Going Nuts

Maverick is now at the age where he quietly listens to grown up conversations. He doesn’t jump up and down screaming. He doesn’t try to talk over us. He doesn’t interrupt every 5 seconds. He doesn’t pull on my leg and yell “MOMMY!” the whole time. He doesn’t throw tantrums.

He’s 7 now. I like 7.

My son is a joy.

It was hard getting to this place. It took years for me to learn how to be the mother that he needed. I didn’t understand what I was dealing with and I made a lot of mistakes, but we learned and failed and apologized — together. Because just like he needed to be taught self-control, I did too. And just like he needed to be taught to listen, so did I.

And now we’re here, just enjoying the feeling of not drowning.

Last weekend, I took Maverick with me to my parent’s house to see family that was visiting from out of town. We all talked for hours, forgetting he was there. He sat and listened intently, his big hazel eyes shining with interest. Every once in awhile I stopped and watched him, relishing how grown up he is.

My mom has cancer, and while discussing her treatment options with us she mentioned that she definitely would NOT be taking a particular kind of medication because it might make her, and I quote, “act like a squirrel.”

Me: “What do you mean, ACT LIKE A SQUIRREL?”

My mom: “It might make me think I’m a squirrel. Like I’d want to climb trees and hoard acorns.”

Me: “I … I don’t understand.”

(Pulls out phone to Google medication name + “squirrel-like behavior.”)

My mom: “I don’t understand it either, but all I know is that I will NOT be going that treatment route.”

My dad later explained that when the doctor mentioned to my mom that this treatment might make her act “squirrelly” he interpreted it to mean that it might make her crazy. The unpredictable, irreversible, no-cure-for-it kind. So maybe she might end up thinking she was a squirrel, but most likely it would either make her cancer-free, or crazy. She’s not willing to take any chances when it comes to her sanity, so she struck that option from the list.

I can’t say I blame her.

On the way home, Maverick asked a million questions from the backseat about Grandma becoming a squirrel.

Fast forward a few days and I find these sitting on the kitchen counter.

Hoarding acorns just in case.

Hoarding acorns just in case.

“I’m collecting acorns for Grandma,” Maverick said. “Just in case she goes squirrelly.”

The best thing about 7 is that this newfound grown up behavior is tempered by innocence and fun. I told him I’d start a collection bowl for the nuts he gathers during the day.

Just in case.

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Truth Or Dare.

My oldest child is in 2nd grade. Here’s one of our typical dinnertime conversations.

Maverick: “Truth or dare?”

Me: “Truth.”

Maverick: “Aw, man! Everyone picks truth! I always pick dare when we play it at school.”

Me: “That’s because people are too chicken to do the dares. Like me. I’m chicken.”

Maverick: “They dared me to eat grass and I ate it. I ate it a few different times.”

Me: (silence)

Maverick: “Well … grass AND leaves. I ate them both.”

Me: (silence)


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How Adults Prank Each Other

My mom and I swap furniture and home decor back and forth all the time. We’ve done this since I was in college.

It’s awesome for me because my mom has excellent taste and it saves me from having to break the bank buying things to hang on the walls. It’s awesome for her because she can let me “borrow” stuff and then when we swap again, it’s like she just went shopping.

A win/win.

So, my parents just moved and needed us to give back a GIGANTIC mirror they’d loaned us last year that was hanging above our living room sofa (which also belongs to them … although I’m not sure we’ll be able to return it in the same condition it was in when we first obtained it). After my dad left with the mirror, I mentioned to Robbie that I would need to find something big to put on that wall now that it was empty.

I fretted aloud for the remainder of the day, talking half to myself and half to him, about how I need to save up some money so I will have the funds available when I find the right picture.

“Whatever we get, it needs to be really big,” I said to him.

He stared back wordlessly.

I am a relatively laid-back person except when it comes to a few things. My home is one of those things. We have never lived in super-nice places — they’ve always been “fine” and/or “decent,” within our price range, and passable for warm and cozy after I finish decorating.


I went grocery shopping and came home to this.

Mean tricks to play on your wife

THIS. This totally sent my OCD tendencies through the roof.

No, David!

He mocks me.

If you have ever wondered how to really get under the skin of a woman who takes pride in her home, hang a very small picture in the middle of a massive wall, out of her reach without a ladder, and hide the ladder.

Proceed to leave it there for a week and counting.

This is how adults prank each other.

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This Is How We Do.

My oldest child started 2nd grade today.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m., a full hour before my alarm was supposed go off, unable to go back to sleep because it felt like Christmas morning.

I did all of the things mothers are supposed to do when their children start 2nd grade. I lovingly fashioned pancakes out of the instant mix that comes in a bottle that you pour water into and shake really hard.

I made sure I had a bra on, just in case the neighbors could see me shaking that bottle of pancake batter.

First day of school!

I laid out Maverick’s navy blue uniform shorts and told him to ignore the lint that blanketed them — clearly, washing them with new towels was a mistake — and made sure that his tennis shoes were double-knotted.

We missed the bus, but I assured him there was plenty of time for us to go through the carpool line. I corralled the other pajamaed children and loaded them all into our van.


Maverick has been telling us for months that he wants to be an “asteroidal physicist.” Last year and the year before that, he just wanted to be a regular scientist. I’m not sure what changed, but I do know that I was Googling “asteroidal physicist” before I had my coffee this morning, and that was intense.

We rounded the corner and waited in the long line of cars at the elementary school, and because I am a good mother who tries to do the right things, I attempted to have a special moment with my child.

You know what I’m talking about. That moment when you and your kid connect on a deeper level, and he or she understands for a fleeting moment the depth of your love, and you relish the feeling that you’re doing a really good job until you find yourself screaming “DON’T EAT THE TOOTHPASTE OUT OF THE BATHROOM SINK!” yet again.

It’s special.

I turned around in my seat to look at him, blinking back tears. “Maverick, I am so proud of you and I hope you have a great day. Your brother and sister are really going to miss you tod—”

This was the precise moment that the teacher who was on carpool duty opened our van door and Maverick yelled “BUH-BYE, SUCKAS!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs as he leapt out.

She stood there for a moment, frozen.

I smiled and yelled “HAVE A GREAT DAY!” as if this was perfectly normal, as though the Hobbs family yells that phrase every time they part ways.

Her face never changed expression as she slid the door closed.

I’ve decided that the next time I drop my children off somewhere, I’ll kiss them all goodbye as usual, and as they smile and wave at me like the little darlings that they are, I will roll down the window of our beat up van and shout “BUH-BYE, SUCKAS!!!!” as I peel the eff out.

Because this is how we do, SUCKAS.

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Motherhood Can Be Jarring.

Tonight I got really sad all of a sudden because my children are getting SO big, SO fast, that it’s jarring. It takes a substantial amount of something to truly jar me. I stood in our darkened living room, watching my boys, and tears spilled onto my cheeks as I whispered to my husband, “Asher doesn’t need his blanket anymore.”

He used to need it.

I am jarred.

I know that a lot of mothers who are also writers seem to go on and on about the beauty and sadness that comes with seeing your children grow up. This post is just one among thousands like it. In fact, I wrote one almost exactly like this one, almost exactly one year ago, and it still makes me cry when I read it. (If you want to read it, click here.)

Except that, as I pulled my toddler into my lap tonight to rock and sing to her before I tucked her into bed, her legs dragged farther down than last week. And as I stroked her hair and talked to her softly, she talked to me back. She answered my questions, my mindless questions, the ones I apparently ask every night without thinking.

“Pepper, are you sleepy?”

“No. Pepper not sweepy.”

“Do you want to sing a song?”

“Yes! Sing a song! Siiiiiiiilent night, hoooooooly night … “

She used to be so tiny. Now she could climb out of her crib, if she wanted to. She climbed out of the bath tub today. I walked away for a minute, heard a THUMP, and there she was, dripping wet in the hallway.

“I get out?” she said.

Yep … you got out.” Bath time was over.

8-month-old Penelope. Back when she was tiny.

8-month-old Penelope. Back when she was tiny.

My oldest child is going to be taller than me one day. Much taller. I know this because he is 6 years old and the top of his head is boob-high already. He is all arms and legs.

He can read. I catch him peeking over my shoulder trying to catch a glimpse of what I’m working on.

He gets my jokes.

He used to scream unintelligibly when I asked him to put his pajamas on, and now he’s talking about the anatomy of bugs and asking me questions about space travel.

I used to know the answers to all of his questions.

I don’t anymore.

This photo was taken in 2012 when we announced that I was pregnant with baby #3!

This photo was taken in 2012 when we announced that I was pregnant with baby #3!

My middle child was so attached to his green blanket that he wore it to pieces and we had to replace it with a brown one. We fretted over how long he would drag it around.


When my babies were babies.

21-month-old Asher with his blanket and brand-new baby sister.

It’s so weird, this motherhood thing. The things that cause me pain can also bring me great joy, and the things that irritate the ever-loving shit out of me are also sorely missed when they stop.

I stepped over my children to make my way out of the living room tonight, wiping the tears from my cheeks. I stopped for a moment and leaned down to tell Asher goodnight. He smiled up at me, dimples cracking.

We whispered back and forth for a moment, saying our good-nights, and then he paused.

Mommy? Can you get me my blanket?


Yes, I most certainly can.

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I’m A Liar (and other news).

A lot of other bloggers have a “newsletter” that you can subscribe to and they email them out every week or so. But I have an inbox full of newsletters that I haven’t read and probably never will, so I decided not to subject you people to a Modern Mommy Madness newsletter. It is just another thing that would cause me needless stress.

Instead, I started vlogging. I think we can all agree that this is a terrible idea, but I was cooped up in the house with two small children all last week and I did it out of BOREDOM.

I do a lot out of boredom. Like eat.

If you want to see the vlog fantastic, you’ll have to follow me on Facebook here until I master YouTube and/or figure out how to share the videos on my blog. I keep waiting for Robbie to gently tell me that it’s time to stop, but he hasn’t yet … which means I’m going to continue searing disheveled images of myself into the eyes of the internet.

In other news, I had another piece published on Scary Mommy — you can check it out here. Also, I sold 100 copies of “I Still Just Want To Pee Alone” in TEN DAYS. That was unexpected. I imagined that I would be sitting on a corner somewhere under a tent next to those people who sell area rugs with tiger faces on them.

I kept telling everyone I’m not a salesperson. I don’t sell things. I don’t know how to sell books! I guess I lied. If you want a copy, please drop me a line (modernmommymadness@gmail.com) and let me know! I’ll re-stock soon and start taking orders again once I’ve recovered.


I had a super cute helper at the post office.

I took my youngest to the post office with me last weekend. She loudly sang “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” as a line of 12 scowly people waited for the clerk to process my box of books. Her little voice echoed throughout the building as the man next to us filed a complaint with a manager because “offensive material” is being delivered to his home. I tried to read the form as nonchalantly as possible without him noticing — WHAT KIND OF OFFENSIVE MATERIAL? — but the print was too small.

The other thing that happened this weekend was that I noticed my husband again after several days of forgetting he lives here. Nothing like seeing a big strong man carrying a sleeping child to make me sit up and take notice.

Well played, Robbie Hobbs.


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

You Can Sleep When You’re Dead: Lessons From My 6-Year-Old

Maverick just wants to have fun.

That’s simple, right? He’s a kid — of course that’s what he wants.

I feel dumb saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway simply because I can: I have spent the past 6.5 years feeling frustrated on and off,  because I couldn’t figure this kid out. He is an enigma. If you know me personally or have followed my blog for awhile, you know what I’m talking about.

I did all the right things, and they didn’t work. I read a lot of books. I got a lot of pitying looks and comments from people who parented “easy” children. It all made me feel like something was wrong with me, or maybe something was wrong with him, or, most likely, something was wrong with my husband. I can always figure out a way to make things his fault.

At best, my son is a delightful, charming, witty, beacon of joy with a very clear, loud voice. He generally shouts, which is why I categorize his tone into “talk-shouting” and “shout-shouting,” which is not the same as the “yellisper” that I tend to do when I’m really upset.

Today I yawned, and he noticed, because he notices everything, and he talk-shouted, “MOMMY, YOU CAN SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD.”



Older ladies giggled as they wheeled their carts past us. One woman looked at me and whispered as she reached for the Kleenex, I had three of them, too. They’re adorable.

Thank you, I said. Because really, what else is there to say? They are. And this lady was still alive, after raising her three to adulthood. There is hope for me.


I’ve written about Maverick countless times. The tantrums. The mood swings. My inability to cope. The list of my concerns was endless, just like the notes sent home by his preschool teacher. “I have a problem child,” I’ve said over and over to close friends and family. “He’s a wonderful boy … but he is so hard to parent.”

Other people’s children would follow directions without arguing. Other people’s children would happily dig holes in dirt. Meanwhile, I looked out the kitchen window to see him buckle his little brother into the Radio Flyer wagon and shove him down the driveway.

Maverick has big ideas. Maverick is an entertainer. Maverick loves to laugh.

A year or two ago, epic battles waged when I was home alone with two, and later, three children for very long, hard days. I would collapse on the couch after wrestling them into bed, feeling like an utter failure in a million different ways and wondering what the hell was wrong with my eldest child.

My husband assured me I was doing a great job. “You’ll see,” he’d say. “He’s just like I was at that age. He’ll be fine.” But in the back of my mind I always worried, not because my husband isn’t an amazing man, but because of what he went through to get there. Do mothers know when their children are psychopaths? Was my child a psychopath? Would I recognize it in him if it were so?

And then, because I’m in a newly-released book and there are a lot of random promotional-type requests for head shots and snippets or, in this particular case, childhood photos, I went to my parent’s house. My baby pictures, which were once encased in a thick, emerald green photo album — the old kind, with sticky pages — are now tucked safely in a photo box. My mom sat on the couch as I opened the cabinet and pulled out the container.

It was heavy with memories.

For the next hour, we sifted through the faded photographs. I was a happy child, grinning in almost every single picture. Looking at 6-year-old me made me feel like I was home. Do you know that feeling? It feels like this picture looks. Like fun and carefree silliness in the warm sun with no one around to see it. That was my childhood in a nutshell.

11137113_10155648088130508_2407219665916664432_nI was lost in thought when I heard my mom say something that caught my attention.

“You laughed all the time,” she said. “Just like Maverick.”

Just like Maverick.

Just like my son. My mysterious, challenging, emotionally-charged son. The one who is too smart for even our craftiest parenting tricks. The one who at age 3 asked us if Santa Claus was real, and knowing I could never lie to him, lest he never trust anyone ever again, I took a deep breath and matter-of-factly stated that Santa is not real.

Same with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and every other make-believe creature, which forced me to endure years of chastising from my husband for robbing our child of a magical childhood. I don’t know what to say, people. I’m not a liar, and Maverick is a challenge. I do the best I can.

I went home replaying what my mom said: I laughed all the time, just like Maverick.

Laughing gets me through a lot.


This week Maverick is on Spring Break, and I have spent my time really paying attention to his laughter. This worked out well for me, because in all seriousness the extra laughs saved me from having a major meltdown. I made a conscious effort to practice laughing with my child who loves to laugh. Instead of getting annoyed with his flair for drama, I made jokes about it and we both ended up giggling. No one was mad. There were no slammed doors. One afternoon we even chorused together in angst, “LIFE IS HARD!”

Because it is.

When he whined about what was for dinner, I assured him he would love it — it’s POOP CASSEROLE! His favorite! We shared knowing looks and a lot of inside jokes this week. My mom was right. Maverick loves to laugh … just like me.

If there is anything I understand, it’s humor.

And because of that, I finally understand my son.

20150408_102501 20150408_10250511129289_10155659855420508_589426995_nIf you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!

Wife Guilt.

I am sitting here at 8:30 p.m. experiencing my first stretch of quiet in 14 hours, feeling the sting of wife guilt because I haven’t had a full conversation with my husband in at least three days.

As a stay-at-home mom, I experience wife guilt a lot more often than mommy guilt. How can I have mommy guilt when I spend almost all of my time with my kids?

I say “almost all of my time” because there is a 8-hour stretch at night, after I take my three-year-old to the bathroom but before my toddler wakes up at 6 a.m. screeching, when I simply refuse to deal with them.

I am off the clock. I do not adult during that time. Just ask my husband.

I suffer from wife guilt because by the time Robbie gets home in the evening, I am so done with everyone and everything and I want nothing more than get in the car and drive away. And I have. But don’t worry, I always return … after the kids are in bed.


Me, age 8.

Being a mother is slowly turning me into a terrible wife. I know this because I went to my parent’s house tonight to dig up some old pictures for a project I’m working on, and I happened upon some of Robbie and I when we were 10 years younger and way, way hotter.

He tried to tell me it’s not that we’ve aged 10 years, Harmony. We’ve aged 10 years AND WE HAD THREE KIDS.

Oh, okay.

11141149_10155648088620508_4445009605382191378_nI do admit, though … looking at this makes my heart speed up a little. No wonder I called him “Hot Robbie” behind his back.

So maybe I will try a little harder to be a better wife, and maybe he will pretend that I can still fit into that dress.

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

Poop and Redemption

This is a story of poop and redemption.


Our middle child is three, which means he is full of words and energy.

I was so excited to send him fishing with my dad and husband last weekend, for the simple reason that I needed a break from the words. There are so many of them, and he’ll throw in a “MOMMY” just often enough to keep me from completely tuning it out.

In my excitement, I threw a change of clothes and a few wet wipes in a backpack and ushered them out the door. I didn’t ask specifically where they were going. I didn’t pack them any food. There was no pomp and ceremony. I said here’s the backpack, don’t forget the sunscreen, kissed them both goodbye, and shut the door.

You see, when you are where I am in life, you don’t ask questions beyond what is absolutely essential. After almost seven years of constant interruption, Robbie and I have learned how to communicate in shorthand:



(Insert hand signals so the children don’t know that we are discussing going fishing on Grandpa’s boat.)




Be careful.

Love you.

Love you.


Five hours later, I got a text.

Our poor boy got diarrhea, in the boat, in the middle of a body of water. He NEVER gets diarrhea. What are the chances?!

During the second bout, Robbie was holding him over the side of the boat, because apparently that’s what had to happen, as our child simultaneously peed all over him and shat down the side of the watercraft. It was probably at this point that my husband hit rock bottom.

Meanwhile, my dad just kept fishing.

The moral of the story is that from this point forward, whenever I find myself on my hands and knees cleaning congealed oatmeal off the kitchen floor, thinking that today is the shittiest day EVER, I’ll remember the first time Robbie took our middle child fishing.

And then … I’ll feel better.