Last night I continued my Herculean ( I can use this adjective because I have almost no help here, and my kids have not been to school due to illness.) task of solo-parenting the boys while my husband is in Israel for 12 days. We don’t say ‘single parent’ because this makes the real single parents annoyed. See, I have the support of my spouse even though it is long distance. This support includes Facebook pictures of the beer he drinks every night as well as sweet phrases like, “I’m sorry the children seem to have the plague, but I gotta go to bed so I can tour Jerusalem tomorrow.”*
Anyway, last night was night 6 of putting the boys to bed by myself. It kind of ends the day on a rough note. I mean rough for the kids because I tend to yell when they are not following directions and are thus delaying my precious alone time. By night 2, I was already planning to drop a few steps the next night. I was sure I’d end up with my kids just crashing on the floor whenever they ran out of batteries instead of any formal getting-ready-for-bed shenanigans.
So, last night around 7:30, I started the routine. (The routine is super cool when Daddy is gone because it involves medicine! Some of which we spit out!) Both boys need drops in their ears and have to lay still for 10 minutes on each side. We did the first side and made it through the almost second by second cries of, “Am I done yet?” Then, I put them on the other side and
ran away went to do chores. I came back 10 minutes later to this:
So, I have 2 kids who have been attached to me like barnacles for 5 days finally asleep and peaceful. But, I can’t leave them that way of course; that would be too easy. Small children cannot crash on the couch all night. Right? Right.
I begin the process of waking them to put on pajamas, finish medicine, and hopefully go to bed without reading books because I really want to pretend I’m going to stay up and watch TV but really fall asleep with my Kindle in my hand. I gently say sweet mother things and caress their angel cheeks. Nothing. Louder, more insistent cajoling follows and is also ignored. I take flash photography. Still nothing.
I Tweet my predicament because that always helps nothing, and then decide to do the tough way. I will dress them while they sleep. I have abandoned hope of administering medicine as it is now 8:15, and I have grown happy with the quiet. Jack is first and turns out to be pretty easy. He seems awake and amenable to getting dressed and properly put to bed. I get his pajamas on him, and he immediately flops over to the other side and resumes deep sleep.
I assume (incorrectly) that my success with Jack will be repeated with Alex. It is not. I start taking his pants off, and he resists, as naturally you would if you were sound asleep and someone came after your clothes. He is very strong for his size. I am very weak for mine. He wins and gets some super helpful sarcasm about how I’m trying to help him. I tell him we must get into bed. He demands books. I have decided to die on the no-books-tonight hill and tell him, “No!” He bursts into tears and begins his death cough. This is the worst coughing fit he has had all day. He can barely breathe. It is very sad. I resume kind mommy voice and calm him down.
My next hurdle is getting them to go to the bathroom without waking them up so much that the book fuss begins again. I carry Alex to the bathroom and ask him to do his business. He says he’d rather do books first. I resume battle stance and make him cry again. Then I tell him his crying is why he’s coughing, and he answers like a teenager with, “I know that!”
So, I leave him to compose himself and get the sack o’ Jack. Once in the bathroom, I prop him up, take down his pants, and aim him. He does as instructed with nary a word or fluttered eye. I carry him to bed and tuck him in. He meekly asks about stories, but I stay strong.
By this time, Alex is calm and too tired to fight. I get him to use the toilet and get tucked into bed. I sing. I leave. I fall asleep the second my butt hits my bed.
Moral of the story? I’m crabby as a solo parent. Also? Let sleeping kids lie.
*My husband is actually very worried about me and the boys, especially since they are sick. He really wishes he could be here, but it is a good thing that he gets this opportunity for work. I do not want him sitting in the hotel being sad; I’m glad he gets to eat out for dinner and tour a little bit. Mostly.
If you’d like to read more about a woman trying to parent alone when clearly a partner is needed, my friend Vikki over at Up Popped A Fox was also solo these past 2 weeks and hilarity and abandoning grocery shopping due to rudeness ensued.