A Mother’s Denial.

I have spent so much of my life wanting time to move faster.

I’m a doer. A planner. I get the metaphorical ball rolling. I mobilize.

And yes, it’s exhausting. But that is who I am and who I always have been. I lie awake in bed at night planning the next day. I spend almost my entire day on my feet, doing things. I can’t help it. It’s in my DNA.

But now my last child has outgrown her crib, and I CANNOT MOVE PAST IT. I have planned for this moment at length, watching three teething babies gnaw on the wooden rails, telling myself that one day it will be time to convert it into a full-size bed and close the Crib Chapter of our lives. And now that time has come … and I just can’t move forward.

I’m stuck.

I’m sad.

I cry a lot.

It’s weird.

I’ve been dragging my feet for weeks, saying things like “I still need to find bedding,” or, “We’ll do it this weekend.”

Excuses.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t want my last baby to sleep in a big girl bed. I stare at her very-long-for-her-age body folded inside of her crib and I tell myself that she likes it, because it’s a lot like sleeping in a womb. I tell myself that she’s only 2 1/2 and children that small are too little to be in full-sized sleigh beds, even though both of her brothers were sleeping in big beds by the time they were her age.

But she’s different. Because she’s my last.

When she crawls into her brother’s bed, snuggles under the covers, and announces “I WANT A BIG GIRL BED!” I pretend not to hear it. I don’t want to face it. And that’s a weird feeling for someone who hurtles through her life like a neurotic wildebeest.

No matter how much I try to treat all of my children the same, I’m always going to be a little slower to accept the newest stage of my youngest.

Fortunately for us all, she is not the type to be slowed by anyone.

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A Very Short Story.

The next time someone comments that I am wound too tight or that I “just need to relax,” I’m going to remind them of the time that Robbie and our oldest child went on a camping trip and left me home with our two younger children, and I decided that the best way for me to power through a weekend with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old is to stay as busy as possible by doing things like going swimming at my parent’s house where I forgot to lock the deadbolt behind us when we returned and my youngest child escaped without anyone noticing and made it almost to the parking lot before I came running and screaming after her.

The end.

(Guzzles wine.)

20150516_173852(If you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!)

Making Bitterness My Bitch.

Today I took my 3-year-old and my 1-year-old into a public bathroom, not because I wanted to, but because I weighed the options and public bathroom won out over let’s roll the dice and see if we can make it home.

Ironically, because I was so valiant in my effort to keep them from touching every surface within reach, my little girl tripped over my foot and belly-flopped onto the floor of the bathroom stall. Her face may have actually made contact with the tile … it’s unclear because I have already stricken the details from memory.

While I worked to lift her upright and mentally checked into my safe place, my son busied himself with touching every single part of the toilet. Apparently he saw the opportunity to send me over the edge and ran with it.

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After almost four years of being a full-time stay-at-home-mom, I’m tired. My nerves are raw. I feel frayed, just like the green blanket that my child has rubbed and loved on until there is nothing left but a mangled, nubby wad of material. A friend told me when I first quit working that there would be a honeymoon period, followed by an adjustment period and settling in. And then, I would either love it or I would hate it.

I feel like maybe I’m in a transitional time where I’m not sure how I feel about it. I do know that I need to do a better job of being grateful for the privilege of being home. At the beginning of all this, I told Robbie on a daily basis how grateful I was to him for working so hard and allowing me to focus solely on raising our children. Somehow, over time, that has shifted to bitterness. Four years of cooking, shopping, and cleaning — all things that I used to enjoy — changed me.

What happened?

I have allowed myself to get bogged down in responsibilities, and I have lost sight of the reasons why I wanted to do this job in the first place. And remembering WHY I AM DOING THIS is where I find my peace and my joy.

So, you know what? Screw bitterness. I’m going to make bitterness my bitch.

I am grateful that I am the one who gets to wrangle my children in bathrooms outside of our home … because no one else could scrub their little hands as thoroughly, and with as much love.

I am grateful that I am the one who wipes their noses a million times a day, because someone else might not notice, or worse — let it run freely (shudder).

I am grateful that I oversee everything that happens in this house, because while that may be an exhausting endeavor, I know things are done well here. No one will get Salmonella on my watch.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

When I take the time to think those words, roll them over in my mind, and write them, I realize they are true. I really am grateful. I just don’t take the time to say it enough.

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Toddleritis.

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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The Toddler & The Toilet.

FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I CANNOT KEEP THIS CHILD OUT OF THE TOILET.

10849725_1565162037052276_6916118220399881664_nIt is her favorite thing. I’m pretty on top of the situation I’ve got going on over here, meaning I generally know where my kids are and I have the scissors stored in a safe location, but she still manages to sneak in there and splash with all her might. Mouth open, lovey in hand.

I am so tired of washing loveys.

I am so tired of wiping up toilet water.

Someone please tell me that this will build her immunity, and it will all pay off in the end somehow. Like in the case of a major Ebola outbreak in the U.S. — at least the one who drinks toilet water would survive it, right?

Right.

The Baby Is Not A Baby Anymore.

“The baby,” who isn’t actually a baby anymore and I guess I need to stop calling her that, crawled at 10 months.

Exactly 7 months later, she started walking. It also turns out that she’s quite the climber.

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I am so relieved to have use of my arms again. So, so relieved. Picking her up and hauling her all over the place — because when you’re trying to walk into a store with an unpredictable three-year-old, you have to have the other one either strapped in a cart or on your hip — has given me unprecedented upper-body strength. I can do man push-ups. Okay, only like three. But STILL.

And while I am so excited to finally close the door on all things baby in this house, I admit that I’m also so sad about it. My last child has truly turned into a toddler overnight who drunkenly wanders the house saying “Bye-bye! Cracker?”

She sings, she laughs, and she is a complete and utter joy. Except when she’s trying to eat Cascade gel packs, or when she watches me lace up my shoes and unties one while I tie the other one, and then when I re-tie that one she unties the other one. I mean, it’s cute now that it’s over and I’m telling you about it, but when I’m in a hurry and I can’t get my damn shoes tied and Asher is standing by the door screaming “I DON’T WANT MY CLOTHESES TO TOUCH ME!” it’s not cute.

At all.

I’ll never have another baby-turned-toddler again. This is it, and I’m glad … but also there is a part of me that wishes I could make it stop. Just for a moment.

I’ll never again have the joy of seeing one of my children take their first steps. Now there will be new firsts, each one taking them farther away from babyhood. And to be honest, I’m relieved because this has been incredibly hard. But also, I need to have a good cry about it.

This is the beginning of goodbyes, and everything about it is bittersweet.

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My Middle Child.

I have to work to stay present. If I don’t stay present, I don’t enjoy my children; they simply become another thing for me to deal with.

So this week I’ve noticed that Asher has started that adorable, almost-three-years-old way of talking and I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF IT. He’ll pipe up from the backseat: “Mommy! Look, birdses!” He says “catses,” “dogses,” and things like “What’s that sound is?” The first time he said “What’s that sound is?” I think I blurted out, “Who your daddy is?” And he said, “Huh? Daddy? Daddy at work.”

Sometimes I miss having other grownups around to get my humor … like when I told him the sound he heard was crickets because nobody was laughing at what I said.

“Cwickets?”

That’s right. Cwickets. They chirp when it’s silent, so … we never hear them.

Sometimes he pats me and asks, “You alright?” if I stub my toe. He wraps his arms around my legs and says “Sowwy, I sowwy Mommy,” when he does something wrong. He says “I wuv you too,” when I put him to bed. It. Is. Adorable.

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Asher at birth.

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Asher’s first birthday.

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One year old.

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Two years old.

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Almost three.

My Asher … he rockets around like he’s been snorting kiddie speed, constantly getting bumped and scraped. He’s my toughest child, rugged with a chipped-toothed, dimpled grin that can win over even the grumpiest cashier at Walmart. I worry about him the most, for very different reasons than the other two. They are all three so special in such unique ways, I know this even though we don’t know exactly how just yet. It’s a knowing that I have, and I just hope I am up to the task of guiding them.

Sometimes it feels like an eternity since he was born, and I guess in a way it has been. So much has happened — we moved, had another child, and moved again. But when I look into his cherub-like face and force myself to be present, I realize it is zipping by faster than I’d like, and before I know it he will be saying “sorry” instead of “sowwy.”

And that kind of breaks my heart a little.