Moon and I are playing chess tonight and I keep making stupid moves:
I move my bishop to a position that is vulnerable to his knight, and he says, "I don't get it."
"What don't you get?" I ask
"Well, you can't get me with your pawn, and you can't get me with your bishop. I don't get it."
"Hm," I say, clasping my hands together in front of my lips and raising my eyebrows. I'm hoping that he'll believe there's some secret trick up my sleeve, some unseen move that will cost him his knight if he takes the bait. The reality is, I'm bullshitting and I suck at chess, but I really want to win.

D. tells the boys that when the wishbone from the turkey dries out they can break it and whoever gets the longer side will get their wish:
"Do you really get your wish?" Peanut presses D. "Does whatever you want really come true."
Unsure of the right thing to say, D. says nothing at all.
"Mom, do you really get your wish if you get the big side?"
"No. There's no such thing as wishes coming true. If you really want something you have to work hard for it, and even then you don't always get it."
"I guess we're not harboring any illusions in the boys." D. is surprised by how blunt I am. So am I.

A few moves later, I take Moon's bishop. He takes my knight. I take his rook.
"Darn it! My sacrifice didn't work out." Moon slaps the table in disgust.
"It rarely does," I say, shocked by how easily cynicism flies out of my mouth.

D. calls from Chicago:
"So, I got a free upgrade to first class on the flight here. And then when I checked in to the hotel, they asked me if I'd like another free upgrade. They have this Penthouse Suite that is usually reserved for famous people, but it wasn't being used, so I'm staying in a $3500 a night room for the cost of my regular room."
"Awesome," I tell him. And I want to mean it, but I smell like sour milk from the spit-up on my shirt, and the boys are yelling in the background, and I just want to get off the phone before I say something nasty because I'm pissed that he's there and I'm here.

"Mom, will I get in trouble if I say d-a-m?" Peanut is standing on a chair in the dining room, doing everything he can think of to divert my attention away from the chess game.
"No. It's not a bad word."
"Dam, dam, dam, dam, DAM! Dam, dam, dam, dam, DAM! Dam, dam, dam, dam, DAM!" He is dancing from chair to chair, stomping for emphasis when he yells the last DAM, and I can't focus.
"God damn it! Will you stop? I can't take it."
Moon gets a pawn to the other side and turns it into a queen.

We're looking at East Coast houses, a realtor showing us around Westchester County. Our price range is at the bottom of the market:
"They're going to have to make a better offer," I say, referring to the company that is recruiting D. "We're going to have to get more money."
"What's this we business?" Dave asks. "I'm the one taking the job."
"Fair enough," I say, "but do you really think you'd be at this point in your career if you didn't have me?"
"I do, actually."
I'm tearing up, embarrassed that this exchange has occurred in front of the realtor. He's right. He's smart and driven and he would have done well with or without me. But if he's the one with the job and the success then what do I have to claim for my own?

Moon has me down to just my king and five pawns, and he still has his queen.
"I can't win. It's not possible."
"Why not?" Moon is excited.
"Because you have a queen and all I have left are pawns. You win."
"Yes!" Moon's fist pumps the air. "I guess my sacrifices did pay off."

There is no glory in staying at home to raise children. Nobody gives free upgrades to moms. There are no pay increases or important titles. There is a lot of shit and puke and piss and tears. It's ugly, and it's hard, and a lot of the time it totally sucks. But, fuck, I need to believe that the sacrifice will pay off.


Courtney said...

You are doing the hardest job in the world, and you are doing it far from your former support network and friends. I think you are amazing, and you are raising smart, compassionate men. I wish I lived closer so we could go out for drinks!

Audrey said...

You know, I read back over my post, and I guess I sort of come across as supremely unhappy, which is not at all the case. I chose to stay at home, and I wouldn't miss out on this little guy's baby years for anything in the world. I guess I just struggle with how to be happy for D. when he gets to live a grown-up life and I'm at home with the stinky boys.

And, smart, compassionate men? Have you read this blog at all? They're flaming anuses who will be lucky to make it to adulthood without getting hit over the head with a frying pan!

Also, I would totally drive five hours to have a drink with you.

elanaessers said...

I'm with you. My husband says he would love to be a stay-at-home dad, but I think he has no idea what he is talking about. It is freaking hard work with no perks. I love my twin girls, but sometimes we get on each other's nerves!

Stephanie said...

My husband and your husband used to work together when you guys were in MI. He found your blog last night and told me I should read it because you are hilarious. He's right, and I only wish I had gotten to know you when you lived here. I'm doing the stay at home thing too, so this particular post really resonated with me.

Uh, hope this doesn't come across as totally creepy stalker-ish.