For the last few weeks, the babe has been up before the sun. It isn't exactly the fault of the whole "fall back" time change, but that didn't help matters. Normally this is annoying, but not really my problem as Matt is the one on call as the sun rises. Alas, Matt is in Korea and I am flying solo, desperately missing my morning wing man.
I am not ashamed to say that in the wee hours of the morning I told my not-quite two year old that I was not getting up yet, tossed her some toys and dry cheerios with a sippy and told her to play quietly. I stumbled back to my still warm bed knowing I bought myself about 15 minutes to clear the cob webs from my brain and attempt to fix my black attitude.
Fifteen minutes later, Eliana was up too. I mumbled to Elie to take her sister downstairs and feed her some grapes as I searched for my errant slipper and sweatshirt least I catch hypothermia in my attempt to make breakfast in the pre-dawn hours. Within twenty minutes all three children were happily munching boiled eggs, bagels and grapes and I was sipping on some strong and much needed coffee, trying not to feel too guilty about the unborn who was also drinking strong coffee. Sorry kid, your number four, mama's got to be able to function.
Single parenthood isn't pretty. My house is messy, and by messy I mean messier than usual, which is a state bad enough to appall my grandmother but not so bad as to be condemned by the city. My dishes pile up because my kitchen is separate from the rest of my house and if I am in there I have no idea that the baby is crying or who caused it, and I hate dishes with almost the same passion I have for mornings. I spend my days doing mundane things like folding laundry, sweeping up crushed cheerios, feeding the dog and attempting to locate lost lovies. By the end of the day my patients is thin, my brain is an oozing pile of mush due to lack of grown up interaction and my house looks even worse than when the day started despite the fact I spend most of my day picking it up.
Isolation is the crazy-making of motherhood. If it gets done, it is because I did it or bossed around a little person until they did. I walked by my half eaten dinner, cold and gelatinous, not quite remembering why it wasn't eaten. Was I getting someone more milk? Did I forget the napkins? Mopping up whatever was spilled? It doesn't matter, I scrape it into the trash.
The big girls are giggling upstairs and I am going to let them. I could go in and be the heavy, but when parenting alone, I have already been the heavy enough to day and I just don't have the heart to end their day being in trouble with mom. The babe has decided she isn't as sleepy as she thought or I wanted and is calling to be rocked. I make the closet thing to a deal with the devil as a stay at home mother can, I bargain that I will snuggle and rock for 2 minutes but then she must go to bed with no fits. I think we both know how it will end.
I scoop up the tiny person from her almost-big-girl bed and sit in the rocking chair. Her feet hang over the end and she fills my lap. One hand holds a ratty pink hippo and the other reaches to stroke my face, looking for a kiss on the palm. As I plant a smooch in the middle of the fingers, she smells of peanut butter despite the repeated washing. I smell the bubble gum toothpaste on her breath and the diaper cream on her buns, a mix of big girls and baby the betrays to speedy passage of time. I sing to her a favorite song and melt a little as she sings along, words mumbled by the binky clenched firmly in her mouth.
As I head downstairs I mentally make a list of all that needs to be done before I can put an x through this day on the calendar. I pour myself a glass of chocolate milk when what I want is a glass of wine but a mother can handle only so much guilt in a day. My house is quite except for the strange hiss and pop of the steam heaters that I have yet to become accustomed to.
My husband is starting his day on the other side of the globe. A long night spent tossing and turning on a uncomfortable bed, trying to convince his brain that it really is night and his stomach that that really was his dinner. Matt works hard for our family and I am so grateful. Because of his trips, I put my children to bed in clean jammies under warm blankets. Our home is filled with toys and love, food and pets, blessings beyond number.
I sip my chocolate milk and decide to forget doing the dishes until the morning, instead I will make cookies. My melancholy fades as I beat the eggs with the butter and sugar, knowing the pleasure fresh cookies will bring the girls. And because when the cats away, we may just eat some of these cookies for breakfast, as the sun rises and I drink a stiff cup of coffee, grateful that I get to spend another day with these so dear to me.