Here’s what’s happening – the chief of the tribe is going on a business trip, leaving me to ride shotgun on the four braves. When he issued this proclamation, I had a full-color vision wherein he was heading out the door with me clinging to his leg like a barnacle, crying and begging him not to go. As this seemed rather melodramatic, I immediately began reviewing other options.
I could secede, I thought, and retire to a villa in the south of France. However, the idea of leaving the inmates to run the asylum for five days just seemed risky to me. It was entirely possible, I knew, that by Tuesday the pantry would be bare and the house would be burned to cinders. This was clearly not a viable option.
Next, I began a carefully orchestrated campaign, lobbying for the privilege of going away to a hotel by myself for five days sometime this summer. When he reminded me that he wouldn’t actually be having any fun, hotel notwithstanding, I snorted. Where was the suffering, I asked myself. There would be no diapers to change and no baths to give. He wouldn’t have to make sure all four kids get to bed. He would get to control the volume and eat out every day.
“When is it my turn to ‘suffer?’” I wailed. He rolled his eyes.
The key here, I thought, will be slugging it out one day at a time. As a mother of sons, I’ve learned that celebrating the little things helps me endure. For instance, I chalk one up in the victory column when I come out of a store and see that the offspring haven’t laid the van over on its side in my absence.
I count it a miracle when I see four sets of tail lights heading straight north to their little beds – and they all stay! Considering that we have one with boomerang tendencies (you throw him up, he comes right back), it merits a brief, heartfelt rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Tired mothers everywhere will empathize.
The chief assures me he will certainly miss the braves. He is also going to miss Brave Number Two’s wrestling match. I must admit – it’s tough for me to watch him wrestle. There’s just something unnatural about watching someone else’s kid bend your kid into nine different pretzel shapes.
My motherly instincts kick into overdrive and I have to fight the temptation to wade in, swinging my red purse at his opponent. Seeing as how this would likely result in a hair-pulling catfight with the other mom, which could then involve a mug shot, a chubby jailer named Hank, and an orange jumpsuit, I try hard to restrain myself. I just don’t look good in orange.
Another thing he may miss that week is the baby’s next major step toward liberation. This kid is every inch an adventurer. He climbs onto the table and empties the salt. He stands on the toilet and clears the shelves. He throws remotes around like so much confetti from a standing position on the back of the couch. There is little, anymore, that can stop him.
When I complained to his father that it was becoming very difficult to work with a VSP (Very Small Person) sitting on my foot pedal, chewing on the phone line, and “typing” his own documents, not to mention throwing the switch on the power strip mid report, he went to work. He spent an entire Saturday building two wooden gates with metal hooks and installed them.
Within weeks, his tiny son, whose theme song is, apparently, “Don’t fence me in,” was sticking his little hand through the bars, flipping up the hook, and toddling right on through. You can see, then, why I fully expect to come into his room one day and find him standing in his crib wearing a welding helmet and going to work on the bars. It could happen, and he will miss it.
If you’re a praying person, shoot one up for me. If I come through your neighborhood with a petition asking the “sufferer” to send me away for five nights, please sign it. If you find me in a corner repeating my name, call the men in white coats. Otherwise, hit me with a mocha, white chocolate, light on the syrup. It will ease my pain and suffering.
Note: This column originally ran back in February 2008. While The Lively One did survive (just barely) without throwing the kids up for sale on eBay, you can read the follow-up column on her blog, "The Natives Are Getting Restless," to see exactly what their father missed while he was "suffering" in his hotel.