The longest drive of my life

I decided to take the kids to Fort Myers for the long Labor day weekend to stay with my mom. We were all excited to spend three days just playing, swimming and spending time with friends and family.

The drive, from our door to my mom’s, should take just under two hours. I knew we could hit some traffic. We left home right after picking Kendall up from school and drove through the busiest part of the city right at rush hour on the Friday before a long holiday weekend. I expected the drive to take a bit longer than usual. The trip ended up taking us four of the longest hours of my life to complete. An hour into our trip we hadn’t even travelled 15 miles on I-75. I was frustrated, annoyed and ready to turn around to make the drive Saturday morning. Instead, I continued on.

This drive taught me a few things that I hadn’t discovered on our previous trips along this same route or during our marathon 3,000 mile trip earlier this summer.

1. I need to install one of those partitions that limo drivers use to separate themselves from the craziness behind them. But instead of putting it behind the driver and passenger seats, I want our partition to be behind the second row. Why should Luca be subjected to the craziness going on behind him in the third row?!

2. Never leave home without pre-portioned servings of baby formula even if you plan to be at your destination for the next feeding. Using those tiny scoops that come in the formula can while standing at your open trunk in a CVS parking lot only leads to lots of spillage. Had I been stopped by the police my car definitely would have been searched due to the large quantity of white powder all over everything. It could have been a really awkward situation for all involved.

3. Having two Kindles with ALMOST identical games loaded on them is not the same as having two Kindles with EXACTLY the same games loaded on them. They will always find those subtle differences and fight viciously over who gets to play whichever one is preferred that day.

4. Touching a sibling’s car seat is the same as an attack on their body and it will be defended as such.

5. No matter how tired a baby is, he/she will never sleep during a long trip when there is screaming going on.

6. Turing up the music only makes the screaming louder and does nothing to drown out the noise.

7. A three-year-old will always have to go potty when you are stuck in traffic and between the two exits that are the farthest apart, even if they went right before leaving home and had limited drinks leading up to your departure.

8. The lane you are in will always be the slowest. The only way to speed it up is to change lanes and watch the car you were just behind advance quickly away from you.

9. Nothing will entertain a young child as much as tearing up a napkin and throwing the pieces on the floor of a recently vacuumed car. But the child will, under no circumstances, clean it up without a fight.

10. A baby who tolerates long drives well will always melt down 20 minutes from your destination, regardless of the length of the trip.

11. Things to add to my car trip emergency kit: snacks, water, toys, earplugs, Xanax, a bottle of wine, child-size muzzles or duct tape and little straight jackets.

I think I’ll be much better prepared for our next trip.

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The blog begins…

“Do you blog? You should write a blog about all of this.”  With those words an idea I couldn’t shake was planted in my head. My lovely midwife said this at a prenatal appointment while I was pregnant with our third baby. She was fascinated with the life that my husband and I had worked out for our family. At that time we were essentially living completely separate lives in cities 130 miles apart. My husband was working as the general manager of a restaurant in Clearwater, FL and I was living with our two daughters in Fort Myers, FL. He works such long hours that he would go to his mother’s house to sleep and come home to us on his one day off each week. We lived this arrangement for 364 days. During that time I had no choice but to figure it all out on my own. I had two young daughters and was progressing through my pregnancy with our son and I was, essentially, a single parent for a large majority of that time.

Now, let me insert one point here. I’m not complaining about any of this. I’m simply stating the facts of how our life was at that time. We decided that the kids and I would stay in the home we were in before my husband started at this job. We chose this because we lived in an otherwise vacant home owned by a family member and, in exchange for caring for the home, we paid no rent. In place of rent we were paying over $1100 each month for the health insurance that was covering our family including this third pregnancy. We did what was necessary for our family to stay afloat.

For a year I did everything needed to run our household 6 days each week and some weeks more than that. My husband has often gone long stretches without a day off for various reasons. I believe the longest we went without seeing him was 19 days. I made every meal, ran every errand, wiped every runny nose, woke every time child had a late night need. Our middle child, at three years-old, still doesn’t sleep through the night. But I’ll explain that in a future post. The point here is that I did it all.

After the birth of our son, my husband was given 5 days off to be with us before he left for work again. Lucky for me, he was able to take our oldest to school before leaving town and my mom brought her home so I had no need to leave home right away. I was 5 days into this adventure as a mother of three and I was alone for middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, circumcision care (a totally new and scary thing for me) as well as 100% of the care of our two older children. When he was eight days old I had to pack up my little man, get myself human looking again, dress both of my girls and get everyone out the door in time for school drop-off. This is the day I realized that I am a semi-single parent. The reality is, my husband sees his children for the same amount of time each week, on average, as a single dad who gets his children every other weekend.

So, the question I would get most often during this time was, “How do you do it?!” The answer is simple: You just do it. I was fortunate to live about a 20 minute drive from my mom and aunt. They were there to help as frequently as they could be and usually when I was about to go completely bananas. But for the most part my life was about never stopping for too long. I just always kept going.

Our situation has improved somewhat now. When our son was 3-months-old we cancelled the ridiculously expensive insurance and moved into a rental house in the Tampa Bay area. We live about 20 minutes from the restaurant so the hubs can come home every night. But that doesn’t mean his schedule has changed. He still works 85+ hours each week spread over six days. He sees our children for about two hours each morning before reminding them all to behave and kissing everyone goodbye. Have you ever heard the term “golf widow”? It refers to a woman whose husband has retired but spends his life golfing, leaving her alone. I am a restaurant widow.

I plan to write about my experiences parenting three children and this crazy life we are living primarily without the help of one important person. I hope you find this blog intriguing, enlightening, comical and maybe even a little bit nutty. Mostly, I just want to share my experience in hopes that you can find a little something similar to yours.

~The Restaurant Widow.Wilde Quote