Friday, December 28, 2007


I’m an easy going person.

Really. Ask anyone.

Ask my husband. Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea. He’d probably tell you about the time I went out on the deck to see fireworks – and he came out behind me and closed the screen door. Only, I didn’t realize he’d closed the screen door – and I turned around and walked right through it – and I fell on my face and bumped my nose – and I knocked over a chair setting just inside the dinette and it toppled over on top of me. After I stopped seeing stars, I couldn’t stop laughing – but I was mad as hell. The thing of it was – I wasn’t mad at him, but I wanted to be. And he made it worse by being all lovey-dovey one minute – and laughing at me the next. While he was picking me up off the floor, I tried to come up with a reasonable reason why it was all his fault – but there was really no way to make that fly, but then I remembered the time he rolled up the car window on my fingers and maintained that it was my fault – and just thinking about that really ticked me off – and the only excuse he had when I accused him of finger mashing was that it took place thirty years ago. Sheesh. Men really are from Mars.

So don’t ask him.

Maybe ask my kids. I didn’t mess them up too badly. At least, I don’t think so. At least, they are kind enough to pretend to be half-way normal when they are around me – and they probably don’t remember the ax story anyway.

Now that I think about it, that was my husband Johnny’s fault too. Our daughter Carmel was four and our son Nate was a baby. Johnny had to go to Germany for business. Right off the bat, that didn’t sit well with me. Not because he was going – but because I couldn’t go too. I never did like being left behind. Anyway, so I admit to being a little cranky that morning. Mostly cause we all had to get up early to take him to the airport. You could say good-bye at the gate back then – so the three of us stood at the window waving as Johnny’s plane took off – for two weeks – with the keys to our house in Johnny’s pocket.

Of course, I didn’t realize this problem until I got home – and it was raining – and the garage was full of other stuff. I left the kids in the car in the driveway while I tried to jimmy open the front door – but as anyone who knows me will tell you, I can’t open anything.

Carmel wound down the Volvo window. “I got to pee pee, Mommy.”

“Hold on, sweetheart. We’ll be inside in a minute.”

“Why don’t you just open the door?”

The little darling was so logical. “Cause Daddy took the key with him to Germany.”

“That silly.” She rolled the window back up.

By this time, I was wet to the bone. I looked around the yard for a rock to smash a window – but decided against it when I realized that I had less money in our checking account than the price of a broken window.

That left the garage. I could open the garage door with the garage door opener – and as luck would have it, the door between the garage and the basement was unlocked. The only remaining problem was that the door at the top of the basement stairs – the one into the kitchen and the rest of the house was locked.

I went back to the car. In the first trip, I carried in my purse and the diaper bag and the baby carrier. In the second trip, I brought in the kids. Holding Carmel’s hand, I stood in the basement at the foot of the stairs with Nate on my hip.

Nate took his thumb out of his mouth and giggled.

“Mommy, I got to pee pee!” Carmel tugged on my shirt.

Hmmm. I looked around the basement. There weren’t any tools or implements of destruction in my line of sight. I thought about Johnny sitting on the plane headed for Germany. He was probably sipping champagne served by voluptuous young flight attendants. He was probably just opening that new novel and relaxing back into the cushions.


There didn’t seem to be anything to do but live in the basement for two weeks. The good news was that’s where the washer and dryer resided. The bad news was that there was no bathroom down there – and it was dark and scary at night. Nope, my only option was to knock down the door between basement and kitchen.

I sat Nate down on the floor. He looked up at me. His face crinkled and his lower lip quivered.

“It’s okay,” I assured him. “I’ll get us in.”

“Stay here, I told Carmel.”

There were twenty-three steps. Not much space between the bottom of the stairs and the wall. Pretty hard to get up much speed, but I gave it a try anyway.

I backed up to make room for a running start – but it’s pretty hard to get up much steam when you are running up stairs. I hit the door with my shoulder like I’d seen movie and television “he-men” do numerous times.

I bounced off the door and staggered backwards down several steps.

“OWWWWWW!” I yelled but what I really meant was ‘@#$%#$%^#$%#$%’

“MOMMY!” Carmel screamed.

“I’m fine. It’s okay.” I sat down on the top step and counted the pretty birdies circling around my head.

Once the pain in my shoulder subsided, I got mad. Really mad. I stood up and rattled the door knob. Knowing that that was a stupid thing to do made me even madder. I stomped down the stairs and out into the garage.

That’s when I saw it. It was long and mean and it gleamed in the dusty light filtering in through the open garage door. I picked it the ax and it felt good in my hands.

“MOMMY!” Carmel’s eyes got bigger when I came into the basement lugging the monstrous weapon.

I glared at her. She wasn’t buying the “It’s okay” line anymore anyway. She grabbed my right leg and held on tight. Nate held up his arms and sobbed.

I gritted my teeth and tried to cover my rage with my best Mommy-face. It didn’t fool either kid – Nate wailed and Carmel’s little fingers dug into my thigh. “Okay,” I growled. “We’ll do it together.”

I put the baby into his carrier and slipped him onto my back. He responded by grabbing onto my ponytail with both sticky hands. I grabbed the ax and stormed up the steps. Carmel was right behind me. The area was restricted – and I did have two little ones, both of them screaming – but I took that door DOWN. In fact, the first swing felt so good that I threw in five or six more blows for good measure.

After it was all over, a warm serenity came over me. Carmel scurried to the bathroom. I changed Nate and washed his face. I made us French Toast. As we sat down to lunch, with the splintered door lying on the kitchen floor, I smiled at my children.

Carmel smiled back as I cut her French Toast. “You sure are a crazy mommy, Mommy.”

I beamed at her. Her Mama wasn’t raising no dumb kids.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

No, and her mamma ain't so dumb. It's been so long since my kids were young. I love being reminded. It was hard in the moment and the memories are so sweet in the distance.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Temporary website:

Allyn Evans said...

I make French Toast too! Thanks for the laugh today, Joyce. :)

Next time this happens to me, I'll be looking for the ax. I didn't know that windows were cheaper than doors.

Karina Fabian said...


I'm speechless--so just listen tot he sound of my applause!

Nicole said...

This is a fabulous post and I loved listening to you "perform" it live...what a great idea!

You're not only a smart mommy, you're one tough cookie! =)

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