5:30 a.m. – I roll over to turn off the alarm. Dang it, The Ring leader is already up. She is standing next to my bed, staring at me with her big green eyes. She is frowning and says “I miss Daddy already.” How sweet. I give her a big hug and kiss and reassure her that Daddy will be home soon. (I silently pray that Daddy will be home soon.) I think about just how adorable she is. I offer her the ipad and whisper to her “stay in the bed. Do not wake the others. Do not go into her bedroom to get dressed. Do not make a sound and you can have the ipad all to yourself.” She smiles and agrees; glad to have special privileges first thing in the morning. I get into the shower smiling to myself about just how cunning I have been. I feel empowered.
3 minutes in to the shower, head lathered, I heard a crash and screaming and laughing and running. I emerge half rinsed to find water all over the bed, the night stand, the floor, the wall. A fully clothed Ring Leader and buck naked Informer, jump from the bed and run screaming down the hall. The Boy continued jumping on “the trampoline”. He explained to me that pillows don’t belong on trampolines; they had to be thrown off. Also I should not put a glass of water next to the trampoline; it makes a big mess. Steps 2 and 3 just went out the window. (See I told you it wouldn’t make sense if you didn’t read the previous posts…..)
After stripping the bed, moving the nightstand, soaking up all the water that I could from the carpet and putting a fan on to dry the rest, I hid the pop-tarts, wrested The Informer into her clothes, scolded The Ring Leader for not staying quietly in my bed and fussed at Little Miss Independent for playing with that stupid iphone again before putting on her shoes! We ran to the bus stop. The driver sees us and takes pity on the crazy woman with soap in her hair, waving her arms, screaming at him to stop. The other moms at the bus stop stare. I stare back.
I strapped The Informer and The Boy into their 5 point restraint car seats so I could jump back in the shower and finish getting ready for work. The entire drive to daycare I lectured. I reminded them that my bed is not a trampoline. I told them Daddy would be ashamed. I threatened them both within an inch of their lives if they hit, kicked, spit or looked cross eyed at a teacher today. As we exited the van and walked into daycare, I asked them if they understood. The Boy told me garbage trucks are big. The Informer said she would be good if Ms. Angel was good, otherwise she was going to hit her. I am not feeling empowered any more.
As any good planner knows, plans must be flexible – Introduction of Step 5 – Reinforcements.
Days 3 – 4
There’s a saying in the Fostering/adoption world: adoption is not for sissies”. I don’t think of myself as a sissy, but I am only 1 person and there are just so darn many of them. I am not ashamed to admit that I needed reinforcements. I called in one of my grown sons and his girlfriend for the weekend. Two more adults helped re-establish a fair adult: child ratio. This was extremely beneficial in preventing me from implementing Steps 6, 7 and 8. (I can’t post those details here or some do-gooder would definitely turn me in.)
A friend brought her daughter over for a play date on Saturday evening. I’m pretty sure that within 10 minutes of being at the house, my kids had driven her bonkers. I picked up on this when she said “I don’t know how you do this, your kids are driving me bonkers. We need to send your son and his girlfriend to Liquor Barn for daiquiri mix” – which I did. (Don’t judge me. Jesus turned water into wine.)
Days 5- 9
The Reinforcements left to go back to their quiet lives on Sunday night. The second half of Mission Trip week went much better than the first. I decided to relax my expectations and gave more control over to the kiddos. I let The Ring Leader wear her winter boots to summer camp. I decided that McDonald’s drive-thru biscuits were nutritious enough for breakfast. Happy meals were nutritious enough for dinner. Daiquiris make momma sleep pretty good.
Basically, I surrendered. That alone eliminated a lot of problems.
Although things improved, one evening went abnormally well. The kids had their happy meal for dinner, stayed up an hour past bedtime watching a movie and climbed into their beds without first having a bath. I went into each bedroom to tuck them in, say our prayers and kiss them goodnight. I always go into The Boys room last. I finished our routine and kissed his head. He whispered, “Jesus told me in my heart that I have two thousand, two million, twenty two hairs on my head”.
“That’s a lot of hair” I said rubbing his noggin.
“It sure is” he said with a grin. “And Jesus told me in my heart you need a BIG kiss”. He reached those little arms up and wrapped them around my neck, giving me a big squeeze. I decided they toys could stay on the living room floor for a little while longer. There was time to lie down next to my baby and play our kissing game – fishy kiss, butterfly kiss, Eskimo kiss and puppy dog kiss. When he was satisfied that he had given the right number of kisses, he rolled over a fell fast asleep.
Day 10 – Daddy’s return
Activity man and step-son returned safe and sound. They are tired and hungry. They tell stories and show pictures; lots and lots of pictures. Pictures of babies, kids playing, houses made of scrap metal and the beautiful countryside.
They tell stories of serving people, building houses and delivering food and clothes. They tell about the food they ate and the friendships they’ve made. Oh, and of course there was a long bus ride and diarrhea (there is always diarrhea).
The travelers have been changed by the experience – they usually are. At least for a little while, before the routine of everyday life takes over and the euphoria fades. Step-son has another year of high school before heading off to college. Hopefully, he will consider this experience and remember that real satisfaction in life comes from relationships and helping other people and not from the newest tech-gadgets and expensive jeans.
This Mission Trip, I learned that a clean house and perfect kids are not required for happiness at home. I learned that I can handle things by myself while hubby is away – but I don’t ever want to do it again.