When I fumble for my keys at the front door after returning from work, I see my little guy skipping to the window. Before I even step into the hallway, he’s greeting me as a wild cheetah, a renegade pirate, or a roaring T-Rex. It’s a mixed bag; I’m never quite sure what to expect at the door.
I love that my preschooler hops off into another room, waiting for me to follow suit in his already defined scenario, where mom’s part keeps the jungle, pirate boat, or Jurassic park going. Before becoming enthralled by the imaginary world I have suddenly been thrown into, I make a beeline for my daughter, who is busy finishing her homework. A quick kiss and hug later, and I’m answering to “you are the mommy shark, and I’m your baby shark!” Problem is that mommy shark didn’t have time to use the bathroom on company time. Tsk-tsk. So I put down my purse and head upstairs, where I transform from “presentable-with-heels” to “slob-with-bun” in no time.
Winter makes it particularly easy to justify pajama pants and fluffy socks at 5:05 p.m., but I keep my bra on just in case—one never knows who might ring the doorbell at this hour. My sloppy leisurewear selection is slightly more tasteful in summer when I risk running into other human beings my age before dinner and have to dress the part. But winter is a freebie. I usually shape up in time for Girl Scout cookie season, when I can’t really answer the door in Paul Bunyan-patterned pants.
But back to my homecoming. Just five minutes in, I’m ready to build pillow bridges across the living room floor to catch unsuspecting big sis at my baby shark’s whim. Three hours to bedtime, and I try to make the most of our playtime.
The first five minutes back home are often like a switch between different cultures, complete with their own customs and local dialects. Of course, the transition isn’t always a cakewalk. Sometimes, I just want to lounge, mope, and vent. If I had a particularly deadline-driven day at work, playing anything at all can be hard, especially after spending all day in a grown-up sandbox with figurative shovels flying around. But I try. Those precious first minutes often set the tone for the night. Occasionally they are all I have before I grab my daughter’s gear and head off to swim practice with her. Mommy storming into the front door and putting up a timeout-worthy pout isn’t exactly helping anyone, so I sometimes take those five minutes for myself, to read last month’s PTC newsletter in the bathroom while hitting my mental Crtl Z button and start over again. Then…I’m mommy shark.
By Marion Kase
Marion Kase is a working mother who lives, plays, and, well, works out in the burbs. She captures a dirty sock laundry list of mundane, sometimes hair-pulling observations, as seen from the brim of her coffee cup, for all the unsung heroes in our wonderful community on her blog, Helicopter-Caterpillar.
Illustration by Melissa Jefferson. Melissa is a textile designer, graphic artist, and mom of two. You can view her artwork at www.coroflot.com/majadesign