Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Just making it

When Joel's away, my list of goals and to-do's, which is already admittedly small, gets narrowed down to just one.


That's it.

I don't clean.  I barely cook.  None of us shower.  We're dirty and stinky and hungry, but that's not the point.  The point is survival.  The point is to make it through until I can throw up my hands, walk away from my three, needy children, and say the most beautiful words in the English language... you take over.

Day one always feels so hopeful.  My kids still care about getting a "good report" when their dad returns.  We have pizza and movies in the days ahead, and I'm almost looking forward to it.  Almost.

Sometimes I feel a bit sad that my big kids go to school all day.  That I really only see them on evenings and weekends.

But then Dad is gone and on day one the afternoon goes on FOREVER and we eat at like, 4:30, just because I can't think of what else to do with them.  And every time I look at the clock it is 6:00 and an hour from the earliest possible bedtime.  Honestly, it is 6:00 all. night. long.

But my kids think it's great fun.  They get chicken nuggets and french fries for dinner.  They get TV on a school night.  And best of all, they get mommy.  All to themselves.

So after 5,000 rounds of duck, duck, goose and 5,001 tantrums because Finn was it too much or was not it enough and all of us getting slapped silly by Benjamin who thinks the point of the game is to hit each other while crying, "Duck, duck, DOO!" it is finally, finally bed time.

But then I realize I planned bed time all wrong.  Usually Joel reads to the boys while I put Benjamin to sleep, and I slip away just in time for good night kisses.  But when Joel's gone I head up with all three.  I assume every time that it's no big deal.  Just the gorgeous end of my day.

I choose reading first.  In the hopes that they'll then go to sleep.  Which would be fine, except Benjamin is so excited about his family on the floor that he spends the entirety of book time climbing all over us.  And so I strain to read the words with Benjamin's butt in my face and his feet on Aiden's head and his sharp, little claws digging into Finn's arm.

The boys are crying for Benjamin to get off and Benjamin's screaming with glee and somebody always wants to go back to the last page and look at the picture.  As if they haven't seen that particular picture A THOUSAND TIMES BEFORE.

When book time is finally over everyone is so wound up that I have to practically wrestle them into bed.  But I tell them it is VERY important that they lay still in the dark and at least pretend to be sleeping for the sake of their wild baby brother who is currently stampeding back and forth down the hall.

"Say night night, brothers," I say as I scoop his spastic body into my arms.

He just smiles.  And I hold him tighter and look at him very seriously, because I know that he's telling me something.  I know, in fact, that there is no night night in Benjamin's near future.

"Say night night," I say, as sternly as possible.

"Naht naht, Ada.  Naht naht, Nin," he says.  (Translation: Night night, Aiden.  Night night, Finn)  But there's a glint in his eye and I know we're in for trouble.

At one point I'm sure he has drifted off to sleep.  His little body gets so still.  His breathing evens.  I start to slip away and then... BAM!

He pops up in bed, scrambles to his feet and shoots me a great big, mischievous grin.  It's impossible not to smile at  that grin, but I wipe it away swiftly and tell him that Aiden went night night.  Finn went night night.  Now it's time for Benjamin to go night night.

My assertion is always undermined by the peals of laughter seeping under the door, though.  So I yell for the boys to be quiet, which gets him really excited.

When Joel's home, bed time takes about 10 to 15 minutes.  When he's not, it feels like it goes on for hours.  HOURS.  And sometimes it literally goes on for hours.

When they're all finally sleeping I head downstairs, but I'm too tired to even watch TV.  All I want are my pajamas and pillow and really, that's fine with me.  Because I'm going to need the rest.

Tomorrow's just day two!

I did, however, find time for this before bed.  French macarons from my talented baker-friend (which I literally hid from my children until after bed time)!

A small, but big aside: I am so amazed by you single mama's out there.  You military wives.  You moms who are doing it every single day.  You exhausted, resilient mama's who hardly, if ever, get to say the words, you take over.  It's beautiful, what you do.  There is so much love in it.  Your kids are lucky to have you and one day, when they're not so small and needy, they'll be incredibly proud of you.  For all that you've done.  And you've done a lot.

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