Parenting a Toddler Summarized in 3 Photographs

My husband works a shifted schedule to avoid heavy traffic, so he leaves ridiculously early.  Like all toddlers, my two-year old has a superhuman sense that allows her to detect when one side of a parent’s bed at the other end of the house has become vacant.  I didn’t order order a wake up call.  I really needed the extra hour and a half of sleep my clock indicated that I should have had.

Yeah.  Good luck with that.

parenting1

parenting2

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So that was my morning.  That’s also why God created caffeine.

😉 Joanna

***This is a post from my dear friend who knows how to do mornings the right way.  Maybe my kids need to go visit Aunt Maria so Mama JoJo can get some sleep…
https://joyfullyrenewed.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/sunrise-meditation/

Hold Me Closer Tony Danza

pizzaSo close but not quite right. This is how I feel I am doing on multiple levels of my life. I’ve almost got it, but then I muck it up the further I go. See those jazzy frozen pizzas cooking above? Forget about breakfast, I missed brunch, lunch came and went, and now I’m thinking that this may be linner. It’s the only “cooking” I’ve done in days. I’m not gonna lie. I love me some bad news bears frozen pizza. I just wish it was going to be coupled with anything worthwhile for my family to eat in the next couple of hours.  The older members of the family learned to forage a while back, but it’s not how I would like them to find nourishment.  I am a good cook.  I’ve just been too crazy tired and over-scheduled to do it lately.  And by lately, I mean every day in way too long.

I’m not the suckiest parent and wife out there. At least not today. Yes I am still making my kids camp downstairs, but I did invest in some very nice foldable mattresses that they tell me they love. (This may just be a joint line they are feeding me in an attempt to get on my good side. Little do they know, but they are already on my good side.)

mattressI saw these mattresses online and thought how great it would be to get something I could fold away for storage. Being a mathematician, you would think that I would have crunched the numbers and figured out that they would fold into a cube with dimensions so large that coffee tables would be envious. As I now own multiple mattress cubes, I may have to ditch our sofa and switch to these on a permanent basis instead. We would literally have a fold-away bed sofa, and it would be the only comfortable one in all of history.

Today has consisted of dropping of my smallest at childcare, being frustrated at the mayhem in that room that wasn’t apparent a couple weeks ago, visiting another potential childcare place, being frustrated that there was a teeny playground there, visiting another another potential childcare place, liking their playground, and being totally uncertain about what is best for my daughter. That was today until 9am.

The rest has consisted of business calls, spreadsheet updates, more spreadsheet updates, more calls, and I’m still so in the weeds with all that. As working moms don’t get smoke breaks (at least not in this house), I scattered a few minutes here and there to tackle laundry, dishes, cleaning, more laundry, more dishes, more cleaning… However I have to pause all that now though because I need to stop by the pediatrician’s office before they close, pick up my smallest from mayhem care, and then take my girls to gymnastics while the boys chill at home. I get/have to participate in one of those classes which consists of picking up my two-year old over and over again for an hour. The scale lies. It says that she weighs 35 pounds, but my arms and back know with full certainty that the truth is that she weighs 85 pounds. I also need to go to the hardware store, the UPS store, the pharmacy, and the grocery store. The last of those probably won’t happen, as I committed to work on the fairy garden with the kids. Despite my insistence on mainlining caffeine it throughout the day, even it calls it quits after a while.

astros lightsI don’t have anything ready to go for Father’s Day, but in all fairness to me, I am a total goof and thought it was last weekend. Now that I write those words, I see that this admission isn’t really a positive note either. I didn’t have cards then, but my husband hates cards. What a weirdo. I hate the sappy stuff, but I love me some good funny. However I was able to spring a Father’s Day surprise and load everyone in the car without knowing that we were actually going to a baseball game. Admittedly the level of surprise probably had a lot to do with the fact that it wasn’t Father’s Day. Who knew??? (Everyone else knew.) Surprise to me, too!

I just can’t seem to execute everything on the list. Ever. Every time I mark something off the list, five more items take its place. I am trying. I’m not succeeding like I would like to, but if caffeine can’t keep up, neither can I. So we will have our linner pizzas. I will break my back yet again. We will fairy garden a bit. I will have to work over the weekend some. Laundry and dishes and dust and life will keep happening. And my husband won’t care about the cards.

Hold me closer tiny dancer…
Count the headlights on the highway…
Lay me down in sheets of linen…
You had a busy day today…
“Tiny Dancer” sung by Elton John

I read these lines, and all I could think was “Ugh – linen sheets? Not soft enough and what a pain to iron!” But with or without Tony Danza, it’s still a lovely song.

***MoJo***

G is for Guilt

When the doctor hands you the teeniest human freshly removed from your hoo-hah, you immediately realize the incredible responsibility you are holding in your arms. You know exactly what to do.  You have read all the books, followed all the blogs, attended all the classes, and watched enough family rom-coms to let you be certain that there will be ups and downs, but overall, it’s all good.   Unfortunately you are cluelessly in the dark about how you don’t know anything about true parenting, how those same books will be covered in macaroni and crayon in two years or less, and how you actually picked up a super-sized bag o’ guilt when you agreed to personally cook (or adopt) and keep this harmless looking tidbit for life.

We have 3 tidbits of our own, and we learned long ago that sometimes they should really be called tidbeasts. To be clear, I love these beasties more than life itself.  More than cheesecake even.  Yes.  More than cheesecake.  They are my absolute most favorite things ever ever ever and are without doubt the best creations I ever was involved in – even better than the killer cupcakes I once made but can no longer have because I am now forcing myself to eat sadlad (No – it’s not a typo.  Salad just depresses me.).  Really – they are totes amazeballs yo (the kids and the cupcakes).

The issue I believe I am ultimately facing is this – I estimate that I require roughly 10 hours per day per kid to really do everything right by that little one, so that’s 30 hours in the day.  As I expect is the case in your own world, the universe miscalculated and erroneously agreed to allot me a mere 24 hours in total per day.  Consequently everyone gets the shaft.  It’s like my boob to hiney ratio.  I should have been given more boob to balance out the hiney, but that wasn’t the lingerie layout I was dealt.

I struggle to keep our lives on schedule every day. I work crazy hours, run errands constantly, take the kids to activities, and wash and wash and wash.  Seriously – what is it with the endless laundry?  It’s like gremlins, but you don’t even have to add water to multiply it.  How many items of clothing are these kids wearing, and why do they still reek of that outside kid smell despite the incessant baths and nineteen daily outfits they must be wearing?  Also why do kids feel the need to get strep at 4:30 on Friday afternoon in conjunction with every three-day weekend known to man?  Why children – why???

But once again – I love them. No really.  I totally do.  I cart them to sports they actually adore, I help them with projects, I make pancakes with chocolate chip smiley faces – the whole bit.  I also have a husband who is an amazing dad who does tons with them, for them, and for me.  Nevertheless is still it feels like we are on a hamster wheel, but unlike the hamster, I feel much less okay with the endless loop.  I want every bit of my life.  I just want a little extra sleep, too.  I try so incredibly hard to keep it all afloat, but it sometimes feels like the waves are coming over me.  I could probably handle it if those waves meant that I was getting a shower in the process, but no.  Those waves don’t work like that.

So earlier today I played “Which Activity to Knock Out from My Innumerable Task List” and tackling the kids’ end of school year notebooks won that round. My son’s stuff was relatively uneventful with a few beautiful exceptions of poetry and emotional contemplation pieces.  I see such potential for true greatness in him at times, and then two seconds later he will put his underwear on backwards, rub toothpaste on the mirror, and leave his fly down.  The greatness sentiment will briefly be put on pause, but it’s still there just the same.

I then went through my middle daughter’s school work, and this is where the steaming pile of guilt came barreling through my emotional doorway. I have always enjoyed working – well I enjoyed working normal hours – but my hours have been terrible for many months and my exhaustion has been stomping on our mornings and my corresponding ability to be patient (my version of patient is probably more like patient lite), supportive, and mostly upbeat.  Our before school happy mornings have been circling the drain for way too long.  Thank heavens summer is here at last.

My daughter’s daily morning routine at school began with a brief journaling session on her thoughts about her day.  At that point, her day had typically consisted of being forced out of bed before the sun even considered making an appearance, being chased around to get ready (despite every attempt on my part to prepare in advance, getting ready easily appears to be almost insurmountable in the kid world), and racing to school in hopes of not being late (again).  Thanks super much for that one Teach.  I have no doubt that other kids also spilled their family sagas in these morning dish sessions, but it still bites when you read it and the dish is aimed squarely at you.

Being the analytical girl that I am, I could opt to recognize that my name came up in a negative way in a statistically insignificant amount of journal entries. I could also remember that she never said that she hated me and that she talked about many happy moments.  But you see – the rational mom in me gets pimp-slapped out of the picture by the overwhelming mom guilt.  All the guilt allows me to see is the post about terrible screamy parent (In case you are asking which parent she meant, my hand is raised.) followed by a very detailed drawing of a fire-breathing dragon with the name MOM written on it.  There were other posts mentioning how I was mad at her or her brother or just generally grouchy, but that one in particular had a special ring to it.  It was fun with a big fat F and U pointing straight to me.

Most of this past school year’s mornings were relatively good.  Some were fantastic even.  I did lots of cool things with and for the kids.  I worked hard to give them a very good life.  I know all of this.  It just hurts my heart to see how I sent her to school feeling so upset and hurt on some of those days.  I don’t want her to remember me, our mornings, or our life like that.  I am a good mom most days, and a great mom on others.  Unfortunately, I also sometimes utterly stink at the job.

Naturally, I now see my own memories of stressful times growing up as a child with my parents through very different eyes. Being a parent isn’t as obvious and easy as it seems – not in the slightest.  There isn’t any book or blog or class that will tell you how to get it right every time.  I just hope that someday my kids will see all that I try to do for them with each moment that passes.  I want them to really see me, and I want them to know that I have always seen them, too.  They are always my blue behind the darkest of clouds.

So as always, I will keep trying, I will keep working to be better, and I will definitely keep taking caffeine.

***MoJo***

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