As our New Year’s Resolutions start feeling a little more like crap we won’t do again this year, I thought it might be helpful to think of how we can actually bring more balance into our lives as mothers. That’s what we are all looking for, right? We want to be skinnier and have the cleanest homes and be able to follow our dreams, all while corralling uncivilized, messy, poopy, shorter versions of ourselves.
That really doesn’t seem like too much to ask, so I came up with some ways that we can all do this:
1. Drop your pesky sleep habit. Who needs to sleep when you could be exercising or organizing your home or following your dreams? Not me. I have to care for children during the day so the night is ALL MINE.
2. Give crack cocaine a go. I have never tried this but I’ve heard it’s supposed to give you a lot of energy. (I’m totally kidding, please don’t try crack cocaine.)
3. Be super-duper rich. Pay other people to love your children so you can love yourself.
4. Make rigid schedules and force everyone to stick to them like you are all in the military. That sounds fun, right?
5. Clone yourself. And make sure you amplify the genes that like to cook organic meals and wipe butts and wear uncomfortable lingerie.
6. Invent time travel… and stop Mark Zuckerberg from inventing Facebook.
7. Join a minimalist commune. Think of a place where your children’s only toys are frisbees that you can also use for plates. You could go nudist and then you won’t even have to do laundry!
8. Weave a magic carpet and fly away to a land where there is no time and no one will notice that you are missing. I like this one.
9. Believe in the power of The Secret and manifest children who will clean their rooms and eat broccoli without turning into Johnnie Cochran.
10. Become a sister wife. I really think these girls are on to something.
11. Live with your parents. Never mind, that one is just crazy.
So… good luck out there! Here’s to 2015 being the year we all find some balance.
Or just maybe give ourselves and each other a break.
I love you. I do. You have taught my child to “Keep trying, You’ll Get Better!” which successfully stopped her from turning into the Incredible Hulk that one time when she couldn’t get her underpants on in the right direction.
And your advice to count to four, “When You Feel So Bad You Want To Roar”? Pure Genius. I’ve used this technique myself many times. I would even say that, in the hours between my older child getting home from school and my kids’ bedtime, I’m either counting to four or rocking in a corner somewhere.
I do have some concerns that I would like to talk to you about, however. First off, why is your mom the only one wearing pants on your show? Truthfully, the pants-less thing is a pretty accurate depiction of my own home, but I think you, as a role-model, should be demonstrating pants-wearing. It really would make my life easier.
And the songs. They are catchy, I’ll give you that. But, oh my god, the songs. They are the ear worms that I can never get out of my head. They follow me everywhere. And people really do look at me strange when I start singing to my child in the grocery store, “Germs, Germs Go Away” as I wipe the cart down. This is both because I am a terrible singer and because it’s pretty lame to sing to your kid in the grocery store. But I can’t seem to stop because the songs are ALWAYS there.
To survive your songs, I find myself occasionally making up new words to them when my children aren’t around. These lyrics are usually inappropriate, and because you are a preschooler, I won’t share them with you. Lets just say there are a lot of things that rhyme with Duck, and the song, “Give a Squeeze Nice and Slow” can be a grown-up song too.
I enjoy your show, I do. It gives me many minutes of freedom, probably more minutes than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. These minutes allow me time to indulge in my own interests, like, bathing and using the bathroom. And, on occasion, I feel like you are doing a better job at raising my kids than me. But right now, my daughter won’t ever actually use her words unless I sing the song, “Use Your Words,” and this is just making my life harder. And that’s not we want, right Daniel?
Because “Friends Help Each Other, Yes They Do”, I just want to remind you that the kid from Super Why? is a pretty consistent pants-wearer and Dinosaur Train is breathing down your little red sweatshirt with all those dinosaurs and…trains.
So let’s throw some pants on and take the songs down a notch m’kay? Thanks.
Even when I have to rush around getting ready for work and getting kids out the door; packing lunches, signing checks, scrubbing crusty noses. And just when I feel like I have it all together, I will watch as the bus leaves with my son in it…and his soccer bag still in my hand. I am going to try to find this funny.
Even when there is a flat tire and a frozen water pipe in the same week that my husband is gone on a business trip. I will read the fricking car manual and I will fire up the blow torch. And as I jump on the tire bolts or stand in the freezing cold shed trying to heat up a water pipe, I will think…I am, like, a super badass right now.
And when the dishes have somehow managed to procreate little disgusting baby dishes, and I decide that whoever invented Play-Doh is an asshole who has never had to sweep a floor. I will dig in, and do it all over again. Today, I will try to enjoy the feeling of making things clean.
Even when my son comes home sad because no one played with him at recess, or my daughter says I am mean for not giving her juice, or my husband and I have an argument over spaghetti. I am going to try to acknowledge those little blips in my life as those things that make us human and imperfect and…real.
First off, I made sure that my son was SUPER excited to fly from snowy Colorado to sunny California on the day before Christmas to visit his grandparents with his Dad and me and his baby sister.
See: SUPER EXCITED
I noticed on the plane ride that he was looking a little droopy. I thought to myself, I probably shouldn’t have cancelled that appointment for him to get his flu-shot a couple of weeks ago. But then; Oh, he’ll be fine!
We arrived. It was Christmas Eve. The kids got to play on the beach and their Great Aunt and Uncle arrived and he made Christmas cookies with his Nana. And he quite possibly licked his fingers and touched everything in sight, but this fact becomes more important later.
See: Licking and touching.
See: Cookies filled with germs.
The kids opened some presents and the grownups drank some eggnog and we put the kids to bed and played Santa and then settled in for our long winter’s nap.
I woke up in the middle of Christmas night to the sounds of puking. Hot foreheads. Not only my son, but also my husband. They were miserable. They were delirious. I was up all night worrying, changing sheets, and administering ibuprofen. Because, you see, I work in health care so I had received my flu shot. And so had the baby, because, well, she was a baby.
Christmas day.The one person who should have cared about Santa, did not care. Nana and Granddad started the day off okay, but then they went down too. Slowly, sadly. We learned via text messages that my aunt and uncle who had visited the day before started going down as well. My son had managed to infect at least 5 people and I began to see on the news that California was being inundated with the flu-virus. I began to worry that he had caused it. I also began to worry that they are going to track the origin of the virus to a plane from Colorado. The baby and me were all alone while everyone else lay in sad little piles all over the house. It was claustrophobic and germ-filled and so, of course, I started to clean.
The cleaning was innocent at first and then became something of an obsession. I attacked every surface with bleach and more bleach. Then I made buckets of chicken soup. I fed the baby. We were both living in a petri-dish of flu and there was nowhere to go and no one to help us. We were the last two people standing.
On the third day my sister called cheerfully from Minnesota. “Oh wow. So sorry we didn’t make it this year!” And then she quickly hung up just in case the flu germs could travel over the phone lines.
Days went by. It was a flu of epic proportions. Soup. Crackers. Checking foreheads. Cleaning. Washing soiled laundry. It was all me. IT. WAS. ALL. ME.
My family began to slowly re-emerge. My son continued to have high fevers so I took him into urgent care on that Saturday. We sat for hours. He had a ruptured ear drum so they gave him antibiotics.
My mom started to have a cough that sounded bad and was keeping her awake all night. I took her to urgent care on that Sunday. We sat for hours. She had bronchitis and was put on antibiotics.
My son had a reaction to the antibiotics and began to puke and anything that came out the other end burnt his skin raw and red. I placed him in the shower to wash him off and was completely freaked out when I saw how skinny he looked. I took him back to urgent care.
At urgent care, I was told by a nurse that me and another nurse would need to help hold my son down while they gave him an antibiotic shot in his butt because it was going to be really painful. My poor, skinny, dehydrated little boy cried so hard from that needle that he ended up getting a bloody nose. He was the most pitiful creature I had ever seen and I think at that point I might have promised him a pony.
Finally! Everyone began to recover. After 10 days (and only 3 days left of vacation) my son ATE FOOD. And he was able to go outside. And so we took him to the zoo. And the park. And he was able to see some freaking palm trees.
When he got back to kindergarten, he was told to write a story about what he did over Christmas vacation and this is what he wrote:
Translation: This Christmas I got sick and I had to get a needle in my butt. It was this big————–. And I had a lady lay on me.
This year, the stress I have created for myself over the holidays has made me want to hide in a pile of laundry, guaranteeing that no one will ever find me.
I don’t know why I wait until the last minute to do it all, but I do. Something in me must like the drama. But I do realize that when I find myself wanting to cry while wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music that I have reached a sufficient level of craziness and I need to take a step back and gain some perspective.
The perspective that I needed came while I was scrubbing the toilet today. Strangely enough, this is not the first epiphany I have had while cleaning the bathroom, probably because my kids avoid me, rightfully afraid that I am going to ask them to help. Therefore, I have a few minutes to think thoughts that only belong to me.
My perspective was not a new thought or even a particularly clever one, but it was the thought I needed at that moment while I clutched the toilet scrubber in one hand and the disinfectant in the other. The idea is that if I want to enjoy my life while surviving the holidays that I am going to have to make a conscious effort to believe the most in the little things.
You know, the things that make all the shopping and wrapping and schlepping and baking and packing and traveling and deciding and arguing and wrestling and crying and de-boogering all worth it.
Just this week my little things have included;
The gleam in my 8 year-olds eyes seconds before he threw a snowball directly into my face and then I had to tackle him and MAKE HIM PAY.
A butterfly girl at dawn.
Family who dropped everything to help us.
A cloudy day that fit a cloudy mood somehow so perfectly that all of a sudden it all felt okay.
Beading bracelets and watching Game of Thrones with my Mom and Sister until the wee hours. Like almost 10:00.
My 3 year-old who hasn’t yet figured out that I can’t carry a tune and wants me to sing to her when we cuddle.
A new commitment to meditation. It makes me less crazy. I’m using the app, Insight Timer. They did not pay me to say this.
A perfectly made Bloody Mary and a perfectly made pot of chili that were better for the friends that came with them.
A wise piece of advice from my Aunt; “The best way to make something right is to go out and live well.” And then we did.
A teeny tiny Christmas tree that made its way from our friend’s yard into our living room.
Little girls with big skis.
Cousins sharing Cheerios from their car seats.
A 13 year-old dog who still chases snowballs.
A dance on the beach in the moonlight with some of my favorite girls celebrating that we have each other.
This big boy with his long long legs but still hanging onto his stuffed animal.
My kids taking turns throwing themselves into a snowbank in their underpants.
My friendships that stick and stay, even if we don’t get to talk to each other very much. I know they are out there and hopefully they know I am out here too.
My 8 year-old who came home from school and said he had the best day EVER because he got to measure the ceiling in his classroom. With a ruler.
This moment right now. I have placed my 3 yo in front of a movie so I can write and simultaneously avoid cleaning the house. With not one drop of guilt added.
I’m over at HuffPost Parents today with, well, some of what I am feeling thankful for this week. I might have left out the Old Fashioneds. And I swear I will write a post that doesn’t come in list-form one of these days.
1. Santa is alive and well and keeping our kids from jabbing Legos into each other’s eyes.
2. Thanksgiving break is not Christmas break.
3. She (or he) who cooks the turkey wins the most wine.
4. For one day, eating is an Olympic sport where everyone wins.
5. Extended time with our children helps us to appreciate waking up early next week so that they can go to that sanity-saving institution called school.
6. There is the ultimate hope that turkey actually has that sleeping ingredient in it and it will magically make our kids Close. Their. Freaking. Eyes.
7. The kids aren’t completely out of their minds, because there are presents in their near future. (See: Thanksgiving break is not Christmas break.)
8. Pie. For breakfast.
9. You know your toddler will at least eat the cranberry sauce. I mean, probably.
10. If you make a big enough turkey, you don’t have to cook until probably Valentine’s day.
11. Extended time with our children confirms our belief that teachers are some kind of patient superheros or cyborgs or maybe even actual gods living among us.
12. The kids are pretty funny when they aren’t being completely annoying. Like, right this moment, my 3-year-old is standing in the bathroom yelling “poop!” and “fart!” because we told her she has to go in there if she wants to talk potty-talk.
13. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to listen to them play their harmonica.
14. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to wipe their butt.
15. Grandparents = kids asking somebody else to play Candyland the wrong way with them for the billionth time.
17. The kids are so exhausted from the added effort of annoying not only their siblings, but their cousins too, that they most likely pass out at night in front of their Frozen marathon.
18. As parents, we are so exhausted from the added effort of not only yelling at our own children, but our siblings’ children too, that we most likely pass out in front of our Game of Thrones marathon.
19. That five seconds of snuggling with your kids in the morning before someone gets an elbow in the eye and all hell breaks loose.
Karma is stalking me in the form of a purple dress that my daughter wears most days of her life. I believe this is because, as a child, allegedly, I was quite particular about the clothes I would wear. This once prompted my sweet grandmother to declare to my mother, “I would never let a two-year-old tell me what she was and was not going to wear.”
I felt this same way until presented with the seriously strong opinions of my own little girl who will perseverate ALL DAY LONG if she is made to wear something that she doesn’t agree with. She once held a cardigan shut with her hands (for hours!) to cover up an adorable white shirt that she said was “too straight.”
Here are just some of the other reasons why my three-year-old is changing her clothes:
1. There’s a bone on it. (a bow)
2. Her friend borrowed this sweatshirt once and now it’s too hot.
3. These pants aren’t jumping high enough.
4. When she swallows, this coat tickles her neck.
5. She forgot that she can’t do jeans on her legs.
Before becoming a mom, I had never asked the question, “Is it okay for this child to use my sock as toilet paper?” Or, after my two-year-old sprinkled her great grandparents ashes in her hair, I asked, “How much soap does it take to get human remains out of someone’s hair?” The answer: A lot. But I have asked these questions, now, and I can never go back.
Here are 25 other questions that I never knew I would be asking once I became a mother:
1. Is that chocolate… or poop?
2. Oh crap, will anyone notice that I’m wearing two different shoes?
3. Can a baby actually suck your life force out through your boobs?
4. Ketchup totally counts as a vegetable, right?
5. How is it that I have a college education and I can not solve this second grade math problem?
6. Wrestling this person into her clothes counts as cardio, right?