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Coming Out of the Closet

Sssh. I’m writing this from inside the closet. Not the figurative kind, but the actual closet. This is what I have been reduced to—hiding from my eighteen-month-old son. I hate to admit this, but I feel I have no other choice. He follows me around the house, pulling at my legs and a lot of the time, my pants; even more often pulling them down to my knees. This is okay when we’re at home, but try explaining to some stranger in public why I’m not wearing any unmentionables under my mentionables. That’s only happened once. I really learned a lesson that day. It was like, note to self: wear undies under your loosely fitting workout pants. 

So anyway, as I was saying, I’m in the closet. I’ve been in here for about ten minutes now, and he hasn’t found me yet although I hear his voice. He’s nearby—I think he’s rummaging through the trashcan in my bathroom. Maybe I should hold my breath; he’s only a few feet from me—oh crap! I think I’m about to sneeze! Shoo!—false alarm. Anyway, I can hear his baby footsteps roaming through the house while his nose is trying to pick up my scent. He’s calling, “Mama, mama,” but I’m acting like I don’t hear him. I realize this is questionable parenting, but I’m sorry—I’m tired, okay? Believe me, I don’t enjoy doing this. But I just want to sit here with my laptop and my bottle of wine and bag of chips and have five freakin’ minutes to myself. Is that too much to ask?

I haven’t even finished making dinner. I was in the kitchen cooking a pot of soup but I got flustered with all the leg pulling and whining and decided to hide for awhile. I’m not proud to admit this, but I actually said to him, “Look over there!” And when he looked in the direction I was pointing, I ran out of the room. This happens a lot during this time of the day—not the hiding (although that is becoming more frequent), but the whining and the crying. It’s the witching hour (or hours) at our house. The time between five o’clock and eight o’clock (when he finally goes to bed) is pretty hectic. Well, that’s putting it lightly; it’s the suckiest time of my day!

Every time I try to do anything other than hold him, he stands at my feet, begging me to pick him up. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? You may be asking, “Why don’t you just pick him up? He’s a baby.” And to that I would say, “I have been holding him for a good part of the day.” We’ve played with Elmo, which he pronounces “but-bo,” and blocks and even played outside. But at some point I have to put him down so I can get some things done. People expect to eat around here and I have yet to see anyone else make the effort. There are only so many days you can call pizza delivery.

So far, no one is on to my hiding in the closet thing. Which is odd since it is five thirty on a weeknight. No one else seems to care where I am right now except the baby. My husband (I’m sure) is tucked away peacefully in his office upstairs, oblivious that this even goes on in the afternoon and my two oldest daughters are in their rooms doing homework. My four-year-old chooses this time to watch her favorite show, The Simpsons (another example of my questionable parenting), so it’s just me and the little one. Do you feel as sorry for me as I do? I didn’t think so. You’re probably thinking that I shouldn’t have had four children if I didn’t want to deal with everything that having four children includes. And I would tell you that I didn’t know what I was getting into, okay!—and we didn’t have a television for the longest time, so we didn’t have much else to do. Relax—we have a TV now, so there will be no more babies.

Before I hid in the closet, I used to hide in the bathroom. But that didn’t work for very long. At first, no one bothered me. They didn’t ask what I was doing; it was kind of assumed. I think they were even grossed out a little. But what they didn’t know was that I wasn’t doing anything. I would take my book or the most recent People magazine in there and just sit and read. And it was heaven. Then, the little pests began questioning my going habits. And you know who the ring leader was?—my husband. He totally sold me out. I heard him say, “Mommy’s not going potty; she’s in there hanging out.” Traitor!

So from then on, the little devils would knock on the door and when I wouldn’t answer or open, they would lie on the floor and stick their little hands underneath the door. I couldn’t help but laugh, but still I remained quiet. I thought that maybe they’d get bored or distracted and move on. But that never happened. After fifteen minutes of unending questions like, “Mommy, are you in there?” or “Mommy, are you going number one or number two?” or “Mommy, are you ever coming out?” I eventually succumbed to the beating awaiting me and appeared from the sanctity from what was once a clever hideaway.

That’s when I had to come up with another place to hide. Like I said, I’m not proud of this—it’s just my reality right now. I know one of these days he’s going to lose interest in me altogether, so I should enjoy all of the attention he gives me, right? I mean I’m already experiencing this with my two oldest children, and even my four-year-old seems to have a handle on the whole independence thing. I should feel lucky that someone loves me so much and can’t stand being away from me, but instead of that I feel like a total victim. This time every day I find myself feeling sorry for myself and being angry and resentful towards my husband and older children, who hardly lend a hand.

Oh! Look who it is! I’ve been found. My son is smiling at me with his crooked grin and I suddenly feel like the worst mother on the planet. How could I hide from the most adorable little boy in the world? He is so forgiving; he probably thinks this is a game. He wraps his arms around my neck and sits in my lap, reaching his sweet little hand in the bag of chips. We sit in the dark, munching on Ruffles, totally ruining our dinner. He looks up at me and laughs, poking me in the nose, saying “Mama.” I squeeze him tight, kissing his cheek, which makes him squeal with laughter.

After a few more minutes of Mommy and son time, we come out of the closet and I resume cooking dinner. Then all of the sudden it seems, everyone appears and pitches in and helps. Even the baby lets me put him in his high chair. The evening ends on a high note; we eat dinner and watch television together. Still, I can’t help but think about tomorrow and how it will start all over again. And remember, if you need me, I’ll be in the closet.

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