This week, for the second time since LO was born, I was a single parent for four days. J had a business trip to balmy Gillette, Wyoming, where the temperature in the winter never messes with those fancy double digits citified folks might come to expect.
So while J was freezing his tail off in a yellow hard hat, LO and I were exploring the joys of intense togetherness. I learned several things about myself and parenting during this little experiment. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. When you are exhausted on day three of the co-parent's business trip, and any baby-care relief you could reasonably expect is more than 30-some hours away, it really does not help in the slightest to jump up and down in your socked feet yipping "Please sleep! Please sleep! For the love of all that is beautiful and holy, please go to sleep so I can!"
2. After you have tired yourself out even more by engaging in that particular exercise in maturity and subsequently broken the dog so that he is also howling, the baby--who a moment ago was screaming the outrage that only a four month old infant can muster--will break into a beatific smile and giggle at you, making the whole ridiculous outburst worth it.
3. Single parents must have terrible teeth. After the third day, I just stopped asking myself if I had brushed my teeth and started assuming that I hadn't. Pre-LO, tooth-brushing was a vital activity. It was the first thing accomplished in the morning, and I felt major pangs of guilt about forgetting to do it at night. Now, the first thing I do in the morning is change a diaper, and cleaning my teeth is pretty far down on the list. By the time I think about it, I've already eaten breakfast and I can't remember if my teeth are fuzzy from the English muffin I ate or from a complete lack of dental hygiene. Then in the evening, I get LO settled down to sleep in our bed, and I know that if I get up to brush my teeth, I'll wake him, meaning another thirty+ minutes of soothing to sleep. Most nights (and on nights I am a single parent), I decide that it's not worth it. Thank goodness J is back and has extremely high dental care standards, or I'd be in dentures before the summer.
4. If people could somehow bottle sleep and sell it, single parents would become sleep junkies in the black market of slumber. It would be like how cigarettes become currency in prison. You could trade sleep for anything a single parent owns, and it would be worth it. I slept fully clothed most nights because it would ensure me more time sleeping. The time it would take to change into nightclothes simply wasn't worth it. I also slept on the godawful futon in the office because it took less effort to just collapse there than it did to carry baby, necessary baby accessories, dog and dog bed up to our room. (On the first night, I left Obie snoozing peacefully on his dog bed on the first floor. It didn't seem worth it to wake him and carry his bed upstairs, since I was going to have to make two trips. Then, at 2:30 in the morning the dog came upstairs looking for his people. This would be fine if our dog was capable of getting downstairs again, but this animal must be coaxed and provided with moral support and then must make several false starts before he can successfully navigate the stairs. It's a process. So the poor dog just kept walking around the room, and standing wistfully in the doorway. You might wonder how I knew Obie was standing wistfully when it was the middle of the night and the lights were out, but this dog can emit wistfulness rays that can travel upwards of a mile, making random strangers in downtown Lafayette feel vaguely guilty and not know why. After nearly a half hour of occasional walking and constant wistfulness, I got up and made a nest of blankets for the dog on the floor. It then took him another several minutes to deign to lie down on something that wasn't his bed). After one night of that, the godawful futon seemed like a sleep bargain!
5. Single parents must make do with some pretty terrible food. Or maybe they only do that in the middle of the 3,000th snowfall of the year. We have gotten down to the absolute bottom of the barrel food-wise. I didn't want to subject LO to a full grocery shop, but I did intend to make a stop for the essentials that would keep me from getting scurvy. And then it snowed. And snowed. And stayed only slightly warmer than it was in Gillette, Wyoming. I wasn't going out in that. I can't eat pizza, so I exhausted the delivery options available to me in the first night. Luckily, lo mein makes for delicious breakfast food, and I was able to stretch the beef with broccoli for another two meals. After that point, oatmeal, toast, rice, carrots, peanut butter, an orange pepper, and a bag of mealy apples were all that I had in the house. I don't care what kind of culinary MacGuyver you are, there are only so many edible meals you can create with these ingredients. I ate a lot of oatmeal with chopped up apples. I was never so happy to go out to dinner with J as I was last night.
We are re-teamed now, and I got a chance to sleep in this morning. I am back on a regular tooth-brushing schedule. (I actually went crazy and flossed last night!) I slept in appropriate nightwear last night. The dog was pleased to join us all upstairs. Things are back to normal.
I still haven't been to the grocery. I wonder how long our leftovers will last us?