The One About Death and Wedding Dresses.

An injured bird has been flapping around our yard for two days. We would have captured it yesterday (when Robbie was home) and get it to someone who could help it, but it disappeared, so we continued about our business. Today the boys found the bird and were trying to catch it when I realized what was happening and explained the bird was hurt and they were scaring away what life it had left.

LET’S HELP IT! They yelled.

HOW CAN WE HELP IT! They shouted.

Like I’ve said before, handling normal life circumstances is a whole different experience when you have small children talking loudly at you while you try to think. I spent about an hour trying to figure out the best course of action, during which I forced myself to carefully pick up the bird and put it in a pot … which I then proceeded to carry around with me.

I called Robbie because that’s what I do now. I used to be the kind of woman who handled stuff on her own and then called him after the fact to tell him how it went. But now I’m the woman who can’t make sound decisions because children are jumping up and down yelling things like, HEY, BIRDIE! YOU’RE GOING TO LIVE! RIGHT? RIGHT BIRDIE? DON’T DIE! and asking questions about life and death.

Chirp, chirp.

In the end, I fell back on what I was raised to do and told the boys we were going to pray for the bird.

Maverick reverently whispered a beautiful prayer before we went inside for lunch. I explained over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that if we took it to a vet, they would probably just put the bird to sleep. Maverick nodded like he understood. A little while later, he disappeared to his room. When he came back, he said “I was just in my room putting all my birds to sleep. Shhhh … they’re all tucked in.” Which is when I realized that I never properly explained what put to sleep actually meant.

There’s probably a “right” way to do things, which is not ever the way I end up doing them. The “right” thing would be to transport the bird to someone who could help it. But I have three little kids, and the logistics just weren’t in my favor. I fear by writing this honest account of our day, I’m bringing judgement upon our home. I’m sure there are people who would have woken up the sleeping baby, loaded all three hungry kids into the car with the bird, driven to LSU, somehow finagled their way into the Vet School and delivered the bird. I hope when the kids are older, I can be that mom. Today, I’m not. Today I did what I could, which was not very much, may that sweet bird rest in peace.

Sometimes I snap out of my fog and realize that there are adults who somehow manage to do things the right way. They send birth announcements, follow etiquette, bring food when appropriate, say and do the right things, visit the dentist regularly … and then there is me. I often feel lonely in my corner of irresponsibility, wedged somewhere between moms who smoke meth in their bathrooms, and moms who have their manicurist on speed dial. I’m here in the middle with the other cracked-heel-skinned women who don’t have a primary care physician, I suppose.

This weekend I went to my parent’s house to help organize a few things, and my mom pulled a white garbage bag out of a cardboard box full of random items. “What’s that?” I asked. And then I saw the three items of clothing inside: a white eyelet shirt, a floral skirt with the same eyelet running through it, and some kind of gown. It’s her wedding dress. She cut it up after they married and made clothes out of it because she’s that kind of practical. And I thought, okay, so this is clearly where I get it from. After my wedding I had my gown preserved in an attempt to be a real grown up. My preserved gown is now safe in its box.

In a black garbage bag.

In a closet.

It just makes me laugh that both my mother and I had our dresses (or what’s left of them) in a garbage bag,  in a closet. Robbie tells me I can’t ever think my mother is ridiculous because I’m very much like her. And you know, I don’t mind. I think she’s pretty great.

Tonight I walked into the bathroom to find Maverick gnawing the heads and hands off of action figures. “I’m playing a game where they’re supposed to be hurt,” he said, as I gathered tiny hands and heads and threw them into the garbage can.

“Oh, and Mommy? The cowboy lost his hands and then he went down that tube in the back of the toilet tank.”

May he rest in peace.

Chats With Maverick.

Maverick: I’ve got two secret pee spots in the yard outside.

Me: (silence)

Maverick: I selected them carefully.

Me:  Um … I’m not sure what to say.

Maverick: I made sure to pick places far away from where people walk.

Me: Well done!

***

Me: It’s almost your bedtime. Thank goodness. I’m very tired.

Maverick: That’s because you keep riding that bike at the gym and carrying Pepper around. She’s really heavy, you know.

Me: You’re right.

Maverick: I’m also really good at math.

Such a wise 5-year-old I have living in my house.

Such a wise 5-year-old I have living in my house.

 

 

 

 

The Worst Selfie Ever Taken.

The #selfie makes me laugh. I totally take them, because who else is around to take a picture of me? I’ll tell you who. Children who can’t be trusted with expensive devices. If I didn’t take #selfies, there would be very few pictures of me with my kids — so I’m glad I take them.

Today I was thinking, “I don’t have any pictures of me snuggling with my boys. I see people post sweet pictures on social media of them snuggling with their kids at nap time. I want that.” All these moms have such sweet shots where they are smiling while the kid sleeps, or maybe the mom is pretend sleeping while the kid sleeps, which is weird, but whatever — no judgement here. They are adorable and I wanted one.

Ignoring the fact that I don’t have any pictures like this because my sons don’t lie still, ever, I wanted to find a way to make it happen. And then, as if he could read my mind, Maverick asked me to lay down and hang out with him for awhile. LAY DOWN?! Really?? I was thrilled. I was going to finally get a cuddly son #selfie to add to my collection.

And you know what happened?

This.

The Worst Nap Time Selfie Ever.

The Worst Nap Time Selfie Ever.

 

This has to be, without a doubt, the absolute worst nap time #selfie ever taken.

Aside from the fact that I look TERRIBLE, my kid is clearly not napping. And quite frankly, if I was lying next to me, I wouldn’t be napping either FOR FEAR THAT THOSE BOOBS AND THAT NECK WOULD SWALLOW ME WHOLE. It was a failure all around: awful, horrible, and hilarious … which I think we all know means it had to be put on the internet as a shining example of what happens when you try to be something that you’re not.

But do you know what I am? I’m effing exhausted, and here are the #selfies to prove it.

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The kitchen sink.

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The play room.

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That’s my Keurig.

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Today was laundry day. Every day is laundry day.

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Stove. Not dangerous.

My friend Heidi saw the one with me face-first on the folded laundry and thought I was getting a “spa treatment.”

Oh … how I wish. But NO.

It cracks me up how natural the face plant #selfies look compared to the God-awful nap time snuggly one. I have to admit, though, it’s nice to know where I stand in the universe. And I’m sure Robbie will be thrilled to see what I spent my entire afternoon doing while he was at work selling financial products.

 

The Things I Do For Milk.

The key to effective parenting is emotional energy, of which I have a limited supply. I have to hoard some from my children so I’ll have a little left over for my husband when he gets home, but when I’m out, I’M OUT.

I used to say that parenting was more physically taxing than anything. I did something to my back last week when Asher threw an epic tantrum in the mall Food Court because the carousel ride ended and I told him it was time to get off. He freaked out, requiring me to lift him up and twist to maneuver around the big metal tiger he had been riding on.

I carried him like a stack of firewood all the way back to our table and my friend Jamie tried to help me jam him back into the stroller. She commented that it’s like he is made of rubber; you push him down or pull on his legs and he just snaps right back. I don’t know how long it took to get him strapped in, but I was full-on sweating by the end of it.

A few years ago, I would have been mortified by that kind of scene — his angry screams echoing throughout the entire mall — but now, I feel like I’ve been hardened against embarrassment by an ongoing series of experiences. I don’t really have time to dwell on anything that happens. We get through it, and we move on. I think that is why so many women have trouble recalling what it’s truly like to live with small children. If you don’t take the time to dwell, the memory doesn’t stick. And then we have more children.

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Mothering is obviously physically demanding, but the emotional demands are what really get you. If my emotional energy is off, the kids pick up on it and things get shitty fast. Sometimes, even when I am emotionally capable of dealing … things get shitty fast. This afternoon was the perfect example.

After nap time, I herded my children through eating a snack and changing diapers/going to the bathroom. I told them we had a few errands to run; most important was the grocery store. Ever since I started transitioning Pepper to milk, WE CONSTANTLY RUN OUT. I’m a milk snob and prefer to give the kids organic, which seems to only be available in half gallons. I need a five-gallon jug. Where can I find that?! Someone please tell me.

So anyway, I cranked up the van and Maverick climbed in. The baby pooped her pants. I changed her and put her in her car seat. I went back inside and find that Asher has also pooped. I tell him it’s time to change his diaper. He screams “NO!!!” because he’s two. He also screams that he wants milk. I tell him he may not have milk, and I leave to get a fresh diaper.

When I returned, I found him standing in front of the open refrigerator guzzling what remained of the milk, directly from the carton. He was displeased when I took it away, and even more displeased when I wrestled him down to change his diaper. He was so displeased, and he fought so hard, that poop pellets rolled away and disappeared in between our couch cushions.

This is when I yelled.

I cleaned up the mess. I put him in the van. We drove to the store.

In the parking lot, I got a shopping cart. Not the big kind that I needed, that looks like a police car. Those are kept inside. I had to get a regular one, and I put Asher in the big part of the basket. Maverick got out and I instructed him to stand right next to the cart with his brother. They were right next to me. I turned to unbuckle the baby, and look up to see Maverick give the cart a hard shove. As it rolled into the road with my middle child in it, Maverick yelled “Look Mommy! Asher’s rolling away!” Presumably he was acting out what took place in January when Asher really did roll away. But who can say.

This is why I feel it’s important to try hard not to be judgmental of the mom you see on her phone at the playground, ignoring her children as they play … or the mom who is drinking before 5 pm … or the many, many mothers who let their kids eat whatever they can find and watch back-to-back episodes of whatever is on Nickelodeon. Those mothers have probably run out of emotional energy. They need to recharge. Let them do what they need to do. If your emotional energy level is high enough for you to look on with judgement, then you might consider offering to help.

Because I love my children, I do things like make special trips to the grocery store to get organic effing milk. But because I did that, the cart thing happened, and I ran out of emotional energy. When we got back home I sat in one place for a really long time and stared at my phone while my children did God knows what. I eventually found all three of them in a closet. Don’t know what they were doing. Probably hiding from me, which worked out well, since I was hiding from them too.

Later on, Robbie asked him, “What were you thinking when you pushed Asher into the road?” And he said, “I was thinking that Mommy would believe me when I said the wind blew him out there.

 

Victory.

This is the first week of the first summer that I will spend with all three of my children home with me, all day, every day.

I am 34 years old.

All day long, I count the hours until the next hurdle is reached, and at night, when I’m reflecting, I think about years. Next summer I will be 35. Thinking about this is what made me decide to start weight training and getting serious about eye cream. I’m almost halfway to 70, and shit’s getting real.

Last summer I had a baby, and because I know my limits, we shipped our oldest off to day camp. It was a sound decision, worth every penny of the $1,000 that I had to scrounge up for it. One thousand dollars is a lot of money to us. Sometimes I feel like people assume that if someone is staying home with the kids, it’s because you have so much money that you simply don’t know what to do with it all. In such a case, according to those who are assuming, OBVIOUSLY the thing to do is to quit your job and space out in pajamas while infants and toddlers teethe on your fancy wares.

I do not fall into this category.

I’m home with the kids because I know in my gut it is what I am to do. I’ve tried to go against my gut before, and it never goes well. I feel like I needed to mention that, maybe more for my sake than for yours, because this week I have found myself asking myself WHAT I AM DOING trying to take care of all these children. Where did they come from!? How did this happen?! These are the questions I ask myself when I am standing in my kitchen surrounded by wailing, tiny people who throw things when they are angry.

I don’t have the time or the energy to fabricate lies. I’m going to tell it to you straight. If I make it through this summer without doing something absolutely bat shit crazy, it will be a miracle.

Things that qualify as “bat shit crazy:”

  • Leaving my home in a state of undress, noticing, and not caring.
  • Seeing my kid(s) drink my coffee, noticing, and not caring.
  • Breaking any number of laws, noticing, and not caring.

Yesterday, it became apparent that they boys were going to tear apart the house — no, I’m totally serious. Tear. It. Up. — if I didn’t do something to snap them out of it. A walk, I thought. A family walk will calm them down. To clarify, “family” walk consists of me and three kids, because it was Wednesday and Robbie was at work. So after dinner, out we went.

We got three streets over and Asher tripped and fell, skinning up both knees and his hands. Two minutes later, Maverick tripped and fell, bloodying one knee so badly that it was running down his leg into his rain boot. Both boys were limping and bleeding and crying, and the baby started crying too, just because. I hyper-focused on getting us home, but little did I know that getting there was the easy part. The hard part was trying to triage two bleeding boys, plus a teething, cranky, crawling baby. The bathroom looked like a crime scene when I was done, bloody hand prints on the wall included.

Today brought a whole new set of totally weird and unprecedented experiences that I didn’t have time to dwell on until now. For example, the baby ate a ball of dirt at the indoor playground. I’m not sure if Maverick drank any water. I had pie for dinner.

I was supposed to be saving it for Robbie, but I ate it because I HAD TO. But you know, as long as I’m not eating a handful of crack because I HAD TO, I consider the day to be a success.

See how we all have our arms raised up in victory in the family portrait below? That’s because we just made it through another day where none of us ate a handful of crack.

Our family, drawn by Maverick, age 5

Our family, drawn by Maverick, age 5

We look like we did … but trust me, we didn’t.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.