It all started with a simple decision to clean my room first. On a normal day, breakfast is followed by getting dressed and cleaning up breakfast, then the kids play while I do my hair a bit, and then the day goes on from there. This morning my Mom called after breakfast, and the kids were in a particularly rowdy mood, so I made the decision to start in my own room first so that I could hear the phone conversation. I made my bed and put away some clothes. No big deal, right? Except that it started a chain-reaction of events that lead to probably the worst possible impression that I could have made on my new neighbor, who stopped by to introduce herself and her two little boys.
Because I didn't get Evey dressed right away, she leaked through her diaper and peed on the couch. Because I had to clean the couch, the cushions were all wet. Because I was busy dealing with that, I hadn't taken the front room couch cushions out of my bedroom windows (where they spend the night, doubling as blinds until we can get real window coverings up). Because Evey was a mess, I decided to give her a bath. Because of all of this, I was dressed in clean-up grubbies with my newly cut hair pulled into multiple ponytails to keep it out of my way (ready for a magazine cover-photo gorgeous!).
That was where we were at around 10AM, when the doorbell rang. My new neighbor had just moved in and came over to introduce herself and her adorable little boys. Right off, I was off my game. I looked like a hag and felt self-consious, and my living room cushions were still in my bedroom windows, so there was no sitting and visiting there. "Come on in," I say as we walk in to sit on the family room couch. Except the couch was sopping wet from being scrubbed. Oops! We'll just stand and talk in my disaster of a kitchen with breakfast dishes still all over the table (because I'd started in my room instead) and papers all over the bar since I had started the morning working on registering all my new appliances. Feeling massively self-conscious, I called the kids in from the back of the house, where I swear it sounded like they were killing each other. They came tumbling out of the hallway in the roar and chaos stereotypical of the way large families are always portrayed in the crappiest of pulp-fiction formula novels. They were dressed in a random assortment of part-dressed, part-jammied, part-costumes reminiscent of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. I think my poor new neighbor was a little terrified when her oldest son, who is about 5 years old, went downstairs with my three oldest kids to play.
We spoke together for a couple of minutes, then were interrupted by her son running back up the stairs in tears. He had been jumping on the little exercise trampoline that my kids have, and he fell off. Seth, dramatic as ever a ten-year-old could be, felt compelled to speak up and say, "well at least he just scraped up his hands. If he had fallen the other direction he would have split his head wide open!" Nice. I'm sure that kid will be coming over to play soon!
Remember now that Evey (and Chloe too, who can't resist a bath no matter who it was intended for) is in the bath. A scream from Chloe, investigated by Seth, leads to the yelled-at-the-top-of-the-lungs report that "MOM! EVEY POOPED IN THE TUB!!" Perfect. Walking my new neighbor back toward the front door now, while trying not to yell at Seth, who is bouncing up and down saying, "It's okay, Mom, I'll get Evey out of the tub," over and over again, and me replying, "No Seth," over and over again between polite conversation while the sweet neighbor puts her boys' shoes back on (she made them take them off to come in the house) and escapes.
Whenever people say to me, "five kids!?! You must have your hands full," I think, "how stereotypical." A house full of kids does not have to mean chaos. It is busy, and often loud, but not in a "little old woman who lived in a shoe," kind of way. Except for those odd days when it all seems to explode uncontrollably; when the forces of the universe combine to create the perfect storm of noise, mess, and injury. Drop a perfectly quaffed, lovely new neighbor with her adorably perfect preppy toddlers into the eye of that storm, and I can't help but wonder what she walked away thinking about us! Poor housekeeping, pathetic personal hygiene, wild out-of-control children, mess and chaos and insanity.
As for me, I'm feeling embarrassed and determined to somehow rectify the first impression. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh sadistically every time I think of the look on her face as she was leaving. Completely freaked out!!