When I signed up for this job, or at least signed my husband up for this job (and I feel like I did sign up, since I'm the one who filled out the applications to all the fire departments), I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that as a mom, I would have periods of time when my husband would be inaccessible, short of a family emergency. I'd have days where I would just have to make it work on my own.
Yesterday was such a day. My firefighter had the day off, and we were asleep when the phone rang at 6:45 in the morning. I instantly woke up and knew what it meant.
"Honey... HONEY! Wake up!"
"Answer the phone."
"Work is calling."
Yeah. "Oh." That about sums it up. We had a big day planned yesterday. Some of the activities we had planned that day could be skipped, but my daughter had her heart set on going to her friend's birthday party and attending a Trunk or Treat that evening. She has been talking about them for days; letting her go was an easy decision. Problem is, we only have one car still. In order to get her to her activities, it meant that we all had to get up as quickly as possible and drive my husband to work, an hour away.
My firefighter jumped in the shower and I ran downstairs to get the various bottles and beverages ready for the diaper bag. I shoved the kids' shoes in my over-sized tote, just in case they would need to get out of the car for some reason. My daughter looked confused when I woke her up. Her hair was a ratty mess. There was no time to fix it. She went potty while I woke up the baby, who had been up and down all night anyway, and buckled him into his car seat. He grinned at me the whole time. He's always up for an adventure.
My 3 year old is usually happy to go on a car ride, too. I woke him up, quickly changed his diaper, and carried him down to the car in his jammies. My groggy daughter made it down, my firefighter clipped the carseat into it's base, and I did a quick run through of the needed items.
Two loveys and a blanket. Check.
Peace-keeping snacks. Check.
We got all buckled in and watched the sunrise as we drove through the hills. My 3 year old excitedly pointed out all the wind turbines and big trucks, and hid in his loveys when the sunlight hit his face. My daughter and the baby fell asleep. My firefighter and I talked about how excited we were to finally get an extra day of pay, after an uncommon six week overtime dry spell. We could really use the money and we discussed how to best spend it.
After dropping him off, the kids and I came back home. My daughter decided it was time to get ready for the birthday party, 6 hours early. Getting tired of the incessant "is it time to go yet?" I piled the kids in the stroller and decided that a nice slow walk to the party would be a good way to speed up departure time. She loaded her present into the basket and we took off. The boys are usually just as excited about a stroller ride as they are about a car ride. Still, I couldn't help but wish that my firefighter were home to take care of the boys while I took my daughter to her party.
After the party, we all got ready for the trunk or treat that evening. Again, I wished that my husband could help. It took a couple of hours to somehow work in a shower and get them all diapered, cleaned up, dressed in their costumes, fed, happy, and ready to go. I went through my mental checklist of things to bring for the second time that day.
Have you ever taken three young children to an exciting outdoor party on your own? It's not as simple as one might think. The logistics are difficult. The 5 year old wants to run off to be with her friends but still needs supervision, the three year old just wants to run off, and the baby wants to be held because of all of the over-stimulation. Yesterday was a perfect example of what problems might arise in this situation.
Problem 1: I somehow forgot the paci at home. That meant that the baby was NOT going to be happy at some point.
Problem 2: As we were pulling in alongside the other vehicles getting ready for the trunk part of the trunk or treat, my daughter declared that she was car sick (something that has been happening a lot lately).
Problem 3: My 3 year old is sensitive to others and was crying over the discomfort of the other two. He kept reminding me to put the paci in. I tried to explain that we don't have it, but there's only so much he understands when he's upset.
Thankfully, once I got everyone out of the car, my daughter said she felt fine. The younger two were content to be pushed in the stroller as I followed my daughter around to keep an eye on her. I took some pictures and was happy that the evening had turned out to be so manageable, aside from the one moment when I dropped my camera and watched pieces of plastic pop off.
This is where things REALLY started to go downhill as a single mom for a day.
The baby, as I knew would happen, got fussy once we stopped moving so I had him in my arms. We were all sitting on hay bales watching a movie when my daughter declared that she was, after all, still sick from the car. She heaved and put her hand to her mouth. My 3 year old was still happily strapped into the front seat of the stroller, enthralled with the movie, bless his heart. I had to make a split second decision--there were too many obstacles and people to be able to take the stroller inside and make it on time. I could either stay with the stroller and let my daughter vomit in public, or leave the stroller and help her find the bathroom. I chose the second option, since there were other parents nearby. My daughter, the baby and I ran inside and found the bathroom in time. I worried about leaving my 3 year old alone out there the whole time and hurried her up.
She washed up and felt much better after that, and things looked up again--especially after a kind lady offered to hold my baby for me while I took the other two around to collect candy. The second time my daughter needed to go potty, we all went. I hefted the double stroller over curbs and rolled it through the hall inside, while carrying the baby in my other arm. We waited by the door while my daughter finished up. They were decorating pumpkins just outside a nearby door, so we went out that way.
My daughter, dressed as a princess, bent over to inspect the pumpkin that she had just hefted to the ground. She hesitated and declared that she was going to throw up again. My heart sank. This clearly was not just a case of car sickness; she had a bug. And, she was going to throw up and share it with everyone. The door we had just come out of was locked from the outside going in. It was dark by then. I told her to throw up in a nearby bush. She wasn't listening--she took off running in a flurry of pink and white tulle. I yelled after her, and tried to work my way around the throng of children with the double stroller.
I didn't know which way she had run in the darkness, but figured she had tried to get to the other door to make it to the bathroom. She knew the way by then. For the third time, I hefted the double stroller over all the obstacles and made my way to the bathroom. Thankfully, that's where she was. Only this time she hadn't made it to the toilet in time. She cried as she showed me that her costume was covered in vomit.
After cleaning her up and promising her that I would be able to clean her costume in time for the real Halloween, we headed straight for the car. As I stretched the seat belt over my daughter's yucky costume, I felt her forehead--no fever. Phew. The baby cried the whole way home, wanting his paci. My middle child cried in sympathy and pleaded for me to help the baby, whom I could not reach, let alone help. My daughter sat quiet and sallow and was sad that she didn't get to decorate her pumpkin.
It was a loud, pitiful trip. I got home and unloaded them one by one. After stripping all costumes off, I showed my daughter her pumpkin and the decorations I had grabbed. That cheered her up and she set about decorating it. She threw up another two or three times. Meanwhile, I put the boys in bed.
When I came out after settling the other two down, I saw that my daughter had crawled into bed and had already fallen to sleep. That was a first.
Yesterday was definitely one of those days when I wish that my firefighter had been here to help out. Yet, as much as I missed him, and even though I am certain there will be more days like yesterday, I wouldn't want him to be in any other career. His job satisfaction affects the whole house. He absolutely loves what he does. Not only that, but it allows me to do what I absolutely love--be home with the children--even on vomit days. The perks are too great to pass up, for either of us.
My daughter ended up sleeping through most of the night, and when she did have to throw up again, she did it quietly in her own bathroom and went back to bed on her own. This morning she said that she put herself to sleep and didn't tell me when she was sick again because she didn't want to get me sick. What a little sweetheart!!
(As I write this, she is happily playing. She hasn't thrown up all day and only had a low grade fever early this morning. I'm thinking it must have been food poisoning.)