Slow Down and Savor It

With a 3rd baby on the way, I like to gently push the boundaries of what might be considered difficult, as a practical lesson into what will ultimately be my future. Case in point, I needed to pick up our car from the shop 1.5 miles down the road and so I loaded the girls in the double Bob stroller and decided I’d take our Cocker Spaniel, Macie, along for the run. We made it exactly 30 seconds before Macie got so excited she pooped on someone’s driveway. As I made an unsuccessful attempt to lock the stroller, in order to dodge getting run over, not only did Macie step in it, but I didn’t open the bag all the way and so I came up with a steaming pile of poo in my unprotected bare hand, just as my stroller rolled gracefully down the driveway. If this isn’t the perfect metaphor for trying to do it all as a mother, I am not sure what is.

My list of things I need to do this week makes me want to curl back in bed and sleep until next Tuesday. My youngest, soon-to-be middle daughter is turning 3 and I’m hosting a family brunch on Saturday and then a Bounce House birthday a few towns over on Sunday. My philosophy for kid’s birthdays is that it be some place contained that will safely exhaust every child--everyone goes home with a full tummy just in time for family nap time. Also, if you tell me that you flat out don’t want to come because this would be your 6th kid's party in a month, I absolutely won’t be offended. This won’t be New Orleans on Mardi Gras, let’s make sure we call a spade a spade and recognize that all we can really pray for is that the children have fun and nobody bounces to the point of a bloody nose.   

We spent last weekend out of town at our annual Apple Hill family reunion, which was wonderful but exhausting since my kids don’t sleep when we aren’t at home (or even at home these day— every night we play a lively game of musical beds). We stayed at a cozy Airbnb that was on an actual little farm with goats and chickens. Have you ever been awakened in the morning to the sound of roosters? Yeah, me either, my kids were up well before then, but I can one day hope for such a dreamy fairy tale to come true. I guess I’ll call this #roostergoals.

It seems like life these days is coming at us hard and fast. We get to experience a lot of joyful events, with limited downtown and now the holidays are on the horizon, so the rest of 2018 is likely to be one long food coma— sprinkled with a dozen more kid’s birthday parties and some light, tier-2 tantrums. I’m not going to tell anyone to slow down and savor it all, because when someone stops me while I’m pregnant lifting both my kids into the shopping cart and tells me exactly that, I want to kick them softly in the shins and say, “It may be hard to tell through all the chaos, cringing, and crying; but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along.”


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Some Days

Some days I feel as if I can do it all. Make nutritional meals, stop and take the time to explain, play, and comfort my kids when they need me. I can dress them in matching outfits, brush hair and teeth, remember their favorite stuffed animals for the car rides—switch the laundry before leaving the house, write, pay a bill, all while growing a human. I climb into bed that night content with my efforts and award myself with an internal high-five and gold star for excellence in all-things adulting.


I wake up the next day and feel zero motivation for the grind. Suddenly I am uninspired—I cannot possibly apply another band-aid to factious boo-boos and I begrudge that my life has come down to loading and unloading a dishwasher while listening to another song from Frozen. No, I don’t want to build a snowman.

I’m amazed by the polar shift in my attitude. I chose this life and sometimes I am so grateful it is hard to breathe. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed it is hard to breathe. So let’s just breathe. Unfortunately, there are no trophies for “successfully” running errands with 2.55 kids since your decision to let both kids steer their own mini shopping carts in Trader Joe’s while picking out food items, could be another mother’s version of hellish-chaos in the form of herding cats. The barometer of success, I believe should be measured by the happiness of your child. Since this is their season, their happiness could also be yours. Never mind the meltdowns at checkout when you deny them chocolate, they will learn, just as you have, that the tough stuff is necessary to shape us. It cannot all be matching ballerina dresses and gold stars and snowmen. But it can be all heart— even on the days I run out of patience, I can promise we will never run out of love.

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Sorry You Can't Lick the Outlet

My best friend texted me this morning that after finally caving by allowing her son to have graham crackers for breakfast, he cried when she broke it in half. If I had a dollar for every time I cut my children’s fruit wrong, wouldn’t allow them to drink toothpaste from the tube, or stopped them from eating a flaming s’more, I’d be able to open my own soundproof hotel where parents could stay for free and scream into lavender-scented-pillows until their heart’s content.


We are not alone in this struggle—in fact there is an entire hashtag with 89k+ post exclusively for pictures of crying toddlers and children because their “a-hole parents” are just trying to keep them alive by not allowing them to stick their head in the toilet or eat cereal out of the dog bowl. If it makes me an a-hole parent for trying to prevent you from getting pink eye or Canine Brucellosis, so be it. I thought perhaps these power struggles would lessen with age, but I’ve found that some how they’ve gotten more ridiculous and often complex. For example, my 4-year-old is obsessed with spraying her bangs with water to get them out of her face, so she looks like a mini cast member of the Jersey Shore, but she refuses to wear hair clips because they are “too pokey” and the water helps make her hair the right amount of “swishy”. If there was a retort to that argument, it was in none of the parenting books I skimmed over.

I often wonder, how could something so small be such a big deal in their world? What I try and tell myself (although it can be hard to hear over all the screaming) is, in that moment their world is that graham cracker or tube of toothpaste. If they could find a way to start a peaceful protest and articulately express why it is important to them that they be allowed to wear socks in the swimming pool, I am sure they would. But thanks to evolution and survival of the fittest, a child’s whine pitch frequency is the most effective means for getting an adult’s attention because before it was complaining about not being allowed to watch “Daniel Tiger” for the 3rd time that day, it was whining that the actual tiger was getting too close for comfort.

Their objections are reminders that their little brains are still developing and according to Janet Lansbury it is our job to make them feel safe and heard. Well hear this, Janet, sometimes that’s simply impossible and so as a parent you’ll laugh, cry, get mad, walk away or maybe snap a picture for Instagram because you’ve maxed out on your quota of kid crazy for that day. This is not easy! It is tough to be tough! Luckily though, we a-hole parents are highly trained and the most qualified in the art of turning that frown upside down.


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