“I’m Just Saying” is a 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. This month, Alexis is cranky as she copes with pandemic fatigue.
I hate everyone. Over the last twelve months, this has become my mantra. I mutter it under my breath as I’m doing dishes. Turn it over in my head as I read yet another email from my son’s second grade teacher over his lack of focus. Scream it in my head as I find my daughter’s hairbrush on the kitchen counter, yet again.
My kids catch me saying it. So, I have a rote follow up, “Don’t worry, not any of you”. And, it’s true. But, when I gently wake them in the morning and my daughter’s first one-eye-opened weary words to me are, “You didn’t wash my sweatshirt.”, as a statement – not even a question, I can’t help but hear the phrase ring in my ears. I have “I hate everyone” tinnitus. The entitled comment comes after I’ve spent the early hours setting warm toast on the table, preparing triple backpack cornucopias of fresh lunches, snacks, water bottles and charged devices. All to be transported effortlessly into my now ancient minivan that has been warmed up for the less than 5,280 feet drive to school. Maybe the lesson to me is to quit this job or ask for a raise. Or get my kids to make their own damn toast.
I yell this out loud. Often from the comfort of my perch in my Honda Odyssey. The pandemic seems to have instilled a quantifiable amount of road rage in people. A 75% increase by my calculation. I live in a town with no buses, a drop off line intersected by a cross walk on the way to school and an eight-way crossing guard-less light upon exit. I probably need to draw a diagram, but I’m feeling lazy. So, imagine a grid filled with kids walking both parallel and perpendicular to the car line, and people that have been locked in their houses for a year. It’s starting to feel like Death Race 2000 rather than Drop Off 2021. I also had the benefit of being mocked by my omniscient friend Wikipedia who revealed in one fell movie year search that I am old. I should have assumed that given the title indicative of a future, already far in the past. I hate everyone.
My husband has taken over my office. Along with the rest of the house. His old office is freezing and no longer has doors on it. A poorly constructed pre-pandemic decision to make our century old house feel more modern. Never again will open floor plans be a priority in real estate decisions. Well, at least not this century. He walks around with his earbuds in during all waking hours. Sometimes I think he’s actually talking to me, since I have officially decamped to the kitchen island. Every day he wanders down from my-old-office-now-his office for [fill in the meal] – earbuds in – and proceeds to make something annoyingly healthy, in molasses like fashion. It’s like the Mr. Bean scene from Love Actually. Only, there is less urgency since I am invisible.
After he makes the most perfect whatever, he disappears upstairs. I finally settle back in, after attempting to ignore a painful conversation about utility rate caps. Inevitably he returns, blathering away about 16 extra semicolons in an investment memo. This process continues, back and forth, in an out, for breakfast 1.0, lunch 2.0. Finally I explode and say, “I don’t care if it’s the second or third round of this auction or when the bid is due…can’t you see I’m working here?” To which he replies, “The kitchen is communal space.” ARRRGGGHH. And, rather than debate the topic further, I just think, “I hate everyone”. This is saving me, us, my marriage, motherhood. It’s genius.
My daughter says, “Let’s play a game. We’re going to go around the dinner table and say what we are most excited about ending after we are done with COVID.” She picks anything on Zoom (stock short?), my son says six-foot distance and my other daughter says quarantine. I pick travel restrictions. I am dying to go anywhere, so ask me why we got our quarantine dog this week. And, rather than sort through all the feelings jumbled into this sad pandemic party-game; wondering if this is what my kids play at recess; thinking “I hate everyone” really serves its purpose. It prevents any other thoughts from creeping into my head.
My other daughter is currently in her room writing, “I will respect my parents” 100 times. I’ve hit a new low in parenting skills. But, Mr. Clifford, my elementary school librarian had me write “Silence is Golden” at least once a week and I still remember it. I’m also fresh out of ideas. I don’t even remember what she did anymore because there was a respite in the midst of the sparring where she went out to play and chipped a tooth. And, for those 13 minutes in between the driving me crazy, I got to be a good mom who gave hugs and kisses and told her it would be ok and scrounged up some ice cream. But, whatever I was, I know I was really mad about it.
You might think, “If she can’t remember”, it probably didn’t matter. Normally, I’d agree with this sentiment. But, the crankiness and frustration my daughter seems to have is slipping into all dayparts. It seems I can do no right. I was prepared for this with teenagers, but she is eight. Ugh. I hate everyone. Well, not you, little girl. I am just tired.
And, maybe that’s what it is. A way to just push off all the things that have been so hard this year. A phrase that challenges this year to dare push me anymore, a terrible mantra that is serving its purpose in answering back. Because, the reality is, I actually hate hardly anyone. It’s not a stretch to say I even like most people. I enjoy dinners with friends, volunteering at school, spending time with my kids, and a walk and talk even more than Mr. Sorkin. But, since so few of these things are doable, or at least socially acceptable, after what has been a doozy of LTM period, it is what comes pouring out of my mouth and mind.
My daughter walks in and throws her unwashed sweatshirt in the front hallway as she races to get ready for gymnastics. I pick it up, and decide she’s sort of right. I do actually need to do the laundry. But, the hairbrush, that is still sitting on the kitchen counter, she can deal with that herself. I’ve only asked her to put it away every day for the last six years. I hate everyone. Well, not any of you…
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.
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