This past week has been über strange for me as I’ve zombied through the first week alone again after two weeks of R&R. I’m happy to report that I’ve made it through the fog to the other side.
It became painfully obvious to me how valuable it is just having another human body in the room when children are present, when that first morning after Husband left were filled with a unenending stream of questions that demanded immediate answers, coupled with simultaneous actions that had to be accomplished on a deadline. Unanswered questions would be beat into me at least three times before escalating to the inevitable, “Mom! Are you listening!?” Gah. If only I could strike that word from their vocabulary … “Mom.” I mean really, must EVERY sentence start with “Mom?” Husband is so good at deflecting the questions and keeping order. I am not.
Standing at the kitchen island in the morning rush before school and work, I found myself attempting to accomplish all of the following objectives at the same time. WARNING: this is a peek inside my brain. It’s a scary place …
1. Convince Preschooler that I was not mean after saying the words “I’m happy to let you eat your breakfast as soon as you get your clothes on … NOW GET THEM ON! RIGHT NOW!” Convince myself it was not actually mean to withhold breakfast from a skinny six year-old.
1. Make a determination about whether Zoo Camp allowed peanut products for Sweet Pea’s packed lunch. Make a determination about whether I cared. Make a determination that the legal case I just read concerning the child who died of anaphylactic peanut shock was a true story. Feel guilty for attempting to make such a determination and feeling horrible for the childless mother. Look at my other child, who was picking his nose, and gratefully smile. Make a determination about whether it’s ok to just put a second fruit roll-up in the bag. Feel guilty for not having more lunch options on hand.
1. Answer the following series of questions from the long-haired child:
“Mom, have you ever made a bad choice?”
“Mom, name one good choice you’ve made in your life and one bad choice.”
“Mom, Name another bad choice. No, I don’t want to hear the good choice any more. Name another bad one.”
1. Contemplate whether it was really a good idea telling my little girl about the time I got caught drinking a single wine cooler behind the abandoned elementary school with a gang of high school ruffians (aka “boys”), resulting in the police arriving on the scene and arresting all of us for being minors in possession of alcohol, resulting in me being fingerprinted and spending several hours in the drunk tank at the Coronado jail, resulting in my mother believing that I needed to be admitted to inpatient alcohol treatment, resulting in my father not speaking to me for two days. Contemplate what ever happened to Lath Glazer. Contemplate whether I had any Mike’s Hard Limeade in the basement refrigerator. Add “Mike’s” to the grocery list.
1. Attempt to find the lid to my coffee “go cup” in a dishwasher full of children’s plastic cups. Attempt to determine whether the dishwasher had been run at all or whether the tomato sauce and/or peanut-butter ring on the one remaining piece of Tupperware in my house was enough reason to throw it away. Attempt to determine whether chlorofluorocarbons really leached out of Tupperware that was heated and cooled or whether it just was another urban legend that would be decried in the next decade as a false story that my children would refer to as a “wives tale.” Attempt to remember the name of the urban legend website. Attempt to mentally determine the dollar value of all the plasticware I had thrown away in the last year.
1. Eat breakfast. Provide cereal refills. Get milk. Make coffee. Put my shoes on. Find The Preschooler’s shoes. Throw The Preschooler’s shoes across the living room in jubilant discovery! Apologize when the shoes accidentally hit The Preschooler. Again attempt to convince The Preschooler I’m not mean.
In all the chaos, I stopped and looked around. I closed my eyes and went to the source of all things discipline. I went to the advice of the one who had the knack for creatively solving virtually all dilemmas: Husband. As I went through the decision tree matrix, I stood at the kitchen island in a glassy-eyed stare. They continued to pepper me with questions and the clock ticked down until they realized I wasn’t responding. And they stopped and stared, too. (For about ten seconds, until someone determined they needed something.) I held my hand up.
I was channeling Husband, now. I stood very straight and tall. And I smiled pleasantly.
“I’m going to the car. If you’d like to be dropped off at Gymnastics or Zoo Camp, meet me there in one minute.”
The Preschooler dropped and ran to recover his shoes. Sweet Pea flew into the bathroom in search of a toothbrush and hairbrush. Oatmeal rotted in its bowl. Shrieks and howls could be heard echoeing as the doppler effect from their progressing speed warped and warbled their cries. And meanwhile I was in my car, sipping coffee and having another series of thoughts, the best of which included “how fun would it be to drive away right now?” I’m sure that’s not mean.
I’m now considering getting one of those rubber-band style bracelets with inspirational sayings engraved on them that says “What Would Husbie Do?” That seems to be the only thing I can think of when my brain becomes a centerfuge of senseless information that must be tamed. I’m thinking I could market and sell about ten million of the things to deployment families, make five million dollars, and hire a nanny to field the unending morning questions.
What does your bracelet say?