Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tuesday Night

For all those who might think a dual income family life is glamorous: enter Tuesday night.

I am fortunate enough to only work 3 days a week. In my imagination, going back to full-time would be something like having Tuesday night pretty much every day of the week. I shudder at the thought. Some people do it. Some are even made to do it. It's doubtful that very many people do it well.

First, imagine that work is currently a nightmare. You've been there 8 years, and there have been minor changes along the way. But in the past few months, insurance authorizations have been contracted out, the way you bill providers has completely changed, and you have begun transitioning to an online medical record, but absolutely NO preparations have actually been made to perform this transition, so instead you had to learn the new system, teach the new system to your providers, and perform all the same work you have always done. While the patients get less quality care and the providers complain. Loudly.

Needless to say, meetings now involve more than just the regular cat fights: there are actual tears. And if you have a question for your boss, chances are she is nowhere to be found, because she is either in a meeting being told something the opposite of what she was told in yesterday's meeting, or she is hiding somewhere because she is tired of telling everyone she doesn't have any answers to their questions.

The only time you can find her is when she shows up at your office door to ask what you are going to do about your clinics when you are on maternity leave. You want to tell her that you don't care. You will be staring at your newborn baby's wrinkly knees for 8 weeks straight and not thinking for one single moment about what is happening at work. You have more sense than to do that., so you begin communicating with your providers about cancelling at least the first month's clinic, and wondering if anyone will notice the baby in a Moby wrap if you bring him to the next month's.

You remember reading somewhere that the 3rd child is a woman's career killer, and you silently cheer to yourself. You start counting down the days until he comes.

Tuesday night starts with a 1 hour commute home, once you have picked up both kids from their respective locations. In your case, at least the pickups are somewhat pleasant: an opportunity to see parents and inlaws, picking up happy children, etc. You have been on the other end of it. You have picked up a child who spent all day holding back tears because he was too sensitive for the environment in which he was thrown, and burst into tears every time you went out the door. That was a new kind of torture you refused to endure.

 But still, it's not without its hiccups. First of all, your children don't want to come with you, and who can blame them? Your toys, food, and level of attention can never quite match up with the grandparents'. And no young boys that you've ever met actually enjoy getting strapped down into car seats.

Once you finally make it home, there are no less than 20 bags/backpacks/shoes/toys to carry in. The kindergartner has removed all of his take home work from his folder to show off while in the car so that has to be carried in separately, except for the piece that flew out of the window that the 2 year old opened, which caused the 5 year old to cry. Loudly. You don't have a driveway because you live in a townhouse, so somehow all of these bags have to wrangled in while also steering two children away from traffic. It's best to get it all in at once, because if you have to return, they'll follow you out the door and you'll have to repeat the whole process again.

 And heaven forbid if there's a puddle, and The two year old catches sight of it. He becomes like a surfer when there's epic waves: Can't.Think.About.Anything.Else. Also, heaven forbid if you ask the 5 year old to carry in more than just his backpack, or *gasp*, help you open the gate. He will cry. Loudly. It's easier to just do it yourself.

Once inside the courtyard, you latch the gate, ignore The 2 year old's screams, watch the 5 year old wrestle dramatically with the door handle while refusing to set down his backpack, and heave a sigh of relief as you then throw everything into a pile onto the kitchen floor.

You have a Braxton Hicks contraction that is surprisingly strong, and you wonder how many thousands more of those you will have in the next 13 weeks.

You were sure you left the dishwasher running so they'd be clean when you left this morning, but they're still covered in grime, and you guess you just forgot, like all the other things you forgot today.
That seems like an insurmountable problem until your husband returns from walking the dog and takes the boys out to the garage with bleach and gloves to clean up poop. You don't ask.

You start the dishwasher and throw all of the days' dirty dishes into the sink and it's now full. And dinner making hasn't even started yet.
When you look into the cabinet for that quick-weeknight-meal-life-saver: a jar of spaghetti sauce, you realize that though you were sure you did: you never bought any. So you dump some onions and garlic and spices and diced tomatoes and a can of clams into a pot and hope for the best. You don't really care anyway.

While you're making the fruit and spinach smoothie that tastes so healthy no one is going to eat it, the boys return from their adventure in the garage smelling strongly of bleach. The 2 year old gives you a big hug with poop gloves on. You hear that the dog has had explosive, watery diarrhea all over the garage and it is basically impossible to clean up. The floor of the garage remains covered in poop, with a fine layer of bleach over it. It will probably need to be cleaned again, and then burned. At least your husband, who cleaned up previous diarrhea inside the house at 5 am that same day when he was on his way to go swimming, had the foresight to put the dog in the garage while you were both at work- or the house would now be unlivable, and you would have to move.

Hubby and the older boy go upstairs for a shower, but the little one prefers to continue touching you with his poop hands. Because you have been gone all day, and because his smile and his touch are completely irresistible to your tired mommy heart- you let him.

There are two loads of clean laundry on the couch, the washer and dryer are full, and there is an ever growing pile of dirty clothes by the door.

You sit down to eat dinner. The boys lick the olive oil and salt off their whole wheat pasta, completely ignoring the edamame and smoothies, and then ask what's for dessert. You halfheartedly remind them of their fruits and vegetables, and then end up giving them a cookie later.

Homework time goes smoothly because the 5 year old's arch rival at school (who happens to be a head taller, and probably at least a year older) has recently begun completing all of his weekly homework in one night, and your son cannot be outdone. ( Never underestimate the power of male competition). He produces good quality kindergarten work, and finishes all of it with a huge smile on his face. Naked.
You feel very proud.
Husband turns on the television so that you can take a shower in peace. You are covered in sweat for some reason.

There are Legos and tools and matchbox cars everywhere. The floor badly needs vaccuuming, but you have to triage here, and making school lunch wins. The kitchen is still covered in dirty dishes because the morning ones are still washing.
You fold the laundry, but never get a chance to put it away.
Instead you put a chair on the couch and hope the dog doesn't have diarrhea all over the clean laundry.
You sit down and play Legos with the boys for a few moments hoping playing with them prior to story time will cause them to actually listen to the story.

Bible story time in bed, and the boys chatter and play while you're trying to read it. Then you sit between their beds (actually just mattresses on the floor) and hold their hands and pray for patience to enjoy those last few quiet moments. The 5 year old moves the floor fan so that it is directly in front of his bed and then throws off his blanket, declaring "I'm HOT" and then covers himself and cries "I'm COLD!" This goes on until you finally tell him, not so patiently, to knock it off and go to sleep. He does so immediately.

The 2 year old, who has had a nap, is a different story. He tries to kick the 5 year old in the face and then pass it off as an accident. He wants to use your 28 week belly as a pillow. It hurts. He keeps asking "but why, mommy?" and you're not sure what he's asking why about. He doesn't know either, but it makes him furious that you don't. You tell him to lay down 50 times, and the 50th time he finally falls asleep.

By this time it's 9 pm (and you feel lucky, because often it is closer to 10). Taking the dog out for a walk feels like a breath of fresh air, and you realize when you return that the house is 81 degrees. You turn the thermostat to cool, fall into bed, and finally ask your husband how his day was without someone screaming for attention at the exact moment he answers. He is already half asleep because he woke up at 5 to swim and clean up dog poop, and he just finally finished all of those dishes in the sink.

For a few moments you both put your hands on the lump that will one day be your career killer, and feel those wrinkly knees that you're going to be staring at for 8 weeks straight.

You both laugh. And you feel tremendous relief that you can laugh.

And you hold each other.

And remember that tomorrow is Wednesday, your Friday, and everything's going to be ok.

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