Last week was my third week back at work since my maternity leave ended. This was the week I dreaded more than the first week back. Each summer my husband takes a week to participate in an Arkansas-based mission trip, OMP (Ozarks Mission Project). He looks forward to this experience each year and I certainly don’t want to take it away from him. However, knowing that I’d be alone for 8 days with three kids, two dogs, and a fulltime job, had me scared. Then I learned that my mom would also be out of town for part of the week. Eek!?
I realize that there are many people that would roll their eyes at my concerns. There are families with more kids, single parents, parents who parent alone due to the other parent traveling for their job, etc. Everyone has experiences that bring stress and hardship. I am fortunate to have family and friends nearby and to have supportive coworkers. Still, I was apprehensive. Similar to an athlete before a big game, I pumped myself up and prompted people around me to give pep talks. I’ve got this! I chose to view it as a field trial. An experiment of sorts. Could I keep from losing my shit for one week. Surely, surely… After all, I am a strong, confident woman who has been through two deployments, lived in three states, work in a difficult profession, and have weathered many personal storms. Surely, surely…
Friday-Day 1 – “A Confident Start”
Trey took Logan to my in laws on his way out of town. One less kid. I can do this!
After work, I picked up the littles and headed to the grocery store. Norah’s carrier took up much of the buggy so I had to use the child seat for groceries and have Jack “walk” untethered trough the store. We did fairly well. He only climbed one shelf, ran off once (I took Norah on a wild ride to catch him – she’ll either be traumatized or grow to be a thrill seeker/adrenaline junkie, and made it to the checkout with only three unexpected items (Summer’s Eve, cookie dough, and a single mushroom – we bought the cookie dough). On the way home, I told Jack we were going to have a pizza and movie party. He requested a “sad movie where everyone cries and [I] will laugh and laugh and laugh.” Despite my sudden fear that he might have some psychopathic tendencies, we had a great night. I even broke from my normal rules and let him sleep in my bed. I went to bed feeling victorious!
Saturday – Day 2 – “Confident Within Our Cave”
Our day began at 6:15am when a chubby three-year old finger poked me in the eye while saying “You got eyebrows, mom?” The rest of the morning was spent snuggling my sweet littles and slowly preparing to venture out of the house. Things were going so well that we opted for a lunch out with my parents before heading to a birthday party. Lunch went well. Jack ordered for everyone at the table “salad, salad, pizza, crackers” and assured every server that passed by that “we are good.” Mom and dad offered to watch Norah while I took Jack to the birthday party. Score! …Oops, birthday party is tomorrow. I redirected Jack and took him for a haircut and to grab the grocery items we’d forgotten the day before. We then ended the day back in our cave. The only crises involved Jack peeing in the bathtub, painting the kitchen cabinet with yogurt (paintbrush is now hidden), and feeding the dogs cornmeal from the pantry.
Sunday – Day 3 – “Shaken, not Stirred”
Today was quite a bit more challenging than the previous two days. Jack fell in the toilet, while I was changing Norah’s diaper, and got the back of his head wet. I still can’t figure out what the heck he was doing!? We were 30 minutes late to church due to me not being able to nurse Norah and keep Jack from disrobing simultaneously. After church I decided to try out the new van’s automatic start button. It worked! The van started! And the van was locked…it wouldn’t unlock!? There I was in the middle of the church parking lot, holding a baby, with a locked running minivan. Fortunately, a friend pushed the key fob button in a magical way and it unlocked for her…not for me. I successfully (or, rather, she successfully) avoided the first frantic call to Trey of the week. We survived lunch and headed to the birthday party that I thought was yesterday. Jack became convinced that there were additional birthday party games located behind the “employees only” door so I spent the majority of the party redirecting, grabbing, and wrestling him. Thank goodness for forgiving friends who will look the other way when you fall on the floor while child-wrangling and hold your baby so you can wrangle again…and again… Logan came home and I realized that three are much easier to handle than just two, IF, the third is my awesome 9 year old helper! Tonight I would give him all the gifts in the world for helping distract Jack. The weekend has me shaken but I *think* I can make it a few more days. I think…
Monday – Day 4 – “Is that a facial tic?”
Well, crap! Monday morning began with me oversleeping. Logan had a meltdown while I was in the shower because he no longer wished to be in the church play…play practice started at 8am. Jack coated his hair with yogurt. Jack had to be pried off of my body by two daycare employees because he didn’t want to stay at school and Norah spewed a gallon of milk the second I set her down in a bouncy chair at daycare. I didn’t have time to dry my hair so I opted for the “beach hair” look that later in the day looked more like the “homeless woman” look. Logan cried all evening because of an ear ache. I served grilled cheese sandwiches and dry cheerios for dinner. Banjo broke into the pantry and got into the trash approximately 37 times tonight. I fell asleep on the couch with the bag of pretzels in my hands.
Tuesday – Day 5 – “I only cried a little.”
Logan had trouble sleeping due to his ear ache and began the morning in a serial-killer mood. I had to change my shirt in the car because I’d put it on inside-out. I left the diaper bag at daycare leaving us only one pacifier (we call it a plug) until the next morning. I kept screaming at Logan and Jack, “Where’s the plug!? I can’t lose the plug!?” Logan declared it the “golden paci.” Banjo ate the pizza I planned to eat for dinner. Jack ran across the couch, tried to jump over Logan, and fell off bumping his head. AFter screaming and crying for several minutes, he announced “I need to try it again!” forcing me to grab him and restrain him before became concussed again. Mojo peed on the nursing pillow.