The Ridiculous Summer of 2014.

This seems to be a recurring theme in my life, but I’ll go ahead with it anyway: this week was very long and very hard. I guess most of them are, right?

This week, Asher threw his shoe at me while I was driving. Kid’s got good aim; it hit me squarely in the head. Both boys made me so mad (in a separate event) that I pulled the van over, took the toys away that they were playing with and dumped them in a parking lot. I’m sure it made another child’s day.

This week I yelled. A lot.

This week, the next-door neighbor’s dog got out and terrorized my children such that they were unable to play in their own front yard for an entire day. We also got caught in a torrential downpour not once, but thrice.

This week was a blur of crying, yelling, “I’m sorry’s,” meals, cleanup, laundry and Band-Aids — times six. It’s been six days since Robbie last had a day off from work. Every day for the past six days I woke up, got sucked into the vortex, Robbie went to work and came back home to find that I had emerged from the vortex in a shell-shocked state.

This summer is crazy. Oh, what? You don’t know what I mean? Okay … let’s see. How can I rephrase? It’s cray cray up in this bitch. It’s off the chain berserk, RIGHT HERE, IN MY HOUSE, and I am handling all of it by myself because I wanted three children and I wanted to stay home with them and no, I didn’t want to be a Nurse or a Dermatologist or even an Esthetician which my parents strongly suggested and I wish they’d suggested more forcefully. And no, my husband didn’t want to get a degree in Law or Medicine or something fancy because he can sell the shit out of anything and would rather do that instead.

So here we are, nearly 9 years married without much to show for it except a lot more wrinkles and a lot more fingers and toes to pry loose or kiss, depending on the situation.

He sure knows how to make his mother forget he hell he just put her through ...

Equal parts charming and mischievous.

So, about this summer.

I knew it would be crazy, so I don’t feel as jarred by it as I might have … but wow. It’s still jarring. It’s nonstop action from the moment I get up until they are all tucked into their beds at night; I’m suntanned and exhausted and living on an extremely acidic diet comprised mainly of chips and salsa. My husband is working really hard and not enough people are buying cars or warranties so he looks as tired as I feel when he gets home. I have a feeling that when he looks at me at the end of the day he wonders what the hell happened to make me look like that, but he just says, “You look tired.”

We are running on a hamster wheel that would feel monotonous but for the fact that it’s simply never EVER boring because not one person who lives in this house is boring. And when I find myself painting Maverick’s big toenails and telling him, “Here is some paint that you can peel off whenever you want to — no more peeling paint off the house or the back door” I have to wonder if other people are going through anything like this.

Motherhood can be incredibly lonely for that reason. Wondering if you’re the only one. It can feel very much like you’re on an island and you don’t know what you’re doing and you have to just deal, but it seems like everyone else is dealing fine so you can’t speak up and say, “Does anyone else find it crazy up in this bitch?!”

Well, I find it crazy, so you’re never the only one. But sometimes I feel like parenting should be a two-person team against the children, but the other half of my team isn’t home very much. Three against one is kind of tiring. I mean, clearly I’m winning — but it takes a lot of effort.

These are my food groups. (That's salsa in the red cup.)

These are my food groups. (That’s salsa in the red cup.)

This morning, I was in the vortex of breakfast-making when I overheard Maverick saying “Daddy, do you have to work today?” And Robbie said yes, but he will be off tomorrow. Maverick and Asher chattered about how we’re going to a birthday party this afternoon and they wished he could come too. And then I heard my husband, that tired man I ignore a lot, the man I kiss hello and goodbye out of habit and sometimes half pay attention to, talking to them.

He said, “I wish I could go, too. But I have to go to work to earn money. I have to go to work because I want you to have everything.” And I literally almost started bawling into their smoothies, and totally want to cry right now just thinking about it. I know what he meant by “everything.” It’s not a house full of commercialized crap, necessarily. It’s the good things, the important things. He works so hard, and I do too, so that our kids can have “everything.”

He gets embarrassed when I write about him, but I’m telling you … if it weren’t for that man, in all his weird, charming, infuriating ways … I would be locked up in a loony bin somewhere. It would be crazy up in another, padded-walled bitch for me.

My teammate believes in me. So I’m not actually alone, and I suppose that means I can dig deep and stay on this ride called The Ridiculous Summer of 2014. Or TRS for short, which just so happens to be interchangeable with That’s Really Stupid.

It Was Fine! How Was Yours?

Sometime later today, Robbie is going to ask “How was your day?” And here is what I’ll want to say.

Asher sneezed repeatedly with a mouthful of eggs at breakfast.

I found the baby quietly playing with a poop pellet she found. She was batting it around on the floor. How did this happen? I DON’T KNOW.

The only part of the play kitchen set that the boys want to play with is the fake knives.

I went to Spin class only because I wanted a break. Yes, that’s right. I looked forward to 60 minutes of physical torture in a dark room.

Maverick continues to refer to “Ninjas” as “Aninjas.” He says “We’re pretending to be aninjas,” or, “I want to watch Teenage Mutant Aninja Turtles.” I don’t correct him. Just like I don’t correct him when he asks me if I’m wearing a “booby cast.” I guess he means a bra. Is this a problem? I really don’t know. I also don’t make him read or write, it’s been a full month since Kindergarten graduation and I haven’t made him think once. I just let him run maniacally around and mispronounce the name of ladies undergarments. I think it builds character.

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Meet baby Maverick, circa 2008.

But what will I actually say when he asks me? I’ll say, “It was fine, how was yours?” I will not ask him if he thinks something is wrong with our children, or me. I will not ask if I’m a lazy mother. I don’t really want to know the answer to those questions, and if we have all made it to the end of the day in once piece … then it was a good day.

He Has No Idea.

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I have lost count of how many times I or one of my friends have said, “My husband has NO IDEA what it’s like to stay home with the kids.”

Before, when I was working full-time and pregnant, then working full-time and balancing motherhood, and then working full-time while pregnant with a toddler at home, I ranted a lot about how my husband “HAS NO IDEA.” And to be fair, he didn’t.

My husband doesn’t really know what it’s like to do what I do, just like I don’t know what it’s like to do what he does. Our occupations are mysterious and confounding to each other; he doesn’t know where the peanut butter or extra towels are kept, and the baby is always in pajamas when she stays home with Daddy. I’m almost certain it’s because he doesn’t know how to dress her. She’s also always missing a sock when I get home, the air smells like farts and chicken fingers, and the boys are drenched with sweat because they’ve all been wrestling.

I used to get upset with him because he didn’t take care of the kids the way I would have — I mean, if I was home, there would be no fart smell or chicken fingers, and certainly no wrestling. But after I quit my job and starting caring for them 24/7, I was so happy to get a break that I didn’t really care what went on while I was gone. Things have now leveled out so that I am just flat-out grateful to him for providing for us, and he is flat-out grateful to me for everything that I do … even though we both realize he isn’t even sure what all that entails, which is probably the biggest reason why he’s grateful that I’m doing it.

But … he has no idea.

He has no idea how much coffee I drink.

He has no idea what it’s like to run errands with three kids.

He has no idea what it’s like to have to change your tampon in front of an audience.

He has no idea how lonely and overwhelming it can be on really bad days when the kids are being terrible and I need an extra pair of hands.

He has no idea how hard it is to watch your body change three different times and have little control over it.

He has no idea how happy he makes me. He can’t possibly, because I’ve never been able to put it into words.

He has no idea how grateful I am to him for continuing to love me even though with each passing year he has seen more of my imperfections.

He has no idea how thankful I am to be in a front-row seat for our kid’s lives, never missing a day, good or bad, and I’m in that seat because he put me there.

He has no idea how hard it can be to be me, but he also has no idea how amazing it is.

So to my husband, who has NO IDEA what it’s like to stay home with the kids … thank you. I wager that we don’t say thank you enough to the people who love us the most and yet have put up with the most asinine behavior we’re capable of.

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.