“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 addresses the never ending cycle of housework and her wish for a self folding blanket.
We have a throw on the sofa in my family room. It’s fuzzy and cozy and the most sought out item in our household. We have baskets of copycats, but the one in the family room is the trophy. It is also the bane of my existence.
The blanket lives on an oversized sectional sofa, in what real estate brokers call a great room. This is a catchy name for a space that combines multiple living spaces into one. In my case, a kitchen and family room. It was given this grand title to offload homes that house them to unsuspecting families. I’m not sure if mine is technically a great room, since there is nothing that great about it. The truth is, there is nothing good about having anyone together in one space 80% of the time. It should be called the worstroominthehouse room. Or the roomyoullalwaysbecleaning room. Or the roomwhereyoucanneverhearanythingbecausethekidswillalwaysbefighting room.
We actually bought our century old money pit with this room in mind. We subscribed to the great room bill of goods. We loved that it was an old house with a modern layout. It also still had walls and other rooms. Rooms we don’t use. Because everyone is fighting over Netflix in the great room.
During quarantine I toyed with the idea of adding more space onto our house. Somewhere between COVID-creep and homeschooling — I lost my mind. I love a project. There is always some part of my house covered in plastic waiting to be sheet rocked. It’s the death by a thousand paper cuts approach to home improvement.
Nearly two decades ago, my husband and I almost moved to San Francisco. I had long philosophical conversations with myself as I walked home through the lights of Lincoln Center at Christmastime — about what I wanted out of life, why I wanted to pack up and move three thousand miles away from the place I called home.
And the more I thought, the more I realized what I didn’t want to move. All I wanted was a car. I was tired of feeling trapped in Manhattan, saying we’d rent a car but never doing it. I was dreaming of weekends in Napa, when all I really needed were weekends apple picking in Warwick. We bought the car in 2002. We still have it. We still live in New York (not city). I’m a pretty simple person.
Now, in the midst of making major life decisions or deciding what vacation to take, my husband will ask me: “Is this like ‘let’s move to San Francisco but what I really want is a car?’ “
So, when I asked myself this very question with respect to the addition, I realized I didn’t want more space. I just wanted a self-folding blanket. I never leave the toomanypeopleinonespace room and probably never will. The whole addition idea was a waste of addition-avoiding equity I’ve built up with my husband. Since I couldn’t figure out how to invent a self-folding blanket, I spent said equity on a bedroom and bathroom renovation instead. Better ROI.
The messy throw bothers me more than it should. It takes four seconds to fold it. I timed it. I just hate looking at it. It stares at me while I am chopping vegetables at the island putting frozen pizza in the oven. It tells me that I am a bad parent who can’t get her kids to put things back the way they found them. It says I will never win the prize, as I’m shivering on the sofa. It reinforces my laziness when I don’t go get another one. It reminds me that no matter how much I try to clean up, I’ll never be done. It mocks my attempt to install any order in our busy lives, from its untidy perch on the chaise. Which, is all I really want.
The reality is I have created a Mystery of the Basket situation. If you have never seen this masterpiece, I am pasting the link here. Don’t read another word until you watch this YouTube Video.
My family’s entire existence is a Magic Coffee Table situation — clean laundry; emptied dishwasher; prepared meals; scheduled play dates; closets with clothes that fit – these things just appear. I am David Blaine. Most things are just easier to do myself. But today, my daughter complained that I don’t teach her anything. I think she’s right. If I think about it, my own mom, taught my kids to tie their shoes. She bought phonics books and had them tracing letters. She was a play on the floor mom, who made sure they understood. It turns out, I just tell. They couldn’t possibly know how to load the dishwasher, if I haven’t shown them that there is only one way to do it properly. Or fold a blanket.
So, I guess actually could have a self-folding blanket. It just requires real motivation to parent properly. A task that escapes me most of the time. Parenting is hard enough. Getting kids to do things they don’t want to do, is a tall order. And, all I’m ever seeking is that order.
I’m really not sure I have this form of parenting in me. So, as we go back to school, I’m wondering if we can add a blanket folding class. There are people much more qualified for this than I. And then, it happens. My 11-year old bizarrely folds the blanket. I swear. I should have video’d it so it wouldn’t seem like a perfect ending. There are several potential explanations for this:
1. She may have been reading over my shoulder and was being thoughtful
2. She was angling for favorite child status — after reading over my shoulder
3. She wanted to win a hard-fought battle for some new pair of overpriced and ugly sneakers
4. She finally absorbed my constant nagging, sometimes really yelling, to fold the blanket during a coincidentally, convenient time.
I’m going with option 3. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. Maybe I’ll also attempt this teaching thing. There’s probably something to it. Plus, it’s September. I have professional back up. In the meantime, I’m going to fight a little harder for the prize at our next movie night. This may make up for the 67,160 times I’ve folded it in the roomthatwillneverbeniceroom. I’ve earned it.
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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