As you may know, F travels internationally for work, usually for several weeks at a stretch. For this two-week stint, I decided to make myself keep a daily journal to record my thoughts and emotions through the ups and downs of solo-parenting, mostly to help myself see what worked well and what was an utter fail. Enjoy.
Day 1: Feel empowered. Declare I Can Do This. It Will Not Be As Bad As The Last Trip. Or Else I Will Actually Lose My Mind. And That Sounds Messy.
Given gutsy resolution, post equally gutsy Fa.ce.book status. Friends respond with uplifting affirmations. Read response from friend who solo-parented toddler and birthed second child all while husband was serving overseas. Feel decidedly less justified in complaining about two weeks.
Take dog and child on long walk. Feel great. Get home. Realize walk was too long. Try to explain Braxton-Hicks contractions to toddler as justification for sitting in grass rather than pushing him up and down driveway in cozy coupe. Effort fails.
Only lose temper at toddler twice during dinner. Consider this an accomplishment for witching hour. Successfully manage bathtime and bedtime routine which are entirely husband’s domain. Child only calls for father every two minutes. Sigh. Long for glass of red wine.
In strange burst of late-night energy, decide to start new online financial software to redo family budget. Spend two hours organizing finances. Feel incredibly proud about this. Realize most people have had this together for a lot longer and/or discovered this website five years ago. Feel slightly less excited. Email husband to update him on months-long to-do item getting crossed off list. Anticipate appropriate stunned response. Feel considerably more excited.
Get ready for bed. Conjure up typically irrational and insane scenario wherein serial killer breaks into house in middle of night. Decide to sleep with phone in bed.
Day 2: Wake up to appropriate stunned email response from husband at last-night budgeting marathon. Also: no serial killer.
Remember to feed dog breakfast after realizing dinner was forgotten. Apologize to dog. Receive unimpressed look from beagle mourning absence of beloved.
Successfully manage to get child to toddler class only 15 minutes late. After class, patronize local oil change service. Employee inquires why I have not been in for the past five years. Dispel myth of miracle car that runs without oil by explaining that husband does all automotive servicing. Drop jaw at cost of oil change. Remember to thank F again for nights spent crawling under cars.
Feed spinach quiche to toddler for lunch. Enjoy brief moment of pride at toddler’s eating habits. Lose temper at toddler for sticking fork in hair. Eat two pieces of quiche myself. Feel better.
World’s best babysitter arrives. Thank God for babysitter. Run errands. Work at coffee shop for two hours. Marvel at how much reading I got done. Marvel that teenagers at coffee shop were allowed to leave house dressed like that this morning. Declare to unborn child that, if female, such attire will not be allowed. Unborn child responds with persistent jabs to lower ribs. Decide second child will be as cheeky as first, regardless of gender.
Take walk, shorter than yesterday. Thank God for sunshine. Realize it’s dinner time. Thank God for leftovers. Respond to child’s request for more peas with “that’s a great idea.” Listen to child repeat word “idea” 78 times in questioning tone. Try to explain abstract notion of “idea.” Catch glimpse of next year of life spent explaining similarly abstract notions to toddler and/or answering incessant questions of “why? why? why?”. Shudder.
Repeat bathtime/bedtime routine. Child asks for father only every three minutes or so. Consider mild success at being acceptable substitute. Then miss spouse terribly. Realize bed will be empty again tonight. Hunt down pile of extra pillows to fill other side of bed. Avoid glares from beagle who fails to understand continued prohibition from sleeping on bed.
Blog. Miss husband. Decide to eat second dinner. Go to sleep too late.
Day 3: Wake up. No serial killer. But no email from husband. Decide husband has been kidnapped by international thugs. Try to phrase email to husband gently inquiring about current status without sounding like a head case. Fail. Send email equivalent of “Are you awake?” which ranks as one of the stupidest questions of all time. Decide I don’t care.
Shower while child babbles. Consider how ranking for mother of year award slips with each hour I let child babble to self in crib in morning so I can shower or write or eat breakfast alone. Decide I don’t care.
Babysitter arrives. Go to work. Thank God for commute which involves one flight of stairs. Eat second breakfast. Work. Get email from husband; status confirmed as alive. Thank God for internet. Babysitter leaves. Child is already napping. Thank God for sleep schedules.
Skype with husband over lunch. High point of day. Laugh a lot. Fill husband in on daily goings-on. Husband reports surprised delight at positive mental state of wife. Agree. Search desperately for wood to knock on.
Work more while child naps. Friend and son come over for playdate. For first time, child expresses concern that another is playing with his toys. Stealing occurs. Sharing less-so. Unborn child kicks excessively. Preview of coming attractions. Sigh.
Realize witching hour is fast approaching and dinner is not ready. Throw together interesting mix of leftovers. Remember how own mother used to call leftovers “You Loved It Once; You’ll Like It Again.” Remember how own mother and father are also currently out of country for next week. Conjure up seven different scenarios wherein pre-term labor sends me to hospital alone and both husband and parents are unreachable. Decide irrational imagination is one of strongest talents.
Eat leftovers. Only admonish child six times for fork on head.
Convince child that picking up toys post-playdate is the last great game of the day. Thank God that toddler is still easily convinced. Start bathtime routine. Realize that nothing has been packed for Memorial Day weekend trip. Frantically grab armful of clothes and diapers from toddler’s room. Call that “packing.”
Read bedtime stories; say bedtime prayers. Child asks for father incessantly. Much discussion of when father is coming home. Miss husband. Put child to bed.
Strong desire to lay down and watch something stupid on Hu.lu instead of pack. Grown-up part of brain wins out. Put in load of cloth diapers to wash. Strong craving for chocolate chip cookies. Married part of brain wins out, remembers that mine are never as good as husband’s. Eat banana slathered in Nut.ella instead. Declare to be healthy snack.
Decide to cook rice dish for weekend, contribution for family trip to cabin. Good friend calls. Attempt to cook while on phone, coincidentally chatting with good friend about episode in which she nearly burnt down kitchen cooking rice. Consider bad omen. Finish cooking anyway. Surprised with non-burnt result. Surprised to find two hours have passed on phone with good friend. Unsurprised to find it is midnight before a trip and bags are unpacked.
Start frantic midnight packing. Realize packing for self and child has never occurred sans husband. Realize many things will be forgotten as a result. Realize beagle has clued in to arrival of luggage and slunk under the bed in despair he will be abandoned. Try to rationalize with beagle that he is in fact coming on trip and should not let stress trigger seizure in the middle of the night. Unconvinced. Stop packing in hopes of warding off seizure.
Pick up What To Expect When You’re Expecting as bedtime reading. Learn about seven horrible complications of late pregnancy. Wonder why this qualifies as restful bedtime reading. Go to sleep too late.
Day 4: Wake up to dog’s insistent whining to go outside. Momentarily wish for serial killer.
Take dog out in early morning dawn. Grumble. Realize it’s quite pretty outside. Still grumble that husband is not here to take out dog.
Check email. Two pictures from husband. Big smile. Realize lack of internet at cabin means no communication from husband for next three days. Smile shrinks.
Put laundry in dryer. Realize we may actually make it to cabin on time after all thanks to beagle’s early wake-up call. Begrudgingly thank beagle.
Eat breakfast alone in lovely early morning sun. Decide to use extra half hour of no sleep to blog before packing. Begrudgingly thank beagle. Wonder if beagle is in cahoots with God. Decide to start day right with prayer.
Frantically finish packing. Frantically feed everyone breakfast. Frantically stuff beagle, child, and all (un)necessary gear in car for weekend. Take off later than planned, as planned.
Three hour drive to cabin. Solo. Pregnant. With dog. And toddler. Storms forecast all weekend.
(Did I mention I’m spending the weekend with my in-laws? And without the spouse who brought me into this family?)
Days 5-7: Cabin with in-laws. In rain. Three toddlers under one roof. Stay tuned next week for details…