Monday, February 21, 2011

The Camel and the Business Trip

Men do not understand the phrase, "the straw that broke the camel's back."  If they did, they would understand that the real reason we had a mental breakdown when the glass of milk spilled was not because of the milk, in and of itself.  We are not crazy, overly-sensitive, highly emotional beings that cry over spilled milk.  In is quite the opposite:  if a man had to endure what a woman does on a daily basis, he would have several mental breakdowns before 8am.  However, a man does not "get it."  Unfortunately, when explaining the process of one of my meltdowns, I turn into Bill Cosby, circa 1983.  My eyebrows raise.  The corners of my mouth turn down.  My voice becomes much more animated...much like Bill's descriptions of his own wife, when dealing with his children.  I begin to time-stamp the events of my day.

"6:02am:  I wake up with the boys."

"6:35am:  I break up a fight over a wooden choo-choo train and a dinosaur, after the choo-choo train makes contact with Connor's head."

My voice starts to get higher.

"6:46am:  I argue with the oldest girl as to whether or not a jacket is necessary in 18-degree weather and remind her that the younger girl is still sleeping so take the headphones out of her ears and stop yelling."

"6:59am:  I drag the teenage boy out of bed and remind him he has fifteen minutes to get ready and get to the bus stop."

I pause to note his reaction.

"7:45am:  I wipe yogurt off of the walls, the floor, and both boys."

I could go on, but you get the point.

Now, this is a typical day.  My meltdown usually occurs somewhere between the older children arriving home from school and post-dinner chaos. 

Currently my husband is away on a business trip.  This has been the longest one yet, spread over two weeks and three states.  Luckily my mother has been here to help with the children, and offer emotional support.  I do not have to time-stamp the day for my mother.  We have this understanding...woman to woman...mother to mother.  All it takes is a nod...a hug...and one of us breaks out a couple bottles of beer. 

Over the course of two weeks we have gone through rounds of sickness.  I lost my voice.  The oldest girl had episodes of dizzyness so bad that she nearly passed out.  Connor got an ear infection.  Both my mother and I managed to throw our backs out (at different times.)  The boys have not slept through the night since my husband has been gone.  Our patience is wearing thin. 

Everyday I am juggling children's medications, figuring out meals, breaking up fights, deflecting teenagers' snarky comments, and using my mad almost Kung Fu-like defense skills on two toddler boys who do not have a father to wrestle with right now.  I have numerous bruises on my arms and legs.  The older kids have been quite underwhelming when it comes to helping out while he has been gone.  It is amazing how quickly they can disappear and hide when things get messy or chaotic downstairs. 

When my husband comes home...Owen will inevitably throw his dinner on the floor...and I will say something clever, like, "that's it.  I'm joining the circus.  Don't call me, I'll call you," and my husband will then ask me, "what's your problem?"

I will calmly look at him and say, "do you remember me talking about the straw that broke the camel's back?  Well, the camel's back broke about a week ago, when she tried to remove a jumping boy off of his sister's bed.  She also lost her voice, and didn't get any sleep.  Then that camel had to carry around two 25lb boys, juggle doctor's visits with screaming children, make sure the little camels got all their medication at the proper time, and make last-minute runs to the store for posterboard and printer ink because someone forgot to mention they had a project due the next day.  There are only two things that can cure this poor, beaten animal that is foaming from the mouth (which may or may not be a direct result of being bitten by a toddler):  put it out of it's misery...or let it have a vacation.  Even one night would be good.  A full night's sleep can do wonders."

If my husband is wise, he will not upset the camel.


  1. Maybe I am being too literal here, but when a horse is injured in the old west didn't they just shoot it? Horse, camel, in the desert it's the same thing. I mean .... wait... OHHHH

    I'm dead.

  2. Well, if the camel is put out of her misery, is the ass willing to take on all of her duties?