Posted By jayna on June 17, 2015
There’s something particularly jarring about coming home from vacation, shoulders nicely freckled from days on the beach, to grass as high as kneecaps, news of a burst hose that flooded the backyard, a hot water heater in need of replacement, and a 48 hour window of time before half of the team jets off to another month in Singapore.
The man deserves his credit, he really does. In those 48 hours, battling a cold and vacation exhausted (because really, we all know a vacation with four kids along is really just as demanding as normal, but in a beautiful place), he busted his ass. There’s a shiny, new hot water heater that will not leave me cursing as I rinse my hair with ice water. Odds and ends were taken care of, little items on the To Do list checked off carefully to make sure they were the tasks I literally couldn’t do myself.
The lawn stayed up to our kneecaps because I insisted I would be fine. “I’m supermom, I can handle it!” I repeated over and over in convincing him to stay in the house and spend that time with me instead. The physical presence that simply can’t wrap halfway around the world trumped a beautiful lawn. I kissed him goodbye in the early hours of the morning, smugly positive that I could totally handle this. I run this place solo all the time with ease! What on earth could go wrong if I just add in cutting the grass? And a dangerously mobile baby? And kids that were just on vacation getting attention from grandparents?
Smug will only get you knocked down to size.
It was grossly hot and sticky when I pulled the lawnmower out of the shed at 8am. The baby fussed and began to cry over the monitor as soon as I plugged it in, so I paused to set him up with a little shaded tent over his pack’n’play while the big kids hung out near him on the front walkway. Across the lawn I went, making it only one pass before I would have to stop and empty the bag, spilling wet clippings all over myself in the process. Somewhere around my third pass, the baby decided he was done with his cage and let everyone know. Miss E earned all of her gold stars by scooping him up and taking him inside to play.
With the other two watching me still, I did two more passes, the mower sounding angrier and angrier with every step. As I came to a stop by my garbage bags to empty it, I saw E signaling frantically from the living room window and pointing to the baby’s bottom – that’s apparently where she draws the line of helping Mom out. Turning back to the mower, I saw wisps of smoke spiraling upwards. Saying a great many words Tater and MJ thankfully couldn’t hear over the roar, I shut it off and stomped across the yard.
An hour later, with the baby happy and clean, I went out to kick the mower and clean up my mess. The yard looked like a drunken monkey had run through it with a broken reel mower, missed sections everywhere and a wavy maze of lines. When I came back in the house, I set out to find someone to come out and just do it for me. Suburbia, and its third of an acre lots, has the perk of quick service. Our neighborhood has a message board, so I went to that first, asking if any college or high school kids had a mower and wanted to earn a little money. Instantly, I had a reply and we set a time for him to come over and see if he could manage it. I pat myself on the back for fixing my problem with such ease.
That triumph was only short lived.
The time in between then and the appointment was filled with battles over . . .
not being able to go to the pool immediately (MJ)
not being able to go to the pool alone (E)
not wanting anything to do with anything because everything is horrible and evil and mean and noIamnottiredIhatenapsnapsaretheworstevezzzzzzzzzzzz . . . (Tater)
not bashing skulls, fingers, toes, arms, legs, noses, cheeks, mouths, every last part of the body because being mobile is the best thing ever and every place must be explored including these steps that look mighty fine to climb on. (ZZ)
I’ve often said that being in a car with all four of them is a lot like having four radio stations on at once. Now, I’ve decided that trying to parent all of them is a lot like throwing a handful of bouncy balls in a room full of china. You just can’t catch them all, and something is going to break. The question is if it’s going to be them or your nerves. (Having a seven month old that went from nothing to crawling, standing, climbing steps and getting into everything in just a few weeks will certainly fry a few nerve endings right out. There is no way in hell any of the other ones were this intent on their own demise from curiosity this early in the game.)
Eventually, with two pouting girls on the couch, one napping buddy and one baby in a straightjacket, the doorbell rang. Joyfully sure that this would be the best thing all day, the answer to keeping our house from looking like it belonged on a foreclosure listing, I leapt up to answer it. Confused, I stared through the glass a minute before opening it up to shake hands. Politely smiling was a gray haired gentleman, white socks pulled up to his knees, peering over his glasses. He was eighty-five if he was a day.
For ten minutes he stood in my doorway, jawing away about adorable kids (who still sat scowling on the couch), beautiful flowers (thank you very much), terribly high grass that is a pain to cut when it’s full of clover (no shit sherlock) and how unbearably hot it was out. Wrapping up his visit, he made a sweeping gesture across the lawn and proclaimed that it would be far too much for him to cut, especially since he would have to push his mower from his house a mile away, and he hoped I could find someone to take care of it.
That . . . was not the strapping, young, college lad I was hoping for.
After that encounter, I decided to literally drown my sorrows and finally take the kids to the pool, crossing my fingers to have a few more prospects waiting when I checked my email next. There was a flurry of bathing suits and towels and pool toys and snacks and water bottles, all ending in a pile at the bottom of the stairs. One by one, I slathered sunscreen on my freckled offspring, finishing with the palest baby in the land as he squirmed and wiggled as much as possible. Finally, finally, finally we were on our way . . . along with five hundred of our closest neighbors. The pool looked like a cartoon, stuffed so full to capacity that turning from one side to the other meant bumping into someone. The kids didn’t mind too much, and if I tried to stop thinking about the ratio of pee to water when there were that many kids present, I actually enjoyed myself a bit as well. We splashed joyfully for a solid twenty minutes before . . .
Because, of course. A bit of thunder to close the pool for thirty minutes was definitely what the day needed.
Along with all five hundred of our neighbors, we trudged out of the pool area and headed home. MJ promptly fell flat out on the sidewalk, E got stung by something, and Tater refused to walk. That is the scene I’m going to want videos of in thirty years so I can finally laugh about it, because I certainly wasn’t laughing then as I pushed an overloaded stroller and carried an overgrown six year old howling in pain.
It was nearing dinner time when we got home, so after there was a pile of wet bathing suits on the floor and everyone was carefully separated in the house according the what level of bad mood they were in, I dug through the refrigerator for the easiest meal. Pulling the jumbo pack of hot dogs out, I decided to make them on the grill. ZZ sat with his face pressed up against the sliding glass door as I stood on the patio and dusted off the various floof from the trees that had gathered on the lid. I cranked up the propane, turned on the burners and hit the ignite button.
click click click click
click click click click
click click click click
I cursed for the hundredth time that day, cursed myself for thinking to use the grill that I am deathly afraid of lighting in the first place.
click click click WHOOOOOOSH!
That sucker lit so hard that the lid blew open and flames leapt out. I screamed loud enough to be heard in the next county (and possibly peed my pants a little). Inside the house, ZZ jumped back from the window and busted his head on a chair leg as he fell over.
All for hot dogs.
Which I ended up burning anyways.