Since my husband will be back in two hours, I now feel safe telling you that he has been gone for five days.
I am exhausted.
He has been working hard, and I’m sure he is exhausted too.
Having him gone makes me appreciate how much he does when he’s here, and I could write a whole blog post about that.
But instead, I am going to give you the highlights of the last five days on the homestead, and let you see if you can pick your favorite moment. At which of these would you have most loved to be a fly on the wall and witnessed the expression on my face?
Here it goes:
Moments 1 & 2: At the dentist office, where E had two cavities filled. I brought the other children with me, because (a) I really, genuinely, sincerely thought it would be fine…the kids always go to each other’s appointments, (b) the dentist is expensive enough without paying an additional billion dollars for a babysitter, (c) the local university is on spring break which means all the sitters are gone anyway, and (d) I had already relied on a friend for childcare help that morning during one my own two doctor’s appointments that day (I’m fine…just regular check-ups…it ended up being the kids who all got sick this weekend…). Anyway, I set the 4 year old and 1 year old up with a video on my laptop and began helping E through a difficult dentist appointment. Ultimately, I ended up lying on the chair myself, with her lying on top of me getting her fillings. She asked me to tell her a story to distract her, and since I am not creative enough to come up with one on my own, I told her the plot of her favorite fairy book, complete with tiny winged creatures of pure goodness and tricky goblins who never win.
Here are your choices for favorite moment:
(1) when the dentist paused between fillings to give E’s jaw a break and E told her it was too scary to continue, and the dentist asked if she was talking about the scary fairy story her mom was telling. “No!” E replied, “it’s that loud thing (i.e. THE DRILL) you keep putting in my mouth”.
(2) when the hour long video ended and we were only ¾ of the way through the appointment, and T & S lost interest in the bag of toys I had brought as a back-up, and I am trapped – on my back in the dentist chair, which means I can’t even see the other children – by an E that needs me to continue holding her and a dentist that is not at a good stopping point and I breath a HUGE sigh of relief that S is able to follow my blind instructions to “move your finger around on the mouse pad until the little arrow lands on the word that has a big “P” (for Play) and then push the button” and WHEW, I hear the DVD music starting and then, OH NO! we all realize that the video is now going to play IN SPANISH, which will NOT hold my barely monolingual toddler’s attention, and I am at that point where you either have to laugh or cry, so I start that kind of ‘I-must-contain-this-inappropriate-laughter’ laughing that means your whole body shakes, which is unfortunate since I am holding a child who has an active drill in her mouth. Fortunately, I manage to stop laughing without going to option B: tears. (Note to self: pack a video that replays automatically…or better yet, get a sitter…)
Moment 3: Rejoicing on Friday morning that T (who had a doctor-diagnosed cold with wheezing and was up every three hours the previous nights), slept in later than 5am, only to discover when he does wake at 6:30am it is with strange noises, which lead me running upstairs, only to discover T and his crib covered in vomit. I was not worried that this was a stomach bug…his coughing fits have been so violent that the throw up was not all that surprising and we were on medicine to get the wheezing – and by extension the coughing – under control), but despite the peace of mind about his overall health, there I was an hour before everyone needed to be in the car to take E to school with lots of items newly added into the agenda: bath for T, laundry (every part of the crib bedding…which was no small task to detach from the crib), and the inglorious departure of two much-loved, but certainly unsalvageable books (so sorry Elmo…you did take the brunt of it…). Fortunately, half-an-hour into the consoling and bathing T process, I surrendered, remembered that being late is ok, put on a TV show for the girls and tackled the puke. And – it turns out – we were only 15 minutes late for school, and only 20 minutes late for the early morning appointment we had with E’s school nurse to manage her wheezing. Did I mention this had been a busy week? (and that getting everyone into the car by 7:30 every morning to get E to school on the days my husband travels is by far the hardest part of the trips?)
Moments 4 & 5 & 6: Leaving the doctor’s office Friday afternoon, after yet another appointment (5th family appointment this week…), this time for T during which we found out his cold had turned into an ear infection (boo hiss), but received (joyous!) confirmation that the vomit was NOT due to a stomach bug, but part of the whole respiratory/ear things we’ve been fighting and now had new tools to defeat. Bottom line: not contagious, beyond the simple cold that started the whole thing. This was fortunate since – due to wheezing children, vaccine reactions, and doctor’s appointments just before my husband’s departure, and doctor and dentist chaos since he’d been gone – our “day 3 survivor’s log” was reading: “rations are running low” (i.e. an empty refrigerator). It’s a Friday during Lent (i.e. the burger drive through won’t work for us today), so I decide to cue the Cracker Barrel gift card we’d been saving: fun checkers for the kids, easy dinner prep for me, and no clean up…or so I thought, until right after they placed all our food on the table and T decided to prove the “it’s just a cold, maybe an ear infection” diagnosis all wrong by vomiting all over the plates. In that setting, here are your choices for additional favorite moments:
(4) Me discretely stealing all the napkins from nearby tables (including one a very nice parent offered me right out of his lap) so I can use them to soak up the vomit before it started dripping from the saturated pancakes on the table, all while consoling the now crying T.
(5) The waitress, hearing my request for two trash bags (one to put the disgusting mess of napkins in, and one to carry all of T’s clothes) and bringing me paper sacks. Because that is exactly what I need to carry these soaking clothes out to the car…
(6) Me (covered in vomit from the waist down and desperate to quiet my two older children who are complaining about the horrific smell in the car before we even leave the Cracker Barrel parking lot for the 20 minute drive home) deciding that I could pull into a discrete section of the parking lot, remove my jeans while sitting in the driver’s seat and cover myself with a blanket, allowing me to add the jeans to the disgusting, but somewhat contained paper bag. Of course, only after I have stripped down to my undies in this public parking lot does it hit me that we paid with a gift card and I forgot to leave the waitress – who helped us clean up the vomit – her tip in cash. So my choices are (a) stiff the waitress who is now charged with the disgusting task of disinfecting T’s high chair (never has she earned a tip as much as she has earned this one), (b) unload the three kids, and walk back into the restaurant in my underwear and hand the waitress the cash (because that won’t look weird), (c) reach into the bag of vomity clothing, grab my disgusting jeans, put them on and wear those back into the restaurant, or (d) flag down the first person that goes by me in the parking lot who I think won’t judge me for the sounds, smells and sights emanating from my mini-van and ask them if they’ll deliver a check to the hostess, with instructions to give it to the waitress who just helped the lady with the vomiting kid. What would you do? I chose option D and waited for a grandmotherly looking lady to walk by and handed her a check to carry inside.
Moment 7: canceling tentative plans to play with our cousins, and concrete plans to attend a kid-friendly gymnastics meet and super-fun Sunday School kid-centric fellowship hour, because we now know we are contagious.
Or Moment 8: having a breakfast dish and a lasagna unexpectedly arrive at our door from the two friends with whom we had to cancel plans (I mean, how awesome is that?)
So if you could have witnessed the expression on my face during only one of these moments, which would it be? I’ve had about every facial expression you can possibly imagine in the five days since my husband departure! The only thing I’ve not done is sleep…
P.S. I do have to give a shout-out to the kids through all of this. They have not been feeling well, but have still managed to be amazing, even in the midst of all these appointments.
P.P.S. I wrote this post earlier and just sat down to edit it before posting this evening. Since the writing, another child has started vomiting as well. Does anyone have advice on how to help one child clean up in the bathtub, while the others are eating dinner, without making someone picnic in a bathroom that is now disgusting, or leaving someone alone where they might drown or choke. Honestly, how do single parents do this?