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.