Tell Me More

My hairdresser just got married, but ever since I met her, she’s been talking about having kids. No doubt this woman will make a great mother. However, I may have scared her out of the idea this week at my most recent appointment.

I was babbling on about school and life, and at one point I brought up the craziness that my children contribute to my everyday existence. Heidi then said, “So take me through a typical day at your house.” OK, sister you asked for it. So this is what I told her:

“Alright, well, sometimes the kids wake up at about 5am and come into our bedroom. Then we have to try to persuade them to go back to sleep until a reasonable 5:45 or 6:00. This never ends well, and usually results in relinquishing my phone to a tiny person in order to grab a few more seconds of sleep. Other days, they refuse to get out of bed, and we have to use sorcery to get them downstairs. Never do people sleep until it’s time to wake up and just make life easy.

“Once people’s heads are off of their pillows, it is time to get dressed. This is a whole new element of excitement. Harrison can usually fend for himself, but somehow that kid never has socks. I do not know where they go-this might be one of life’s great mysteries. I send him off to the sock bin to get a pair and he regularly chooses two socks that could not be more different. One short, one long? Perfect. One orange and one red? Let’s rock and roll. In the meantime, Ella often forgets that she knows how to dress herself and is spinning around the house naked until I can catch her and finagle some clothes on her body.

“By the way, It is not even light outside and I still need to shower and dress myself in addition to all this other entertainment. Justin makes subtle comments about my inability to ever find anything to wear on the first try.

“Ella asks for Raisin Crunch. I pour two bowls. Life is grand. Life is easy. Cereal is salvation. I head back into the bathroom to do my make up. Then, I hear ‘MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYY!!!! I HHAAAATTTTEEEEE THIIIISS CERRREEEALLLLL!!!’ from Harrison. I walk out to the kitchen and catch a bowl of cereal almost in mid air. ‘Fine bud.’ I say.  ‘Eat nothing.’ Back to my makeup. Seconds later, Harrison wants milk on his terrible cereal and before I know it, I’ve put foundation on half a face, and I’m ready to leave the house. This often happens. You want a put together mama? Let mama finish her makeup. Let mama put both earrings in. Let mama make sure she has matching shoes on. But this is not how things go. Mama needs to be sure that there are no spiders in the sneakers. Mama needs to be sure that the “good” toothpaste is out. Mama needs to break up a fight over whose turn it is to stand on the bathroom stool.

“At this point, I have emptied the dishwasher, switched the laundry, made some coffee, packed three lunches, and now it’s time to head out the door. But WAIT! No one has their shoes on. No one has their coat on. I have asked seventeen times. It is just not going to get done. I fly around the house, grabbing things that might be useful for survival throughout the day: a sharpie, a protein bar, a megaphone.

“Everyone is very surprised that Mommy is flustered. However, no one remembers that Mommy has had no coffee. This is when everyone decides to ask Mommy questions about God and Heaven and the Treasure at the end of the Rainbow. On a good day, people ask Mommy about how many teeth are in a dinosaur’s mouth or why we cannot have a pony.

“Once we arrive at daycare, Harrison goes into vacation mode. It is as if he has one million years to get out of the car and inside the building. I, however, am acutely aware of the ticking of the clock. Ella foresees an apocalypse and decides now would be an excellent opportunity to proclaim her undying love and cling to me as if her life depended on it. I peel children off, distribute last minute kisses, and slide out of the door.

“Once I am safely back in my car, ALONE, I take a deep breath and pick up my coffee. Eight more hours until more fun begins.”

Heidi cannot handle any more excitement even though I want to tell her how much fun it’s going to be after school when I pick the kids up. I’m dying to explain how one wants to go to the playground and the other wants to go to Grammy’s and how no one wants to go to swim lessons even though it’s Tuesday and we have swim lessons on Tuesday. Then I want to tell her about how it’s going to be bath time and one won’t get in tub while the other won’t get out, and regardless of where any of the kids are, there’s always water all over the bathroom floor. And then I want to talk about dinner time because the kids are starving all day, yet grilled cheese and carrots are just not going to cut it. I also want her to know that no matter how terribly brushing teeth goes in the morning, you can’t let that get you down ‘cause it’s gotta happen again at night. Oh and she definitely needs to know the fun-that-is-bedtime, where you’re too tired to even care if you have to run up and down the stairs 24 times for the right stuffie, and the blanket needs to be polka-dots down, not stripes-down, and the fitted sheets just don’t ever “fit” on a toddler’s bed, because of the voodoo that they perform while asleep at night.

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This is how I am looked at on a regular basis.

I’m getting worried at this point, looking at Heidi’s face in the mirror. She’s holding scissors close to my head, after all. So it’s now that I tell her about the huge spot in my heart that IS my children, and how, no matter how crazy the day is, the feeling of their soft sweet breath on your cheek after they’ve fallen asleep is the most beautiful feeling in the world. The excitement and anticipation fills back up in her eyes, and I remember for myself, as much as I remember to tell her, that it’s the best thing in the world, being a mommy.

The Terrible Issue of Mom Guilt

Mom Guilt. You simply can’t win. Even with the utmost preparedness, this heart-wrenching feeling will creep into your soul very early on in parenthood. I hear it stays FOREVER. I am not a perfectionist, and I knew going into this parenting thing that I was going to do my best but that my best would, with all certainty, not always be enough. And that’s kind of odd because I am literally the only mother my children have. It’s not like I can compare myself to someone else. I’m the only one.

Something about motherhood causes us to look in on ourselves from a not very clear perspective and scrutinize every single thing we do. Let me take that back. Sometimes we are too tired to think that hard and then we feel guilty for not having the energy of Mary Poppins, which starts the cycle of feeling that we’re falling short all over again.

Today, our family definitely had a case of the Mondays. Upon waking, Harrison managed to wet two different beds within fifteen minutes. Who on earth has that much pee? He crawled into our bed at an hour way too early to warrant getting up and snuggled his little body right up to mine. The only reason I didn’t send him straight back to bed was because he was being quiet which is no small feat for my kid. All of a sudden, after I had just about drifted back to sleep, the whine came. “My paaaaannnnttsss are wet!”

Shooting up like a rocket, I jumped out of the bed, and shooed Harrison out immediately. Because, you know, it was THE ONE DAY that I had the waterproof mattress cover in the dryer. He stood there, soaked in pee, whining at his embarrassment and discomfort while I hurriedly took the sheets off the bed.

Luckily, my cat-like reflexes prevented any pee from getting on our new mattress. No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong.

I had sent Harrison up to get new clothes, and somehow this meant to him that he should wrap his pee-soaked self up in HIS blankets and pee AGAIN on HIS bed. Upon tearing off those sheets I realized that his mattress was done for. (No, I did not have a mattress pad on there, critical people of the internet; it melted in the dryer the last time I washed it. I am seeing that my track record with mattress pads is not very good.)

After haphazardly bathing him, I demanded that he get clothes, and hastily moved on to the rest of my morning routine, which, as I said before, had started much earlier than I usually like. I hadn’t had much time to reflect on the whole pee situation because it all happened so fast.

It dawned on me about fifteen minutes later that Harrison was still in his room. I could hear his little voice up there talking, so I assumed that he was playing with his toys, and keeping a safe distance from his not-so-impressed mommy. It wasn’t until he yelled down, “Mama! Can I come down now?” that I realized he thought he was being punished with time out, and that was why he had stayed up there so long.

He came down the stairs, fully dressed and gave me a hug. “I’m sorry for making a mess, Mama. Sometimes accidents happen.”

And then, my heart melted into a little puddle on the living room floor. He was right; sometimes accidents DO happen. And, he is THREE. That means his frequency of accidents (in all forms, mind you) is probably going to be quite high. I looked at my boy, wearing his pants on backwards, but so proud that he put them on himself, and I realized how gently I need to tread on this subject.

In no way do I want to shame my son for having an accident. But it frustrates the living daylights out of me that he didn’t follow the morning rules, which are to get up and pee and then wait for the alarm to go on before coming downstairs. I had no intention of giving him a time-out either. He just assumed that was next on the roster. Although my emotions consisted purely of guilt that he perceived that I was so angry, the truth was that I wasn’t really angry. What I feel sad about is that I made him feel that way.

About ten moms at preschool informed me that my child had his pants on backwards. Each time, I responded proudly, “Yes, they are. But he put them on himself.” And then I walked away. Perhaps, if that morning hadn’t been decorated with other toddler crises, I might have been more diligent in getting my boy to learn to put his clothes on correctly. Letting him go to school proudly and independently dressed was my way of telling my son that he was doing a great job at being three. It was also my hope that he’d understand that sometimes mommies make mistakes too-in the way we express ourselves to our littles.

Today, the guilt was from how I reacted towards my son over a bathroom related accident. Yesterday, it was probably over not giving my children enough vegetables at meal times. Tomorrow, it’s going to be something I didn’t even know I could feel guilty about. I know it’s not going to end, but I do know that even though this mom guilt is painful and often detrimental to our self perceptions, we can use these times to learn and grow. If you get to the point where you feel like you aren’t doing something right, take a step back and look at your kid. Backwards pants? Shoes on the wrong feet? No haircut in recent history? Imbalanced diet? Maybe. But catch that smile on his face, and you’ll feel a little better. You’re doing a lot of things right. 10445590_10153000133216383_6505831723216859207_n