Girl Power

People who have known me a long time know that my views have changed pretty drastically over the past few years. I think that is a healthy thing. Being open to growth is, in my opinion, a vital part of being a functional adult.

So, things were already shifting for me before I had my third child.

A girl.

Before I actually understood what it meant to be a feminist, I didn’t think I was one. I mistakenly assumed that feminists ruined things for the rest of us by burning their bras and telling men not to open doors for them. I thought feminists were angry women who loved to hate on men.

I LIKE having doors opened for me. I LIKE my bras. I LIKE men.

I enjoy being a girl.

I’ll tell you a secret: once upon a time, long, long ago, I told some friends that I didn’t think a woman could ever be capable of running the United States of America. I know. I said that. I actually believed that. It’s mortifying.

“Men are better at that stuff,” I actually said, WTF. I cringe every time I think about this, but I’m trying to set the stage for my story.

Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to have very patient, smart friends who didn’t ditch me when I said women aren’t capable of running a nation, who taught me that feminism does not mean that you don’t want to be a girl, or be treated like a woman worthy of respect. Being a feminist means that you embrace your gender and celebrate it. Feminists believe that girls can be and do anything, that they deserve equal pay and opportunities, and most of all, they encourage each other to be brave and bold because feminists believe in the power of women.

Some feminists, like myself, choose to quit their soul-sucking corporate career to stay home and raise a family. Other feminists choose to skip marriage and children and sail the world’s oceans instead. Feminism means that we do what we want, because women are capable of making their own decisions. Period.

So. Not only did I realize that I am a feminist, but I also realized that I’m also in charge of raising 3 other humans to recognize and believe in the power of women. That’s a tall order, but one that I’ve embraced with pride. Teaching my daughter to be brave and bold has been one of my greatest joys as a mother. Seeing her stand up for herself, rather than shrinking away in fear, fills my heart with warm, cuddly fuzzies.

People don’t expect her to be fearless, because she’s pretty. Still, in 2016, this surprises people.

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Feminists in training.

On Halloween, we took the kids trick-or-treating in a friend’s neighborhood. A little boy (his father later said he was 5 years old) dressed as a policeman was driving down the sidewalk in a ginormous, battery-powered, child-sized cop car.

Pepper walked over to the boy and pulled on the passenger door.

“I want a ride,” she said.

All of the adults oohed and ahhed. Look how cute this is! The little ladybug wants a ride in the cop car! THIS IS SO ADORABLE, GET YOUR CAMERA OUT.

“Give her a ride, Jimmy!”

Jimmy’s mom leaned over and removed the bucket of Halloween candy from the passenger seat. Pepper pulled the door open and climbed in before turning to the boy and saying in her loud, clear, voice:

“You’re in my seat.”

The boy just looked at her, so she said it again, louder this time, and with conviction:

“You’re in my seat.”

Thus began an epic stare down between Jimmy and Pepper. He looked at her like he was unsure of what to do, and frankly a little scared, and she looked at him like he best get his ass out from behind that steering wheel.

I stifled my laughter as I watched his parents silently freak out that their son was being bossed around by a girl, in front of other people. After a few moments, Jimmy gave in and let Pepper have the driver’s seat.

She assumed her position and immediately gunned it, and I thought to myself that I’ve literally never been prouder.

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How Things Change

I remember a very long time ago when we had a baby and I was worried that Robbie was going to say inappropriate words in front of it. I was also concerned about food additives and a whole host of other things that I no longer have the time or energy to care about, like whether or not it was okay for my child to breathe in the fumes from Clorox Wipes and what was actually in baby formula.

Fast-forward to 5:00 this morning when our third child climbed into our bed, alerting me by repeated bludgeoning to the head and face, and I flung my arm over to hit my sleeping husband.

“Pepper’s in our bed,” I mumbled, as her knee dug into my gut.

Nothing.

“PEPPER’S IN HERE,” I repeated. Now she was pulling on the sheets, attempting to smother me to death with her battered sheep lovey.

Nothing.

He wouldn’t take his CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask off, which is pretty much a passive aggressive way of saying fuck you, I’m not dealing with it. I’m basically blind and deaf at night; I have terrible eyesight without my contacts or glasses, and I’ve been wearing earplugs for over a decade, so I’m familiar with passive aggressive ways to pretend to not know something is going on. I am well versed in it. Also, I have sleep issues, and that makes me difficult to deal with.

Okay, fine. It makes me a raging bitch.

Once someone shakes me from deep, precious slumber, it can take me literally an hour to fall back asleep, and even once I do finally konk out again, the quality always sucks from that point forward.

What was that? Did you just ask why?

Because I lie there and my mind starts racing thinking of all the things I need to remember to do in three hours when my alarm goes off, and then I start wondering what I forgot to put on my mental to-do list, becoming angry at myself for not setting the coffeemaker to turn on by itself at 6 a.m. because I AM NOT GOING TO FEEL LIKE MAKING IT AFTER MISSING THIS MUCH SLEEP, and the anxieties just spiral off from there like tiny insomniac tornadoes.

So, back to the child that was poking me in the face: once I realized that I was going to have to put her back in her bed, I yelled, “FUCK, FINE, I’LL DO IT.” So much for worrying about my husband’s mouth in front of our kids.

And that is how much things change between the first and third-born child.

Bedtime

I can’t be mad at this cutie pie.

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A Mother’s Denial.

I have spent so much of my life wanting time to move faster.

I’m a doer. A planner. I get the metaphorical ball rolling. I mobilize.

And yes, it’s exhausting. But that is who I am and who I always have been. I lie awake in bed at night planning the next day. I spend almost my entire day on my feet, doing things. I can’t help it. It’s in my DNA.

But now my last child has outgrown her crib, and I CANNOT MOVE PAST IT. I have planned for this moment at length, watching three teething babies gnaw on the wooden rails, telling myself that one day it will be time to convert it into a full-size bed and close the Crib Chapter of our lives. And now that time has come … and I just can’t move forward.

I’m stuck.

I’m sad.

I cry a lot.

It’s weird.

I’ve been dragging my feet for weeks, saying things like “I still need to find bedding,” or, “We’ll do it this weekend.”

Excuses.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t want my last baby to sleep in a big girl bed. I stare at her very-long-for-her-age body folded inside of her crib and I tell myself that she likes it, because it’s a lot like sleeping in a womb. I tell myself that she’s only 2 1/2 and children that small are too little to be in full-sized sleigh beds, even though both of her brothers were sleeping in big beds by the time they were her age.

But she’s different. Because she’s my last.

When she crawls into her brother’s bed, snuggles under the covers, and announces “I WANT A BIG GIRL BED!” I pretend not to hear it. I don’t want to face it. And that’s a weird feeling for someone who hurtles through her life like a neurotic wildebeest.

No matter how much I try to treat all of my children the same, I’m always going to be a little slower to accept the newest stage of my youngest.

Fortunately for us all, she is not the type to be slowed by anyone.

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Fun With Spandex

The time my daughter discovered that she could swing back and forth using my (extraordinarily durable) workout wear.

Shirt 1Shirt 2Shirt 3Shirt 4

Who needs toys when you have access to nylon/spandex blends?!

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Thank You For Reminding Me.

Thank you, my daughter, for reminding me.

Every morning I drag myself out of bed and stumble to the coffee maker, bumping into your Daddy and sometimes your brothers because I’m not awake yet.

I haven’t remembered yet.

Sometimes I’m grouchy and slow to get going because I’ve become more and more dependent on caffeine. Sometimes my body feels stiff from sleeping either on the couch, if your Daddy was snoring all night, or because I slept unmoving in one position because I was so exhausted by the time I finally fell asleep.

I haven’t remembered yet.

When I’m stiff and grouchy, I feel old. Sometimes I feel annoyed with your Daddy because he gets to leave for work and I’m stuck cleaning the oatmeal off of three tiny people. When I exhale loudly into the kitchen sink, it’s because I haven’t remembered yet.

Your brothers aren’t as good at reminding me as you are. Maybe it’s a female thing, or maybe you simply have a gift. All I know is that you come over to me, and you wait. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for me to look up — you stand there and you wait.

I might not pay attention at first because I haven’t remembered yet. The boys will scream and yell for my attention, but you don’t.

You wait quietly.

And when I finally do look up, or look down, or look across the room at wherever you are, you beam at me. You smile at me like seeing my face makes you the happiest that you’ve ever been.

I have the most important, most humbling job in the universe.

Every day, you take my face in your hands and remind me.

Motherhood.(If you liked this post, then you should follow me on Facebook and Twitter!)

Things I’m Not Afraid To Admit.

Life is fucking hard, man.

People don’t say that often enough. Maybe because they think they will sound weak or whiny. Maybe because they’re afraid of judgement. Maybe because they are worried that it’s not hard for other people. Maybe it’s just hard for them.

Maybe they’re afraid that if they open their mouths and admit to someone else that life is hard, it will mean that they just aren’t religious enough. Maybe they aren’t good enough for God to make it easier.

Maybe He can’t hear them. Maybe He isn’t even there.

I don’t believe any of that.

I long for Robbie and I to go back in time approximately 10-12 years, back to our previous life when our biggest concerns were as follows:

1. Where everyone was going to go that night,

2. What I was going to wear,

3. And how much sex was too much sex. Wait … never mind. That wasn’t a concern. So really we only had two things to worry about.

Throw in a fear of pregnancy and not having enough money to pay my $350/month rent, and that pretty much covers my early twenties. I want to go back to that time, not because I don’t want my kids or the life that I have now, but because I want to remember what it felt like to be less exhausted than I currently am. Right now, I’m close to being exhausted enough to stop showering, and if you know me, you know that this is MAJOR.

This thought hit me the other night when I was engrossed in watching a YouTube video of someone extracting impacted earwax from a man’s ear. I looked up to show Robbie, but he had fallen asleep listening to an audio book of Game of Thrones.

When I yelled, “What is happening to us?! WHO ARE WE?!?” it made him jump.

The next night, I sidled up to him and purred seductively, “Are you going to watch the rest of this baseball game?” He said, “I don’t know … I might fall asleep.”

I gathered my pillows and went to the couch, wishing for things to be less mid-thirties and more mid-twenties.

This morning I was passive-aggressively flipping through a magazine, feeling angry that I am so tired, that three-year-old children are so irrational, that my husband is just as tired as I am, that I don’t ever have time to write, and that people constantly need something from me.

Most of all, I was angry that I am becoming everything that I said I would never be.

I’m resentful, unkempt, and irritable. I yell. A lot.

I recoil when my husband touches me. I am touched out, talked out, cleaned out and incredibly tired of going to the grocery store. I’m exhausted of feeding people and cleaning up messes and hearing complaints from at least one person at all times, because there are five people in this house and no one is ever happy all at the same time and that includes me.

I’m a jerk.

I was gone for 4 days and it didn’t help. It just made me want more time away. It was a tiny drop in my dried-out bucket. I do my best to care for myself, but I still come up short. I’m being pulled in so many different directions, every day. I am asked to give more, even when I don’t have anything left, every day.

I am a frazzled mom.

That makes me wish that I could travel back in time to when life was simpler. Look how smooth our faces were. Look how close we are standing to each other. His hand is practically on my ass, and who could blame him? No one was squeezing in between us, yelling “MY Daddy!!!”

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

This is why people tell you not to rush your life — because you never know what the next season might bring. It might be really fucking hard.

You might have children stuck to you like agitated starfish for 12 hours a day.

You might have to unclog toilets and wipe up pee and chase small people who are surprisingly fast.

You might tear your hamstring in Kickboxing class because you’re getting old and you didn’t warm up properly.

As I mulled this over today in a brief moment of peace, during which I spaced out and sat completely motionless because no one needed me, I heard a sound coming from the bathroom.

“I bwush my teef.”

That’s what she was saying to me as she held up her toothbrush, smiling that double-dimpled smile that exposes her perfect toddler teeth.

I want to travel back in time.My baby just turned two and can hold full conversations.

“I bwush my teef.”

I stood there and stared at her. It was like I couldn’t breathe.

She’s so beautiful. So smart, so sweet. So cuddly and funny. She isn’t just beautiful because she’s pretty. She’s beautiful because she glows.

I am so grateful.

She held up her toothbrush. “MOUF!!!!” (That’s “mouth” in toddler-speak.)

The thing about seasons is that even on the darkest night, when the wind is howling at your door, there is still a moon in the sky. It’s not all bad, even when it’s fucking hard.

And I’m not afraid to admit that out loud, either.

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A Very Short Story.

The next time someone comments that I am wound too tight or that I “just need to relax,” I’m going to remind them of the time that Robbie and our oldest child went on a camping trip and left me home with our two younger children, and I decided that the best way for me to power through a weekend with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old is to stay as busy as possible by doing things like going swimming at my parent’s house where I forgot to lock the deadbolt behind us when we returned and my youngest child escaped without anyone noticing and made it almost to the parking lot before I came running and screaming after her.

The end.

(Guzzles wine.)

20150516_173852(If you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!)

The Prissiest Tantrum.

Girls are fascinating creatures.

After giving birth to two wild boys, I was elated to finally have the chance to parent a little girl. I remember the day we found out we were having a daughter. I spent the remainder of my pregnancy too excited to care about the fact that my nether regions were turning blue, and that’s saying a LOT.

Yes, you heard me right. Blue vagina. You can read all about it here … or not.

So far, it has been even more fun and amazing than I imagined it would be, although dealing with her hair is a lot harder than I’d expected. It’s so slippery, and she’s so wiggly. She has a lot of fine, thick hair, and she likes to chew on it. She pulls out all of her cute barrettes and bows.

Okay, FINE. She’s a hot mess, and it’s totally my fault.

I try to keep her neat and clean, with every hair in place, but it’s harder than I expected to keep a little girl looking put together. It’s hard enough keeping myself put together. So, more often than not, I end up saying JUST FORGET IT — let’s throw on a tiara and call it a day.

Using the oven as a mirror.

Using the oven as a mirror.

She does adorable things like walk up to me and wordlessly hand over her patent leather shoes or her brother’s cowboy hat, smiling up with her big, blue eyes until I do whatever it is that she wants me to do. She laughs and claps and is just learning how to hop up and down, which is adorable of course.

She uses our oven as a mirror, running to look at herself every time we change her clothes or fix her hair. Then she stands there and watches herself slooooowly pull out the pigtails I just spent half of my life painstakingly putting in.

Captain Cook to the rescue!

Captain Cook to the rescue!

She’s really easy going, especially for a toddler.

Except when she’s not.

Pepper threw her first real temper tantrum yesterday in the kitchen as I watched with my mouth hanging open. She was playing with her brother’s Angry Bird slippers, and I don’t know what pissed her off, but it must have been bad.

She carefully arranged herself on the floor — there’s none of the hurling her body to the ground or smacking her head repeatedly that I’ve grown accustomed to from the boys — and paused for a moment, letting her rage brew.

One she was ready to begin, after she made sure that I was watching, she proceeded to throw her first epic tantrum.

I can’t tell if it’s that I’m desensitized from going through this two times already with really violent tantrum-throwers, or if I’m just out of fucks to give. Either way, instead of feeling super stressed out by it, I was absolutely captivated by the theatrics of her little girl tantrum.

Prissy tantrum.It was the prissiest, angriest thing I’ve ever seen.

So much rage.

Careful not to look too ugly as she screamed.

Just crazy enough to hold my attention.

Precisely scary enough to keep me at a distance.

A lot of angst.

It reminded me of … me.

(If you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!)