You know what you get when mom’s sick, dad’s sick and every blessed family member is sick in the house at the same time? Well, I’ll tell you this much: It makes a game of Jumanji look like tiddlywinks in comparison.
This has been our reality for the last month.
First it started with all kids passing around the same cold/sinus/chest… whatever. Then everyone seemed to slowly get better from that and about 4 days after the last child was well, we thought we were in the clear.
But that’s the sneakyness of these childhood maladies… they’ll lurk and trick you into thinking they’re gone. I started to feel the “crud” at the beginning of last week and I just shuddered. It was aggressive and swift and didn’t seem to care about my usual concoction of over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.
I went downhill fast and struggled through the rest of the week, doing the drop-off and pick up and all of the activities.
But here comes the long Labor Day weekend! I’d have a chance to rest and rela-
Dave was working the weekend. There will be no relaxing. Just driving more of the same struggle bus.
On Saturday, my dear parents (yay grandparents) corralled the kids at their house while I slept on their couch in the basement. The only sleep I’d had in the past couple of days.
Sunday, we managed at home, but I let the natives do whatever they wanted. Jumanji ran the house. I let Josh make the snacks and I don’t even know what was made. Probably chips and gummy worms.
Labor Day, while everyone else was bar-b-que-ing, I called my PCP and begged for some magic codeine.
They called it into the local CVC (one of the only pharmacies open on Labor Day).
At this point, I was barely moving. Everything hurt from the continuous coughing. My ears, my chest my abs (oh look, I still have abs) and general tiredness from not sleeping.
I loaded the kids in the car and looked down at my lower half.
I took one second to decide that I just didn’t care. I was too tired and sick to go root around for shorts. So I climbed into the car sans pants and fired ‘er up.
We pulled up to the CVC drive-thru window and some nice ladies asked my information. They were wearing masks so it was hard to tell what they were saying through the thick glass and the crackling microphone. I didn’t have ANY voice at all, so I had to motion to them that I’d throw them my Drivers’ license for info.
While they looked at my details, I just pitifully laid my head on the the car window sill wishing I could go to sleep right then and there. I was almost asleep, too when I heard a male voice come over the loudspeaker.
Ah, the pharmacist who was going to explain to me the complex procedure of spooning the med in my mouth. Which he had every right to do because I wasn’t looking capable of much of anything at that point.
I looked up. And up. And up some more. That was one TALL pharmacist.
And suddenly I realized my gig was probably up. The likelihood that he could see the no pants situation was very high. I looked the only place I could… I met his stare to make sure his only show was that freebie, right at the beginning.
“Go on,” my eyes seemed to say. “I dare you to look down.”
The drug giant continued his speech about how to properly down the meds and I only broke my stare after I said, “Thank you,” and peeled away from the building.
Now that I think about it, I bet they caught it on camera. For all posterity. That’s ok… I’m not upset. Although a little pale, my 43-year-old legs aren’t half bad.
I realize that somewhere deep inside, no one really takes a risk like that unless they’re prepared or hoping to get caught. Maybe it was a little of both. But it was most definitely a whole lot of “I am focusing on one word today…”
And pants in 105 degree Arizona heat did not make the cut.
If I had gotten pulled over, I might have begged the officers to watch the kids while I took a nap in the back seat of their patrol car.
The rest of the day was more of the same, but with a shot of Codeine, I was able to get a short nap with the baby and then sleep through the night.
There was TV and video games and anarchy galore. Pretty much every kid’s dream. So instead of feeling guilty I thought to myself, “Hey, I brought Disneyland to the house!”
The irony is: The only time I’m the “fun parent” is when I’m sick and not so fun.
Tonight, I’ll be passing the codeine baton to my faithful partner who has cheerfully assumed “main parent” role in the evenings while also working all day. He has now received the sickness gift and all kids are down too.
This is a game of partnership. When both parents are sick, can you make an honest assessment to sacrifice and level-up to take over for the other one? Sickness, mental health, stress…. sometimes we can work in tandem but when we’re limping through life, one takes over and carries the load. Strong partnerships transfer the load without begging, knowing that the other one has done everything and are now at the end of themselves.
The wild animals are calmer in their sick state… but the game still rages on.
What they don’t know is that the parents have already won this round… and live to play another day.
#jumanji #level-up #parentsunite #nopantsmonday #laborday2021 #graceunderfire #amwriting #writingcommunity #writingwithkids #writingislife
We have a ridiculous amount of fruit-bearing trees in our backyard; especially considering we live on a tiny lot, like most houses in Arizona. And the pool takes up 3/4 of the backyard, leaving little room for any space to plant.
If you’re part of the Desert Ridge HOA and reading this, you just put your little peepers away and move right along. What goes into our backyard STAYS in our backyard. Including the little boys in their bathing suits.
Today, they all came rolling out of the house shrieking and screaming and they jumped into the pool.
I surveyed the backyard while I patrolled the mayhem. Our orange and lime tree weren’t doing well. They haven’t done well since last summer, aka “the hottest actual summer on record.” We lost a few of our passion fruit vines along the back wall as well, but the ones remaining recovered and are lush and green from all the rain this summer.
Dave has a green thumb the size of Rhode Island. He got it from his mom. Everything they touch just starts growing and flourishing. And those who attempt to grow things here in the “High Sonoran Desert” are a special breed of determined grower.
Over the years, we have filled our backyard with every type of edible imaginable: We have figs, both Black Mission and Violetta de Bordeaux. We have a yuzu tree (Japanese citrus). We have Mandarin Orange, Blood Orange and lime. We even have a pomegranate tree. Whoever thought pomegranates flourish in the desert? You’d be surprised what survives and even thrives here in the desert.
Did you know some clever people have even created a citrus tree that grows as many types of citrus as you want? It’s grafting, of course. For those with even less space than what we have, what a perfect tree! Lemons, oranges and limes all on the same plant.
I looked back over at the boys and I smiled at the commotion.
All three from the same tree. Yet so very very different.
If I had to answer the question, “What is the hardest thing about parenting?,” I would say, “Having to parent the differences.” They’re not only different from each other, but they’re different from ME.
One time, I heard one of my wise parent mentors tell me, “Become a student of your children. Study them. Get to know them… get to the bottom of who they are.”
Joshua is pensive and sensitive. He’s moderately insecure. He will let some things in his life cause him great anguish before he says anything because he holds it all in and thinks it to death. His feelings get hurt easily. He has a growth mindset. He not only tries his best at everything, he usually takes it upon himself to surmount any obstacle in his path.
Samuel is confident to the point of being prideful and a bit of a jerk. He’s a tease and extremely clever. He loves all animals and babies. He gets angry any time he feels shamed or disrespected. Which is a lot. He has a fixed mindset, meaning he tends to blame everything and everyone else for his problems. He gives up quickly.
TJ is driving the party bus wherever he goes. He is confident, does not think things through and just acts on impulses. The results are usually really fun. But not very wise or safe. Highly relational, TJ doles out hugs and kisses with abandon and somehow manages to atone for all his sins with one flash of his pearly whites.
Rachel… the jury’s still out on some of her finer points. Currently, she is an absolute daredevil and seems to have a surprising lack of fear for such a tiny little girl. She does whatever she puts her mind to. She laughs a lot and has no problem telling everybody what to do even though her vocabulary only consists of a handful of words.
Of course, Dave and I share some of their characteristics, because after all, it’s our DNA, but my head just spins as I think about all their nuances and how much each are their own person independent of us.
As we help grow them and water them and prune them (per the job of a gardener) it’s important that we’re honest about both their strengths and their weaknesses.
For example, knowing how Joshua can struggle with insecurity and lights up with encouragement, I pepper my speech with effusive, sometimes over-the-top encouragement and “atta-boys.”
Sammy, on the other hand, scowls at me when I throw any encouraging words at him. OK, mom. Put it in reverse. Try another tactic with Sam. Sam needs a lot of full-stop, tough-love reality checks. When he starts down the road of “blame game,” I get in his face and firmly remind him that accidents happen. Move along child. Stop raging like an angry Tasmanian devil and learn from your mistakes.
TJ just needs to be wrapped in a giant bubble. Let’s just skip him while I try to survive another day.
It’s almost unreasonable… the mental gymnastics required to parent all these kids at the same time throughout a day. As the original and greatest parent who shows us how, God more than understands that: literally parenting billions of people like you and I– all day long. Good on ya, Lord. This is why you are God and I’m not. I alone am a lot to handle.
The boys finished their millionth swim for the day, grabbed their towels and laid on the tile like small harbor seals soaking up what’s left of the summer sun.
I looked at that orange tree and kind of wanted to just pull it up and start over. It’s in bad shape and after a summer of good monsoons, still didn’t look like it wanted to do anything except shrivel up and die.
Which is me on a *good* day of parenting.
I’m grateful God hasn’t uprooted me yet. Because I have a lot more growing to do.