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Friday, March 14, 2014

The Morning Rush Hour(s)

It is the longest part of my day.  Each morning I awake with the false sense of strength that I believe I posses the fortitude and wherewithal to get through the next three hours until the Commander gets dropped at Preschool. I give myself a pep talk in my head. “You can do this.  It’s not that hard.  This is easy.  People have 6 kids and can get out of the house and to a job. You can do this.  You can make it through!” I feel high on life for a few minutes.  I feel like I can champion this day, that today is the day that I can get two kids dressed, fed and out the front door and to their respective activities. Quickly though, reality sinks in and by 9 am I have given in and given up.

Each morning I wake up before the sun. Each morning I wake up to a naked man in my bed. He’s 4 and he has decided to disrobe entirely before getting in bed with us somewhere in the darkest hours of the night. I usually can sleep through the Commander’s advances as he barrels into our room, strips naked and curls up on top of our pillows horizontally like a cat.  I am usually so tired, so self medicated with Tylenol PM and Shiraz that I sleep like a contortionist for the better part of the night. My husband has managed to train himself the same way and so we both sleep on 2 square inches of the bed while the Commander splays out in the rapture of pissed-stained 1000 TC designer sheets.

Before 6 am, I stumble into the kitchen hoping that the Commander will stay put in bed with daddy just long enough that I can make a cup of coffee and guzzle it down.  Obviously, I am fighting the hangover of the Shiraz and the Tylenol PM, but without those two I wouldn’t have slept at all, so I accept this is as the lesser of two evils. 

The Commander hears the clinking of the coffee cup and comes sprinting into the kitchen.  “Mommy, do you know Luke Skywalker? Mommy where is the pork side? Why are the birds good but the pigs are bad? Have you been on Glactica before?  How do I go there? Mommy, Mommy, Mommy where is my Princess Leia telepod. I want to give it to Noa.  Mommy, Mommy. Mommy. Mommy, Mommy. Mom. I am talking to you.”

My eyes aren’t fully opened and the caffeine has yet to enter my veins.  I cannot answer any of his questions.  I stand there, staring at my naked toddler looking as if I just got smacked in the face with a light saber (Which does happen for real 5 minutes later). “Max, honey, I cannot answer these questions until mommy has had a really huge, huge coffee.”

I know that he can hear me. And I know that he does actually understand what I am asking him to do, he just doesn’t give a fuck. “Mommy, if I went on the Galactica how would I get there? What do they eat on the Galactica? Who makes them breakfast? Mommy, how I get to go on the Galatica? If I eat my fruit can I go?”  I am being thrown questions at a million miles an hour and the coffee is slow dripping into the pot. I am staring at it, wishing I had remembered to set the timer the night before. I am pretty happy that I wiped down the counters, made lunch and put the dirty dishes from dinner in the dishwasher.  I give myself props for that.  Finally the coffee is ready and I suck down a cup in under 5 seconds.

I know that I need to have the Commander dressed before TIT wakes up.  There is military precision to this getting out of the house thing.  So I gather up some clothing in the Commander’s room and bring it to him in the living room where he is actually playing with the iPad nicely and quietly.  “Max, you need to get dressed,” I say handing him an outfit.  I am grateful in the morning that I have two boys, that the fight for getting dressed isn’t as bad as it could be, but still, the sun is barely up and the Battle of the Shirt has begun.  “I hate jeans. I am not wearing jeans.  I need soft pants.”  I don’t argue. I go and get sweatpants and accept the fact that my kid will always look like an extra on the Sopranos in his Russian mobster sweat suit outfit. 

“I hate Spiderman. I am an Angry Bird. I am not wearing that shirt.” So back I go again to retrieve an appropriate shirt.  He quickly moved on from Spiderman to Angry Birds and I didn’t update his wardrobe accordingly and unbeknownst to me, he will no longer wear anything with superheroes on it because that is so last year. I assume this is akin to me not wanting to wear my over-the-knee boots, that fashion has moved forward, but he's 4 and I was hoping a t-shirt is still a t-shirt. I dig through the drawer and locate an Angry Bird pajama top.  I don’t care if he wears pajamas to school, I just care that he will put the fucking shirt on and we get to school.  

“How about this one?” I ask the Commander who puts his iPad down long enough to glance at the shirt.  “No, I don’t want that one. I want the one with the red angry bird, the one who looks like Luke Skywalker.” Truthfully, I have no idea which one he is talking about, which thing looks like Luke Skywalker or where this said shirt could even be.” So I lie. I lie and I lie and I don’t feel remotely bad about it.  “Oh shucks! I think it’s dirty, but guess what?” I say with fake excitement. The Commander pokes his head up and looks excited too. 

I pounce.  “Oh, Mommy was talking to Luke Skywalker yesterday and he sent over a shirt. He said only Jedi Knights could wear it.” Now I have the Commander wrapped around my finger, he is staring at me like I mentioned a 50 % off coupon to Lululemon at a new mom’s class. “I don’t think you can wear that one yet, because you aren’t a Jedi.”  Undeterred, the Commander is calculating his response. “I am a Jedi.  I can wear that shirt.  I can wear it? Please mommy! I’ll eat a piece of fruit like a Jedi. I’ll do it right now.” 

So I am claiming victory because my kid is now sitting eating an organic apple and I can pick any adorable shirt I want, put an Angry Bird sticker on it and the Commander will wear it happily thinking it was a gift from Luke Skywalker.  Now, it’s 7:15 and we need to leave for school in T-minus 1 hour and 10 minutes.  The Commander has been dressed. I contemplate brushing his teeth but not sure I have that battle in me until I have another cup of coffee and now I hear the TIT stirring. 

As soon as the TIT wakes up, he is ready to join the party.  Fearing that he overslept and missed all the good stuff, TIT dashes into the living room to find his brother.  “Max, say good morning to Zac,” I say as I chase down TIT trying to change his loaded diaper as he makes a run for it. “I hate my brother. I don’t want to say hi. I don’t want to say good morning.” I decide it’s not worth the fight and that one day, in the distant future, the two of them will be friends when the Commander needs the TIT to take a geometry test for him.  But the only thing TIT wants is his brother to pay attention to him.  He doesn’t’ care that he is going to get clocked in the face. It’s Pavlovian at this point. TIT steals an angry bird telepod from his brother and the Commander turns around and slugs him side armed.  TIT doesn’t cry.  In fact I think he enjoys the punishment.  He giggles and the Commander does it again. I sip more coffee.

I have managed to get the old diaper off TIT but yet to get the new on when TIT decides to pee on the floor.  I actually don’t even get upset because pee is easy to clean. At this point, I am grateful for this mess which requires only two squares of VIVA paper towels and some spray Lysol. I manage to wrestle TIT to the ground and get him in a new dry diaper. He's pissed and he makes it known that he's not into this WWF diaper change and throws a bucket of crayons on the ground.

 The goal is to get TIT in the high chair and lock him down so I am free to move about the apartment without any major calamities. But TIT knows this trick and he’s gotten smart to my ways.  He squirms as I try to strap him in. “Look at what a yummy breakfast I made you,” I singsong to TIT.  I have a plate of cut waffles with jelly and cream cheese and some cut fresh melon.  We have a stare down for a minute.  TIT looks carefully at the plate, deciding if it meets his standards and I stare at him wondering how long I have until this plate of food becomes a projectile.  I feed him naked because what’s the point in getting him dressed when I know breakfast will be covering him soon. 

There had been silence from the Commander for a while and I look over and he is drinking my husband’s iced coffee.  My husband who has gotten out of bed, poured an iced coffee and left for the gym in under 10 minutes is no where to be found in the morning. I begin to think, and realize that since we have had two kids, he’s been going to the gym a lot more in the morning. Hmmm, wonder why?  “Why are you drinking coffee?” I ask him, grabbing it out of his hands. How it’s possible for a 4 year old to like nearly black, semi-sweetened iced coffee is beyond my realm of understanding.   But the Commander loves coffee and he most certainly doesn’t need it.

As I take the cup away, I see that TIT has taken the waffles covered in jelly and cream cheese and rubbed it all over his face and hair.  There definitely isn’t time to bathe him so I opt to use these materials as styling product giving him a faux hawk and just wipe him down so he doesn’t smell like a bakery in class. He ate nothing but is covered in everything. So I grab the first shirt and first pants I can find in his drawer and then go to finish getting the Commander dressed.  He doesn’t match. I don’t care.

I find the Commander in the bathroom making the water spray from the faucet. He’s naked.  Totally buck-naked again. And we are back to square one!

He his taken off all of his clothing because he “needed to make pee pee” and while I have no idea why one would need to be completely naked to do this, I don’t have time to argue. I need to get him back into his clothing and out the door.  But now his soft pants are wet and the Luke Skywalker Jedi shirt is wet too.  I have no time for a series of negotiations and lies so I grab anything from his room and try to distract him using cookies as I get him re-dressed. 

Miraculously, I get shoes and coats on everyone without any major issues.  The Commander is eating a giant cookie and carrying his Darth Vader mask as we get out of the elevator in the lobby of our building.  People are staring. He makes a dash to the front door, which is open, and I start to run after him nearly leaving TIT in the elevator as the doors close. Thankfully, TIT made it out of the elevator and didn’t go on a joy ride around the building.  “Everyone needs to stop moving,” I say as I scoop up TIT and rein the Commander back. At this point he is wearing the Vader mask and jumping off the lobby furniture humming the Star Wars song. I am pretty sure everyone in our building is praying that we move to the suburbs or that I have my tubes tied. 

I am carrying the Commander’s lunch box, backpack and jacket which he threw on the ground in the elevator, all while holding my 20lb purse and a 30lb toddler.  I nearly topple over squeezing everyone into the car, but when everyone is strapped into their seats and I am only 17 traffic lights from dropping the Commander off at school, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I look in the backseat and the Commander is dressed as Darth Vader and TIT’s hair gelled back with cream cheese, but they are dressed and semi-fed and semi-clean. I have survived the morning rush…but it’s only Monday.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Hangover (Part 1)

The Hangover (Part 1)

Oh yeah, I was feeling good. The music was great, mommy had makeup on and a strapless undergarment and I was out without kids on a Saturday night.  Tucked in the back of my brain, was the reality that tomorrow morning I was going to have to wake up to my kids, but that wasn’t going to stand in the way of being first at the vodka luge, or reaching out to the bartender for another shitty well-vodka drink, or a glass of wine or more shots later.  I was not a mommy at that moment, I was a girl in an LBD.  So I drank and I danced and I had a great night with my friends and my husband at a glamorous party where I was able to not wear my uniform of black leggings and a Lululemon top.

We get home around midnight, not super late and the babysitter has managed to get both my kids to sleep.  I stumble into each of their rooms, just to check and make sure that they are alive, breathing and in pajamas and then I careen into a wall.  Oops.  I was definitely more than buzzed, but who cares, I had fun! I dug into their stash of cookies and chips. “What are you doing?” Matt asks as I am caught eating a bag of animal crackers, the best I could come up with from the pantry. “I am hungry,” I slurred. “I need something to cushion the alcohol.”  I realize at this point that I am pretty drunk, actually more than buzzed, but I also realize that there is nothing I can do about it at this point. So I reach for a Tylenol and a bottle of water and put my head down on the pillow.  Makeup still on, hair still sprayed stiff with hairspray. 

As I drift off to sleep the room spins a little and I realize I am fucked.  I fall asleep dreaming of my bed in my old sorority house, the trashcan placed next to it, just in case I had to wake up and puke.  I picture waking up around 11:30 and walking down the street in Ann Arbor to Amer’s to get bagel and scallion cream cheese. Back in college, hangovers were de rigour. The recovery was painful, but short-lived and we were back at it that night or at least ready to go by Monday night at Rick’s.  But times, they have a changed and the second that the room started to spin I knew the Commander and the TIT 6th sense would kick in. 

I swear, they know, every time I drink or have one too many “mommy juices”, or stay for one more song; they know.  They talk telepathically in their sleep.  “Let’s fuck with them,” the Commander beams to TIT. “Game on,” TIT responds.  And they plot as their dueling music machines pump out peaceful ocean sounds and they sleep angelically in their matching giraffe pajamas. They make their plans of destruction or world domination and just really fucking with mommy and daddy.
 It wasn’t enough that two pregnancies have reduced me to ordering a good pair of Spanx for Saturday night events or that every time I sneeze I pee myself a little. The Commander and TIT wanted to make sure that if I ever had an ounce of fun ever again, that I would pay and that I would pay dearly.   They were put on this earth for that very purpose.

At 2 am, just as I was lulled to sleep by the motion of my bed, the TIT starts screaming from his crib.  I ignore.  I build the screams into a dream, or more likely, I am just having a nightmare where there is a baby crying which is de rigour for this point in life.  Finally, I hobble my way out of bed and into the TIT’s room.  He’s standing up and crying. I am too tired and at this point hung-over/drunk to deal, so I sit in the chair in his room hoping that my mere presence and his sound machine will force him back to sleep.  He stops crying, which is great, because I am pretty sure that I am going to have to go puke any second.  I am thinking it may make sense to puke because the animal crackers weren’t cushioning the cocktails, they were only adding a more solid mixture to heave up later.  Maybe if I puked, then there would be less alcohol and then in that case, less of a hangover. I am contemplating this logic as I rise from his chair, thinking the TIT didn’t have what it takes to really bring me down and I head to the bathroom.  But TIT surprises me, he is more man-baby than I gave him credit for and as soon as I stand from the chair, he is back yelling again. 

At this point, I think it makes a lot of sense to bring him into my bed.  Yes, that’s the solution, I think as I go and pull him from his crib.  I will bring him into my bed and he will cuddle up next to me and drift back off to sleep.  He just wants the warmth of mommy’s body.  So I carry TIT into my room and put him next to Matt who has managed to sleep through all this so far.  At first, TIT looks like this was going to appease him and rolls a few times coming to rest face down between the two of us.  But it was only a momentary diversion.  Seconds later, TIT slides down to the foot of the bed, scoots off and heads for the Commander’s room.  Fearing that it would be an all-out overnight battle if the Commander were to be awoken by TIT, I grab TIT and take him back to his room. I give him Motrin.  For no other reason then I hope that whatever woke him up would be soothed by 1.875 ml of the good grape flavored goo. 

I manage to fall back to sleep for a few hours, but it’s horrible sleep and not even really deserving to be called sleep, more of just an unconscious state which is neither restful or restorative.  Around daybreak, the Commander comes flying into our room.  On any other morning this would have been a battle won, because it usually occurs closer to 3 am, but not this morning.  “Your turn,” I say kicking Matt.  So Matt falls out of bed and takes the Commander into the living room to watch Cailou or Duck Dynasty or whatever the fuck we can put on and will keep him quiet.  There is silence for a few minutes and I dive back under the covers and try to close my eyes for a little bit. 

And then the real nightmare begins, the one that happens only when you are awake at 6 am and severely hungover….and only happens to us.

“He just shit on the floor!” Matt comes in and screams at me. He looks frantic and slightly green.  I am confused.  For a moment, I think Chief, our 200lb incontinent English Mastiff has returned from the dead. “What?” I say. “What is going on?”

I run to the hall bathroom and find a pile of diarrhea on the floor.  And this shit; I am not prepared to deal with. Literally and figuratively. “What the F happened?” I ask Matt. I remember even in this moment to say “what the F” and not “what the fuck” and I impress myself.  “He was standing up to pee and then this.” He points to a pile on the floor.  The Commander looks distraught, who wouldn’t be and I don’t want to make a big deal out of this because this shit can scar a kid.  So I try to pretend it’s no big deal and diarrhea happens to everyone and who hasn’t crapped a massive pile of steaming poop all over the floor? “You clean it up,” I say to Matt who is looking at me like I just asked him to eat a live goldfish covered in the diarrhea.

 “No way! You clean it,” he comes back with, but I pull the trump card that I use every time there is a situation like this. “I carried both these children for a combined 18 months of my life.  I gained a combined 64lbs to produce these children.  I had my abdomen cut opened and had two children pulled from it.  This shit: this is your job.  I am taking my timecard and punching out right now.” With that, I take the Commander into the other bathroom with an iPad and bring Matt a roll of paper towels and 5 bottles of Lysol, bleach and any other thing which says disinfectant on it. 

I hear Matt ganging in the bathroom.  “I think I am going to puke,” he says from behind the closed bathroom door and I am kinda jealous because I still think if I had puked at 2 am, then I would not feel as shitty as I do right now.  There are many things which do not go well with a hangover, but cleaning up human feces from the floor may be the worst of them.  Secretly I am hoping that the Commander will be slowed by his current stomach condition.  He’s seated on a toilet playing Angry Birds and pooping which resembles mud shooting out of a canon.  I am wishing I didn’t eat animal crackers, but very glad I didn’t eat anything chocolate.  By 7 am, the diarrhea has passed and the Commander was dressed in a Darth Vader mask tearing up the living room completely oblivious to the fact my I was scrubbing shit out of the grout in the bathroom tile.  Because there is a god, TIT still was asleep so Matt and I just diapered the Commander up and tried to come to grips with the reality that was going to be our day. 

“We need a sitter,” he says. “We can’t go all day like this.  We aren’t going to make it.” The Commander shows no signs of his earlier ailment and by this point is building a space shuttle out of my shoes and last night’s dress.  So I am trying to find someone at that hour to come for a little bit so that we could sleep off some of this hangover when the TIT wakes up.  I don’t even ask Matt to get him; he now owns the trump card for the day.  I sold my soul to the devil and for the rest of the day, I am going to need to do everything and the first thing I need to do is get a babysitter STAT. Any sitter is fine, anyone without a pedophile record would do at this point.  I take a huge swig of my coffee and another Tylenol and I go bring TIT out of his room.  I swear, he looks at me with delight when he sees the hangover, my eye makeup crawling down my face like a spider race, and he makes his evil plans for the morning.  

First starts the screeching, even louder than usual. Next on tap, TIT decides to pick a fight with his brother over the magna-tiles which the Commander had started using as missiles for his spaceship.  After that war subsides, TIT decides to pull out the heavy artillery and turns on his toy vacuum cleaner that hums a loud and annoying buzz at the same time, he pushes Sing with Me Elmo’s foot, 11,000 times in a row! Each time I try and turn it off, TIT screams louder and turns it back on.  I hope Elmo dies or I die first to end this suffering. I look at Matt and we just give up.  They broke us.  They knew we were weakened. They knew we had fun. They will not rest until they have destroyed us, broken our will and all of the furniture.  As I consider what I always consider on mornings like this (giving up drinking forever and hopping a flight ALONE to Aruba), a sitter texts me back that she can come over at 11am.  Matt and I high-five and decide to approach the next three hours with as much stamina as we can muster. 

We give the Commander some bubbles to blow which amuses TIT. And we think we are winning the battle because they are entertaining each other and we are nursing our hangovers. It doesn’t last for long because TIT gets a hold of the bubbles and dumps it all over the floor which enrages the Commander.  How it is possible to shit an entire TCBY pile of fudge-colored yogurt and a few short hours later rebound well enough to beat up your brother, escapes both of us.  And before we can even give it further thought, the saint which was our sitter arrives. 

We don’t go into detail.  We don’t explain the shower curtain which is missing from the bathroom in the hall, or the giant trash bag filled with fecal stained paper towels or the litany of chemicals which are lining the counter in the bathroom.  We don’t mention the hangovers that may destroy us if we don’t sleep it off.  “Just don’t let him eat anything odd. He had some stomach issues,” I say.  “We will be in our room if you need anything.”  Matt and I get into bed. We don’t bother to wash our faces or brush our teeth. We don’t speak. We cheers with our bottles of Poland Spring to never drinking again or at least better planning and having a sitter come at 5 am! And I am grateful that tomorrow is Monday and that the Commander will be in school and for the moment, while my head blissful hits the pillow, I forget entirely the storm which is coming that will yet again cancel school!