The girls wake me up at 6:30 am.
Usually this is Noah's shift, or at least Netflix's shift. In the entirety of our lives together before now, Noah has risen to go to work in the morning and ever since we have had kids, I have stayed home. Now, there are plenty of people out there willing to tell you how staying at home with kids is harder than things like being LA's district attorney or a NYPD officer, but it does have its advantages and one of them is that when the working parent leaves at, say, 7:30 am, you can put Spongebob Squarepants on Netflix instant watch and buy yourself an extra 25-50 minutes of dozing in bed. As long as you can doze through the screaming in the opening sequence and your kids don't decide to jump on your ribs screaming along with it. Which sometimes, they do.
Now everything has changed. The girls wake me up at 6:30 am, and Mr.V is sleeping next to me. And unless I want to be a ginormous and heartless douchetron, I have to ensure he stays sleeping. This is because Mr.V worked last night until after 2 am and didn't get home until 3. AM. As in 3.5 hours before the goblins wake up. And tonight he has to work until 1 am again.
Which means Mr. V must sleep and Vesuvius must rise.
I start out our first day of this new schedule with a dose of optimism under my early morning crankiness. (If you ever by chance come into contact with me right after I have woken up: Please leave me alone. It will be better for everyone--you know: you, me, the 'verse, the fifth dimension). Ayla wants pancakes so I make pancakes. I am cooking at 6:42 in the morning. As I whisk my krusteaz and water I try to ignore the creeping feeling that me cooking at 6:42 in the morning is probably the seventh horseman of the apocalypse. Death, disease, pestilence, Vesuvius at work before 9.
The girls want to help but I am too tired to allow it. I just want to mix and pour and flip the damn pancakes and get it over with so that the children can sit down and eat and I can have a few moments to gather my self, check my email, sit outside with a coffee. Be something other than mommy-me for just a few short moments during this day. If you want to call me a bad mother for this, well, go ahead.
I've been called it before. (Mostly by my own Inner Voice, but still).
Somehow, even though the little darlings dump copious amounts of powdered sugar all over their plates and each eat one out of the four pancakes I serve them, we make it through the morning. We sit in the back yard and the Destroyers only try to destroy each other maybe once or twice.
(Did I mention I am also trying to keep them quiet because there is a teenager sleeping on the couch?)
A bit before noon Mr. V rises and tells me I can flee to safe haven if I want.
At this point you are probably thinking I have nothing to complain about, and probably you are right. But just suspend your disbelief for a little while and bear with me.
Break time lasts about an hour and then Mr. V leaves for work.
We have put the girls down for a 'nap' and at this point, I am hoping to nap a little myself. But Ayla never naps anymore and Indy only occasionally. I put one of them in the basement and one of them in Grammy's room. Other people are home, so for privacy I go to my room and shut the door. This means that when the goblins get up from nap after ten minutes, I don't hear them. I don't hear them until they've raised a proper ruckus. They time the ruckus for the moment when I have just begun to doze off into sleep. Therefore snake-jawed mommy arises from her lair. But she is unable to vent her frustration because there are other people home. And if the other people see snake-jawed mommy spit fire and roar venom and the goblins, well, it might make everyone a little uncomfortable.
"Stay in your room," I say, doing my impression of stern. "Do not get up until I say you can. If you get up you will not get any treats or tv time for the rest of the day."
It doesn't work.
Around two we are ready to roll out of the house so that if I have to yell at the children, I can at least do it in private. We wait for about 45 minutes in my room. The girls watch tv and I mess around on facebook, dreaming of lattes and trying not to fall asleep on my keyboard.
You all, my lovely dear friends, are posting status updates about your lovely dear vacations. And don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge you your hard-earned rest, except--I do. I begin to think about how Mr. V would have had three weeks of paid vacation at his old job this year. And about how new job gives no, absolutely none, paid vacation. And about how we used to at least be able to send the darling dearests to grammy's for two, or sometimes a long four, day weekends. And now we can't even do that because we live with grammy and we have nowhere to escape to.
You read that right--I am feeling sorry for myself.
I just would like some time off so desperately much.
But there, my bourgeois privilege is showing.
After another 45 minutes the teenagers come back with the car and we are off.
I'll spare you the long version. Let's just say that while I hoped it would include this:
Cold, caffeinated beverages and some polite book browsing at Barnes and Noble; two grateful children pleasantly selecting movies at Blockbuster, a quick trip to the grocery store for a fresh and healthy dinner, a peaceful evening at home including nutritious meals and a little snuggle in bed with a book time, bath, clean, pink cheeked children tired from their day and ready to let mommy have a rest at about 8 pm--
It did not.
Ah, what fools we mortals be!
Multiple trips to the bathroom and stubborn displays of dominance including foot stomping, screaming, throwing, and declarations of parental hatred (as in "You're so stupid! I hate you mom!") were about all I got.
The guy at Blockbuster took one look at me and said, "Are you ok? You look exhausted". And for once, this remark made me feel not prickly but deeply, deeply gratified.
See, Universe? Even Blockbuster guy can see I need a break!
When I am hungry my temper turns murderous and when I'm tired I get weepy. I leaked a few tears in the car and dragged our sweaty, cranky selves into Chick-fil-A around 6:30 pm because at this point, I had lost all will to actually cook a healthy meal--a task that would also involve being pleasantly social with whoever might be home in the kitchen, something else I was simply not up to. I'm hoping the girls can play for about an hour and I can get them home with only enough time to brush teeth and go to bed.
The girls eat a few bites and go off to play. I gratefully open my book. Right now I am reading a fantasy novel that is, it must be said, a little bit smutty. Obviously I Can. Not. Put. It down.
(Ask yourself this: Would you be reading Pynchon if Chick-fil-A was the only place you ever got to read?)
In less time than it takes me to read one page, the girls are back. Except they aren't eating. They are kicking the seats, fighting over toys and straws, playing with the blinds in the window, knocking over the carnations on the table.
My commands for them to shape up or ship out are met with tongues stuck out, more kicks to the table, and loud exclamations of "NO!".
I haul my naughty soldiers home.
At after nine pm, they are still not asleep.
I send Mr. V an 'I am in hell' sort of text and he mistakes it for a 'I am feeling flirtatious' kind of text and I'm too cranky to even laugh about it.
(There's a fun riddle: Guess what the text said.)
I drink a beer even though I'm so tired I don't even feel like drinking a beer.
(If drinking when you are too tired to drink is a sign you may have a drinking problem, I'd really rather not hear it).
Ten pm. The goblins are sleeping. At long, long last. I get in 45 minutes of smut. I look at my beautiful Ayla, sweet-faced and peaceful on the floor (don't ask). I hear my restless-sleeping Indy knocking against the other side of my wall from her bed. I don't fall into any kind of amnesiac illusions about how great it would be to have another child. I am not flooded with endorphins or feelings of universal goodwill.
But it does ease my aching, tired heart. Just enough.
45 minutes of reading has been way too long. The girls will be up in 7 hours and 45 minutes. It will take me at least 30 minutes to fall asleep. If 7 hours of sleep a night is enough for you, you just might be a better parent than me.
I do best on nine.
I don't know why it is, but this day rather than everything else is what makes me lose heart.
I fall asleep dreaming of my old life . . .
. . . the girls wake me up at 6:11 am.