School Lunch Sucks

I’m going to admit something. I don’t want to get divorced because I don’t want to make my kids’ lunches in the morning. That’s what Maxime does. He makes their lunches. It’s his goddamn job, no matter how hung over he is. Even if he got in from the bar at 3am and he still reeks of beer and his one eye is swollen because he slept on it, he make the lunches. In my opinion, he gives gives puts in too many carbs and processed granola bars, but I don’t say anything so I won’t ever have to make the lunches myself.

I also don’t want to shop for the lunch food. That’s right. He also does the grocery shopping. If you’ve ever been married with kids, you know that’s a huge deal. If I added just these two chores to my list of shit to do, I would do nothing but chores, household administrative crap, kid activities, and my actual paying job from 6:30 am to 10 pm every effing day without a break ever. Forget dating again. Forget taking up pottery or joining a book club. Forget getting my groove back or or traipsing off to India to eat, love, and pray.

Then I had a brilliant idea. What if the girls bought school lunch? Then I could go ahead and get divorced! They were sitting on the couch in the living room each intensely taking advantage of their daily allotted hour of screen time.  I asked them, “Girls? Girls! What do you think of school lunch? Do a lot of people get it?”

My ten year old, who is usually the spokesperson for the pair,  did not bother looking up from her iPad game. “Some people do.”

“Ok, good,” I said enthusiastically. “What do they serve? Does it look good?”

She continued connecting lines of colorful squares on a grid. “No.”

Maybe I could win over the six year old who was absorbed in a Netflix episode of Pokemon.

“Sweetie? Sweetie. Pause that for a minute. Do you like school lunch? Don’t they make peanut butter sandwiches?”

“The bread is too mushy.” She went back to Pikachu’s big battle. When she says something is too mushy or has too much of “a taste,” it’s not even worth a discussion. It will not be eaten.

I remembered the school lunches from the 80s. Tater tots on styrofoam trays. But then I rallied with another brainstorm. “Well girls, how would you like to make your own lunches in the morning! Wouldn’t that be cool? You’re getting so big.”

Disgusted, the big one looked up from the screen. “I like how daddy does it.”

Sigh. “So do I,” I said.

And now I’m doomed to stay in a marriage with a hung over Frenchman. He’s made himself indispensable in this way. Lunches and groceries. And I guess he earns half our income. And we live in the most expensive city in the world, so I would have to move to afford a place on my own. And it would be a nightmare to tell my older daughter that she has to change schools and that her parents are splitting. This is a child who at ten years old told me, “I don’t like change.” Just like that. She already knows that about herself. She cried when I said it was time to change the rug in her room and get a nice new one. “But grandpa got me that rug for my fifth birthday!”

Yes, I know intellectually know it’s not just lunches that keep me in the marriage. But I swear, when I picture myself divorced, I worry about the lunches. I think to myself, “How on earth will I do the lunches?”




Well, I mentioned the thing about moving to the house while pregnant and our first baby so I guess I have to get into it a little. But I don’t want to do a major flashback. Then again a flashback isn’t as bad as a dream sequence. And a memoir is one giant flashback, so I’ll go for it.

The gist of the flashback is that: 1. I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood when my daughter was born. No one. And I sat in the house with a new born baby every day and had no idea what I was supposed to do. 2. I’m a pretty anxious person anyway. 3. I never met a newborn before. I mean, I’d seen them on the street, but that’s not exactly the same thing. 4. I was depressed. I would burst into tears. I cursed. I felt inside my own head with the same thoughts going round and round. “I don’t have anyone. What am I supposed to do.” It’s just what happens with me. It’s why I take Paxil on and off. And of course, while pregnant and nursing, I was off.

So that was the start of all the problems, or at least that was what surfaced the underlying problems. Even though we had a beautiful, perfect chubby baby with huge blue eyes and fat folds at the wrists. She wasn’t colicky, but she was a kind of whiney. And I was so fragile that I would get a surge of anxiety chemicals when she whimpered or cried. Hence, everyone had to everyone to be quiet when she took a nap!

“Shhhhhh! The baby is sleeping!” I would whisper-shout at Maxime. “Stop moving around!” The look I would give him if he sneezed!

You must remember that this was the time of “attachment parenting,” which was of course invented by a man. This Dr. guy had the nerve to say your baby wouldn’t be well-adjusted if you didn’t strap it onto yourself at work. You had to nurse or else you were doing emotional damage. You were supposed to sleep with the baby in your bed and nurse peacefully in your sleep! Well, my little sweetie, spit up prodigious amounts every time she nursed. Change of sheets, pjs, and swaddle clothes—every time.

Lack of sleep is not a good idea for a depressed, hormonal mom off her Paxil. Even though going back to work was the best thing for someone like me, this attachment nonsense made me feel like crap. I went back part-time for many years, which turned out to be great. But at the time, I dreaded the days at home. What would I do if I couldn’t find a library story time. Or another activity. Die of loneliness. My poor baby. She deserved better. I truly hope I kept a stiff upper lip for her most of the time. I remember wearing her in the Bjorn and kissing the top of her warm, awesome-smelling baby head as we walked and walked the streets of Brooklyn.

Let me try to remember where Maxime was during all this. Oh right. He was “working late.” When did it start? It’s hard to pinpoint. We met in a bar, so what did I expect? I guess I expected him to quit his pool team when the baby was born. That was my second mistake. Telling a man to quit his bar pool team.