My Sunday morning went like this: Get up and yawn my way over to the pool; swim for 50 minutes; shower and change; head to Levy's bagels to pick up the family breakfast; notice that they're out of blueberry muffins at the bagel place; decide it would be a jerk move to come home and tell my husband, "I got breakfast for the people in the house who like bagels. You're out of luck"; go get him a blueberry muffin from the Starbucks next door; come home and throw the carb treats at my clamoring family; pull out a boxed collection of Mo Willems books from the closet and throw them into a blue gift bag, then fluff out some stripey tissue paper; dress my child and bundle her out the door to a birthday party.
And then relax, because being in a park around 15 three-year-olds was more fun and less focused than the first two-and-a-half hours of my morning had been.
I honestly credit it to having some children's gifts and gift wrap already on hand. I have not the space for a gift closet -- in fact, the idea that you'd have an entire closet dedicated to gifts and wrap seems like wretched excess, but perhaps that's because I have a small house and a lot of people who would prefer a charitable donation in lieu of a candle or gift soaps -- but I always keep half a shelf reserved for a stack of always-appropriate children's books. Then, when a child's birthday party comes up, I just wrap and go.
(Once upon a time, I maintained a foolish hope that my daughter and I could collaborate in the wrapping process. I'd wrap a book or three in kraft paper and ask her to decorate with stickers. And she'd look at me all, "Oh, I don't think so." I will try again in a few years, when we have gotten over the "No, lovey, we're giving this present, not getting it" hump with birthdays.)
Right now, it feels like the children's gift stash is one of the few things I've managed to nail in household management.
I pulled out the car not-really-an-emergency kit last week when I needed every square inch of the Subaru's trunk space for the many cubic yards of compost I was about to bring home and I double-checked the contents. It was a tad dismaying to realize I hadn't checked it since my daughter's serial bout of carsickness last fall when, immediately after I caught my daughter's fourth hork of the day in my outstretched hands rather than let it funk up the car seat 100 miles from home, my mother said, "Oh, you don't have Tylenol on hand for your daughter?"
(Honestly, until that moment I was just proud of myself for stocking a pair of clean pajamas and a seemingly infinite supply of wet wipes.)
Oh, I have Tylenol now. But everything else seems appropriate for the emergencies that would have happened a year ago: small diapers, a backup child's outfit that was a) for summer and b) one size smaller than her regular size right now, a board book with no sentences. Also, I found three Reese's peanut butter cup packages smooshed into Chihuly-like blobs.
So I need to update that box and throw in a pair of flat, comfortable shoes for me (in case of car breakdown and/or earthquake-related debris, where I might have to walk for miles).
I need to update my earthquake kit. I recently refreshed our bottled-water supply -- a gallon per person per day for five days, for the four adults and one child who live on my property -- but then I noticed that the canned goods I restocked it with are all expiring. We're down to a box of applesauce squeezy packs and ten chocolate brownie-flavored Clif bars, and nothing else.
I checked the go bags and found that my daughter's still had a bottle in it. She hasn't drunk formula since December of 2011. The only up-to-date go bag I have is the cat's, and he died in January.
My lap swim partner was telling me that keeping the earthquake kit stocked and refreshed is a fun family hobby at her house. Her husband has an inventory of all their emergency-preparedness supplies and the spreadsheet has the date each item was added and when it's expected to expire. That sounds like a beautiful dream.
I have a Google calendar where I do have reminders to update my emergency kit. In fact, I cross-referenced them with my Evernote, so that different notes and reminders surface in that program to tell me to get on the ball. In fact, there's one pinned to the top of my Evernote view now.
But I was on the phone tonight with a good, dear friend, one with whom I hadn't talked voice-to-voice for a few months, which was a few months too long. We both told our husbands, "You're handling bedtime tonight," and we both took our phones out with us and sat on our front porches and spent an hour with the words just tumbling out, the conversational currents bubbling up and receding and running together.
At the end of it, I said, "This is super-dorky, but why don't we make a regular phone date? I'll set up a slot on Google calendar and send you an invite."
"How did it get to this?" my friend wondered. We used to take long walks on the shore of the Pacific, kill a bottle of wine while watching E!, go to the farmers' market together every Sunday.
We both had to get back to the Sunday night business of setting up the framework for the week, so there was no time to get into the question. But I'm thinking that my earthquake kit reminder might blink for a while because I only get a few free hours a week, and instead of entering soup dates in my spreadsheet, I'd rather sit in the spring night and talk with my friend.