My Family

For Rue, who asked…

I know – I’ve been horribly negligent about posting lately. Rue pointed out that it’s been two weeks since my last post.

Exactly. And if I hadn’t read that in the comments section moments ago, who knows – it could have been another week or two until I started typing. To be honest, part of me was thinking maybe I should just sort of quietly bow out of this weblog, with apologies to my (handful of) readers for not being able to handle it.

But I haven’t decided to do that after all. I just don’t know – yet – how often I’ll write.

But that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll steer myself back on track.

It’s hectic. That’s my understated summation of life back at work – full time – with two little kids in daycare.

Within hours of my first day back at work I was considering having a third child, just to get another three months off. And I don’t really want a third child – I wanted two, I have two. But that should give you – and especially should give me – a good indication of how I need to eventually make some drastic changes in what I do to bring home a paycheck.

To make it all even more complicated, Bill went back to work today – both at the middle school and at the college.

I’m finding that as long as I’m ORGANIZED at night, the mornings run relatively smoothly. So far.

Did I ever mention that I’m also a supervisor of sorts in my department? Well, assistant director, actually. I suppose that should be in caps…. Anyway, that means, in part, that my friend, the director of the dept, and I alternate possession of “the phone” – for emergency calls – every week. I think I’ve mentioned that I work for a moving company. So anyway. Last Thursday was sort of the ugliest evening since my return to work.

Bill, not yet back at work, had spent all day helping move heavy furniture from his friend John’s girlfriend’s apartment into the apartment she would be sharing with John. Long, hot day…two second floor apartments, all stairs, no elevators. Bill called me around 4:30 – I was still at work – he was hanging out with John until the brewshop opened at 5, then would pick up the ingredients he needed for a batch of barley wine he was planning to make the next day, and then he’d be home. No problem – I figured he would.

So I get out of work, drive to daycare, and get the kids. It works like this…I usually get Julia first. I strap her into the Baby Bjorn kangaroo pouch thing against my chest, collect her empty bottles and the little sheet that describes her day (how much she drank from each bottle, how long her naps were and when, what the contents of each diaper were, and – my favorite part – her mood and what activities she participated in each day. Usually “happy” is circled, and today, for example, she colored. Really. My 3 1/2 daughter apparently held chubby kid crayons in her tiny fingers and colored. Actually, she sat in the lap of one of the teachers while she helped one of the older kids in the infant room color something. So it would be more appropriate to say that Julia observed some coloring.)

Back to the after-5:00 pm- race for home…

So I’ve got Julia and all her stuff, hang out for a minute chatting with whichever teacher is in the infant room at the time, and then go get Alex right across the hall. He usually spots me immediately, except for today, when he was busy going down a slide head-first. He’s not supposed to, which is probably half of the appeal. Anyway – he races across the room, politely shoving other slower-moving toddlers out of the way. The toddlers closer to the door (somehow it’s usually always all the girls) gather around to gaze in fascination at Julia and point at her and say “baby!” in knowing voices. Alex elbows his way to the front of the throng and begins crowd control. “Don’t touch Julia sock!” he admonishes them. “Don’t touch Julia!” And if his stern tone doesn’t work, he shoves them. Yes. He got right up in one poor girl’s face (she has an almost permanent surprised-verging-on-hurt expression on her face, but today it was actually warranted) and told her not to touch Julia (she hadn’t been) and gives her a little shove. Then he turned to growl at another little girl who was reaching toward Julia’s tiny little piggy toes. It’s pretty funny. Except when he knocks someone over. I can usually catch his arm before that happens. I don’t know if he’s being protective of Julia or just possessive. Probably the latter.

Anyway, we get his little lunch bag with all the empty containers and sippy cups, I sign him out, and off we go. He carries Julia’s bright pink insulated bag, and I carry his. He is helping. We go outside and he has learned NOT to dash out into the parking lot. (We had a little chat about that sort of thing after he did it the second time and, knock wood, he hasn’t made the attempt since. Yet.) We head toward the car and Alex scrounges in among the decorative shrubs outside his little brick “school” to find rocks. He loves his rocks. And because of this, there aren’t too many rocks left for the collecting, since most of them have made their way into my car and into his outdoor rock collection on top of a cinder block.

I finally get him strapped into his seat, get Julia in hers, get their lunch bags in the car (rather than on top of the car, which I almost did once, til some other mother flagged me down – still in the parking lot, fortunately!) And off we go. Alex keeps up a running commentary on everything we see on the ride home – and everything we will see. There is one of those huge inflatable gorillas on the roof of a car dealership not too far from where daycare and my workplace are. Alex loves this big gorilla. (“Big a-ridda”) His little voice quivers with excitement as he announces – several times – “See a big a-ridda soon!” Then we talk to the big a-ridda as we go by, then we comment on the fact that the big a-ridda is back there, bye bye big a-ridda, see you later! And then it’s anticipation about the next thing – a big balloon on top of another car dealership…and later, a big balloon on top of a Texaco station. He is also excited about big trucks (Look-a dat beeg truck!), stone walls, geese, birds, and – as of this afternoon – big stores. I ask him about his day and who he played with, and it’s actually one of my favorite parts of the day. He’s so interesting, this tiny little person.

But last Thursday…well, it was my week for the phone, which usually isn’t a big deal during the week. But I get home, turn it on, and the “you have one new voicemail” bell rings. And at the same time, Alex wants more juice, doesn’t want to take his shoes off, doesn’t want dinner, doesn’t want me to talk on the phone. Julia decides to wake up from her car-ride snooze and cry VERY LOUDLY. I listen to the message, try to get Alex interested in throwing some toys down the basement stairs, and beg Julia to wait just a minute while I call this lady back.

It was horrible – I was on the phone – off and on and off and on – about 10 times, dealing with this situation, which wasn’t exactly an emergency, but it required attention and that’s my stinking job, after all. And meanwhile, Bill called, because he was stuck in rush hour traffic and wouldn’t be home as soon as he’d thought.

I try to feed Alex, try to feed Julia. Deal with the phone. Bill gets home, he takes over with the kids (I don’t know how single parents maintain any bit of their sanity) and I deal with this work-related problem. And Julia decides that NOTHING IS GOOD ENOUGH RIGHT NOW AND I JUST WANT TO CRY VERY VERY LOUDLY!!!!! Which increases everyone’s stress level except Alex, who is perfectly happy to YELL EVEN LOUDER just to be heard.

I’m feeling tense just remembering.

And my watered-down description doesn’t do it justice, either. It was just insane. But then it passed. Alex and Julia went to bed, the work problem was all set for the night. I don’t know what I ate for dinner – or if I ate anything. I am quite sure I slept soundly.

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep for the longest time…not until after midnight, I know. And then Julia woke up at one in the morning. Screaming. Quiet as soon as I picked her up, so I’m not sure what woke her up – she’s been so great about sleeping through the night. Alex was awake too – he requested juice when I leapt into their bedroom to get Julia. So I got him some juice, got her a bottle, tried to feed her sitting on the double bed in their room but Alex wanted to get out of his crib and sit on the bed too, and so rather than let it escalate into him crying, I took him out of his crib, he stretched out on the bed with his sippy cup while Julia drank maybe a quarter of an ounce and fell right back to sleep. I put her in her crib then had to contend with little Mr. Now-that-I’m-out-of-the-crib-there-ain’t-no-way-I’m-ever-going-back. It actually didn’t take as long as I’d expected. Just started my litany of everyone he knows going ni-nights. (“And Grammy is going ni-nights, and Papa is going ni-nights…” and so on through the family trees.

I went back to bed and tried to get comfortable – it was very muggy last night – and then two hours later Julia was awake again. Alex slept through it this time. I got her settled back down, and went back to bed, and then had to get up about two hours later to start the day.

I’ve had a little headache right between my eyebrows for most of the latter half of today. I’m tired. I’m tired, and I’m not eating right. I skip breakfast (though I will cook or pour or spread jam on it for everyone else) and lunch is haphazard…the only decent meal I have is dinner, and by then I’m so glad to have food in front of me and so aware that at any moment a child could demand my attention (and it’s not that Bill just sits there and ignores it all – it’s that when there is screaming involved, they want Mommy.) that I just inhale my food at the speed of light.

Unless we wait til after the kids are asleep to eat. It’s kind of late by that point, but at least we can notice what we’re eating.

And no, it’s not really like my house is one big scream-fest. It’s not. It’s actually a lot of fun, when there’s no screaming.

Alex helped me make eggplant parmesan on Saturday. Helped me make the sauce – with tomatoes from our garden that he and Daddy picked that morning. Helped put the tomatoes through the food mill…helped taste the sauce after it had cooked down…helped later the eggplant and sprinkle the cheese…it was fun.

So that is how things are – a mixture of laughter and chaos and lots of books to read every night to Alex and laundry and dishes and lunches and bottles and eggplant and tomatoes and bath time and stuffed animals and running under the sprinkler and going to work because we have a mortgage and other bills and a car to pay off and groceries and diapers to buy and wanting some day to find something employment-wise that is more meaningful to me, but being aware and content in the knowledge that my tall blond husband and my little tiny blond boy and my even tinier reddish-blond (her hair is coming in lighter now) girl are really the most meaningful parts of my life, and that I am both rich and enriched because of them.

Of course, that last bit makes it sound like I’m a pound cake with vitamins added.

Anyway, that’s where I am. Again – no proof-reading this post. It’s time for me to go ni-nights.

One thought on “For Rue, who asked…

  1. I was happy to read your post. It’s like I’m there. No need to give up blogging. post when you can. Sounds like you’re handling things better than I would. I’m little bit of a hot-head.

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