All I Need To Know Today

I just want to breathe.

Right this very moment, my toddler is screaming from her crib and my middle child is playing with a roll of duct tape behind me, making that “riiiiiiip” sound over and over.

It’s nap time, obviously.

I need to breathe.

I have spent months struggling to find my breath. I have felt the actual sensation of my spirit sinking as I slogged through the hard parts of mothering, digging deep for just one more day of a little more patience and a little more strength. Just enough to get me through the day, because I’m not greedy … and also because I can’t allow myself to think too far beyond whatever is happening right in front of me.

I am weary, turned inside-out, and emotionally rubbed raw. I have found myself asking aloud, when does it end? Because surely, somewhere down the road, I will have a chance to regroup before the teenage years hit. Right? Surely it doesn’t stay this exact brand of demanding forever.

And then, clarity hit. That’s what always happens — months of painful slogging, followed by an epiphany. If my life were to have a working title, it would be “I Had Another Epiphany And Everyone Eyerolled.”

I was cleaning up my daughter after another accident when it struck me that the opportunity to care for others is a sacred thing. Cleaning them, feeding them, looking after them.

Raising them.

The quieting of their cries at the sound of your voice. The endless smiles. The begging for you to sing at bedtime, when you are exhausted and want nothing more than to dump them in their beds and lock yourself in a room alone to stare in silence. But watching those little bodies relax as you acquiesce and sing “Silent Night” for the thousandth time, only walk to the next bedroom and do it all over again with the next one … THAT is a sacred experience.

That is what keeps me going.

Being a parent is hard. It’s so much work, but it is holy work, regardless of what your beliefs may be. Guiding children to adulthood is by far the biggest and most serious responsibility I have taken on in my life. I’ve had people say I must be a sad person if being a mom was the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

Fuck them.

It is by far the greatest thing I have ever done, and if I can somehow manage to shepherd these kids into adulthood as functioning, mannerly, positive contributors to society … then it will be the greatest thing I WILL EVER DO.

My exhaustion is worth something. Yours is, too.

That’s all I need to know today.

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For approximately 6 weeks, I have felt like I just cannot get it together.

I’m forgetting things. I’m struggling to get simple tasks accomplished, like keeping food in the house and making sure Maverick’s school uniforms are clean. Robbie would ask me something like, “Where are all my boxers?” and I would get irrationally angry.

At first I thought I was just tired from the holidays. Then, I thought it was probably because I’m trying to write and get published more, and that takes time and energy.

Maybe I was anemic. My mother-in-law asked if I have had my thyroid checked recently … maybe it was that. Maybe I’m not sleeping well enough.

I bought some ZzzQuil.

My mother asked me on several occasions, “Are you okay?” or, “Why are you so tired?” I could never come up with a good answer, because what am I supposed to say?! I HAVE KIDS. But my husband was starting to give me concerned looks, and I was starting to wonder about myself. What was my problem?! Did I need to cut back on writing? Did I need to start going to bed earlier? Take more vitamins?

And then, it dawned on me.

The toddler.

Pepper, with her always-sunny disposition, has become a true toddler. She runs from me, darting between my legs. Half of the time, when we are at home, I have no idea where she is. She’s a climber. She tries to touch the cooktop when I’m boiling eggs. She attempts to grab the hot frying pan. Tonight, she opened the oven when it was set to 425 fish-stick-cooking degrees.

She bites. She pulls everything out of every drawer, cabinet, basket, and box. She hits and pulls hair. I am forever grabbing her hands and reminding her, “Be gentle.”

She locks herself in rooms and closets. She learned how to open doors and loves to sneak into the bathroom to play in the toilet. She tries to strip herself naked.

She enjoys trying to dive headfirst into the bath tub when her brothers are taking a bath, but her very favorite thing is eating wet sand at the playground.

Pepper has started really talking. She screams “EAT!” or, “I HUNGRY!” when she needs food. She says “I SOWWY!” when she bites me. She exclaims “I DID IT!” and “HI, PEPPER!” because she mimics everything her older brothers say and do. This includes yelling “SHUT UP!” at inappropriate times. She also will randomly yell the word “poop.”

I am not anemic. I am not depressed or stricken with another bout of mono (I had a terrible case of it in high school). It’s an even graver condition, I’m afraid. One that will last another 12, maybe 18 months.

I have toddler.

Pepper does not enjoy being judged.

Pepper does not enjoy being judged.

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Sometimes, like now, I find myself completely overwhelmed with my life and I wonder if something is wrong with me. Why can’t I just chill out and not care about the mountain of laundry shoved in my closet or the toothpaste that got squeezed all over the kid’s bathroom?

I have piles of paperwork-slash-multiple writing projects accumulating all over the house, and just when I get started on one, someone comes along and pushes the papers to the floor, poops their pants, or starts yanking on the cord of my laptop.

Robbie will look at me curiously and throw out comments like, why are you so grumpy? He says that he makes these statements hoping that it will, and I quote, “snap me out of my mood.” I’ll let you draw your own conclusion about how well that works.


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Today we all got dressed for church and the children sat nicely on the couch in a row and definitely did not smack each other in the face while they waited for me to take their picture. Asher also did not get upset because his shirt was touching him. He was calm and completely rational.

Maverick listened to all of my instructions and did not squeeze his little sister until she started screaming. And she most certainly did not jerk the bow out of her hair multiple times.

So yes, excellent question, Robbie. Why AM I so grumpy?! Certainly not from tiredness. Since you’re home to watch the kids, maybe I’ll take a little walk and think it over … I’ll come back when I have it all figured out.

I may be gone awhile.

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.