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Back to Sanity, Back to School

Must-Have Parent

I’m tempted to pull out my deployment count down tricks -- maybe make a paper chain or putting Hershey’s Kisses in a jar -- to count down the days until school restarts.

Not for the kids.

For me.

I love my kids, but I’m desperate for some time away from them. Time away from them is the thing I haven’t had since the mercury hit 90 and the school busses stopped running.

But I have had some lovely gifts from my children during that time:

  • Three stomach viruses
  • Bottomless stacks of dishes (I’d love to say “in the sink” but they rarely make it that far)
  • Wet towels, everywhere
  • Incessant whining about who is using the iPad
  • Seven (count ‘em) dog escape incidents because someone left the door or gate open
  • A Close-Encounters-Of-The-Third-Kind-sized pile of baking soda “snow” on the living room floor
  • Frogs. In the house. Lots of them.
  • Two water-logged TV remotes
  • Mildewed towels, under beds
  • A colony of moths flying around in my car because someone decided the nest/hive/cocoon-thing was a treasure worth collecting (but not worth removing from the backseat)
  • Four broken dinner plates<
  • Three dog accidents on the rugs because little people fed him little people food
  • Six wake-up-wet-mornings because the recently potty trained toddler decided to creep in for a cuddle.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad. The kids tell me this summer has been “epic.”

  • They went to Bible school (x3 -- Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist)
  • One kid went to sleepaway camp
  • There were daily swim team practices
  • A trip to DisneyWorld
  • A family cruise with all the cousins
  • A water park visit
  • The beach, a bunch of times (we live in Florida)
  • Dozens of lazy days with a sprinkler and the trampoline, and sometimes a sprinkler on the trampoline
  • And three nights devoted entirely to Whipping and Nae-Naeing around the living room.

But I’m exhausted. I’m irritable. I’m over it.

I’ve heard so much about Minecraft Steve and Hugh O’Brien that I feel like I need to call their moms and invite them all over for a playdate. I don't know where those people live, but judging by the accent of the guy in the YouTube videos, maybe England?

I hear the “Life in the Dreamhouse” song in my nightmares.

Yesterday I found a popsicle stuck to one of my good bras, a clean and folded one that was still in the drawer.

I haven’t had a solitary, uninterrupted bathroom visit since June.

Every surface in my house is sticky.

Ribbons are hanging from the ceiling fans and the pull cords on the blinds upstairs have all been bedazzled with Mardi Gras beads and hair bows.

And so, despite a heat index of 106, my favorite place to be right now is outside on the porch. It’s quiet there. Also, it’s so miserably hot that the kids are not willing to linger.

I waved the white flag in probably the third week of July. I have surrendered the house to the children.

If you can’t beat them … leave them. But if you can’t leave them, well, just hide.

Sometimes I threaten them with chores if they dare to come to me with their tattling and iPad problems, so they just stare at me through the windows, from their 70 degreed, upholstered perches. They press their adorable little faces to the glass and mouth their complaints while pointing at the offending sibling. I nod as if I understand. I nod as if I care.

(I do understand. I don’t care.)

But still, outside I sit, with a giant bottle of water (gotta stay hydrated!) and three fans pointed at me. I am quite literally counting down the days until I can smooth the hair on their cute little heads and take an adorable picture of them standing in front of the house in their new outfits to share on Facebook.

They'll be wearing their brand new backpacks, filled with their brand new lunch boxes, journals, pencils and folders. Brand new, unstinky shoes will be on their feet. They’ll be nervous about their new teachers and new friends and I’ll reassure them that everything will be fine.

They’ll have a nice, hot breakfast in their bellies because that day (unlike today, or yesterday, or tomorrow) I will jump out of bed and skip to the kitchen, eager to feed them, just before I blow them kisses and wave as they take their seats on the bus.

And then I will drink a Bloody Mary.

Or maybe a Mimosa.

But probably just coffee.

As I sit.

Inside.

In the quiet.

Alone.

Victorious.

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Military Parenting Rebekah Sanderlin

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Contributor

Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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