This is my tribute to mothers, especially those with small children.
If you have been following my remarks here in the past few weeks, you know that I have had a handful of those “small children” staying at my house since my daughter Jenny came in from Colorado.
Jenny has three little ones, ranging in age from 4 months to 6 years old and she was at our house for three weeks before leaving for Florida, where her mother-in-law and new husband were about to welcome them also. That promised to be interesting in itself since Jenny’s new step-father-in-law is a 60ish neurosurgeon who has never had kids. Good luck doc.
At our place, Jenny’s trio of munchkins was joined by two more little boys, ages 3 and 4, who belong to my daughter Chrissy.
And oh yea, don’t forget various other visitors here and there who dropped by to see Jenny, frequently bringing other little children.
When my wife and I became parents and decided she would become the stay-at-home mom, it started a new career for her as a teacher, followed by 24 years of homeschooling all four of our children from start to finish.
But she has regularly paid the price for what she calls the “privilege” of staying home, since situations like “a lot of grandchildren at the house” seem to vault her into the number one babysitting position.
No doubt she did that and more for the last three weeks, but not to worry, you know I’ve made every effort to help as much as possible, right? OK, so it didn’t hold a candle to all she did, but I did have one memorable shift babysitting the kids, and it reminded me about you moms and the great value you offer families, that frequently is overlooked.
Last Tuesday morning I was intent on getting up very early since it is our deadline day, and I was dragging behind on my newspaper work, in light of the kids and so many family events taking my attention. I tried to quietly slip out of the bedroom that morning and into a bathroom to get ready for the day when I noticed 6-year-old Abby already up, wandering the living room.
“Papa,” she said to me. “Can you get me something to eat?”
“Sure,” I responded, followed by a 5-minute delay in the kitchen for cereal, which naturally had to include cut-up bananas. Setting her up in front of the living room TV, I was ready to work.
But as I turned for my office, I heard “and I want some chocolate milk.”
“Sure,” I said again, smiling at my number one grandchild. That cost another five minutes to get the ingredients since it was CHOCOLATE milk, and I am hardly the best one to know where everything is in the kitchen.
Again turning for my office at home, I heard Marshall, the 3-year-old son of Chrissy, who had spent the night with his brother.
“Papa, I want some drink too,” he said, rubbing his still sleepy eyes.
“No problem, but you guys need to get in the back room with the TV so you don’t wake everyone up,” I said.
Ushering them to the bedroom, grandchild number three, Zachary, woke up since it was the room he was sleeping in. (You can imagine how many make-shift bedrooms we have had to find, can’t you?)
I got the TV on the right channel, changed a diaper, got another bowl of cereal, and was now 10 more minutes past my supposedly “early start.”
This time I actually made it to the door of my office, only to hear voice number four.
“Papa,” 4-year-old Jerry was saying, almost appearing from nowhere. “I want some chocolate milk too.”
“Darn,” I thought to myself. “Why didn’t I make four of them at once, that would have saved a lot of time.”
Five more minutes later, shooing Jerry into the TV room with the other three, I was informed by little Zachary that he only drinks strawberry milk.
“Oh sure,” I mumbled, “of course you do,” as I took his cup to the kitchen, washed it out and dug in the frig for what seemed like forever to find the strawberry mix.
Finally with all four in the TV room, I mustered up my tough guy voice and informed them that they HAD to stay quiet, since all the adults were still sleeping, not to mention, “Papa has to do some work.”
I only got as far as my office, which by the way is a bit of a walk from one side of the house to the other, when I heard lots of screaming from the TV room.
Running across the house this time, I swung open the door to see three of them jumping on the bed.
“Hey, hey!” I said in a louder voice. “I said you have to speak in your quiet voices! If I hear too much noise, you have to do time-out in the living room, all by yourself. Come on now, Papa has to do some work.”
I doubt they noticed those funny looking red lines pn my forehead, as the pressure kept building, and I was falling further behind.
My plan to “start early” was now an hour from when I was certain it would begin. Still, I was glad to help the two young moms get a little extra sleep and now I knew I HAD to get in front of that computer.
Alas, it was not to be.
I had barely closed the door when I heard the sound so many parents cringe at on a morning when they were up late watching the Bachelorette the night before—the sound of a crying baby!
“No!” I thought. “Reagan isn’t waking up already is she? Jenny said she would sleep later this morning since she was up late.”
But you know it, the 3-month-old was not going back to sleep, so I hustled into her room and snatched her out of the crib before Jenny completely woke up. Funny, I glanced at my number two daughter, snuggled in the covers and seemingly deep in sleep, and thought I saw a smirk on her face. But I’m sure I was only imaging that, wasn’t I?
Anyway, I hardly have to tell you about that delay, which included the diaper change, getting a bottle ready and getting ready to feed the little sweetheart we have all thoroughly enjoyed.
As I settled down to quiet Reagan with her bottle, I heard new yelps of squealing in the TV room. Bounding from my easy chair and opening the door where the kids were supposedly watching TV, I saw two of them had climbed to the very top of my workout machine.
“Look Papa, we can touch the ceiling!” Jerry said.
“Oh my gosh!” I yelled, now not worrying who the heck woke up. “You are going to fall. Now get down, and nobody climb the workout machine!”
Reagan was screaming bloody murder by now and honestly, I didn’t care. My wife showed up to take over and by the time I headed back to my office, which had still never seen me even warming my chair, it was almost two hours since I was sure that “early start” was going to fix all the delays of the past week.
Obviously it didn’t, but at least I got something out of the morning—a good column idea, and one heckuva lot more respect for you moms taking care of little kids.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.