Reality Isn’t So Bad.

Somehow I made it through another summer.

I know this because Maverick starts school tomorrow. And I know that because I filled out a bunch of forms today while a toddler pulled on my arm.

2nd grade! How did that happen? And also, isn’t it time for college? They’re all so big and so small and they need so much from me but not quite as much as they used to. So it’s just weird right now. We are all transitioning, I’m sleeping through the night, but there’s still poop all over the toilet seat. So clearly we aren’t out of the woods just yet.

I used to write about everything that happened, and now it all happens so fast that I don’t have time to write it down, because before I have a chance to form the words on paper another thing happens, followed by another. Days and weeks of hard things and hilarity and the monotonous joy of being a mother to three tiny humans who all know the words to Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance have blended together into a chapter that I’ll just call 2015.

SummerToday I was looking at each of my children, thinking about what makes them special and how I don’t have enough time to dwell on their good qualities because I’m too busy keeping them from blowing up the house, and I realized that my job isn’t to document everything for them to review at a later date. My job is to keep them alive.

Keeping them alive is a full time job.

I wish I had more time to soak up the good things, and I wish the bad things would just stop happening, but that’s what they call denial. I live in reality.

So today, after a very long day of the last day of summer, after I split the boys up because they wouldn’t stop fighting, as I was half-heartedly stirring a pot of Tuna Mac with toddler wedged firmly underneath me, Robbie walked into the house and gave me the kind of kiss where you get dipped backwards.

Right there in the kitchen.

Reality isn’t so bad, you guys.

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Resist Urge To Scream.

This blog post is based on a series of real-life events.

6:30 a.m. Stumble to coffee maker. Mumble good morning to spouse. Wonder how this is happening again already.

7:00 a.m. Breakfast.

7:30 a.m. Tell Robbie goodbye. Hold screaming child back as he tries to run after the car. Brew another cup of coffee.

9:15 a.m. Look out of the kitchen window to see Asher standing naked in the driveway and Maverick on the roof of our vehicle with the water hose. Both are screaming.

9:16 a.m. Choose to ignore staring neighbors.

9:30 a.m. Boys come inside because they both have to poop and we don’t allow them to poop in the yard.

9:45 a.m. Pepper touches my unshaven legs while trying to climb into my lap and gets very upset because they “ouched” her.

9:46 a.m. Took a picture of her subsequent screaming because she wouldn’t stop and I didn’t know what else to do.

This is an actual photo of my child crying because she touched my hairy legs.

This is an actual photo of my child crying because she touched my hairy legs.

10:00 a.m. Take stock of my day.

10:10 a.m. Brew another cup of coffee.

10:15 a.m. Realize that the only method of survival is pool time.

10:45 a.m. Head to the pool.

Asher would wear his goggles 24/7 if we let him.

Asher would wear his goggles 24/7 if we let him.

11:00 a.m. Check Pepper into the nursery.

11:05 a.m. Arrive at pool with the boys and look for a lounge chair. The first two I sit in are broken. Resist urge to scream.

11:07 a.m. Move to chair number three. Notice that the lifeguard is looking at me from behind his smug hipster sunglasses.

Resist urge to scream.


12:00 p.m. Head home.

12:30 p.m. Prepare lunch that no one is excited about, including me.

1:30 p.m. Decide that the world will not end if Asher wears his Darth Vader costume to the grocery store.

This photo pretty much sums up my entire Summer. A whole lotta Darth.

This photo pretty much sums up my entire Summer. A whole lotta Darth.

1:45 p.m. Load kids into the van. Go inside to pee in peace.

1:48 p.m. Return to van and discover emergency brake was pulled while I was inside. No one will own up to it. Both boys are now buckled into their car seats. Realize I have never used the emergency brake in this vehicle. Unable to locate it because three children are yelling.

Resist urge to scream.

1:50 p.m. Call Robbie at work and ask him to tell me where the emergency brake is. FORBID HIM TO JUDGE ME.

2:00 p.m. Arrive at grocery store. Plunk Pepper into a shopping cart and find that the seat belt is broken. Select another cart. The seat belt is broken on that one, too.

Resist urge to scream.

2:25 p.m. Buy potatoes. Open “share size” bag of M&M’s in the checkout line and cram them furiously into my mouth.

Refuse to share.

3:00 p.m. Make potato salad from scratch. Wonder who fucking makes potato salad from scratch anymore because it’s a lot of fucking work.

3:10 p.m. Spend the next 30 minutes making sure my toddler doesn’t get burned by the pot of boiling water.

4:10 p.m. Verify Asher’s arm is not broken.

4:11 p.m.  Remind Maverick that no one wants to see his private parts.

4:15 p.m. Get band-aid and ice pack for injured child. Scream at boys to stop trying to put toys up their behinds. Finish potato salad.

4:20 p.m. Locate a large glass bowl and dump it in. Notice that the bowl is broken and there are shards of glass now mixed into the potato salad.

4:21 p.m. Walk outside to throw broken dish and the potato salad away.



No caption needed.

4:25 p.m. Count the days until school starts.

5:00 p.m. Start cooking dinner.

6:00 p.m. Wine.

7:00 p.m. Count the days until school starts again.

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Resisting The Summer Slide.

Me: Why do you want to bring your composition book camping this weekend?

6-year-old: So I can write down all of the things I observe, like the flowers and the birds …

Me: (silently listening)

6-year-old: I have to keep my brain operating at an advanced level, or the “summer slide” will happen. That’s when you forget everything you learned over the summer.

Me: (silently listening)

6-year-old: The only “slide” I want to experience is a slide at the playground.

That’s my boy … 6 going on middle age.



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Summer Begins and To-Do Lists End.

I spent the weekend with my family and a long to-do list nagging at the back of my brain.

I’ve allowed myself to get run down in body, mind, and spirit. I’m spent. I have nothing left to give anyone, and every time I look at the mountain of laundry or face another meal time, I just want to cry.

It never ends. None of it ends. It is unending.

It’s hard for me to enjoy my family when I get like this, and I know that to prevent going into this bad place I have to take care of myself. I have to sleep enough and exercise. I have to write. But sometimes, I can’t do those things simply because I’m a mother and the thing about motherhood is that you tend to sacrifice your needs for everyone else.

I never understood it before I found myself holding a painfully full bladder while I helped my son pull his pants up and down and waited as the endless seconds ticked by until he was finished.

The End of the To-Do List (the beginning of Summer 2015.)

“Pretend you are a grown-up. What would you do for the day? First I would wake up and make coffee. I would go to work. Next I would go investigate science. I would show my family. Then I would get my pj’s on and go to sleep.”

Mothers begin a long journey in selflessness the moment they realize that their body is housing another human being, and that human being is going to have thoughts and opinions and will want to eat at inopportune times and will become very upset when you don’t serve him pancakes on the red plate.

That human being might learn how to screech “MOMMY!!!” at frightening volumes and cause you to spend the entire day in fight-or-flight mode.

She might bite.

He might have a temper.

You, the mother, will be forced to adapt. To care for and shape these humans into people of character is no small task. It’s very tiring.

I’ll say it again: IT’S VERY TIRING.

Right now my kids are small and their needs are immediate, so finding time for myself is hard. My days are a constant struggle to cope with it all, still enjoy life, and arrive at the end of the day not hating anyone … including myself.

Tonight I was staring at their uneaten bowls of dinner and thinking about the to-do list I still haven’t started when I realized that the baby was crying in her crib. It took everything in me to stand up. I didn’t want to be needed anymore. I wanted to clock out for the day. And, in yet another act of being a mother, I walked into my daughter’s room anyway.

I didn’t feel like it, but I’m still her mother.

She was relieved to see me. I took a deep breath and picked her up. As we sat in the rocking chair in her room, she laid her head right over my heart and rested against me as I badly sang — half because I really can’t sing, and half because I was trying not to cry.

I never want to forget how it feels to hold my youngest child when she wants to be held. She leans into my body, wrapping her tiny arms around me and tucking herself in. I’ve already forgotten what it felt like to hold the boys when they were this small, and it hasn’t even been that long. OMG, WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

We rocked for an unknown period, and for the umpteenth time since becoming a mother in 2008 I realized that my children give back more to me than I give to them — to-do list be damned.

Which is fitting, since I won’t get much accomplished for the next 2.5 months.

What To-Do List? (Or, the beginning of Summer 2015.)(If you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!)

Waiting For Christmas.


I need school to start, like, yesterday.

The summer was pretty manageable at first, with a music camp and a few Vacation Bible Schools, going to the beach and such. But now we’re in this miserable stretch where I think I’m seriously about to lose. my. mind. This morning I went to the calendar and actually counted the days until school begins. 17 days.

Robbie’s last day in the car business is in 6 days, and at that point my husband will be home approximately 25 more hours per week. I calculated the hours myself, just now. That’s a whole lot of meals, baths, teeth-brushing and play time that he’s been missing out on (and I have been doing alone). Both of those dates seem impossibly far away; like waiting for Christmas does when you’re little. This is my grown-up version of Christmas. There will be Peace on Earth and in the bathroom.

Now that all of the math is out of the way, let me tell you what’s been going on over here.

Pepper is into everything

Allow me to clarify: she dumps out every container she can find with items in it, pulls laundry out of baskets, stuff out of cabinets, locates markers and tries to eat them, pulls stuff on top of herself, gets stuck in between things, tries to climb into bath tubs and toilets, and randomly escapes the house if a door is left slightly ajar.

Maverick has been raising hell.

I don’t know how else to put it, and I don’t love putting it that way because, is that really a nice thing to say about my own kid? No, but it is what it is and I love him anyway. We’ve had a really rough patch that I feel like I can’t even talk about because I just want to forget it, honestly. Because of that patch, though, Robbie and I made some discoveries that have been really helpful. I’ll share them with you in another post dedicated to the emotionally exhausted parents of strong-willed children.


Asher has been a normal two-year-old.

We took the paci away and six days later gave it back hoping he would go back to normal, but no such luck. He still won’t nap. He’s still waking up every night. In one fell swoop, I screwed myself out of having a small amount of peace in the middle of the day, otherwise known as nap time, AND a full night’s sleep. If I lock him in his room, he screams and wakes up napping Pepper. If I let him out, he finds Maverick and they fight, also waking up napping Pepper. Either way you slice it, someone’s going to be crying and sometimes it’s me. I was really angry over the whole situation for a day or two, but that has subsided into tired acceptance. Because really, what can be done? I have small children. It will eventually be okay. Like in about 17 days.

Today, Maverick screamed like the Tazmanian Devil and woke up the baby. I send the boys outside with smoothies and ask them to be careful not to spill them everywhere, it will attract ants. I go to Pepper’s room and find this.


Awwww. I had to take a picture.

Meanwhile, the boys are shampooing their hair with the smoothies on the carport. Yes. Rubbing strawberry-banana-peach goodness into their hair with both hands as it ran down their bodies onto the ground. Pepper screamed from her high chair the entire time I hosed them down and rinsed off the concrete, and the elderly man who lives across the street stood by his mailbox and stared. He stopped from getting his mail, turned around, and watched in silence.

My nerves are shot from constantly dealing with things kids do when they’re little. I probably won’t remember any of it six months from now, which is for the best. But at the beginning of this summer I said I just want to make it to the end without having to make a trip to the E.R. or eating handfuls of crack and miraculously, it looks like we’re going to accomplish those goals.




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.


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.