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Finding the humor in motherhood

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Platitude attitude 

There are a good many things that make me feel old these days.

Saying things like “a good many” for one. A newfound interest in birds, for another. The fact that half the voters in the 2020 election don’t remember a time when McDonalds had twist cones.

But nothing makes me feel older than the sudden awareness of just how quickly time is passing.

Notice I didn’t say “it goes so fast,” because if there is one thing I hate hearing, it’s that. There’s nothing worse you can tell a young mother with anxiety. I know how fast it goes, trust me. I blinked and my newborn was 5, and now all I can think about is how in 3 1/2 years we’ll be halfway done having her under our roof. Unless I have my druthers and our kids live with us forever. (See, I said druthers, I’m old.)

There’s nothing I can do to stop the velocity of time, so I’ve done the only thing I can do — try living each day completely in the moment. Like it’s my last.

The only problem with that is that no one in their right mind would choose to do laundry on the last day of their life, which eventually leads to this:

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Even Pippa looks terrified of that laundry mountain.

Another problem is that no one would diet on the last day of their life, which means I eat in a way that could very well make today the last day of my life.

This morning as I was laying out my sweatpants for an easier outfit change immediately upon re-entering my home, my kids were engaged in a chorus of their favorite song, “Mom.” They don’t sing it as much as they yell it, in rounds. The result is that the word “Mom” is almost constantly ringing in my ears at a pitch that only dogs should be able to hear. In that moment I thought about another least-favorite platitude of mine, the “you’re going to miss these days” one. Am I? 

There will be parts of this stage I’ll miss greatly. The fact that all my kids are safe under my roof every night. The cuddles and sticky lollipop kisses. The fact that they want me around. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s not okay to sometimes loathe how much they want me around. I mean I would occasionally like to shave my legs without company. It’s okay to look forward to the day I get the flu and can actually rest quietly instead of having to wipe butts and referee fights with a 104  degree fever.

My point is, if you’re prone to these platitudes, I get it — it’s an easy thing to say to young-ish Moms and sometimes you’re just making conversation. But maybe next time try adding “you’re doing a great job” or “here take my massage certificate, I’ll take your kids home and fold your laundry.” I mean, just a for-instance. 

Ho Ho Hold on a sec…

Every year I involve myself in a little gamble called “How early can I put up a real tree and expect it to live through Christmas morning.”

These were my stairway greens last year on November 25h. They were in a pile of brown needles by December 12th.

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It’s been getting progressively earlier every year, because those of you who know me know I basically turn into Buddy the Elf the day after the kids go back to school. It takes all the self control I have not to decorate for Christmas before Halloween.

I love almost everything about this time of year – the music, the movies, the magic.

This year there’s only one thing I haven’t been loving — It seems like the Christmas season presents a lot of opportunities to directly oppose the things I try to instill in my kids the rest of the year.

For example.

Me 335 days a year: Be kind and choose your words very carefully.

Me in December: Let’s sing this super fun song about the Grinch where we call him “an appalling dump heap.”

I’d probably steal someone’s Christmas too if that someone told me my heart was an empty hole, but also that it was a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots.

Another example:

Me 335 days a year: Do not go anywhere with a stranger. Never EVER take or eat anything a stranger tries to give you.

Me in December: Let’s read this magical book about a little boy who is lying in bed one night when a stranger casually pulls up to his house in a freight train. The boy sneaks out of his house, jumps aboard, eats everything thrown at him … and not only does it all work out for him – it works out so well that he gets to meet Santa!

I love me some Polar Express, but let’s talk about how the parents manage to sleep through their kid sneaking onto a freighter. I wake up in a panic when the darkness of my room is disrupted by the silent brake lights of my neighbor pulling in at 9:45. If Tom Hanks showed up in an express train trying to abduct my child, I’d be the first one out the door, and with some choice words for him. The first of which would probably be a request for his autograph.

This one has less to do with my kids, but I also get irrationally angry every time I watch Miracle on 34th Street. Particularly at the part where a single Mom gets a note at 10pm that says “Meet me at St. Francis after midnight mass” on Christmas Eve and somehow makes it there. How did she procure a last minute sitter on the biggest holiday of the year?? Christmas miracle indeed. Also I’d like to know how she can afford a penthouse apartment in NYC on a retail salary, but that’s a different discussion.

Movies aside, the season as a whole continues to usurp all my hard work the rest of the year.

“We need to put healthy foods in our body before we have treats, but here! For the next 30 days start your day with this sugar bomb from your advent calendar.”

“It’s important that you do the right thing even when no one is watching. But also, The Elf is watching! Santa is watching!”

I love the magic of the season, and I love seeing it reflected in my kids eyes … so for the next 30 days I will continue to walk the fine line between enforcing what I usually enforce, and making a few exceptions for the holiday.

In the meantime, my tree will be going up in 48 hours, and I will be sitting in front of it drinking eggnog for the remainder of the weekend. Singing The Grinch.

 

 

Summertime, and the living is ….

In three days it will be August 1.

At our house, August 1st is when the wheels really start to come off.

At this stage of early parenting, preschool has been out since the first week of May which means all three kids and I have now been together all day, every day for over 2 1/2 months.

If you’re needing a visual representation of where that much quality time with a 4.5 year-old will get you, here you go:

June 1:

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August 1:

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Historically I’m not great at reading looks, but that one pretty clearly says “I’m thinking about killing you in your sleep.”

(“Because you won’t let me put dish soap on the water slide”)

Summertime at this stage of life is a lot like bedtime at this stage of life.

Bedtime is by far the most overpromised and undelivered part of early parenting. Despite knowing better, you have visions of sweet snuggles and quiet lullabies. I blame diaper commercials.

Turns out is very little sweetness involved. Instead, it’s a lot of loud demands and angry screams for more water, more snuggles, doors open, lights on, socks on, socks off, more covers, less covers, different covers, different parents.

By now I know I should lower my expectations, but my inner optimist just can’t do it.

Summer is the same way. When we’re on month 8 of a long winter and we’re all staring longingly outside, all these optimistic plans start to fill my head. Where we’ll go, what we’ll do, outings we’ll take…Writers live a rich fantasy life and I’m no different.

Come mid-February you can find me daydreaming about baseball season for example. I picture us strolling out of Miller Park as a family in the summer evening twilight, eating cotton candy together.

In my fantasy I conveniently forget two things.

For starters, cotton candy ends up looking like this and therefore requires significant cleanup, which is never popular with the child. This leads to screaming.

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Second, and most importantly, another result of cotton candy looks something like this:

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More screaming.

Then there is the sibling dynamic to take into consideration. Early in the summer I walk in to find a scenes like this:

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Fast forward to today, when we had our first ever bite wound, and I think it’s safe to say they’re ready for some space.

Activity planning also takes a pretty significant hit. Arts and Craft time early in the summer was both well planned and well supervised.

Meanwhile this morning I sent Evelyn out to the garage in her pajamas and told her to draw a self portrait with sidewalk chalk.

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Is it obvious we’ve been potty training her brother? 🙈🙈🙈

Meanwhile back inside, the supervision has also gotten a little lax.

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You get the picture.

One of the trainers at my gym likes to say “finish as strong as you started” and it’s safe to say I’m not doing a bang up job of that.

I like to think that maybe as the kids get older it will get better. And if not, at least future me is getting some early training in spending the summer with a teenager, every time Evelyn looks at me like this.

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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. ❤️

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