Sunday, February 17, 2013

I did it!

Somehow, I made it through my Friday evening without Mike. I managed to feed the crew an early supper and get them all to the rink at 5:30 p.m., just on time. I had a lot of unexpected help. For starters, Cody offered to load the van for me. Wow! He is only six. He made sure all of his and Jamie's equipment was in their hockey bags. Then he dragged them each to the van and loaded them into the hatch. At the rink, I was one of the only moms there, for some reason. I guess a lot of people were away. So there I was, clueless and female in a room full of hockey dads and boys and girls. Cody did most of his equipment without my help, and instructed me on how to dress Jamie, and in what order. Then, to my relief, one of the dads offered to help Jamie get dressed. He also laced the boys' skates, which was nice, because apparently Cody's are really tough to get tight enough. During the game, Micah ran around, as usual, and Lauren was okay. I had to go feed her in the dressing room, and then after that Micah was begging for food, so I got him a treat from the canteen. I visited with another mom, and just hung out. After the game, more dads helped me out, which was good, because Lauren was getting fussy and was flipping herself out of her car seat so I had to hold her. (I didn't want to buckle her in until we were ready to leave.)

All in all, there was a real sense of community, and I was very blessed with all the help I got. Even when I got them all loaded in the van, another dad came and helped me because somebody rather rude parked their pickup truck directly behind me, in a non-parking spot. So, this other dad stood behind the van and directed me so I could get out of there. That's when things got really difficult.

After hockey, the boys are often really grouchy. The time between the end of the game, and getting them to bed was rough. It took a lot of work, and there were several people crying at once (I may have been one of them...I don't even remember), but eventually, I do remember sitting in the living room quietly with Lauren. I don't wish single motherhood on anyone. I am relieved to have Mike back home. But, I have to admit, there is a certain sense of accomplishment I got from making it through all of that. Admittedly, I had a lot of help, but I had to face my fear and step out there in order to find that out. I am not, by nature, a risk-taker. Most of us aren't, I suppose. These days, I'm learning that few things can be accomplished in this life, or even enjoyed, without taking some risks. So I will try to take a few more and see where it leads me. I'm off now to enjoy some time with my whole little family.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day Three of Single Motherhood

We made it through Valentine's Day! It was not without incident, but today is February 15th, so I know  we somehow survived. The day was long, and I worked harder than I've worked in a long time. My only breaks were when I was feeding Lauren and when I showered. In the morning I decided it would be possible to bake my Valentine's cookies. After all, I made the dough the night before. So I got my counter all cleaned off and ready to go, preheated the oven, and looked for my beautiful, copper, heart-shaped cookie cutter. Hm. Where did that thing go, anyway? I searched high and low. And I mean that literally. I had to use a chair to search the highest kitchen cupboards. I also searched the ones on floor level. Nothing. Oh the irony. Mike had moved the cookie cutter somewhere and I was running out of time. You see, I had a very limited window of opportunity while Lauren was awake and happy. I spent more than half an hour looking for the cutter. I did not find it. That means it is hidden in a storage shed somewhere in our yard. I decided it was just too bad for Mike. No cookies this year. 

But then I felt bad for my kids. Poor things didn't have any Valentine's treats. That was sarcastic. In truth, the two oldest did get treats at school. But Micah didn't, and I did feel genuinely sorry for him, watching his brothers go through all their exciting loot while he had nothing. So I got a hold of my mother-in-law, who lives nearby, and she not only lent me some heart-shaped cookie cutters, she also sent some Valentine's and treats along for the boys. Phew! She saved the day. Actually, by then I had decided to bake a heart-shaped brownie, which came out raw after the full amount of time in the oven. But I'm happy to report, the brownie and the mini heart-shaped brownie turned out nicely. I also managed to bake all the cookies, though for once I did a normal batch instead of doubling it, so I only baked 52 cookies instead of over 100. 

When it came time to ice all these goodies, I returned to the kitchen where I had left a margarine square out on the counter to soften. This is what it looked like when I got there:

Yes, those are human teeth marks. It doesn't show in the picture, but there was reddish-pink juice of some kind on there too. It was immediately obvious to me that the teeth belonged to Micah, who is sick, so I deemed the whole square to be unsalvageable. I got some more out and continued on. The cookies turned out great. Here they are:

I don't know how, but I was able to get my kids fed, and all three boys were bathed and settled in bed by 7 p.m. I did tell them they were allowed to talk quietly, but they were to stay in bed during my "party". I fed Lauren after that, and right when I finished, the girls arrived. Only two of them, though. The other two were unable to come. Here is a picture of my table, as I was setting up for the evening:

And just for fun, my fancy lipstick caddy, filled with several NouriShine Plus Lip Glosses, and one True Dimensions Lipstick:

Maybe it comes from being in a house full of boys and only one girl (me) for a long time, but my boys are fascinated with makeup...especially lipstick. They insisted on helping me fill the caddy with my display colours, which they helped choose. Cody was especially excited about the extremely vivid red one, and kept asking from his bed whether anyone was wearing the red lipstick yet. After the setting up was nearly done, the boys wanted to pose for a picture in front of the lipsticks. Here they are:

All in all, my day was a success. It was a late evening, and I could not sleep once I finally got to bed. My feet and legs were aching, and it felt kind of good. But by 1 a.m. I was desperate for sleep, and that's when Lauren woke up crying. So, not a great night. But Micah was not up at all, and I am thankful for that. 

Now all I have to do is make it through today. So far, so good. I dragged my mostly unconscious body out of bed and got Cody ready for school and safely on the bus. Next major item is to feed Jamie and Micah early so I can bundle all three of them up and drive to the school to drop Jamie off. After that, my biggest challenge looms ahead. I have to feed them all and then I have to take them to hockey. They have a game tonight, and it's only in town, seven minutes away, but here's where it gets difficult. First, I will have to get all four of them there. That in itself is a very difficult task. Second, it means carrying Lauren in her car seat (she is sixteen pounds, and I don't know what the seat weighs, but it's awkward) and her diaper bag, plus two hockey bags full of equipment, while keeping three boys in check. That sounds daunting. Then, I have to dress the two boys in their equipment. Do you know how much equipment there is when playing hockey?? There are pads for every major joint and important body part, straps all over the place, holding things up, holding things together, holding things on...there are jerseys and leg warmers (okay, okay boys, I know they are called socks), and helmets with mouth guards, and skates that the Incredible Hulk would find difficult to lace up tight enough. And all this equipment has to go on in a particular order. Guess who has no idea what that order is? Moi. And once we make it through that nightmare and they are on the ice, I'm left with a bored and overtired three year old and a baby that needs to nurse and I hate nursing in public. There is no good place to do it at that rink either. 

My saving grace was to be that Mike was going to make it back by the time the game got started, so if I needed to leave after that I could, or if I stayed I would at least have backup. But I just got a call from him, and he might not come back. He might stay there for the evening, which would mean an arrival time of probably about 1 a.m. Hello to another sleepless night for me. 

So that is the dramatic ending to my "single motherhood" for this go-round. I sincerely hope I can amaze you (and myself) with tales of my excellence in dealing with all of this, but I guess we'll have to wait and see. For now, I might grab a very short rest before the next whirlwind begins.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day?

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day is traditionally celebrated as a love holiday. The truth is, it is more of a love/hate holiday. I don't know many people who are neutral about Valentine's Day. Most people are either really gooey and totally love it, or despise it, often in a political way. You know, the ones who think it's a Hallmark conspiracy, designed to make us naive consumers spend copious amounts of money on cards and heart-shaped boxes of very gross tasting chocolates.

Me? Well, I can live without the chocolates. I would prefer some regular chocolate. Kit Kat is a personal favourite, and the wrapper is red so it seems to go with the season. Mike and I actually had one of our very first dates on Valentine's Day. In fact, it fell exactly ten days after we started dating. We had a fabulous date, and quite elaborate too. He took me all the way to the big city and we ate at what is now one of our favourite restaurants, and then went to an Imax show. I had butterflies in my stomach and stars in my eyes. Sometimes I still do. Celebrating Valentine's Day less than two weeks after the start of a dating relationship is somewhat awkward. What does one buy for the other person under those circumstances? A card is not too difficult. Cute or silly, as opposed to anything too serious and sentimental. How do you sign it? From? Sincerely? Certainly not love that early on. Though in our case we could have. Maybe he even did, I can't remember. But he did give me the typical chocolates and roses, and that was before spending all that money on our giant date. I baked him cookies. Heart shaped sugar cookies with pink icing. I felt kind of lame, but he loved them. That is, he would have, had he not left them on the kitchen counter in his house, which was occupied then by his parents and five of his siblings. I'm not sure whether he got one cookie, or none at all. Either way, baking those cookies has become a tradition for me, whenever I am able.

Which brings me to this year. I never cared that much about Valentine's Day until Mike and I had that very first date, and now I suppose for me it is sentimental. Not because of that desperate drive to be with someone for Valentine's Day, but because it is tied up in such good memories. But this year we will not see each other at all on Valentine's Day. Mike left today for the big city for some work-related stuff and will not be home until Friday night. This leaves me an acting single mother of four for more than forty-eight hours. Normally, on the first day of being on my own with all the kids, I am energized and inspired. You know, the "I can totally do this" attitude. (Which fades by the day, incidentally.) This time I have no such aspirations. In fact, I am already quite stressed. I have a baby who is not feeling well, and two boys who are not feeling well. One of those has wicked nightmares, often more than once a night. The other night he came in our room somewhere around five times in the span of about an hour. One of those times he threw up on our floor from coughing really hard. It's very stressful, and knowing I am facing a night by myself fills me with dread.

In the morning, I have to get up, make sure Cody is eating by 7 a.m., get his backpack all packed and ready to go, and hound him to get dressed in his clothing and his outdoor stuff. Then I have to get him out the door by 7:30 a.m. and drive him to the bus and get him on it. Meanwhile, I have to hope Lauren does not wake up and want to eat, or things are going to get really stressful. On top of that, I will have to wear a towel under my shirt so I don't drench everything in milk after going all night without feeding her. Hopefully. Sorry, is that too much information? I am a nursing mommy, so this is a reality in my life right now. Once I get past 8 a.m., my stress level should decrease some. Except I'm having people over tomorrow night and doing my first official group Mary Kay skin care class. So I need to get my house nice and clean. That wouldn't be an issue if there were no kids living here. I mean, without kids, once you clean, that spot is clean. But it doesn't work that way with little tornadoes following you around, flinging chaos behind you. On top of that, I realize now I scheduled this party (which I am really excited about, by the way) for 7 p.m. I was not thinking about the fact that my boys are NEVER settled in bed by 7 p.m. anymore. So somehow I will have to clean the house really thoroughly, bake Valentine's cookies and ice them (hours of work, but I made the dough tonight, so I'm committed now), feed the boys supper, bath them all, get them settled in bed and prepare for my party. All this and I have to somehow fit a shower in too, and Lauren's feedings and cuddles. I don't know how I'll do it, but Friday is going to be worse! Eek!

And on that note, Lauren is wailing and needs to be held. My boys are settled and sleeping for now, so hopefully I can get her settled nicely later too. When it comes to single motherhood, I'm a huge wimp. I don't know how real single moms do it. Hopefully I'll have a raving success story to share tomorrow. Goodnight. And Happy Valentine's Day, if you're one of the ones who love it. Otherwise, happy Thursday to you.