Monday, September 06, 2010

Why Going To Work Is Easier Than What Chris Did All Summer

My stay-at-home parent friends have my undying respect. Included in that group is my husband, who this week concludes his summer-long sojourn into the stay-at-home world. This is not to say that he'll never be home with the kids again, but this week he returns to work after being our children's main caretaker over the past several months.

I have a sense of what Chris dealt with while I was at the office, enjoying the comfortable chairs and the witty banter of colleagues. I am home with our children one "work" day a week. I am all the more awed by Chris' equanimity in the face of everything that goes on at our house, having lived through the chaos of one recent day at home:

5:50 am - wake up with Ian, who for some reason wakes up 30-60 minutes ahead of schedule when I am getting up with the babies.

6:30 - Mira wakes up, Ian pitches a fit when I give Mira her morning bottle. When offered his own (pretty much empty) bottle, Ian responds by screaming harder and grabbing for Mira's milk. I get Ian some more milk and calm is restored.

7:00  Ada and her friend emerge from her room. Ian sees them and goes crazy with joy. This causes the older kids to laugh and run back upstairs. I corral the kids and tell them to come down stairs so they don't wake up Chris (or at least so that he might be able to fall back asleep).

7:10 - Ada and her friend want to play with playdoh; I negotiate that they can take over the kitchen for this activity after we all have breakfast.

7:15 - Make eggs for breakfast. Respond to special order for "flat eggs" from friend because he asked so politely, everyone else gets patented "cheesy eggs."

7:30 - Help Ada and friend set up playdoh activity in kitchen. Convince the friend that we do not need to use every one of the 24 colors Aunt Karen sent Ada for her birthday. Shut gate to kitchen so that babies don't disturb older kids' Very Important Work.

8:30 - Ian is crabby crabby crabby, so Chris and I put the babies to bed before Chris leaves for work.

8:45-9:20 - Listen to Ian and/or Mira cry, talk, sing, etc instead of sleep. Once Ian finally quiets down, Mira starts chattering for a while. Consider but eventually reject idea of complaining to Chris about this by email. Instead text visiting out-of-town friend about timing of park date. Text other friend about joining us. Call parents of Ada's play date to organize pick up, thank them profusely for doing the shlepping.

9:30 - It is finally quiet. Scrape a zillion small globs of playdoh off the kitchen floor. Clean up residual Ian/Mira messes from the morning. Get text from woman scheduled to pick up kid friend for swim lesson - her keys are locked in her car, can I drop kid off at her house?

9:40-10:00 - Participate in Ada/friend's collaborative lego play. Extricate myself from this activity to clean up a little more.  Text with friends about adjusted park timing.

10:00 - Someone is awake upstairs. Ignore noise with the hope that the kid will go back to sleep.

10:15 - Noise now includes shaking that indicates kid standing and rattling crib. Knowing it is futile to expect more nap, I go upstairs, grab the two kids and take them into the bathroom so I can put my contact in. Listen to Mira complain loudly when I put her down.

10:20-10:40 - Come downstairs as Ada's friend and her father arrive to pick her up. Say goodbye to Ada, get Ian and Mira ready to go (change diapers, put on shoes and socks) and walk sleepover friend to his next engagement.

11:10 - Return home and decide to feed babies before heading to the park. Ian refuses to eat more than a single morsel, but spends his time squishing cherry tomatoes so that no one else (including his omnivorous sister) will want them either.

11:35 - Prepare to leave the house. Change diapers, put on sunscreen, collect snacks and sippy cups, check bag for other supplies, attach trailer to bike, find and dust off bike helmets, strap kids into bike, put on helmets.

11:45 - Finally leave the house. Arrive at the park as friend is leaving me a message saying "I'm here, where are you?" Play at the park with two friends I have not seen in a long time. Chase children, dole out snacks, chase children, talk to friends, chase children...

1:40 - Sense that Ian is near a melt-down and head home. At home, prepare for naps by diapering, doling out milk, putting kids in bed. Listen to chatter while I make a sandwich.

2:00 - Ian and Mira are quiet. Sit on porch playing with new software. Sign up for BTA's September Bike to Work Challenge.

3:05 - Go inside as sun is broiling the back of my neck.

3:10 - Hear kids wake up from nap. Sigh and roll eyes that nap was so short.

3:16 - Finally go upstairs after listening to kids chatter to one another on the monitor. Hope that there are no poops to deal with.

4:30 - Take Ian and Mira to pick up Ada at her friend's house. Lug the kids into the house, convince Ada to leave, and lug everyone back into the car.

5:20 - Allow Ada to visit the neighbor's house to play and remind her to tell you if she wants to go anywhere else. Start cooking dinner, while running between the kitchen and dining room in order to: (1) repeatedly tell Ian not to stand on the chair; (2) stop Ian from repeatedly climbing onto the dining room table; (3) taking the blackberry away from Ian when he climbs on the table to get it. Wonder how Ian will survive toddlerhood. Consider saying "why can't you be more like your sister?" about five thousand times.

6:15 - Put dinner on the table and gather everyone to eat. Give up trying to soothe Ian, who dissolves into a puddle of (very loud) sadness when Chris arrives home and tries to do anything other than immediately pick up Ian.

7:00  - Put babies to bed, and begin the process of helping Ada with her bedtime.

8:30 - Collapse on the couch, all children now safely in bed. Remember that there are toys all over the floor and join husband in daily maintenance cleaning/toy pick up.

* ** * ** *

I only do this stay-at-home thing once a week. I am exhausted just thinking about it. If there is any doubt in his mind or anyone else's, I really appreciate all Chris did for the kids and for me this summer. Thank you, Chris. The nanny is returning this week and now maybe we can all get some rest.

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