On Thanksgiving Day our family sat around outside, enjoying our full bellies and the magnificent weather. We chatted about anything and everything, whatever came to mind. My brother-in-law started telling us of this book he’d read about Navy Seals. It’s a fascination of his because he’s a very athletic guy, and he has a deep admiration for men and women who push themselves to their physical limits. He likes to hear the stories of the things Special Operations teams are trained to endure and how they are able to discipline their minds and bodies to overcome their limitations.
As he recounted the Navy Seal’s description of his training regimen, he said that it was so difficult that the man couldn’t even think about making it through the whole day. If he thought too far in advance, he would just give up. So the way this guy made it through each day of his Special Operations training was that he would think to himself, “Just make it to lunch.” Everybody kind of chuckled at that strategy. Just make it to lunch.
I said, “Yeah that’s sort of my philosophy on parenting, too.” They laughed (because no one else in the family has small children), but I was serious. There are some days where you’re just trying to make it. Today was one of those days. Except I wasn’t even bold enough to think about making it to lunch. I just wanted to make it to 9 a.m.
Michael was out of town for the night for work. Actually, he was in town but had to stay at a hotel anyway. That’s a story for another day. (P.S. if any of you have people who work for you, don’t take them away overnight from their families unless it is absolutely necessary. It makes wives really, really angry).
Last night, I was putting Avery to bed (at 7 p.m. because Momma don’t play). I was sprinting toward the finish line- thirteen hours of parenting two crazies, and I was ready to snuggle up in my bed and watch “The Newsroom” with a cup of hot chocolate. I walked into her room and tried to navigate my way through the tunnel of insanity that she calls a bedroom. Nevermind the fact that I have cleaned it top to bottom every day for people who are interested in buying our house to see. Give her 5 minutes alone in her room and it looks like a mad scientist’s workshop. As I attempted to dismantle some sort of fort, a tiny chair fell on top of my foot. This seemed like it should be a minor thing, but the pain was not minor. I hobbled to my bed, laid down and cried for a solid five minutes.
Avery was so freaked out that she was pacing in circles in her room. “Is my mom going to be okay?” I heard her ask no one. After a few minutes, I told her that I was fine, but she needed to put herself in bed and turn out the light because my foot hurt too much to walk. She appeared in my doorway with something behind her back.
She whipped something out in front of her, and said, “Look, I made you a skate since you can’t walk on your foot.”
And indeed she had. The mad scientist had birthed a contraption made of popsicle sticks, paper and stickers. She envisioned me placing my injured foot inside like a slipper and sliding it along the ground instead of walking. It was very, very sweet.
I woke up this morning still with incredible pain. I hobbled out of bed while my foot throbbed with each step and began the morning ritual. One kid talked my head off. The other cried and whined for things that he can’t express in words. Everett ate out of the trash. Avery wouldn’t eat anything. I put on a movie, and neither of them watched it.
Just make it to 9 a.m. That’s what I was thinking. She’ll go to school. My sister will come to watch him. I’ll go to work. I can do this.
Focus. Preserve sanity.
Make it easy. I don’t need to eat breakfast. I’ll just drink my coffee.
There was screaming and whining, but I was determined to make my coffee because, dang it, you can’t save the others if you aren’t wearing your life preserver. I cordoned off the kitchen with baby gates because that’s what we have to do now to keep Everett out of the trash, off the stove and outside of the dishwasher. I made my coffee. I sat down on the couch, coaxing them to calm down and watch the movie. Everett took one look at me with my coffee cup in hand and swatted at it. Steaming hot coffee went all over me and the couch. I’m not even sure which I was more upset about, the couch or myself.
I didn’t clean it up. I didn’t change my pajamas. I didn’t get upset. Self-preservation was my focus. Just make it to 9 a.m.
I decided that taking a shower was out of the question. I’ve learned the hard way of the disastrous things that can happen when I try to take a shower when I’m home alone with the kids. Even if I try to keep Everett in the bathroom with me so I can have eyes on him all the time, he finds the toilet brush and tries to eat it like a lollipop.
I thought a bath would be better. I could relax in the tub, and the kids could play in the bathroom where I could see them. Um, no. That did not happen. Before I knew it, there were two naked children doing cannonballs on top of me in the bathtub. Everett is smashing his slippery, little Sumo-wrestler belly all up on me while Avery is doubled over in laughter and I’m wondering how things could have gone so wrong.
So we get out of the tub, clean up the puddles of water that are becoming more like a river flowing into the hallway, get a diaper on the crazy one before he manufacturers something else that I have to clean up, and try to get everyone dressed.
Got the boy dressed. Listened as the girl whined in her room that she is unable to get dressed. Don’t care. Just make it to 9 a.m.
I made my way to the laundry room to find my sweatpants because it is just going to be one of those days. Sweat pants are still in the washer. Put them in the dryer and wait. While there, I let the dog out of her crate into the backyard and went to my room to brush my hair and put on some deodorant. The essentials.
My sister walks in the door. Sensing a moment of peace and tranquility, she says to Avery, “Wow, it seems like you guys are being really good for your mom.”
Avery looks at her, very serious-like and says, “Lulu, we’re not.”
Meanwhile, Avery must have let the dog back into the house as soon as I’d let her out. There was a massive pile of dog pee on the rug in Everett’s room. My sister must have sensed that my sanity was hanging by a thread. She dutifully cleaned up the pile of pee while I got my sweatpants on.
She took the kiddos out to swing on the swingset while I finished getting dressed.
I corralled Avery to the car. Backpack. Lunch. Purse. Jacket. Got them all.
We made our way to school, and Avery jibber-jabbered the entire time during car circle. 8:54. I’m almost there. Just make it to 9 a.m.
I gave her kisses, sent her off to school, and I made it to 9 a.m. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for a job where I can work in my sweatpants at Barnie’s and eat my breakfast in peace. And thank you for sisters who clean up dog pee and love on my kiddos.
Just make it to lunch, folks. Or 9 a.m. Or whatever you need to do because sometimes parenting is like the Navy Seals. You do what you gotta do to stay alive.