It has been a hard couple of weeks and I am ready for better days to get here. I had assumed that when Tim deployed, I would adjust to his going away just by being busy with all the kids' stuff, exercise, and all the usual stuff I do to run this household. Instead the second half of January has been spent battling sickness. First there was the bug that struck the weekend right before he left. Then a few days later, there was the one that Annie was just coming down with at the end of my Day in the Life post. I had no idea that day what I was in for. I think it was flu, although I never confirmed that with a doctor (and yes, we all had a flu shot this year). It was a week of fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, headache and cough, mostly for Annie and me. I'm positive I've never been so sick. Fortunately, Delaney and Timmy only got a touch of it and had a fever for one day and runny noses.
It is hard to parent little kids. It is hard to parent little kids alone. It is hard to parent little kids alone and sick. There is no day off ever. They need to be fed, they need their butts wiped, they need to be bathed, they need to be kept from killing each other. There was one morning that I just sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands and thought, 'How in the world am I going to get through this day?' The good thing is that during the couple of days when everybody was feeling bad, the kids did not misbehave. We all just lay around in a heap for the most part. Then we all started to get better, but I continued to have sore throat and a hacking cough that was triggered just by talking. All day long, I heard, "Mama." "Mama!" "Ma-MA!" And it was so frustrating. The days seemed endless.
There was one thing I could be grateful for even on the worst days: the routine that we established a long time ago for our kids. It was my salvation. I could always count on a two-hour rest in the middle of the day, and an early bedtime. On Monday night I put them in bed just a little earlier than usual, and by 7, every single light was off and I was in bed too. Then it was up bright and early at 6 to wait in the freezing cold for a bus that was 35 minutes late .. but at least I'd had lots of rest even if I couldn't sleep all that well.
Over the past few days I've gotten a lot better health-wise, but I still feel so challenged. These kids are giving me a run for my money. Delaney breaks down and cries over things like I didn't park in "our spot" in the church parking lot. She dissolves into tears and calls me a "bad mama" or "mean mama" every time I issue a decision she does not agree with. And I also realize that she is coping in her own little kid way with her dad leaving. I am constantly having to referee all their little fights, and my patience is wearing thin. I repeat myself over and over again about the same old stuff, like we don't drop our jackets on the floor when we come in the door; we don't waste food, if you ask for it eat it; Annie, stop teasing your brother; It's not time to eat again, we just had breakfast. I felt like such an ogre when I told them they couldn't have their after dinner treat because they hadn't cleaned the playroom in the allotted time. And trust me, they'd had plenty of time, they had chosen not to take me seriously. Delaney was very upset about that. I hate seeing her cry, especially when I know that it's always the little things we have to look forward to, that make our days good. But you know what I hate more? Not being able to maintain any kind of order and discipline in this house.
I think a big part of the problem is all the extra time we've been spending in the house together due to sickness and/or colder weather. I am hoping for a return to normalcy with this coming week and a more manageable level of parenting stress. It's going to be a new week, and soon after, a new month, better than this one. I'm counting on it because right now I am one worn down mama.