I like to decompress on my ride home from work before I begin what I refer to as ‘second shift.’ If I’m lucky, the boys will still be napping and I’ll have a few minutes to myself to change my clothes, sort the mail, and begin cooking dinner. If I can transition from work to home calmly, then the evening goes much more smoothly. Tonight is not that night.
As soon as I open the door, the boys come running at me. The first thing out of JJ’s mouth is, “Hi Mommy! We didn’t nap very well.” Initially, I have a proud moment because my three-year-old properly used ‘well’ instead of ‘good’ in his sentence. But the more prominent thought I have is, “What level of hell awaits me this evening???” I can’t think about it too long because Jeff is giving me a kiss as he heads out the door for work. As usual, we have nothing stronger than tap water in the house so I’m going to have to face this night stone-cold sober and alone.
I put my purse and shoes away as Jett hugs my leg and simultaneously wipes his runny nose down the length of my thigh. Nooooo!!! I didn’t want to wash these dress pants yet. Everyone knows you can wear pants 33 times before they need to be cleaned. Speaking of laundry, since I am in the laundry room I look at the hamper and realize I might as well start a load of clothes now.
Once that’s done, I finally make my way into the dining room only to be greeted by shouts of JJ screaming, “Ewww, Jett pooped!” In the living room I find Jett wearing just a diaper and that diaper is pulled halfway down his butt, which is how JJ discovered he had pooped. Jett makes me work to change him these days so he immediately takes off and runs around the dining room table laughing hysterically while I chase him. There is a turd threatening to fall out of his diaper the entire time. I finally catch him and clean him up as I hear the Legos being dumped in the playroom. Legos are the worst.
Thankfully, I had prepped dinner this morning and Jeff had peeled some potatoes for me before he left for work. I put the finishing touches on our meal and pop it in the oven. I really need to get out of my work clothes and into my ‘play clothes’ as JJ calls them. I run upstairs and change as quickly as I can. When I come downstairs, JJ is in the bathroom and is attempting to wipe himself. He has already used what appears to be an entire roll of toilet paper and it takes me several plunges to get everything to flush.
After I thoroughly wash my hands, I head to the playroom to have some quality time with the boys. We build a tower with the Legos, play with tractors on the farm, make cupcakes and pizza at the toy kitchen, and in between all of this I am giving timeouts and taking toys away for the brother-on-brother death match that’s been going on ever since I’ve walked through the door. Some nights they are best buds and other nights they can’t be in the same vicinity without chaos ensuing.
I check on dinner, which isn’t ready, and suddenly everyone realizes they are starving. The whining starts. “Mommy, I am sooo hungry! I need a snack! Is the chicken ready yet? When are we having dinner? I want to eat!!!!” Somehow I am able to distract them long enough for dinner to finish cooking. After all that anticipation, I expect them to eat. Not tonight. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Jett housed his food, but he always does. JJ, on the other hand, sat at the table and started asking for a snack as soon as I said “Amen” after the prayer.
“You are not getting a snack. You literally have a full plate of food in front of you.”
“I don’t want chicken! I want Teddy Grahams!!!!”
“You need to eat your dinner.”
Next, he begins to pound his fork on his plate and the table. He’s given a timeout and goes to sit on the steps. He is wailing. Two minutes ago he kept asking for chicken, now he has chicken and it’s the end of the world. He is not allowed to get up from timeout until he has calmed down. Jett needs more food at this point so I get him some more and make sure it’s cool enough for him to eat. JJ has calmed down and is back at the table. He is still insisting that he have Teddy Grahams immediately. Not gonna happen. After calling the food “yucky” and “gross” (he hasn’t tried a bite of it), he gets up from the table and declares that he is not eating it.
I am not going to try to reason or argue with him. I simply state our rule when it comes to dinner – if you didn’t try it or eat enough, you won’t get a snack until you do. We don’t make our kids finish their plates, but they need to eat what we consider to be enough food to be of nutritional value. If they don’t, we wrap up their food and keep it in the fridge until they get hungry again. They must eat this food before they can have anything else. We are aiming to teach them not to waste and to be grateful for the meals that are prepared for them.
JJ agrees to this rule. He gets down from the table and goes to play. I finally start to eat my food and realize that it’s now lukewarm. Ugh. I don’t feel like getting up from the table to heat it up, so I just eat it as-is. Jett is finally full, but he has started to throw his food off of his high chair. He is covered in potatoes and green beans, so I scrub him down and send him on his way. I clean up the floor and table, rinse the dishes, and go back to the playroom.
It looks nice outside so we decide to go out to the yard. We play on the swing set, dig in the dirt, and throw some balls around. JJ has his bike out in the yard, even though he doesn’t know how to ride it yet. He keeps saying that he wants to ride it down our hill. And I keep telling him no. Jett runs off and gets into some of Jeff’s tools, so as I am chasing him, JJ jumps on his bike and goes down the hill. Inevitably, he hits a divot and wrecks the bike. I run to him and make sure that nothing is broken. He’s still crying but he is fine except for a bloody nose. As soon as he finds out he’s bleeding he stops crying – he’s excited!
He has only one request of me. “Mom, are you gonna tell Dad that I bleeded!?” Yes, yes I will tell Dad. Dad is going to hear allll about this evening.
Now that we have been sufficiently covered in dirt and blood, we head inside for a bath. Because Jeff is at work, I have to bathe them both at the same time. Rarely does this go well and tonight is no exception. We make it through with only one kid getting peed on and only one kid crying. The crying wasn’t because of the pee – they thought that was hysterical.
Both kids are clean and in their jammies. We all snuggle on the couch, take a deep breath, and watch Sheriff Callie. After that, it’s time for Jett to go to bed. He takes it easy on me, grabs his blanket, and snuggles in his crib.
JJ and I play for a little bit longer and then I take him to bed. He requires off-key singing, back scratching, and answers to a million questions before he settles down.
I finally get downstairs and start to wash the dishes. I finish them and hear JJ coming down the steps. He has to pee. He goes to the bathroom and I put him back in bed. I pick up all the toys and put them back. Normally I would make the boys help with this, but that usually takes an awful lot of teeth-pulling and I just wasn’t up for the challenge tonight. Once that’s done, I vacuum the carpet and get out the mop to scrub floors.
JJ comes back downstairs. “Mom, I want to help you!” That’s sweet of you, but what you really want is just an excuse to be out of bed. I take him back and let him know that there will be consequences if he gets out of bed again. I finish mopping the floors.
Just as I am about to sit down, it dawns on me that I never put the clothes in the dryer. Great. I started that load five hours ago. Sure enough, it stinks! I just decide to rerun the washing machine and pray that I don’t fall asleep before it needs to go in the dryer.
It’s time to settle in on the couch when Jeff walks in. He asks me how my night went.
At this point, I’m so tired I feel like I can’t even form sentences. I give him a run-down and am sure to include that JJ ‘bleeded.’ Jeff asks why I didn’t just relax when the boys went to bed. As I always do, I explain that I can’t relax when there is still work to be done. Not only that, but if I wake up and the house is clean, it makes me feel like I truly have a clean slate for the day and keeps me from losing it.
I make my way upstairs to check on the boys and realize that while it was one heck of a night, I made it through. No matter what, God never fails. He always gives me just enough strength to make it through each day. I may not have any strength left over, but I had what I needed for tonight. I kiss their sweet, sleeping faces and know that I have so much for which to be thankful. Then I collapse diagonally on my bed and pass out. Jeff has to push me to my side when he comes to bed a few minutes later.
Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully it will be filled with great naps.