I Was That Mom

Yesterday, a terrible thing happened.

Let me preface this by saying that I am struggling to adjust to summer break. Struggling. Like … it’s good? But also horrible? Can something be good and horrible all at once? Because I’m pretty sure that is exactly what parenthood is.

Making the transition from having all three kids in school for 6+ hours per day (and working during those hours), to having them home all the time and trying to get my work done in addition to mothering in a loving fashion, is not going great. As I have already established in multiple blog posts from previous years, summer is effing relentless.

Pepper

Pepper is obsessed with two things: outlets and babies. Here she is showing her baby doll the outlet in her bedroom. #multitasking

Thankfully, this year is somewhat easier than previous years simply because my children are getting older and more independent. Pepper will be 3 next week, so I think we’re finally on the upswing after a very dark time in the Valley of Motherhood.

Yesterday afternoon, we got home from playing at the park. The boys jumped out of the van, heard some kids next door playing, and asked if they could go over to play. I granted them permission and took Pepper inside. Her clothes were filthy — covered in layers of peanut butter and dirt — so I stripped her down to a diaper.

I ran to the bathroom with her trailing behind me, always my little shadow. And then, my mom called. She’s not feeling well and I can barely hear her on the phone. I was straining to understand what she was saying — did she just say she needed to go to the hospital?! — and naturally, my toddler got really loud at exactly that moment. As her shouting drowned out my mother, my stress level started to rise.

I went to my bedroom and closed the door. My daughter cried from the hall, and when she stopped, I was thankful. When I emerged only a few minutes later, the house was quiet. A panicky feeling started to rise in my chest, and then it felt like my heart stopped.

Just.

Stopped.

Beating.

Our back door was standing wide open.

Screaming her name, I ran outside. She was gone. Or hiding. Or missing.

I heard a woman’s voice — our across the street neighbor — yelling at me that she just saw a little girl cut through the fences in the backyard.

“She went that way, sweetheart! I was standing here watching her!”

I was barefoot and it did not matter. I ran. I ran until I found her. I couldn’t feel my feet. I couldn’t feel my body. All I could hear was my own voice screaming her name, and my heartbeat deafening my ears. That is what blind panic feels like.

My 2-year-old was wandering one street over from ours, wearing nothing but her diaper. She was holding a toy pet carrier with a little stuffed dog inside. I will never forget the way her face looked when she saw the horror on mine.

“NEVER AGAIN,” I said to her.

“Not with my dog?” she said.

“NEVER, EVER. Do not ever leave this house without a grown up,” I said, as I wiped away my tears.

I’m sharing this story to demonstrate how quickly children can disappear. How many times have I heard stories of toddlers wandering the streets and thought to myself, WHERE WAS THE MOTHER?

That mother is me. I was right there. It happened anyway.

I’m a damn good mom. I am capable. I am aware. I am not negligent. But children are fast. And sometimes quiet. And things happen. So today I’m hugging my babies tight, grateful for their safety, knowing that sometimes other mamas aren’t so lucky.

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Toddlers Who Can’t Even

Ceci can't even

Cannot.

I love it when my friends send me pictures of their hilarious children and allow me to meme them. Also, I do this EXACT thing at least 5 times a day.

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Fun With Spandex

The time my daughter discovered that she could swing back and forth using my (extraordinarily durable) workout wear.

Shirt 1Shirt 2Shirt 3Shirt 4

Who needs toys when you have access to nylon/spandex blends?!

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Extraordinary Things.

Motherhood is getting hit over the head with a plastic bin full of toys, because your child doesn’t know how to ask you to open it like a civilized person.

Motherhood is multiple, over-sized, unapologetic glasses of wine.

It’s earplugs, noise machines, and tiptoeing down the hall; it’s double shots of espresso ordered through a drive-thru because you haven’t had time to buy groceries this week and you are desperate for caffeine, SO STOP YOUR YAMMERING AND GIMME MY COFFEE.

Motherhood is self-sacrifice. Your heart and your mind, your body, your money, your energy and your breath. You pour it all out, everything you have, because you are a mother.

Motherhood is Vicks Vaporub, saline spray, and Kleenex bought in bulk. It’s the feeling of excitement when you see diapers on sale, the joy of finally throwing out an almost-7-year-old Diaper Genie, and the sheer anguish of potty training.

Potty training is a low point.

Motherhood is when you get news that makes your mouth go dry and your chest feel compressed, but you still have to go through the motions and be a mom anyway.

Motherhood can be a real bitch.

Motherhood is painful and uncomfortable from the very start. It is a bloaty, crampy, I’m-fat-and-my-heart-is-outside-of-my-body feeling that never ends. It’s overwhelming, always. It forces you to stretch in ways you never thought possible.

Motherhood makes you grow because you have to.

Motherhood is every joy and pain, the deepest love, the greatest source of hope. It brings us to our knees — in prayer, in suffering, in gratitude, in wonder — because it is worth every ounce of energy that we invest.

Motherhood is extraordinary, because all extraordinary things are hard.

And glorious.

But mostly hard.Joy(If you liked this post, then you should follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!)

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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Toddler Raises Hell Without Apology, Mother In Tears.

Today at a local indoor playground, video surveillance picked up footage of this two-year-old girl standing next to a toy car, actively preventing other children from playing with it.

surveillance footage of toddler

“She looks like she’s going to cut a bitch,” a bystander remarked.

“Look at that side eye,” said the mother of an unnamed victim. “I told my kids to stay away from her! She’s dangerous.”

“I’ve always bragged about how sweet she is,” her mother wailed. “But clearly those days are over.”

The perpetrator allegedly dragged another child out of the play vehicle while screaming “MY CAR!” The victim ran away in tears.

Later, she terrorized a group of children playing in a pretend grocery store, taking plastic bananas and apples from their toy shopping carts without apology.

In her final act of abomination, the toddler climbed up the slides until her mother finally lured her away with promises of Goldfish crackers.

kids2

The perp with her siblings.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this tiny tyrant, please call the Save Me From This Toddler hotline at 888-888-HELL.

Pepper

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Things I’m Not Afraid To Admit.

Life is fucking hard, man.

People don’t say that often enough. Maybe because they think they will sound weak or whiny. Maybe because they’re afraid of judgement. Maybe because they are worried that it’s not hard for other people. Maybe it’s just hard for them.

Maybe they’re afraid that if they open their mouths and admit to someone else that life is hard, it will mean that they just aren’t religious enough. Maybe they aren’t good enough for God to make it easier.

Maybe He can’t hear them. Maybe He isn’t even there.

I don’t believe any of that.

I long for Robbie and I to go back in time approximately 10-12 years, back to our previous life when our biggest concerns were as follows:

1. Where everyone was going to go that night,

2. What I was going to wear,

3. And how much sex was too much sex. Wait … never mind. That wasn’t a concern. So really we only had two things to worry about.

Throw in a fear of pregnancy and not having enough money to pay my $350/month rent, and that pretty much covers my early twenties. I want to go back to that time, not because I don’t want my kids or the life that I have now, but because I want to remember what it felt like to be less exhausted than I currently am. Right now, I’m close to being exhausted enough to stop showering, and if you know me, you know that this is MAJOR.

This thought hit me the other night when I was engrossed in watching a YouTube video of someone extracting impacted earwax from a man’s ear. I looked up to show Robbie, but he had fallen asleep listening to an audio book of Game of Thrones.

When I yelled, “What is happening to us?! WHO ARE WE?!?” it made him jump.

The next night, I sidled up to him and purred seductively, “Are you going to watch the rest of this baseball game?” He said, “I don’t know … I might fall asleep.”

I gathered my pillows and went to the couch, wishing for things to be less mid-thirties and more mid-twenties.

This morning I was passive-aggressively flipping through a magazine, feeling angry that I am so tired, that three-year-old children are so irrational, that my husband is just as tired as I am, that I don’t ever have time to write, and that people constantly need something from me.

Most of all, I was angry that I am becoming everything that I said I would never be.

I’m resentful, unkempt, and irritable. I yell. A lot.

I recoil when my husband touches me. I am touched out, talked out, cleaned out and incredibly tired of going to the grocery store. I’m exhausted of feeding people and cleaning up messes and hearing complaints from at least one person at all times, because there are five people in this house and no one is ever happy all at the same time and that includes me.

I’m a jerk.

I was gone for 4 days and it didn’t help. It just made me want more time away. It was a tiny drop in my dried-out bucket. I do my best to care for myself, but I still come up short. I’m being pulled in so many different directions, every day. I am asked to give more, even when I don’t have anything left, every day.

I am a frazzled mom.

That makes me wish that I could travel back in time to when life was simpler. Look how smooth our faces were. Look how close we are standing to each other. His hand is practically on my ass, and who could blame him? No one was squeezing in between us, yelling “MY Daddy!!!”

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

I want to warp-speed myself back to THIS.

This is why people tell you not to rush your life — because you never know what the next season might bring. It might be really fucking hard.

You might have children stuck to you like agitated starfish for 12 hours a day.

You might have to unclog toilets and wipe up pee and chase small people who are surprisingly fast.

You might tear your hamstring in Kickboxing class because you’re getting old and you didn’t warm up properly.

As I mulled this over today in a brief moment of peace, during which I spaced out and sat completely motionless because no one needed me, I heard a sound coming from the bathroom.

“I bwush my teef.”

That’s what she was saying to me as she held up her toothbrush, smiling that double-dimpled smile that exposes her perfect toddler teeth.

I want to travel back in time.My baby just turned two and can hold full conversations.

“I bwush my teef.”

I stood there and stared at her. It was like I couldn’t breathe.

She’s so beautiful. So smart, so sweet. So cuddly and funny. She isn’t just beautiful because she’s pretty. She’s beautiful because she glows.

I am so grateful.

She held up her toothbrush. “MOUF!!!!” (That’s “mouth” in toddler-speak.)

The thing about seasons is that even on the darkest night, when the wind is howling at your door, there is still a moon in the sky. It’s not all bad, even when it’s fucking hard.

And I’m not afraid to admit that out loud, either.

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My Wife Bonus.

I survived my first real week of Summer.

The boys played tug o’ war with the water hose. They pulled and pulled with all their might, but the other end was stuck to the house. In the end, the house won.

My middle child walked around for most of the week with a large human bite mark on his face — big, purple, teeth-shaped marks on his cheek and eyebrow. I told myself it looked like dirt and tried not to worry about it.

They're pretty darn cute.

They’re pretty darn cute when they aren’t raising hell.

Our washing machine stopped spinning properly, so I have to wash tiny loads instead of normal-sized ones … which means my laundry pile seriously never ends. Robbie doesn’t seem to understand the enormity of this problem. He shrugged and said (and I quote), “Just stick your hand in there and get it going by doing this” and modeled how to jump-start the spin cycle.

I don’t have time for that kind of bullshit. I’m too busy screaming at the boys to stop drinking muddy water and keeping our youngest from hurtling herself through a window. I NEED THE WASHING MACHINE TO FUNCTION. I do not want to spin the washing machine by hand. I’m not that kind of woman. I don’t even enjoy camping without a real bathroom.

You know what kind of woman I am?

The kind who likes to get her hair done. The kind who dislikes broken things.

I went to the Beehive Salon this week, and I love what they did so much that it doesn’t matter that I had to pay for overpriced childcare in order to make it to my appointment. It was worth every penny, and I consider it my “wife bonus” for keeping everyone alive. (Have you read this ridiculous article in the New York Post about the “wife bonus?” Not that I’m against wives getting a bonus. I’m not. I just can’t imagine living that kind of lifestyle. Probably because instead of a $1,500 Burberry trench coat, I own a Nike zip-up hoodie.)

I leave for the BlogU Conference next week (!!!) and I simply could not meet all of these exciting people with two inches of roots showing. I also got my eyebrows waxed for the first time since my wedding almost a decade ago.

It is my hope that everyone I meet will be so mesmerized by flawless brows and smooth upper lip that they will want to work with me on projects that pay in real money, and magically my children will have childcare arrangements … and little blue birds will carry my laptop to me every morning while the mice make my coffee.

PicMonkey CollageI left my pride all over town this week. I injured myself in Kickboxing class. I had to jump into the kiddie pool and drag my defiant, screaming three-year-old out by his puddle jumper.

I bought something that I thought was a shirt, but it’s actually a dress.

I feel my age.

But my hair looks damn good.

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