I abandoned my kids yesterday.
Maybe "abandon" is a bit harsh, but I did leave them alone for more than 2 hours while I escaped to my neighbor Sally's* house for hot buttered rum, conversation and the making of holiday crafts. I could totally see my entire house from Sally's window; which was nice because if it caught on fire I'd be able to rescue them in a heartbeat. So, just like it's legal to run into a store to grab a gallon of milk (or vodka...ONLY KIDDING) and leave your kids in the car as long as you can see them through the store window, this was the same thing.
At least that's how my logic works.
Besides, the oldest is almost thirteen - totally old enough to babysit.
By the way, I can't say thirteen without wanting to pull the back of my pants over my head, shove pixie sticks down my throat, and run around the block with fake teeth in. It makes me that neurotic to even mutter the word thirteen. Oh yes, March is not going to be a fun month.
So there I was talking with real, live grown-ups about things not pertaining to children and enjoying a warm mug of deliciousness when my cell phone rang.
It had barely been an hour.
"When are you coming home mom?" Wyatt, my middle child, asked from the other end.
"Why? What's wrong?" I implored him. I mean come on people, it had only been an hour! What could possibly have gone wrong already, especially with the knowledge that I was only 2 houses away.
"Nothing, just wondering when you're coming home," he said in a sad voice.
"Okay - go out on the deck and look up at Sally's house," I instructed him.
"Okay - now see that person with the huge smile on her face and the mug of deliciousness in her hand standing in the window holding a cell phone to her ear? That's me. Now, wave."
Then the other 2 decided to get in on the wave-at-mom-while-she's-trying-to-have-a-good-time-with-grown-ups-and-not-us hysteria.
And they did.
I stood there, in Sally's living room window, waving like a lunatic. Really, not anything different than my normal routine except for the fact that a) this was not my house, and b) my kids were on the other side of the glass than me and I couldn't hear them (except through the cell phone, which I was jonesing to turn off completely).
Whew, I thought while tucking my phone back in my purse, that was close. I returned to my said duties of chatting, making, and drinking and enjoyed each one of those duties immensely. I even made a Christmas ornament! I was just digging into the dessert table when I heard another noise coming from somewhere...
I thought Sally had mice for a minute but quickly realized that no, it was my blasted cell phone. This time it was kid #1, otherwise known as the almost thirteen year old (there I go again with the pants and the pixie sticks).
"When are you coming home mom?"
"In a little while. Is everything okay? Are your brother and sister being good? Are you being good?"
I'm sure he felt like it was twenty questions time, but I wanted to make this phone call as quick as possible and get right to the point. No sense in wasting all my precious dessert eating time on the phone with kids who had been crawling down my neck all day.
It was determined that no, he just missed me and everything was fine. I offered up the wave from the window again and he declined - so obviously all was well. Besides, I peeked out the window and saw no smoke. It had to be fine, right?
5 minutes later my phone rings again.
Those damn mice of Sally's!
This time it was Katie. A pitiful, little, newly 6 year old voice squeaking in my ear (just like mice!).
"Mommy, when are you coming home?"
"I'll be home in ten minutes."
Dang, that girl can negotiate. Either that or I'm the world's biggest sucker and have the negotiating skills of an ex-child star who's been in rehab twenty times. Fact is, she won. Five minutes it was, then I had to be on my way home.
What I'm sure was fifteen (not five) minutes later the phone rang again and this time they were none too happy.
"I'm walking down the driveway right now," I said as I shoved one more brownie in my mouth and thanked my hostess and everyone else for a lovely afternoon. Sally's party was great - I made the cutest things (gift tags for wine bottles) and am even inspired to drag out my arsenal of crafting supplies that haven't seen the light of day for over a year. I'm thrilled that I have a normal, nice, and super fun neighbor too. But mostly, I'm excited to make more gift tags for wine bottles because who doesn't love a beautiful, hand-crafted tag to adorn their booze? I do! I do!
I slowly turned into a pumpkin as I neared my home.
Every light in the house was on and I held my breath as I put my key in the lock, fully expecting an explosion when I opened the door. I waited for the lock to catch and slooooowly turned the knob, peeking only my head in at first.
"Mommy, mommy, mommy!" They all said and ran up to me with their arms outstretched.
No, really, it was just like a Lifetime movie.
I kissed each of their heads and scanned the living room for signs of damage, finding none. I put my purse down, keys away, and walked into the kitchen, expecting to find disorder and destruction. Instead, I found an empty sink, clean counters and could hear the sound of our ancient dishwasher completing it's last cycle.
"I did the dishes mom," said the cracking voice of my almost thirteen year old from behind me.
I could have melted right there.
After I was done thanking him and getting over my shock, I paid up - as any mother who promised a little compensation if the house was not broken upon her return would do. They all seemed overly proud of themselves (and why wouldn't they?) and I proceeded to mess up the kitchen all over again by making them dinner.
Don't judge, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup is totally dinner!
I contemplated how blessed I really was as I stood there stirring the soup, my back turned to the kitchen table where a full plate of desserts were quickly disappearing. Little by little, the kids had cleared the plate of all sugary goodness. A forensic specialist would not have been able to find a single trace of anything chocolate by the time they were done and I thought no harm of it, in my relaxed state. What's a little sugar?
Words cannot describe the insanity that followed.
I thought it would be fun to watch the AMA Awards with them before bedtime. Instead, I had a front row seat to the crazy. Kids jumping, kids bouncing, kids screaming (I mean, singing) and running laps around the house. No matter how many times I asked them to settle down before someone breaks a leg, it didn't work. I was sure that this would be the night that my neighbors finally called the cops on us. Thankfully, they didn't. But I'm positive that was because the sound of the rain must have drowned out the sound of my children. That had to be it.
I was rendered useless. Every time I asked them to "keep it down," I would laugh. I was completely ineffective as I could not even bring myself close to keeping a straight face. Some mother was I. When bedtime finally came, I was a hot mess (emphasis on the "mess" not the "hot"). My previous relaxed state - gone. My gratitude for wonderful children and a clean house - gone. My sanity - gone.
Just as quickly as it came, that feeling of peacefulness had retreated. I wondered what sin I committed in my previous life to be where I am now, at this moment, as I herded my kids upstairs to brush their teeth while they continued to tease and wrestle with each other.
Just like they say, all good things must come to an end. This had never been more evident than at that moment, at that very second, and during that very chaotic evening. But at some point I realized that it's a still a pretty good life, even with the crazy. Because it's my life and my crazy and I can't imagine it any other way.
*Sally isn't really my neighbor's name, but I didn't ask her permission to star in this story, so Sally it is. Thanks for the wonderful party Sally!