Holy hell

My husband went away last weekend for a little retreat with his best guy friends and their spiritual director.

Let me be quite clear; were I not headed to friggin Italy with this man in less than 2 weeks time (more on that later), there would be no way in allllllll the world I would have agreed to saddle up this horse solo at a measly 7 weeks postpartum. Other women give birth in rice paddies in Vietnam during their 12 hour shifts, live-Skype their labors with their warrior husbands fighting wars in godless deserts a million miles away, and have Irish twins and a husband in a residence program that is hellish with a side of Purgatory…and they are all holier and more capable than me.

So to go away and leave me with both tots for 48 hours was pretty much an ass-kicking if ever there was one.

Like a brave little soldier, I marshaled my troops and piled them into the sensible sedan for a 50 mile road trip south where I sought solace with mi madre and the always delightful and fashionable Tia Tia (sister/aunt/fashionista extraordinaire), where I spent a somewhat enjoyable Friday sunning myself at the country club while my gentlemanly sons swam dignified laps and then popped over to the golf course to play the back 9.

What actually happened was that I allowed Joey to drown not once but three times in the urine-warmed baby pool, the first instance being completely and utterly a product of my maternal naivete and negligence as I turned away from him to yell to my mom ‘how cute he looked!’ Cue spectating and obviously more experienced mother of 5 gently but firmly alerting me from her perch poolside that ‘he’s underwater.’


I scooped up a red, sputtering toddler and hastily and forced cheerfully righted him in the 18 inch depths of the water telling him he was ‘okay’ and ‘oops, sometimes we swallow wa-wa’ … no mention of how his mother’s ineptitude was actually the source of his brush with mortality.

He proceeded to drown twice more during our stay (note: to drown is to struggle/inhale/lose control of one’s motor skills in the water…sometimes but not necessarily resulting in death.) I know this becasue I was a (clearly incompetent) lifeguard for many moons. At this very pool. Circle of life, baby.

Anyway, the Titanic didn’t sink, the day continued on somewhat uneventfully, (minus the shameful bar scene at same Club later that evening featuring 2 babies negligently passed along the row of barstools to the delight of several drunken, retired golfers) and I made it back to Denver in one piece, toting my very own mother’s little helper in the form of Tia Tia, who I bribed with the promise of cheap booty shorts from AeroEagleOutfitters.

All this to say I was really, actually on my own for less than 18 hours from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning…but I’ll be damned if if didn’t feel like a fortnight.

The crown jewel of my ‘weekend’ flying solo was definitely 9 o’clock Mass on Sunday, the (unbeknownst to me) Feast of Corpus Christi. (Translation: 90 minute liturgy)

Decked in my fanciest, rhinestone and flower-decked headband from Forever 21 and a slightly hideous thrifted Ann Taylor number with a provocatively low neckline for ease of nursing, I strapped on my Ergo and wore/dragged both children inside and slid right into the middle of a mostly empty pew. (Why? The middle? Why? Idiot )

We did survive the first 50 minutes almost flawlessly, but as the timer ticked down to what time Mass is usually done, Joey’s internal alarm system triggered, leaving me to scoop up both children, hundreds of craisins, a fistful of finger puppets and a loaner copy of ‘The Joys of Being a Catholic Child’ which our pewmate apologetically forced upon us. ‘No really, you can keep it. We have another at home’

Sweating profusely, I made it to the glassed-off vestibule in time for John Paul to realize he was starvingstarvingstarving, prompting a frantic search for a nursing perch. I beelined it toward the confessionals where a tiny and nervous looking Asian man scooted 3 millimeters aside to let me share his bench built for one, and I rewarded his generosity by promptly whipping out a boob. And yelling at Joey repeatedly in a not-quite-whisper to stop shoving all the abortion pamphlets into the Knights of Columbus charity bin. Stop it. STOP IT.

He had no sooner emptied the rack than John Paul let loose with the most prolific diaper of his life, and, while I am prone to hyperbole, I must be quite clear that I speak literally here: he literally pooped so far up his back it got into the locks of his baby mullet, and, the tiny Asian man literally started gagging and ran to the restroom.

Proof Pudding.

Joey, sensing my defenselessness, made a break for the gift shop while I frantically tried to mop up a nuclear waste spill with far too few diaper wipes, but I was forced to admit defeat, strip the offending child and swaddle him in my nursing cover.

Does this hyper masculine floral print make me look fat? And naked?

By the time I got to Joey in said gift shop he was trolling his greedy little fingers through bins of holy medals and pocketing his favorites. I scooped him under my free and non-pooped arm and ran back into the vestibule in time to see Father reposing the Blessed Sacrament, signaling to me that we’d missed Communion and that it was most definitely time to beat a hasty retreat.

Jenny: 0
Boys: 47

 And for the record, I did throw a very genuine and heartfelt apology to my gagging Asian friend as we passed each other in my flight to the parking lot.

Can’t make this stuff up.


  • Cari

    Oh gosh. Oh gosh.
    You win. I now have no reason not to go to the bouncy house place with six young children on the spur of the moment because a friend called and invited us. Nope, after this story, the bouncy house is a walk in the park.

  • Steph

    you are braver than I am….never ever ever would I be OK alone for more than an 8 hour work day…. not to mention face church solo style IN THE MIDDLE pew…in the foyer behind glass doors and lots of bathrooms to hide a screaming tot in, def… but this is why you are a saint and I deserve the baby that like John Paul also enjoys blowing loads that taint his hair earlobes!

  • Kris

    I know it wasn’t funny – but I was laughing out loud reading this!! I have SO been there (it’s been a few years, but definitely been there!) My husband was deployed when my 4th was 2 weeks old. For 10 months. It’s still a blur.

    • Jenny

      10 months?! My heart just stopped for you. I’ll put on my big girl pants and take them to Costco or somewhere equally daunting today just to make up for my shameful lack of courage. And THANK YOU for your service – and your husband’s.

    • Kris

      Thank you – you’re sweet to say that! Yes – he’s been a reservist for 23 years and never a HINT of deployment until September 11th. He just got back last year from his 3rd – the last time for 15 months in Afghanistan. At least my kids are older now, but 4 of them are boys, so it’s hard for them when their Dad is gone. thankfully, now, we have great things like Skype, so this last time we felt very connected to him, since we talked almost every day. But the thing I have learned is how important 2 parents are, and whether it’s a weekend, a week-long business trip, or months – it’s HARD to be by yourself! That’s why God gave us marriage!!! Love your blog!

  • Eliese C

    Thanks for the (completely sympathetic) laugh out loud. This transitioning to more than one is exhausting – we’re in a similar boat here with a 29 mo boy and 3 1/2 mo boy. I feel epically triumphant when I manage a trip to Target with both of them. Getting all the diapers inside is another story, though.

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