I did it.
Fresh off a pneumonia diagnosis for Hadley, an eye issue for Oliver and a husband going out of town for three days, I managed to keep the household running (relatively) smoothly by myself.
And the best part? We didn’t spend the weekend inside, playing “Sesame Street” on a loop and hating life. We were not hermits. I actually took both kids out on my own to shop, attend a wedding reception and hang at a housewarming party (once everyone was recovered, of course).
This sounds like . . . oh, I don’t know: a day in the life of most parents. But I’ve never managed to tackle these types of events on my own. To be frank, I’ve been scared to try; with two very active kids lacking any sense of danger, I’ve worried that one or both would get away from me out in the “real world” and I would have no extra muscle to rein them back in.
Basically, I’ve felt incompetent to handle them anywhere other than the living room.
It sounds silly, but I lack this sort of confidence as a parent. It stretches back to day one, but has become especially apparent when I get the outright refusal to listen from one child and serious boundary-pushing attitude from the other. There are times when, even as the mom in charge, I still feel like a 13-year-old kid with no idea what I’m doing . . . nor how to get my 4- and 2-year-old to listen to anything at all.
It is getting easier, though. I believe it’s a combination of feeling less overwhelmed as the kids get older and just . . . the kids getting older. The tantrums still happen, trust me — especially from our littlest one now finding her voice. But I have more tricks up my sleeve to predict and deflect disaster than I did when Oliver was her age.
Take Saturday, for example. With Hadley finally on the mend, I couldn’t take sitting in the house another minute and decided to follow through with attending my friends’ wedding celebration and sister’s housewarming party.
The idea of taking the kids to such “big” occasions without Spencer was a little scary. Two of them, one of me — and they’re faster and craftier, too. I know that they’re kids and folks are understanding, but I worry about them interrupting important speeches (sorry, Rob!), sticking their paws in the appetizer tray, or generally acting up and disturbing others.
All of those things happened, and I survived. I apologized. We moved on. My anxiety often makes the simplest of tasks feel insurmountable, so being social on my own was a major step — and win — for me. The fact that these challenges really did present themselves and I handled them was also a big deal.
By the time Spence got home Sunday, I felt like a different mom. The house was reasonably clean. I’d meal-planned for the week. I managed to shower every day (thanks to the iPad and a sturdy top-of-the-stairs gate), and both kids were clean and cheerful. We blew bubbles and played and built LEGO houses. I’d administered countless rounds of medicine with minimal fights, and wrestled them both out of parties without having to fireman-carry a soul.
To be honest, I didn’t know I had that in me. I like it.
Goodbye, cabin fever . . . hello, big ol’ world.
We’re coming for you. With juice boxes.