Thursday, September 13, 2012

Flying Solo

Raising two kids under two can be tough even in the best of circumstances, but I'm incredibly thankful every day that in my family, it's a team effort most of the time.  Though Tom often spends a lot of time during the day on conference calls or at the computer in his office, it's comforting to have another adult in the house with me, and he's usually able to "pinch-hit" and help me out in minor crisis situations, even if he is busy.  Even on days in which Tom is so busy that I can't get much assistance, I am still grateful for the fact that when his work day is over, he is here with us, with no commute in-between.

Because of our unique situation, I've managed to make it through Michael's entire lifetime without having to handle dinner and bedtime with two kids, alone.  It's only fair that I should do it sometime- when I'm in the midst of concert choir rehearsals, Tom graciously takes that task upon himself once or twice a week.

So, tonight was the night.  Tom had a work function to attend, and was out of the house by 4 pm, slated to return sometime after 8 pm.

The kids and I camped out in the basement for awhile, but Michael, whose default for the past week has been "fussy" (I suspect that major teething activity is the culprit), began to get restless very quickly.  I decided that a walk might be a good way to kill some time before dinner. 

I managed to load the kids up in the stroller pretty efficiently, and we were halfway down the block when we passed a neighbor-friend strapping her toddler and young baby into a double jogger.  She called out, asking if we'd like to accompany her to the local park.  It was at this point that I suddenly regretted not having taken the time to put shoes on Abby before leaving.  I'd considered it, but figured that I wouldn't be walking far or long, and I wouldn't be letting her out of the stroller, anyway.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up, however, so I stopped back at the house to grab Abby's sneakers and met up with everyone at the park.  Abby had a blast riding the bouncy horses, the seesaw (which she and her friend weighed too little to properly use), and the slide.  This was only her second experience on the pretty good-sized slide there, and she panicked a bit once she had situated herself at the top.  I offered to hold her hand, as I had done the first time she tried it, and down she went.  She squealed in delight, but as before, did not repeat the attempt.  I guess one thrill experience was enough for the evening.  She did enjoy walking up and down the playground stairs, climbing the "rock wall," and running around in the grass, however.

She even threw a bona-fide tantrum when it was time to leave, which was actually rather convenient.  I had two hands free to strap Michael into the rear seat while she lay prostrate and whining in the grass nearby.  Then I scooped her up and strapped her into the front.  Thankfully, she ceased the whining and crying after just a couple of minutes in the moving stroller.

Neighbor-friend and I continued to chat for the duration of the walk that we shared, then we parted ways to our separate houses.

I've gotten good practice lugging two kids around for weekly playdates, so unloading the stroller was a breeze.  Abby, who has gotten quite good about listening to me in such situations, obediently waited on the front step (just a few feet from me), as I went about getting Michael out.  She got up when asked, and made her way through the front door after I opened it for her.  I was able to quickly fold up and put away the stroller while she and her brother played together in the living room.

The next step was managing dinner for the three of us.  Luckily, we had leftover yams (for the kids) and leftover soup (for me) in the fridge.  Once Abby was in her booster seat, and Michael was settled in his high chair, I began chopping up some yams and lightly heating them in the microwave.  Abby's I got perfect, but Michael's I managed to overheat, so they needed a few minutes in the refrigerator afterwards.  Abby set to work quickly on hers, so that by the time I got a chance to put my soup in to heat, she was ready for seconds.  Meanwhile, Michael set to work completely smashing the chunks that I laid out on his tray, and proceeding to smear the mush all over creation.

I took a moment to grab my camera, and found that the batteries in the Speedlight had finally given out.  I wasn't about to waste any time looking for new ones and changing them out, so I had to make due with the pop-up flash.

Abby got her second serving cold, because my soup was still heating, and she doesn't have the best handle on patience, yet.  She ate most of it anyway, and I finally started on my soup.  Of course, she wanted some of that, too and I obliged.  In the end, we made a game of it, because she tried to feed me yams, which I didn't particularly want to eat cold (I know, horrible Mommy- that's how I served them to her), so I took the piece she offered me, dropped it in my soup, and scooped it out on the spoon to eat it that way.  Abby was fascinated.  Each piece left on her plate was then dropped onto my spoon, to be dipped in soup and fed to her.  It was actually a good combination of flavors: cheese soup and sweet potato.  Yum!

Abby, by the way, who has not had yams since she was last on purees, has rediscovered her love of them.  However, she's still struggling with the "yuh" sound, so she will proudly proclaim to anyone listening just how much she likes "hams."  It's good times.

I kept looking over at Michael, who appeared to be having a blast, but not actually ingesting anything.

Finally, he started sucking on his fingers and hands, so I'm hoping he ate a little bit of it that way, in the end. 

I did try to spoon-feed some of it to him once Abby and I were finished, but he was most interested in the spoon, and turned his attention to playing with it.  This kid is going to be so hard to feed!  {sigh}

He actually got his first taste of yams last night, as he kept Tom company in the kitchen during dinner preparation (and Abby and I got some Mommy-daughter time in the living room, snacking on tortilla chips and guacamole while watching Finding Nemo, which actually kept her pretty transfixed until about halfway through).  Tom seemed to think he had eaten some amount of it.  I guess there's only one way to find out.   We'll be on the lookout for the next couple of days.  ;)

Of course, just like last night's experience, this experience required some major cleanup.  And what did I find upon returning to Abby in the dining room; that she had overturned her sippy cup on the table to create a puddle of milk, and begun to play in it.  I was peeved, but I took care of it quickly and moved her into the living room to join her brother.  She managed to get into a minimum of mischief as I fed him a bottle, and then we all just chilled out together for a half-hour or so, until I had reached the earliest feasible time to start the bedtime routine.

Thank goodness that Abby can now take stairs by herself, so that I could grab her brother and simply follow her up to the bedrooms.  He sat and played quietly on the floor while I read Abby her four required bedtime stories, and then she cheerfully allowed me to place her in the crib, turn on the butterfly starlight show, and turn out the light.  I think it helped that she rediscovered her singing lamby on the floor of the bedroom and was allowed to take it to bed with her.

The final step was getting Michael down, and I prayed that it would be an easy night.  He obliged.  Though he started off a bit wiggly, he calmed down within five minutes, and was well on the way to sleepiness within the following five, once I had him horizontal and rocking in my arms.  Then just a minute or so more of butt-patting was required once he was prone in the mini-crib, and I tiptoed out with fingers crossed. 


I was feeling so competent that I ignored my strong desire to collapse on the couch and moved on to the kitchen, where Tom found me scrubbing at the stove top when he entered in through the kitchen side door at around 8:30. 

It feels amazingly good to know that I can do it myself.  (I'll admit, I sometimes feel as though I'm "cheating" at this whole motherhood thing, having Tom around so much of the time.)  However, I won't be voluntarily signing up for it anytime soon.  And I'll be giving Tom a big hug and kiss after every rehearsal and Mom's-night-out from now on, having finally experienced the sacrifice that he offers me on such a frequent basis. 

And maybe, just maybe, I can start to wrap my head around what it might be like to have three, and to find myself outnumbered all of the time.  Would it be easy?  Heck no.  But possible, nonetheless.  Well, it seems that way today, anyway.