Thursday, January 31, 2013

Laboring at Keeping Clean

Impersonal Hygiene

When I Must Clean-Up More Than My Act

I hope my hands don't look like this when I get the
"Mom, I'm in labor!" phone call.

I knew I was a slacker at what FlyLady calls getting dressed to shoes every day. Until recently, at 9 a.m., I fumbled my way to my desk still wearing last night’s sleep clothes—baggy shirt, yoga pants, flip-flops, my hair clipped back in its ever-present barrette.
I can edit without make-up. My brain doesn’t need an ironed blouse to function. Should I shower? No. I might decide to garden and two showers in one day would be downright excessive.
If I needed something from the store, that wasn’t a problem. I sent my son inside and hid my slovenly self in the car away from the public eye.
All that has changed. My daughter’s first baby is due in nine days. She wants me to be her labor coach, patient advocate, Mom-in-charge, and keep her fiancĂ© from repeatedly saying, “Everyone just keep calm now. Just keep calm.” She knows he’ll be trying to keep himself calm. However, she wants someone to hush him should his mantra have the opposite effect of keeping her calm.
She’s shown signs of readiness for a week now. My bag is packed with lip gloss, soothing lotion, mints, soft cloths, socks—anything I can think of to keep her comfortable during her labor.
Babies are so darn unpredictable, though. I’m staying close to home, keeping my cell phone charged, and getting daily updates.
I also have had to clean up my act—literally. No more slacking in the personal hygiene business. I shower and get dressed first thing most days but not every day. My son called Monday when he finished work for the day and asked me to pick him up. I was just about to garden, so I was wearing less-than-presentable clothes. My misshapen gray shirt’s sleeves had stretched almost as wide as the shirt’s body from me pulling them up, getting them wet, and then pulling them up again. What was once the tiniest of tears from my cat’s claw in the front of that shirt had become a gaping hole. My ragged-hem ancient Levi’s were covered with paint splatters from two summers ago. I won’t even talk about what I had on my feet.
I looked at my clothes and thought, “It’s just a quick trip. She won’t call.” I then pondered the what-if aspects of getting “the call” on my way to or from fetching her brother. Part of that whole unpredictable thing about birth is not knowing just how long labor will take. If I were to get “the call” while in transit, I didn’t want to have to say, “Have baby chill for another hour or so. I’m a mess and must go home, shower, and put on some decent clothes.”
I became the master of the quick-change art, put on a decent shirt, clean, nonsplattered jeans, brushed my teeth and hair, put on real shoes, and went on my way. Of course, because I was presentable, I didn’t get that call. I imagine that I’ll get it after I finally head outdoors to plant the shrub that’s been sitting in my driveway for six months. Its roots have formed a forever-circle inside its too-small container and it probably has about another week of life in it before it croaks from neglect.
I imagine myself covered in dirt, nails blackened, hair mud-splattered, sweat and grime clogging every pore of my body.
The phone will ring and she’ll wail “Mom!” as I survey the mess that is me. I’ll just have to put that quick-change art to the test, grab the nailbrush, scrub, scrub, scrub, and be on my way.

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