It’s Saturday morning and I’m laying in bed, it’s difficult to say what woke me up, maybe it was the sprinklers or (more likely) the cat, but either way I’m awake and I’m not going back to sleep.
Then the lightbulb in my brain bursts into brilliance, I could get up and be ALONE.
Alone people. In my house. With my couch and coffee and maybe my computer. I could write out a prayer, one to get me through the weekend without Kel… again.
I glance at the clock, the green digital numbers indicate that it’s 6:15. Not too shabby, I’m up alone AND I got 8 hours of sleep.
So I sneak to the kitchen, start the kettle for the coffee and then I hear it. The sound of little, sock covered feet heading my direction. I let out an automatic “CRAP!!!!” (probably the wrong thing to do) before I fumble out a fake, cheerful: “Good morning buddy!”
He immediately starts in with his endless list of whispered demands:
“Hi mom, I want coffee, I have to go pee pee, Can I have a snack? I want my robe, it’s cold, I want to watch Mater’s Tall Tales, what are you doing mom?”
ten minutes later….
“NO MOM THAT IS NOT HOW I WANTED MY RICE CAKE! NOT THAT PLATE, I SPREAD THE JELLY! I WANT TO OPEN THE MICROWAVE AND PUT THE LID ON! AHHHHHH!!!!!!”
At this point, I seriously consider a melt dow of my own. The day has only just begun and already I feel burnt out. In an hour or so Kel will get up, pack a bag, and head out of town.
I’ve made no kid friendly plans for the day, I’m on the verge of tears and starting at a blank canvas of a weekend.
I don’t feel like being a solo parent, I don’t feel like entertaining two preschoolers, I don’t want to make their food and reff their fights and “help them” pick up their toys.
I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna. But that doesn’t matter in the slightest.
This “I don’t wanna” feeling happens to me every weekend now. When people at work say: “hey it’s the weekend!” I give them the hairy, stinky eyeball.
I used to love the weekends, but now? Loathing, dread and yuck.
I’m just being honest. It took two of us to create these children and it takes two of us to parent them well. (single mothers and Army mothers I consider you superheroes whose capes I am not fit to untie, if this was a marathon you’d be sprinting by me as I throw up on the side of the road.)
So anyway… for the first month I tried throwing tantrums about it. This was not constructive.
Then for the second month I tried scheduling us like crazy and planning big weekend projects to distract myself and impress Kel with how “totally together” I am.
This was constructive, but stupid and really hard on everyone, because I wore out fast and paid little attention to the kidlets.
Also, Kel doesn’t really care how clean, decorated or organized the house is. He wants a happy family, more than a seasonally decorated mantle.
So, here we are in month three and I’m scratching out a new game plan, a rhythm in which we can survive the weekend.
I’m writing this for myself, and just hoping it helps.
A few tips on how to survive, one parent down.
1) Keep doing the dishes. You can let a lot of standards slide, but this one needs to stay. How are you going to rinse out a curdled sippy cup with a sink full of peanut butter crusted dishes? Do the dishes.
2) Laugh as often as possible. Because kids are ridiculous and say the craziest things imaginable. As I sit here, my kids are playing “Jaguar Restaurant” a scenario where they take turns roaring at each other and making pretend hamburgers. This is awesome. Embrace stuff like this.
3) Get yourself a warm fuzzy (not alcohol) Grab a book or some knitting, something that is soothing for you. Nurse it as needed. Fine yourself a good novel, it’s good to escape your own issues by immersing yourself in someone else’s.
4) Use television as needed– Before I had children I thought that parents who set their kids in front of the TV were doing it wrong. Then I realized that watching an hour of Curious George or Cars is better than an hour of getting yelled at by a stressed out mom. So sometimes, when I need a minute, I let Big Bird babysit the kids.
5) Text grownups sarcastically and liberally- Remember how said “kids are crazy?” They are and not always in cute, lovely sort of ways. Sometimes they’re loud, tantrumy jerks. So throw a digital lifeline, tweet the crazy, folks understand and will resonate with your plight.
6) Simplify- Make meals easy, utilize leftovers and freezer meals, grab take out chinese if you need to. Go easy where you can. Simplicity is like, the best.
Hang on I have to patronize the Jaguar restaurant. Which brings me to my last point.
7) It’s not You vs Them, it’s Us vs Time– I’ve learned that if you look at things with a “how are we going to get through this?” and not “How am I going to get through this?” perspective you’ll feel closer to your kids and more able to engage them. Grab a burger at the Jaguar restaurant. Be with them, it’s more important than everything else. Even the dishes.
So that’s my list, the things I plan to employ this weekend while I’m chasing my busy, beautiful kids from here to next Tuesday.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Help a sister out? We really, truly are in this together people. That being said, when you see my crazy tweets this weekend… refer to #5.