Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Travels and Travails
Writing here from my personal ground zero, which is how I think of my household when Jeff is out of town and I am running this show in a solo fashion. I think Sadie's face in this picture speaks to the collective angst we all feel when mom is at the helm and Daddy's in another time zone far, far away.
So far, Jeff's business travels for this week are going rather smoothly. I hesitate to admit it because, if God forbid I jinx this and end up staying up all night with ornery/sick/frightened children, I swear I will shut down the freaking internet. But, in case I am not that powerful, I will just admit that I took good care of myself this morning, then had a great lunch with the kids, we all got naps, and we made it through the evening with only one grueling little hiccup. Here's how our hiccup went down: The three local Ellises (me, Simon and Sadie), arrived home from a pleasant excursion to the gym. It was about time for the little Ellises to eat their dinner and I had started feeding Simon some avocado and prunes. Suddenly, Simon starts crying hysterically (please, let this be teething, oh Lord, please) and demands at the top of his 7 month old lungs to be out of his chair. NOW. I manage to get him out of his chair, though not before he gets prunes and avocados all over his face and in every orifice. Just as I am getting my little produce section poster child out of his seat, Sadie starts screaming, "change diaper! change diaper!" and the scene would not be complete until Sadie too started crying hysterically.
Now, I have 2 hysterical babies who both seem to need both of my hands for very critical tasks. Frankly, I was at a loss. I got them both to lay down on the living room floor so they could at least keep each other company in their cries. You know what they say, right? The siblings that cry together can probably attend group therapy together.
Anyway, Sadie had done a massive job of evacuating her bowels and she's got a very tender diaper rash right now so she was clearly in pain with all that poop up in her rash. I am not a doctor, but it seems like a mom should address that sooner rather than later. Simon, well, we just don't really know what exactly is ailing him these days-- he had the stomach flu last week, which was really something to see all that food spew out of a little body like that-- and he gets really upset around mealtime. He was crying pretty hard too and it's really agonizing to be standing above both of them knowing that I can really only meet one of their needs at a time. I am not going to use any metaphors about choosing children during a Nazi round up, because it was uncomfortable, but it was not life or death.
Needless to say that everyone got their needs met, but it was stressful to have to make that decision in the moment.
Now, everyone is asleep, or at least, in his or her room winding down for the day. With finally a few moments to myself, my head spins with all the things I told myself I would do once the children go to bed: write a short story, edit my essay, blog, clean out my closet, go through our pictures, call my parents, declutter my linen closet. And, guess what: I am too damn tired from being up since 5:45 a.m., after being up 2 times in the night feeding Simon and 1 time saying goodbye to Jeff, who, as I recall it now, ran into the bed on his way to kiss me goodbye? How can I compose a coherent short story when I am literally up half the night?
Sometimes when I have my kids by myself, I think about things we could do to make some special memories. Sometimes I am able to execute these ideas and sometimes they are just absurd. I was thinking that it might be "fun" (loosely using that term) if we ate really strange food every time Jeff when away. Something like asparagus oatmeal or cupcakes with garbanzo beans. The problem with that is it's a hell of a lot more work that just putting some (already cooked) noodles and hummus in a bowl. Also, there is something contrived about working so damn hard to create a memory, instead of trusting that just being myself, as boring as it may be, is good enough. For me. For them. For us.