I don't usually recycle old posts, but this one is worth repeating. Originally posted in the dead of winter, 2006.
Survivor: Suburban Mom Edition
You’ll have an hour-and-a-half to go to the grocery store and the library, to stock up on everything you might need for the week. You’ll be stuck in the house for three days with two preschoolers and an infant; one of the preschoolers and the baby will have a stomach virus, while the other preschooler will be healthy and full of energy. Your spouse will be away on business.
You’ll be expected to keep up with the laundry—the baby only has four sleepers that fit. You’ll change sheets endlessly, clean toys, and wash your hands until they’re raw in an attempt to stay healthy yourself.
After being up most of the night with a vomiting child, you’ll be expected to carry on cheerfully with your duties, and have endless patience and nurturing for each child. The baby will whimper and moan when you put him down, so you’ll be expected to hold him for most of the day. Oh, and you’ll need to stay in touch with the pediatrician and keep everyone hydrated.
You’ll do housework three minutes at a time, so decide in advance the most important things and leave the rest. Neighbors will stop by unannounced, so you’ll get lots of experience in swallowing your pride—after all, the living room floor will be covered with pillows and blankets and tinker-toys, a make-shift bed/airplane, and you’ll still be wearing the sweatpants you slept in last night.
You’re watching your weight, so calories will be limited. By one o’clock you’ll have eaten most of your calories for the day in M & Ms in an attempt to stay awake and cheerful. It won’t work.
You’ll read stories, pretend to be a passenger on the couch-cushion plane, and change endless diapers. You’ll fix snacks and bottles, constantly aware that everything you dole out may come back up. Definitely skip the red jello and go with orange.
By three o’clock, you’ll want to collapse. You must keep going. You’re allowed to phone a friend or family member, but you’ll be knowingly exposing them to a highly contagious virus. There is no prize at the end—in fact, nobody will even notice or say “thank you.” Though in the middle of the night, while holding a cool washcloth to the face of your feverish preschooler, his little arms will slip around your neck and his eyes will lock onto yours, “You’re the best Mama in the whole wide world,” he’ll whisper. Your heart will skip a beat and you’ll go to sleep strangely contented, ready and willing to get up in a few hours and begin all over again.