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The Full Suburban: With Dad hike underway, it’s time for some mother-and-son fun

By Julia Ditto For The Spokesman-Review

In last week’s column, I wrote about how Logan and our five oldest kids were just about to embark on their annual Dad hike, leaving youngest child Hyrum home alone with me for four days.

The Dad hike has since come to its triumphant conclusion and we’re all back home together again. But having just Hyrum and me home alone for so many days was rather eye-opening. For one thing, I realized just how much I rely on his siblings to play with and entertain him all day long.

“Mom, what should we do now?” was his near-constant refrain. It was shocking for me to realize again and again that I was the entirety of the entertainment committee and that no one would be jumping in to figure things out, so I’d better come up with something, and quick!

While it was honestly kind of exhausting, it also reminded me of the kind of mom I used to be, back when most of my kids were little – not the tweens, teens and one bona fide adult who currently surround me.

With just Hyrum and me at home, I made homemade play-dough. I took him and his buddy to a community pool, where we played water tag and I watched them go down the slide again and again. I sipped a chocolate milkshake at Ron’s Drive-In while Hyrum downed a corn dog and we pleasantly chatted about whatever second-graders are into these days.

I let him help me assemble a bookshelf for his bedroom, finally giving him a long-overdue spot to display his Lego creations. We ate frozen yogurt right before dinner, because nobody was around to care. We played on the playground of his elementary school, where he showed me the swear words that had been scrawled underneath the slide and I demonstrated the finer points of sitting in the grass under the shade of a tree. I let him watch TV while he ate an ice cream sundae out of a crystal goblet, and I am not kidding about that – I have the picture to prove it.

“I love having time with just me and mommy,” Hyrum told my mom as we chatted over dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the last night before Logan and the kids returned home. I looked at my mom over the table, both of us knowing full well that Hyrum’s only-child world was about to be rocked.

The next morning, he was going to wake up to a frazzled mom who was no longer interested in crafting ice cream sundaes in crystal goblets but would instead be focusing her energy on mediating a fight over who used too much milk in their breakfast cereal. She would be fielding questions from her teenagers about whether or not they could hang out with their friends at the lake until midnight, and if so, would she mind paying for their tank of gas, because what normal teenager can be expected to afford gas in times such as these?

She would be spending hours in the kitchen getting an actual dinner ready, unlike the previous four days where dinner consisted of Eggo waffles, fast food and ice cream sundaes in crystal goblets. The mom who was relaxed and at ease because her house stayed clean and orderly for four whole days would be gone, replaced by the mom who melts in the presence of chaos, like the Wicked Witch of the West in a swimming pool.

But for all the impending chaos, Hyrum and I were both excited for the return of our three-ring circus. They are messy, loud and fight a lot. But they are also hilarious, fun to talk to and great at giving hugs. There’s more to life than a clean house and unlimited outings for chocolate shakes, I guess.

And if I’ve learned anything this week, it’s that I still have it in me to be the doting mom I once was; heaven knows our little caboose Hyrum deserves it. I guess I better not put away those crystal goblets just yet.

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