms. Parisi looked puzzled. “Oh? Extra money?”
The Kid opened the car door, smiled and said “Yeah. Mommy says drinking there’s expensive when you do it everyday.”
Your best yet !! After wiping the tears away, I'm now going to send a warning to my sister not to read this at work! If she laughed even half as loud as I did, she may draw unwanted attention and end up looking for ways to earn extra cash too!ReplyDelete
Gosh! Carmen, I adore you!
So here I am alone in my office laughing hysterically. I am sure the people walking by think I am nuts. If they ask I'll just tell them the voices in my head are telling jokes. It's Friday, if I can keep them out of my office I might not get any more work assigned to my pile of crap to do. (I actually use this plan the rest of the week too, but it seems to work best on Fridays.)ReplyDelete
I couldn't have better sisters! Btw...I LOVE the plan for keeping people away...you have become my new icon!!!! Btw...Shona...I have NO idea what your sister's name is and, if we're to be newly related, I better get on top of that.ReplyDelete
Carmen!!! You are killing me..!!! In a splendid way! OMG!!! I can't stop laughing! I am sitting in my husbands mailbox store reading this and laughing my backside off! He of course, is looking at me like I have 6 heads, and maybe if I did, I could be a character in your next book. Because if you don't write books, you should! Such a talent! HUGS and laughter, all the way girlfriend!ReplyDelete
Laughed until I cried. Seriously, you need to be writing humor professionally, no joke.ReplyDelete