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Thursday, July 5, 2012


Poor America.  Today's the big birthday hangover day.  The day when you shame yourself for eating too much cake and wax nostalgic for the big party you spent 364 days looking forward to.  All those guests.  All those presents.  All those explosives.

It's a cruel return to reality, made all the crueler this year by the fact that America is at work today.  Raise your ashy sparklers if you're feeling alert and perky in your office chair. 

Yeah, me neither.

This year's 4th of July marked the beginning of a new tradition in our family.  A few months ago, my husband -- always a thinker -- announced that he wanted to host a pig roast at our house.  When he said that, I just started quietly crying.  Then I pulled myself together, signed on for the event, and set about deciding on a date for this pork party.  We settled on July 3rd -- Independence Day Eve, when a solid chunk of my extended family would reliably be in Maine and on hand to eat some barbecue with us.

One day when I wasn't paying attention in my high school physics class, they must have covered the chapter dedicated to the primary theorem of party planning: initial idea + planning * execution < result.  Roughly transcribed into English, that theorem states that the simple germ of your party idea mushrooms into a lavish event you never saw coming and only recognize when you're elbow deep in a vat of pork and beans and your husband is mowing the lawn for the croquet brackets.

What began as the idea for an informal family eating competition ended Tuesday night with the following:

  • 3 rented tables with chairs for 21
  • 5 tiki torches
  • 3 citronella candles
  • 1 bottle of domestic crop dusting spray to ward off any mosquitoes not done in by the flames
  • 1 corn hole game
  • 1 horseshoes game
  • 1 aforementioned croquet set
  • 6 pounds of pork and beans
  • 3 pounds of brussel sprouts
  • 48 mini corn dog muffins
  • 2 recipes of "superfood" salad with shrimp
  • 1 sheet of peanut butter & jelly bars
  • 3 dozen boxes of sparklers
  • 1 pig, weighing in at 54 pounds
  • 1 rented barbecue spit
The above is just the stuff my husband and I made and provided.  My mother brought a plate of appetizers and my aunt brought additional desserts.

So it became quite an affair.  It was a lot of work, but it was still fun to host everyone, and I think/hope people had a good time.  (Also, if any of my readers want some pork, I can send you a few pounds.  Let me know.)

This year's 4th of July also notched a new hole in my Mommy Belt of Wisdom.  I've named the hole "Drinking Isn't Required To Wake Up With A Hangover."

On the night of our pig roast, we stayed out on our lawn with our guests until about 11:30PM -- an hour I hadn't seen since my son was a few weeks old and he'd woken me up for a feeding.  By the time my husband and I had cleand up a bit, it was after midnight and I needed an IV hook-up and a Red Bull-5 Hour Energy white wine spritzer.

Then last night we went to my aunt's house for a lobster bake.  I came home with my kids at 9:30PM -- earlier than the night before, but still later than my regular week-night bedtime.

And there's the real kicker -- the reference in the paragraph above to "my kids."

No longer can I have a "late night" or a couple of "late nights" in a row and bounce back like I used to.  There is no sleeping in.  There is no slow morning.  There is no lounging around after work the next day.  My kids still need what they need at they time they're accustomed to getting it.  And I need to be there to give it to them, be it dinner or a bath or attention or a diaper change.

What's more, my kids make participating in events like those of the past two nights an entirely changed experience.  Hosting a party is all the more different now because, on top of customary hostessing duties, there are still those kids' needs to be met.  They still need to be entertained and minded and tended to.  When my guests were sitting down for dinner, I was upstairs giving my son a bottle and putting him to bed.  When my family was settling in for a post-dinner chat at my aunt's house, I was monitoring how much later my daughter could stay up before a total system meltdown and listening for whimpers from my son asleep upstairs in the pack 'n play.  There is still fun to be had, but it's a fun tinged with a vigilance, planning and vague fatigue.

In my childless 20s, I was a bouncy rubber ball that could ride the upswing of momentum back into a semi-productive, semi-functioning day after one or several late nights.  In my childfull 30s, I am much less of a bouncy piece of plastic.  I am more like a balloon that has been stabbed with a tack.  Or a thudding bowling ball.

And so I sit here today at work with a dull headache and some strange white film that keeps glazing over my eyes.  It's hard to talk and I don't remember getting dressed this morning.  I'm also only tentatively confident that I dressed my children.  I'd like to eat a large hamburger with french fries and then watch movies all afternoon.  Basically, I've got the hungover effect without all the drinking.  I'm not firing on all cylinders, but I'm pretty sure that's not a great bargain or a fair trade.  I do know that I'm not going to borrow from the have-another-drink hangover remedy by going out and having another baby.  That's just taking the analogy way too far. 

I love my children, I love my family, and I love special events with all of them in the mix.  I'd just love some extra time to rebound from it all.

With that, I'm off for another cup of coffee.

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