Last week, I took the boys to church. By myself.
Since I’ve strarted going back to church, my mom and my dad (if he’s in town) have been meeting me there. Let me tell you, having them there is a Godsend.
Then last week, my mom didn’t show up. I didn’t sweat it. I’ve been alone with the other boys before. I’ve taken a rowdy toddler to church by myself before. I could do this.
I walked out of church, thinking, “I’ve seen worse.” But not by much. At least we didn’t have to leave half way through the service never to re-enter. (Yeah, that was a bad day.) The boys had lost “Plants vs Zombies” privileges. I wanted to tie all three up with duct tape. A family moved away from us. (Granted they had one ten-year-old daughter; their situation was a bit different than mine.) After taking a mommy-time-out, I was able to center and move on.
Saturday I watched a friend’s kids. What’s two more? Everything started well. Tornado E and K took turns on the educational video game counsel. (Um, don’t you want to be playing together?) Tornado S, G, and Tornado A were playing cars together. Then I decided not to wait any longer for the co-parent to show up if we wanted to spend some descent time at the zoo. I started to get things ready.
Then I stared losing my control of the kids. My kids. They didn’t want to wear those shoes, but they couldn’t find the shoes they wanted. They couldn’t find the hats they wanted. They didn’t want to go to the zoo. They wanted to stay home and play video games. They didn’t need to go to the bathroom. They were hungry but didn’t want crackers, fruit leathers, pancakes or bananas. They were thirsty and didn’t want water. They couldn’t get on their shoes, couldn’t pull up their pants, couldn’t leave without their sunglasses that have been missing for months and months. Oh and Tornado A became all cranky and tired and upset and crying-y. Awesome.
I took a mommy time out. Oh for the love of God, I have to do all this by myself. What was I thinking? I can do this. I can do this. Oh f-. I need some caffeine. And chocolate. And for the love of God, please leave me alone before I snap and kill one of you.
The smartest thing I did during that time out was to text my BFF, who texted back “Breathe.” That and a pep talk. She’s perfect for me.
I took a deep breath and walked out. As I put the small ice chest in the car, the co-parent showed up and asked twice what was wrong. Poor decision on his part as I blurted everything out and what a bunch of brats we had for children. After being reassured that I wasn’t blaming him, he suggested not going to the zoo. And I said, no, let’s roll. From that moment on, things went better.
Sunday I took the boys to church. This time I had learned my lesson. Always be prepared. The night before I got the emergency church bag ready and in the car the night before and I laid out the church clothes. (Not that they wore them; they had to pick all new outfits. Fine.) On the way to church, I incentivized. donuts for quiet boys.
Again I was alone. But that was ok. We could always leave.
The older boys sat next to me, mouths shut. At one point, Tornado S whispered to see if he could whisper something to Tornado E. He could, so he did. The boys flipped through the books as I wrestled with Tornado A. Food, binky, toys, stuffed puppy didn’t satisfy that kid, so I had to walk into the foyer. Unlike last week, the older boys stayed put and kept looking at books quietly. We ended up in the cry room, but the boys kept up their behavior. No one pushed anyone in the communion line. They walked out of the church, smiling, happy to be out.
At the donut shop, the boys remembered their manners. They didn’t try to upsale me.
At home, Tornado E placed napkins out and took out the donuts for he and Tornado S. They asked, with pleases and thank yous, to have juice, to play a little “Lego Star Wars,” to do homework in a little bit.
And I thought, “I can do this parenting thing. I can do this by myself if I have to. I just need to prepare and breathe.”