Monday, March 01, 2010

Roller coaster ride...

I read a quote this weekend in some random magazine that said "If parenting isn't hard, you aren't doing it right." Truer words have never been written. However, even more amazing to me than how "hard" it is, is how parenting can vary from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. You can have a day of complete and utter domestic bliss followed by a day from hell. That pretty much sums up the weekend of parenting that Ruanita and I just completed. Bliss followed by utter hell.

Saturday did not start out as the greatest day. I got up way too early to go to my Weight Watchers meeting, only to find out that I lost a whopping 0.6 pounds. That put me in a foul mood...but that is a story for another blog entry. After that, I was scheduled to work from 9:00am until noon. Three hours doesn't sound like much, but it is enough to easily tarnish a Saturday. Luckily, we weren't very busy and I got out of there at around 11:00. After a delicious lunch of Nutrigrain bars and Scooby Doo Go-gurt with the kids, Ruanita had a brilliant idea. We were dog-sitting for a friend. Her dog is a rescue dog that had been abused by a previous owner, so she is extremely timid and docile. We didn't really want to leave her in the house alone because she just looked so incredibly sad. Ruanita suggested we take the kids and the dog outside to play in the snow. My first instinct was...ugh. Not my idea of a fun Saturday. However, I relented and we spent half an hour getting ourselves and the kids weatherproofed. I swear...I truly believe that snowsuits were initially created by the military to torture enemy combatants. They certainly torture me. Eventually, however, we were all ready to face the elements. We played for a short time in our small back yard and then decided to take the kids to the park a few blocks from our house. We had a nice walk through the snow and slush to the park. To my surprise, we ended up having a wonderful time at the park. We were the only people in the entire park. The snow had created a blanket of silence that was only broken by my kids' yelps and giggles. We played on the ice rinks that were in the process of being taking down (yea...perhaps spring really IS coming this year!!) We kicked around chunks of ice, playing imaginary hockey. We handed out pretend gold, silver, and bronze metals. We fell on our butts a few times, but it was well worth a little bruising. We played on the playground. We slid down the slides. I have been down many a scorching hot slide in the summertime. Going down a metal slide in February is a different experience altogether. was cold! We attempted the swings. However, with all of the snow on the ground, the swings were only about 4 inches from the ground. It was a little difficult to get a good pumping swing going, so we gave up on that. We climbed some pretty tall snow mountains that had been plowed when they cleared the ice rinks. We made a sliding track down the side of one mountain and slid over and over again. You know that feeling you get when you hit the bottom of a water slide and end up half naked feeling like you've just been violated? Well, the same thing happens on a snow slide. Only it's a chilly, frigid violation. Most unpleasant. The kids, however, seemed to enjoy it. We were out in the snow for several hours. Afterwards, the kids all had baths and we had a pizza party and family movie night. Sophie fell asleep on the couch before I even got home with the pizza. Nicholas fell asleep shortly after eating. You know it was a good day when the kids are so worn out that they can't keep their eyes open. So Ruanita, Lucas, and I watched Night at the Museum 2: Battle at the Smithsonian and snuggled on the couch....Lucas smelling like soap and shampoo and innocence and love. When I put Lucas to bed that night, he looked at me with his beautiful blue eyes, a goofy toothless grin covering his entire face, and announced, "Mom, this was the best Saturday I ever had in my whole life!" I melted. I felt like of the year...the perfect parent. Ruanita and I stayed up and watched The Hangover after the kids were safely in bed, eating the strawberry cheesecake we had hidden from the kids in the back of the fridge. We laughed so hard we cried. With the exception of Ruanita quoting that movie over and over since then (please...God...make her stop), it was THE perfect day. Bliss.

Sunday was a new day...a completely different day. It started out okay. Ruanita and I read the Sunday paper at the kitchen table while the kids watched Night at the Museum again in the living room. Sophie and Nicky had missed it the night before. After breakfast, I got on the computer upstairs to make hotel reservations for our trip to Kentucky this summer. With three small kids, it is so much easier to stay at a hotel than with family. I love my brother and his wife too much to subject them to my three kids' early morning rituals. To my surprise, I had a very hard time finding a hotel room in my hometown for the weekend of our family reunion. My hometown has a big softball complex that attracts softball teams from around the state. It never fails that we always plan our trips home to coincide with a huge softball tournament. I assume that is what is happening the weekend of our family reunion because there was not a hotel room with two beds to be found anywhere in the city. Our usual suite at the Sleep Inn with two bedrooms, three full-sized beds and a living room was taken. How dare someone reserve our room! After many discouraging phone calls to Kentucky and frustrating "help" from Ruanita, I finally found a room with two queen-sized beds at the Hampton Inn...the only double room available in the entire city. So...all five of us get to sleep in two beds. I've spent many nights recently with all five of us in one bed, so I am sure we'll survive. After that exhausting task, we decided that we needed to get out of the house. We had the brilliant idea to take the kids to the Mall of America. We had some leftover tickets for the amusement park there. We decided to use them up and let the kids ride some rides and have lunch at the mall. Bad idea. The moment we stepped foot across the the mall threshold, the whining began. Ruanita waited in line for 15 minutes to get the kids Happy Meals for lunch. As usual, no one ate. I had Long John Silvers, which I had not had in probably two years. It was very tasty, but only managed to give me gas and make me extremely thirsty. Holy sodium! Then we braved the amusement park to ride rides. The lines for rides were longer than usual. The kids was 100 degrees in the park....Lucas couldn't quite figure out the bumper knees hurt from our snow mountain climbing the day before...I was at the mall and did not even get to shop...and we ended up trying to get through the crowd behind the 700-pound man with the walker trudging along at a snail's pace. (Politically correct postscript: I have no issue with 700 pound people...I may very well be one myself one day if I do not get a grip. They are human beings who deserve our respect and have as much a right to be in the mall as I do. That said...I prefer not to walk behind them when my kids are screaming and whining and attracting unwanted attention and I just want to get out of the mall asap.) We finally used up all of our ride tickets and decided to get the hell out of that cesspool of insanity. The entire way out of the mall, Sophie whined that she could not walk another step and repeated the following phrase over and over and over..."I'm hungry....I'm tired...I'm hungry...I'm tired." Eventually, I had all I could take and yelled at her, "So what? I'm thirsty! Get over it!" So much for mother of the year. After our ill-fated mall trip, I folded four baskets of laundry I had been avoiding (do these people really have to wear clothes every day??) while the kids ran around like hoodlums, pushing the limits and pushing my buttons. For dinner, I tried a new Weight Watchers recipe that took a long time to prepare and was horrible. Ruanita wouldn't even eat it...and she usually can choke down pretty much anything. I threw it out and ate chips and salsa for dinner. Most unsatisfying! We then fought with the kids to pick up their toys, get on their pajamas, and brush their teeth. I finally fell into bed exhausted by the weekend.

Parenthood is a roller coaster ride. Sometimes nauseating, sometimes terrifying. However, the thrill of it keeps us coming back for more. Perhaps we, as mothers (or dads for that matter), are insane thrill-seekers? It has to take a certain amount of insanity...or at least a tiny bit of subject ourselves to this exhausting ride over and over again. Luckily, we will occasionally have a day like my Saturday, which puts it all in perspective and makes it all worthwhile. That is...until the next hell day comes along....


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