Staying at home with kids leaves you vulnerable to a wide array of emotions — unbelievable love and joy … unbelievable boredom … unbelievable frustration … disgust at the unbelievable amount of fecal matter you’re dealing with … and that’s all before 8 am.

With three of them to get out the door and into the car and into activities and back into the car and back in the door and fed and down for naps, I’ve started running my days with military-style efficiency. Does it work? Absolutely. Is it conducive to all the warmth and sunshine and butterflies you’d like to bestow upon your kids? Ummm … nope. I’m basically a drill sergeant, and no one is full of warm fuzzies for their drill sergeant.

In fact, most days I feel like little more than Mean Mommy.

“You’re making it out to be worse than it is,” I tell myself. “Your kids don’t think you’re mean.” And to prove it, the Mother’s Day crafts started rolling in this week.

Today Evelyn brought this home from school:


My heart pretty much exploded when I saw that. I mean how can it not? Then I opened up the card:


You know who that is? Mean. Mommy. And if it’s not, then it’s Evelyn, and she sure doesn’t look happy.

All I could think of when I looked at this was one of Evelyn’s frequently asked questions: “Mommy, why does your face look mad?”

Well, child, my face looks mad because I am mad, because this is now the fifteenth time I’ve asked you to get. on. the. potty. so we can get this bedtime routine moving along.

Eric works his butt off all week, and often at least one weekend day, which means it’s rare that he’s here for bedtime. Or for dinner or bath, for that matter.

I’ve adjusted to these circumstances by cutting out bath time. Unless someone soils him or herself, baths are once a week on Sunday night. They have swim lessons in the middle of the week and I like to think the chlorine will kill anything growing on them in the interim. When I was little it seemed there was always a smelly kid in class, you know the one who was always in the same elastic sweatpants that smelled of urine and stale cigarettes. I’m afraid that now that’s my kids, except instead of urine stale cigarettes they smell of urine and the Peace and Calming I’ve been diffusing for three weeks on end to try to get them to just stop yelling.

Unfortunately you can’t cut out dinner, so my kids eat a lot more PB&J than I’d care to admit, and a lot of those are consumed in the car on the way home from activities so that I’m not spending 20 minutes wiping peanut butter off of the table/chairs/any surface within arms reach of my diners.


Then there’s bedtime. Easily my meanest time of day. Questions that earlier in the day would be met with a (somewhat) patient explanation are now answered with what can only be described as a roar. I imagine it’s a lot like what the Rebel Yell sounded like in the Civil War. Veterans found it hard to explain or replicate after the fact, but they all said that nothing raised the hair on your arms faster.

It’s just that there’s three of them and one of me, and my oldest has been boycotting naps for over a month which means by 4:15 she is just D – O – N – E done. And so there’s just no time to dilly dally, lest we miss our window and enter the dreaded “I’m over-tired and will therefore defy logic and refuse to fall asleep until 10 p.m.” stage.

It’s definitely not that dreamy, snuggly, lullaby-y time of day that I always pictured.

Instead it’s chaos and barking orders and threats of no stories unless someone stops dancing and gets back in the bathroom and then delivering on those threats and then major tears and then the baby crying on the floor while I unzip the toddler’s sleepsack because I forgot to put pajamas on him first and the baby crying on another floor while I hold the door shut against a tantruming preschooler and the baby crying on a different floor while I rock back and forth in a corner and finally the baby crying in a crib because it’s been 13 hours since anyone interacted with her and now her brother is crying himself to sleep because I won’t let him take his milk to bed and her sister is crying herself to sleep because – shocker – she didn’t get that story and Mom is crying into a big ol’ snifter of whiskey because I haven’t taken my circus to the grocery store all week and Peapod doesn’t deliver wine.


It’s glorious, it really is. And it’s getting to be the time of year where my windows are open and therefore the neighbors can hear all of these shenanigans and they probably wonder what kind of parent I am.

Or, they know what kind of parent I am. Mean Mommy.

Then again, Evelyn did also produce this:


I know she knows my name, because she calls me Melissa more than she calls me Mom.

We do love to bake together, and I’m glad it’s as special to her as it is to me.

The only reason that “My Mom’s Favorite Thing to Do” answer isn’t “Eat ice cream and watch Netflix” is because she’s never awake to see me do that. If Eric had to answer this same questionnaire, that would be his answer, 100%. I’d be hard pressed to think of the last time that’s not what I was doing when he walked in the door.

But the answer that pleased me the most is the “My Mom Is” answer … because if she still thinks I’m sweet, then all is not lost. Yet. We’ve still got two bedtimes to go this week before help arrives.