Saturday, May 30, 2009

Perfect Storm. Will Someone Wake Me Up When It's Monday?

My kids go to a Jewish preschool and it was off on Friday in observance of a Jewish holiday I don't particularly observe (Shavout, for those interested). Since I work full-time, and so does Late Blooming Dad, we asked our part-time nanny, who we keep employed very much to cover on these occasions, to come for eight hours and watch the kids.

Part-time nanny got the 'flu.

Sometime babysitter has a daytime job and was therefore unavailable.

The nearest family members live close to 400 miles away, so they weren't an option either.

Late Blooming Dad is working freelance and in this economy, does not take days off. Late Blooming Mom floated the idea of taking a personal day, but one of the projects she's assigned to at work magically appeared at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and needed to be started if there'd be any hope of finishing it by Monday, when it's due.

So Late Blooming Dad and Mom did what any other full-time working, overtaxed parents did. 
We tried to watch the kids AND work, splitting the day so we'd at least each make a dent at work, and we'd each get a shift supervising the kids.

The night before, the cat -- who is elderly, on chemo, and prone to demanding food or a litter box clean-up in the wee morning hours -- woke us three times.

So we were not in the best frame of mind when we both woke up stressed to start the day.

Like wild dogs who can smell fear, the kids must've sensed our edgy moods.

Either that or they simply decided to be impossible for the hell of it.

The morning was marked by Thing 2 trying on half her wardrobe, rejecting it, and declaring any item that had the temerity to have sleeves in her presence was "bothering" her. It was also marked by Thing 1 throwing a fit when told he would be taken to one indoor play space when he'd had his heart set on another, even though, at least to adult eyes, the places are utterly the same.

Trying to get clothes on these kids, get breakfast into them, get their teeth brushed, hair combed, and shoes on, proved a three-hour process. Late Blooming Mom had decamped for Starbucks part-way through to make that aforementioned dent in work, and returned smelling like a barista, though consumed no coffee. I got back in time to witness yet another fit -- or was it two fits? -- before I was able to help usher them out the door.

I got a smidgen of work done in about an hour or so before heading back out to bring lunch to the indoor play space, and receive the hand-off from Late Blooming Dad, so HE could go start work.

Then I was on my own through the mall and three shoe stores, a bookstore, and dinner out, all of which is a blur to me save for the fit Thing 1 threw when told he could choose one pair of new socks at the shoe store, but not two. Oh, and there was the balloon Thing 2 lost mere seconds after acquiring it at the shoe store, when it flew off her wrist, where it had been tied so she would NOT lose it.

Bedtime was a cooperative Mom/Dad effort but it left us both utterly spent, given that more fits were thrown.

And then it was another fitful night's sleep, only to be followed by Round Two, Saturday, The Day From Hell. Suffice it to say, highlights included more wardrobe changes than Madonna has gone through in the past two decades, hysterical protests when pancakes were offered at breakfast instead of fresh-baked corn muffins (we didn't have time to bake, we had to get out of the house for a 10 a.m. birthday party), and Thing 1 managing to pee all over himself in a bathroom once we did manage to leave the house. Late Blooming Dad had the honor of cleaning up that particular mess, and Late Blooming Mom had already lost it at both kids on the way to the party, right around the time the Check Engine light came on in the dashboard.

Late Blooming Mom spent half an hour outside the party walking around trying to deep breathe, then pouring through the car manual in a fruitless attempt to figure out why the Check Engine light wouldn't go off. Then I relieved Late Blooming Dad,who was supervising both kids at the birthday party. He toddled home with Late Blooming Mom's car and returned with his own -- which promptly began to make weird grinding noises in the vicinity of the front driver's side brakes.

And all that was before we schlepped the kids all the way downtown and yawned through SESAME STREET LIVE, ELMO'S GREEN THUMB. Okay, the kids didn't yawn through it. They were mesmerized at best, and entertained at least. Late Blooming Dad did, in fact, fall asleep, and only the ridiculously loud amplification of THE LADYBUG'S PICNIC prevented Late Blooming Mom from nodding off too.

So both cars will need to go in the shop Monday morning. We've resorted to hiring a babysitter for five hours during the day Sunday, not for a date, but so we can hole up in the relative peace of Starbucks with our computers and do the work that never got finished on Friday. Oh, and did I mention we have no groceries in the house?

It's double-marathon days like these, when I get behind on everything else in life and parenting seems to consist of enduring four-year-olds' irrational fits, when I find myself envying friends who either have one kid, or who are in marriages where only one spouse works, or live with family close at hand, so when the perfect storm hits, there's some shelter to be found. I am grateful for having two kids and for being gainfully employed, don't get me wrong. But it all feels like a grind today and man, oh man, I don't know if I'm gonna make it till Monday at 9:30, when the kids are back in school, the car's in the shop, and all I have to worry about is that work deadline ... oh, and what to feed everyone for dinner.

Shavout, by the way, is the spring harvest festival, and also when Moses supposedly got the Torah on Mount Sinai. So I guess I'm supposed to be harvesting the riches of family life. But right now, all I want to harvest is sleep.

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