I wanted to share my story about the time my wife went to a three day conference. I think I’m going to write this story as a journal entry. Imagine a journal entry of the Donner Party as they realized they were snowed in and had to start eating people. That may be an interesting way to tell this story. The backdrop for this story is me in my second month as a Stay-At-Home-Dad. We have three kids at 3, 1, and 4 months old. The four month old is breast feeding so the wife has been stockpiling breast milk in the freezer for this conference. We have just enough supplies to get us through these three days. I shouldn’t have to make any trips to the store and we are prepared to do this ourselves without mommy for the duration.
Day 1, some time around dinner: My wife is packing up and getting ready to leave after dinner. I’m extremely confident this will go over well. The kids seem to be doing fine. The only real obstacles I have is doing baths for three kids all at the same time. Those days are challenging, especially when one decides to drop a deuce in the bathtub when I’m trying to wash the baby. I can’t stop thinking about the CaddyShack episode at the pool now.
Day 1, evening: I was a little concerned when the wife left. As soon as the wife pulls out of the driveway, the oldest hits me in the leg with a toy, the middle child was chewing on a nail file (I hope she’s not sharpening her teeth), and the baby was playing with her Binky and it flew off her hand and hit me in the head. No baths tonight and everyone is sleeping well. I think I might sit down and watch a Lord of The Rings movie. The wife does not like those movies. Might as well live it up while she’s gone!
Day 2, morning: Staying up and watching the movie was a huge mistake. Huge man! I went to bed at 1130pm and I couldn’t fall asleep. Every noise the kids were making woke me up. I was hyper vigilant all night. The baby woke up at her normal time at about 1am and she didn’t want to fall back asleep for 2 hours. She just kicked and laughed in my lap as I was in and out of consciousness. Only three hours of sleep last night. “C” is for coffee and it’s good enough for me. “C” is for coffee and it’s good enough for me! Oooohhh, coffee, coffee, coffee starts with”C”!
Day 2, afternoon: The kids really have me in a corner right now. I’m exhausted and they know their mother is gone. The behavior is awful! Let’s do some word definitions. Sociopath – a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience. By definition, I am watching two of those with a third one showing tendencies. So, is it Daddy Day Care or Daddy Mental Institution?
Day 2, evening: The wife’s called, the conference is going well. She is scrambling to find containers to fill with breastmilk. The dairy is at full capacity now. I am so tired. Baths were absolutely awful. Luckily no child drowned and there may have been naked butts running around the house for a while. Unfortunately, there are crayon marks on the wall. I fell asleep feeding the baby and of course the older two found the crayons and got to work making wall art. I’m so tired, I can’t clean it up right now. I tried to read a story to the kids and put in a half hearted effort. Off to bed at 840pm.
Day 3, morning: This kids have me desperate for sleep now. I woke up after only an hour of sleep to screaming children. The oldest had a 103 fever and was barfing all over the bed and floor. It was pure chaos. The middle child awoke also and started crying. Right after I administered medication, did a second bath and cleaned up the mess, I went back to bed. One hour later, the middle child woke up with a horrible fever. Luckily she didn’t puke anywhere. I had to feed the baby at some point. Last night was one big blur. I might have had 3 hours sleep again. Sleep deprivation is really kicking in. I don’t know if I can drink enough coffee to make up for this.
Day 3, afternoon: I’m in a haze. There is so much screaming. I’m questioning my ability to survive at this point. I’m questioning my ability to do anything right now. I’m afraid if I fall asleep again, the house will be destroyed with crayons. The poor kids are so sick and miserable. I’m just pushing as much medication as I’m allowed and hoping for the best. The house is a complete disaster, dishes are pilled in the sink. I don’t really care at this point.
Day 3, evening: Please lord, baby jesus, see me through this. The last time I had this little sleep I was in combat in Iraq. I’m starting to see things that aren’t there. I’m just a walking robot. I started changing the babies diapers and then I started putting diapers on all the toys around the baby. It feels like I just change diapers all day long; two or three times on the hour. What day is it? Who am I?
Day 4, morning: We are running low on supplies, we are becoming desperate…. The sickness has moved into my body now. I may not be long for this world. At least the kids won’t starve because there is food everywhere on the floor. I’m running a fever now. The rescue party comes home tonight. Hopefully I can make it by then. I’ve never done drugs before, but at this point I would be willing to try anything to keep me awake. No sleep last night either. The kids are still sick, I’m now sick. Their fevers seem to be breaking, mine just started. These kids are out to get me. Everyone is out to get me. All hope is lost….
Day 4, afternoon: I drove the kids to the local gas station. I purchased four, 24oz monster energy drinks. I drank four, 24oz monster energy drinks. I feel horrible but I have lots of energy; a monster amount of energy. Can you overdose on energy drinks? Time to clean this house up!
Day 4, evening: The rescue party has arrived. The house is marginally cleaned. It looked like a crack head was running around and just shoving crap in the corners. I was basically just kicking things in corners. I’m hoping those dishes I put away were clean. The wife does baths. I pass out. I don’t wake up until 12 hours later. I feel like I just partied my butt off at Las Vegas but without all the fun.
The one lesson I learned here; guard your sleep because it’s your most valuable asset when you have the kids by yourself. Don’t be an idiot like me and decide your going to stay up and watch some 3 hour movie the first night. Those three hours could have really helped me. Go to bed at 830pm when the kids go to bed because they may not let you sleep at all. I really don’t know how single parents do this stuff.
I hope you enjoyed my journal of desperation. I learned a lot during those three days in the trenches. I never, and I mean never, stayed up late again when the wife was away. I guarded my sleep as a precious commodity from that time forward.
Embrace the Suck!