Every Thursday night, Michael goes to play Warhammer with his buddies. I make the kids whatever simple thing they want for dinner – chicken nuggets and poached eggs on english muffins are popular – and then Michael brings home Chinese food from our favourite restaurant.
It’s cheaper and more doable than going out to dinner or a movie. It’s the one meal of the week where we can talk to each other without interruption. No one asks me for more milk, or eats with their fingers or chews with their mouth open or needs to pee just as I’m aiming the first forkful at my own mouth or complains about the vegetables or the meat or the spicy or the whatever.
I always order the same thing – hot & sour soup and General Tao chicken. I’ve been doing this for years and never had a problem.
Until Friday morning at 5AM, when I felt like I’d been knifed in the stomach and every single thing I’d eaten came up so violently and continually that by the sixth time, I’d pulled a muscle in my back and was gagging water down just so I’d have something in there to come up again.
Friday was a holiday of course, but Michael ended up solo-parenting the three boys while I alternately curled into a ball under the covers & prayed for death or wrapped myself around the toilet & cried.
Not an auspicious beginning.
I was basically useless for the remainder of Friday, and a good part of Saturday, too. No appetite. Continuing stomach pains. Bone-tired. But Easter waits for no one so we coloured eggs, and I bought stuff for the Easter baskets and hid eggs and encouraged Ron to leave out a carrot for the bunny.
Went to bed hoping it would get better on Sunday.
Not so much.
None of the kids slept well and all three were up by 6:15. By 6:18, Harry made his first snotty remark because Ron’s random Lego Movie mini-fig turned out to be the elusive President Business while Harry ended up with the crazy cat lady. By 6:21, Ron remarked “gee, there isn’t very much in my basket, is there?” And by 6:30 George had systematically crushed and crumbled three hard-boiled eggs’ worth of yolk all over himself, the table, and the floor.
The day didn’t improve much. As soon as the morning chill had dissipated I sent all three boys outside to play with their new bubble water so I could start on the ham. Once that was done, I stuck my head out to check on them. George was covered from head to foot in mud – it was in his hair, under his fingernails, on his face, EVERYWHERE – and I’m pretty lackadaisical about that sort of thing but then I remembered that the yard wasn’t muddy and where did he find mud? and oh sweet baby jesus, it wasn’t mud at all. It was dog poop.
By dinnertime I was in a state. It seemed like one kid or another was always yammering at me. George didn’t nap. Everyone was cranky. I tried taking them for a walk to wear them out and the only one who got tired was me. As we were trying to get dinner on the table, Harry spilled his milk. Then Ron spilled his. Then George decided “hey, when in Rome!” and spilled his too.
The ham was dry. Ditto the baked beans. No one felt like eating much and when they did eat they had even worse table manners than usual – it was like a post-battle feast on Game of Thrones without the stabbing, and that’s only because I didn’t give any of them a knife.
Suffice it to say – it sucked. I ended up just walking out the front door and going for a drive because I needed to get away from my own parenting failures, which were thick on the floor. I made up with each kid individually before bed, and all was forgiven, except by me. I never wanted to be that Mom Who Yelled A Lot, and yet here we are, some days. And it seems like once I start, I just can’t stop until I completely remove myself from the situation for a little while.
It is poo and I don’t like it.
Then, Monday. I had given all my clients notice a month ago that I’d be closing for Easter Monday too, so of course Pixie’s dad tried to drop her off anyway at 8AM. I answered the door braless, in my pajamas. Take that, dad in your 20s! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO BOOBS IN TEN YEARS OR SO.
I refused to let it bother me. I bundled up the kids and we headed for the park, where we ended up having the best time we’ve had in months. I had errands to run. I skipped ’em. We got home just in time for lunch, and then while George took an unprecedented three hour nap I re-built an old Hogwarts castle Lego kit with the older boys.
It ended up being one of the best days I’ve had with the boys since George was born, and gave me a glimpse of what life will be like, with no more babies to worry about and just these three rambunctious beautiful little people around.
I hope all three of us remember the good days, more than the bad.