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The Kids Will Be Okay: You haven’t failed them.

Recently, I have run across numerous articles on parenting and blog posts about failure as a parent, which – if taken to heart, would make me cower in a corner sobbing and rocking myself, reflecting on my own failures as a mother.    They all run along the same topic – being there for your child, like on a leash attached – bowing down to their every call and desire.  They read as though it’s requirement to fulfill your child’s every wish and need for companionship and socialization with yourself in order to be a good mom—as if self-reliance and independence as a child mean you have missed out as a mother.  The one I read yesterday was titled, “Dear Mom.  I needed you.  You did not come.” The little girl was in bed, and after being tucked in and read to, her mother promised to come back — upon coming back, she found her child already asleep with a note scribbled on the ground – I needed you and you didn’t come.

Heartbreaking.  Devastating. I cried.  I saved it.  I shared it.  Other people shared it.

Then  came bed time…and quite frankly, it ticked me off.

I don’t have one child.  I have three – all under 5 years old, all in separate bedrooms.  My husband works late or is out of town more nights than I can count, and I feed, bathe, and put the kids to bed alone – and a lot of the nights he is home, they (especially the girls) just want Mommy.  He tries, he begs…they yell.  The only way I get to lay with all of them until they all fall asleep is if they all sleep in my bed – in which case – I don’t get to sleep in my bed and they giggle until midnight…which happens at least once a week when my husband is traveling.

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So, I am doing my juggling act, making the rounds through the three kids in the three bedrooms, circling from one to the other – tucking in, reading, tucking in, singing, tucking in, playing action figures, and circle again.  I am promising each to come back when the other two are asleep.  And I do….I always come back – even if they have fallen asleep and tuck them in one last time, kissing their forehead.  They know that.

The thing is – it’s bedtime, they all three “need” me.  They all want their own time to lie down staring into their stars projected by their magic plastic turtle onto the ceiling and talk about their day or what they want to do the next day or their imaginary play house or say their numbers forwards and backwards twelve times.  They all three “need” me to lay with them until it’s completely dark and they have drifted to sleep two hours later.  And they work it…  they werk.  They manipulate, they spin stories, they guilt me — whatever they can do to keep me in the room longer, to prolong bedtime.  They can be mean little boogers about it too – “do you like laying down with Oliver better than me?”, “Mason’s mommy reads him 5 books at bedtime, you read me two.” My favorite is my two year old that lies and screams that she “threw up puked” so I come back in quickly–then dies laughing when I run in her room.

There is one small problem with this —and this whole concept of “being there” at your child’s every whim.  There’s just not enough of “me” or anyone else with more than one kid to do it – nor do I think you should.

In large part, the moms I see writing these articles are parents of one child.  One child to whom they are solely devoted.  The moms I see reading and sharing  these articles, the ones who are so touched emotionally by them are mother to 2 or 3 or more kids.  It’s not a fair comparison.  It’s apples to oranges – truly.  You peel an apple and you still have one apple.  You peel and orange and it’s split 8 ways, with never enough to go around.

Yes – I try to give my kids the one on one time they want at night (and every day for that matter)- but too many nights, one falls asleep before I get back to them – two of them are left crying because one is sick or actually in “need” – or like last night, three of them are left crying while I desperately search for my son’s dog dog so he can sleep.

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I haven’t made every tee ball game because we undoubtedly have had one of the three sick or the time of tap class conflicted with tee ball.  I’ve missed parent watch nights at ballet because we’ve had two others sick at home.  I’ve missed sending things for school that I needed to because the paper got lost in the shuffle of 20 papers on the fridge from three kids and I missed seeing them.  I’ve been late in the carpool line – once – by two minutes – because my youngest had a pooptastrophy all over herself and the floor of my house.  I have disappointed them. I have “failed”.

It’s hard.  Parenting one kid is hard.  Parenting more than one child – sometimes it feels impossible.  If you have more than one child, you cannot physically “be there” all the time, for everything.  I will always, come hell or high water, be there when they are truly in need – and for everything that matters.  But I (you) cannot walk around taking abuse and beating myself up because I can’t do it all—-all the time, and maybe I did leave them in bed to do the dishes and they fell asleep, but you know what…They’ll be ok.

I can’t be in the room when a teacher scolds them for the first time, or a bully pushes them on the playground, or their first crush makes fun of them in the lunchroom, or when they’re terrified their first day of college, or their boss yells at them on their new job.  I can’t always physically be present in every capacity of everything they do – with one kid or with three.  It’s my job to prepare them for those days, to give them the foundation to know – it’s ok.  They’ll be ok.  They’ll be better than ok- they’ll learn from their experiences and get past them smarter and stronger.

My kids are loved deeply – with everything I have and am.  I live and breathe them – like literally, this morning – after I failed to find dog dog last night – I woke up to Oliver in my bed two inches from my face and snoring into my mouth.

My kids are not now, nor will they ever suffer from me “not being there”, because I am here.  I am here for them.  Always.  If I make a promise to them, I keep it.  Period.  I am their home base.  Their anchor.  That’s my job.  My job is to love them. It’s to make sure they have the strength, the confidence, the self esteem to know they are ok.  They will be ok.  No matter the situation, they can come to me.  They can call me.   If they truly NEED me, I am by their side.

They are also learning patience, compassion and a sense of self-reliance and responsibility.  Yes – they have to wait for me sometimes, and that’s ok.  Yes – sometimes their brother or sisters are in greater need of me at the moment than they are —and they learn to be concerned for them versus their own wants at the time.  And – yes, sometimes I have to leave them to ‘do the dishes’ because they have more than likely been sitting in the sink all day or for two days because I have neglected them already to spend time with them.  While, I treasure each and every moment I have with all three of my kids individually and live for those middle of the night cuddles and conversations,  I need them to know that when I can’t be with them – they will be ok.

I have not failed by teaching my kids that they will be ok.  I have not disappointed them in a scarring way because I didn’t make it back in before they fell asleep. And I am not going to beat myself up because my kids made me feel guilty, awful, like a blubbering mess because they wanted me to stay in the room with them for longer than I possibly could – because I have two other children who also needed me.  These kids will be ok.  They will be better than ok.  They will be happy, thriving, successful adults, because they are being loved and supported, but they are also being taught that their mother is giving them her all – and just because they fall asleep before she makes it back in the room – or because she’s running a few minutes late in the day – any given day – she’s not a disappointment, and she’s not trying to disappoint them – she’s doing her best.  Always.  She is always doing her best, and while she may not answer to their every whim or be able to be there beside them in some trying times, she is still here for them and always will be when they need her — and she is teaching them how to do their best –and sometimes, in life, there are disappointments.   Sometimes your best isn’t enough, but when it’s not – it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.  You’ll be ok.  You’ll learn, you’ll be smarter, you’ll be stronger, you’ll try to do better next time – and you’ll still be loved.  Always.  You’ll be okay.  When there just isn’t enough of me to go around – I want my kids to understand this, because when they are facing the bully or the boss  — I want them to know how to handle it without disappointment when I can’t be there.  I want them to know that I am with them – I support them, even when I am not standing physically beside them.  I don’t want to miss a single moment with them, but where you encounter the situation daily of a shortage of time, mind, and bodies to go around—you will inevitably miss moments.  That’s not a failure.  As long as you are there when they truly need you – when they are sick, injured, hurting, happy, celebrating….they’ll be ok.  And….You’ll be ok.  You will all be better than okay.

 

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Dear Child, Please Don’t Lose Your Shit in Target {again…}


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There are certain situations/times of day – where a moment of silence, a short prayer – or at a minimum, a deep breath and hail Mary are required before moving forward.  Generally speaking, these times for me are every single time I stop my car.  I turn my car to off, release my death grip from the steering wheel and have to unbuckle and force myself out of the safety of my front seat to drag my three kids out of the car kicking and screaming no matter where we are–even to go in our own house–because they always want to do the exact opposite of what we are doing at the moment.  One place in particular for us, which – admittedly is almost daily – is Target.   Yea – usually Target – but it may just as well be Publix – or Kroger – or God forbid, Walmart.  The prayer usually goes somewhere along the lines of:

{Dear God – Please don’t let any of my kids lose their shit in Target today – or have to go pee in a public restroom.  Amen}

However — there is a huge difference between Target and the others mentioned….  If I walk in Publix, or Kroger, or ugh…Walmart…  (the thought of that just terrifies me—stimulation overload—for everyone – them, me….) —miraculously, my prayer works!!!  AMEN!  We make it out alive, sane and in one piece.  Sure – we may have an episode, but no one hurts anyone else, or themselves or me – everyone has somewhere to sit and be buckled.  Secured, so to speak…

But Target…no…not Target…  we pull up, I say my prayer….

And then the chaos begins…

Nora in the front, the twins in the back, but Nora wants in the back because she thinks she’s 3 and the twins want to walk because they are 3 and his foot is touching her leg and her jeans are crinkling on his hand. AND OH MY GOD MOMMY I NEED THAT DARTH VADER ROBOT!!!!  As Oliver, the kid that’s never actually seen Star Wars–because he’s 3!!,  swings one leg over the side of the cart and gets caught straddling the side because his other foot is under Olivia (because that was the only way it was ok to touch her), and he begins yelling in the middle of Target – “Oh my penis, my penis! It’s hurting my penis!”  For real son?  Are you serious?  At about this point people are looking at me like I’m a petophile

As I get him sitting back down, we pass the Marvel section complete with the masks and costumes and figures and F’ing silly string web shooters (which my sister and brother-in-law actually bought him, WTF???), and Oliver is now officially losing his shit —  MOMMY!!!!  I really, really want to be that guy!  Why can’t you just buy me that Ultron helmet so I can be him?!? oh – you mean the $30 Ultron helmet with lights and sound – ummm…No.   PLEEEAASSE MOM!!!  Don’t say NO, that’s a bad word!  You make me sad, mom.  You hurt my heart!  You just hurt my heart.  It huuurrrrts!!!!  In his saddest, most pathetic, tears rolling down his cheek, whining voice…and as he stomps his foot down, he crushes Olivia’s little hand in the basket beside him….and she’s devastated.  He might as well have driven a knife through her hand….and she needs a bandaid. She’s not bleeding, mind you – but she saw some Doc McStuffins bandaids on an end-cap two aisles over (knew that was coming back to bite me in the ass), and she NEEEDS them!  So, we head back towards the bandaids and she sees a few clearance halloween costumes.

Miraculously, her hand is suddenly better.  Now, Olivia is screaching is her best Fran Dresher voice – “Mom-mom- are you hearing me mom!?!!  It’s pink and sparkly and shiny and pink and sparkly and super girl and I think it’s like my size and little like me!!  Can I can I can I have it for my prize today, pleeease!”

No.

….and it’s coming.  Wait for it …  Yep. There is the quivering lip and the giant tears, and her little fists are balled up at her side and she’s going to blow.

But WHHYYYYYY???  I’ve been good and I’ve listened and I didn’t hit Oliver anymore after I hit him earlier and I just don’t know why not!  And she hits the side of the cart —and hurts her hand with her little fist (the same hand), and now she is whaling because her hand is hurt-again…and it will just make her feel better if she can have the pink and sparkly, pink and sparkly super girl outfit.

So, we make it to the groceries and I’m checking expiration dates on the yogurt for the kids ….And then it happens….  The baby has wiggled out of her belt (like always) and she is calling me, Mommy – I ‘tuck. I ‘tuck, mommy!  ‘elp!!  And she is…she’s gotten her hand caught in the metal wire of the seat back trying to push herself up.  She is calm – she’s ok, I’m ok – we’re ok —and then I pull her hand back through….and she loses her shit.  Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow…..You hurt Nora, you hurt Nora!  Tiss it Mommy, tiss it!!  Hold you, hold you, hold you, hold you….HOLD YOUUU!!  Ok….

So now, I’m holding Nora, pushing the cart with the twins (still crying) in the basket and trying to collect what I need (or want – I never really need anything from Target–we really go there for, ya know – the experience) – and now Nora wants down.  Walk!!  Walk!!! She’s yelling in my ear through the store… What I can’t manage is holding her with one hand, pushing the cart with one hand, and controlling the flailing bucking bronco motion she’s using in an attempt to break her self free — someone’s going to get hurt (probably me)—she refuses to get back in the cart —  so now, she’s walking.  The twins are pissed.  Nora is walking – they want to walk.  Oliver tries to climb out again, Olivia is trying to climb in the front basket so she can sit and face me to “talk more to me about her pink and sparkly, pink and sparkly outfit” that she now can’t even remember was super girl – only that it was pink and sparkly.

AND….there goes Nora!!!  She sees bananas.  Nanas, nanas!  and I pick her back up…and she’s freaking out, and the twins are freaking out, and now I’m freaking out – and we are all freaking out—-so it’s official—-we’ve all lost our shit in Target…. and oh, joy!  There is someone I knew from high school….  Hi!!  Oh yea – we’re great!!  How are you guys???  Oh….just GREAT!!!  Just heading to get some coffee….

And there is the truth of it …  the whole reason we come to Target.  I may pay $2 more for bruised bananas and have to pray the rosary before walking in the door —- but – I get to nourish my addiction with a Starbucks on the way out and I still walk out smiling – or fake smiling…sort of…because everyone goes to Target.

So – as a note to Target – if this ever makes it back to the eyes of someone who can control this….and the point of this whole rant…..

Dear Target:

  1.  Thank you for the Starbucks, without it – I would never set foot through your doors.
  2. You’re prices continue to go up – and that’s ok.  I get it.  I’ll still pay them because it’s fun to buy dog food, a bathing suit, baby diapers, and new TV -all while drinking Starbucks – all in the same place—-or just to walk around and look at a lot of stuff I don’t need – that makes me think I need it, while drinking my Starbucks.
  3. As a mom – if you want me to walk around and buy a bunch of stuff I don’t need – or that my kids want and don’t need —  I’ve got to be able to get through your store with my kids.  Yes – that means – I will have kids with me in Target and I will need to put them in a shopping cart.
  4. But wait—–your carts suck.  The average number of children per family in the US is 1.86.   So, obviously, no one has .86 kids, so let’s just call it 2.  The average number of kids her household is 2.   According to your own statistics – 43% of your customers have children at home (I would venture to say that number is a little higher than that – at least for your most regular shoppers).  So – almost half of your customers have 2 children – and you are the only big box store that does not have a shopping cart suitable for 2 or more children.  Yes, I get that not all Targets have the same carts….I am specifically referring to your stores in the greater Atlanta area -I can’t speak for any others.
  5. Get some freaking 5-point harnesses in your buggies–if you have to keep the same carts.  Your seats are too shallow for a single strap and young toddlers can easily maneuver out of them–if they get just one knee raised from the front seat, they can flip over the side.
  6. Get a dead gum two or three seater cart that works!!  No.  No your ridiculous carts that have two toddlers or older children sitting six inches from one another facing, with straps that might as well not buckle, where they can turn and drag their feet out of the back of the cart–and the carts are like 8 feet long –are not a satisfactory or even feasible or safe solution.  (Faces blocked out because these are not my children) – Please note – there is no where for the third child to even sit where they are buckled and to stand back and push this beast — it puts you at least 5 feet from the 2nd or 3rd kid in the basket- not safe for a younger sibling – and if you do HAVE to use this cart with two or more kids — they are only for much older toddlers.  So, if you have twins, or triplets….or God forbid….just siblings that are less than say 3 or 4 years apart—there is literally no way for them both or all three to ride safely in the buggy.  Yes… let me put my 12 month old that’s too small for the back- who just learned to walk and is climbing in the basket – 5 feet away from my reach, so I can strap my 2.5 and 4 year old in the back of this contraption, because they are too young to just walk–but wait, they are either going to kill each other, or free themselves and escape anyway.  So—much better idea—12m old in a regular cart and the older toddlers in the basket—then they are on top of each other and killing each other and driving me insane—such as referenced above—and I leave buying nothing because all of my kids are crying.20140808_105028
  7. If you want me (or any other mom of 2 or 3) to drop $50 bucks on “prizes” like talking Ultron masks and pink and sparkly, pink and sparkly jazz – so be it, but make the experience easier for the people who are dropping a boat load of money in your store.  Give me a way for my kids to ride safely and comfortably through your store.  I’ll gladly buy your coffee and prizes and grab my few groceries, pretty much daily – if I know I can set foot in your store without my kids losing their shit because the only possible option for transporting two or three kids through your store controlled, actually creates utter chaos.  No…  having two toddlers (or even one) ride in the back of the shopping cart and one in the front —while putting all your treasured goods you have to have under the cart on the wire – where they fall off or through-so the kid in the cart isn’t sitting on them—is not a good, safe or well advised solution.  Neither is your solution above, for reasons that I cannot comprehend why – were not obvious to your company.  There is no way in hell that was designed by a mom – much less one who had enough children to use it.
  8. If you want people like me to continue to buy things we don’t need at prices that you are continuing to raise – skip a few prime time commercials – we know who you are — and invest in shopping carts for your stores that make sense and make a family experience in your store safer and more enjoyable.  People will stay longer.  They’ll buy more, and they’ll leave happier.

***In reading this – one may think – or you could just control your kids better…  a) I don’t have unruly or exceptionally crazy kids.  They are actually incredibly well behaved compared to many their age—they are simply, twin 3 year olds and an 18 month old.  b) If that thought crosses your mind – you quite obviously don’t have two or more kids and are in no position to have a valid opinion on the subject.  ***

 

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Running On Empty: Surviving the Sleepless Infant and Toddler Years

After a lot of sleepless nights the past few weeks with sick kids and insomnia, I’ve spent a lot of time just thinking.  I guess, mainly trying to stay awake and focused as caffeine pulses through my veins like blood forcing my eyes open and my feet to keep moving.

In my early 20’s, I spent my fair share of nights out around Atlanta.  I could stay up til 3′ or 4′, stumble in, crash for an hour or two, shower, throw coffee in a togo cup and grab a  bagel walking out the door and never miss a beat.  Night.  After.  Night. 8am call with clients in London, appointments lined up all day – no sweat. I didn’t bat an eye.

Now… If I crossed paths with my former self – I’d punch me. Like for real…like hard. What in the hell was I thinking?

Months worth of sleep I just totally missed out on. People tell you when you have your first child – sleep when they sleep. Who are they kidding? You can’t sleep – ever. Especially not if you are a compulsively hovering helicopter staring at the monitor until your eyes cross, watching to see if they are breathing. Wait — did I blink or did she breathe? Start over… And this whole number wasn’t just when the kids first came home–it’s every single night. My twins are almost 4. So, basically–I haven’t slept in 4 years. I’ve spent every night for four years staring blankly into my ceiling or scrolling mindlessly through Facebook waiting – anticipating – one of the 3 kids waking up. And they do…every. single. night.

Nora usually wakes up between 12 and 1. It takes a good two hours to get her back down and Olivia’s middle of the night meltdown over her night light stars shutting off is usually around 3am. By the time I’m back in bed around 4 or so and get settled back down – Ken’s alarm goes off at 5 something.

So what’s my point?? Yea – we all know moms don’t sleep – it’s part of the gig.
Got it – no problem.

Here is the problem: my patience level, my mental state, my anxiety levels, my temper, my volume, my tone —- everything that would embody a “good” mom, decreases exponentially with the amount of sleep I get. After several nights with no sleep — it completely escapes me. I become a frustrated angry troll that rages and screams and puts kids in time out for singing too loudly. Like really – my migraines set in – and their volume just sends me over the edge.small_frazzled-mom

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have insomnia – but there is a drastic difference in insomnia and total sleep deprivation. The combination of the two is detrimental, especially to a mom that’s gotta bring her A Game all the time or kids lose a finger or smack their heads or run with scissors or fall off things – like stairs or just in general torment the hell out of one another.
Then on like the eighth night of no sleep my almost 4 year old daughter wakes up in a mortal fit – like an exorcism is needed to help her regain her sanity (a nightly ritual for her) and when I make her lay back down despite her pleas that her eyes are wide awake and just can’t close because the dark is almost gone —- she humphs and mumbles under her breath as I walk out of the room — “Mommy is just awful – she’s just awful.”  All…because I am making her sleep/or at least stay in bed in the middle of the night.

And now my child thinks I’m awful…? Great – I thought this started in their teens. Apparently, as always – I was mistaken. Oliver told me last week that “You are NOT my favorite anymore Mom!” Granted – he was in timeout and recanted that statement about 3 minutes later when I let him get up…  So, basically. I suck. I’m tired. I’m exhausted. My mind is fried. My energy is shot.  My whole body aches with fatigue.  My head is pounding. I look like I have NFL style zinc lines under my eyes. I haven’t worn makeup in week – or real clothes. I think I showered yesterday, maybe – that’s a plus. And my kids hate me.

At 3:30 am I was in no frame of mind to confront that comment – my eyes were barely open – so I stumbled back into the babies room -where I had been since 11:30 and would be the rest of the night – trying to sleep on the floor below her toddler bed with a tiny boudoir size pillow and a “throw” blanket that wasn’t nearly big enough to cover both my ass and my feet at the same time.

Basically at this point – I feel like something out of a Rob Zombie song and am running on nothing but fumes – and Starbucks–there is that. I think I’ve spent about 18 dollars there today.

So how do you get past this stage? Literally, how on earth do you survive this stage of motherhood with toddlers physically – mentally – and emotionally? More so – how do you both survive it and do a competent – even good job – of raising your kids? Most days – really seem like a crash and burn.

BUT — the way we survive in our house – the way I muddle through and keep hope and keep going and keep my cool….is that one night, that one glorious night (like every third week – or every other month – where they all three sleep – all night. I wake up rested and refreshed – and feel like that for about a week. It’s amazing what one good night’s sleep can do for you. During that following day or the next week – we make the most of it – I’m on a mom high. We do projects, we cook, we go to the park, we play outside, we read books, we dance, we paint, we twirl, we sing…. It is like super mom invades our house. The laundry is done, the house is clean, dinner is cooked. And in all honesty….right now, I live for those days. The rest – I’m just treading water. Just trying to keep my head up gasping for air.  If you are at that stage too right now – here are a few things that help me get through the day — the 99/100 days that I am most definitely not – super mom.

1. Water…lots of it. It helps keep me refreshed and alert.
2. Coffee … lots of it. It helps me stay focused and awake.
3. We keep moving – keep some activity going or stay on the go. If I stop or slow down – the tired sets in – and I start to fade, I’m not alert or quick enough to react when Oliver jumps off the back of the sofa or when Olivia snags scissors from the drawer for her “art” in my decorating books. So we keep moving – and I stay on my toes.

4. Talk – I call my husband, mom, sister or a friend when I’m starting to crash. I sit and talk to the kids, and tell them animated dramatic stories, or listen to their stories — out on the porch or in the yard if it’s good weather, so I’m not slumped on a sofa.

5. Focus on the kids. Kids. Kids. Kids. Forget the laundry, the dishes, the toys…  They are all a distraction. A reason to get frustrated. With so little attention span or ability to focus — I don’t do anything that takes focus away from my priority and causes undo stress or triggers me to snap.

6. Don’t start any major or important projects. They can’t have my/your full attention. They take needed focus away from the kids — and if I’m not playing with a full deck there is a pretty good chance I’ll fudge something up…just creating more work….or do something awful like forget to feed the kids or something actually important (not saying I’ve done that-just that it’s possible in a flustered state…no judgement if you have).  So steer clear of the Pinterest driven DIY  booby trap.  They. Will. Suck. You. In.
7. We keep the TV OFF. If I am tired and I sit down with the kids – I will get sucked in just like them and I can’t take the risk of dozing off and the three of them left awake.
8. We don’t go anywhere more than a couple of miles from the house. Driving can make you drowsy itself – so I try to stay away from any distance that will make me drift or cause the kids any sort of frustration in the car that in turn frustrates me.
9. Let the kids play their butts off – at the park, on the playground, in the play room, in the basement – where ever I can get them – I want them moving. I want them tired so they can get to bed early tonight…which also means I am moving – I am chasing them and running and playing – and NOT falling asleep.
10. Small bites or snacks during the day – all day really – it keeps my energy level up a little better.
11. Exercise – walking, running, whatever – anything to get the blood flowing and make me breathe deep…and stay awake

12.  Avoid people outside of my emergency contacts and immediate family … like the plague.  I can’t form sentences well rested— sleep deprived, I just walk in circles super fast, accomplishing nothing and talking nonsense ramblings like 90mph.  So…If I knew you in high school or from the car pool line or ballet or soccer…..please don’t take it personal if I bow my head and turn in the opposite direction if I see you in Target — im not being bitchy or stuck up or rude – I’m just trying to get in and out in one piece without anyone wondering how in the hell I even manage to keep my kids alive.   The last thing I need is to embarrass myself and leave you standing awkwardly thinking what in the world did she smoke this morning for you to roll your eyes and run the next time I bump into you

13. Cuddle with those babies every single chance I get —-  then when they do tell me they hate me – I know they don’t really mean it ….  and if/when I snap and yell — they know they are still loved, deeply.
14. Pray. Hope. Cross my fingers. Light a candle. Whatever works for you…. This too shall pass.

Good luck – hang in there. I know we are all battling through and will surprisingly miss this one day. Like when they say I hate you and they mean it … For more than 2 minutes.

For now…. we will all power through and look forward to amazing days of absolute mom bliss.

Now, I must retrieve my caffeine loaded Starbucks refresher from my 17m old – that I mindlessly handed her instead of her cup. This juice will never do. The important things…focus. Focus, Bridgette.

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Mommy’s Life: The tales of our 3 year old son and his pecker…keep it covered, man.

Kindergarten Cop

In the first few days after you bring a baby boy home from the hospital – as a mom – you quickly realize as he’s peeing in the air, and on the lamp on the changing table – and all over you, and the floor, and his crib, and into his bath, and pretty much everywhere….before you can quickly throw a washcloth or diaper over him to shield yourself – that you are completely and utterly in over your head.  Yea – sure – you know how to make a baby and all that jazz — but you really don’t know anything about a male child and those body parts and how to deal with the situations that you know are coming …way sooner than you expect.  And so begins your journey … #mommylife

This morning I walked into my three year old sons bedroom to find him sitting naked from the waist down with a plastic spiderman cup held over his privates. I try not to laugh, or gasp, or yell, or act entirely offended in instances like this before I hear his logic. The logic of a 3 year old little boy is like no other… there is no logic – only impulse.  Yet, occasionally – they surprise you … especially when it comes to their new found best friend – their penis.
So, I calmly ask –
“Buddy – what’s going on?”
Oliver: “I woke up, Mom!”
“Yea…I see you are awake. Can you tell me why you have your spiderman water cup covering your penis?”
Oliver: “Uh, because I driveled in my panties.”  (he can’t seem to get that “bb” down in dribbled”)
“How did you dribble in your panties?”
Oliver: “I went peepee and my panties got wet – how else would I drivel mom?”
“I don’t know, buddy -I see the problem, but why didn’t you just get new panties out of your drawer?”
Oliver: “I did.  I got me some Superman ones!”
Ok, man, so where are they?
Oliver: “I lost them.” {As he lifts the covers and looks around his bed, as if they were there the whole time, all while still holding his cup in place}
“I see – so can you tell me about the Spiderman cup”
Oliver: “My feet got cold cause my socks got wet and I took them off – so I had to put my feet under my fuzzy blanket, then I lost my Superman underwear and you said I always had to keep my peepee covered, so I did.”

I mean, what in the hell do I say to that??? Good job?!? It actually made sense, kind of. The kid was doing, literally, what he had been told to do – keeping his private parts private–that’s more than I get from him most days.

Seriously – there should be an entire manual (like Cliff’s Notes style) for moms on how to address all the questions, issues, and insane circumstances you will encounter with a toddler boy as he discovers the many wonders of his member.  Like, really – if I see him pull it out and literally pull it is as far as it will stretch only to see if his cheerio will sit on top of it at the breakfast table one more time – I’m going to need therapy – and wine.  A lot of both.

I’m pretty sure if I pick up my video monitor one more time in the mornings and catch him talking about “it” to himself while peeking down the elastic waist of his pajama pants, “it can stretch, and it can twist, and it can bend, it can pull, it can squish – pinch it – ouch! Mom!!”  I’m going to have to put the kid in a straight jacket.

I’m pretty sure the only differences between a toddler boy and a pervert are puberty and intent….the kid has even tried to go out jump in puddles naked in rain coat and boots.  Mmm…as adults-we call that a flasher.  

Like last week,  we were all in the kitchen while I was making breakfast, Olivia had innocently brought her blanket and pillow in to lay in the floor while I cooked.  And who appears in the kitchen bare butt naked?  Oliver, of course.  Here he comes, straddling his sister, laughing his little ass off as he squats with a deep knee bend as if he were about to tea bag her.  She’s mortified underneath him, afraid to sit up and hiding her face in her pillow as I am yelling (yea – I yelled, I might have freaked a little bit and burnt their french toast on this one) at him to get some clothes on.  No, the kid had no idea what he was doing – he is obliviously unaware (despite being reminded every time he finished going to the bathroom – and at least 10 other times a day) that his nudity is not okay – and simply exists with the single goal of tormenting his twin sister–and me.  He really, I think, gets a thrill out of raking me over the coals.  When he was finally off of her and in underwear, I asked him – Oliver – what on earth were you trying to do???  “I was farting on hers face!”  He said with a mischievous cackle.  As mortified as I was – the thought of his junk waiving in his sisters face had not even crossed his mind – other than him wanting to keep it out in the open air.  Granted about an hour later he appeared in my bedroom doorway as I was getting dressed announcing (nude, of course) “Look mom!”  I’m in my closet man, what is it.  “You have to look, mom!!”  Ok buddy….  and I come out into my room to find in the middle of floor squatting, again, naked as a jay bird, yelling with sheer joy – it can swing and do circles!  it’s a circle!!”

I can tell him until I am blue in the face and he just simply does not understand why something so curious and delightful is reason to be put in time out—or why it’s not okay to pee on a tree – like, any random tree will do – the one beside us on the playground with the kid sitting in it- or in the median in the Publix parking lot beside the cart return.  He doesn’t even need a tree—–right smack in the middle of the yard, or on a bush, or a car tire, or brick wall – or really anywhere that’s not the toilet will work better for him than the effort of going in to a bathroom.

PC: Pinterest

A few days ago I was sitting in my office and in he runs in – naked – with a little boner.  Mommy – mommy – my baby puppy Otis nipped my penis and it popped up!  Well, push it back down!!  I can’t, I can’t!  It popped up and it won’t go down – it won’t go down mom! Then go put your underwear back on!!!  Why were you naked, playing with Otis??

Oh – Dear God.  I don’t even know what to say to that!  I’m pretty confident he was trying to ride our 60lb Sheepdog bare back – or bare ass, I should say.

I regularly walk by Oliver while he is sitting in his dad’s recliner watching cartoons – and catch him hanging out with his pants down —  no reason.  Just sitting with his pants down….  For real???  Kid – your junk’s hanging out – put it up!!   So I tell him nicely —  Oliver, it’s not okay to sit around with your pants down.  Pull your pants up and keep your private parts private.  “Okay – mom,” and he pulls his pants up….  10 minutes later.  Pants on the ground…penis in the air.

And God forbid you mistakenly call his privates by the wrong name trying to employ some amount of modesty or avoidance of the topic – Oliver, put your little thing away.  “It’s not a thing mom!  It’s my peepee!!”  Oliver, cover up your nuggets, buddy – “they are NOT nuggets mom – it’s my balls, like dad!”

Then there is the whole issue of peeing….. as if the trees weren’t tempting enough – the kid’s attention span is unfortunately shorter than his stream of pee.  A few weeks ago – I’m pretty sure he was trying to write his name on the wall at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s house (in the bathroom of their brand new baby’s nursery).  Hey – what’s that over there, mom? as he spins, spraying the entire (thankfully, tile) wall.  Or how about in our own bathroom when his sister was sitting beside the toilet talking to me, waiting her turn, and he turned quickly, spraying the poor unsuspecting kid in the face.  The problem isn’t his aim – the kid can hit a target – he’s proven it repeatedly- at pretty much any distance…like the rock on the other side of the driveway……  The issue here is the midstream pivot that send his pee spraying across whatever bathroom he’s in and hitting everything in it’s misguided path.

I think my single biggest mistake so far in this area has been buying him boxer briefs.  Now – this wasn’t intentional mind you – I saw a pack of glow in the dark underwear and thought – cool!  Oliver will love those – maybe he will keep them on.  Well – 1 – nothing can compete with nudity at home in Oliver’s 3 year old mind.  2 – Boxer briefs look strikingly similar to shorts in the mind of a 3 year old and he just doesn’t understand why he can’t go to the grocery store in them  – after all – “they are shorts mom – I not naked.”  No – you are right, you are not naked – but it’s not okay to wear your underwear to the grocery store.  “But, mom – I not wearing underwear  – see (as he pulls down he boxer briefs to show me there are no briefs underneath), these are shorts!”  Alright Oliver…you win – today, we will not go to the grocery store–or anywhere else.  Go wear your shorts…

The things you don’t think about and never cross your mind when the nurse tells “it’s a boy!”……..  the underwear arguments and penis monologues have got to be on up there on the list.

And …  this battle shall continue another day – and another  – and another – until he knows what to do with the thing and then I’ll have another whole set of issues to worry about.

On that note – I’m going to go have a drink.

-B

 

 

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Lost in Translation: 20 THINGS THAT JUST DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING ANYMORE

It occurred to me last night ( a glorious night – where we actually succeeded at getting the kids fed and in bed early, ate our dinner alone and watched a movie – what??!?!?),  as I was sipping on a glass of some really good red wine – and then a second – that was of course even better – just how much the meaning of things (words, signals, actions, etc), have changed in our life since having kids.

We’ve gone from a kiss at the door to a casual nod across the room, with my inability to move, as my poor husband walks in the door using his work backpack as a shield, captain America style.  There is no telling what lies ahead as he opens that portal to chaos… flying wood blocks, Thor’s hammer, a camelbak full of juice, a wet dog, a glue stick, a child, slipping on a magnatile, stepping in obliterated gold fish- or worst of all – me.  Something or someone will inevitably attack him.

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This sets the scene for our communication in the evenings.  From the time he walks in until we hit the hay –  it’s an all out warrior dash style, dirty, ugly, fit pitching race.  Race to get the kids fed. Race to get the kids to bed.  Race to get the house back “straight” (let’s face it – it’s NEVER clean).  Race to get in bed – and Race to – wait, what race.  I’m awake – like wide awake – and Ken’s snoring.  He’ll start it all over again at about 5am, and I’ll be up most of the night, then get up with the kids around 7 to start the circus all over again.

So, the shift in our lifestyle and schedules has changed – not the so much the way we communicate – but the meaning of what we say. . . see if you can relate…

20 THINGS THAT JUST DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING ANYMORE

  1. ” Hi.”  6 years ago Hi was a sweet, coy, playful – I’m glad you are home! How are you? How was your day? I love you! – vs.- now, it’s usually said with a low grumble and means – batter up.  Your turn.  Good Luck-I’m checking out. I hate you for leaving me here alone all day to start with.
  2. “Having a glass of wine”  – Meant a bottle, or at least splitting a bottle. – vs.- now, it’s more like I pour a glass, maybe take two sips, sit it down and forget about it – until the nightly clean-up, dump it out, stare longingly at the bottle with two glasses worth left in it, turn it up for a swig or two and dump the rest, knowing it will spoil before I get around to having another glass.
  3. “Dieting” This week – we are eating healthy!  Salads for everyone!! – vs. – now, we’ve really got to stop eating Oreos at bedtime – how about a brownie instead? (did I mention we stress eat?)
  4. “I appreciate you” – thanks for picking up my dry-cleaning or making dinner! – vs. – now, thanks for keeping our children alive and safe and not turning into to a mumbling mess in a a straight jacket in the corner – or – thank you for killing yourself day after a day to provide for our family so we can sit and stress eat brownies together.
  5. “Sleeping In” – 10:00, maybe even eleven if I put the pillow over my head and shut the blinds. – vs.- 7:15.  That 15 extra minutes is pure gold…like better than chocolate or maybe even my Starbucks coffee.
  6. “Clean” as in a clean house or floor – as in the cleaners haven’t been here since Tuesday – trash that it hit the floor, and scrubbing ovens and baseboards – vs.- looks ok, Unknownsmells ok, rinse it off – it’s good – and throw the toys in the baskets and stack everything else on the dining room table – I’ll deal with it…umm… scratch that, just stack it on the table, then we’ll have some clean clothes downstairs for an emergency.
  7. “Chocolate” – godiva, as dark as possible, and sinfully rich. – vs.- stale mini mm’s I found in the center console, melted together, that I used two days ago to bribe the twins to stop fighting.
  8. “Left-Overs” – Chinese take-out, best eaten on the couch or in bed with a movie. – vs.- Ooh!  I found a skittle!!  Check that – wasn’t a skittle – possibly something plastic.  Ouch.  Mental note – when eating found candy – only go for jelly belly jelly beans (the ones that the color hasn’t faded on and that aren’t sticky – that just means they probably sucked on them or licked them – ugh.)  They hold over well and are quite distinguishable from other unknown items.
  9. “Sharing” – trading bites of some delectable dishes at a great restaurant or eating a bowl of ice cream with two spoons – vs. – never actually getting a bite of “my” cookie because the kids wanted a bite and I gave it to them first and they contaminated it beyond the point of safe consumption with dirty finger nails and snot – before forcibly shoving it in Ken’s mouth to “taste it – it’s good dad”.  Mmmm…..
  10. “Cussing” – the F word.  Like anything else was probably fine – except the F word.  That was swearing – but we still said it – like – all the time – vs.  Shoot, Sugar, and a few others have been found as suitable replacements in a pinch but otherwise, Shut-up, Stupid, any word for the male genetalia other that “peepee” or “penis” is pretty much off limits, any word for the female parts except “hootie (don’t ask)”  “hooha” or “vagina” is forbidden, and every 4 letter word that comes to mind when your threenager loses their “f’ing” mind in a kicking, slapping, biting, tantrum of a fit in the middle of the Target floor over a pack of princess puppy puffy stickers.   418715770_640
  11. “Exercise” – P90x, Baby!!  or Running – like, compulsive running – vs. – I’ve carried a 34lb, 3 years old on my right hip for 2 hours straight.  Tomorrow…tomorrow I’ll switch sides.
  12. “Knee problems” – an old sports injury to my left knee that caused pain in the rain or when running, easily fixed with ice – vs. – joints that crack loud enough when I stand from a squatting position that they wake a soundly sleeping baby it took an hour to get to sleep- therefore I crawl on all fours like a stalking dog out of her room to keep from straightening them.
  13. “Cuddling” spooning for hours until we fell asleep despite the arm that was numb and the inability to breathe – vs. – Ken squeezing the life out of a king size pillow he hugs and holds between his knees so he can cuddle something since we have a 17 month old deposited sideways in the middle of our bed and I can’t go to sleep with anything but the covers touching me after being pregnant.
  14. “Silence” that awkward thing when we didn’t know what to say but rarely ever happened because we felt compelled to fill the air with something just for the sake of talking to each other – vs.- that invaluable 5 seconds where no kid is screaming, crying, fighting, laughing, wallowing on the floor, or needing anything, no dog is barking, no phone is ringing, and if you speak, I’ll cut you – like bad, like probably dead.
  15.  “Travel” this thing we did a few times, kind of like a vacation, that was SOOO cool!! and fun!  It was FUN!  I wanted to try it again…and then we did… with kids…NOT Cool.  I need a valium just thinking about it.  Strollers and car seats and 80 suit cases and 500 pieces of clothes I’ll just have to put back up when we get home and snacks and drinks and I’ve gotta peepee and now I’ve gotta pee pee and we just freakin’ peed for Christ sake!  and I’m hungry, and my brother hit me, and she bit me and he touched me, and she has my dogdog, and dogdog has to peepee.  You know what – screw dogdog – he’s a $3 stuffed animal from IKEA, he does not have to peepee….and we need gas, who has to peepee?
  16. “Lingerie” – some lace something from VS that cost more and had less material than the average pre-baby “I’m still sexy” undies – vs. – the leggings I’ve had on going on three days that have some unidentified substance on the butt with an old stretchy maternity tank top because it pulls down long enough to cover said substance – and my bathrobe – annnd … don’t forget my Uggs – gotta take those dogs outside before bed.  HOT, right?
  17. “Fooling around” – Quite obviously we all know what that means in the context of “getting-lucky” before kids  – vs.- the now typical use is in the context of “would you quit fooling around and let’s go” – referring to me spinning in circles in the middle of the kitchen trying to recall what I have forgotten to bring with us while Ken waits for me with the car running with the twins in it screaming—-oh yes, the baby, and her shoes, and bottle and food and diapers and snacks….and my shoes, wait – my shoes, where the heck are my shoes?
  18. “Getting Lucky” – basically my husband was getting laid.  Period.  Or maybe that I scored $10 on a $5 scratch off. – vs.- it generally means we got the kids in bed before 8 and no one had a mortal melt down or puked – meaning we can be in bed before 9 – SWEET!  or better yet, we got a sitter for all three kids and we are eating big kid food instead of nuggets and fries – we never get that lucky.images-1
  19.  “Birth-Control” – well, with three under three, and married 4 years,  quite obviously whatever we did wasn’t effective, and I’m not qualified to give advice other than – don’t use that method – vs. – what I will call the 5 layers of defense – 1 & 2. 3 year old twins 3. a 17 month old that sleeps with you 4. Abstinence (see #3) 5. Just to seal the deal – The Big V (if you don’t know what that is – you clearly don’t have more than 1 child).  There will be NO and I mean NO more babies made in this house.
  20. “I Love You”.  I’m madly and crazy “in” Love and committed to you – basically – I worship you and all of our “compatibility” – vs.- a deepness to the meaning of love that can’t be defined in you for your spouse before having children, a need for them, for their support, for their love, patience, understanding and unconditional love in return – and a need for you that can’t be learned or grown over time without looking at a life (or three) that you created together and knowing that together you are stronger, better, whole – together.  You are an extension, part of one another – not just as parent’s – but as a couple – as a family.

This list could be infinitely longer, because life has inexplicably changed, as has the meaning of so much in it.  But, with someone to lean on – a partner – a best friend – a companion – the playful words, phrases, things we did before kids haven’t gone away – they’ve just taken on a deeper, more meaningful – truer – form.

And the baby is crying…  peace out.

~B

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Good Moms Feel Guilty

I’m sitting on a set of concrete stairs just outside my 3 (almost 4) year olds ballet studio while she is in class. The lobby is crammed with parents waiting.  So, with nowhere to sit and two hours in front of me for her ballet and tap classes–I found a less crowded space.
After her tap class – we head to the beach … Woohoo!! A much needed family vacation.
But for now…. I wait. I wait for my little girl to come out just a little more grown up. The weeks, the days, the time, is ticking away before my eyes. Every time they step out the door of their preschool or ballet or soccer…or even their grandparents’ house – they seem just a little older. As these days keep passing, I keep waiting – trying – hoping – praying – wanting – needing – and more waiting to be a better mother. One that’s more patient, less frustrated. Yells less. Cries less – oh wait – I hardly ever cry – I’m just not a cier. But I know a lot of moms that do – a lot – over this. I’m more of a – lock myself in the bathroom and pretend I’m pooping while I’m actually drinking my Starbucks and eating a bag of skittles for 32 seconds of peace, while I regroup so I don’t blow a gasket type–which I then feel guilty about.

Basically – I feel guilty all the time. Guilty for what I do, guilty for what I don’t do. Guilty for not having time to take them to the park, guilty for taking them to the park but then abruptly ending it and yelling the whole way home because they just won’t listen. Guilty for letting them cry themselves to sleep at nap time when they protested they weren’t tired. Guilty for not making them take a nap when I knew they were tired. Guilty for making them a crap dinner so they would actually eat – guilty for getting angry because I made a decent dinner and they refuse to eat. Guilty for not making it to story time because I didn’t get up early enough to shower because I’d been up all night with them the night before.  Guilty for not taking them to preschool to play with their friends because I couldn’t get them out the door in time to make the car pool line.  Guilty for taking them to preschool because I need that 4 hours to clean the house, do their laundry, buy them groceries (that they aren’t going to eat and I’m just going to throw away).  Guilty for fighting with them to make them get dressed for the sake of being clean (when we really have no where to go) – guilty for letting them stay in their PJ’s all day and look like little sloths (and occasionally letting them wear same said PJ’s to bed again that night).  Guilty for yelling at them for having their dirty food (that they didn’t eat) covered hands all over the new curtains – guilty for not letting them play hide and seek in the curtains.  Guilty for giving them have a sugar filled Icee in Target so they sat still for 10 minutes.  Guilty for not letting them have the Icee they begged for in Target.  Guilty for letting them watch TV so I could get a few things done in the house – guilty for not stopping what I was doing to sit and hold them while they watch TV.   Like basically – I feel guilt over absolutely everything I do as a mom – all the time – as in, I lay awake in bed thinking about it, guilty.

mom-guilt

I just can’t imagine a world where every mom (or at least most moms) out there don’t feel the same way. It’s as if in this world of Blogs, and parenting websites, and Ferberizing, and Moms on Call, and Instagram, and Facebook, and for God’s sake – Pinterest – screw Pinterest……

There is nothing you can do the right way, or good enough.  You are constantly held to someone else’s standards and ideas of what a “good” mom “is” and the “right” way to raise a child – your child.

June Cleaver was June Cleaver (aside from being totally made up) because she didn’t know who in the hell June Cleaver was.  She didn’t have to stare at the sheer brilliance of Handmade Charlotte or Molly Yeh.  She didn’t have Pinterest to search for ideas about how make the best cake and dinner EVER all while crafting with your kid and remodeling your bathroom – and then see all of the success stories on Instagram or Facebook from her “friends” while staring at her epic fail.

Like – right now – while I am sitting here trying to finish this post (about three weeks after I started it) at 8am, I’m watching my son lie in bed (naked from the waist down because he got up and took himself to potty when he woke up and of course had to lose his underwear – because he just wants to be naked – and Batman) waiting on me to come get him (granted his sisters are still asleep), but what am I doing instead of leaping up the stairs – finishing a “Blog” post—which I’ll feel guilty for later.

So, before I run upstairs and scoop up my little guy and tell him good morning – and he looks and sounds just a little older than yesterday….  I’m thinking in my head – today you will do better, you will be better.

My questions is this…  Better at what?  Better at being you – the mom your kids know and love? or better at being someone else that you are seeing in magazines and social media?  or reading about on someone’s blog?

At the end of the day – if your kids love you – call you – need you – want you – and my favorite – tell you you are their best friend – you’re doing something right.  You may do plenty of things wrong (God knows I do), but in their eyes (which is all that matters) you are doing it right.  Be the best – you – can be for your kids.   Innately, you know what that is.  You know if you are giving them -your- all.  Live by your own standards – not some else’s pictures.  Stop feeling guilty for what you have or haven’t done – and consider the good you are doing – Good Moms Feel Guilty too…but they feel guilty because they care.

Don’t wait for time to pass to be better, do better – don’t wait until they walk out the door of that ballet class and you are too old to change.

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Like an Atom Bomb – BOOM

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Do you see that mushroom cloud?  That lingering mass of destruction and chaos…

Yea…  that is what has become of my personal space – { insert blowing up noise here}

It was there once.  I didn’t even know I had it – I didn’t even know it was there really – until it was completely and totally destroyed.  I had my own space on the couch, and locks on the bathroom door, and showers alone or even with my husband if I chose, and my own toothbrush, and my own qtips, and my own pillow in my own bed, and my own skin that was on my own body, and enough elbow room to eat a meal and drinks without crumbs in them (or snot), cuts and scabs that could actually heal without be touched with dirt or jelly covered fingers, and the ability to wear white (or any color other than black or denim, really).  There was a point in time where I could go running alone, put my headphones in and tune out the world.  Now I have three kids, one stroller, two busy bug handles, and a clip on speaker that I feel compelled to turn down every time we walk past another person because no one likes to hear Old McDonald or worse… Let it Go – Let it Go, I’m one with the wind and sky, Let it Go, Let it Go, You’ll never see me cry! And we walk – we don’t run.  Running toddlers = falling toddlers = scraped knees = crying = bandaids = going back to the car = end of “peaceful, much needed ‘run” and more grimy filthy little fingers picking scabs and needing bamb-baids for two weeks before we attempt to go “running” again.  { insert blowing up noise here}

Earlier this week I pulled through starbucks to grab my coffee.  Ahh…..my few moments of bliss – then I take a sip and feel something between the cup and my top lip – like a sticker pulling the skin.  I flip down the mirror to see some unknown substance – literally, I have no idea when they got it on me…it could have been yogurt from breakfast or milk, or pasty sucked on cookie or slimy dried out banana or glue  or worst of all – it could have been baby snot. Whatever it was it was crusted just above my top lip and the last time I had seen a mirror all day was in the morning walking out the door – it was 4:00pm.  For all I know, we had been out all day with some schmutz crusted over my top lip and nose like I didn’t know how to wipe my mouth.  I would have even questioned my own abilities except for the fact that upon further inspection, I found the same unknown substance down my shirt sleeve and arm.  If I had to guess, it was probably a sweet snotty kiss that got wiped down my arm as they climbed down—which at the time I probably mistook for just one of their rubby kisses where they have to burry their faces into you and your skin and slide down you touching every inch of your arm or leg or whatever they can get their hands on – when really – they just needed a place to wipe their snot.  { insert blowing up noise here}

Yesterday we walked through Target (mainly because they also have a Starbucks), gathering our much ‘needed’ items.  Nora sat in the cart, Oliver and Olivia walked.  Olivia held my hand while the entire time rubbing her face and mouth on my left arm.  I pushed the cart with my right arm while Nora chewed on and bit my knuckles with those brand new baby razors.   Oliver – well – Oliver at least attempted to walk under my dress.  Like literally standing wearing the front of my big blousy t-shirt dress over his head while certainly pulling the back of it up over my bare ass and causing regular traffic pile up with me tripping and stepping on him and pulling Olivia down by the hand on top of me, everyone was crying…. In the mean time, another mom walks by shaking her head smiling – saying, “I remember those days”.   { insert blowing up noise here}

This week was ‘that time of the month’ and with my son’s heightened curiosity about everything in the world – I was left in quite the predicament.  There are no locked doors in our house – hell – there are no shut doors.  With a 14 month old on the loose and 3.5 year old twins that terrorize one another to the hilt, you have to have a visual at all times.  Zone defense combat I’ve heard it called.  On the flip side – they have to have a visual of you and become most interested in that 30 seconds you take to sit on the toilet.  Oliver stands in front of me trying to pry my knees open to look in and inspect what’s been done – “Mom, are you peeing or pooping or are you a good girl and did both so you don’t have to go later”.  God forbid you have to use any sort of feminine product – what he refers to as “roll up poop.”  Oliver – go look quick!  Spiderman is at the front door! (not…)  In the mean time – Nora has a tiny gob of tissue paper in her hand she’s trying to cram forcefully between my legs to to try to help wipe me.  { insert blowing up noise here}

Father’s Day, Ken felt the personal space pinch.  He headed in the bathroom for his morning shower only to have Oliver appear at the glass door naked, “Can I shower with you dad?” Followed by Olivia… Thankfully there are two shower heads – but unfortunately for Ken – there are not three.  Once the twins were in – dad was out.  “Get out dad, there is no room for you, you don’t have a spot.” while they pushed him by the legs out of his own shower… He should just feel fortunate he didn’t have two sagging breasts that they try to grab like knobs with a tune in Tokyo approach when you bend over.

Somedays, I would just love to have a Mom bubble.  Do not cross here – do not touch here.  Maybe one of those blow up sumo wrestler costumes would work.

With three of them hanging (like, seriously, hanging like monkeys) from me or trying to crawl into my skin all day – like really….IN to my skin…come the end of the day all I want to do is climb into bed, and let nothing but the cold sheets touch my body.

Then I lay there wide awake in quiet and dark with my hair standing on end and compulsively stare at the monitor scanning each room. Are they warm enough? Are they too warm? Are they comfortable? Is that stuffed animal too close to her face? Are they too close to the edge of their bed?  If they roll over on the book they fell asleep with will it hurt-should I go put it up?  One will certainly wake up any minute – there is no point in going to sleep.  Oh my God – it’s 2am I must go to sleep ….  2:12am – what’s that?  Who was that? Which one is up?  the baby…  my lip busted from a quick forceful head thrust backward over not wanting back in her own bed,  3:30am and I’m back in bed…  6am one has mysteriously appeared in my bed and is trying to crawl inside my skin again while begging to watch a movie. Oh my God!  WTF? I think he just licked my arm.  { insert blowing up noise here}

Alarm goes off, shower, shave, repeat…  and to think every, every single minute they spend away from me – at pre-school, with my parents occasionally, asleep at night- after that deep breath and sigh of initial relief to have back my ‘self’ – I miss them – every second.  One day – the dust will settle, the chaos will calm, the ‘destruction’ will rebuild – and I will have back the once so valued personal space, but that will mean they have gotten too big to need help wiping that snotty nose or need the comfort of being held.  They will be too big to want to hide under my dress – or anywhere else playing.  They will be too big to need me in the middle of the night, and I’m quite sure that when that day comes I will still lie awake in bed at night waiting and wishing and missing that constant need and connection with my kids, because right now – despite the need for a moment’s breath every now and then and the occasional need for my own toddler like tantrum melt down and time out ——- – it is pure joy.

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Mommy, why are you so mad?

We were in the middle of Walmart. For whatever reason I felt it was necessary on that Wednesday, when the kids had already had a rough morning, to go to one of my least favorite, most nerve wrecking, places in the world to get something I really didn’t have to have. Ironically, it was the wooden letters from the crafts section to spell “GROW.” We’ve been in the middle of a playroom remodel for about 2 months and I ‘needed’ these to wrap up a project for it. Now, I could have waited until Thursday when my brother’s girlfriend, Courtney, comes to help me with the twins so I can run errands, clean, etc. Instead I unwisely decided to visit my own personal hell, Walmart with all three kids at about 5:00pm.
On the way there, we pulled through Starbucks – a venti non-fat caramel latte later and I thought I was ready to take on the world.
The twins (3.5) were in the back of the shopping cart, Nora (1) was in the seat.
Coming down the main aisle to the back of the store, we hit the booby trap section. Like sticks covering a massive hole in the mud where you fall to your death…You know…all the cheap useless, seasonal, crap toys that your child can’t live without that if you don’t put them in the buggy right then, you’re in store for a mortal fit of a toddler tantrum for the rest of the trip. You know, that one. Target has it too — and they are even worse. They sprinkle it with fruit snacks, and Cheetos, and frosted animal crackers – and it’s the only way in. Damn them.
So, we are coming down the aisle of torment right out of the gate and Oliver takes out a row of beach toys – clears a shelf. Not intentional, mind you. He’s trying to grab the one behind him that he wants and in his spastic toddler boyness – he spins around and there it goes before he even knew it. Cleaned up – moving along – still calm – accidents happen. We make it to the back of the store where the letters were located – but what’s on the end cap – sidewalk chalk. Oliver, of course, needs sidewalk chalk, and Olivia needs Oliver to move so she can see. Naturally, the one Oliver needs is in the very back row. He gets his little hand on it, Olivia pushes him, and down goes a whole shelf of sidewalk chalk. Again, clean it up, scold the kids, and move along.
I get the letters – I had to have- and choose to get some grocery shopping done while we are there. As we cut down the closest aisle to head towards the cereal, it’s loaded with candy – every candy imaginable. Oliver wants jelly beans. Olivia wants gummy bears. No. No. No. Nooooo. Stop touching, keep your hands in the cart, and sit down. I’m getting more frustrated at this point, but this is the same aisle my tea and coffee are on. I turn to grab my box of coffee and I hear it – that sound – I know it all too well. Oliver pulled another – Oliver. 13 bags of jelly beans in the floor. One had busted open. As I’m raking together and picking up the rainbow of candy off the floor so no one slips – Nora decides to wiggle herself free of the strap and stand up in the front seat of the cart. A mild heart attack and leap for the baby later, we leave the remaining jelly beans on the floor and tell someone so they can finish the clean up without my baby falling to the floor on her head because stores refuse to put a five point harness in grocery carts.
Nora now refuses to get back in the cart. I’m still holding and savoring every tiny sip of my venti nonfat caramel latte. I’m not throwing it away – but I have to hold the baby, and can’t hold the baby, my coffee and push the cart. So, I’m holding Nora, put the giant cup in the seat wedged so it wouldn’t fall and we continue on our way.
On the cereal aisle the evil geniuses that plan store placement put the Trix immediately next to Kix. Kix – ok. Trix – not so much. But try explaining to two 3.5 year olds why they can’t have “colorful Kix”. After a kicking screaming tantrum and some dirty looks from the mom going down the aisle next to us – Alright you cereal stocking assholes, you win. I’m not having this fight today. I might as well of bought the freakin’ Jelly Beans.
In the produce section Olivia decides she doesn’t want bagged salad–like, it can’t even be in the buggy near her. After kicking at it until it was in the corner furthest away from her, she decided that still wasn’t far enough and threw it in the floor as we walked away. I pick it up and place my sadly bruised baby spinach bag in the front with my coffee out of their reach.
As we head, finally, toward the check out, Oliver decides he’s not sitting in the basket surrounded by groceries for even another minute. He’s standing, he’s yelling, at a volume that only Oliver can achieve, and he’s going to fall—-I’m having flashbacks at this point of when he actually fell out of the cart when he was younger and my heart is about to jump out of my chest– and I can just see it now.
Every line at the front is about 10 deep, all five of them. You are Walmart – you have 25 apparently useless registers. Why in the hell do you only have 5 open at 5 O’clock when every person in a 10 mile radius is stopping on their way home from work. At this point my blood is boiling – we go to the self – check out. I’m scanning groceries and those god forsaken wooden “GROW” letters (which they only had the G-R-O in stock), holding the baby and trying to keep a hand on Oliver to keep him sitting in the buggy.
As per usual – an older man walks by and says “You’ve sure got your hands full” with a chuckle. I could have hurled a can of green beans at his head. For the record – the last thing a mom of more than one child wants to hear on an e.v.e.r.y d.a.y. basis from every person they pass is – Man, you’ve sure got your hands full. No shit.
As I look up to smile, nod and shrug at this oblivious stranger for commenting on our chaos and momentarily distracting me, Oliver stands in frustration, forcefully pushes closed the seat part of the cart, crushing my venti caramel non-fat latte, exploding it – all approximately 15oz remaining – all over me, the floor, the baby, the scanner, and the sad bag of spinach. At this point – I’m pretty sure my eyes were glowing red, my hair was on end and venom was spraying from my fangs as I jerked around and lit into the twins. What are you doing? What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just listen? Just listen? That’s all I need you to do is listen!! Listen! Listen!! Listen just kept hissing out of my mouth. Definitely not my best parenting moment.
Olivia looks up with me with all the big doe eyed innocence a 3 year old can muster and says, “Mommy, why are you so mad?”
I finished up – scanned my dripping, soggy, bruised bag of baby spinach that seemed almost as damaged and defeated and as me and my ego and we left.
Kids buckled in, groceries loaded, I start the car and put my hands on the wheel and just sit.
That little question rang through to my very core.
Indeed, why was I so mad?
With three kids – or 2 kids, or 5 kids…or however many you have, it’s very very very rare (like never) that they are all going to have a good day on the same day, at the same time – even for a minute. 2 out of 3 happy is a good day. Hell, I’d take just one happy all the time.  But the days that all three are ‘off’ or in less than chipper spirits are a dime a dozen. If one wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, that temper prone, whiny, irritability is more contagious than a snotty nose. Suddenly my two previously sunshine faced toddlers are in a puddle on the floor attached to my ankles in full on fits of misery. They can’t control it. They can’t just dry it up and stop it. The emotions they feel are real to them and are just as serious and earth shattering as my desperate need for a cup of Joe before they wake up on the mornings one of them or all of them were up all night the night before.
While you can’t control their tantrums or moods or irrational needs, you can control how you handle them – and how you handle yourself with them.
Forcing kids into situations that they aren’t going to fare well in on a good day is a risky choice on your part (my part) on a day that has already been challenging for them—what was I thinking???  Why do that to them? Why do that to me – yourself?
I’m not saying submit to the tantrums and mood swings and give into the behavior at all. Simply, don’t put yourself in situations that you know aren’t going to go well and expect anything different.
Don’t think that because you can’t stay in the house one more minute and there is something you absolutely have to have, that your kids’ moods and behavior are suddenly going to change and they are going to be quiet little angels on a blissful shopping trip.
So – truly – why was I so mad? I knew they were having a bad day already. I took them to a place I didn’t “have to” go, with an overload of stimulation and chaos, stayed longer than I needed to, and was then frustrated when the outcome was exactly what I could have predicted.
I chose to do that. They didn’t. They didn’t do anything other than react to their environment the way that 3 year olds know how.
So, as you quickly dress your kids and throw them in the car because you can’t stand to be in the house another minute and the walls feel like they are closing in, as the kids hang from your ankles crying over the wrong temperature of their juice, and the wrong cup holding their juice, and the itchiness of the tag in their shorts, and the dirt on their jelly shoes, and the dog sniffed them, and their baby won’t fit in her stroller right, and the magnetic blocks are stuck together, and the dogged licked them, and now their magnetic blocks won’t stick together, and their doll is stuck in her stroller, and the dog won’t come and play with them and, and, and, and, and….. that and, and, and, and…is not going to suddenly change when you walk out the door. It’s just going to be relocated to a new, more public, and more frustrating environment.
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And as you reach your limits and cringe at the whining, crying on the floor toddler tantrum — take a deep breath, count to 3 (let’s be real-you don’t have time to count to 10) and smile at your kids. Resist the urge to throw them in the car and just get out of the house for ten minutes – because it’s not going to be 10 minutes – it will be 2 hours, and yes, you’re the mom – it’s your choice what you do. But do you really want to choose to pull a Walmart on yourself?
Why on earth would you take this fight outside? Keep in the environment and circumstances you can control. Yea, sometimes we don’t have a choice. We have to drag them out kicking and screaming to get a gallon of milk or dog food or whatever… but if you choose to stay out, you choose to test your kids’ limits, and you fail – that’s on you. You failed – not your kids.  That’s your fault. You can control your wants, needs, emotions – frustration – and actions.  They can’t control their feelings and emotions, or perceived needs at that age – so, if you’ve made the decision to prove to them that they are living in your world and you’re going to do what you want to do, regardless of how they feel, and you expect them to snap to and pull themselves together …. then they don’t and you are left with a soggy bag of spinach – why are you so mad?