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!

Peace and (very little) quiet!

There was a morning this week that I came into consciousness during the wee hours when it was still dark. I sighed when I realized that at least the entire right side of my pajamas felt drenched any time I moved in bed. There was a large boy on my right, a middle troll (I mean, boy) on my left, and a wee one bumbling around trying to figure out how to squeeze in somewhere. The “fluid,” I can only surmise, was the result of boy #2 who had decided his jammies were wet, left them and the pull-up in a pile beside the bed and climbed naked into my bed sometime in the very, very wee hours of the morning (apparently I am tired enough not to notice additions to my slumbering anymore).  Deep down inside, I groaned, “I am miserable….”

….for a second. Then I said to myself, “I am blessed.” For if you desire peace, you create peace within yourself first. You lay amidst the chaos and say, “I am blessed.”  You take ten deep breaths as Super Tall Guy works to escalate a battle and say, “I am jello…your emotions will not stick to me.”  You watch a football soar from the arms of Super Tall Guy, sail over the hands of The Flipper and bounce off the head of the Little Guy who is in the midst of tackling The Rascal while Mr. Ornery races around the indoor home loop. And you say, “this is pretty good – all is well. There is peace here.”

The center of peace is in the way that I perceive what is happening and can negotiate the environment and interactions around me. This is a work in progress (every single minute). Super Tall Guy and I had a very miserable year when he was about three. He was struggling with independence issues (very normal) and a quick temper. I was struggling with unhappiness in my adult life at the time, a quick temper as well (that part hasn’t necessarily gone away), and having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I could not “control” this little human being. We were an explosive combination with intense negativity at times and a general lack of peace. There was very little “tranquility” and not much “harmony” in our relationship. It has taken quite awhile to grow together and get to the point where we are today with random flares disrupting a much calmer sea.

And most of the time now…more honestly…some of the time, I can handle the chaos and the noise of 5 active boys running around, pushing, shoving, sticking their tongues out, biting, kicking….pretty much invading each other’s personal space in order to meet a personal desire for an object or invoke a whine or cry from the other. Sometimes I have had enough sleep. I am feeling “okay” in my professional life. I am not (too) stressed and can tolerate the chaos.

But sometimes I just want quiet. I want peace. I want a moment to myself that is not between the hours of 10:00 pm and 1:00 am. I’m wondering what was that insane moment when I decided to become a parent and why.

Sometimes, the words of an Amy Grant holiday song run through my head:

“Look at us now, rushing around
Trying to buy Christmas peace…

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night.”

It helps me to know that my crazy days end with a “silent night” even if sometimes that night is really short by the time the last one stops waking up to be re-tucked in and the first one hasn’t yet proclaimed “it’s morning time!”  It helps me to try to keep a bigger picture in mind. To understand that the occasional chaos is a temporary and very small aspect of the larger task of raising up three wonderful men and wanting our relationship to continue in peace for years and years to come.

So, this Advent week, I’m going to reflect on peace a bit more, model it more in myself, and encourage it more in the boys. I’m also going to pray that night-time pull-ups will be a bit more super-absorbent, and that we will all work towards peace at home, at work and in the world. IMG_4464