Monday, November 12, 2007

Those Airplane Rides? You Can Read for Pleasure During Them. Also Drink. Also Nap.

The day after tomorrow, Christopher leaves on a three-day business trip where he will eat meals prepared by someone other than himself, stay at a hotel where there will be a big bed, cable TV, and no baby monitors, and presumably have at least a small amount of free time (like, for instance, while on the airplane) to leisurely read magazines and sip coffee. Oh sure, he prefers to focus on the fact that he will be attending a work conference and going out to dinner with people he does not know. As if that's going to make me feel sorry for him. Since the main activities around this house lately seem to include fussing, crying, whining, teething, coughing in my face every five seconds, and repeating the phrase "Mama what did you say?" ten million times a day (seriously, people: what is it with three-year-olds? Are they literally unable to hear? I do not understand.), I'm not exactly crying him a river.

You may recall that the last time Christopher left me alone with the babies for multiple days in a row, I became Crabby, Impatient, Not Very Nice Mom, a persona I detest and dread but seem unable to prevent from taking over my body when I am the only parent on duty, break-free, from wake-up to bedtime (and beyond!) for more than, say, one day at a time. And maybe even for only one day.

Sometimes I hear of moms of older kids who make something special out of the times when Daddy goes on a business trip: plan special outings and activities, eat dessert for dinner, camp out in sleeping bags on the living room floor or let the children sleep in mom and dad's bed just this once. Kind of a party-atmosphere, to-heck-with-the-normal-routine endeavor, designed to get everyone through the week and create fun and excitement out of something that might otherwise be difficult or, at the very least, a bit of a bummer. I always think that sounds like a lot of fun, and it does allow me to see into the future to a time when being home alone with the girls might be an adventure, not a nonstop need-meeting marathon. But what I always come back to is the knowledge that we're just not at that stage yet, as a family. My children are too young; I'm still in the thick of things like nursing and diaper changing and wiping multiple bottoms other than my own, two naps a day and cutting up everyone's food into miniscule, non-chokable pieces. I have babies in the house; I don't have the kind of mothering life, yet, that can include throwing schedules and routine to the wind.

So think of me later this week, when I'll be attempting to resist poking my own eye out with a stick when I am forced to repeat the simplest comment five times in a row until I DON'T CARE ANYMORE, NEVER MIND, IF I HAVE TO SAY IT ONE MORE TIME MY HEAD WILL FLY RIGHT OFF MY NECK AND BOUNCE ACROSS THE ROOM. And when I'm not only the one to go in and fix the twisted blanket at midnight, but also the one to give more teething medicine at two a.m., change the wet sheets from the leaking diaper at five, and nurse the baby at six. Send some patient vibes my way, won't you? Maybe also a pint of Ben and Jerry's for every solo-parenting evening (I've mentioned that I'm still nursing four times a day, haven't I?), a double-shot espresso for each early morning, and the promise of being paid back, handsomely, at some point in the future.

Thank you.


Jordan said...

Wow. It's a good thing Christopher doesn't travel often!

Speaking from a whole lot of experience, it does get easier and easier with time, even while juggling work & school routines, drop-offs, etc. I guess if it's really hard to hold down the fort on your own right now, it might be a good time to call in a babysitting swap with another family to get out for a mental health break without breaking the bank.

You'll do fine, you're a perfectly capable mom. And if you are crabbier for a couple of days, well, it won't have a lasting effect on anyone. Good luck!

Cathy said...

Anya has graduated from "What did you say Mama?" to the decidedly less charming, "Did you say something, Mom, or what?" (Thanks a lot Anya's K4 classmates.)

I'm with you: I no longer view solitary travel as tedious, but as a luxury. Cable TV! A huge empty bed! Food that just appears somehow (must be magic)! I can even imagine the overpriced on-flight cocktail and the forbidden mini-bar...

Shan said...

Cath--Yep, I hear you. Solitary travel is an amazing dream, because, hello!--it's SOLITARY. Since I can't even use the bathroom in solitude, I can't even imagine the luxury of three hours on a plane alone, doing nothing. Sitting still! Wow.

Jordan--it's good to know it gets easier (and I knew as much). I'm sure Christopher's travel would not be so difficult for me if I wasn't also the one home with the girls every single hour of every single (normal) day. To me, it's akin to being at one's 9 to 5 office job, but then at 5 p.m. being forced to stay there, on duty, for the next 72 hours straight. With no other co-workers around for company. And with poopy diapers to deal with. If my kids were both in school for even part of the day, or if I worked part-time, or if I had a nanny for an hour or two here or there, it wouldn't be that bad at all, I'm sure.

Thanks for the luck--and the empathy! ;)

Shan said...

P.S. It would also help those solo-parenting days if my babies ever NAPPED FOR MORE THAN 45 MINUTES AT A TIME. News flash--45 minutes a day is not enough break from nonstop parenting of babies. It's just not.

Christopher said...

Though I'm sure medical history's first autodecapitation will *not* occur while I'm gone (at least around here), it is the case that the girls are being especially difficult right now, for all the reasons listed in S's post. Julia's petulance alone! Oy.

Donna said...

I view business travel very differently as a parent - alone time! Sleeping in a big bed by myself! Quiet time!

Sure, I miss the kid (I haven't traveled since #2 was born) - and the husband), but I take the time to enjoy the peace. And to send lots of positive vibes home.

Good luck. It'll be fine. Go to sleep early and enjoy the alone time you'll have after the kids are in bed.