My Hubs travels a lot for his job. In four weeks, he went on four business trips. Two were quick overnights, but one trip was five days in San Diego and one was a week in Switzerland. All together, I parented solo for fourteen nights in April. The kids and I are together all day, so without Hubs coming home from work, day simply blurred into evening without any of us getting a break from each other.
We didn’t get off to a great start. The first night of Hubs’ first trip, both boys were sick. I’d finally get the baby to sleep, then Quinn would wake up. So I would lay down with him for a while, and just when we’d start to nod off, Reid would start crying. All night, I shuffled back and forth between Reid’s rocking chair and Q’s bed. I got exactly zero minutes of sleep, and my head never once touched my own pillow.
Not every night was that terrible, but some definitely tested my endurance. By the end of Hubs’ travels, I was frail and worn down to a nub. On Night Fourteen, I started to relax a little. I only had to make it one more night on my own. No problem, right?
After a double nap fail and a full day of dueling tantrums, I had the brilliant idea to take the boys to the grocery store. As I opened the trunk of my Highlander, one of the struts gave out, and the huge door started to come down on me. It lowered slowly at first and just tapped the back of my head. I jumped back just in time for the door to completely succumb to gravity and slam down. WHAM!
Whoa. That was close. I’m so glad the kids were still strapped in the car! My gratitude quickly turned into frustration. As if taking a baby and preschooler to the store weren’t challenging enough, now I couldn’t load the groceries into the back, and my double stroller was trapped in there.
After creatively cramming the bags in, we finally made it home. I turned on Sid the Science Kid for Q, put Reid in his jumper, and started dinner. I popped some frozen chicken dinosaurs into the toaster oven (because fourteen nights and don’t judge me) and started heating water in the electric kettle for Reid’s bottle. Forgetting that we live in a fifty year-old house, I flipped on the under-cabinet light.
Everything went dark. I had tripped the breaker. BALLS!
This had happened once before, so I knew there was a fix. I also knew it took Hubs for-freaking-ever to figure out which breaker had tripped because nothing in the fuse box was labeled. I looked at the clock. 6PM. Hmmm, so that’s 3AM in Switzerland….
Praying that he remembered which breaker it was, I called Hubs across the world and woke him. He didn’t remember, but he wasn’t mad that I called. I resorted to trial and error. The fuse box is outside, so I’d flip one breaker off and on again, and then run around the house into the kitchen to see if the lights had come back on. Nope. Then I’d run back outside and do it again.
One of my attempts cut the power to the family room, which turned off the TV and sent Q into a colossal melt down. “You turned off my show!!” This was also the time of night when Reid usually loses his mind just for funsies. So everyone is hungry, the baby is screaming in the jumper, Q is screaming on the couch, and I’m running in and out of the house through the obstacle course of toys screaming, “I’m sorry, guys! Mommy’s going to fix it!”
Mayhem. Absolute mayhem.
I eventually found the right breaker and restored power. After our satellite dish took an eternity to reset, Q’s favorite show came back on. I picked up Reid and managed to make his bottle and Q’s dinner one-handed.
I try not to cry in front of my kids, but on Night Fourteen, I broke down. Q asked me why I was sad. I told him that I missed Daddy and that it’s just easier when we’re all home together. My sweet boy put his arms around me and said, “I’m here, Mommy. I will help you.”
So, of course, I cried harder. Man, I love that kid.
After I got both boys into bed, I made my own dinner of cereal and wine and let the silence wash over me. I don’t ask for help very often, but that night I really needed it. My mom and family live across the country, and all my local friends were in the middle of their own nightly chaos of kids-dinner-bath-bedtime.
In that moment, I missed my mom so much and wished we lived closer. She would have given me a big hug and told me I was doing a good job. She would have hollered to me when the kitchen lights came back on so I wouldn’t have had to run back and forth. She would’ve held the baby so he didn’t cry. She would’ve watched a video with Q on his tablet. She would have created some quiet so I could think. In all the noise and madness, I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t remember which breakers I had already tried. How could I expect my kids to stay calm when I could barely hold it together? It really does take a village to raise these little humans.
And even thirty-five year-old mommies need their mommies sometimes.