As a stay at home mom, one of the most dreaded questions you can be asked is, “What do you do all day?” It’s a ludicrous and rage inducing question. But in case you’ve been curious and, unlike my husband, not brave enough to ask, I thought I’d give you today’s rundown so you could have an exclusive peek into my life.
I started my day around midnight, comforting our screaming three year old daughter during her second (and then third. Maybe fourth? I lost count) round of nightmares. At some point she climbed into our bed and I just gave up and slept the remaining few hours with a squirmy hot living booger in bed next to me. When she awoke at 6:00 am, as she does without fail every morning, I may or may not have yelled at her to go back to sleep or I would kill her. This is not how we begin every morning, but it’s definitely not the first time. In fact, I will threaten to murder my children at least three more times before the day is out.
Justus came in at 7:00 am, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to go visit his Babs at her hotel for a swim. Except there have been thunderstorms all night (did I forget to mention those? Also great for restful sleep) and it is still raining now. No pool for these two. I manage to drag my lethargic body and the beach ball I’m wearing on my stomach out of my nice, comfortable bed and text my mom. I suggest we go to Cracker Barrel as a replacement activity for swimming. Because they’re basically the same thing. She calls while my children are actively screaming at both me and each other simultaneously. I desperately need coffee.
I grab a clean shirt and last week’s pants but can’t find my flip-flops. Oh right. The dog ate them yesterday. Flats it is. I send Justus to get dressed. 20 minutes later he is still sitting in the hallway outside my room wearing only his pajama shirt. I threaten to duct tape him to the wall if he doesn’t put on his clothes. He laughs and runs off to find his underwear.
I take Thalia to change her diaper and get her dressed. She must have choices so I raid the laundry basket (it’s been sitting there unfolded for an entire week now. It’s time to do laundry again. I started it the night before but never put it in the dryer. Typing this reminded me I’ll need to run it through again tonight or Justus will have to go to school naked tomorrow. Crap, it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week. I have literally done nothing for these amazing women) and find two complete outfits. “Dress or pants?” She points to the pants, because apparently we’re not talking now, and ask her what shoes she wants.
“I don’t want shoes.” Of course you don’t.
We’re finally all dressed and head out to the car, running only twenty minutes late. It’s stopped raining but it’s about 65 degrees out. “Oh good! Now we can go swimming!” Thalia yells. Um, no. Drive 25 minutes to the hotel. Pick up Mom. Go to breakfast. Ask the waiter to put in the chocolate chips we brought with us, because of course we’re traveling with chocolate chips. That’s a totally normal thing to do. Eat, send the kids to play “Checks,” drink ALL THE COFFEE. Go to pay. Let the kids ~visit~ the toys at the store. Tell them it’s time to leave. Watch Justus try to manhandle his sister because she runs away. Send Justus out the door. Grab a now screaming Thalia by the hand. “I want to play more checks!” she screams and then collapses on the patio. Scoop her off the ground with one arm, grab Justus by the other, march across the parking lot and buckle everyone in the car. Take Mom back to the hotel to get her car to drop it off at the airport and hang out for a few more hours.
Off to the United States Air Force Armament Museum, which Justus loves and Mom has never seen. The kids take off running as soon as we get to the entrance. They head for the flight simulators and die a slow death waiting their turn. Off to another exhibit. Reading a sign, I hear a woman’s voice, “Excuse me ma’am. Your daughter has a flag.” A giant flag that is fixing to the bite the dust.
“Stop touching things!” We’ve been here 87 times. She knows not to touch. She dips under the exhibit cordon. Mom snatches her as she runs by and pulls Thalia back out. “Don’t go under the rope! You are driving me crazy!”
“Babs come look at this!” Justus yells taking off in one direction.
“Babs lets take the elevator!” Thalia yells running in a completely different direction.
“Can I touch that? Mom watch this! Oh my gosh! What is that? Why is this here? Mom who is that man? Is that a picture of Daddy?” God forbid; it’s on the KIA wall. I shudder and try to explain. They’ve already taken off again. Upstairs. 30 seconds of a training video. “Babs this one is even better! It’s all the bombs blowing up the bad guys!” He runs to the other side of the exhibit. Oy vey.
Back downstairs. I go to show Mom one of my favorite exhibits. “Excuse me Ma’am, is that your daughter? She can’t climb on the exhibit.” I’ve already turned, a look of horror on my face. Thalia has ducked under the rope again and is climbing a bomb. Grab Thalia. Tell Mom and Justus to stay, that they’re not being punished. March Thalia outside, set her little butt on a bench, and sit there as she screams that she’ll have a better attitude, listen and obey, happy up, orchestrate peace in the Middle East, end world hunger. I don’t know. I’ve stopped listening. Once Mom and Justus come out, it’s back into the car, then off on more errands.
This includes a quick run back home, and a fruitless trip to the UPS store, followed by a jaunt to Ollie’s giant discount store full of crap to buy an extra suitcase for my Mom because shipping her new stuff was going to be an astronomical amount of money. Finally, success. We find what we need and quickly. “Can we look at the toys?”
“We can walk by the toys.” Quick circle around the store and we’ll be out of here. They both try to climb the piles of sale rugs at the back of the store. “Get down. Stop climbing on things. I’m going to kill you both.” Head for the front of the store so Mom can check out. As we walk past the patio furniture they climb it. “Get down. We’re going. Right now.” Thalia starts to protest. I walk off, Justus singing, “Bye Thalia!”
I turn and see the cushion slip off the patio chair, which is on a platform. She falls at least two and a half feet and lands head first on the tile. I’m terrified. I’m also embarrassed, but overwhelmingly terrified. Scoop her up, hold her to me, see the GIANT goose egg pulsating on the corner of her forehead. Simultaneously yell at my children and comfort them while also managing to drop a word that starts with f and rhymes with trucking. (Did I mention my son dropped a GD today? Yeah, we’re really on a role.)
I take both kids out to the car, give Justus the mom look to end all mom looks and tell him to get buckled. I stand Thalia up. “What is your name?”
Tears streaming down her face, snot dripping out of her nose, the knot on her head an angry purple egg, she sniffles, “Thalia.”
“Who am I?”
“I don’t remember.”
“How old are you?”
“I don’t know.” She starts to wail.
“What color is this?” I point to Babs’ suitcase.
“I don’t remember!”
I hope I’m right about this. “If you don’t answer these questions we are going to the hospital right now. Who are you?”
*sniff, sniff, sniff* “I’m Thalia.”
“Who am I?”
“How old are you?”
“I’m free at my last birthday.”
“What color is this?”
“It’s purple.” Blubber, blubber.
Thank God she’s okay.
Mom asks if she can get me anything. “A glass of wine.”
“Umm, I can’t do that.”
“I can get you a Virgin Margarita…”
“That’s just a slushie. Wait, you know what? That actually sounds delicious.” I head over the bridge to Destin for the closest Sonic.
“Here, let me pay,” Mom offers.
“No. I’m eating my feelings. You don’t need to cover the tab for that.”
I order lunch for the kiddos and three lunches for myself. Also a milkshake. And the slushie.
“Mom I can eat my food in the car.”
“No. We’re eating at home.”
“But Mom, I can-”
“No. We’re eating at home. If you ask again I’m going to eat your food for you.”
Back home, wake up Thalia who of course has fallen asleep. Feed the troops. Go to the airport. It’s raining. Park. Go in with Mom for the goodbyes, which go surprisingly well. Last time there was a whole lot of crying and a return trip for more hugs. This time, smiles, kisses, and off we go our separate ways.
We get home and I am so wiped I can barely see straight. My eye, which I injured yesterday, is pulsating with exhaustion and stress. “Mommy needs a nap. Daddy will be home soon. Sit here, watch this movie, and please be quiet.” Desperate times call for desperate measures. I collapse onto the bed. Twenty minutes later I hear the door open.
“Oh Thalia.” It’s not good. Our little Picasso has not only given herself a full face of black marker tattoos but has also decorated her arms. And her feet. And the sofa. And the rug.
I clock out and head home, another day behind me.
Just kidding! I live here! There are no breaks! I can’t escape!
A bit later we head to Panda Express, Keith’s favorite and a rare treat for him. (Yes, for those of you counting that means we ate out THREE times today. Ridiculous.) Get back home, climb out of the car, unbuckle Justus. Keith lifts Thalia out and she collapses onto the floor screaming. As he picked her up, she grabbed onto something that pinched her finger. “MOMMY!” she screams. I pick her up and she begins to calm down. Then I turn her hand over to look at the boo boo. It’s bleeding. The sight of blood apparently increases the pain exponentially. She starts hyperventilating.
Take her inside, clean the wound, put on a Frozen Band-Aid, or as she calls them, “ban bans.” “Let’s get your jammies on Thalia. It’s time for bed.”
“NOOOO! I don’t want jammies! I have a boo boo!”
“Okay, well let’s at least change your diaper.”
Change the diaper. “Foxes or owls?”
“Do you want to just wear your shirt?”
“NO! IT’S NOT!” Okie dokie.
As I hold and rock my daughter in her room, her eyes begin to close. I can feel Annora moving inside me and am overwhelmed, with joy, with fear. I am so grateful I get to be Justus’ mom, Thalia’s mom, even on these hard, hard days. I am excited to meet my newest child. I am terrified I’m going to screw them up beyond repair. But right now, I’m also relieved that, finally, tonight, at least until the next nightmare, I can rest.