“Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a hospital room full of birds. They drove me crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once. They put me in a hospital room full of birds. They drove me crazy. Crazy?…” I can still see Hal*, the awkward teenage boy I used to carpool with back in high school trying to drive me out of my skull by annoying me every morning during our half-hour commute. I wanted to throw things at him, swear at him, even in the presence of my mother or father, or force the driver to slam us into a tree so I didn’t have to hear him anymore.
This winter, which we are just a month or so into, is having a similar effect on me. I don’t really want to injure anyone. Not seriously anyway. But holy geez! These kids are driving me bonkers. This has been the coldest winter I have ever lived through. It’s in the negative digits more days than not. It’s so bitterly cold that if you’re out for more than a few minutes without a scarf over your mouth, it literally hurts to breathe. It feels like someone smacked you across the chest with a bat. So we are stuck in the house besides the days when the boys have school or it’s absolutely necessary to go to the grocery store.
Our couch has multiple purposes now. It is also a launch pad, obstacle course hurdle, diving board (the cushions are the net), and fort structure support. Mommy has also gotten a little lax on which rooms are designated for eating, so we’ve added a few grape juice polka dots to the upholstery and carpet. Our walls are striped with black tire tread marks and paint from toys that have gone “off-roading.” And I find that about once a day before I totally snap, I stop and just watch the havoc that two little boys can create using their imaginations and an over-abundance of foam balls and stuffed animals thrown from the balcony on the upper level.
In past winters when boredom is this bad, I have packed them up in the car and we’d go to get a bagel or mommy a coffee and the boys a juice just to get out of the house and change up the scenery for an hour. But it’s not so easy to do that this year. We live off of a slightly treacherous dirt road. A few weeks ago, I just missed hitting a tree head-on at the bottom of one of the curvy hills when a UPS truck was parked at the bottom. I was trying to avoid the truck. So I swerved away from it, forgetting that the road was a sheet of ice and lost control. I didn’t hit the truck, but I was headed for a tree. A giant boulder actually buffered the crash and saved us from hitting the tree as hard as we could have. Unfortunately, all of the kids were in the car. Though no one was hurt and the only damage done to the car was my rock guard falling off, Noah and Luke were rattled from the incident and now congratulate me every time I drive past that spot without hitting the tree. So that’s fun. I really enjoy that my five and three-and-a-half-year-old critique my driving ability.
Another thing that makes car rides super special is they also like to request songs from my iPod. They actually fight about whose turn it is to pick the band we will listen to. Here’s a tip for parents: only introduce your kids to music that you love so much, you will want to have it on repeat every time you are in the car. Yeah, I have yet to figure out what kind of music that would be. They are slowly killing all music that I once loved.
The one thing we have going for us is that we have a really supportive family and parents who like being around us (most of the time). We have been able to get out to my parents for long afternoons or Scott’s mom has come by a few times a week to play and give me a break. Even my brother came by one day to wrestle with the boys and wear them out. I really can’t even articulate my gratitude for our family. THANK YOU are two totally inadequate words I can offer. But they’ll have to do for now. When we thaw from the Arctic circle of hell, we will have a spectacular pool party for surviving the winter of 2013/14.
In the meantime, I am praying for stay-at-home-parents everywhere that you keep hope in your heart, sanity for your mind and a sense of humor that gets you through the truly trying days.
*Name changed because although I seriously doubt he reads this blog, I don’t want to be mean-spirited. From what I’ve heard, he actually grew up to be a really decent person and an officer in the military. Incidentally, I hope they put him in charge of something with interrogation. He’s obviously skilled at breaking people down using non-violent methods.