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!)

The Prissiest Tantrum.

Girls are fascinating creatures.

After giving birth to two wild boys, I was elated to finally have the chance to parent a little girl. I remember the day we found out we were having a daughter. I spent the remainder of my pregnancy too excited to care about the fact that my nether regions were turning blue, and that’s saying a LOT.

Yes, you heard me right. Blue vagina. You can read all about it here … or not.

So far, it has been even more fun and amazing than I imagined it would be, although dealing with her hair is a lot harder than I’d expected. It’s so slippery, and she’s so wiggly. She has a lot of fine, thick hair, and she likes to chew on it. She pulls out all of her cute barrettes and bows.

Okay, FINE. She’s a hot mess, and it’s totally my fault.

I try to keep her neat and clean, with every hair in place, but it’s harder than I expected to keep a little girl looking put together. It’s hard enough keeping myself put together. So, more often than not, I end up saying JUST FORGET IT — let’s throw on a tiara and call it a day.

Using the oven as a mirror.

Using the oven as a mirror.

She does adorable things like walk up to me and wordlessly hand over her patent leather shoes or her brother’s cowboy hat, smiling up with her big, blue eyes until I do whatever it is that she wants me to do. She laughs and claps and is just learning how to hop up and down, which is adorable of course.

She uses our oven as a mirror, running to look at herself every time we change her clothes or fix her hair. Then she stands there and watches herself slooooowly pull out the pigtails I just spent half of my life painstakingly putting in.

Captain Cook to the rescue!

Captain Cook to the rescue!

She’s really easy going, especially for a toddler.

Except when she’s not.

Pepper threw her first real temper tantrum yesterday in the kitchen as I watched with my mouth hanging open. She was playing with her brother’s Angry Bird slippers, and I don’t know what pissed her off, but it must have been bad.

She carefully arranged herself on the floor — there’s none of the hurling her body to the ground or smacking her head repeatedly that I’ve grown accustomed to from the boys — and paused for a moment, letting her rage brew.

One she was ready to begin, after she made sure that I was watching, she proceeded to throw her first epic tantrum.

I can’t tell if it’s that I’m desensitized from going through this two times already with really violent tantrum-throwers, or if I’m just out of fucks to give. Either way, instead of feeling super stressed out by it, I was absolutely captivated by the theatrics of her little girl tantrum.

Prissy tantrum.It was the prissiest, angriest thing I’ve ever seen.

So much rage.

Careful not to look too ugly as she screamed.

Just crazy enough to hold my attention.

Precisely scary enough to keep me at a distance.

A lot of angst.

It reminded me of … me.

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

Where Are My Earplugs?

Yesterday, I made the grave mistake of looking at the school calendar. The realization of how quickly the school year will end and Summer Break will begin threatened to choke off my air supply.

I wish I could be one of those moms who gleefully await summertime. Those are likely the same moms who do fun activities with their (calm, obedient) children while I frantically try to keep my (energetic, experimental) kids from setting the house on fire. I wish I could be more optimistic and just have fun, but the truth is that I am always on pins and needles waiting for one of them to get seriously injured.

I love my children, but they exhaust me. Does that mean that I’m not cut out for motherhood? I chose to be a stay-at-home-mom. WTF IS WRONG WITH ME?! Am I too uptight? Am I doing it all wrong?

I’m admitting out loud, right now, that motherhood is ass hard. That does not mean it’s as hard as my ass, which isn’t hard at all. This is not a literal statement. I mean to say that IT IS SO HARD THAT THERE ISN’T AN ADEQUATE WORD, SO I ADDED “ASS” IN FRONT OF IT. If you can’t get on board with that, then I don’t know what to do with you.

I make this proclamation after a long stretch of parenting issues that individually aren’t that bad, but added all together at once are just a lot. I’m exhausted. I feel like I have nothing else to give, and yet — there it is, another snot bubble on the horizon. There’s another person who can’t figure out how to get his underwear right side in and needs help because he cannot possibly put his underwear on if they are inside out.

At night, when all of the children are tucked in bed asleep, after the middle child has been taken to the bathroom to pee so he doesn’t have an accident in his bed, and I have spent an adequate amount of time with that strange man who lives in the house with me, I insert my ear plugs and pray that whatever rest I get will be enough to get me through the next day.

Today, when I sunk to a low point and looked at the clock for the umpteenth time to see that it was still not 5 p.m., something snapped me out of it. I got a moment of beauty.

Our baby, the same one who tries to stick her head in the oven on an almost-daily basis, learned how to stack blocks.

And I was there to see it.

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So yes, I would be lying if all I did was talk about the beauty of motherhood. It’s not mostly beautiful. It’s mostly painful and frustrating and uncomfortable and scary and tiring, with moments of beauty sprinkled in — just enough to make it worth it, but not so much that it’s easy.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

The best part about being a mom is that those sprinkles are all you really need to push you to the next level. My little block-stacker spends most of her time undoing everything I’ve done: she puts important mail in the trash, pulls clothes out of baskets and contents out of cabinets, and tries to systemically empty every box and bin in the house. But damnit, SHE CAN STACK.

I’m a proud, exhausted mama. Now … where are my earplugs?

Diagnosis: Mother.

Today I realized that my 3-year-old isn’t as attached to his special blanket anymore. I realized that I have never rocked my 21-month-old to sleep, because she is the third child and in this house, the third child gets a bedtime kiss and dumped into her crib without ceremony.

Now that my oldest eschews rocking and my middle only lets me do it sometimes, I WANT TO ROCK SOMEONE BEFORE BED, DAMN IT.

Motherhood makes me feel like a crazy person. In fact, I am a crazy person.

To prove my point, I have created a visual aid using a family picture of us from October 2012, two months after The Great Negotiation.

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Because everything about this picture screams “WE NEED MORE CHILDREN!”

What’s The Great Negotiation? That was the time I spent months trying to convince my poor husband that I wasn’t done having children and we needed more, despite the fact that we were struggling on one income and had two very challenging boys — one of whom was not quite a year old. I felt like we totally needed to throw one more baby into the mix. That made sense to me.

This is how I know that mothers have something deeply, psychologically wrong with them.

The Great Negotiation took place during date night at Outback Steakhouse. My husband eventually wore down and said “FINE. But I have to get a vasectomy before the baby is born.” And I said, “FINE. I’m ordering a beer.”

Less than a year later, our daughter was born.

Less than a year after that, I regretted allowing the vasectomy. Because I have a mental illness.

It’s called Mother.

The Phases.

Parenting seems to come in waves of holy shit I think I may die and holy shit I totally have this.

Right now I’m in a holy shit I think I may die phase. I don’t want to bore you with the details … like how my youngest child wants nothing more in this world than to run into the street in front of our house, or how, at the playground, she doesn’t want to play on the equipment because she would much rather wander into the woods.

I just found myself on my knees in the bathroom, trying to talk my middle child through his first poop on the toilet. We did yoga-type breathing. We sang songs. I gave him lots of encouragement. Finally, in an act of desperation, I asked Jesus to help my son poop so I could move on with my day. I was on my knees anyway … I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Now more than ever, I find myself exasperated with my children and my life in general. Nothing is easy. Everything is hard. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

My days aren’t about me. They’re about them. And as much as I love being a mother, I still struggle with the part where my entire life revolves around these other human beings we’ve created. It’s not easy for me to set my own needs aside for another, 24 hours a day. But I do, because I am a mom.

I saw these two hug for the first time the other day, and that moment made my heart swell and my eyes fill with tears. All of the energy I pour out isn’t for nothing. It’s for everything.

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First Grade Journaling.

First graders at our neighborhood school are required to write in a black-and-white journal every morning. They aren’t allowed to bring it home and they aren’t allowed to draw in it.

This afternoon, I got a text from Maverick’s teacher. It was a picture of today’s entry.

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The year is supposed to be 2015. I hope he didn’t lose points for that, because I keep doing it too.

One of the most traumatic events in my life thus far was the day that Asher, who was only a year old at the time, went to the refrigerator looking for juice. It was on the same day that Aunt Nancy and Uncle John were coming to see our new baby girl for the first time, and Robbie and I were busy cleaning the house.

I heard him saying “Mommy, juice,” but I was busy and figured I would get to it in a minute. Always the self-reliant middle child, he went to the refrigerator to get the juice himself. He then proceeded to lug out a gigantic bottle of wine that was stored in the door, dropped it on the tile floor, slipped, and fell in the glass. Just thinking about it makes me upset — my heart starts to race, my stomach flip-flops.

I NEVER drink white wine. I don’t know why I bought it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was living in The Blur, so I probably just saw it on sale somewhere and thought YES, I NEED THAT. I need ALL of that. EVERY LAST DROP, right this minute. I don’t have time to rip the cork out with my teeth in the parking lot and drink it immediately because the baby is hungry and screaming, so I’ll just take it home and chill it. Isn’t that what people do with white wine? I usually drink red. It’s much more low-maintenance. Yes — I’ll chill it — and as soon as I get the chance, I’m gonna down this mofo like the sleep-deprived bitch that I am.

That chance never came, because my child beat me to it.

When the ambulance arrived, our entire house smelled of alcohol, the baby was screaming, and I was covered in blood, crying with a toddler on my lap. The biggest chunk of glass that lodged itself in his ass left a large, crescent-shaped scar on his butt cheek that still makes my heart sink every time I look at it.

Maverick wasn’t home when it happened, but one of his most favorite activities is to meet a new person and tell the exciting tale of The Time Asher Broke A Bottle of Mommy’s Wine. If you hear the story from a charismatic 6-year-old, it’s actually quite entertaining.

His teacher informed me during our textversation today that this story, as told by Maverick, is one of her very favorites. “This one’s a keeper,” she said, referring to the journal entry. Yes, indeed it is. I never made baby books for any of my children, but I do have THIS.

I’ll just store it right next to the bloody chunk of glass I have stored in a box in my closet.