Shut Up And Drive

It’s Sunday night and I’m rocking Tristan, our 8 month-old, to sleep in my arms. Tristan must fall asleep in someone’s arms or snuggled in bed next to someone (someone usually means me, but he will snuggle with Daddy, too). If you think Tristan is asleep, and you try to put him in his bed, and he really isn’t asleep… he will let you know how angry that makes him.  For. a long. time.

Tristan is the 4th and last child I’m putting to bed tonight.  My husband, Chris, is packing up the fettucine alfredo and grilled chicken I made for dinner to take for lunch tomorrow, and he’s doing the dishes while I get Tristan settled down.  We are both exhausted. Maybe I should start at the beginning of the past week…

We listed our house for sale with a realtor this week.  It had to look perfect so it could be photographed and perfect for showings. With four children, “perfect” is a very unnatural state for a house to be in. We have been cleaning nonstop all week. On Tuesday, I had to drive to the city we’re moving to so Chris and I could look at a house and put a deposit on it. Both older boys just started baseball so practices have been going on and the first game was Thursday night. My husband continues to commute 3 hours a day (until we move at the end of the school year).

On top of raising 4 children, a 3 hour commute, trying to sell our house, and moving to another city — my ex-husband is taking me back to court. Actually, he’s been taking me back to court continuously since our divorce (when I say continuously, I mean there has been LITERALLY a total of 18 MONTHS during which he was not attempting to take me to court for anything). You can’t reason with him. You can’t mediate or negotiate, or ask him nicely to stop. It’s ironic how some people can’t seem to figure out why their former spouse left them in the first place, while continuing the same kind of behavior that led to the divorce. But I digress. Anyway, the only reason this is relevant is that all my evidence — proving that I haven’t become a billionaire in the interim — was due during this busy week. I’m kind of upset that I had to spend a large part of my week printing out years worth of emails. I have a lot better things to do with my time. Soon, I’ll have so much experience being taken to court that I’ll be able to practice law myself 😉

But enough about that. Our daughter, Lainey, has been listening to the song, “Shut Up and Drive” by Rihanna nonstop. She heard the song in the movie “Wreck It Ralph” (when the little girl is learning how to drive a race car) and has been singing it and demanding that I play it on my laptop ever since.  But I can’t complain, because I would rather hear Rihanna than Barney or The Wiggles. Besides, I’m starting to tell myself that phrase when there’s too much going on, and I’m exhausted and I don’t think I can make it through another day of this rat race… too bad, Danelle. Shut up and drive.

Thursday night the real test of stamina began… I had already slept minimally all week… Chris was staying overnight in Cedar Rapids (an hour and a half from Dubuque) so he could work late and Devin, our 12 year-old, had a baseball game — which meant I would be watching all 4 children, including an infant and a toddler (who likes to run away), at the game by myself. Well… here we go — shut up and drive.

Somehow, I managed to see every one of Devin’s plays and at bats, while carrying Tristan, chasing Lainey and making sure Wesley (our 8 year-old) did not run off.

Lainey had found a group of 3 to 5 year-olds to play with and they were all climbing up and down a hill. Lainey, at not quite two years, was the smallest, and she stumbled and fell halfway up the hill.  A five year-old boy stopped and helped her to her feet. A little while later, Lainey fell again.  She lay sideways on the ground and yelled, “Help! Help!” until the little boy came and lifted her back onto her feet.  Not two minutes later, Lainey was on the ground — yet again — yelling, “Help!” and waiting for the little boy to save her.  What the heck?! Either our daughter has watched too many Disney Princess movies, or she already figured out, at not even two years-old, that boys like to help girls in need.  Either way, she had the “damsel in distress” routine down pat.  Good grief! Her dad already has intentions for her to never date anyone. Ever. In her life. This routine of Lainey’s might throw a wrench his plans… 😉


Devin’s team won 9 to 2 and we headed home after the game.  I had to feed the kids, clean up the house for the showings on Friday, fold 5 loads of laundry, finish printing out some documents, and patch some drywall before I could go to bed. It was two am when I finished patching the drywall and went to bed. Then Lainey and Tristan woke up 3 times between 2 am and 7 am when I had to wake up.  They both had colds and ear infections. Shut up and drive.

Friday the kids were off school.  The first showing was at 9 am and getting everything ready and all the kids into the car to leave in time was hectic to say the least.  I didn’t even try to feed them.  I would have had to wake up at 4 am to feed all of them and clean up in time for the showing (wait, I WAS up at 4 am desperately trying to get sick babies back to sleep so I could go back to sleep) so I took all the kids out to breakfast (after Wesley’s 9 am dentist appointment).  Then we ran errands the rest of the morning, then went home. Wesley wanted to blow out the scented candle I had lit for the showing that morning and I agreed.  He used a hurricane breath to extinguish the flame, and ashes flew all over the dining table.  “Oops,” he said. “I’ll clean that up, Mom.” I’m sure he felt he had to say something, considering the look on my face conveying that I did not understand how a person could create such a mess whilst blowing out a candle, but all I could think about was the even bigger mess that Wesley was going to make with the ashes while attempting to clean them up, so I told him thank you for the offer, but I would do it myself.

After being home for a few hours, we cleaned up the house again for an afternoon showing (you wouldn’t believe how quickly the house is destroyed with all the kids running around), then I piled the 4 kids into the car again and took them to the park while that showing was going on. Then Wesley’s friend came over to play for the evening. Then I went running 4 miles. Then everyone went to sleep… except Chris and I kept waking up with Tristan and Lainey and their ear infections. Shut up and drive.

I thought Saturday would be more relaxing.  We only had one early evening showing so we cleaned up in the afternoon. But I forgot Wesley had baseball practice at 3, and I was supposed to help coach. Also, Saturday evening was Easter Vigil mass, and Chris was being confirmed Catholic that night.  My parents drove up to watch the babies while Chris and I took our older boys to church.

We came home from mass to discover that my dad had set our lawn mower on fire. Never a dull moment here. He had been trying to fix it and suddenly our next door neighbor was running over to our yard with a fire extinguisher.  You know how these things go. (Okay, my dad is actually a genius at fixing things, and he normally doesn’t set them on fire, so I’m going to blame the cursed lawn mower, which has broken and had to be repaired almost every year since we’ve had it.) What kind of Easter Vigil would it be without a lawn mower going up in flames anyway? Shut up and drive.

It was 10:30 pm when my parents left and, even though I had every intention of being prepared to be the Easter Bunny… I wasn’t. Time for a trip to Wal-Mart.  The good things about going to Wal-Mart at midnight are that it’s not crowded and… that’s all I can think of. By the time I got home, put Easter baskets together, put candy in plastic eggs, and hid everything, it was 3 am.  I hoped my kids would sleep in Sunday morning.  They didn’t. I had to settle an argument over Easter eggs before the sun was completely up. Shut up and drive.

I was a zombie today… but then, it’s Easter, and Wesley used to think Jesus was a zombie because he rose from the dead, so maybe it’s fitting that I’m a zombie on Easter.  And the good thing about being a zombie, is that if there’s a zombie apocalypse, I’ll be able to hide out among them. The glass is half full.

Tonight, as I rocked Tristan to sleep, and wanted badly to go to sleep myself, I didn’t mind too much that Tristan needed to be rocked to sleep first. How much longer will he want to fall asleep in my arms? I will be reminiscing about these moments in a few years.

And now it’s midnight, everyone is sleeping, I’m done writing, and I can go to bed… except Tristan just woke up again…

Shut up and drive…

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