Yesterday morning, we welcomed the arrival of two of the kid's cousins to the Nowell abode. Previously, over Spring Break, my sister-in-law very graciously took our kids for several days after recognizing we couldn't even unpack a pair of underwear with a week of nothing but 24/7 Nowell boys*.
So, with my saintly sister-in-law in mind, I planned this week as a "thank you" repayment for her.
In a trade worthy of the major leagues, we gained the cousins and, simultaneously, Mike's parents took one of our kids for the week. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a generous, sign-on bonus.
Net result: up one non-Nowell kid, down one of our own. That took a lot of whiny out of the conversation.
With all the particulars in place, cousin's camp began.
For the first 20 hours, everyone was on their best behavior. There was plenty of "please", "thank you" and general excitement to be had. In a word: copacetic.
Then, this morning hit.
You must keep in mind that the kids have been messing around with a newly created "fort", made from the washer and dryer boxes of previous posts**.
At first, it was kid nirvana. Then it became "us" against "them". Then it became "You are ___", where each child was assigned a role by the other kids.
After this occurred, the only girl in the entire pack started crying. These weren't little, sweet, roll down your face slowly tears. These were big, falling off your cheeks, crocodile tears.
I did what any Mom who is raising boys and hasn't a clue about raising girls would do: I instantly figured the boys were at fault and asked them how they had hurt her feelings. Seemed logical to me.
They all shrugged their shoulders. From what I was gathering, they really didn't know.
I wanted to pat them all on the back and give them the "BASICS OF YOUR FUTURE WIFE AND ANY DAUGHTERS LECTURE" that goes something like this: "Buck up, guys. This is what life with the female set is going be like later in your life. The quicker you get used to the fact that there is GOING to be crying, the better." But, I still had crying going on in real time and I had to get to the bottom of the situation.
I tried my sweetest voice. I tried pleaded with the brothers and the boy cousin. Nothing was working. My Mommy bag was entirely empty.
I couldn't get anything out of her. And now she was crying so hard and had her head buried so far into the air bed that I couldn't understand a word she was saying.
Eventually*** she tried to calm herself down enough to communicate. The first two passes sounded something like "They, they, they...." (crying jag) and "I, I, I don't want..." (best ostrich imitation, head hitting Aerobed**** at speeds previously reserved for cheetahs.)
After about five minutes of this little game of Mommy torture*****, I finally learned the source of this consternation. She confessed, as the only sub-tween girl in the house, that she had been dealt the role of "Mommy" in the fort game.
And, she said, so pitifully, "I don't WANT to be the Mommy."
Oh, girlfriend. It took everything in my power not to laugh out loud at your sad, sad statement. It rang SO true because there are just some days your Aunt doesn't want to be the Mommy either, honey!
Now I was in completely unchartered territory. Crying, with Nowell sons, is cured by ice packs and brief hugs. Then it's over. On this one I REALLY had to use brain power.
And, apparently I found the right formula! Tears subsiding, after a little bit of well executed negotiation, she earned the coveted title of "sister", avoiding continuation of the dreaded "Mommy" moniker after a brief turn in its torturous grips. WOW! Maybe I could have raised a girl after all?!
I couldn't help but think of queens of centuries past who produced female non-heirs, thus learning their fate on the labor bed*****. It was as if cousin XX chromosome somehow knew she had produced the first male heir and HAD to be Mommy now. Except she wasn't going to have servants and handmaidens and nannies. You just can't run fast enough in this situation, can you, niece-friend?
At the tender age of seven, she is my sage for the times. I've never quite been able to verbalize my frustration as succinctly as she did.
Someday, at one of her baby showers, I'm sure we'll tell this story and it will produce big, hearty laughter.
And, I'll tell her: Sweetness, Mommyhood is frustrating work. There will be days you want to go all Marie Osmond on your clan and get in your car and drive far away. But, you'll come back because, somehow, after a few minutes of solitude it will be TOO quiet and you'll miss the screaming, fighting, and general excitement that comes with having kids.
Mommyhood is, after all, the only job you'll never regret the privilege of having.
*Little did she know that all I really managed to do was sit in the corner of our shell of a house and rock back and forth, drinking cheap wine while singing "KUMBAYA".
**Another downfall of not ever really cleaning: stuff rarely gets thrown out. This is great when you are five. Not so good when you are 43.
***The longest two minutes of my freakin' life.
****When I was pregnant and an insomniac, I watched an entire infomercial on the Aerobed. I ALMOST grabbed my credit card and made the call. Thankfully, I went to bed instead, because others in the family got sucked into the madness. Now we just borrow theirs....
*****I HATE not being able to assign time-outs with certainty and timeliness.
******I just love the irony implicit in the fact that Mr. King was throwing the XX sperm and Mrs. Queen ended up in the guillotine as a thank you gift. Um, HELLO, Mr. King? That leaves YOU and your minions to raise a girl ALL BY YOURSELF. Truly, a time of illogical men.