There was a time when I viewed the cutting of the grass as a chore. I absolutely dreaded it, I hated pushing the mower as I sweat under the intense rays of the sun. I hated getting grass in my eyes, dealing with mosquitoes, running out of gas halfway through, and at times having run ins with snakes and other creatures that would startle me. When I moved into my new home back in '09, I purchased one of those zero turn mowers. The house was on an acre lot, and after my accident, I was no longer able to push one around anyway. Cutting the grass on a riding mower only made this chore slightly more tolerable. It was still hot, still got grass in my eyes, live by a pond and even more mosquitoes to deal with, still run out of gas halfway through and now we have birds that build nests on the ground, so they attack me when I get too close. What kind of freaking bird builds a nest on the ground?
As the years went by and two kids became three, I found myself in desperate search of a quiet retreat within the home. I needed a place where I could go to relax for small periods of time. Emily could always tell when I was getting stressed and needed a moment. She would tell me to go upstairs, relax and she would take care of the kids, or go hang out with the guys for a while. As I've stated in the past, I instantly had two kids for the first time once we were married. It was a huge adjustment for sure. Emily was used to the constant chaos of young kids and she was a terrific Mother.
At the end of 2014, Em took a job which was highly stressful and her hours had her working most evenings past our kids' bedtime. I had to step up and take on more of a responsibility. I was now getting the kids from school, cooking, helping with school work and doing more of the household chores. I began to find that a couple hours on the mower each week was a good break away from the constant chaos.
After Emily's accident and her traumatic brain injury, I took on an even greater role, a role as a single parent. I have gained so much respect for all those parents out there taking on such a challenge. There is no such thing as finding a quiet oasis, or getting a little "Me time" anymore. Just this evening, I excused myself from the dinner table to use the bathroom. I made the mistake of using the restroom closest to the kitchen. For the kids, this meant they could try to carry on conversations with me while I tried to do my business. My middle child yelled out, "Dad, are you gonna drop the kids off at the pool?" My youngest followed that up with, "Dad, are you going to Brown Town?" After all the laughter settled, Emily yelled, "ok, we have a problem!" She said, "(Little H) is begging me for my rolls......(pause).....never mind!" See, if I leave the table while Em is still eating, my youngest will try to negotiate for the food on her plate that he actually likes to eat.
I could have went to use a restroom further away, however past experience has taught me that if I do that, they will come find me to ask who has to do the dishes, who has to sweep the floor, can they have dessert now rather than later or which container they should put leftover potatoes in?
I tried taking a bath to relax and find some peace and quiet. This actually works well when it comes to the oldest children, however the youngest seems to believe this is the only time he should get in the bath. If I tell him he can get out when I'm done, he checks on me every two minutes. If I tell him to leave the bathroom, he stands in the bedroom and talks to me or begs to put the dog in the bath with me. By the time I get all the kiddos settled and in bed, I'm pretty much exhausted and ready to crash. Emily, who usually takes several naps during the day, likes to stay up and watch Big Bang Theory and Fallon. No matter how tired I am, I am just never able to sleep with a tv on. I've actually tried taking a bath at this point in the night, but my oldest is usually the last to bathe each evening. She takes 30 to 45 minute showers and leaves no hot water. I'm pretty sure she practices karaoke and her dance moves while she is in there. I normally get to sleep around 11:30 once Fallon is over and the tv goes off. My sleep is interrupted a couple times in the middle of the night by Emily turning on a light so she can eat a bowl of cereal in bed, or I get a tap on the shoulder and her asking if I can solve her Wheel of Fortune puzzle she's playing on her phone. I am then up at 6:30 am to get the kids ready and get another day started.
These days, I truly look forward to putting on my wireless headphones so I can listen to my favorite '90's tunes, while I take that glorious and peaceful drive around the lawn on my Yard Yacht. If I go slow enough, I can stretch it out into a 2 hour joy ride. Just me and my old buddies.....Vanilla, Prince, Bon Jovi, Garth and Young MC. I get one hundred and twenty minutes without Bruno Mars, Selena Gomez or Katy Perry. One time, one of those kids tried flagging me down as I was jamming to the smooth sounds of "summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, while Carnival cruising around the yard. Obviously, it had to be an emergency? Surely, someone lost a finger or set the house on fire....right? No, just needed to know if they could have bacon for breakfast the next morning, and also, they were out of tooth paste. I immediately conjured up the scariest death stare I could muster, and pointed my finger towards the house. I didn't remove my headphones or say a word, but I had gotten my point across. This was now "my time" and only an emergency that included blood or fire, would get me away from the sanctuary that was my grass cutting catamaran.
Just in the course of trying to write this, I've been asked to get a box of cereal down from the top shelf, fix the tv, if I know where a specific toy is located, did I wash a baseball jersey, did I fix the Wii and.......do boy ducks have a penis! It is non-stop around here and I wouldn't change it for the world, just as long as I can get those 2 hours a week on my mower.