Elodie, meanwhile, is very good at putting stickers onto surfaces. The kitchen table, the floor, the front window.
I have only turned my back for a moment and the relative order of the morning has been hijacked by these two loud and forever busy creatures that are my children. I try not to squish canned peaches into the knees of my pants when I crouch down to clean the floor, finding while I’m there a new colony of insect stickers affixed to the underside of the table.
In the few minutes I spend wiping peaches and unpeeling stickers, my kids have moved onto their next project. Emme is eating stickers as Elle smears an entire tube of Chapstick onto the plastic face of her baby doll.
How, only an hour into our day, have things become so hectic?
The girls had been in daycare three days a week, up until Elle’s illness. Now we’re waiting for cold and flu season to be over before bringing them back. That has meant I’ve been at home, with both of my kids, all day, for what feels like days on end.
And I might be losing my mind.
Am I truly that wimpy, that I can’t handle the job of a full-time stay-at-home mom? I have something wrong with me, that I can’t seem to keep ahead of the chaos my children generate on a minute-by-minute basis?
I decide I need to get out of the house. I leave our half-eaten breakfasts on the table, the half-finished art projects on the desk.
“Where are we going?” Elle inquires.
“We need to buy bananas.”
“But I don’t want to buy bananas.”
“Well, then, we’re going to go check the mailbox.”
“But I don’t want to check the mailbox. I want to blow bubbles.”
I pretend I can’t hear her over the wailing of Emme, who by the sounds of it is even less enthused about this abrupt change of plans. I load my kids into the car. I have convinced myself I really do need to buy bananas and check the mailbox.
Emme wails. Elle whines. I turn up the music. Am I losing my mind?
I sing along to Eddie Vedder on the way to the store. My kids seem to enjoy it, since they become quiet. I realize, pulling into the grocery store parking lot, that they are quiet because they are asleep.
What the hell do I do now?
Do I continue on, doggedly determined to complete the tasks I had set out for myself today (thus waking up my children)? Or do I enjoy the silence offered by two sleeping kids?
I turn off the car. And sit there.
It isn’t that easy, being home with your kids for what feels like days on end.
I would feel guilty about saying that; I should, after all, be thankful for every moment I’m able to spent with my rapidly growing children. Someday they’ll be older and in school and I’ll see a younger version of myself, sitting in the grocery store parking lot with two kids asleep in the back of the car, and I’ll feel some bittersweet pang of longing. But for now, I just feel like that odd woman staring blankly out the windshield of a parked SUV, appearing as though she’s lost her mind.