Thursday, September 1, 2016

Groundhog Day

"Hun. Could you get up and get him. Please?"

Another 5 AM wake-up call after a night where Teddy woke up once in the middle of the night. Wait - maybe it was twice. I can't remember. (Although I can remember running into the door frame as I went to get him back to sleep.)

Tim doesn't usually answer my request right away, because we are both secretly giving in to that amnesia state of mind where Teddy falls back asleep, both kids sleep past 7 AM, Clinton and Trump drop out of the presidential race, and all is right with the world.

But, after a few moments of Teddy squawking - followed by him banging his paci against the crib's bars of oppression - Tim rolls out of bed and trudges towards the door. It's our unspoken contract:  I get up with Teddy in the night, and he lets me sleep in for an extra fifteen minutes so I can be a kinder, gentler soul.

Fast-forward to 7:30 AM, where Tim is kissing foreheads and running out the door while I'm pouring myself a strong cup of coffee. Breakfast gets made, put on the table, partially eaten and thrown everywhere. I send the kids off to seek and destroy play while I clean up the Cheerio carnage, all while downing my own bowl of Moses-knows-what.

Playdough, play dates, bikes, blocks, pretend kitchen, arts and crafts...this section of the day features my better mom moments, where Patient Pam reigns and the kids are in pretty decent moods.

12 PM:  Lunch time (the one meal that isn't thrown all over creation and back), followed by nap time for Ted and "quiet time" for Abby. "Quiet time" is a pretty relative phrase. It's mostly a "play independently in your room and don't you dare wake the 19-month-old while I lay on the couch in a comatose state for 20 minutes" time.

Everything past that point is a bit of a crap shoot. I realize that the house looks like a grizzly bear had a dance-off with Hurricane Katrina, and I desperately try to clean anything to make it look like I'm a competent adult that adults on a regular basis. I'm usually fielding work calls, emails and texts around this point, too, all while Teddy gets more and more anxious about the fact that I'm refusing to sit with him on the couch and watch Leapfrog or Sesame Street episodes for the seventieth time.

4:30 PM:  Dinner prep. Or, more accurately, "the hour of reckoning", where I lock the kids out of my pitifully small kitchen in order to protect them from the stove. I frantically try to cook something that can be eaten by my picky daughter AND my allergen-ridden son AND still taste desirable to myself and Tim.

Locking my kids out of the kitchen is, of course, perceived by both my children to be a sign of me shutting them out of my life forever and ensuring them that they will never eat or drink again.

I toss graham crackers over the gate like I'm feeding leaves to the giraffes at the Detroit Zoo. This ensures me incremental .75 seconds of peace and ensures that my children won't even try a single bite of whatever the hell I'm serving for dinner.

Dinner is served around 5 PM. I eat it cold. The sight of the dishes in the sink make me literally lay on the hardwood floor in exhaustion. The kids crawl on top of me in fits of alternating giggles and sibling rage (because one is taking up too much space on mommy and it's not their turn and so on).

The rest of the evening is a cyclone of daddy-coming-home-let's-play-bath-time-bed-time. I lay on the couch after it's all said and done like a defenseless slug, a shell of a human being, who still has emails to answer. I fall asleep on the couch halfway through a glass of wine and ten seconds into a show that I've been trying to watch for weeks, waking to Tim's gentle shake of my shoulder so I can slupp my way up the stairs.

I sleep for ten seconds, and it's 3 AM, and Teddy's awake. I somehow make it down the stairs, pour him a sippy, give him a couple of quick drinks, and put him back to bed. It takes twenty minutes - tops - but it always feels so much longer than that in Lack-O-Sleep-Ville.

My head grazes the pillow. It's 5 AM. And Teddy's awake.

"Hun. Could you get up and get him. Please?"

___

Parenting really is Groundhog Day. But it all happens in such a way that major milestones happen and you don't even fully realize it until the moment has flown by.

We blink, and Teddy moves up to the toddler room at school.

We blink, and Abby is practicing writing her name with a colored pencil on construction paper, her tongue stuck out in concentration and her eyes so focused they could set the paper on fire.

Doctors appointments happen five blinks from now, where we're told Teddy has exploded in height, hence the pants that are too short and super loose around the waist. At the sixth blink, Abby needs new shoes, and she insists on ones that flash so she can endlessly entertain herself by jumping down a darkened hallway in the house. At the seventh blink, Teddy is pointing to his crib to put himself to bed - not wanting to snuggle anyone but his stuffed turtle and pacifier.

...I'm so exhausted I can barely move, let alone write, but I don't want to close my eyes to go to bed. Another set of blinks will propel us all forward. I'm not ready for that.

Although I am definitely, definitely ready to start sleeping past 5 AM.