My girls are going camping with their grandma and cousins for a couple of days this weekend. They’re only about forty-five minutes away, at a modern-ish campground. Grandma has promised to whisk them home the moment they become too homesick to stay. They’ll be safe and have a good time, probably eat too much junk food and not brush their teeth (a sure sign of any successful overnight trip). My husband and I will have a couple of days all to ourselves to hang out and possibly get some things crossed off my “Baby Countdown” list.
I hit the jackpot, right? Don’t all parents of young kids dream about something like this? I should be celebrating! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! PARTY TIME!!! PEACE OUT KIDS!!!!!!! I’M IN UR FRIDGE, DRINKIN UR JUICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My weekend should be just like that Beastie Boys video, except in this scenario, my husband and I are the nerdy kids, and Phaedra and Bella are that mom and dad with the bad wig and glasses.
Me: “We could invite all our friends, and have soda and pie!” Rob: “I hope no BAD people show up…” Guitar: “WOW WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!“
I can’t really figure out who represents The Beastie Boys in this scenario. Just roll with it.
Man, that was my favorite video to watch at Skateland in junior high. They had a big pull-down projection screen at one end of the skating rink, and they played that video and the dinosaur song nonstop. You could rollerskate and jam out at the same time. I love you, Skateland.
I love you too, Janel.
Anyways, here’s my point: 1) Skateland was the best place to have your birthday party as a kid growing up in the late eighties/early nineties; and 2) I miss my babies. They are a pain in my ass, relentlessly asking me for juice, snacks, TV shows, new diapers, Play Doh, to go outside, to come inside, to go outside again, to poke my belly button, bang on the bathroom door while I’m showering, poke my eyes to wake me up in the morning, tell me how much more awesome Daddy is than me, ask me to stop dancing, and hijack my TV all day long. One day, they’re going to figure out that they can combine forces to really get all up in my shit. I’m dreading that day.
But now? Now I’m just dreading the empty house, roomy bed, endless choices of shows to watch on TV, and possibilities of leaving the house on a moment’s notice. I don’t know how to sleep without a kid crammed in on either side of me and a husband desperately clinging to our queen-size mattress, lest he be shoved off the side of the bed again by a four-year-old girl. I don’t know how to stream anything else on Netflix except for The Backyardigans; for that matter, I couldn’t even tell you where the adult DVDs are in our house at the moment, it’s been so long since I watched one (not those kind; pervert; just something above a G rating). Somewhere in the entertainment center? Are they in the basement, or was that just the cases we put down there? I DON’T EVEN KNOW.
I kept cool last night while packing. We had an ultra-pleasant evening together, despite the fact that (yet again) both girls managed to not eat 75% of the food I put on their dinner plate. We skipped bath time in favor of folding clothes and watching TV together. After our nightly ritual of ice cream cones for kids while Mom takes a shower, I packed up their clothes while Phaedra slept on the couch and Bella followed me around the house, jabbering away about the adventures of her little plastic people.
Then I realized I was going to have to drop them off for work tomorrow afternoon, and I wouldn’t see them again until they came home from camping. They were leaving while I would be away at work. Why this makes a difference, who knows, but in my pregnant, hormonally-addled brain, it does. If they’re leaving for a long period of time, I should be there, just in case. I know they are fine, in my rational brain, but my overprotective side tells me this is just not okay.
I should also add that my girls are somewhat sheltered. They do not go to daycare; they go to grandma’s house a couple days a week while my husband and I work or go to class. The only babysitters our kids have ever had are family members. The closest we’ve come to something like this is the occasional overnight stay at a grandma’s house, which didn’t really start until Phaedra was almost three years old. This isn’t necessarily because my kids are too scared to be away from home; it’s because I couldn’t bear the thought of my babies sleeping somewhere else without me. They’re so little. They need me.
So as I was packing, and made this horrible realization, I had to start my mental pep-talks. As I’ve stated in the past, rule #1 is similar to Tom Hanks’s rule about crying and baseball: you cannot cry in front of your kids. If I cried when saying goodbye to them, their weekend is ruined. They may not show it then, but Phaedra would dwell on it all day, until bedtime at the campground, when she’d remember me crying and suddenly decide there’s something wrong with camping because why else would Mom be crying and I WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW.
I’m sorry, Tom Hanks. You were right. You’re so smart.
So, mentally I told myself to suck it up, put on my big girl panties, smile and say goodbye to those precious little babies that were leaving me and going so far away from home and maybe crying at night with their mom far away and they’re so scared it’s really dark and my mom forgot to pack that toy I really want —
–just smile and say “Goodbye! Have fun! See you soon!” and look like I mean it. Being perfect angels all night long didn’t really help matters, but I knew it had to be done.
I dropped them off today, and my pep talk must have worked, because I got out the door and down the street without a single tear. Perhaps I’m getting better at this new “babies growing up” thing that seems to be happening. We’ll see just how badass I am tomorrow morning after spending an entire night trying to sleep like a normal person.