“I’m Just Saying” is a new column by Suburbs 101 Contributor, Alexis Gold. A funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in New York City/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom.
I hang up the back-to-school Zoom, swearing that when this is all over, I will invest in some proper plastic surgery or at least have my eyelashes done. Actually, let’s be real. I’ve already had them done during a bootleg Covid-beauty session in a friend’s socially distanced yard. Zoom has mostly highlighted for me the fact that I look like I’m 96 rather than 46. The Zoom hang up is really unsatisfying, not at all like the old trading floor slam. Those days are long gone, anyway — three kids, a suburban trade (meaning I live in the suburbs, I don’t even drive a Suburban, I drive a 2012 Honda Odyssey) and a pandemic later.
But, if I could slam it down I would, because, it deserves a good, hard, throw-the-phone-across-the-room sort of slam for the combination of dread, hope and fear the idea of back to school has instilled in all of us this year. It has settled in my chest in the form a giant knot — solved primarily by extra skinny margaritas that have contributed broadly to my Covid 19 (lbs), despite the fact that, to date, it appears my three kids are actually going back to school. Because, at the same time my kids are leaving, it appears my husband is not.
With this thought in mind, I escape to the one place I can these days. My bathroom. The shower to be exact. The door bursts open. He’s found me. “Sam wants Vbucks. Did you tell him he can get them?” He sounds exasperated. And I pray for the power of invisibility and not swearing. And, so it goes. Covid-creep is all over my house. It’s the tangible junk that has piled up in our constant homeness – the half-finished puzzles we started ambitiously in April, math “Tangy Packs” leftover from not-so-synchronous learning, the Lego cities that have taken over my family room, stores of meat in my freezer and bazillion cases of seltzer (don’t even ask). And the intangible – the complete togetherness (which we’ve mostly loved), and — my sweet husband — working from home. My Covid-creep lives in my home. Is working in my home. And, if I’m lucky, will live here forever. But, if I’m luckier hopefully his office will reopen. Like before forever comes.
I love my husband. For real. And having him home has meant help with driving to children’s dentist appointments that are long overdue, and walks together in the morning. Grilling for dinner. But. I was taught in my parenting class never to say, “I love you. But…”. Never to follow an apology with “but.” But. This is a unique situation and all bets are off. I have loved all this togetherness. But. IT IS TIME FOR EVERYONE TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE. (So much for the power of not swearing.)
There was always something magical about the first day of school. New clothes, new teachers, new friends, old friends, the promise of new year with sharpened pencils and Trapper Keepers. The return of a fall sky and feeling of renewed hope. It feels more like a new year than New Year’s. Working (out of the home) parents are heading back to their desks, knowing kids are taken care of from 8-3, and conference calling just got a little easier. If you stay at home or work from home, that first day of school is often the first time you’ve been in your home, alone, since June.
With a nod to the Spice Girls and the music I didn’t get to play at the 90’s-themed birthday party none of us got to have, I’ll tell you what I really, really want. I want life to go back to normal. I want to hit rewind to September 2019, and go to first day of school drop off. I want to see my Instagram account clogged with annoying first day of school pictures and kids with perfectly combed hair, coordinated outfits and forced smiles. I want my husband to proudly carry in our Hartz box of school supplies in frantic search of three lockers, in the never enough allotted 15 minutes time to drop off three kids in one school, in the midst of first day of school pandemonium (not pandemic, see what I did there?). And then I want to leave him racing to the 8:28 Metro North train to the office. I want to be strolling home, mask free, to my empty house.
But, here we are in 2020. And, I’m betting most people are in my boat. I have not been in an empty house since March. I have not been in neat house since March. And probably a clean house since then either. The kids (and possibly my husband?) leave pee on the seat, and toilet paper on the floor. I find crumbs in my coffee that aren’t mine and maybe I’m just a bad parent and wife trying to figure out the best way to navigate through a hard time, or maybe I never taught anyone how to clean the bathroom properly, but, right now I need some personal space. Instead, once I get my kids outside playing (or nestled all snug in front of their devices) I get this:
“Alexis, do you think Sam should play less Fortnite?”
No, if I thought that I’d have asked him to stop playing, but if YOU think that then you ask him.
“Alexis, do you think you’re hungry?”
No, I just want you to leave me alone.
“Alexis, what are you thinking for dinner?”
Nothing – it’s 8am!!!
“Alexis, do you think we need to order Fresh Direct?”
“Alexis, what are all these packages? I thought you weren’t going to order [insert whatever I have ordered]
LEAVE ME ALONE. GO BACK TO WORK. GO PLAY GOLF. GO SOMEWHERE. BUT LEAVE ME. IN PEACE. FOR FIVE MINUTES.
I guess, what I am trying to say is that my Covid-creep has not just come in the form of leftover-pieces-of-paper-crap, and bags of clothes in my garage with no place to go. It’s come in the form of the man I chose to marry 18 years ago yesterday. My Covid-creep has come in the form of my husband. IS my husband, who is not actually a creep, but a really, really nice guy who has crept so far up my figurative ass that I might need to take an entire bottle of Colace to get him out.
I get that in the midst of my kids sitting six feet apart with masks on all day, spitting on the plexiglass that is being carefully measured to separate them, with teachers worried about coronavirus, and essential workers trudging off to work, people losing jobs, and so many kids not going back at all this is the least of any real worries. But, for a long time, it felt like there was no room for humor, for what feels real for parents all over the world, who for the last six months have had their kids and significant others constantly stealing their [insert everything you own – iPad, charger, phone, livelihood] I can’t be alone in this feeling of Covid-creep.
My friends and I have devised a plan. First day of school golf (or whatever you prefer) for all significant others. 8:28am rounds. I think it should be a mandatory meeting for anyone living through this period of time. Stay safe, stay sane. Happy back- to-school, whatever it may look like, and may you find five minutes of peace…without your Covid-creep, however much you may love him (or her).
About Alexis Gold
Alexis Gold holds a BS from Cornell University. She spent more than two decades on Wall Street, where she was a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor. While on the buy side her creative writing was used to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the recent closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing has been featured in Read650 and offers a funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in NYC/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom.
About Suburbs 101
Suburbs 101 is an online lifestyle guide for the New York Suburbs of Westchester County, Long Island, Fairfield County and Northern New Jersey. Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live in the New York suburbs through our interviews with local suburbanites and features on Food, Fashion, Home, Travel, and Local Events. Be sure to Follow Us on Instagram, Like Us on Facebook and subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter.