I was not meant to be a single parent. Period.
God knew this, so He blessed me with a really sweet, lovable husband who goes out of his way to pick up the slack in areas where my giftings fall flat (like grocery shopping--yeah, I don't do that).
I like having a husband, and I think mine is a-one, hands-down, THE BEST ONE OUT THERE. You may think the same thing about your own but, I'm sorry--you're just wrong. And that's o.k. Not everyone in the world can have the BEST husband. Some of you have to settle for the guys who get red ribbons. Admit it and move on, ladies. :-)
Anyhow, just to make sure that I remember to be really, truly grateful for the enormous blessing that is my man, God has arranged for said St. Hubby to leave town a couple of times a year. For a week or more. Just to .. you know ... keep me well aware of my shortcomings. Like that whole grocery shopping thing.
But, wait! There's more!
In His wisdom, the Lord usually arranges for a MAJOR illness of some sort to befall one or more of my kiddos when my husband is away. Because really, anything less would only be half parenting, right?
When there's more than one responsible adult in the home, the duties are divided. Even if you're the one who cooks the bulk of the meals, is the go-to gal for pick-up and also handles the paying of the bills, you know that someone has your back when push comes to shove. Someone else could vacuum that carpet. Another person over the age of, say, 11 might just decide to fold those clothes. Or hey--you may even score a shower without setting the house alarm and crowding the crew around the computer in front of a webcast of "The Magic School Bus." Not that I've ever done that or anything.
So here I am, in the midst of yet another lesson in why it's so vital for me to have another living, breathing adult in the house. Aside from the groceries, there's also the matter of delicately balancing bedtime routines. There's the reading of SL read-alouds for the oldest two. And, oh yes ... there's the whole "the trash can/recycling won't be picked up if it isn't at the curb." How annoying is that, I ask of you?
This particular go 'round, it's been Oliver that's fighting off the inevitable bug. Since he's been generally congenial about the whole thing, I'm counting myself lucky. It could be so much worse. Like when my husband went to Haiti for two weeks just a few days after Logan had his tonsils removed. Oh, the lessons learned during those 14 long days! Ah, if only there was the time to share them all with you. How about I condense it to this simple line and leave it at that: DO NOT ALLOW TONSILLECTOMY PATIENTS TO EAT TORTILLA CHIPS. There. Enough said.
So, Oliver's sick. Unfortunately, he's puking-and-diarrhea sick, which means that clean up is a big thing in my life right now. That's easier said than done while balancing everything else required to keep the family afloat. If my husband were in town, I could at least fall back on the fact that when he came home from work in the evening, I could turn the four healthy ones over to him and throw all of my attention Oliver's way. Since that's not an option, we're all in "getting by" mode.
Lest you think that all is grim and dour around here, Benny suggested that I share the following vignette from our current situation. Be forewarned that graphic descriptions of domestic hilarity ensue:
Last night, a freshly bathed birthday boy Oliver, smelling of divine Oatmeal Lavender soap and wearing adorable clean pj's, felt well enough to play with his new toy airplane while I finished giving Manolin his bedtime bottle. The big kids were in the gameroom playing Monopoly (again), so I simply let Oliver slide to the floor from my lap and wander the family room. Just as I put Manolin to my shoulder, I heard the tell-tale signs of something amiss.
Oliver was leaning over a red plastic toy bucket and emptying the contents of his stomach. Loudly. With vigor.
Even Oliver was amazed at the quantity and volume of this particular heave, because he spent the next three minutes pointing at the bucket and asking, "Wha da?"
Now, you have to know this in order to truly appreciate the moment: I have a carpet cleaner. If Oliver had chosen the rug for his launch pad, I could have had the entire mess out of sight and out of mind within ten minutes. But, no. He chose the five gallon bucket that we use to store all of the toys with the impossibly small parts. Cars with tiny wheels. Blocks with small connecting points. That kind of thing.
I warned the big kids of the foulness peculating in the bucket, set it in a safe spot in the laundry room, changed Oliver's clothes, put the two little boys to bed and came back to do my clean up duty about forty minutes later. Folks, puke that has been sitting for forty minutes does not mellow. It just becomes, if possible, more repugnant.
By the time I got to the bucket, what I really wanted to do was join my children for their unending game of Monopoly. With that in mind, I gave the contents of the bucket a preliminary rinse, dumped the mostly-clean contents into the dishwasher and threw in a tab. I hit "heat cycle" for good measure, scrubbed the bucket itself with soap and water and then spritzed it with bleach.
Good enough, right?
This morning, as I was talking to Benny and sharing my latest single parenting fiasco, Logan began his morning chore of emptying the dishwasher. He immediately ran over to my side and threw his hand on my shoulder. This is our sign for a request to interrupt a conversation, and I could tell by the way that he was pressing on my shoulder he meant business.
"Mom! There are a bunch of toys in the dishwasher!"
"Yes, hon. Remember, I said Oliver threw up in the toy bucket last night. Just set them in the drainer to dry if they're still wet."
"But, mom, they're still dirty!"
This demanded investigating. I approached the dishwasher cautiously, wondering if the toys had somehow been melted and still keenly recalling the odor I'd been forced to endure just a few short hours before. Sure enough, the toys were there, and they were intact ... but they were clearly dotted with some kind of caked on goo that appeared to have been dried.
And that's when it hit me.
"Oh, man," I told Benny, "It's fried vomit. In my dishwasher. Fried. Vomit."
And that was how this single-for-now momma started her day. Rinsing off bits of baked yuck from a batch of toys. Oh, and throwing a good number of them away.
Every war has casualties, you know.
So ask me a year from now to distill the advice that I've picked up this season into one single line. Unless something somehow more enlightening happens over the course of the next week, it will probably be this: DO NOT USE THE HIGH HEAT CYCLE ON TOYS THAT HAVE BEEN THROWN UP ON UNLESS YOU PLAN ON A WHOLE NEW KIND OF BAKED GOOD EMERGING.
Oh, and HAVE TWO ADULTS ON HAND AT ALL COSTS.