My husband left Thursday night for a guys weekend skiing. It’s only fair, as I got to go last weekend. He told me on his way out that he felt so close to the kids after his solo weekend with them. The chance of that happening two weekends in a row seemed highly unlikely, but I’ve had odder things happen.
I should have known on Friday it was going to be that sort of weekend. I was barreling along in my car, singing along to “How Deep Is Your Love?” by The Bee Gees, headed home from the gym. I probably had no right to be behind the wheel because frankly I felt quite light-headed from my workout and was still gasping for breath. I looked in my rear-view mirror at the jerk tailgating me, and caught wind of a few wispy grey hairs sticking out of my greasy ponytail. I thought to myself how much getting old really sucks while simultaneously thanking the Crossfit gods that we hadn’t had to jump rope during the session. There is nothing worse than turning into a wet mess at 10 a.m. four years after your kids are finally out of diapers.
Friday afternoon brought a myriad of playdates: six children took over my house for several hours. The kids had early release, so I busied myself about the house, and attempted to start my Spring cleaning. With a husband nicknamed Templeton by his children(think Charlotte’s Web), having him four hours away by plane is the optimal time to clean anything out. I started with the poorly placed coat closet over by the door to our garage. It wasn’t as packed with coats as it usually was, but I quickly remembered that my husband had recently moved all of his to the front closet. We all have our quirks about our men, and mine hates sharing space. He refuses to pack a bag with anyone else in the family, so his recent decision to move his coats to the front closet shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. After tidying up the “general” closet shared by four of us, I went to see what “his” is looking like these days. Not only has he moved all of his coats there, he now has shoes there. I looked on the back wall, curious to see if I might find a mirror or maybe some baskets up top with his personal items? I’m letting his territory marking go on for now, but if I start seeing Sports Illustrated Swimsuit posters or any sign that he’s looking to install a urinal in there, that’s where I’ll draw the line.
Friday night I took the kids to Chipotle for dinner, followed by ice cream in the mall around the corner with a friend. Dinner was a series of robotic commands directed at my darling three children who are still working on differentiating themselves from farm animals while dining out. “On your bottom, wipe your face, napkin in your lap, hands to ourselves, please clean up after yourself, don’t just eat the chips please….” Ice cream with all three was equally interesting. My adorable son is blessed with his dad’s selective hearing. I told him twice to be careful about the huge blob of caramel sauce on the counter near his hand, even though I felt like a total nag. No less than ten seconds later, he smeared his whole hand in it and then attempted to wipe it on his shirt, only to hear me shouting, “No, no, no. Not on the shirt honey. Now go get yourself a napkin please.” I turned around thirty seconds later to find my six-year-old daughter distressed, lip quivering about her sundae choice. “Mommy, I didn’t want the whipped cream.” (Thank you to my friend for bailing me out on that one). On the way out to the car, it was the usual stream of inquiries: “Mommy, can we please visit Lids? Can we walk down to Build-A-Bear? Can we visit the helicopter booth? They have FIFTEEN different kinds, mom.” Then I say, “No kids, not today.” Followed by, “You are so mean mom. You never let us buy anything.” All the while, I’m wondering if one of those fifteen helicopters could hold 136 pounds so that I could hop on board and get the hell out of that mall as fast as humanly possible.
After that, to add insult to injury, I had to take the younger two to Whitney’s indoor lacrosse practice from 7-8:30. You might have thought I was born in the Dark Ages, because guess what? I showed up without any electronics. There I was, all high and mighty, in my tough girl mentality, thinking they would be just fine. I never had those distractions, and a little boredom is healthy for kids to feel from time to time. By 7:15 I was about to pack them into the car and head to the nearest liquor store. Tired and whiny, things were headed south fast. We walked about the gym, we told stories, and by God, we survived what felt like the longest ninety minutes to be without technology since the internet was invented.
When we got home at 8:45, they all begged to sleep together in the basement. I caved, thinking they all looked so cute. It went well, actually, and they went right to sleep. Everything was dandy until Hadley (6) came up to my bed at 2 a.m. and climbed in. I gave in, too tired to put her in her own bed. She kicked me and tossed for three hours, until I carried her down the hall, so groggy I bumped into walls.
She awoke at 5:30 a.m., loudly sobbing, crying out, “Why am I here? Why did you take me out of the sleepover? Why?” She came into my room and I begged her to go back to bed. An hour later, she was still up and I asked her to go down and turn on the coffee maker for me. I thought of the sign in my friend C’s kitchen: “GIVE ME THE COFFEE, AND NO ONE GETS HURT.” It was quickly turning into that kind of morning.
Whitney (10), came up the stairs at about 7:00, singing “Hard Knock Life” at the top of her lungs. She busted into my room as if it were 11:00. “I’m trying to sleep, honey” I groaned from underneath my pillow. I told her my coffee maker was all set up. Could she please just go turn it on?
Twenty minutes later I came down and turned my coffee maker on and waited for the six painful minutes it takes to percolate a few cups. I looked in to the family room to see the kids lounging about, watching television. I scurried around, prepping breakfast, pouring juice, and setting the table. It felt like I was running a B&B, inhabited by guests I created who expectantly awaited my services.
Midway through the day, my husband texted a photo of the new ski coat he bought himself on the trip. Red, Marmot brand, sharp looking for sure. “To go in the private coat closet” I said to myself in an Elaine-from-Seinfeld sort of voice, my beady eyes squinting with disdain.
Fifteen years ago, weekends were something entirely different. I would have been waking up with a hangover, chit-chatting with my roommates about the events of the prior night. We’d start giggling over who was drunk, who was checking out who, and who ended up going home with who. I realize that if I walked into one of my old haunts in Boston now, the place would probably go quiet in hush tones within ten seconds of my entering. Heads would turn, and I would be met with curious, pressing stares. People would lean in, asking the inevitable, “Is she just someone’s mom, or is she a cougar?”.
The rest of the day went like the first half: up, down, seat belt securely fastened. Occasional turbulence, but we’ve leveled off to a cruising altitude, at least for now. I can brace for a crash landing at a moment’s notice. What else have I learned? When the call bell rings, answer it. Don’t try to escape through the nearest marked exit: they’ll find you! Most of the time, they won’t like the meals. Cocktails are available in the cabin, for a price, but worth every dime. Sit back, enjoy the flight, and thank you for flying Motherhood Air.