Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

September 15, 2004

Sentence Martha Stewart!

Apparently Martha Stewart has not yet gone to jail because they have no space for her at the minimum-security facility where she will be allowed to watch TV, read and work in the kitchen.

Because it’s obviously dangerous to society to have a criminal like her walking the streets in a chinchilla coat, I would like to offer this simple solution:

Sentence her to house arrest. Preferably at my house.

She could watch TV, read and work in the kitchen at my house as well as she could at the Big House. I'm especially open to that kitchen part (and I definitely will not stand in her way if she wishes to read “Clifford” to Lucy for the one millionth time in a single day).

Also, the security on our house can accurately be described as minimal. An eight-month-old Golden Retriever puppy named Rosie guards the door (when she is not chewing on it).

So, what would the harm be if she went here, rather than there? None that I can see. It would even save the taxpayers money.

But for many reasons beyond that, house arrest is a far better solution than jail. Being locked up with me and my family could scare her straighter than the folds on a Martha Stewart spring fresh linen table napkin (which one can purchase in a four-pack for a mere $49.95, plus shipping and handling).

If Martha Stewart had to come here to cook and clean, I am confident she would never lie again. Nothing would be worth this punishment.

This is what Martha Stewart would find if she were to pick up my family room floor right now:

  • one plastic ball with teddy bear inside
  • one Barbie lying face down with her right hand up in a Barbie-power salute
  • one small grape skeleton
  • two pairs of shoes
  • one pair of slippers
  • two unread magazines
  • one box of Kleenex, tipped on its side
  • two runaway tissues
  • one pair of green checked baby capris, brought downstairs by Lucy when I asked her to go get Alice’s pajamas
  • one unused disposable diaper
  • three picture books
  • two coloring books
  • one dirty sock, toddler size four
  • one puppy training manual
  • one half a pistachio shell
  • half a dozen “crazy ants” wandering the floor in search of crumbs
  • approximately 300 self-portraits by Lucy, along with an equal amount of drawings of Alice’s big, bald head

The kitchen situation might be even more alarming.

Among other things, the counters contain one nearly ebony banana, one box of ant poison and a tub of assorted items I’m supposed to file away in my office. These include spray glue and ribbon remnants left over from an attack of Martha Stewartitis, which is defined as a desire to have a beautiful, perfect home filled with hand-made Good Things. Alongside the dead ribbon are the real pieces de resistance: drops to cure the puppy of her roundworms, pills meant to discourage her from eating her own poop, and the ashes of our dear-departed cat (whose death, fortunately, had nothing to do with the dog, the dog's poop, or the crud in the family room).

When I consider this mess, I am disgusted. Who lives like this?

A lot of people, probably. When you have two children, jobs and pets, having a house that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog is impossible, only in part because of that huge stack of Pottery Barn catalogs that have yet to make it to the recycling bin.

Ah, parenthood.

Unless you want to spend all your free moments cleaning, and unless you want your kids to think their first names are Put That Away Right Now, the job means embracing a certain level of chaos and mess. Maybe not as much as I have embraced (and somehow smeared all over my clothes). But certainly more than I ever imagined when I registered for those chic, beige dinner napkins that need to be ironed every time they are used.

I do fantasize about having a house that is Martha-Stewart beautiful and clean. But when I look at her sad face in the newspapers, rising like a pale moon out of that chinchilla neckerchief, I also fantasize that this domestic dominatrix gets a second chance to learn what good things in life really are: a puppy and two happy little girls on a rug covered with dog hair and crumbs, and enough original art that says LUCY MAMA DADA ALICE ROSIE LOVE LOVE LOVE to cover every heavily fingerprinted window in the house.

Because when that house becomes the center of your universe, no matter how messy it gets, it doesn’t feel like such a bad place, after all.

A new book to recommend!
Are you thinking about having another baby? Are you wondering how you're going to manage the kids you've got? Beyond One: Growing a Family and Getting a Life, by Jennifer Bingham Hull, might be just what you need.


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