Monday, March 22, 2010
**important note: the main floor of my house, where most of the action occurs, is all one room even though I refer to it as a living room, dining area, etc. It’s only sectioned off by furniture. Plus, I do have gates on all the stairs and the typical toddler proofing devices on cupboards and such. This is important to the story because I don’t want you to think I am a neglectful, horrible mother or caregiver (read on and you will understand...)
Although K arrives at about 6:50, the chaos really begins about an hour later, around 8. That’s when bug wakes up. Actually, for some inexplicable reason, bug and mini get up at about the same time every day. Inevitably, as soon as I hear bug talking and singing loudly in his crib (yes, he is still in a crib. I know we must make the switch soon, I’m just afraid of loosing the whole night’s sleep instead of the few hours I lose currently), mini also starts to cry. I run in, grab bug out of bed, and put him in his high chair with some cereal. I run upstairs again, grab mini and some clothes I set out the night before for both her and bug, run back downstairs and by this time, K has (in fits of ecstatic enthusiasm at seeing her cousin again) flung the flash cards all over the floor, tossed bug’s hats out of the cubbies by the door, rummaged through the front closet and is now running laps wearing my red heels. (This has taken her a total of the point 4 seconds that passed while I was lifting mini from her crib and picking up the clothes.)
I calm K down with her sippy and a snack, then feed and change mini into her clothes for the day, leaving her on her blanket with a toy. By this time, bug is yelling that he is all done and wants to get down. He has dumped the leftover milk from his cereal all over his highchair tray and thrown the bowl and spoon across the dining area. He is wearing most of his breakfast. I give him a quick wipe down and herd the kids together into the living room area where I can start the first round of changing diapers, wiping snotty noses (and foreheads, eyelashes, mouths, arms, hair - basically anywhere snot can stick) and get bug dressed. With all three kids finally out of jammies and into normal clothing, we can start the big task of the day: grocery shopping.
I tell the 2’s to get their coats and shoes. This is when I notice that mini has erupted out of her diaper. And I mean erupted. Poo is everywhere - down both legs to the ankles, up her front, up her back - anywhere there was a hole in the diaper. I strip her down while the kids play and plop her in the kitchen sink (where I have started keeping baby wash for occasions such as this). She’s now clean, but naked. I run upstairs with her, grab some other (less cute) clothes (less cute because I have two seconds due to the other children running wild, instead of the ridiculously long time it takes me to decide what she should wear the night before...) and run back downstairs, where bug is now howling because K won’t share her snack. K starts howling because bug is chasing her and mini begins howling just to howl (probably because she is cold).
After calming down the masses, we go back to the task of leaving for the grocery store. At this point I find that K has stripped off her socks and they are nowhere to be found. I send the 2’s on a hunt for socks. When they are finally located (at the bottom of the stairs, where bug had thrown them during my two second absence) I redress everyone who needs it and get shoes and appropriate outdoor clothing on and head out to the car. Finally.
In the parking lot of the store, I try to find a spot close to a cart station so I can load the kids into a cart, wheel them into the store and then transfer to a bigger cart... but no such luck - the carts have all been taken inside. So, I get bug and K out of their seats and we unload the baby. With the baby seat in one hand, bouncing around against my leg, I grip one of bug’s hands and one of K’s hands in my other hand and begin the straggling shuffle to the door.
Once inside, I strap the kids to the cart and only then realize I have forgotten my wallet at home.
Back to the car, back in the car seats, back on the highway, back in the garage... I run inside, grab my wallet and book it back to the store. There is a window of opportunity here when no one is crabby from hunger or sleep and I must grab hold.
Back at the store, I repeat my steps until we are all loaded into the cart, wallet in pocket. Barely through the door of the grocery store, K and bug have made a game of screaming. They take turns shrieking, each one increasing in volume and intensity, laughing with every other breath. Taking advice from “The Experts,” I am ignoring them.
I push the cart, eyes straight ahead, trying to avoid the stares, telling myself they just want attention and willing myself not to give it to them. Finally, when my ear drums begin to quiver on the verge of bursting, I snap. I pull the cart over, bend down to their level and explain in my sweetest mommy voice that we do not scream like that inside, especially in public places. Besides, they are scaring mini and that’s not nice, is it? They smile little angelic smiles at me. I smile back. Start pushing the cart again. Take that, Experts, I think smugly, you CAN reason with a two year old! The quiet lasts all of two seconds. This time, the screams gain in intensity much more quickly than before and I’ve had it with the game. I stop the cart, bend down and say in my firmest, no-nonsense mommy voice, “That’s enough.” They look at me seriously. Stop screaming. I go back to pushing. It lasts a bit longer this time, maybe 10 seconds, before the screaming starts again. I’m on my final straw. One can only be patient and understanding for so long. I’ve asked them again and again... And so I break. I stop the cart, squat in front of them and pull out the big guns. “Do you want french fries?” I ask. Well, they are all about that. “If you stop screaming and act nicely we will get french fries on the way home. But only if you are good.” The bribe. I use it. I admit it. It’s the only thing that really gets their attention, and it works.
Pushing the cart down the main aisle, I reach into my pocket for the grocery list... which is hanging on the fridge at home.
Unable to do anything but laugh at this point, I decide to shop by memory instead of giving the whole thing up as lost. Things go pretty well - aside from the occasional hitting, kicking and hair pulling for which I have to stop the cart and re-warn the 2’s that if we’re naughty we can’t go to McDonald’s - until we make it to the cracker aisle and bug insists that he must have animal crackers, now. No, he cannot wait until we are done, no he cannot eat the fruit snacks I brought with me in the diaper bag. He wants a particular box of animal crackers, he wants to pick them out himself and he wants them now. I never thought I would be one of those moms who gives in to her child’s every whim (and I still hope I’m not...) but this one time, I break. Here have the animal crackers. Heck, I’ll buy you a whole live CIRCUS if you just settle down.
And that is when mini has a meltdown. She cannot handle it anymore. The stress of being a perfect baby, the smiling, the cooing, the incessant oogling of strangers... how much pressure can one little princess take? Not much, apparently, and she has to let me know. I scramble around, looking for her pacifier. I search the diaper bag, I search my pockets, I search BUG’S pockets. I turn the diaper bag upside down. It has disappeared forever. I make funny faces, I sing songs, I do everything that makes people with babies look ridiculous. Finally, I high tail it to the baby aisle, grab a package of pacifiers and rip them open, stuffing one in her mouth. She quiets immediately and starts smiling and cooing at me - the pacifier falling to the side, ignored.
Later, heading for the check-outs, I am relieved, nay ecstatic, to be done. This is when bug says sweetly, “I take my shoes off!” “No, no, bug, leave your shoes on,” I say absently, looking down at him. What he meant to say? “I TOOK my shoes off. And then I dropped them. And now they are somewhere in this gigantic store, alone and making a bid for freedom.”
Turning around, I begin the arduous process of retracing my steps throughout the entire superstore. If I were bug’s shoe where would I be? I ask myself. And I answer myself, “On bug’s foot, where I’m supposed to be, gosh darn it.” “Shoe, where are you?” I ask quietly of myself. This prompts first bug, then K to begin calling out, “Shoe! Shoe! Where are you?” (And I have to admit, amongst it all, I laugh at this...)
Find the shoes. Amazingly. Shockingly. Actually, they aren’t that far away, in the produce department, lazing about among the tomatoes. I put the shoes on his feet, pleading with him to keep them on this time.
Through the check out line... in my mind I urge the cashier to hurry, HURRY for the love of Pete! I can see light at the end of the tunnel and all I have to do now is make it back to my car! bug is pushing buttons on the debit card machine and K is begging for gum... mini is asleep, which means she is going to be MA-AD when I take her out of her seat at home.... oh, please, just shove them in a bag, no, no, I don’t care if fabric softener is in with the bread just toss it all together! Bananas are PLU 4011, 4011, for crying out loud! You type it everyday, 4011! Do you HAVE to look that up? No price tag?? No price tag??? Forget it, I didn’t want the socks, anyway. Remain in control... I begin my mantra, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok...” (It’s not much of a mantra, I know, but if it can get me through labor it can get me through this...) And we’re done!
Back to the car, I’m rushing, rushing. Load the kids, load the bags, start for home... “buckow up?” K asks, utter terror in her voice. Smart girl. She won’t ride with me without her seat belt on. I pull to the side of the parking lot, jump out, buckle her up, check the other kids, jump back in.
I cannot bring myself to repeat the experience all over again, so I go through the drive-thru instead of hauling everyone inside for the promised fries.
Back at home, I’m coaxing the 2’s to eat while feeding mini after having wrangled everyone into the house. A few more bribes and some ketchup stains later, the 2’s are done and it is high time for a nap.
In the piece and quiet of the late afternoon, I think I might sleep too. If mini will let me.
Later, when mr gets home he peeks into the fridge. “Didn’t you go shopping today?” he asks innocently. I look at him incredulously. Did I go shopping? Did I go shopping???
Oh...I forgot the groceries in the car.
I think I left my sanity back at the store.
This is not an exaggeration. It’s just Monday.