Friday, March 18, 2011

The only child

On Wednesday, B loaded the big three into the car and headed out for a camping trip, leaving me and Elizabeth at home to fend for ourselves. And this was absolutely fine with me.

First, Elizabeth is still a bit young for camping. Chasing her around a state park for four days, trying to keep her out of the fire, other campers’ tents and the river wouldn’t be fun for anyone, least of all me. Additionally, these days it’s hard to keep her in crib at bedtime, crib tent notwithstanding, so I can’t even imagine how tough it would be to get her to sleep in a real tent.

Second, I don’t like to camp. Actually, that’s not entirely true. There are lots of parts of camping that I do like – sitting by the fire, eating food cooked outside, roasting marshmallows, drinking campfire coffee – but I do not like sleeping on the ground in a tent. I think the fact that I’ve been chronically sleep deprived for the last 10 1/2 years may have something to do with it. Planning to sleep badly for three nights just isn’t appealing.

For one camping trip when Ella was small, I borrowed a friend’s sleeping bag, which turned out to be one of those dreadful mummy-style deals. I spent the night fighting with the damn thing every time I tried to roll over or even scratch my nose. The last time I went camping, we managed to set up our tent on a very slight, unnoticeable hill. During the night, Ella, Lily and I gradually slid to the far end of the tent, ending up in a big pile. I kept scootching back into place, but I left Ella and Lily alone. They never even noticed.

So Elizabeth and I are happily hanging out at home, sleeping in our own beds and using indoor plumbing.

It turns out that being home with one kid is easy peasy. It’s a breeze to drag her along on errands when I don’t have to worry about getting everything done in time to pick up other kids from school or deliver them to activities. So if Elizabeth wants to take her time, poking along on the sidewalk, jumping over every crack, I can let her. I also let her walk next to the shopping cart in the store instead of wrestling her into the seat so that I can sprint down the aisles to get shopping done as quickly as possible.

It also turns out that being home with one kid is kind of, um, boring.

I realized last night that I’ve never been home full time with just one kid. When Ella was little, I still worked full time. I’d go in to the office from 7:00 – 12:00, leaving her at home with B. When I got home, we’d have lunch together before B headed off to the pool – he was still coaching diving at that time. I’d get more work done while Ella napped, and then we’d have the rest of the afternoon to play.

I didn’t switch to being home full time until Lily was born. In fact, my last day of work was on a Friday, and Lily was born the following Monday. I dove right into the chaos of being a SAHM of two.

This week Elizabeth and I have had lots of hours to fill, even with running lots of errands. Without all of her siblings here, Elizabeth expects me to entertain her nonstop. And there are only so many times I can sing “Baby Bumble Bee” before I start getting a little punchy. And if I keep letting Elizabeth “do” my hair, I’m going to be bald by the time everyone gets home tomorrow night.

The high point of our day is walking around the block to feed our friends’ cat – the friends are on the camping trip, too. Every time we run out of things to do, or I get tired of having my hair yanked out by the roots, I suggest a walk to see Midge. That cat is going to be well fed and well loved by the time her owners get home.

I miss the constant chaos and mayhem that comes with having a house full of kids. As much as I love Elizabeth, I’m looking forward to having the rest of my monkeys home. I can’t wait to hear all the stories about their adventures and mishaps.

Of course, after 48 hours, I’ll probably be longing for the quiet that I’ve had this week.


Holly said...

Baby Bumble Bee. Not there's a great song.

Enjoy your time together...

Unknown said...

I need to remember to slow down and enjoy my one.

Baino said...

Oh i'd be enjoying it while you can. I used to pack my two off to their Grans for a few weeks during the summer break and the first week was bliss. Tidy house, no dishes in the sink, no toys on the floor but by the second week the silence was deafening.

anymommy said...

I'm so not a camper, but I'm very, very impressed by camping. I miss the chaos too, when it's absent and then regret it when it returns ;-)

Alexandra said...

I ADORE the noise of a full house.

I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when they're gone...

shrink on the couch said...

I know what you mean. When they're all gone (rarity) the house is too quiet. But when even one is home and asking me to fix something, or find something, I'm complaining then too.

As for camping, I don't mind the sleeping in tents part. It's the packing. The organizing. The remembering everything.

Susan said...

I always found it enlightening to have my kids alone for a wile. Seems like I got to see a side of them that was diferent than when they were all together.

And camping? A lot of work for the enjoyment of the outdoors. I let it be my husband's thing as often as possible!