“You’re in the trenches.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in the last year, and I’ve not really known what to make of it until recently. It is typically used to refer to parents who have multiples under the age of five. It’s what one says when referring to that “survival mode” time of parenting.
When Kyle and I made the decision to move to Oregon, we understood that in doing so, we would be totally and completely on our own. No parents or family around. We are raising our kids solo. We don’t have the luxury of date nights without extreme amounts of guilt for asking friends to watch our kids for free. And because of said guilt, we often don’t take date nights, or on the rare occasion we do, we wait until we’ve already put our kids to bed, so really, all our sitters need to do is watch TV. When our kids are being challenging and we need a break, nine times out of ten, we don’t get one. Instead, we plow through. We don’t have the luxury of saying, “Hey grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle/whoever, want some time with your cute little relatives while we try to gain some sanity?” We know that if they lived closer, all of our family would never hesitate to step in when needed, and even when not needed, because they are wonderful grandparents to our kids.
It is hard, but we chose this. In the long run, I am grateful for it. My parents raised my sister and I this way, and the example they set for us to live where we want and where we are called is one that is worth it. But it’s not easy. And it’s part of our trench.
“In the trenches.”
It has such a negative connotation to me. Aren’t these supposed to be the days treasured? Watching our little ones developing, growing, and experiencing new things. We are creating memories, snuggling squishy little bodies, and taking momentary breaks to breathe it all in before it’s gone and our kids are “too cool” to hang out with us anymore.
So why is such a time referred to in this way? “In the trenches.” Because your kids always know when you’re alone and because of poop. Seriously.
The other night, Kyle and I were getting ready to put the kids to bed. Bedtime is always a process. I nursed Lennon and put her down to bed. She was quiet for a time, and I was relieved and began getting Judah ready to sleep. As we walked into the bathroom to get his teeth brushed, Kyle had to excuse himself (nature calls). So, I started searching for Judah’s toothbrush. We had just gotten back from the coast and our belongings were still half-packed. His toothbrush was MIA, and Judah took full advantage of the situation and started running around the house more than necessary at bedtime.
Cue Lennon crying. We are currently sleep training, and she was not happy about it. I still cannot find said toothbrush, and my son is still hopping all over the place. I finally wrangle him to his room and get him changed into some PJ’s. At this point, Lennon has totally lost it, and it’s becoming obvious that she is not going to put herself to sleep this time. Meanwhile, the toothbrush is still nowhere to be found, and my son is still jumping all over the place, and my husband is still in the bathroom. Then, Judah declares he must also go poop. So now I’m forced to wait even longer to soothe my baby because my son will need assistance in about thirty seconds. So here I find myself, caught in the potty time assistance, while listening to a screaming baby, and wondering why everyone must suddenly poop at the same time. Bedtime nightmare.
Another such example occurred a few weeks back. Judah had been giving me some attitude all morning as most four going on sixteen year old boys do. I asked him to clean up his blocks in his room and you would have thought I’d asked him to build the family a brand new house out of sticks found in the yard. While wading through this drama and trying not to lose my cool, Lennon starts grunting and eventually screaming. She had just started solids and as parents of tiny babies know, when they start solids, the poop can be a little hard to get out. So, I was doing what any good parent would do and fervently pumping her little legs while she strained and cried uncomfortably. I reminded Judah that he needed to pick up his blocks before we could move on to our next activity for the day, and continued to encourage my little babe to keep working out that number two.
Next I hear a door slam. Judah had locked himself in his room and was dramatically screaming, “I’ll never pick up my blocks again!” Cue the, “Oh hell no!” in my mind.
Of course also during this time, the discomfort of poor Lennon was at an all time high and she is just beyond. Then, I realized that our side door was left open and what was a pretty mild day turned into a momentary torrential downpour, and at that exact moment, my dog decided he’d like to go outside and roll around in the grass for a minute, just to get nice and dirty, only to waltz back inside and track mud and wet dog smell all over the house.
I swear, moments like these I think to myself, I need my own reality TV show because when it hits the fan, it hits hard and all at once. Thank goodness for cheap wine and a mom’s group who gets it. Without these things, I would think I’m completely nuts.
These are the trenches. The crazy, poop-ridden, lego-filled, I-need-a-moment-to-myself-but-that’s-not-happening-until-my-kids-go-to-college, trenches.