Is It Bedtime Yet?

“Life is filled with sunshine and rain. Some days are fancy and others are plain.” – Remember Forever, Rainstorm Publishing

And some days – like Tuesdays – are very, very long. With a mix of sunshiny joy, rainy tears, stormy tantrums, bright blue skies and eyes, foggy pregnancy brain, and everything in between.

Tuesdays are my least and most favorite days right now. Addie is home from preschool. Kevin is gone from long before the kids wake up to after they go to bed. It’s just the three of us (and Penny Dog) to fill the day which, right now, takes every minute of my focus and energy. We have little independent play, frequent cries of boredom, and much fighting. It’s utterly exhausting.

At the same time, I am relishing my two big kids before baby sister arrives, enjoying how capable and fun they are, and being constantly wowed by their interests and achievements. By this time next year, Addie will be in full time school, Owen in preschool, and I will be back to baby business.

I try to cherish every moment, like I am supposed to be doing, but in reality I’ll settle for enjoying some and surviving others. Here is how we fill an average Tuesday.

 

First thing: scooter ride, dog walk, Mama-sore-hips-stretching walk, playground. Exercise and fresh air for all.

Cheese Meltdown

Back at home, we had a string of five back to back meltdowns within the span of ten minutes. A fight over who got to sweep which outdoor table; a little brother destroying preschool artwork (fixable); tears over sweatshirts; screams for treats; a piece of cheese that broke and will never be whole again. Tragedies, all of them, resulting in tears (from all of us).

 

Luckily, I had some preplanned activities for the day/week (a must right now, although they sometimes fail to even launch). After everyone recovered and snacked, a little structured creativity was a good breather. This one was a hit: Disappearing Letters.*

11 am when we wrapped up  – only 7.5 hours until bedtime. They begged to watch their current favorite movie, Sing, so we made it special by eating lunch in the living room (a rare treat from this clean freak Mama). Anything different from routine can go two ways: total disaster or fresh and exciting. Maybe because food and screen time were combined, maybe they were getting tired, or maybe I just got lucky, but this was a solid hour and a half of quiet time. Plus Owen was fed and sleepy at nap time on the dot.

 

Lunch.jpg

While the young monster napped, the older beast had be restrained for quiet time. Since dropping her nap over the summer, this is often a battle. But some golden days – like this one – it becomes an opportunity for sweet together time, side by side downtime, or a combination of the two. **

By the after nap portion of these kinds of days (okay, of every day) I am seriously wiped out. Today required an afternoon outing, somewhere that the kids could run wild and I could sit and watch, conserving energy for the evening hustle, intervening only when needed. One of our new favorite spots for this is an indoor kids’ play space in town, called Time Out.*** After a hour and a half here, they were sufficiently beat, and it was technically late enough to start dinner.

Dinner … I have learned my lesson about making a “real” dinner on the nights that Kevin is not home to eat with us. It’s kid food all the way. For a final, fun, activity, I put them to work on their own mini pizzas on english muffins. Classic kid dinner.

Dinner

Eyelids and spirits were drooping fast at the dinner table. Tuesdays are a firm no bath night. Neither kid had the energy to protest getting wiped down, putting on pajamas, and only getting one book each before lights out.

At the end of it all, I am about to fall over from exhaustion – physical, mental, and emotional. My back is shot, my belly has been one solid Braxton Hicks contraction since 2 pm, I am craving silence and stillness, and have no energy to face the regular chores. But, while brushing her teeth, Addie reached out to give me a hug, saying “Thanks for the nice day, Mama”. And, on his eighth time out of bed to go pee, Owen said “That was fun make pizza, Mom, and watch Sing, and go Time Out, and scooter ride.” Their little faces and words of gratitude make it all worth it.

Signing off now for a giant piece of pie and the season premiere of This Is Us (if I can stay awake for it). Nighty fucking night. May everyone stay in their own beds until sunrise.

*https://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/11/disappearing-letters-alphabet-for-starters-activity.html

** Fall counting worksheet and matching/memory games from: https://www.giftofcuriosity.com. This site is awesome – tons of free printable and activities, and a $10 credit to buy others when you subscribe by email. They’re not paying me to say this or anything, I just love when I come across a good resource for keeping the mini beasts entertained and learning.

*** http://timeoutnplay.com I promise, they’re not paying me either. No one is paying me, actually. No one at all.

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The Only Things to Hold Onto at the End of the Day

Friday afternoon, 4 pm, at my house is predictably chaotic. This has been a particularly brutal week, and it’s still a long-ass time until dinner. It is my last day of babysitting, and Addie has just gotten home from school, so everyone is underfoot. One kid is overtired and on day five of the constant unhappiness in the life of a four year old (“I don’t like how my life has turned out!”). The other kid, lacking in physical activity for the day, is running wild laps and jumping off the couch (standard issue two year old crazies). I am getting worn out from the baby’s game of pulling up to stand on my legs, swaying unsteadily with wild eyes and arms for 1-2 minutes, and then crashing into my massively pregnant belly, laughing like a tiny psycho. Addie and Owen are making up for the time they spent apart by cramming all of the screaming and hitting they can into each second.

I am suddenly saved by my handsome husband getting home from work. He is exhausted –meetings and back to school night this week have left him fried. Maybe it’s because of this that Owen quickly talks him into a scooter ride. With the dog.

So that’s one tiny human and a dog occupied, out of my line of sight.

My little sprite, Addie, needs some downtime to unwind from the work of preschool and gear up for the evening (including having family friends over for a pizza party). I toss out my first suggestion for a quiet activity, bracing for the usual battle: me offering six to ten choices, her screaming at the ludicrousness of each one, and then an argument in which she says “I never have anything to do. Life is so boring.” and I say “We can throw out all the toys then! You can just sit in silence.”

This day, though, the occasionally reasonable side she has developed since turning four kicks in, and the fight never happens. I say “Sweetie, why don’t you take some time to relax in your room. Please go sit down quietly and read all of your new library books.” She says (drumroll please) “Okay Mommy”. What just happened? Never mind, don’t question it.

And then she does it; she walks into her room without whining, growling, or stomping, and is silent (save for a little rustling of paper).

That makes two small people, and the dog, out of my personal space.

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Jacob gets a bottle and a snuggle. I get as deep of a breath as the baby pushing on my diaphragm from the inside will allow. We may survive the witching hour.

My amazing little book lover stays in her room quietly for a full twenty minutes. She emerges with calm, renewed energy that shows in her smile and lack of screaming or flailing. She sits next to me on the floor and hugs Jacob, asking again “Is this our last day babysitting? Will we still get to see him?” Yes it is, but of course we will. Answers which previously caused her to melt down in tears and anger make her hug him a little tighter, telling him what a sweet and clever baby he is.

I ask how quiet reading time was and she says (I don’t even need to embellish here – I swear – because the phrases are now engrained in my memory forever): “Mommy, there are two books that you picked that we read before, and I love them so much. Thank you Mommy, for picking such good books. You’re the best Mommy.”

It’s a fleeting moment of peace, wrapped in a feeling of relief, and rolled into a four year old who is turning out to be more perfect all the time.

I offer to read her the two she loves so much, and she leaps at the chance. She snuggles next to me on the floor, with her funny way of wrapping her little arm around my shoulders, as though she is the adult. We read Poppleton in Fall, and PJ FunnyBunny Camps Out. Jacob starts his wild standing and flopping game again, and we laugh. The guys and the pup get home.

Chaos resumes and grows as our friends arrive. The house is full of wild kid noises, pizza and countless interrupted adult conversations until the evening ends and we ruin the tiny humans’ lives by making them say goodbye to each other. Kevin and I have a quick bedtime strategy conference: definitely no baths, just wipe them down; which one do you want?; what kind of bribe can we offer for cooperation?  We do the bare minimum, roll them into bed, make the rare decision to leave the house messy, and drag our tired old selves to the TV.

These are the things (the only things) to hold onto from today. The beauty in all that chaos; the fact that we survived another week; that calm moment when I soaked in my girl with pride; the last day with Jacob going smoothly and culminating in a perfectly crazy dinner with both of our families; the quiet after the storm and the short chunk of time with my husband before another wild day begins.

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Rylant, Cynthis. Poppleton in Fall. The Blue Sky Press, 1999.

Sadler, Marilyn. P.J. Funnybunny Camps Out. Random House, 1993.

Let’s Talk About Sleep, Baby

With less energy and more baby weight every minute, these days feel endless. By the time I shove gently lay my monsters sweet children in their beds, I am more than ready to sit in quiet and zone out on my phone for a few minutes. Unfortunately, this interlude between bedtime and chores has lately been taking place outside of their bedroom door, to keep Owen contained in his new toddler bed for long enough to fall asleep. Not so restful.

Please let my independent sleeper reappear soon.

He will; he always does. Mostly, I am appalled at how easily I can put him down for nap and bedtime: a big hug and kiss, binky and blankey in chubby hands, sound machine on, and it’s “night night, Owen”. Not a peep until he’s awake again. Each day we are a little closer to being back there. I just need a little extra patience for now (can I order some from Amazon?).

The saving grace in this current fiasco has been Addie, my other great sleeper. Now that they share a room, it could be a quick downhill shitshow if she joined in the fun when he protests, hopping out of bed 600 times a night. She amazes me – my wild child who rarely does anything I need – by staying quiet and sticking to her usual sleep-2-minutes-after-head-hits-pillow routine. Thank you preschool, for wearing her out.

I have now spent 4+ years, and counting, getting tired babies and kids to go the fuck to sleep. Over and over and over. Soon I will start over with Baby 3, learning her natural tendencies and working on healthy habits, while trying to stay sane.

The thing is, baby sleep (then toddler sleep, then kid sleep, which all lead to adult sleep) is EVERYTHING. No one, in this house at least, does well without it. As a natural insomniac, I try to prioritize lifelong, healthy relationships with sleep for all of our sake.

Secretly, I love the challenge. Sleep is one of my favorite kid projects. The individual and universal sleep needs of tiny people fascinate me. A sucker for schedules, routines, and tricks, I love researching this topic. I have learned a few things along the way (the details of which I would be happy to discuss with anyone, at any time). And when all the plans go awry, as they do, I like to rethink, change course, and fine-tune our habits. What a loser.

Of course, habits are only one half of the equation – every human has their own little ways. One baby fought me on sleep for his entire, insanity provoking, first year of life (and grew out of it). The other was born with the ease to sleep well, in predictable patterns, from only a few months old (not a thing about her since has been so smooth).

A and mom
Miss Dream Sleeper

Even before Adelaide was born, I began a slight obsession with baby sleep. It started with unrealistic anxiety over what she would sleep in as a newborn. There were far too many options: 6,000 bassinets, co-sleepers, pack n play, rock n play, a literal basket on my bed; the list is ridiculous. How is any new mom to know that you go with whatever burlap sack will get them to actually sleep?

When she was a few weeks old, I fell far down the baby sleep research rabbit hole. But I went by choice, diving happily into every book, blog, Facebook forum, and conversation with other parents and experts. My anxiety lessened with each new idea and insight – research usually does that for me. And I learned quickly to pick and choose what I wanted from each program about what babies and parents MUST do to get sleep. No drinking any one particular Kool-Aid here.

At Addie’s 6 month checkup, our beloved pediatrician said we were incredibly lucky for her solid two naps a day and single night waking. She informed us that Addie was cleared to sleep through the night, if we were interested in gentle sleep training. We were, we did, and it was the easiest thing ever. Kevin and I got used to the 7 pm bedtime, leaving evenings to work and wind down, and mostly sleeping through most nights. Even in regressions, teething, and illness she was barely thrown off and went back to good sleep within a few days. Blissful.

O and mom
Mr Only-Sleeps-on-Mama

By contrast, Owen – tortured and inconsolable– rejected sleep with a vengeance as a baby. He could not be set down, for the first four months or so, without screaming bloody murder and projectile spitting up in volcanic amounts. No habits emerged with which to work. Sleep training was a constant fail. Self-soothing seemed impossible. He is damn lucky to be the cutest, most loving human ever. Within days of his first birthday, everything in his life (including the ability to sleep) suddenly clicked into place. And he has been a dream ever since, until this current derailment.

What strange, fascinating, infuriating, and exhausting human behavior. Sleep. It is EVERYTHING. Between evenings camped outside the kids’ door, middle of the night pregnancy hunger and insomnia, and early mornings when Addie comes flailing in to my bed – I need more of it. At least I have enough experience, at this point, to know this is all temporary. Someday, when they become lazy teenagers, I will be dragging them out of bed in the mornings just to see their grumpy faces.

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You Can Mom Your Own Way*

A stranger, a checker, eyes my belly and says “I’m guessing you’re 8 months?” He smiles kindly enough as he bags my kids’ cold medicine and disinfecting wipes. I have an impulse to correct him (more like 6) and offer an explanation (it’s my third). Instead I give a raised eyebrow and tight-lipped smile, waiting until I walk away to roll my eyes.

I mean, it’s only the tenth time this week, only the thousandth time since my first pregnancy, that someone has interjected an assumption, a misjudgment, or personal inquiry. Why did this stranger, and so many others, feel entitled to information about my life? Only in pregnancy, and parenting, is this paradigm so widely accepted.

Why is it that pregnancy and parenting seem to be public business? Is it human nature? Caring interest? Some instinctual curiosity to compare lives, reminisce, or project onto our own? My size during pregnancy (and everything I ingest, take part in or sit out, and my general attitude) is only the beginning.  I know people mean well (and if they don’t I pretend it, to curb my anger). Either way, it isn’t the nosiness that I mind.

My problem is with the widespread, mistaken belief that personal parenting choices are up for public debate. I take issue with the follow-ups to innocent questions that convey: you should never; I always; you have no idea what you’re doing, so let me tell you, as an expert on your life, stranger.

Without realizing it, I fell a few times into the trap of buying that bullshit. Giving out answers I didn’t really want to discuss, listening to advice I didn’t ask for, and questioning my decisions based on someone else’s ideas.

Although I have never cared much what others think (no secret where Addie gets it), I sometimes get caught off guard by a judgmental busybody. The trick for me is to remember that I can only Mom the way I Mom, to my actual children I. If I got sucked into worry over everything anyone may think I’m doing wrong … well, I would never have time to do any actual parenting. I would be forever in the corner banging my head against the wall.

I couldn’t please everyone even if I wanted to try, and the issues up for debate are endless. In my effort to remain uneffected by outside opinions, I have also learned that I am pretty neutral to how anyone else parents.

Please, by all means, you do you, and let me do the same.

I had one baby with an epidural and one without. I strongly preferred the birth without it, but I have zero preference on how any other baby comes into the world.

Both of my babies breastfed, but I was never in love with it and stopped right at one year. When I see older babies nursing, it looks beautiful. When I see a baby chugging a bottle: adorable. When I see a baby who looks hungry and a mom who looks flustered, I don’t pretend to know all of what’s going on in their moment.

Ideals change along the way too – I have found myself on the flip side of my own philosophies a few times.

I’m strict about sleep habits, family dinners, clean hands and feet, manners, and a tidy house. I’m probably a little too loose about sugar, screen time, and a clothing optional home life.

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One in pants, one in a shirt … at least they have a full outfit between them.

Pre-motherhood, I never thought I would buy  “kid” foods, like GoGurts (not that I thought about it much), but they are in my refrigerator at this moment. I also make homemade yogurt, but sometimes it’s GoGurts. So let me be the first to say: I don’t care what kind of yogurt you feed your kids, or if you do at all. I don’t actually care what or how you feed your kids.

I no longer scold my children in public; all it accomplishes is riling all of us up further. That’s not to say I don’t work on behavior, I just try alternatives: discussing it privately later, and lots of preplanning (bribes) for when beasts appear in place of my humans. But public threats, strained reprimands, issuing of consequences … they don’t work for us. It was when I realized I was scolding mainly to please onlookers, in defense of my parenting and in attempt to show faux control, that I let that shit go.

This is all different than giving zero fucks about anyone else or their choices. It fascinates me – the variants, options, and wide-open spaces that allow so many ways to parent. I give all the fucks about it.

I just respect and assume that everyone chooses what works best for the actual humans they raise, and for themselves.

It used to get under my skin, the unnecessary and unhelpful judgment. Okay it still does at times, because I’m so irritable and easily set off. But I smile and nod, shrug it off. And I hope to remember not to do the same when I get past these wild years and feel the urge to pass my reflections on to strangers in parking lots.

For now, I will do my best to Mom my own way, and remember that my fellow parents are doing the same. All the kids will be screwed up anyway (half-kidding).

*Or Dad your own way. Or grandparent, or foster; there are a million wonderful people who raise beastly little children in a million ways. I just happen to be a Mom, so I write as one.

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ALL the Drama

Addie emerges from the kids’ bedroom, where she has been cooling off from a howling, sobbing tantrum over my “ruining her life” by not letting her run into traffic when we left the park. I catch a glimpse of her creeping silently (should have been a clue) down the hallway into the kitchen. The next thing I know, she and Owen are laughing maniacally as they spit milk into a metal colander. Turns out Addie has been doing this in her room, and then trying to lap up the milk like a cat, as evidenced by the giant milk puddle on her chair and the trail of droplets on the carpet.

The spitting out of beverages into bowls has been a separate, ongoing issue (gross little humans) so they are given immediate consequences (time out for O, cleaning up the mess for A). Owen, only a minor accomplice, recovers quickly. But Addie, whose master plan has been thwarted by her stick-in-the-mud parents, launches into a full meltdown. Eventually she stops shrieking long enough to reveal her explanation.

One hand raised, moving up and down for emphasis on every other word, face blotchy and red with tears and voice shaky, she offers up the following. “But MOM, when I was in your TUMMY, I SHOULD have been born a KITTEN!”

I mean, how can I really dish out a punishment for that flawless logic? If you were meant to be born a cat, you must lap up milk with your ill-equipped human tongue; even better if it has been spit from your mouth into a leaking vessel.

Meanwhile, back in the land of the 2 year old, I hear for the millionth time, “MOMMY! Fix this.” Owen holds up a piece of his garbage truck that has broken off, been glued back and breaks off again on the daily. With every second it takes me to assure that his sister and my babysitting charge are both out of imminent danger and walk toward him to “fix” it, his wailing frustration builds. If the garbage truck is not put back together in whatever he deems an acceptable amount of time, he is full blown kicking, screaming, and crying on the floor. Only to tear the damn piece off again minutes later.

This is what we are dealing with over here, folks: ALL the drama.

We have 2-year old drama, 4-year old drama, and pregnancy drama.

Our trinity of tempers creates daily clashes of moods and hormones. Combined, we have ALL the overreacting.

Addie throws herself on the ground upon being told to wait just a minute before I can turn on an episode of Super Why. “I will NEVER do anything else and I will NEVER be happy!”

I lose my patience with Owen when he refuses to try to get himself down from the toilet or pull up his own pants. It hurts my back and crunches my pregnant belly to bend, squat, or reach down to do it all day long, but only one of us can act like a stubborn toddler (me: it should clearly be me).

One kid demands PB&J, the other cream cheese and salami, for lunch. I demand to only make one sandwich a day, considering I spend an absurd amount of time making food. The result is that every lunch is a battle and at least two of the three of us (always including me) loses.

Not a one of us knows what to do with the afternoons. No one has the same energy level, no one wants to be bored or entertain themselves or others, and we just cannot see eye to eye on park or no park, art project or play outside or any other question that leads us toward survival until Kevin gets home.

Addie wakes up in the middle of the night, comes charging into our room, flings herself on the bed, and wails: “my voice doesn’t sound like it usually does”. How do I begin to unpack that one? I have zero ideas what the actual fuck she is crying about. And then I cry a little, because it’s the tenth time one of them has woken me up on this particular night, and I have a cold. Waaaahhhh.

We are a trifecta of tantrums, a family of fussiness, a collective hot mess of meltdowns.

As much as we sometimes fuel each other’s fires, going through these dramatic phases together has some advantages (poor Kevin, though). It forces us all to have a little more empathy and go easy on each other, to spend quality time being grumpy together, and to get a bunch of issues out of the way simultaneously. Just like when a cold passes though the household: it seems harder for everyone to get it at once, but can actually be worse when we get it one at a time and end up with at least one person suffering for weeks.

Until it all passes, my solution to the daily triple breakdowns is the same as it has been since having a second kid: whoever is the most upset gets comforted first. These days, that is true even if I take a moment to console myself with a mental reminder that fleeing my house and hopping on a plane to anywhere-but-here is not a realistic option. Not today, at least.

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Growing Veggies and Humans

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When I planted my garden this year I didn’t know I would spend gardening season pregnant. Had I known this, I would have skipped it (growing the vegetables, not the human) and what a big mistake that would have been.

It doesn’t always sound appealing – in the heat, when my back is achy and my kids are underfoot – to go tend to the plants. The otherwise minor tasks of trimming zucchini leaves, tying back heavy tomatoes branches, and watering are all more difficult each day, as I get bigger and more exhausted.

I don’t always want to stand in the kitchen – literally barefoot and pregnant – finding ways to cook, store, and preserve the garden bounty.

My already short patience is aggravated by keeping the dog from digging in the dirt (coming up brown-faced, feigning innocence) and reminding Owen not to pick the unripe tomatoes.

It has proven more than worth it, though. With low memory function these days, I often don’t have a vegetable to go with dinner; we’re lucky we eat at all some days. It’s a relief to walk out my back door and grab tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini. I forget during the winter that the difference between store bought and homegrown vegetables is out of this world.

The kids like to help: Owen with watering, Addie with cooking, and both with picking and eating. The whole experience is grounding (pun intended) for all of us. It helps my visual little humans to wrap their minds around where food comes from, when they see it go from the earth to the kitchen table, and into their mouths. Owen loves to talk about where things come from (luckily he hasn’t started on babies yet). Each night at dinner it’s: “From grocery store? From farmers market? From Costco?” I love telling him “Nope, this one is straight from our garden. We grew it!”

Addie has become a pro vegetable chopper in the last two months. Cooking projects give her the same flow and focus they give me. With her little nylon knife and her scrunched in, grumpy-looking serious face, she is content to zone out on zucchini rounds. It kills a bunch of birds with one activity: quality time together, skill practice, something to do while I’m cooking, and maximum cuteness.

The first sauce making day of the year was the big payoff from the work of the garden, both in process and product. Lugging in pounds of tomatoes over a few days, watching them get dark and ripe on the kitchen counter, and gathering ingredients and jars kept me motivated. The Instant Pot made it possible to cook a big batch in one morning.* This is the second year I’ve made it this way, so I dove in with confidence.

Addie, ever the helper, tied on her apron and supervised each step. This was a tough project to let her help with, since so much of it is done over heat and with sharp knives. But there was zucchini to chop, veggies to wash, basil leaves to put in the bottom of each jar, and lots of tasting along the way. Her favorite part was learning to use the immersion blender. She was afraid to hold it, but watched and whispered “immersion blender … is it smooth yet?” the whole time.

The sunny kitchen was a sensory carnival – from cooking smells, prepping sounds, and bright natural colors, to the tomato juice dripping down my arms. Even the air was relaxing: the hot steam released from the pressure cooker dissipating in the breeze from my greenhouse window.

All in all, the sauce was such a satisfying project, from start to finish. I shared my daughter’s zen feeling from chopping. I shared my husband’s love of the aroma of onions sautéing in olive oil. I shared my son’s love of all foods brightly colored and messy. I shared half the population’s amazement at the Instant Pot.

Watching my children in the garden and kitchen this year has made it worthwhile, even though some days the thought of either environment wears me out. I hope they form healthy relationships to food and earth and life. And maybe eating raw, freshly picked cucumbers every day will balance some mom guilt over ALL THE CAKE we seem to eat too.

* https://www.hippressurecooking.com/large-batch-tomato-sauce-pressure-cook-6-pounds-at-once/

The Vast, yet Largely Insignificant, Accomplishments in the Daily Life of this Stay-At-Home-Mama

Before having kids, I accomplished real things. I had long term goals in career and self fulfillment. As a (technically) civilized adult, I was accountable for a daily to do list.  I took care of my body, my mind, my soul, my dog, and my relationships. I simply looked at the tasks to be done, the areas of my life that needed tending to, the hours in my day, and then scheduled accordingly. Very reasonable. Incredibly satisfying.

Since having kids (and putting off any of those real goals to stay home with them) my tasks have changed, and they seem to lack a certain value on paper. It’s far less quantifiable to keep the humans alive and not completely lose my mind, than it is to clock 8 hours. The idea of checking things off of a to do list, completing one project after another in an orderly and largely uninterrupted manner, has become out of the question.

I am mildly complaining here about the ultimate cliché: working all the time and never getting anything done.

Still I try to take my little wins where I can. I write my daily to do list, and steal the satisfaction as I check off clip anyone’s nails, unload dishwasher, and do pom pom drop activity with kids. I add up the completed items, and compile my other little victories (through hard work or by chance) into my own warped version of an achievements section on my resume.

Experience: Stay at Home Mama 2014 – a distant point in the future

Daily Tasks Managed:

  • Waking up without any kids in my bed (preferably before they do).
  • Showering. Alone.
  • Getting everyone out of the house on time, without forgetting anything or yelling at anyone (out loud).
  • Finally teaching my 4 year old to walk next to the shopping cart, or stand in the driveway/parking lot without running away.
  • Cleaning something (myself included) and having it stay clean for 2+ hours.
  • Naps synching, or at least overlapping.
  • Preventing the dog, through any means necessary, from furiously barking at the UPS truck during nap(s).
  • Overhearing my suggested phrases put to use. “Owen, just tell yourself: it’s time to go but I can do this later” or “thanks but no thanks, Addie.”
  • Getting that one task done … checking an email, returning a phone call, scheduling an appointment, paying a bill. The one that has been at the top of the to-do list since last Wednesday.
  • Planning and executing activities that go over well with everyone (including mom).
  • Embracing the chaos.
  • Putting my phone down.
  • Calming stormy tantrums.
  • Choosing zero battles.
  • Employing a new trick, phrase, or routine to solve a mundane but recurring problem. Laundry has been unmanageable? Adjust that rotation. Kids won’t stop fighting? Bust out a new book to help them understand each other’s feelings. Overreactions to every circumstance? Teach them about mountains and fucking molehills.
  • Knowing what we will eat for dinner; cooking without uttering the phrase “I am SO over dinner time”; everyone eating their dinner with minimal shenanigans.
  • Surviving. Bedtime.
  • A day when I don’t have to clean up pee.

I’ll count my blessings in being able to dedicate my “free” time to hobbies: this blog, my 52-books-in-2018 challenge, the obsessive reorganization of closets and drawers. Hats off to the working moms whose “free” time is spent clipping toenails, cleaning up kid messes, and STILL surviving bedtime.

In moments of peaceful contemplation, in the core of my heart, I know that everything I do in a day is working toward my biggest goal yet: raising happy, thoughtful, healthy humans. I also know this phase of my life – when I dedicate every waking moment to their needs – is temporary. In the blink of an eye they will all be off in school, and I will be working a real job, full of important adult tasks, none of which will ever be as satisfying as this particular daily grind.

“Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do,” copy.jpg

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