“Weekends” and “Holidays” as a Mom…
by Sharon Tjaden-Glass
…aren’t really weekends and holidays.
Today, when someone says to me, “Only one more day until the weekend,” I think, Nooo!!! It can’t be!!!
When I come in to work on Monday morning, sometimes I sing, “It’s the Most. Wonderful. Dayyyyy of the Weeeek!” (If you missed it, I go to work to “relax.”)
Not kidding. Ask my students.
When people describe their weekends using the words, Nothing much, or Pretty low-key, I think, You lucky dog, You.
When someone says, “Any big plans for the holiday,” I think, Yes, keeping my children alive and keeping myself sane until it’s time to go back to work where things are so much easier.
Where I can just do work without having to simultaneously mentally track a toddler’s location at any given moment.
Where I can do things like think. And eat while sitting down. And zone out.
Before I had kids, I never understood the “I never get to sit down to eat comment” that I would sometimes hear from mothers.
Just insist that your kids sit down so you can sit down, I would think. I would never let my kids dictate whether I can sit or stand.
Oh, sweet naive little Me.
It’s not that kids insist that you stand while they eat.
It’s more like, the toddler pushed his food off his tray. So you need to pick that up.
Or the older one slid into her chair at the table and managed to take the tablecloth with her. And there goes her plate. And she’s trying to pick up the food off the floor–and mashing it further into the carpet.
Or Surprise! The toddler decided now is a good time to poop.
Or. Or. Or.
A few weeks ago, one of the funniest tweets by parents published by Huffington Post was, “Every meal with my children is fifteen hours long.”
Amen, Girlfriend. Amen.
So it was just recently Memorial Day weekend, as you’ll recall.
How do I even explain to you how I was feeling by Sunday night, when I can usually see the light at the end of the tunnel…
By Sunday night, I found myself staring at a sink full of pots. My husband said, “Just go sit down. I’ve got this.”
In my head, I thought. No. Please. Seriously. Let me occupy myself with inanimate things that can’t cry to pull at me or give me sass or yell for me to wipe their butts after they’ve pooped.
But what I said was, “No. Please. Right now, I just really need to be away from kids. They are bringing me no joy right now.”
Until that point, I had taken both kids to church so Doug could stay home and do house repairs without interruptions. To be perfectly honest, I don’t mind this time because both kids go to the nursery and I sit in the luxury of unattached solitude in an air-conditioned space with the stability of the music and liturgy reminding that, Hey, it’s going to be okay.
After that, while the toddler napped and my husband got a head start on cooking for the weekly meal (that’s how we save time prepping meals in the week), I had taken the older one to a children’s museum for two hours of Run-Around Time, followed by a trip to Target (because the toddler needs new shoes), although the older one really didn’t want to go. And Mama, you could just drop me off at home first, How does that sound?
But I don’t wanna go!!!!!!
Then, because I couldn’t stomach the idea of sitting in their play room while the toddler turned into King Kong, attempting to bust down the baby gate, it was two hours outside in the hot humidity of May (!?!) while my kids played at the water table. The toddler–who is finicky about which sippy cup he’ll use to drink his milk versus which one he’ll use to drink water–was actually gulping cup after cup of (certainly) parasite-infested water directly from the same table that 24 hours earlier had been sitting in our garage, covered in garage dust and spider webs.
Gulp. Gulp. No problem drinking today, Mama!
Oh, sweet, sweet Lord.
The water table is actually a great idea. For about fifteen minutes. That’s about the longevity of both children being occupied by only the water table.
After fifteen minutes, the sphere of entertainment grows by about a foot every several minutes.
First, they’re wandering over to the mulch and bringing handfuls of it over to the water.
Then, they’re finding the broom in the garage and bringing it over to the mulch.
Because it needs to be swept?
Then, they’re pulling their tricycles and bikes over to the water table.
Why? Does there ever have to be a reason?
And maybe they’re even bringing the scooter, which belongs to the older child (although it’s the toddler who more frequently requests to use it) which means that one parent is hunched over the toddler on a scooter, carefully guiding it down the driveway while said toddler teethes on the rubbery handles, his slobber landing on his new toddler shoes. (The slobber, I’ve heard, helps break them in.)
And then the older child says, “Let’s play Little Red Riding Hood, Mama. You’re the Big Bad Wolf and Henry’s the grandma.”
“Who are you?”
“I’m the Three Bears.”
Oh, that makes sense.
And then it’s time for dinner, but they’re covered in sweat and sunscreen and snot (?!?) and water table parasites. So it’s actually really Bath Time. So all their clothes come off in the laundry room and they’re running around the house naked or in just a diaper while you’re picking up the trail of shoes and towels and clothing they’ve left behind. So you’re trying to get everything straight into the washer–only, there’s already a finished load that needs to be dried and a dry load that needs to be folded. So you’re doing that. And then it hits you–
Oh my God, where did the toddler go?
And he’s rummaging through the diaper changing area, chewing on latex gloves with a smile on his face.
Death avoided again.
Then baths. Then dinner. Then dishes. Then vacuuming for the third time. Then laundry. And, oh yeah, I need to do my laundry.
Then bottle for the toddler, books for the older one.
I really can’t think of anything more exhausting and less holiday-like than spending 72 hours with my own young children.
Every holiday, in my head (and sometimes aloud), I think, Someday, holidays will be holidays again.
Until then, pass the parasites, I guess.