I get frazzled sometimes. No surprise, I know. People get frazzled. It comes with mom territory, among other things, so I always assumed that I understood the Mom Frazzled State. Oh, totally. Kids, cleaning, husbands, I get that.
Little did I know.
You are all laughing at me, I'm sure. I have one child. A boy. He's my only one and has been for five years. We've got our quiet little routine and our set pace. And sometimes I thought I got frazzled.
I've been living in a state of denial.
Before she left, my sister-in-law (We will call her AD in this post) mentioned, "You're going to get a real glimpse of my life."
She said that because she was leaving her three children with me for two days. Let me clarify. Two DAYS. My mom was taking them when she got home from work and putting them to bed.
I approched the adventure with a bit of nervousness. Two kindergarteners, one in the morning session of school, and one in the afternoon, a four-year-girl with dance and preschool, and the one-year-old baby you met in this post. I knew it would be busy. I knew I was going to rely heavily on the carpools that had been arranged. I knew I would have to be on my best behavior.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Here's a glimpse into AD's life, at least when it gets stirred up by her well-intentioned, but clueless sister-in-law, me.
Oh, yeah. Babies get more on the floor than in their mouths. Sure, you can have a drink. Wait, wasn't the four-year-old eating a second ago? I miss-placed the boys again. I think I need to cut all these french toast sticks up. Come sit back down. Boys, you can play after you eat. I think the baby wants more to eat. I almost burned the pancake. Can you get back in your chair? Oh, drinks . . .
The Ten Minutes After Breakfast:
Don't eat off the floor. Maybe I should sweep. You'll have to get dressed. Dancing around in your underwear in the living room isn't getting dressed. The gel for your hair is blue. Should I have got your hair wet first? Does your hair look a little blue now? Wow, I should never attempt pigtails again. Ponytail it is. The carpool got here earlier than I expected. I just answered the door in my pajamas and I'm pretty sure I haven't combed my own hair yet this morning. But look how cute the four-year-old's ponytail is. Why is that bed wet? Did some one wet their pants? Oh. The baby. I forgot to change her diaper.
In the hour or so after I got the beding stripped and started the laundry:
Let's all clean together! Make beds, brush teeth . . . oops I forgot to brush his teeth before kindergarten. You can help while I vacuum!
Or you can run from the vacuum screaming . . .
In the hour between morning kindergarten and afternoon kindergarten:
Please don't make any more jokes about bodily functions. Yes, all those grapes I gave you to eat do look rather wrinkled. Don't eat them. I better sweep again. Sure, you can play Legos. I'll just do laundry. Did someone just knock? What time is it? Oh. Kindergarten. Sorry. I can't find his shoes and backpack.
What time was dance? Yes, I love your spins. And your leaps. The baby has the dance shoes. Should I be worried the carpool hasn't shown up yet? I don't have the lady who's driving's number. We're related. I should have her number. Wait, there she is. I just let the four-year-old wander outside without a coat on. The baby is sleeping. I could write! Or I could stare mindlessly at Facebook and look at Christmas ads . . .Wow it's time to pick up my son.
Three car seats are really tight in the back of a car. Yes, you can all unload and follow me up to the kindergarten. Please don't run in the road. My arms are burning. I feel like I've been working out, but I'm pretty sure its just this baby I've been holding on my hip. But she's so darn cute. Just look at that grin. Please stop talking about farts. Please stop making farting sounds. Yes, you can play in the snow. I'll look through the old snow clothes and see what I can find. There is a wild bird in the laundry room. A real-live-fly-around-the room-watch-itself-in-the-mirror bird that is in the laundry room. HOW did that happen? Welcome back from dance. That ponytail looked a lot more secure than it was. Yes, you can play in the snow, too. I did mean to put two pairs of socks on one foot. It will be warmer that way.
Listen for a second, JoLyn. This little girl is telling you about dance. Look at that smile. Keep that moment. It's worth remembering.
Have fun in the snow. Holy cow. This room is a mess. I'm pretty sure I still have carpet. It was blue this morning. You back inside already? Yes, you can have hot chocolate. I do have colored marshmallows. Here you go. The phone is ringing. No, you don't have to eat the colored marshmallows you piled in your cup. Here. Scoop them out on this plate. Didn't I just clean this room? I forgot to call Dad about the bird in the laundry room. Maybe I better put dinner in. Here come the boys. Yes, I'll make you hot chocolate, too. No you can't have more cookies I need them for Relief Society tonight. Okay, maybe one. Wow, he eats cookies like my brother. Ha. Yes, I am making you hot chocolate. I forgot to turn the microwave on. When did the baby get a hold of a cup of hot chocolate? Where is the carpet cleaner? No one step right here. Why is my hip wet? Baby. Diapers. JOLYN! Change the baby. She's escaped. Oh, I totally missed that enormous puddle of hot chocolate on the kitchen floor. Maybe I should remake the beds. The baby is wandering around in a diaper. I always wondered why that happened. There is hot chocolate on the baby's blanket.
Hello again washing machine.
The half-hour before my mom gets home:
I probably should have taken that out of the oven a while ago. The baby is crying. The kids are making money, magazines, weaponry and food out of paper. The baby is sitting on the pile of paper. Don't take the calender off the fridge. Don't eat the magnets. Yes, I know the baby is in your stuff. I'm coming. When is my mom going to get home? I'll get her, don't panic. Maybe we should pick up this stuff. I know, I'll get her. Lets clean up so we can eat. Do you really need to keep all this paper? Don't panic, I'll get her out. I'm cleaning up. Do you want this? I'll get her. Can you pick up the toys you got out? Do you want this too?
Anything you want you'd better put away, because I'm throwing it away, now!
Hello children. Yes. I'm threatening to throw away your creations. Thank you for being so willing to clean up. Yes, you've done a great job. I'm going to get the food on the table.
Wow, that's really dried out. Hopefully they won't notice.
Mom. Hello, Mom.
I've never been quite so excited to get to Relief Society.
Ah. I won't go into the next day. You all get the point.
So that was when I realized that I didn't know the meaning of Mom Frazzled. That was when my admiration for AD rose substantially. She's been laughing at me all these years thinking to herself "You have no idea, Jo, no idea at all."
No, I didn't. The last two days have been the most crazy, chaotic, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind-of days I've had in long time. They were also fun. Something about that constant state of being needed is really rewarding. I've taken moments with each of them and recorded them in my mind for keeps. Times when they laughed with their entire bodies. Times when they sought me out for conversations. Times when the baby grinned, and snuggled up to me. Times when the world was me, four kids, and a whole lot of crazy and fun.
I'm a little shell shocked still. I keep looking over my shoulder thinking the baby is into something, and I can't tell you how many times I glanced at the clock while I wrote this, thinking I needed to be somewhere, or I'd forgot something, but I wouldn't trade a minute for anything. You gotta love the brilliance of childhood enthusiasm and energy.
So thanks AD. For letting me have your kids for two days. For putting up with me thinking I understood Mom Frazzled
for all these years. For being the kind of mom that you are. Your babies are beautiful.