Here are some of the things I said yesterday, on Mother's Day.
"For just one day, could you not fight?"
"I mean it."
"If you can't behave before we even leave the house, we won't leave the house!"
"I'm about to just send y'all to bed."
It was a hard day. For one, Aquaman is out of town. For two, it was also his birthday. So he was waiting for his next boat trip in Louisiana, turning 41 without me and his boys. Lucky. Cause yesterday was no picnic.
It started out well enough. As I watched CBS Sunday Morning in my bed (I have a lifelong love affair with CBS Sunday Morning), sweet boys greeted me with gifts: both of Pioneer Woman's cookbooks (my newest love affair) and a Hello Kitty iPad cover (another lifelong love affair of mine). These gifts were evidently what one boy (recruited over the phone by Aquaman) had been hiding from me for days, despite my best efforts to ruin the surprise.
As I left for work early in the week, I brought in the mail that included various envelopes and a box addressed to Aquaman. I carefully set them on the couch to await my return later that evening. When I came in the door that night, all three boys were sitting slack-jawed watching TV, remnants of their after-school junk food binge everywhere, and the mail was scattered on the floor - minus the box.
"Where's the box that came in the mail?" I asked the room in general.
"What box?" one boy replied.
"The one that was right here. On the couch. It was for Daddy." I was getting irritated.
Hawkins scanned the room. "It's here somewhere."
"Where?" I asked. Silence.
"Okay! Stop watching TV and listen to me!" My voice boomed. Three sets of boy eyes focused on me. "First of all, the mail should not be scattered all over the floor. Second of all, y'all need to pick up all the wrappers and plates and cups. And third of all, where's the goddamn box that I left right here?"
Pause. "I haven't seen it!" Hayden protested.
"I don't know!" Hawkins yelled. "It was just here!"
"I have it," Reid admitted quietly. No further explanation was forthcoming.
"What the hell for? Go get it!" I ordered.
And as I followed him into his room, I couldn't help but feel sorry for myself for living in a house full of boys that made it impossible for me to set anything down anywhere with any guarantee of it staying there, unmolested, for any length of time. I watched as Reid proceeded to pull his sleeping bag off of his blanket off of his laundry basket and only then did it dawn on me: this had something to do with Mother's Day. And I was ruining it.
At the same moment, Reid managed to choke out, "Daddy told me to take care of it!" And I looked up to see tears coming down his cheeks. "You're not supposed to see it."
"Oh." The only thing this crappy mom could muster. Shit. Holy hell. Moher of pearl. I suck.
I managed to recover, sitting down on Reid's bed and pulling him onto my lap - which his big, bad, 11-year-old self hardly EVER lets me do anymore. "I'm so sorry, Reid. Sometimes you just have to look me in the eye and tell me, 'Mom, you need to stop and listen to me.' Don't be afraid to tell me anything. Just be honest."
"I was," he sniffed.
"Yeah, but only after I'd gotten all upset...Anyway, it's fine. I don't know what's in it. Are you okay?"
"I guess," he slid off my lap and began re-burying the box. "There's another package coming, so don't freak out over that one, okay?"
"I won't," I promised. And I didn't. I simply delivered it to him later that week and he buried it deep in his dirty clothes with the other box.
So I gave him an extra squeeze when they presented me with these gifts. I also got some handmade things: Hawkins knitted a yellow scarf and two little bracelets and Hayden made a lovely personalized bookmark and glass pendant necklace in art class at school.
But the sweetness ended there. Aquaman had arranged for a gift card to be left at one of our favorite restaurants downtown, Spoons Cafe. That way, the boys could take me out to eat and not worry about the bill. Only, because it was Mother's Day, it was way too crowded. So we decided to postpone it and instead ended up at Taco Bell.
Yes, they all need haircuts. Don't you think I know that?
It was actually quite tasty (Their Cherry Limeade Sparkler rivals Sonic's Cherry Limeade. No Lie.) but that's where the boys quit pretending to be well-behaved for the day. We then ended up at Wal-Mart - a mistake on any day with three boys. After that, we went home for a nap and then returned downtown to try again at the restaurant for their famous pie. But they closed early. So we ended up at Fuddruckers. Not the most refined of eating choices for the day, but I got a break from cooking.
With so much togetherness, I was more than ready for bedtime. This always involves me repeating multiple directives of this variety:
"Get ready for bed."
"Brush your teeth."
"Take your medicine."
"I'm not going to read to y'all if you act like this."
"Don't forget to brush your tongue."
"Leave the dog alone."
"No more magic tricks. It's bedtime."
"Anything that needs washed better be in the laundry room."
"You should put some more cream on that - it looks bad."
I'm eventually wound like a top and ready to explode. I managed to hold it together, kiss their sweet heads good night, and retreat to my bedroom. About an hour later, I heard a bedroom door open. "God damn it!" I was thinking. "If one of them is STILL up, I swear to God..." And then I heard it. The gag, the pause and the inevitable splat on the tile floor. Someone was throwing up. In the bathroom. But not in the toilet.
I raced down the hall to find the boy, bewildered, standing there blinking, with another heave on its way. "Turn around! Face the toilet!" I screamed. He obeyed. But for some reason, he didn't kneel down. He stood at full height. Vomit has a reach, my friends. A real reach.
"Kneel down!" I screamed. "Get as close to the toilet as you can." Only after he complied was I calm enough to offer some encouraging words. "It's going to be allright. You're okay."
As he continued, I retrieved paper towels and cleaner and went about the work of mopping up Fuddruckers Revisited. The boy immediately felt better, rinsed with water and began brushing his teeth when I heard his twin ask, "Mom? Is the toilet clean?"
Oh shit. "Almost. WHY?"
He burst in and I backed away, along with his brother. Round Two. This boy kneeled the first time. "It's okay," I offered. "You're allright."
His brother escaped back to his bed. Round Two eventually ended and I managed to get all traces of vomit off of the walls, toilet and floors, kiss them both on their cold, clammy foreheads and close the door to the Vomitorium.
And I felt like a Momma. And then I went to sleep.