Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Silver Lining

To my amazing three,

Life is funny – so funny that it occurred to me today that a day – almost any day in my chaotic life as your stay at home mom, might be worth jotting down. I told your Daddy today that I will be getting some kind of crown or saint ship after this whopper. Really though, it’s just another day in the life!

I awake to the sound of crying at 2:30 am, whimpering really, but it quickly grows into the real deal. Daddy and I find Riley in her bed, covered in vomit and diarrhea. The head cold that I have been nursing for a few days makes me groggy enough to need time to process before springing into action. Within seconds, I emerge from my stupor and have Riley in the tub, and Daddy has the thankless job of stripping the bedding and cleaning it – not fun. Between the two of us, we have Riley and her room back together in about 20 minutes – not bad. Once we make it back to bed, my head cold has turned into a sinus headache and there’s no turning back. After trying to sleep for more than an hour, I finally reach for the Sudafed, knowing that it will add clouds to my early morning hours, but I opt for sleep nonetheless. I drift off around 4 am, and wake to the sound of Finn crying, persistently, at 5:20. No one needs to know what I really am thinking at this moment. All I can tell you is that I pray, try positive thinking and beg the law of attraction into action all at once and to no avail. He is up.

Let me give you a little background information on Mr. Finn. He has had his own version of the flu for 10 days. He has woken up at 5 or 5:30 for three days in a row. He has extreme separation anxiety, even if I only leave the room, and climbs everything in sight. Today he actually hung from the “chandelier” above the kitchen table. He has taken to snickering at me when I say ‘no’ or pretty much anything else. His favorite word is “Mommy” but in a tone that sounds as if he is disgusted with my behavior. All this and he is insanely loveable and cute – but I still would rather we both be asleep at 5 AM! Before Daddy leaves he says, “You’re handling this remarkably well!” I don’t really have an answer.

And then there’s Miss Logan Little in her own first phase of defiance. She has been challenging me big time and for the first time over these last weeks. I have been working hard to show her where the line is crossed and what happens when it is, and I am totally spent. She has already turned the corner, but my resistance couldn’t be lower going into this sleep-deprived, bodily-fluid-filled day. UGH!

So here it is. Finn up and dressed demanding food and milk by 5:45 AM. Riley up and amidst the stomach flu is dressed in her Hawaiian luau dress from her 3rd birthday party and ready to go for the day by 6:30. She is begging me for water, then milk, then food. I slowly give in, I remember how that feels. That’s never really the case, right? Usually you can handle the food when you feel hungry, right? Not right. After several instances of diarrhea for Riley, Logan rises and is unusually cooperative (not a morning gal) and we seem to be better; almost on track. Finn eats breakfast #2 with Logan as Riley eats some dry cereal.

I see Riley beginning to fade, but she tells me she’s okay. We stumble into the car, get settled, check for all our needed items and head out for our .9 mile drive to school. Within one minute, I can see Riley turn green. “Are you going to throw up?” I ask. She shakes her head “yes” and covers her mouth with both hands, truly believing that she has a chance at holding it in! And it comes and comes and comes. Princess Drama in the seat next to Riley is losing it. Between her few consoling comments there is a lot of “Oh Man!” and “It’s so stinky!” and “It’s everywhere!” and “Will you PLEASE open some windows?” Poor Riley is feeling awful and full of you know what and Finn is laughing like he always does when he thinks that there’s something going on that he should be part of. I take a deep breath while thinking, “What the hell am I supposed to do? Logan is late – I can’t take Riley through the carpool line or into school like this.” I rush home, strip her down, wipe her off, replace her dress and throw a towel over the car seat. The law of attraction is once again summoned the whole way to school as I command someone I know be in the parking lot that can walk Logan into school. As we pull in, I see the last kid taken into school. Then we luck out! Our new neighbor is right there – next to my car – and she readily accepts the task of walking Logan in for me – whew!!!!

Back at home, Riley feels great and wants to ride her scooter in the driveway while I try and clean out the throw up without unbuckling Finn. This is very unpleasant, not because of the vomit, but because of the ear piercing taradactyl screams of the 16-month old forced to watch his sister on her scooter from the confines of his car seat. Neighbors are looking. I am thankful that I have a cold this week for the obvious reasons. Wish my ears were plugged, too.

After watering every inch of our new sod throughout the morning, washing all the bedding and soiled clothes from the night before and even vacuuming and washing the kitchen floor, it’s time to get Logan. (At this point, I must add that 2.5 hours for kindergarten is definitely not enough.) We have no groceries in the house – I was supposed to go this morning. Riley and Finn have asked me literally one hundred times for bananas and I promise to go right after we get Logan if Riley is feeling good. By the way, there is nothing better than the way Finn says “banana” – there is no way I can even do it justice to try and explain it. We’re off again and get Logan. She is the cutest thing I have ever laid eyes on standing in line sucking her thumb and yanking her dress up to touch her belly button. She still looks like a baby. Her face lights up like the sun when she sees us in the car – the same way my heart does when I see her there. As we race through carpool, Logan’s teacher mentions that a child vomited right in class today and we both declare that she is a sitting duck – so much for positive thinking!

I am tired and my eyes are burning. I totally forget about the grocery store and the bananas and therefore am asked 150 more times before dinner for a banana. I decide to let Finn out for some fresh air after lunch while the girls watch TV. It is a beautiful day and he is so cute – curls flying, dark blue eyes shining. By the time we make it outside I am unwinding and really enjoying myself. (Imagine the sound of screeching brakes right now…..) Riley is calling my name. I turn to find her outside, mid-driveway, standing with her legs apart having yet another intestinal incident. It seems endless and it sadly dawns on me to wonder which of my new neighbors are watching this domestic display. Once again, it takes my instincts a second or two to respond and once again, Finn is strapped into some device as I tackle the leftovers. Poor Riley, she’s a limp rag, but still in good spirits. Logan emerges from the garage in disbelief. I can’t help but laugh.

Finally I get Finn down to nap and decide it’s my time to shower. I am supposed to go to a landscaping class at the park district tonight in an effort to make time for myself, but my sinus headache is really bad and I hate the thought of leaving the kids in such dire straights all to Daddy when he is so tired, too. Man the shower feels great. It is burning hot, just the way I like it and the tension in my head starts to subside. I hear footsteps and look. It’s Riley again, hands over mouth. I can’t think of any other solution than to invite her into the shower. Actually, it was probably my best idea of the day – easiest clean up for sure. I wash her up for the umpteenth time and we all settle down to play a board game. I have no idea when the last time I actually dried my hair was. It’s okay. We have fun playing the game and I can really concentrate on the girls while Finn sleeps. Damn doorbell. Damn, but much loved, dog barks. A solicitor disguised as the landscaper that planted a tree for us yesterday is at the door and informs me that he can build us a patio on the side for a song. I thank him and tell him we don’t know what we are going to do out there yet. He reminds me to water my tree. Finn is screaming. Head is throbbing. I quickly cancel my landscaping class and go get Finn.

Halleluiah! Daddy comes home at 4:30 and I rush to the grocery store. Finn, in the midst of this separation anxiety stuff, screams almost the whole time I’m gone. Daddy is forced to find something for dinner before I get back, but no one really eats. It’s 6:30 and I bathe Finn. Riley runs in and vomits twice. This is not fair. Finn proudly demonstrates his knowledge of how to use a nail brush in the bathtub, his tiny foot raised high above the water, his chubby little hands working the brush around his toes. “Piggies!” he says in his garbled little baby voice. I call to Daddy to bring the camera up – I think the last picture I took of Finn in the tub was six months ago. Daddy so willingly complies and the batteries are dead. Oh well, at least I’ve committed the image to paper!

Finn is down, Riley settled and falling fast, Logan is almost through her nightly procrastination routine. I am barely hanging on and realize I have eaten a cheese stick and some potato chips today. I hear Daddy tell Logan we have to go because, “Mommy and Daddy haven’t eaten dinner yet!” She finally gives in and we come down, finish a quick house project, preheat the oven (thank God for Home Run Inn pizzas) and I walk the dog. It is a gorgeous night and there are million stars. I love that about being out in the “country”. There are a thousand crickets chirping. The marching band at the local high school is in full swing and its sounds are being carried to me on the wind. A neighbor is outside, in the dark, with his 2 and 3 year olds. I am glad our kids are sleeping.

We eat pizza, field phone calls and talk about the necessities; we’re both too tired for anything else. At ten (it’s amazing I even made it that long) I hand Daddy the clicker and head up. I check on the girls. Riley wakes up a bit and I fix her covers. She seems warm. I nudge Logan over from the edge, straighten her blanket and give her a kiss. I wouldn’t dare go in Finn’s room. I walk in our bedroom and there is the most incredible breeze coming in the windows. It almost knocks me over. I love sleeping in chilly rooms with tons of blankets. I’m smiling as I go through my bedtime routine and as I realize I need to write all this craziness down, I think, “What a perfect day.”

I am so blessed.

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