As I type this in the dark of the cloudy, diffused, early morning daylight, Nate is sleeping off his ninth consecutive night shift. I’m convinced that this isn’t just some sort of new guy dues-paying hazing exercise at his restaurant, as it is a wily attempt on behalf of the chefs to break up our relationship.
That is, whatever kind of relationship you have when the only time you see your sigOth is as you quietly dress in the dark so as not to wake him.
Which also explains some of my wardrobe choices lately.
One of the hardest aspects of our work situation right now is the whole single mom-ish piece of it. I’m not a single mom, of course. If I did, my insurance premiums would be way less and I wouldn’t be in possession of a dog hair-encrusted Washington Redskins blanket. But when I’m the one getting the kids dressed and fed, racing off to a 10 or 12 hour work day, coming home (hopefully) in time to read them stories and get them back into bed, all while trying to eke out a little down time for myself, it can get brutal.
I’m starting to feel more and more, as I’ve mentioned before, that that World’s Greatest Mom Trophy is escaping my reach. I’m more apt to dump cereal in a bowl for them a breakfast (Nate’s idea of the last circle of hell) than to attempt my famous eggs. My patience wears thinner and I find myself raising my voice more often than not, and making those idle threats that oh, every parenting expert in the world tells you don’t work. It’s hard to even make the quality time we do have together stick when I’m racing through the bedtime stories, knowing I still have taxes to do, dishes to wash, a blog post to write, dog pee on the kitchen floor (again), and no clean underwear.
So in an attempt to resume my regularly scheduled life this weekend, I channeled the actions of one of my wisest single mom friends, and just got out. I dragged the kids to hair salon with me on Sunday, had my hair purdied while the kids ran around shrieking, and tipped the stylist a whole lot.
Then, against better judgment, I insisted that we were going out to a nice dinner, dammit.
We hit the local better-than-average Italian restaurant for the 5PM shift on Sunday, which sounds like it would be empty–except that we live in the Kidlandia section of Brooklyn. The manager offered us the one remaining table by the front window, right next to the panic-stricken older couple who took in the frazzled mom (with the good hair!) and her two catastrophe-ready daughters.
I wrangled Thalia and Sage in to their seats as we narrowly avoided the Great Booster Seat Meltdown of 2010, inspired by the horrible fact that there was only one and not two booster seats remaining. I kept the hungry girls occupied with crayons and word games, copious amounts of focaccia, and the (bribe) promise of dessert. Good dessert. We told stories. We quietly sang songs with silly words. We talked about the pussy willows in the vase on a nearby table, and how no, you can’t pet them right now like you do at Grandma’s.
Add the Great Pussy Willow Meltdown of 2010 to the Narrowly Avoided List.
Forks were loudly dropped and quietly retrieved. Loud high-pitched giggles were shushed down to a safe volume. Angel Hair was removed from Sage’s face (that she had put there). Miraculously, not a single glass of water was spilled.
A third meltdown was then averted as the busboy quickly wiped away the dusting of evil grated cheese that had accidentally fallen on Sage’s plate.
I didn’t divert my eyes from the girls for a second. It was exhausting.
The wine helped.
Mine, not theirs.
As we waited for the check, the eye-rolling couple approached the table. I braced myself, mentally creating my excuse about Nate the chef, and the long hours and how I just didn’t have it in me to cook and clean tonight so please please pleeeeease forgive us for dropping all the forks and singing the song about farts. I was prepared to cry, should it be necessary.
“I just want you to know,” the man said through a wide smile, “your kids are wonderful.”
What? They are?
“Oh, absolutely!” he beamed. “We were a little nervous when you sat down….”
I admitted I was having a bit of a breakdown myself.
“Well,” he continued as he buttoned his jacket, “it’s because you’re paying attention. Thank you for all of us. It was a pleasure.”
Thalia and Sage and I skipped the six blocks home. I let them sing as loud as they wanted.