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Momedy

Finding the humor in motherhood

Leaving

Lottie slept through the night last night. Insert all the celebration emojis here.

I used the uninterrupted sleep time to have a dream that Eric was leaving me.

He and I often discuss how dream-Eric can be a real jerk. Last night dream-Eric told me he was leaving me and the kids, and that he’d been secretly meeting another woman at one of his vacant properties. Dream-Melissa cried and begged him not to walk out of what seemed to be a car dealership showroom that was our house, but he walked out anyway.

When I woke up, my first thought was “What an a-hole.” My second thought was … “am I more jealous that there was another woman, or that he was in a vacant property?” I mean, all that peace and quiet…

One of my memories from early in our marriage is of a morning that Eric went to work before me. I was still in bed when he left and he came in to kiss me goodbye. “You’re hard to leave,” is what he said.

This was back when I wore decent pajamas and would secretly wake up and brush my teeth while he was downstairs making coffee, then jump back into bed and pretend to just be waking up.

This is now:IMG_1436

Somehow I think leaving has gotten easier for him.

This is my rattiest sweatshirt, pulled on over the nursing tank that I’ve both leaked through (thanks Lottie) and sweated through (thanks postpartum hormones) overnight. I’m mouth-breathing so I can’t smell the baby poop that is somewhere on me but I can’t locate.

And if this beautiful scene doesn’t make leaving difficult, the chaos that follows will. By 7:15 there is so much peanut butter and yogurt smeared all over the kitchen that it will be a full 48 hours before I locate the last of it. One kid’s at the table spilling his milk and another’s at the top of the stairs screaming because she can’t come downstairs until her bed is made and mean Mom and Daddy refuse to do it for her. The baby is crying because she needs to be fed but I’m too busy making lunches to do it right now. I’m at the counter seriously considering whether or not I could send Evelyn’s water for her lunch in a flask, because I forgot to run the dishwasher last night (again) and washing her water bottle at that particular moment just seems like way too much work.

Meanwhile it looks like the fish is swimming in horchata, because I want Evelyn to be part of cleaning its bowl and last week turned out to be so crazy that we haven’t done it yet.

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I must have lost my mind the day I agreed to take on one more creature to care for. Apologies, Nemo.

Honestly when Eric breezes through the kitchen on his way to work and the kids are running after him calling for one more hug and kiss, it’s all I can do not to dive for his ankles myself, grab on and beg him to take me with him/not to leave me/to send help as soon as he gets to civilization.

These days its the staying that can seem the hardest, not the leaving. When I worked, I’d dream of the day I could stay home with my kids. My house would be spotless, I said. I’d be in the best shape of my life, I said. The reality of it now feels a little like seeing a house online and then walking through it and realizing “man this isn’t nearly as big as the pictures made it look.”

I am blessed to be able to do it, and it has its wonderful moments. But man, it can be  isolating. I am jealous of my former self, the one who could leave the house without having to worry about finding childcare. Or better yet, who could leave the house without toting three kids along. Because that’s a whole different sh*tshow.

Some mornings, by some miracle, I manage to have my act together. I’ve packed lunches the night before, everyone’s woken up and eaten right on schedule, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, my hair is combed and I have real clothes on. These mornings I get to where I’m going and look around for my round of applause and pats on the back, and no one is there to witness it.

Then there are mornings like today, where I sprint out the door ten minutes late, looking completely unkempt and the personification of the word frazzled. My empty light is on in my car, and I’m halfway to my destination before I realize I’ve forgotten to put any shoes on Alex.

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Sure, at least the socks match, but I don’t think anyone at the gym was giving me credit for that as I dropped him off in childcare shoeless, with a flask for a water bottle.

Then during my workout I pee in my pants every time I do a jump squat, come home and take a 45 second shower with the door open, because, toddlers. By the time the morning is over I may actually look worse than I did when I woke up.

Honestly now that I see it in writing I’m not at all surprised that dream-Eric left. I should probably be waiting for the day real-life-Eric goes out on beer run that he never comes back from.

I’ll just offer to do all the beer runs myself from now on. And hopefully I’ll remember shoes, but I make no promises.

 

Man Crush Monday

Today is man crush Monday, at least I think that’s still a thing. As has been the case with most of the crushes I’ve had in my life, my current one (my son) has made it clear that he does not return my feelings.

There are a few reasons that Alex and I don’t get along, the main one being that he doesn’t like me.

Alex is my favorite boy in the whole world, and at night when I snuggle him I give him a kiss on the bridge of the nose where my lips fit perfectly, and I’m honestly afraid I might bite him I want to eat him up so badly. Then his chubby little hands reach for my face … and slap it away with surprising strength for an almost two-year-old. And his sweet little velociraptor voice screeches “No Mommy no!!” or “No kiss!” or “Many thanks for growing me for nine long months in your belly and bringing me painfully into this world, but now that you’ve served your purpose, kindly get the f out of here and send Daddy in.”

You see while Alex tops my list, on his list of favorites you’ve got Daddy, his siblings, both sets of grandparents, all aunts uncles and cousins, every pet including the fish and at least 19 acquaintances before you get to me.

Last week I told Alex Daddy was on his way home and captured his reaction:

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Then I told him that he wouldn’t be home in time for bed so Mommy would be putting him down:

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I keep hearing about this magical bond between mothers and their sons, but right now the only thing bonding Alex and I is our agreement upon the banana.

My sweet baby boy has grown into a mini man with only one dream — to eat exclusively raisins and crackers, and I’m mean mommy who refuses to let him achieve it. So we’ve reached a truce, and that truce is bananas. It’s the only food he’ll eat that I’ll let him eat for every meal, and so our fruit bowl looks like this:

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I’m at Piggly Wiggly every other day stocking up on more bananas, and then I can’t pass up the Sweet Trio caramel apples strategically placed between the bananas and the checkout, so I’m actually starting to look a lot like a pig. I am Piggly Wiggly. Thanks a lot, kid.

I can’t imagine what his problem with me could be. I’ve definitely never smothered him…

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I’m sure I’ve never embarrassed him …

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Yet somehow he still favors Eric. I guess if I think about it I can’t really blame him there. Eric takes him on four wheeler rides while I put him in four time outs a day. I’m also inclined to blame Evelyn, who’s been attached to me from day one despite my promises to Eric that little girls DO grow up to adore their daddies. So when Alex came along, Eric was hell bent on turning him into a Daddy’s boy.  Like — vetoed a Llama Llama Birthday theme because there’s no Dad in the Llama Llama books. (I stand by my argument that a “Llama Llama Mad at Mama” party would have been perfect for this kid.)

He truly has become a Daddy’s boy though and as a result, he yells “Daddy home!” from the moment Eric walks out the door in he morning. Currently it’s happening while he’s supposed to be napping:

When he’s not yelling for Eric, he’s just standing at the window, waiting for him to come home.

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So it’s clear. My crush has a crush on someone else … a reality 16-26 year-old Melissa was more than familiar with.

But I’m not giving up on this one, not even in the face of full on rejection:

He’ll come around someday. And until then, we’re having a Curious George birthday party.

Curious George, who has a father figure yet no mother. Coincidence? I think not.

International Women’s Day

Apparently today is International Women’s Day, or so I gather from Facebook, which seems to be my only news source these days. That last fact, paired with all the impressive women I’ve seen posts about today has really served to remind me that I have never been less interesting.

I used to be interesting, I’m sure of it, or I never would have tricked Eric into marrying me. I’m not sure what I was texting him about five years ago when he was a week away from proposing, but I know it wasn’t this:

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A few clarifications: I have my husband entered in my phone as Sweet Baby Ray because of his intense love for barbecue sauce, not because we have freaky nicknames for each other. I’m pretty sure I’m entered in his phone as Mrs. Berg, if you’re looking for proof. If he wanted to name me after something I have an intense love for, I’d be in there as Big Mac or Chardonnay or Online Shopping or Full Nights Rest, and none of those have quite the same ring. Except maybe Big Mac, I’ll lobby for that.

Second, that is a picture of a solid bowel movement. Evelyn’s, specifically, and it was sent to Sweet Baby Ray to celebrate its solid nature, after three straight days of the opposite. Ev got sick on Friday and between Friday and Monday I wiped her butt no less than 256 times. Which I guess is something I’ve mastered. I am an excellent butt wiper and can do it while nursing another child or reading to another child or doing pretty much anything else, and I hope that’s a fact Evelyn remembers 25 years from now on International Women’s Day when she’s posting about how inspirational her mother is.

That text message celebrates both the end of my wiping responsibilities as well as the official end of my having anything of actual interest to talk about.

The trouble is, in order to find interesting things to discuss I would need to be doing or reading about doing interesting things, and for that I would require time.

I used to excel in time management, but ever since Lottie, everything I do comes at the expense of something else. If I respond to texts and emails, the kitchen doesn’t get cleaned up. If I clean my floors, the laundry sits in the dryer for 48 hours and Sweet Baby Ray goes to work in “no iron” pants that no iron could smooth if it tried. I’m writing this blog post during the time I should be meal prepping dinner which means everyone’s getting peanut butter sandwiches and canned veggies tonight.

A few weeks go I painted the changing area between our closet and bathroom. When we moved in it looked like this:

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We removed the wallpaper in the closet as well as the carpet, but both the trim and the walls still needed to be painted:

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Someday I’ll get a different countertop on there, new light fixtures and some new switch plates, but this spruced it up for now. What it didn’t spruce up was my appearance or the state of my house. This project used up every minute of naptime and bedtime for three straight days, which meant by the end of it I hadn’t showered in 36 hours, had 9 loads of laundry and 3,000 emails in my inbox. About 2995 of them were promotions from various places I’ve online shopped in the past, but it’s still a number that makes me shut my computer immediately  upon opening it.

It’s been three full weeks since I finished, and yesterday I finally caught up on the all the tasks that I’d neglected to do this. Then in one of my prouder parenting moments, Alex ran full speed around the corner wielding a hammer, and  I realized the tools that I used to switch out the mirror and the drawer pulls are still sitting on our dresser where I left them.

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They’re sitting next to the dry brush I bought and never use, because there’s barely ten minutes to shower in the morning much less an extra five to exfoliate.

Someday I’ll either get the hang of this, or my kids will grow up and move out without ever knowing a mother who can do both laundry and dishes in the same week, and I’m just going to have to be okay with either scenario.

I’m also going to have to be okay with the fact that anything I am going to accomplish will have to be accomplished while my kids are asleep, because when I try to do anything while they’re awake, I walk in to scenes like this:

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When questioned, Evelyn said she was helping her baby get back to regular poop.

Alrighty.

Then said “Mommy aren’t you so glad I’m back to regular poop?”

You have no idea how glad, child. And also I’m glad I didn’t have to administer a shot to your groin to help you accomplish that.

Postpartum

 

Last week I had my postpartum appointment. I brought the three kids along with me, and just in case the doctor had any concern over whether or not I was fit to handle the third child she’d just delivered for me, I forgot shoes for Alex.

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The doctor came in, introduced me to the med student who was shadowing her, and went about the exam. I hadn’t been in the room more than five minutes before she asked me what I wanted to do for birth control.

“Oh I’ve already got it figured out,” I said.

“Are you thinking IUD? Pill?” she asked.

“No, I actually just ordered some Bunion correctors off of Amazon, so I’m thinking that should take care of it.”

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She blinked at me a few times. “No, seriously,” she said.

“Seriously,” I told her. “They’re second only to Crocs as the best form of birth control.”

The doctor went on to explain how actual birth control works, but I stopped her. “I’m not sure it makes sense for us right now, we’ll probably try for baby #4 this fall.”

At this, the med student noticeably gagged, and I guess I don’t blame her. Evelyn was jumping on the scale singing the Diarrhea song, Alex was in the stroller melting down because he couldn’t get unbuckled, or because his pants were grey, or because his hair was too hairy, I mean who knows. Lottie was definitely the best behaved at the moment but you could definitely smell the need for a diaper change.

The doctor chose this moment to ask if I’d filled out the Postpartum worksheet. Probably a good move on her part.

The next week at Lottie’s appointment the Pediatrician had a similar form for me to fill out.

I’m certainly not poking fun at postpartum issues — I know they are real and a terrible thing to have to endure — still some of the questions on these forms always make me laugh.

“I am able to cope as well as I always have” — Always, Sometimes, Hardly Ever, Never. There either needs to be room to write in an answer, or a fifth option of “Always, but with the help of more wine than I previously required.”

Or my favorite — “I am finding it difficult to sleep.” Always, Sometimes, Hardly Ever, Never.

Is that a trick question??

Another — “I am finding it difficult to stay on top of household tasks.”

Um…

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I mean, the place has never looked better.

Also you can see Eric’s Crocs there front and center, so there’s that.

But picking up all those shoes would take a good ten minutes away from zoning out while binge watching Greys Anatomy, which is what I would have written in if question # 9 (“I am finding it hard to motivate myself”) had that option. Instead I just picked “Hardly Ever” and blamed the Netflix Binge on exhaustion.

There’s a lot I could blame on exhaustion these days … feeding my kids granola bars for several meals, wearing those Crocs on a whole day of errands without realizing it, spelling “whole” in the previous sentence “hole” and staring at it for five minutes before I could figure out what was wrong with it.

Oh well, c’est la vie. They’ll have me fill out the questionnaire again at Lottie’s 4 month appointment, and hopefully by then that pile of laundry will have been put away … but I make no promises.

 

Vacation Prep

So two parents get on a plane with a preschooler, a toddler and a newborn …

This sounds like the intro to a pretty good joke, but it will be our reality next week and I fear instead of a laugh it may end in divorce and/or a missing person’s (me) ad.

The thought of it makes me shudder, and combined with the task of packing those three kids and ourselves up for a week, it has me waxing nostalgic about vacations past. Way past.

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Look at that spring chicken. She’s 29 years old. A baby. She’s on her honeymoon, which means she’s at a weight she’ll never see again. She’s seen the inside of a tanning bed for the last time. She looks relaxed, because she’s not worrying about things like button battery ingestion. She doesn’t look nauseous, because she hasn’t changed 7 blowouts in the last 24 hours. She looks put together, because she spent her spare ten minutes that morning applying makeup, not staring at a 3-year-old’s bare butt asking herself “pimple or staph infection?” I can’t remember what she and her husband were talking about before this picture was taken, but I know it wasn’t chapter three of Parenting with Love and Logic.

This picture was taken 4 years and 2 months ago. She’ll go on to spend 2 years and 3 months of that time pregnant, and the rest of it postpartum, which means she has only a month left of sleep that’s not being interrupted by trips to the bathroom or crying babies.

She hasn’t yet listened to “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” 2971565 times. She doesn’t know it yet, but soon she’ll be able to add “Ability to recite ‘Little Blue Truck’ by heart” to her resume … a resume that is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

The day after this picture is taken she and her husband will drive 3 dangerous hours to raft down a river and then drive 3 dangerous hours back (dangerous due more to the driver than the terrain). But she won’t bat an eye, because she hasn’t yet turned into the kind of hypochondriac that thinks every headache is an aneurysm that’s about to leave her children motherless.

She is the most relaxed she will ever be again. Does she appreciate it? Of course not … because she doesn’t know it.

I look at the girl in that picture and remember the kind of things she was worried about, and want to say “tell me more about this magical world you live in, where you can leave the house whenever you want. Tell me about the pedicure you got before this trip … don’t leave out a single detail.

Tell me about the long runs you went on so you’d fit in these clothes.

Tell me what your packing list looks like, because I know for sure it doesn’t look like this:

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That girl was dreaming of her future, but I doubt she was picturing a list that included things like “snot sucker” and breast pump.

I also want to ask her how it felt packing for her just herself and therefore not sleeping in a bedroom that looked like this:

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Twenty-nine year old Melissa has white teeth and tan skin, because she has energy for tooth whitening and tanning. Thirty-three year old Melissa is so ready for bed by 8:15 that she can’t even muster up the energy to slather herself with some  Jergens Natural Glow or glob some whitening gel onto these teeth. As a result, my legs pass the “tissue test” while my teeth do not.

If I could go back in time and tell her to appreciate it – all the freedom she has – I would. But the best I can do for her is to appreciate now.

I spent my childhood dreaming of growing up, now I’m here and I dream about that care-free stage of life. I spend my current days dreaming about adult conversations and the ability to watch TV without having to mute it because Evelyn is scared of Arby’s commercials. But when they’re out of the house and grown, I’ll be yearning for these days.

I know for sure I will miss my son looking tiny while trying Daddy’s shoes in the morning before he leaves for work … CDB93D69-D143-4AC0-9539-018204CD84F2.jpeg

… and forget that he spent the rest of the morning doing this while I tried to get the baby to sleep:

 

I’ll probably think back on having all the kids together at the doctor for Lottie’s one month appointment and remember that Evelyn held her hand to help her be brave, while conveniently forgetting how often I had to yell at Alex to get out of the medical supply cabinet …

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Or to stop trying to hack into the doctor’s computer system:

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But while I may miss how cute and mini they will look in their airplane seats, I do think I can say with confidence that I will not miss changing blowout #8 in the airplane bathroom.

Wish me luck.

I Want Answers

Some questions, I want answers to. If you looked at my Google search history, you might find things like “What kind of disorder does my three-year-old have if she loses her mind when her ducky humidifier “Duck duck” isn’t turned on for one night?” or “what kind of disorder does my son have if he can’t eat a cookie without screaming for 45 minutes afterwards because I deny him a second one?” or “What kind of disorder do I have if during craft time with my daughter I made a countdown to wine-o-clock?”

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I made this:

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Then Evelyn made it into a sticker chart for me.

Pinterest that.

If it were possible to include images in Google searches, you might find in my history “What kind of disorder does my daughter have if she makes this face every time I tell her to smile?”

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Thanks to Faith Photography, by the way, who can somehow make even a sneak peek of Lottie’s newborn pictures featuring that face on Evelyn adorable.

But seriously. All I can hear when I look at that is Monica Gellar’s voice saying “Chandler! What is the matter with your face!?”

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These are things I’d like to get to the bottom of. Though I do get nervous as I search for answers to these questions and and wait for “Cancer, cancer, alcoholism, cancer” to appear, respectively.

Then there are threads I don’t want to pull at. Like the fact, for example, that Evelyn woke up with an accent on Tuesday morning.

Monday morning she went to bed just fine. Tuesday she woke up mispronouncing vowels that she’s had mastered for months. I can’t tell if it sounds more like she’s channeling her inner Scarlett O’Hara, her inner lifelong New Yorker, or if she’s been watching too many Mark Wahlberg movies. Whatever it is, she sounds ridiculous.

What you’re hearing here is “I dropped the cap.” What it sounds like is “I draaaaped the cap.”

Also worth noting about this video is that her hair hasn’t been brushed in two days, her (mismatched) clothes are completely covered in stickers that I WILL forget to remove before washing, there is a crack in the lens on my phone that makes it look like there’s a sunbeam in every single photo I take, and there are about 12 layers of artwork on the fridge because I can’t bring myself to throw anything away but have no organized place to store it.

Pinterest that.

Another thing I’ve stopped looking for an answer to is my children’s eating habits.

I fell in love with Eric about an hour and a half into our first date. An hour and forty five minutes in, I almost got up and walked out when he said “You know, I’m not a “live to eat” kind of person, I’m more an “eat to live” kind of person.”

As it turns out, not only are my kids also not “live to eat” people, they may not even be “eat to live” people.

I’ve always abided by the whole “They eat what we eat” rule, and I’m not about to replace food they’re not eating with food I know they will eat (which this week is a list of exactly four things — Ice cubes, ice chips, shaved ice, and Graham Crackers.) I figure if they’re hungry, they’ll eat what’s in front of them. Eventually. Right?

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Here you have Evelyn’s dinner. It’s also her lunch, but since she didn’t touch it at lunch, she had it again for dinner. There’s a chicken and cheese sandwich, two cooked carrots, two crunchy carrots, two cherry tomatoes (which last week she couldn’t get enough of) a little bit of BBQ chicken salad, and a string cheese.

Not a single bite of this was eaten. Not one. Not for lunch or for dinner, which means she hasn’t eaten anything in over 12 hours.

Tonight’s Google search reads “Is it child abuse if my kid’s been on strike for 12 hours and I still haven’t caved and made her Mac and Cheese?”

What may not be obvious about this picture is that she’s three boogers deep in a meal of snot. I’ve given up trying to stop her from picking her nose, because a) it’s just impossible and b) I keep hearing booger-eaters are healthy.

Also there’s a spot at the bottom right corner of her mouth that she just cannot stop licking and as a result has gotten so chapped that it is cracked and bleeding and will. not. go. away.

Anyone have any tips for that? Because I’m scared to Google it.

The only person in my household who doesn’t have me searching for answers these days is Lottie, and that’s only because I’ve been through this twice before and there’s no projectile vomit or stool consistency she can throw at me that I haven’t seen already.

Or, maybe it’s because by the time she finally gets my undivided attention, the other two are in bed and it’s finally wine-o-clock and I’m a little more relaxed about everything.

Tomorrow during craft time I’ll be making a countdown to the weekend and therefore to an extra set of hands around here.

Maybe I’ll finally clean some artwork off the fridge, maybe Evelyn’s hair will finally get brushed, maybe Evelyn’s accent will disappear, maybe Evelyn’s smile will normalize … maybe Evelyn will give me a day without something to worry about.

If not, there’s always wine.

This is Three

On New Years morning I woke up to a really embarrassing notification from Pandora — something like “You’ve listened to 8,423 hours of Enya Radio in the last 8,760 hours, keep the streak going in 2018!”

I have Enya Pandora on from the time I wake up to the time I fall into bed, for exactly two reasons.

One, without constant music coming from my phone I would never, ever, EVER be able to find it. Two, piping spa music into my house is my last line of defense between sanity and insanity.

A week and a half into life with three kids, and I can already tell I’m going to need something a little stronger.

Lottie is easy. She sleeps all the time and when she’s not sleeping she’s just looking around like she can’t figure out how she landed here, with these kids and that dog and that constant new-age noise coming from Mom’s phone. (I’m completely aware that now that I’ve said out loud how good she is, she’ll flip a switch and turn terrible. Probably tonight, and probably between 11 pm and 3 am.)

Everyone in our life has been so wonderful and helpful. My parents took the two older kids for two days while we were in the hospital having Lottie. My in-laws came down the day she was born and cleaned our house top to bottom so I didn’t have to worry about that when we got home. There are friends and family bringing us the most delicious meals. Evelyn’s preschool director walked her to my car last week so I didn’t have to unload the other two kids in the sub-zero temperatures. Her speech teacher is coming to the car to get her so I don’t have to unload the other two and schlep them inside (yet). A friend came to stay with Lottie so I could grocery shop and pick Evelyn up from school by myself.

It seems the only people that don’t seem to care about making things any easier for me are my two older children.

In fact, the hardest part of this adjustment answers to the name Alexander and is available for immediate home exchange.

When we brought Alex home from the hospital Evelyn was 18 months old, and while she was certainly no angel, she was a delight compared to what my darling son has turned into in recent weeks.

Every time I nursed Alex as a baby, Evelyn knew that “Feeding time is Reading time.” I had similar expectations this time. In my head, I’d be nursing the baby and something like this would be unfolding quietly next to me:

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Instead, three minutes into feeding Lottie this morning I heard the ice-maker at work in the kitchen and walked in on this scene:

I realized then and there that something’s going to have to change, and that something is probably going to be me.

I like to run a pretty tight ship around here. I’m big on schedules, boundaries, enforcing consequences, etc. It keeps the order, and order is the only way I can get from sunup to sundown without eating my young. I mean there’s a very fine line between myself and Captain VonTrapp. You know, with the whistles for each kid.

But it turns out I may have to learn to relax a little bit while we adjust to this new one.

Exhibit A — the kids current favorite toy:

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In Evelyn’s hands you’ll see the stick for our sliding door. Alex likes to push it around like a vacuum, Evelyn likes to swing it around like a sword, and I’m stuck on the couch with a one-week-old attached to me and no free hands to take it away from them or put them into time out if (when) they refuse to relinquish it.

Exhibit B — the toy room:

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When Evelyn was a baby, I’d clean the toy room at nap time so it was pristine when she’d wake up. With Alex, I took to cleaning it at the end of the day only, knowing how trashed it would get all over again in the afternoon. With Lottie, I’ve yet to clean it.

I’ve started dry-heaving when I walk past it, but I left the energy to clean it up back at the hospital.

Exhibit C — My appearance:

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Today was my second day in a row in this shirt. It was 3:00 before I noticed these stains. I have no idea what they are or how long they’ve been there. If I had to guess, it’s drippings from the cool whip I’ve been eating straight from the tub — which, by the way, you can eat in its entirety for only about 6 Weight Watchers points. Hypothetically.

Exhibit D — the pantry.

I have a strict “no helping yourself to food from the pantry rule” that Alex broke yesterday when he casually strolled up to the couch with his hand in a box of Pop Tarts I didn’t know he could reach.

Next time I looked, he was in there getting a treat for Pippa …

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… which, after letting her lick profusely, he took back from her and took a bite of himself.

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Whatever, kid. You do you, and if you want to eat dog treats, go nuts. They’re probably better for you than Pop Tarts, anyway.

If you need me, I’ll be over here drinking all the wine. And listening to all the Enya.

Thankless

We just spent a wonderful weekend celebrating the Middle Child of the holidays, Thanksgiving.

I have much more to be thankful for than I deserve — my family, my kids, a husband who works his butt off every. single. day. to provide for our family, to keep our Dane in kibble and our kids in diapers, and takes care of all three when I get struck down by the plague for the remainder of the holiday weekend.

Mostly, I’m thankful for my entirely thankless job. (Can I say thankless in the wake of Thanksgiving weekend?) Well I’m going to. I don’t mean the kind of thankless that up-all-night-newborn feedings feel until all of a sudden one day that baby smiles at you. I’m talking about alllll of the behind-the-scenes orchestrating that is either unnoticed or just goes unacknowledged.

The juggling of activities — which kids activities’ are cancelled for the week due to the holiday and which ones are still on, who needs to bring a flashlight to school on Friday and who has a make-up swim lesson on the third Wednesday of every-other-month ending with -ember. Who has one more night’s worth of diapers before we’ll need more and whose white tights absolutely must be washed and folded by Sunday night so they’re ready for ballet on Monday afternoon.

You know, those things … the things that make it impossible to sit down in front of the TV at night without a whopping  basket of laundry to fold, or that make it hard to get past 8 p.m. without falling asleep (or past 3 a.m. without waking up) due to the constant mental gymnastics that takes up every ounce of brainpower you have leftover.

I give you this morning, for example.

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There’s my car.

To some, this might look like one huge mess. Probably to my husband it looks like a day and a half of hard-earned money out the minivan window. To Alex it apparently looked like one big graham cracker, as that’s what he kept screaming the whole ride.

But to me it looks like every last second of the 2.5 hours between school drop-off and pick-up. It looks like final preparations for two holiday gatherings this weekend, like meals for my family for the next week, like final Christmas and birthday gifts procured, like two class snacks and one batch of homemade Playdough that we somehow ended up responsible for all in on week … like the culmination of an hours worth of menu planning and three different shopping lists — made first on my phone and then categorized and written out by store and section so I don’t have to run all the way back across Piggly Wiggly because I forgot the lettuce while I was in the produce section or the bacon while I was in the meat section. (Both of which happened anyways.)

Will my kids notice any of this and/or thank me for it? Nope. If I’m lucky, I might get a “Thank you for getting me Nutella, Mommy!” out of Evelyn, because she’s amazing and sometimes remembers to say things like that. More likely, though, the food will be consumed (or untouched by picky eaters and eventually thrown away to the sound of whining about going to bed hungry.) If I accomplish nothing else as a mother, they will notice and appreciate these efforts by the time they’re old enough to see past snack time.

Judging by the number of other Moms (and one Dad) I saw out doing the same thing today, I know I’m not alone in this.

So, just in case your kids didn’t recite the following list of “thank-you’s” over the Thanksgiving weekend, I’m writing this for you, because I see you behind the scenes and I know your household just wouldn’t run if you weren’t out running all morning. And I think you’re amazing.

Thank you for skipping your shower this morning so you could meal plan and write out your errand list for the day, even if it meant you showed up to Costco in the same thing you’re wearing in your Costco Card picture, which also happens to be the same grubby hat and sweatshirt you wear four times a week and have come to think of as your “shower-skip-day-uniform.” (Who, me?)

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Thank you for risking E. Coli, Salmonella and Listeria to dig through the slimy packages of Chuck Roast so you could find the English Cut that’s on sale. All to make a delicious, nutritious pot roast for dinner that will be dubbed “too spicy” or “too mushy” or “too brown” and immediately shunned along with the vegetables you’ll roast in a way that according to Pinterest “toddlers will love”.

Thank you for waiting at the deli counter so that the lunchmeat can be sliced just so, even though the deli counter always seems to take up approximately 45 of the 50 minutes you have to shop.

Thank you for remembering the frozen waffles, even if it meant forgetting the bottle of Tums that has been on (and been forgotten from) your last 3 lists, for the heartburn that wakes you up five times a night thanks due to the child you’re growing that will also probably forget to thank you for all of this.

Thank you for keeping a running tally of the milk, diaper and applesauce supply so we are never, ever, ever out.

Thank you for schlepping your nuggets along on these errands when you’d so much rather be at home playing with them and/or working on noodle stringing and the other fine motor activities your Pediatrician keeps sending you worksheets on with notes like “I’m not concerned YET, but…” (Who, Alex?)

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I’m counting playing with a straw and a water cup as a fine-motor-activity on the go.

Thank you for going to three different stores so you can get each thing that you need at the best possible value, so you can (in theory) have money leftover for date nights and soccer camp.

Thank you for hauling a** across town just to get five minutes at home to hide the presents and get the perishables in the fridge before running back across town for school pickup.

Thank you for not killing the driver of the Medivan that pulled out right in front of you a minute into this race home, who then not only anticipated your route home but drove 10 under the speed limit for the entirety of it. I see you staying out of jail this holiday season, and on behalf of your family, I appreciate it.

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Thank you for throwing out your back loading and unloading this bounty in and out of three different shopping carts, one car and one fridge.

Thank you for the delicious meals that you will make from all of this, even knowing the mess that they will result in.

Thank you for getting down on the floor and cleaning up those messes three times a day, when the dog is so picky that she will lick up half of what falls but leave the rest for you and the dustpan, because while she loves eggs, she’s above eating eggs that have been reduced to a certain size. (Who, Pippa?)

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Thank you for doing this day in and day out, regardless of if you’re perfectly healthy or feeling like death warmed over, if you’re at your physical prime or are in the midst of having both ribs and pelvis painfully separated by a 7 lb. baby, if you’ve gotten 10 hours of sleep or 10 minutes.

I could go on. And on. And on. But my point is – to anyone who is feeling like their job as a parent is particularly thankless on this (week after) Thanksgiving, I see you. Even if your kids don’t yet. And hopefully someday those kids will grow up, and some random Wednesday they’ll be doing exactly what you’re doing now, and then they’ll get it. And then they’ll send you flowers, and a gift certificate for a 90-minute Swedish massage followed by a manicure for those hands that have worked so tirelessly for them. Or at least they’ll just call and say thanks.

Mom, you’re my hero.

But Why?

It’s been forever since I’ve posted anything. It’s just that my kids have required so much energy lately that every time I sit down to blog, no matter what topic I plan to cover, it comes out a Craigslist ad for full-time help.

Plus, my brain is completely fried from answering my 3-year-old’s questions. All the questions. All. The. Time.

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When I’m working on a manuscript, my favorite scenes to write are the dialogue scenes.

Why? Because my characters get to have the conversations I would love to be having if I saw other adults during the day and was not being held hostage in a Honda Odyssey with two toddlers.

Instead of enjoying witty banter, my “conversations” are a long string of answers to an even longer string of questions.

These questions are at their worst in the car, when there’s no escaping each other. And we’re always there. I didn’t do a very good job of timing the kids’ activities this fall, so between school drop-off and swim lessons and school pick-up and dance class and speech twice a week, we never have quite enough time to go home between activities. So we basically live in the car on weekdays. This makes my vehicle look like it’s been chosen for an episode of Pimp my Ride, and the recipient is an individual who loves nothing more than empty fast food containers and coloring books.

If you’d dropped in on me at 10:45 yesterday, this is what you’d have heard.

Me: “Evelyn, please buckle up.”

Evelyn: “Why?”

Me: “Because being buckled in keeps you safe in the car.”

Evelyn: “Why?”

Me: “Because if you weren’t buckled in and I had to stop very quickly, you’d go flying out of your carseat and could bump and get hurt.”

Evelyn: “Why?”

Me: “Ev, just buckle up. I will drive the car once you’re buckled.”

Evelyn: “Where are we going?”

Me: “Target.”

Evelyn: “Why to Target?”

Me: “Because we need groceries and at Target I can get both groceries and a Starbucks, and I really need a coffee.”

Evelyn: “Why you need a coffee?”

Me: “Because I’m tired.”

Evelyn: “Why you tired?”

Me: “Because I have a 5 lb. human growing in my belly. And I don’t sleep anymore. And you were up at 5:30.”

Evelyn: “Why was I up at 5:30?”

Me: “That’s a very good question. Why were you up at 5:30?”

Evelyn: “There was pee-pee coming out of my butt.”

Me: *gags silently*

Evelyn: “Are we on Western?”

Me: “No, we’re on Wauwatosa.”

Evelyn: “Why are we turning onto Wauwatosa?”

Me: “Because this is the road that will take us to where we need to go.”

Evelyn: “Why is this the road that will take us where we need to go?”

Me: *Attempts to ignore question.*

Evelyn: “How long until we get to the roundabout?”

Me: “Not long.”

Evelyn: “But how many minutes?”

Me: “Two minutes.”

Evelyn: “Why not thirty-teen minutes?”

Me: “Because thirty-teen isn’t a number.”

Evelyn: “But how long is two minutes?”

Me: *Attempts to ignore question again.*

Evelyn: “Is this the roundabout?”

Me: “No, this is a stoplight.”

Evelyn: “Why are we moving?”

Me: “Because the light turned green.”

Evelyn: “Why did the light turn green?”

Me: “Because it’s  our turn to go.”

Evelyn: “Why is it our turn to go?”

Me: “Because we need to take turns with the other cars.”

Evelyn: “Why we need to take turns with the other cars?”

Me: “Because there are lots of cars going all different directions and if we didn’t have stoplights, everyone would crash into each other and no one would know when to drive.”

Evelyn: “Why are there lots of cars–”

Me: “You know what sweetheart, I need us to have a little quiet time.”

Evelyn: “Why you need us to have a little quiet time?”

Me: “Because all these questions tire me out and I just need a little break. Now Shhh.”

Evelyn: “Why you just need a little break?”

Me: Silence

Evelyn: (at a new, higher volume) “Why you just need a little break?!”

Me: Silence.

Evelyn: (at an even higher volume) “Why you just need a little break?!?”

Me: “Evelyn I’ve told you I need some quiet time, I will not be answering you until you can be quiet for two minutes.”

Evelyn: “BUT WHY YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BREAAAAK?!?”

Screaming, crying and whining ensues for the rest of the drive. This is all. Day. Long. I have answered so many inane “why’s” that my nightmares — which used to be reserved for hearing a home invader downstairs and not being able to get my legs to move in order to escape — now consist of that one single word whispered very quietly in my ear.

I tell myself it’s a phase, and that the why’s will eventually stop. Which I’m sure they will. Unfortunately, I have a second child. Every week he adds new words to his vocabulary, and a few weeks ago, that word was “Why.”

If you need me, I’ll be checking myself into Rogers Memorial for the remainder of 2017.

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