I thought, through the trials and tribulations of running a marathon, you saw the depths of your soul--the good, the bad, the ugly--and came out a better person. That might be true, but I'm here to testify that 26.2 miles have nothing, depth-wise, on taking care of two of the sub-five-year-old person set for nine days straight solo. Nothing--no sports bra, no perceived wall, no hellish hill--chafes more than hearing, "MINE! MINE! MINE!" for the nineteenth time before 8 a.m., and knowing that you are the only one who can somehow soothe the situation. Your shortcomings--and level of patience--are truly and rawly exposed.
While I realize I'm trying to fit the proverbial square peg here, indulge me in my account of my marathon of mothering. My husband, Grant, was on a business trip for nine days: Thursday to Saturday.
Mile 1: We drop Grant off at the airport. I'm feeling confident, capable and have a plan that somehow gets us out of the house for each of the 9 upcoming days, which, like 26.2 miles, feels like cake at this point.
Mile 3: First hiccup. We come home Thursday afternoon to find that our two dogs have gotten into the pantry and consumed--I'm not kidding--11 Metamucil wafers, at least a pound of GORP (raisins, peanuts, cashews, chocolate thingys), a bag of crispy peas and dried apricots. They'll be pooping straight--which includes at least one wee-hour bathroom break--until Grant returns.
Mile 7, around Saturday night: I celebrate being a third of the way through my journey with what becomes my every third-night meal: a glass of white wine, a bowl of Life cereal and too many Thin Mint girl scout cookies to count. I find that making a salad, or really, consuming any semblance of a healthy diet, is impossible when I'm parenting solo.
Mile 10: Not surprisingly, I step in dog poop on the way to the garage to take the kids to school/daycare on Monday moring. I discover it before I get in the car, thankfully, but spend about 30 minutes, which should be devoted to work, cleaning out the treads of my Dansko clog with a toothpick.
Mile 12: 12:45 on Wednesday: haircut, which I'd had scheduled for months. I should've worked up until 12:30, but decide I really need a run. I've worked out exactly twice in nearly a week, which portends bad, bad things for my mood (and my ability to break up the "MINE" fights without yelling). It's ironic that the times you need exercise the most are the times you can rarely fit it in. So I give myself 35 minutes get around a route that usually takes me at least 38, and I book. Finish in a blazing 34, run up to the shower and get to the haircut on time. I can't believe my luck when I get there: a brand new People! Tori's having another baby! The mindless read, combined with the pampering, is so soothing.
Mile 13.1: Halfway point. Celebrate with my Life/wine/Thin Mints dinner and Project Runway. I'm sure Heidi Klum eats like this sometimes, right?
Mile 15: I'm becoming a pro at handling fits that come up because, well, it's a good time to have a fit. Some reasons for having tantrums I haven't already blocked out: "I wanted to get in the bath before you turned off the water!" "I didn't want my quesadilla cut up!" "Ben is sitting too close to me!" My strategy: totally ignore the hysterical fireworks. They'll eventually die down.
Mile 19: Officially hit the wall around 7 a.m. for no reasons other than the following:
A) Amelia tells me her 46th knock knock joke of the week, all of which revolve around this theme: "Knock knock" "Who's there?" "Banana." "Banana who?" "Banana with a potato who sits in a chair." If I don't break out in crazy laughter at her hilarious punchline, I'm subjected to another one.
B) I'm exhausted from going to bed around 11--way late for me; the week was crazy with deadlines--and getting up before 6, when the urchins get up.
C) Ben is mainlining my Aquafresh teeth-whitening toothpaste.
I park them in front of Noggin for...I don't know what cumulative hour it is. I know I'm well beyond my self-imposed hour a day rule, which, truth be told, typically gets stretched to about 75 minutes on normal days.
Mile 22: Thursday night: hire a babysitter so I can go the Y. I start running on the treadmill around 7:30 p.m.--a time I'm usually winding down--and crank my Nano so loud, I'm sure my neighbors think I'm hearing impaired. The Killers serenade me with Mr. Brightside, The Counting Crows are Accidentally In Love and Shakira's Hips Don't Lie. Even on the treadmill, I could run forever. By the time Justin Timberlake wants to Rock My Body, I'm officially feeling like I can finish this solo mama thing strong. The restorative powers of perfect music combined with sweat continues to amaze me.
Mile 25: The kids eat Wendy's for our last solo dinner, and I try to get back on track with an Amy's Veggie Lasagna. After I put them in bed, I'm finishing up the box of mints.
Mile 26.2: A trip to Target kills time before we finally cross the finish line at the airport. Like most finish lines, this one is filled with hugs and kisses and smiles--and the willingness to forget the pain that proceeded the victory.
I'm off on a bike ride before Grant can even unpack.
--Dimity (a.k.a. The Mom-ster)