- Have the house clean.
- Have a nice dinner ready.
- Maybe chocolate molten lava cakes, hot from the oven after the kids are in bed?
- Be freshly showered and welcoming.
After washing the pile of dishes, doing several last loads of laundry, making French toast for lunch (the only thing in the house that could be made in under 10 minutes), sending an invoice to a customer that was supposed to be send two days ago, and a few other odds and ends like removing a 35 pound, almost 3 year old from the newly planted salad bed, rescuing my $89 avocado tree from toddler death, and keeping an eye on the 1 year old out on the driveway reveling in the mud puddles with her brand new Oaki boots – I put the kids down for a nap and settle into my favorite chair to enjoy a cup of coffee. Two minutes later I hurried into the bedroom to get Abigail who was loudly proclaiming that she was hungry.
Of course I never could have got it all done without help. Alice the 1 year old rinsed the dishes for me, the 3 year old (Stephen) removed the laundry from the washer and handed it to me so I could put it in the dryer, he folded the wash cloths (about one every 7 minutes) with a ‘Mommy can you throw me on the bed?’ between every towel. Five week old Abigail kept me company while I send the invoice, being sure to voice her opinion on the mechanics of paperwork. And of-course the half dozen nursing breaks kept me well rested, boosting my energy for the next project.
About 15 minutes before my husband (Mike) was expected home, he called me. His truck was having problems and he was still a couple hours away. Oh well, that was fine, I said (although a little disappointed). The roast was taking longer than I had anticipated anyway and maybe I could get the house cleaned up after all. An hour and a half later as we were eating the slightly underdone roast and overcooked veggies, he called again. His truck wouldn’t start anymore and he was basically stranded.
“I can come pick you up in the minivan!” I said eagerly. My super woman cape was flowing once more. Never mind that only hours before I may have been found clutching his pillow and alternately crying into it and breathing in deeply of its familiar, comforting scent. “I would drive to the ends of the earth to rescue my love”, I thought to myself, feeling a little like a heroine - the 3 kids and minivan to the contrary notwithstanding. “We’ll be there as soon as we can!” I told Mike reassuringly.
Although it was their bedtime, the kids were pretty excited to go see daddy at a truck stop. The first step in rescuing daddy was to feed Abigail, who was now crying. After a good feeding, I change her and strap her in her car seat. One kid ready to go! I then proceed to put a jacket and socks on Alice… where did I put her new shoes? Turns out they are upstairs still in the little cooler I had bought at the same time… I throw Stephen a pair of socks to put on and go after the shoes.
Another kid ready to go! Now for the last one… “Good job Stephen, you got your socks on!” I said while discreetly rotating them around so the heels matched up with those of his feet. Shoes are quickly donned, I glance in the mirror, “Oh shoot, I can’t go out like this!” I hasten to the bathroom and quickly apply some concealer to a few bright red acne spots that had appeared in the course of the week. Not sure if my efforts had made an improvement, I rush back out to calm the wailing Abigail who was crying as if some alien invasion had occurred to sabotage our Mission.
RESCUE SQUAD NOW LEAVING… “We are headed out the door,” I told Mike who had called again. I open the door of the minivan which had sat idle the whole week. Thankfully Mike had put the car seats back in the van after using them in his truck last weekend! I put Abigail in her designated place and go back to fetch Alice who had made it two steps outside the front door, and who was now distraught and in tears. I remove one car seat from where they were piled on the front seat and proceed to strap it in place. After much concern and emotional inquiry as to the state and proceeding of things from the rest of my rescue squad, every thing and every body is securely strapped in place, except for Alice. Wait, what is that I smell? A quick check… sure enough nature had taken its course.
Apparently it is very traumatizing to have your diaper changed while lying on the front seat of a minivan. I sincerely hope she will not need counseling later in life for having developed Post Traumatic diaper-changing-in-a-foreign-environment disorder.
Squad in position, ready for action… I put the location into my GPS and take a quick look at the directions. Go out 180 to Muncy… Ok cool, I know my way out that far, I’ll turn on the GPS once I’m out there. I turn on the headlights and put it in reverse. Everybody is happy. For three seconds. “It’s okay Abigail, we’re going to go get Daddy!” My soothing words seemed to work for the moment.
I pull out of the driveway onto the road. Man this windshield is bad, I can barely see! I turn on the washer fluid but to no avail, the problem is of course on the inside. I realized this was my first time driving the minivan in the dark since its purchase 3 months ago. Therefore I had never noticed the condition of the windshield.
After half a mile down the road I make the decision that for the safety and success of the Mission, it was necessary to return to the Base for Windex and paper towels.
Cruising up highway 15, we are on track again. I come to Interstate 80 and think, no I need 180, and I keep going. A few miles further I chance to remember that I have to take Interstate 80 in order to get TO 180. We take the next exit and backtrack. All is quiet in the van. Then, from the back, a prompting question, “Can you say SPEED LIMIT?”
Uh, I clear my throat and… “SPEED LIMIT!”
“You did it!” came his enthusiastic reply. Thanks Stephen.
Finally we are on 180. Being someone that prides herself in doing things efficiently (including driving), my super woman cape had all but disappeared, but I was hopeful again. I decided that for good measure I would turn on the GPS now. We keep going and then from out of the darkness, an automated voice: “Taking-I 80-to-I 81-is-13-minutes-faster. To-stay-on-the-current-route-press-decline.” Uh, what? I glance at my phone and decide to pull over at the next exit 3 miles ahead. I look at the directions again and sure enough, the other route was much more straightforward and quicker. I decide to go back to 80.
Back on track. Although obviously befuddled, my brain involuntarily began to calculate. I concluded that the last little detour had taken all of 15 minutes. I consoled myself with the fact that I was saving 13 minutes by going this way.
It was 10:15, the kids are fast asleep. And I begin to get drowsy. What! No, super woman is on a Mission! Never mind the many hours of sleep lost in the past week due to squad number 3, she does NOT get sleepy in action!
But it was so.
I contemplated stopping for coffee. But then, the thought of waking all squad members to go get coffee was enough to wake me up sufficiently. We kept going.
We were 50 minutes away when Mike called me. “Are you here yet?”
“Not yet, I just got on 81.”
“Well, I actually got a spare fuel filter from a nice trucker, and we got it running.”
“Oh ok, that’s good! So….”
“I’m actually on my way home, coming down 81.”
“Oh wow, that’s great!” Wait, what was he saying??
“You could probably turn around, the truck is running really nice.”
MISSION ABORTED!! It was so bizarre I began to laugh. Apologetically, he began to laugh too. “I’m sorry honey for all the trouble!” he said.
All the trouble. “That’s OK!” I said.
“You know, it will save us a lot of time not having to come up here tomorrow again to fix the truck!”
“Oh yes,” I replied. “I’m so glad you got it fixed!”
I noticed the exit coming up but not soon enough to make it. We kept talking until I got to another exit and I pulled off. It turned out there was no on-ramp to get back on going the other way. I finally got out my GPS and punched in “Home”. Soon I was back on 80, all set for home. Mike called me again and as we were talking, I heard the GPS saying something in the background. Why would it be saying anything? I’m going to be on 80 for a long time…
“Which way are you going on 80?” Mike asks.
“Um, let’s see, I’m going… I’m going 80 east.” My tired brain tried to register whether that was the right direction or not.
“You need to go 80 west, honey. Unless you want to go to New Jersey!”
“Uh, seriously! How did this happen?? I followed the GPS!”
“Well you need to get off the next exit and go the other way. Do you see any exits coming up?”
Luckily there was an exit about 5 miles further and I was able to get on 80 west, headed toward home. Mike was sweet and kept up a conversation to keep me awake. After all the experiences of the night, I didn’t dare turn off my GPS until it informed me that my destination was on the right. When I pulled up to the house, Mike came out to help me with the kids. Yes, he got home before I did.
It was good to be home.
I came into the house and glanced at the mess everywhere – the remains of supper still on the table, the living room strewn with toys. The past morning and its resolutions seemed a long time ago. Mike had already put Alice to bed and was sitting on the couch with Stephen.
“You get dibs on daddy now,” I told Stephen. “But it’s my turn later.”
“Yeah, after I’m cleaned up,” Mike grinned at me.
I smiled and sat down beside them to feed Abigail, ignoring the strong smell of grease and fuel. It was enough to be sitting beside my man, watching him spend time with that man-child who had driven me crazy the past week with all his antics. A man child who needed his daddy after a week spend primarily in the house with momma and two little sisters.
After Mike had showered, I handed him the still wide awake Abigail and headed for the shower. When I turned the water off again, I heard Abigail starting to fuss. I glanced at the garment I had purchased earlier that week as a surprise for my husband. Remembering that I had just nursed the baby (on one side), I opted to save it for later. It was deflating… in more ways than one. At five weeks postpartum what was I thinking anyway?
I took Abigail from Mike and glanced at his tired face. It was 1:00.
“I think I’m gonna go to bed,” he said.
“Yeah, I think you should,” I replied. “Hopefully she will settle down soon.”
All is quiet in the house except for Abigail’s occasional fussing as I walked the floor, back and forth. I am half asleep, but somehow my brain starts thinking back over the day, muddled thoughts I try to define. I realized that the day had been – a good one. Aside from just wanting to go to bed and sleep, I felt blessed, and even peaceful. Maybe it was that I was finally learning what it meant to be a mom. It used to be that a day like this would make me feel like I was constantly kicking against the pricks. Super woman would outline the projects for the day and work hard to get them done. At the end of the day, the rewards of working hard and accomplishing things are sweet. But mom has a bigger vision. She knows that accomplishing set goals (even worthy and necessary ones), are not the end game, but rather the experience of getting there. She works hard to include her little people and to fill that experience with learning, love, and plenty of laughter. So even if she doesn’t get to her goal, or ends up somewhere totally different, her efforts are never wasted. For she is more concerned with being THERE for the people in her life; willing, and giving.
… It is 2:30 and I lay the peacefully sleeping Abigail in her crib beside our bed. I crawl into bed and lay watching her face for a while to make sure she stays asleep. I turn off the light and gratefully sink down into the mattress. Finally I get to snuggle up to my sweetie even though he was sleeping…
It was all an illusion. A beautiful illusion that lasted two minutes.
And I’m back to walking the floor…
P.S. By the way, I’m in love with the new super woman. Her name is MOM!