Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tip of the Hat to Single Parents, and Thanks to My Backup

Apparently November has become the month of thanks, a fact we’re all reminded of as we scroll Facebook and see our more conscientious friends being thankful for things every damn day.
Surprisingly, I haven’t yet had the temptation to hide the incessant thanks from my newsfeed, like I do any vacation update posts from places I can’t afford to travel – which is pretty much everywhere except Allentown, Pa.
Of course, I’m also not inclined to start my own thanks-inspired daily thread, as I’m likely to forget something or someone, kicking off an interpersonal crisis akin to a bad Oscar acceptance speech, and then I’ll have to spend the next month apologizing to everyone.

Ever wonder how Goodnight Gorilla would've ended
if the wife was away on business that day.  It's not pretty.
But all the thanks on Facebook have made me more keenly aware of the things I should be more thankful for more often. One such thing is that I am not more frequently left alone to do bedtime with my children.

This week my wife is away on business. We both work out of the home, and each have to travel on occasion. Over the last few years, I’ve probably traveled more often, usually just long daytrips and overnights. When my wife goes away, it’s for multiple days. She left Tuesday morning for three days in Washington, D.C., leaving me at home alone with a wild band of pint-sized miscreants – a.k.a. our children.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and cherish any time I get with them. It’s just nice to have a partner in the process, someone who can temporarily relieve you from parenting duties when the little ones make you too frazzled, flustered or frustrated. Look there, I just used three “f” words talking about my kids without uttering the one I felt like screaming last night at bedtime.
I’ve vented here about our bedtime challenges before. Writing that was cathartic. And for some reason, I thought doing so would make bedtimes better. Yet, last night – with only their father home – the children conspired to have their worst bedtime ever.
I’ll spare the details, but suffice it to say the first person to actually fall asleep – at 10:30 no less – was me. 
As planned, they were all in their beds by 7:30, except the older one who has a later bedtime. But then they proceeded to play, and fight, and run around, after which they were hungry, and scared, and “not tired.” I spent three hours dodging backing and forth between their rooms to read to them, to settle them down, to stop them from jumping on the bed, to coax them back under the covers, to bring them water, to check for monsters in the closet – they pulled out all the stops.

You could’ve set my routine to Benny Hill music, as I shuffled back and forth between rooms, closing doors, tucking kids in, making go to bed hand motions. I even ended up in a t-shirt and boxer shorts by the end.

(To hear Benny Hill theme, click play).

Among other things, I learned that there’s a reason they invented the lullaby. It’s because hollering “Just Go To Bed” at the top of your lungs for the umpteenth time is probably the least effective way to get a 3-your-old to sleep.
Eventually, I just shut all their doors, went into my room and collapsed. The boy followed me in a few minutes later, and when I woke with a start at midnight, he was out. Success. His sisters were asleep, too.
The evening was a tough one. And no doubt, late in the game, I could’ve used a relief pitcher. I was getting shelled, and the bullpen was empty.
I honestly don’t know how single parents do it. It’s so much harder when you don’t have the option to take a break and call for back up. It’s a lesson I’ve learned before, and will likely experience again. As a team, my wife and I may suffer through most of our bedtimes – despite all the effort we’ve put into getting better at it.  But there’s no doubt that it’s easier to do as a team.
So today, I am thankful that my wife will be home in just two more days. Now Go To Sleep!

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Anonymous said...

CMRuddy- I feel your pain.. 8yr old, 6.5 yr old and 5yr old twins.. i will show this to my wife.. she will def get a kick out of it, cause its our bedtime life too... but she doesnt get to go on biz trips anymore.. be well old friend.

Tom Condon said...

CMRuddy- I feel your pain.. 8yr old, 6.5 yr old and 5yr old twins.. i will show this to my wife.. she will def get a kick out of it, cause its our bedtime life too... but she doesnt get to go on biz trips anymore.. be well old friend

and i am not Anonymous...

Cort Ruddy said...

Twins!... You do know our pain, and then some. Great to hear from you, Tom. And thanks for reading my dumb blog.

Allan kahan said...

Your mother posted your blog. I do remember you, and having 3 former 'rugrats' myself - they are all grown, i synpathize with your pain. All parents live through the experience. You will as well. Enjoyed the post!

Cort Ruddy said...

Thanks, Allan. I remember you as well, helping to decorate our tree, I believe. Glad you enjoyed the blog.