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Momedy

Finding the humor in motherhood

Author

mberg5

I am a Mom of four children, one Great Dane and a French Bulldog puppy, which some days feels like it equates to mother of 12 (apologies to anyone who actually has 12 children.) I used to write all the time. Then I had kids, and now all I want to do at the end of the day is put on (er...stay in) my sweats and watch mindless T.V. But I'm afraid if I don't start using my brain for anything besides bedtime stories and potty-time songs, the useful parts of it will start to atrophy. So here I am! Making a conscious effort to find -- and share -- the humor in parenting ... because I'm too young to go crazy just yet.

Repeat

Picture it:

Sicily, 1942.

Just kidding. But if you’re not hearing Sophia Petrillo’s voice right now we probably shouldn’t be friends.

Now picture it:

I’m in the car, windows down, music blaring with a baseline so loud I’m afraid I might blow a speaker, pulling into the school parking lot.

You’re probably picturing me circa high school, in my white and silver 2001 Toyota Corolla with my bleached hair blowing across my orange perma-tanned face. But you would be wrong.

The year is 2019, the school is Evelyn’s preschool, and the song is Taylor Swift’s “We are never getting back together.” (And my face has never been paler).

The volume is controlled by backseat tyrants who shout “LOUDER!!!” if I attempt to lower the volume even a smidge, and it’s play count is high in the hundreds.

I have only myself to blame … I first played it for them in an attempt to get them to stop listening to this song, which is 5 minutes and 23 seconds of pure, redundant hell.

It worked, a little too well, and so now their obsession is Taylor Swift. Which is A-okay with me, except for two things. For starters, they’ve picked her two best break-up songs to be obsessed with – “All Too Well” is their favorite, with “We Are Never Getting Back Together” in a close second. The fact that they call it “the I love you song” at least tells me that the lyrics are still over their blissfully ignorant heads … but I still wonder what people (in the school parking lot, at the Starbucks Drive-thru … and let’s be honest, at the McDonald’s drive-thru) think about my home life when every time they see me I’m looking like I haven’t slept in 6 years AND blasting angry breakup songs.

The second bothersome thing is the sheer number of times these two songs have been repeated.

My kids have never known anything but on-demand song choices.

They’ve never known the rush of making sure they’re in front of their radio for the Top 5 at 5 so they can record “My Heart Will Go On” in its entirety over an old mixed tape. They’ve never known the heartache of that tape then running out of room before the song ends. And it shows.

A few months ago, a friend told me if she could do one thing differently with her kids from the start, it would be not letting them know that TV shows are available on demand. It was maybe the most genius thing I’ve heard this year.

“Oh you want to watch Paw Patrol? Sorry buddy, Paw Patrol isn’t on until 8 so it looks like you’ll have to go back to your own room and wait until then.”

Because when they know Paw Patrol is at their fingertips any time of day and they wake up at 4:29 am, their illogical little brains think “perfect!! I’ll run into mom and dads room right now and make my request known.” Which has me like:

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Waiting for your show to come on and then subsequently waiting through commercial breaks builds character. (But don’t tell that to naptime Melissa when folding the laundry in front of Netflix sounds so much more appealing than folding the laundry in front of nothing.) This version of myself also gets really annoyed when I have to dig out the remote from under the laundry mountain to click Continue when it asks “are you still watching?” I don’t want to think what this says about my own character.

Anyway, why had this never occurred to me before? I’ve pulled out the “ooh sorry honey, the park is closed this week” so many times I should just put it on a T-shirt, but I’ve never thought I to tell them their show or song isn’t on yet.

I’ve been so focused on trying to eliminate harsh chemicals and pesticides and scents and processed foods and artificial flavors and any flavors that eliminating the on-demand mentality never even crossed my mind.

So today I finally tried it. I told my kids a bold faced lie and I owned it, and it worked.

“We want to listen to the I Love You song!”

”oh I wish we could, but mommy’s phone cord is broken, so we’ll have to listen to the radio instead.”

**puts in Titanic Soundtrack**

Never Would I Ever

There are a lot of things I need to quit doing. Eating a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies for lunch is one example. Cleaning up the kitchen right away after dinner instead of spending that extra twenty minutes with my kids before bedtime is another. In fact the extra work once the kids are down would probably keep me out of trouble, i.e. keep my hands out of the Do-Si-Do’s.

As a Mom though, the thing I most need to quit is saying “never”.

I started this whole Motherhood journey with a long list of “I will never” statements.

My kids were never going to have more toys than I could easily put away into one small cabinet.

Now here we are:

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Sometimes I happen upon this scene and consider channeling my inner Marie Kondo. I’d jump into the room with a high-pitched squeal, clap my hands and get down to the business of tidying up. There are just two small problems (well, 3 if you count the fact that I will truly *never* be MK’s size and therefore unable to pull off either jumping or squealing) … for starters, my kids could host their own Netflix special called The Art of Un-Tidying (and as quickly as possible). Second, the first thing I’d throw away would be the Boxy Girls Evelyn begged for for Christmas and hasn’t played with, asked after or thought about since. But I can guarantee as soon as I secretly donated them while she was in school one morning, she’d come home and say “I think today’s the day I’ll play with my Boxy Girls.”

You can see why this seems like a giant waste of energy.

Another thing I said I’d never do was be one of those women who held onto an extra 5 lbs after every kid.

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Actual footage of me getting out my spring clothes last weekend.

In fact every summer my body looks more and more like Chris Farley’s, and it probably has more to do with my self-control during Girl Scout Season than it does my child-bearing season of life.

I watched Mrs. Doubtfire as a kid and swore I’d be nothing like that mean old Sally Field. Now, I feel this on a very deep level:

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See, all these “never’s” do nothing but set us up for disappointment. A reality check or a change of opinion on the issue we were so black-and-white about leaves us feeling like we’ve failed both ourselves and our kids, and that’s the last thing we need to add to a mental load that’s already at capacity. (And I mean AT CAPACITY). And furthermore it alienates us from the other Moms who we should be in community with, despite different parenting styles and a whole slew of things we might be tempted to judge.

Consider the following photo.

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My knee-jerk response to this image includes a whole lot of nevers. But, I should probably change that to “you never know.” If my post-baby body ever looks anything like Heidi Pratt’s you might find a very similar portrait on the most prominent wall of my house. I mean probably not. But I’m done ruling things out.

If I’d met me back in my nannying days, I’d have made an actual on-paper list of things I’d never do, and it would have been long. Evelyn has started wearing a pioneer bonnet everywhere we go, I don’t put coats on my children as long as it’s above 0, and Alex has not had a bath in 93 days. That’s not an exaggeration.

Let’s just say I would not have stopped to make friends with me.

But I wouldnt have known that Alex has a viral rash that prohibits him from bathing with his sisters’ until it goes away, which could take 18 months. And no way am I running 3 separate baths. Plus he has swim lessons every Monday, he hasn’t seen the sun or therefore sunscreen in 10 months and since he refuses to give up diapers, he is wiped clean at least three times a day. The kid’s clean enough.

I wouldn’t have known that Evelyn has some weird syndrome that causes her to have extra fragile hair that can easily be pulled out, so we can’t pull it back like we used to unless she wants some big ‘ol bald spots. She’s also currently obsessed with Little House on the Prairie and so when she pulled that bonnet out to play Laura Ingalls and it served to keep her hair out of her face, I wasn’t going to argue.

This post isn’t painting a very pretty medical picture of my children.

But I’d willing to bet almost everyone reading this has a kid with something weird, and you don’t see it on Instagram.

We’re all fighting battles. Small or large, they’re there, and we should quit battling with ourselves over things that don’t turn out to be as important as we thought they were. We’ll get back to tidy houses and somewhat presentable bodies, but for now we need to embrace the mess, the gross and the wierd headwear our children pick out. This will pass and we’ll miss it.

Well, most of it.

What’s that in your hair?

I love my kids. I love them so much that sometimes I want to eat their little faces.

But good heavens have they done a number on me, both on my body and my mind.

For example, my body doesn’t react to food the way it used to. I know this has more to do with age than children, but I swear the space once occupied in my stomach by babies has now just been filled with fat stores. The cavern they vacated never went away and has simply been replaced by less precious cargo. Plus I have all their delicious kid food lying around, and all of their holiday candy. We’re still working through Halloween and since then have added Christmas and Valentines to the stash. They may just find leftover chocolate Santa’s in their Easter baskets this year.

My body also doesn’t react to clothes the way it used to. It used to welcome tailored waists – belted waists even. I’d go as far as to say I looked good in those clothes. In pants that button. These days I’m at my best hidden under very stretchy layers, which is part of the reason I welcome the 10 months of winter that comes with residing in Wisconsin.

My post- baby body literally swallows up the cuts of clothes I used to wear. Which works out well in that I never have to even think about thongs anymore — this is a great thing as I despised them even before I had child bearing hips. However, this weekend we had a wedding, and I brought one along in case my underwear of choice these days didn’t work under my dress.

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And this is where the damage my kids have done on my mind comes in. Luckily the dress I wore was very thick and hid my bloomers well, so I didn’t end up needing the dreaded thong.

But then I woke up Sunday morning slightly worse for wear. (Having children has also done a number on my ability to recover after a night out). Sunday I woke up in the hotel feeling a little rough, and I couldn’t find my hair tie. And I needed something to pull my hair back in the shower.

Enter thong.

It wasn’t my best moment, but if it’s not going to work under my clothes, at least it could still serve a purpose. So into my hair it went.

Fourteen short hours later I went to wash my face before bed and realized that it was STILL securing my ponytail.

I’d been to two gas stations, a grocery store, a friends house and my parents house wearing a thong as a hair tie.

Why? Because I can’t remember anything anymore. My brain is so maxed out remembering appointment times and school snack schedules and activity sign ups and names and birth dates and weights and heights and Tylenol dosages and stuffed-animal whereabouts that it simply cannot be bothered to remember that there is an undergarment on my head.

Two weeks ago I forgot to take Evelyn to ballet. Last week I forgot to bring in a stool sample to Pippa’s vet appointment. Then I forgot any sort of toy for Lottie while we waited for Evelyn to be done at dance, which is how stool sample containers have became her new favorite toy.

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And not just on that occasion.

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So there you have it. My body and my brain have both seen far better days.

I forget a lot of things. But for all of the older women who have told my kids “My my you look cold!!” as we walk the ten seconds between the car and Costco without their hats or mittens or coats on, it’s not because I forgot said items. It’s because they’re 1, 2 and 4 and sometimes it’s just not worth the fight. But that’s another post for another time.

So it may be Monday, and my house may be a disaster (again), and I may be unshowered (again), but at least my hair is held back by an actual hair tie. And that, my friends, is a win.

Bed. Time.

A few days ago my husband was making a sandwich and he thanked me for buying his favorite honey wheat bread.

He followed his thank you with “Remember when we got in a fight about bread?”

“You’re thinking of someone else,” I said.

“No I’m not … remember we got in that fight about what kind of bread we were going to feed our kids? You cried.”

Now it was ringing a bell. I don’t remember it, but I’m 100% sure he’s right. The crying was the clincher. That was definitely me.

Bread was something I used to care an awful lot about. Evelyn’s lips were never going to touch white bread, and certainly not a standard PBJ. If I deigned to make that sandwich for my firstborn it would be chunky natural cashew butter with some exotic marmalade on grainy, seedy, stoneground, organic, hand made, preservative free bread. And the crusts would be ON, damn it.

The obvious direction of this post would be to talk about how at 12-months old Evelyn was eating homemade organic sweet-potato-and-whitefish-galletes while at 12-months Lottie is eating discarded bits of Alex’s hot dog off the floor at Costco.

Or how Evelyn’s diaper was changed religiously every 30 minutes while Lottie’s is only changed when it starts dragging on the ground.

Or how my firstborn wasn’t allowed to look in the direction of a TV until she was two, and meanwhile tonight on our date I’m going to ask Eric about the feasibility of installing a TV in the nursery.

I could really get going on the first kid/third kid comparisons. In fact I could write a whole blog post about how all that organic fish oil might have actually screwed me over, as it’s made Evelyn a little too smart for her own good, which has made parenting her a real gas. It will be a miracle if we make it through year 4 with our sanity.

Instead, though, it got me thinking about what else I might care an awful lot about right now that won’t actually make a difference in the long run. Or at least that I won’t give a hoot about once I get around to Lottie’s 4th year.

Right now it’s bedtime. Oh, how I loathe bedtime. You could put anyone who’s ever jilted me together in a room with Miley Cyrus and the whole Kardashian Clan and I still wouldn’t loathe that room the way I loathe bedtime. (It’d be close, though.)

As is the case with almost anything, expectations are the first glaring issue. Despite knowing better, I still hold out hope that bedtime will be a warm, loving, snuggly time full of sweet stories and quiet prayers and warm tiny hands snuggling my neck and little eyes closing gently as I tiptoe out of their rooms.

Instead it’s a screaming, crying mess full of shouts to go potty NOW or there will be no books and pinning Alex’s hands between my own so he’ll stay still for prayer time and sticky hands (about two weeks overdue for a nail trim) clawing at my neck when I try to get out of bed and little eyes shooting fire darts at me as the human they belong to body-slams her closed door in protest.

I have to exclude Lottie from this description, as she is an angel who sticks her thumb in her mouth and looks quietly at me the second I lay her down, whether I choose to do it at 3:45 or 7. And then doesn’t make a peep until we go in to wake her up the next morning and she’s just sitting quietly in her crib playing with her stuffed animals.

We’re in the process of changing our will to reflect this.

Even Alex isn’t all that bad, though lately he’s been waiting to poop until 45-minutes after bedtime, and then it smells like Ebola, if Ebola has a smell. How can a kid who exclusively eats crackers produce the waste of someone who’s just spent a week dining with the Bedouins?

So Alex and Lottie are easy enough to put to bed, hazardous waste aside.

Evelyn’s our biggest issue at bed time. Enter that organic fish oil. What’s most infuriating is that I’m doing everything “they” say I’m supposed to be doing. Other than the occasional desperation threat, I lay out very clear expectations and don’t give out warnings. She knows exactly what she’s supposed to do and what will happen if she doesn’t.

And she doesn’t. Repeatedly. Every single night. It looks a little like this:

“Evelyn, remind me what the rule is at bedtime?”

“I can have my door open if I’m quiet and stay in bed.”

“Exactly. Love you, sleep well.”

**5 minutes later — check monitor and find Evelyn standing on rocking chair at the window calling greetings to the neighbor walking his dog**

“This is sad, Ev. Looks like your door will have to be closed now.”

“NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Cue body slamming the door as I hold it shut. Cue screaming at decibels known only to Jet Engines and Personal Safety Alarms. Cue both Alex and Lottie being jolted from whatever light sleep they may have fallen into.

Then she spends about 20 minutes yelling about how she wishes Daddy would stay home and I would leave. Sometimes she gets so worked up I swear she’s speaking in tongues. She’s just out. of. her. mind.

And that’s just the door. Then there’s the night light fight … apparently the 4 night lights and 3 additional flashlights on her pillow aren’t enough. There’s the book fight, because every. single. night. when I tell her that if she’d like a book then she needs to go potty and put her PJ’s on while I’m putting Lottie to bed, she hears “Go play submarine with your brother in his bunk beds.” So there’s never a book. Cue more screaming.

And in between me leaving her room and her standing on her chair playing neighborhood ambassador, there are a million “Mommy I need _____”s. I need water. I need a back scratcher. I need my snow globes turned on. I need a book to look at. I need a unicorn that farts rainbows.

By the time bedtime is over I’ve lost not only the will to live, but also the motivation to clean up whatever mess is waiting for me downstairs. This has led the to resurrection of the shower beer, a tradition I thought I left in college.

But then I go in to kiss her goodnight when I go to bed and find her like this, all cool and collected like going to sleep is no big deal.

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Anyway, my point is that I wonder what we’ll remember about this in three years. The most recent parenting discussion I cried through with Eric was when we were discussing whether or not we should give her the option to start with her door open or just close it from the get-go. I voted for letting her try, only because closing it from the get-go means immediate body-slamming and screaming, whereas if we let her start with it open, at least I have time to run downstairs and take a shot before I inevitably have to come back upstairs to close it.

Who knows. Stay tuned, I’ll post a follow-up in a few years, assuming I’m still sane and Eric doesn’t come home to me sucking my thumb in the corner while upstairs the kids throw a party that they finally won bedtime.

Meanwhile, tonight is my one night off. Tonight we’re paying someone else (and not nearly enough) to deal with the terror that is bedtime.

I’ll be drinking all the wine, talking to Eric about installing that TV in Lottie’s room.

 

Whack-a-mole

My days with the kids are pretty busy, in a “load everyone up just to unload them ten minutes later and take them into ____” kind of way. Today I’ll be buckling and unbuckling them 14 times, for example. Or 42 times, if you consider that there are three of them.

Usually I like to stay busy. Having things to do spreads the intensity out over enough people and places to keep it manageable. But sometimes it gets to be a little much. Yesterday we had some plans get cancelled and for the first time since summer, we had almost an entire day with nowhere to be.

Suddenly visions of a quiet and peaceful day at home with my kids danced in my head. It was going to be glorious. I probably looked as much like the heart-eye emoji as a human can as I pictured the lazy day ahead of us.

There were two important details I forgot to factor into my daydream, however.

1) My children have picked up on my downer mood this week, and they’ve done a fantastic job of making it their own.

2) As soon as I actually have time to sit down in my own home, other visions start dancing in my head — visions of everything there is to get done around the house, for example.

Yesterday it was twelve loads of laundry. I love a good exaggeration, but this is not one. There were twelve loads worth of dirty clothes that needed to be washed. And I mean needed to be washed. Sweet Baby Ray is out of clean underwear, and though I have nothing to show for it, I’ve more or less been pregnant since August  and my waistline is operating under the assumption that we still are, so my clothes are fitting a little funny. And the two pairs of pants that currently fit were buried in there somewhere.

“No big deal,” I said. “I’ll spend an hour of quality time with my kids, and that will give them enough attention to then enjoy some time playing by themselves while I get things done.”

🤣🤣🤣👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🤣🤣🤣👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Oh, Melissa. Bless your heart.

I actually said that to myself.

Logically that equation makes perfect sense, but I forget that logic is not a word that can be applied to anything involving my kids. Having Mom all to themselves was like a drug that sent them into ugly withdrawals as soon as I tried to leave the room.

They protested. They whined. They cried. They screamed. And then they got way too quiet.

I walked up the stairs with the second load of laundry and as soon as I opened the basement door, Alex shouted “Mommy!! Drumsticks!!

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As I was redirecting my son away from the tampons, I realized I hadn’t heard from Lottie in a few minutes.

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Oh there she is. Just pulling out all the laundry I’d just gotten done folding.

Meanwhile Evelyn was calling from the bathroom that there was pee pee everywhere and could I wipe her butt and also get her different pants and socks because she’d forgotten to open the toilet lid before she sat down.

I’d forgotten that trying to get anything done at home with kids underfoot is like trying to line-dry your laundry in a monsoon.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles to spend a day at home with the kids without also wanting to check some items off my list … and it just seems impossible to do both. If I focus on the kids, the laundry and housework piles up. If I try to get the laundry done, the kids are throwing feminine hygiene products on the sunroom floor and pretending to swim in them. I told Eric last night that this carnival game best sums up my life:

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He had no idea which game I was talking about. Granted, I had to look up what it was actually called this morning because I was not doing a very good job of describing it. “You have a club and these ducks or worms or something keep popping up out of holes in a big game and you try and hit them back down and as soon as you do another one pops up somewhere else…”

This morning I managed to get all the kids dressed respectably and ready to go with time to spare. “Great!” I thought. “I can go throw those sheets in the dryer.”

I was gone for all of 45 seconds and walked back in to find Alex dropping Bingo chips one at a time in front of Lottie, while she greedily shoved them into her mouth. Not one at a time. I literally screamed “No!!” as I dove for both of them, which scared Lottie and ticked off Alex, resulting in this:

My household is so pleasant and peaceful.

Tomorrow we have another free morning and I already have a better plan in place — Christmas movies. The laundry will just have to wait for naptime. Assuming I don’t nap right along with them.

But still, thankful.

This Thanksgiving, Eric and I have as many babies up in heaven as we do down here on Earth.

After a loss early this fall, yesterday I had my 8-week sonogram for what should have been our second rainbow baby. (Evelyn was our first.) But instead of pointing out a healthy embryo, the doctor got really quiet, and I knew. This one was not meant to be, either.

Everything in me wants to wallow. I want to lament the unfairness of it all. I want to worry — worry that although we desire to complete our family with a 4th baby with the same intensity we desired to start it with our first — that may not be God’s plan for us. I want to WebMD every possible reason for consecutive miscarriages. I want to eat ALL THE PIE. (But let’s face it, that’s every Thanksgiving. Can’t blame the grief for that.)

**Grief keeps autocorrecting to “fries”. Is that a coincidence? I think not**

I wanted to open my suitcase this morning and pull out the shirt I’d planned on wearing today:

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This was how we planned to share our exciting news with our family today. Instead I buried it under my pajamas and pretended it wasn’t there.

I wanted to burn it.

But I hadn’t packed any matches, and I thought my Mother-in-Law might worry  if I asked her for some, so instead I put some coats on the kids over their pajamas and drove into town for the Turkey Trot.

A two mile walk in 27 degree weather would help, yes?

In a last-minute stroke of genius, I registered us in the dog-walking wave, because I figured if you can’t smile when there’s a wall of dogs walking toward you, then you’re dead inside.

We didn’t have our own dog with us —nothing throws me into a rage faster than trying to wrangle that oaf while pushing a double stroller — but there was so much panting and tail wagging surrounding me but I couldn’t help but share in the joy. If I had a tail, I’d have wagged it. One dog in particular was so happy to be alive that she wagged her whole butt. How does one wallow in the presence of that?

It’s impossible. Unless you’re dead inside, which I happily discovered I am not. I may feel like it, but I was smiling. Phew.

I fully expected that the Turkey Trot would end up in that category I succinctly call: “Things I think will be fun family traditions and/or generate warm family memories but instead turn into screaming/whining nightmares of complaints and defiance.”

But my kids actually held it together, despite probable frostbite. This was due in part to one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made — I’d used up my genius for the day in the dog-walking wave decision — which was letting them pick out these whistles as we started:

I’m pretty sure everyone in the vicinity loathed me and my spawn, but the dogs really responded well to the pitch.

I came home not nearly as inclined to wallow.

I’m not saying grief can be swallowed or ignored or walked (or wagged) away. Nor should it. Grief is a lot like those whistles — a high pitched noise you can’t escape even — especially — in the quiet of a Thanksgiving morning. And it shows up in weird places. I’m mourning the loss of a baby I had already firmly established in our family. I’m also mourning the certainty I had that we’d be able to have more children — in its place now is uncertainty and that is one of my least favorite feelings. I’m mourning the timeline I had orchestrated — all my kids being spaced out perfectly, just the way I’d planned it (pause here for God’s laughter).

I know or know of a lot of other people with those same types of “should be’s” threatening to overwhelm the today. There should be another place at the table, should be someone there who’s not. Should be a baby to feed, or a 4-year-old to refuse his green bean casserole.

When I got the news yesterday my first thought was “man, what a way to start Thanksgiving” … but now I’m thinking Thanksgiving was the perfect holiday for this to happen on. Because sitting around the table today we took turns saying what we were thankful for. And at first I thought it would be hard to come up with much. But then they just started coming to me and I couldn’t stop them, and I remembered how much I still have to be thankful for.

I am sad, But still thankful. For my family. For my friends. For a God who is currently working everything for my good, if I’ll just trust Him. And today, I’m especially thankful for dogs and their ability to lift you out of a slump.

If you’re grieving today, run, don’t walk, to the nearest dog. Or cat, if that’s your thing. Or bird. Whatever does it for you.

And honestly — if someone has a pregnancy to announce this Christmas, hit me up for that shirt. If we’re blessed with another pregnancy, a “double rainbow” baby if you will, I’ll have no choice but to incorporate this video into our announcement.

Anyway, have a Happy Thanksgiving. Even if you don’t feel happy, even if you’re grieving, I hope you can still find a reason to be Thankful. ❤️

Anxiety is the Devil

Two posts in one week is rare for me — but I’m giving up doing laundry this nap time because I just need to write this down somewhere.

This blog is all about finding the humor in motherhood – which most days is easy, if you’re looking for it.

Like the outfit I answered the door in just now, halfway between this morning’s MOPS meeting and an intended trip to the gym in a few minutes.

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I look like the offspring of Paul Bunyan and the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and the UPS man looked at me like I was crazy with a capital C.

And you know what, today I totally believe him. See, some days it’s easy to find humor in motherhood and then other days it’s really, really hard. Like when you have to mother through illness, or through a loss.

For me, it’s the anxiety that arrived along with my children that has been most difficult to coexist with, and I know I’ve talked about it before. But maybe it’s not talked about enough.

I say anxiety is the devil, and I mean that literally. It’s a little voice on my shoulder that competes daily with the far more rational and hopeful voice on my other shoulder. Usually logic wins out, but there are days that anxiety is just plain louder. And more shrill. And relentless. (A lot like my 4-year-old). And then it’s a battle of the thoughts, and the anxiety takes my thoughts and morphs them into something scary, something that if I dwell on could really take me down a rabbit hole. But it does it so quickly that sometimes it’s haed to catch.

Me: “I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Anxiety: “You have a lot that you could lose at any moment.”

 

Me: “I am a safe and careful driver.”

Anxiety: “Everyone else on the road is texting, especially the semi driver coming up behind you. Also you’ll probably have a heart attack at the wheel and drive off the road and into the one body of water along this entire highway.”

 

Me: “This steak is delicious.”

Anxiety: “Steak is easy to choke on.”

 

Me: “Lottie is fully mobile now so I’m doing a good job making sure I’m keeping the small toys off the floor.”

Anxiety: “You missed a piece of dog food under the couch, which she will definitely find and choke on.”

 

Me: “I’ve been blessed with a healthy family.”

Anxiety: “That can’t last forever. The other shoe is bound to drop at any minute.”

Then sometimes when it gets really bad, it actually turns physical. And my anxious thoughts have a field day with my anxious symptoms.

Me: “My chest hurts”

Anxiety: “Heart attack.”

 

Me: “I’m dizzy.”

Anxiety: “Passing out is imminent.”

 

Me: “I’m having trouble breathing.”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed undeveloped lung. Passing out is imminent.”

 

Me: “My heart is racing.”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed heart condition. Passing out and sudden death are imminent.”

 

Me: “My vision is blurry”

Anxiety: “Undiagnosed eye condition. Sudden vision loss imminent.”

 

I mean. It’s like whoever came up with the Debbie Downer concept for Saturday Night Live was inside my head.

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Except it doesn’t always seem that funny.

Luckily I have some really good tools in place to work through it. But some days it still catches me off guard, like this morning.

Eric and I were talking about something else — something that stressed me out, but certainly not to the point of tears — and suddenly I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t breathe. I mean I had a complete meltdown in the kitchen, full of anxiety I didn’t even know was there at the moment.

My sweet husband insisted I do a breathing exercise with him, which I did. And it helped a little.

Then he told me I needed a visualization and a mantra to repeat all day. Which I did, and it helped a lot. Because I grabbed the first thing that popped into my head:

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I don’t think that’s exactly what he had in mind. In fact it’s probably so far from what he had in mind that it made me laugh. And that helped. Then I laughed a little bit more and that helped and little bit more until finally it lifted me right out of my fog.

There is a lot that comes with motherhood — and most of it is good.

But there’s also a lot that comes in on the tails of those postpartum hormones, and sometimes it sucks. So if you feel that, you’re not alone, not by a long shot. And maybe it doesn’t get better or go away, at least not immediately like we’d like. But it builds us some really strong character as we work through it. It gives us some good control as we constantly choose the more positive thoughts.

And maybe it sucks the energy out of us for the day so we  temporarily give up on caring who sees us when we’ve paired workout pants with a flannel button-down.

So in that sense, it gives us some ridiculous moments we can look back on and laugh, if we choose to.

Waiting

 

The last blog I started was called “The Prose of Patience”, and it has exactly 0 posts.

It was January of 2014 and I’d just miscarried our first child, and those first weeks afterward seemed impossibly long as we looked into our future wondering what the rest of our fertility journey would look like.

So I started the blog thinking it would be a good place to document any positives I could find about being forced into that kind of patience. For those of you who don’t know me well, this seems like a good time to tell you that patience is not in my nature. If you sat a 3 year old down in front of a bowl of m&ms, you’d see a better display of patience than you get from me in most situations.

Luckily for Eric, who has to live with me, the day after I started The Prose Of Patience we were incredibly blessed to find out we were expecting Evelyn, and that whole idea went out the window.

These days I spend a lot of time waiting in other, smaller capacities. For example — In the waiting room at dance class, with two younger kids to entertain, for 45 minutes. Also known as eternity.

I follow @busytoddler on Instagram, and it’s an absolute treasure trove of ideas on keeping toddlers entertained in just such a circumstance.

Of course I never quite get around to implementing, and instead pass the time trying to see how long it takes Lottie to realize there’s a wipe on her head.

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It was fourteen glorious and entertaining minutes, and I snort laughed so hard that I peed my in my pants. Not that that’s a shocking occurrence with a pelvic floor that has birthed 3 kids. I peed in my pants loading the dishwasher this afternoon, too.

My favorite of all the waiting I do is the 30 minutes we spend in the car twice a week while Evelyn is at speech. I throw some milk at Lottie and some trail mix at Alex and buy myself silence for 28.5 of those minutes.

Inevitably this turns into social media time, when I can scroll aimlessly through my various newsfeeds without “can I see!?” shouted directly into my eardrum.

And let me tell you, my newsfeeds are waiting for me.

You know how you’ll be texting a friend about something random like seasonal vests for your pet and then the next time you log onto Facebook, this ad is waiting for you?

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Mine does the same, except I haven’t been texting anyone about it. Facebook can just read my mind, and no sooner do my eyes hit that screen then ads for things that I MUST OWN start popping up.

Like these wraparound, HD, glare-reducing night driving glasses:

If you’re wondering where you’ve seen these before …

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… here they are on my 92 year old grandfather.

It’s like Facebook knew all about my driving anxiety and how it’s worst at night, and boom, served me up a trial I couldn’t pass.

They don’t work, by the by, and in fact it’s like wearing sunglasses at night and still seeing halos around stoplights and starbursts around headlights. They do significantly brighten up a cloudy day though, so I think I’ll keep them for the 153 of those we have coming up this winter.

One day I was wondering whether constantly cleaning my ears was contributing to my hearing loss. Next time I logged on:

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I bought it. How could I not?? I’m still waiting for it to arrive and I can. Not. Wait.

Other “impulse” purchases have been these tailgating gloves (for all the tailgating I do with a baby, a toddler and a preschooler). They have a coozy attached so you can hold your beer without it slipping from your hindered grasp …

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… and this Christmas tree for my kids to decorate, in the unrealistic hopes it will keep them away from the real tree:

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At 30% off how could I pass it up?

Sweet Baby Ray’s head is probably exploding right now as he reads this. “So THAT’s what the $9.65 charge to ‘Make Goodies’ was. Gotta say I’m a little relieved. ”

Facebook must know this, and they must know he’s a hunter, because they latest ad they sent my way was this:

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It may or may not end up under the Christmas tree this year (the real one).

I’m working hard on saying no to these ads, or at least limiting myself to $20 a month, which I in turn don’t spend at Starbucks that month. Not that I have the opportunity to go there often, anyway.

In fact the Starbucks line is one place I actually miss waiting. In silence. Alone. With a fully intact pelvic floor. I’ll be back there, someday. And until then, there are plenty of Facebook ads to keep me busy.

 

Mind Numbing

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted. I meant to write again sooner, but all of a sudden I woke up and it was mid-October and I still had 5 Halloween costumes to make, so I’ve been busy with that.

Sewing is a hobby I’ve picked up out of necessity. My kids go to bed early and Sweet Baby Ray gets home from work late, so that’s a lot of idle time in the evenings. And idle time means idle hands. And you know what they say about idle hands. Idle hands eat a heck of a lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

So here we are. I enjoy sewing, and I’m slowly getting better at it.

I’m slowly gaining a new skill set while I’m quickly losing all my old ones.

For example:

A few weeks ago I attempted to look over and talk through a business plan with someone. I say “attempted” because I had to ask for clarification or repetition no less than twelve times. The reasons for this varied. A few times my mind had simply wandered to other things, like what time I needed to put that chicken in the oven or what the real lyrics to Mmm Bop are.

Mostly, I just couldn’t make my mind keep up. I used to be able to follow along with this kind of thing but these days terms like “cash injection” literally made my brain stop functioning in all other facets while I tried to comprehend what those two words meant.

I’ve never had much of a mind for finance to begin with — I’m better at creative things — but this was a new low for me. Even lower than having to repeat the same algebra class for three straight semesters in college, which for the last 15 years has held that record.

It’s like certain parts of my brain have just straight up atrophied since having kids. “You’re tired”, you say. “You’re stressed. You have three kids under 4, you have a lot on your plate.” Sure, sure, that’s all true. But I’ll tell you what the real problem is.

The real problem is this:

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I pulled this plastic propeller from the depths of my back seat  … Rescued it from certain death among month-old apple cores and forgotten crayons and broken dreams of a somewhat sanitary automobile. And I knew the minute that my fingers closed around it that it belonged to a bin of Magna Tiles my children received last Christmas, I knew who gave us those magna tiles, and that the propeller can be used to construct exactly two of the six different vehicles spelled out in the instructions.

The problem is this:

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This tiny, tiny white plastic shoe belongs to the Barbie that Evelyn got from Grandma and Grandpa for her birthday, and it had been missing since 4:16 on October 8th until today when it fell out of the depths of her car. Barbie and I have something in common afterall.

Maybe I know these things because I had to keep track for thank-you-note purposes.

Then again, I can also glance at this from across a room and tell you that it’s a seat for the Calico Critters school bus.

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I can tell you that the school bus is currently high on a shelf in Evelyn’s closet because it’s the toy that she and Alex are having an especially hard time sharing these days.

For that matter I could sing you the Daniel Tiger song about sharing, probably backwards and probably in my sleep.

I could pick these up blindfolded and tell you which belongs to Trucky 3 and which belongs to Lottie’s shape sorter. In fact I did, in a moment of severe naptime boredom/insanity.

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THIS is what I’m good at these days. This is what is taking up 97.8% of my available brainpower. This is what I have to contribute to adult conversation, which is why I don’t often have adult conversation.

This ability to correctly identify plastic junk is currently my most valuable skillset. Look out world.

At least I know it’s valuable to my 4 year-old who asks were the “sponge for that toy horse I got from that hardware store last year is” and I can recall with photographic accuracy that Alex stashed it here: (nestled on the leaf of a plant slowly dying of root rot because keeping plants alive has NEVER been a skill of mine)

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It’s also what’s kept that sponge from getting thrown away on multiple occasions along with the scraps I’m constantly cleaning off the floor.

Someday I’ll be good at other things again. Someday my vocabulary will extend beyond Love & Logic empathetic statements and FRIENDS quotes garnered from hours upon hours of mindless Netflix while folding laundry.

But in the meantime, in the off chance you catch me out without children and engage me in conversation, please don’t be offended if my eyes glaze over and I have to ask you to repeat the entire thing. It’s just that it’s so rare that I have a conversation not peppered with —  “Mom! Mom! Mom! I need to tell you something super important!” — that I’ve lost the ability to listen in intervals longer than 60-seconds.

I’m working on getting that back. I’m also still working on these Halloween costumes in hopes my kids will have something to wear trick or treating. That is one event I can’t have them missing. They’re under strict instruction to take only the Reese’s peanut butter cups.

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