When Momma goes on a business trip

You should never go away on a business trip, even if just for a night. It seems to have a way of altering the universe of boy children in seemingly imperceptible yet powerful ways.

It starts the moment you walk in the door. For example, if the business trip happens to be to Hershey, and the boys “recommend” that you bring something back to them, there’s always the “Xtreme Hershey” extra large candy bar in the aisle at Rite Aid on sale for $1.50. (Please note, this is so much cheaper than the $8 plastic cars filled with 3 pieces of Reese candies purchased at Hershey World on the first business trip last year when you had to buy one for each of FIVE boys!) And this works as a fine exciting gift when you hand it over upon arrival. But do not expect them to hear the words “It’s for after supper” as you go out to unload the car. Within 2 minutes, it’s devoured by raptors, who thankfully did hear the second half, “It’s for you all to share.”  Amazingly, mouths dripping with chocolate juice were open wide in wonderment at the sudden cause for Mommy’s “outburst.”

Parenting – it’s always something.

And then comes the evening bedtime routine, during which the poor Mommy encountered an odoriferous 8 year old who thinks “it takes too long” and is “too boring” to adequately wipe; the 3 year old who peed through the pull-up and soaked the bed while lying there before falling asleep; the dog who pooped on the kitchen floor while trying to deal with the first two issues; followed by the discovery that the 6 year old had peed on the carpet right outside the bathroom door (because why?). Well, that discovery occurred shortly before realizing that the stench in the 6 year-old’s room emanated from the pile of dog poop on the comforter (from when?). I confess that my tired brain did not “remain calm” very well that evening. I may even have used a pretty “negative tone” with the sad-eyed boys haphazardly trying to help me clean up a bit. By the time I got the last one into bed, I officially tendered my resignation as CEO of the household and have decided to begin a search for a small tidy cottage with a fireplace and a cat.

It’s always something.

Bedtime the next evening, I spied a small scab between the shoulder blades of the three-year-old. Moving him into the light for a closer inspection revealed a happily attached and voracious tick. I hate ticks. I detest the fear of Lyme disease. I have learned to calmly smoother and remove these predators, but I hate them. I search madly for some antibiotic cream for the bandaid. I pretend it’s no big deal. I tuck the anxious one back in bed and vow to check all over that dog!

It’s always something.

And if the messes aren’t enough, there’s the aggressive behavioral side effects of sleep deprivation accompanied by lovely eye-rolling from Super Tall Guy, the whine for attention from The Little Guy, and the bouncy antics of Mr. Ornery alternating with total melt-downs to contend with. Add in the explosion of a stealth pull-up that made it into the washer and fifteen minutes of wiping up millions of tiny gel balls and you’ve just topped off the “Mommy dared to be away for a day” consequences.

That hotel room sure was nice. Fluffy pillows. Remote control. Quiet. Good solid quiet. Wonder when the next business trip is. Or if there’s a nice tidy cottage in the woods somewhere.

Yes, sometimes life with boys is crazy and I wouldn’t change it for the world….well, maybe we could tweak a few things!

Draining, demanding dependents

That’s the phrase I texted to a friend yesterday.  Of course, I was telling her that I have 3 of them….but it’s very important to not getfor (as Noah calls it) that there are actually 5 boys in this household….none of whom can pour their own glass of milk, completely toilet themselves or get a bath, or really even get dressed without either hands-on work or mental exhaustion in reminding them to at least put underwear on!

It’s been an exhausting weekend and it’s shocking to realize that the house looks just as trashed Sunday evening as it did Friday evening, despite the fact that we were home all weekend and actually did some cleaning.

I had to look back in some older messages to find a short paragraph that I sometimes send to new parents….just as a way to get them thinking about how life will change with a new baby:

Did you know that – – A typical baby needs to be fed every 2 or so hours for about 15-25 minutes each time and about 8 times a day. – If you mix formula, that takes about 20 minutes of your time each day. – Changing a diaper will take approximately ten minutes 8-10 times a day. – Extra laundry, cleaning or shopping may take an extra 2-3 hours a day. – Playtime and cuddling the baby should be done 15-25 minutes at a time a minimum of 4-6 times a day.  Total time required: 8 hours and 40 minutes to 12 hrs and 40 minutes a day!

That’s for a baby!  This is how our “typical day” falls….

– a typical boy age 1-6 needs to be fed every 3 or so hours for about 20 minutes each time and about 5 times a day; but it takes an additional 15 minutes to sop up the spilled water (Noah!!), pick up the flying chicken nuggets (Micah!!), and mop up the overturned cereal bowl again (Steven!!) at least 2-3 times a day = 2 hours and 10 minutes

– changing a diaper of a squirming fussing 18 month old will take at least 5 minutes, chasing them around the house to get the clothes back on, another 5 minutes, for 50 minutes a day x 2 diaper-clad bottoms (the 2-yr-old isn’t much easier) = 1 hr, 40 minutes

– laundry of 5 boys, partially folding, sorting and stacking clean clothes onto the back of the couch, refolding and restacking and resorting after Micah falls onto the couch in his Immaculate Reception imitation football catch, lugging clothes upstairs into dressers, washing towels and towels and towels = 2 hours a day

– Shopping for food, gallons of milk, clothes, shoes, toys, milk, coats, diapers, wipes, more diapers, more baby wipes, more milk, more food, back for bananas, gallons of milk (“why in the world did you only buy ONE gallon of blue-top milk?!!?) = average 1 hr a day

– And then there’s Steven…..in one day, he removed his diaper at nap time and woke up distressed by being covered in “poop” (I mean, who wouldn’t be?) = 30 minutes bath (well, 60 minutes by the time all the boys decided they needed one too at 2:30 pm) and 45 minutes laundry and wipe up; emptying of a practically full box of cereal onto the floor (awesome gravity effect) = 15 minutes of cleaning; upending a mug of hot chocolate splashing across the kitchen floor = 15 minutes; dumping over a bowl of cereal = 15 minutes…. 2 hours and 30 minutes of completely unproductive cleaning and close behind this tornado is little Seth emptying the papers from the recycling bin, removing Tupperware from the drawer, and shredding bits of papers.

Right – and now we have to add in “play” with the boys?  Let’s see, 2152 Lego pieces emptied across the floor, a diaper toss battle with Pampers flying, paper airplanes arching through the air, lightsabers dropped after battle (and guaranteed to make you slip and break your neck), Kleenex plucked from the boxes and dropped throughout the house (used? unused?), books wildly tossed off the shelves….I could go on…and on….

My total was at 10 hours before getting to the “play” and the aftermath of it.  If my sister and I sit down for 5 minutes we start to get antsy….knowing that someone is destroying something somewhere.  So from 5:56 (first child up) to 9:17 (last child down), there is absolutely no letting your guard down.

But they sure do look like angels when they’re all asleep!