Since I've been here, my mother has been calling me every 15 1/2 minutes just to make sure I haven't dropped dead. My Other Mother, who is actually my Aunt Ann in the biological sense of the word, calls my mother every 15 1/2 minutes, just to see if there's any news. (nope, there isn't - I'm still deaf as a post.)
I myself have lots of time to contemplate motherhood, seeing as I'm no longer an active participant in it on a day-to-day basis. Instead, I find myself thinking about my kids (about every 15 1/2 minutes), wishing I were there with them instead of here, half deaf, in Hong Kong.
Menawhile, my long-suffering husband has become a single dad. Poor guy is trying to juggle an extremely demanding job with three extremely demanding kids. Plus a hellish commute. And his crazy workout schedule. I imagine, when I return to Beijing (assuming he's still alive), he'll be able to give me some insight into which is harder - being a stay-at-home mom or a go-to-work dad. I'm pretty sure he prefers his own job to mine right now, especially as Aidan is not handling the transition well. Last night, he brought all of his stuffed animals to his dad and said they all had "bloody ears." Guessing he's worried about me.
Bart's a great dad, he really is. He's always the one who remembers to bring home movies for family movie night. He's the one who takes the kids on bike rides to the ice cream store. And lately he's also mastered the ability to say "Don't talk that way to your mother" in such a way that the offending little person shuts his snotty little mouth. But let's face it: a Dad is a Dad. That's a whole different beast than a Mom.
For example: Bart was fretting the other night because the kids have gone off their food since I left. Aidan, in particular, has given up all foods that might have some vague nutritive value in favor of nasty Chinese chocolate milk in a box. So I explained to Bart that he probably just needs to make the food look prettier. If you slice the veggies and arrange them artfully on a platter, making sure none of the various types of vegetables accidentally touch another type, then the kids are more likely to eat said veggies. Similarly, if you slice the banana into wheels and arrange the wheels in a pattern on the plate, Aidan gulps it down. Skinless pear slices are good, but the apple needs to retain its skin - and no slices, please - the kids prefer their apples halved. I continued on in this vein, waxing poetic about spinach with just a touch of garlic and Ritz crackers with peanut butter slathered inside (smooth, of course, not crunchy).
I said all of this to a man who was just finishing a long day of: work out, make breakfast, dress little ones, walk to school bus, commute, work, reverse commute, oversee homework, make dinner, serve dinner, argue about why no one will eat dinner, clean up dinner, pack school lunches, bathe kids, read books, put to bed, put to bed again, "get back in that bed right now, so help me god," better call wife to see if she's still deaf, please go to bed right now and finally I can go to bed.
I'm pretty sure he still isn't color coding the vegetables. That's just not his job: it's mine.
So, my point is: my kids need me. My husband needs me. But there is no end in sight: I'm here until they cure me or give up, I suppose.
Shot # 2 was yesterday, but so far, no change in my lack of hearing.
So I wait.
And think about veggie platters.
And worry about my babies.
Every 15 1/2 minutes or so.
It's what we mothers do.