I’ve tried to share my morning experiences with you. Here’s a sample of a typical evening. Bear in mind, as this scenario plays out, I’ve been up since 5:00 AM, gone to work, and picked up my children. By most accounts, this would be a full day already. But my work has just begun.
4:10 Arrive home. Climb out of SUV, grab purse, laptop bag, breast pump, lunch bag, diaper bag, water bottle. Lurch to door to unlock, open, and turn off alarm. Dump stuff on counter after sweeping aside detritus from breakfast, markers, and used color sheets. Pray that my children aren’t abducted or roast in the 45 seconds it takes me to do this. Go back to car, get Felix’s carrier out then go to Stella’s side, put Felix down after looking anxiously for signs of fire ants so that I can unbuckle Stella, get her down/out, and herd her into the house.
4:12 Demands for chocolate milk begin as soon as I comply with the demands to take off Stella’s shoes and socks. Felix, still in his carrier, begins to show signs of grump.
4:14 Take children and chocolate milk into living room, turn on TMBG’s Here Come the 1, 2, 3’s video, give Stella my phone to play with, and place Felix in his swing to watch the show. Run into kitchen to begin putting the huge pile of crap on the counter away. Breast milk put in fridge to be bottled and frozen later, pieces put in sink, and cold packs back in freezer. Purse and laptop go to vomitorium for storage, carefully placed so that they will not become targets for cat puke or piss. The diaper bag and Felix’s carrier are placed in their designated spots and the diaper bag is checked to make sure there’s nothing wet in there and that there are diapers for the next day out of the house.
4:17 Stella wants a snack. I give her 3 stinky chips. She goes away as I continue to clean up. Kitchen counter is wiped down and all dishes left over from breakfast are put in the dishwasher. Breast milk is decanted and stored in the freezer and all of that assorted crap is put in the dishwasher. I make a cup of tea. Felix begins to bitch. I return to living room to nurse. Stella demands that I put on her new pirate costume that Crispi sent. It’s cute. The hat falls off every 45 seconds or so, which means I have to one-handed stuff it back on top of her head while I feed Felix.
4:35 After nursing, I place Felix back in the swing and pull pajamas for both kids. Lotion, combs, diaper cream, and towels are also assembled. I get Stella’s tub ready and get her in the bath, careful to make sure I got my phone back, first. After washing her hair and all assorted dirty bits, I leave her to soak and play while I run to the back, change into my own pajamas, remove my contacts, and wash my face. I also get the big bed ready for the night – turned down and pillows set. I check on Felix. I check on Stella. I run to the kitchen and figure out dinner. Will has some leftover blue crab to eat and Stella and I have some of Mammy’s spaghetti that she was kind enough to send over.
4:55 Drain water and drag my daughter into living room to be dressed, lotioned, and combed. Get Felix’s tub out. Bathe Felix. Get him dressed and lotioned and back into his swing (poor dude) while I get dinner and lunch for tomorrow together.
5:17 While trying to get out spaghetti plated and warmed, Stella continues to open the fridge (which does not have a lock on it), dragging out random shit like cheese and ketchup. She’s hungry and is loudly letting me know. “Chocolate milk? Banana? Ice cream? Sucker? Cake? Chicken nugget? French fries? Chocolate milk? Swimsuit? Chocolate milk? Mahkers? Swimsuit? Swimsuit? Chocolate milk?”
5:18 My nerves break. For real. I cut her a slab of cheddar to SHUT HER UP while I finish getting adult lunch portions set aside in the fridge for easy morning access and letting spaghetti cool.
5:23 After giving Felix his play keys to chew on, I sit down on the kitchen stools with Stella to eat. Spaghetti is a rotten idea. No child should ever be given actual spaghetti noodles unless it’s by a bad mall photographer who wants one of those adorable messy baby pictures. I should have boiled some macaroni or rotini. I spend more time rinsing a rag and frantically mopping my daughter off than I do chewing my own food. Stella looks like something out of Dawn of the Dead, with noodle intestines hanging out of her mouth. They dangle a bit, then she takes her fingertips and slowly crams them into her maw. She’s doing this on purpose, damn it. Felix is starting to wind up. I just want this stupid meal over with. Why isn’t it time for bed yet?
5:40 I get a sippie cup. I pour about 2 fingers’ worth of red wine into it and drain it quickly. Oh god, I’m tacky. I put the sippie cup straight into the dishwasher, ashamed.
5:55 I give Stella a final swipe with the rag and brush her teeth. I haphazardly mop off the counter and throw the dishes in the sink. I’ll get to them tonight if possible. If not, I will have something to look forward to at 5:00 AM the next morning.
5:58 We begin to read, Stella beside me and Felix on my lap. Stella believes I must read about 5 dozen books. After the final Pigeon book – the 7th book of the night, I mutiny and decide it’s time to get to the back and find a nunu so that we can sleep.
6:18 I get Stella placed in the middle of the bed and Felix and I climb in after. I get Felix nursing so that hopefully he will fall asleep. Stella asks that I tell Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, which I’ve memorized since reading it to her every night as a baby.
6:25 Eyes rolling in her head, Stella begins to actively fight sleep by kicking off the sheets. After about 7 seconds, she asks for “bwanket?” and I pull the sheet back up. This goes on for about 26 more minutes and gets trickier after Felix falls asleep at the breast as I’m understandably reluctant to jostle him.
7:04 Stella is asleep. I creep out of the bedroom and check Felix’s diaper. Dry. Lay him in crib and thank goodness he stays asleep. Success.
7:08 I finally get to sit down and do NOTHING. I pour a glass of wine. A real glass, not a sippie cup. I turn on some stupid TV show – quietly – and wait for Will to get home from work. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to spend about an hour with him before I collapse in exhaustion. After all, I get to do this all again tomorrow.