The older girls left today for their camping trip. With my husband still gone on his campaign for world peace, this left me tending to a single smiling, happy, easy-to-care-for baby the entire weekend all by myself. For those of you with no kids, or just one baby, let me share something with you (in a completely non-judgmental way): this whole one-baby-having thing? AMAZING. Seriously, it’s magical. I’m on vacation in my head. It’s fucking Margaritaville up in here, and there most certainly is a woman to blame, Jimmy — my fabulous mother-in-law.
It’s very weird going back to caring for just one baby after you’ve become used to firing on all cylinders with three kids. It’s like that dream where you have to go back to high school and re-do everything, except you are still your adult self. I’m back to only having to care for one baby, except I’m doing it not as Brand-New-Mom Janel, but as Slightly-More-Experienced-Mom Janel.
So, as single ladies left alone will often do, we headed out on the town. To K-Mart. I know, why not Target? Because I didn’t have an extra $40 to blow, and all I needed was a garden hose to replace the one we’ve been using ever since we found it in the garage when we moved in seven years ago and now apparently shoots water out everywhere except the place that’s supposed to shoot water. Here’s something I noticed while hose-shopping with one adorable baby that doesn’t happen when you’re shopping with three kids: people flock to you. They smile and say hi to your baby. They oooh and ahhhh over your baby’s beautiful red hair. They exclaim over her massively impressive thigh rolls. They do not do this when you also have a three year old babbling on and on about CAN I HAVE A YOGURT CAN I HAVE A YOGURT PLEEEEEEEEEASE? and a five year old whining about the giant plastic Lalaloopsy couch that you refuse to spend $15 on just so her dolls can have someplace comfortable to park their plastic ass after a long, hard day of lying on the bedroom floor doing NOTHING. In that little tableau, you are basically a human car accident — other shoppers see you, know you’re there, try to act like they’re not looking, but really they slow down just a bit and glance over to see what’s going on before zooming off and thinking to themselves, “Better you than me, honey.”
I noticed another thing once we got home. With three little kids, there is constantly somebody talking, and the chatter is usually directed at you. As a parent, you do a lot of talking: answering questions (“I’ll get you a glass of milk in just a minute”), asking questions (“Where’s Bella?”), conducting interviews to figure out the meaning of a question (“Why do you want to know if we have any more towels?”) and trying to figure out exactly how much your kid knows before you answer their question (“Um, what do you think ‘booty call’ means?”) When you switch to having just one pre-verbal kid in the house, you find yourself doing much less talking. Not having to keep up a running conversation with every single person in the house is a huge relief. In fact, Baby Surrey and I went almost a half hour without saying a single thing to each other. It was downright pleasant.
Finally, the last thing I am discovering right this moment is that when you’re used to staying up until almost 2 a.m. every night playing “musical kids” as they go to sleep, wake up, refuse to go to sleep, etc., your brain refuses to go to bed at a normal time even when those kids are gone. So even though I’m home with the one kid that actually goes to bed at a decent hour, I’m still sitting here typing away at ridiculous o’clock even though I have to get up early for work tomorrow. These kids are so smart, they figured out a way to keep me up at night when they’re not even here.