This Mom thing

A Mini Examen

DESOLATIONS

I bought Molly a super cute jean jacket. Tonight I asked her where it was. She doesn't know. We have determined she left it at school the very first day she wore it, which was probably like a month ago. I bet it's gone for good. This is the second jacket she's lost in a matter of weeks. I JUST. 

Jack is still walking around like his arm might fall off and it's making me insane. 

Emma has been SO tired and whiny and awful and maybe it's the heat? But also maybe it's Four and have I forgotten all the random bouts of unpleasantness with the other two? Did I never think Emma might be moody or temperamental or maddening? 

I started losing weight, which was great, but the last month or so has been a standstill because Life and Tired and Meh. I had a goal in mind for when we visit Phillip's brother in Cincinnati and I don't know if I'm going to reach it. 

Our school boundary situation remains unsatisfactory, to say the least, and now a group of parents from lots of schools are gathering on their own to talk boundaries and what to do tomorrow night. Half of me REALLY WANTS TO GO, even though I have to drag the kids along (Phillip is still out of town), because I just want to stay in the know. And then half of me wants to have dinner at a friend's house and let the kids go wild on the trampoline and have actual fun, because now that lots of parents from lots of schools are getting het up about their boundaries, more reason for the school district to look at ours and go, "Oh, we can't change it because of the domino effect." Seattle Public Schools has made me a cynic and I'm mad at them for it. 

SOMEONE in my neighborhood smokes pot outside and stinks up my backyard nearly every night.

I have bug bites.

I am REALLY annoyed about that jean jacket. 

I hate how I can have a great day with the kids, but then homework/dinnertime/bedtime/clean up/teeth/no REALLY we need to CLEAN UP can undo so much of what was good. 

 

CONSOLATIONS

Oh you guys. I HAVE consolations, I was getting ready to write them out, but as soon as I finished typing CONSOLATIONS, Jack tip toed upstairs and gave me this card: 

IMG_2920

I RILLY don't like it when I'm like this EITHER. I'll keep trying to be better, kiddo. 


For the bus stop parents, an explanation of my mood

Pretty sure the parents at the bus stop think I'm the most unpleasant person in the world. But by 7:57 each morning - the last possible minute we can leave for the bus stop - I am already DONE with my day. How many times can one remind her second grader that the field trip form is with her lunch box only to have that second grader totally ignore said forms by the lunch box? How many times can one endure the sorry excuse, "But I didn't have TIME to brush my hair!" And really, how many times can one say, "PUT ON YOUR SHOES!" before one keels over absolutely dead? 

And so, I am a big grouchy grump at the bus stop. Sorry, everyone. 

This weekend is our annual hang-out-with-college-friends-and-talk-about-our-lives weekend, aka our Couples Retreat (that just sounds so goofy, I don't know why, I keep trying to come up with another name for it.) We usually do this over Labor Day, but circumstances require we gather over Memorial Day weekend instead. Most years the week before the retreat is when Phillip and I have our most glorious and breathtaking arguments, hence a weekend of intense couples therapy with the people who know us best. (And thank God, right?) But this year we're not nearly as exhausted and done with each other as our typical end-of-August selves, and so for once I am not gearing up for Massive Character Building. This year I am merely wishing away every single minute until the moment I get to drop off the kids with my in-laws. They haven't been particularly terrible (the kids, not the in-laws, the in-laws are wonderful in every way) and I have a lot farther to go to reach the end of my rope, but I don't feel like I've had an adult conversation with my husband in weeks. I can't remember the last time we went out to dinner with friends and only had to think about ourselves. Sometimes I write things like that and hear judgy voices: "Why should you get to think only about yourselves?" "Who else gets to dump their kids with grandparents as much as you do?" "Oh, do you need a break? You do work so hard, what with your tough blogging schedule and daily coffee dates with your preschooler." 

Eh!

In a bit I'll take Emma to preschool, then I'll come home and clean all the bathrooms, something I'm going to do only because the out of town friends are staying with us. Otherwise I might just let them go until mid-July when our new contractor guy starts the bathroom remodel. Did I tell you that part? That we found someone new? Who only becomes available right smack in the middle of summer vacation when everyone is home and going feral? IT'S GOING TO BE SO FUN!

Yeahhhhh I think we're going to quit this blog post while it can still win the award for most boring on the internet. I mainly wanted to jump on here and go, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR ABILITY TO DO THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I TELL YOU EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR LITTLE LIVES?!"

I've got that out of my system now, so thanks, have a lovely day yourselves. I will probably opt for a nap instead of bathrooms. (Oooh, the judgy voices are coming back.)


Tiger Dad, overidentification, future therapy - typical parenting blog post

I was glad I had a boy first. I had/have a lot of feelings about being The Oldest Girl in the family and I didn't want to assume my oldest was going to be like me and have all those same feelings. I didn't want to subconsciously attribute or assume things about my oldest. I didn't want to INFECT her. So I was glad I had a boy and I wouldn't have to worry about that stuff. 

But I think I've done it anyway. Especially because I think - at least, I used to think - Jack is a lot like me. In some ways he is. A friend of mine was asking what to get him for his birthday last week and I suggested a binder for organizing his Pokemon cards. "A binder?" she said dubiously. She printed out some Pokemon graphics and his name, slid them into the plastic cover of a binder she already had at home, and guess what present Jack wanted to look at in the car on the way home and take to Grandma's house the next day? Jack and me, we like to collect, categorize, label, and organize. We are introverts who need a lot of time on our own doing our alone things. We would rather die than misbehave at school and we think we know everything. (Although, is it really a matter of thinking you know everything when you really do know everything? I mean.) 

Probably the biggest place where I've assumed he's like me, and treated him accordingly - and am now suspecting I am wrong - is in the Being Good At Everything Department. Which isn't to say that we ARE good at everything. No, it's not actually being good at everything so much as cultivating the image of being good at everything. I mean, you don't fully come into this place of crazy until you are a high school senior being awarded Outstanding Female Student at the end of the year assembly and smiling for pictures while inwardly thinking you might die before you can escape to the land of Anonymous Average Student Who Could Flunk Romantic Lit And No One Would Care, ie: the ginormous state university. Wait, did I reveal too much? 

But it starts when you're little and everyone tells you how good you are at this and that and so mature and such a good example and always the helper and omg, what if you don't get 100% on the spelling test and no one loves you anymore? 

So I have made a point of telling Jack, "You don't have to do that." "You don't have to like that." "I am okay with you if that's not something you want to do." 

I am the OPPOSITE of a Tiger Mom. And I've done it on purpose. And especially with Jack, in whom I see so much of me. 

But then we started piano lessons. 

Jack, as we have observed and as we've been told by his teacher, has a lot of potential to be Quite Good at piano. Phillip and I, being people who think being Quite Good at the piano is something that will only be a wonderful fantastic positive in the rest of one's life, think this is excellent news. And while I have mostly left the teaching of piano to the piano teacher, Phillip has become a bit of a Tiger Dad about it. 

It's funny, because Phillip and I are hopeless wusses when it comes to discipline (I'm sure you're shocked), but not only does Phillip nag and nitpick and criticize and fuss and insist and drive our kids half insane, I am 100% behind him. I have found something that I am NOT okay with them not liking. At least not now. He's going to learn this and he's going to improve and if he still can't abide practicing piano when he's 18, he can quit and go to therapy like the rest of us. 

And as we've become more tiger-y about piano lessons, I'm becoming more aware of how things I've said to my kids, and Jack especially, I said out of fear or anxiety that they would end up with my... fear and anxiety. 

My junior year of high school I took trigonometry. And by then I knew I wasn't good at everything. Like trigonometry. I worked so hard, harder than I ever had at any school subject, and probably harder than I ever did at anything in college where I knew no one cared. And I STILL couldn't get an A. One day my teacher, who I loved, listened to me as I desperately asked her what I could do to improve. And she said, "You know, Maggie, maybe a B is the best you can do and that's okay." 

There are probably a lot of people who think that is a scandalous thing to say. I've told this story to some teachers and they all disapprove. But MY GOD that was the most freeing thing anyone had ever said to me. It was the best thing you could say to someone with my particular brand of crazy. I didn't hear, "You don't have to work so hard anymore because you're never going to get better," I heard, "Getting a B is not the worst thing in the world." I heard, "Maybe you DON'T have to be good at everything." I heard, "Maybe this just isn't your thing." 

(Trigonometry is SO NOT MY THING.) 

And because that mindset, that people only valued me for Being Good At Stuff, had so much to do with my early 20s anxiety breakdown, I really pay attention to how I talk to my kids about what THEY'RE good at. And what I expect from them and what we want them to do. I tell my kids over and over how much more I care that they are kind, generous, empathetic people than being smart and talented. I see how lit up Jack gets when we praise him for school work well done, and I purposefully counteract myself with praising something about his character too. Of COURSE I want them to be smart and "mature for their age" just like everyone said I was. But I am terrified that that's how they'll begin to identify themselves. Good kids who make everyone pleased and impressed. ACK

Just like I have to tell myself that God will not love me more if my pants size gets smaller, I am compelled to tell my kids that all the good stuff they do and how much other grown ups are pleased by them is not why I love them. 

And then I also have to remember THEY ARE NOT ME. 

I suspect Jack cares significantly less than I did about impressing people. I can tell from all the times he says, "Well, I'm just really not that INTERESTED" in whatever I'm trying to get him excited about. And if anything, our job as parents might be to knock his abundant self esteem down a notch. No need to fear Jack doesn't feel loved. (We were watching some PBS show about a piano prodigy and said, "Jack, if you work really hard you might able to do something like that!" and he said, "Well, I can kind of already do that." OOOOOOKAY.)

And as I sit here typing and listening to Phillip berate one of our children at the piano - "No, start over, come on, seriously?, again, start again, why is this so hard?" I feel a snicker coming on, not a tenderhearted urge to stop him. Because those kids WOULD play computer games all day if we let them and it appears that Molly just spent half an hour practicing the wrong song because... she's Molly. You guys, I think I DO have some unsympatheticness in me after all! 

Hopefully the right amount, and for the right things. And at the very least they'll take themselves to therapy for different reasons than I did. 

 

 

 


SAHMing, and realizing the end of an era quickly approaches

I'm feeling extraordinarily proud of my momming today, you guys. I took Emma to the local library story time, which she loved, and then there was crafting, which I actually participated in, and then we picked out books and now we're home eating lunch. I feel like a proper stay at home mom instead of a mom who stays home and spoils her kid in coffee shops every morning and spends too much money at Target. 

Now that it's January I feel acutely aware of how much full time momming I've got left. Emma's birthday is a few weeks past the kindergarten cut off date, but in the opinions of me, Phillip, my former teacher parents, and my current teacher friends, she will be totally ready for kindergarten in the fall. (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE POTTY TRAINING ISSUE, which we will discuss in a moment.) So if she actually does go to kindergarten in September, I've only got six months left of Big Kids Go To School, Little Kid Hangs Out With Mommy. I expect All Kids Are At School to be really really different. Moms already in this position tell me that I won't have as much time as I think I'll have, but I still expect it to be DIFFERENT. The preschool driving back and forth, the figuring out what to do with us on not-preschool days, the eating lunch together, the snuggling in bed and waiting until the absolute last second to pick the kids up at the bus stop... those days are quickly flying by and I'm feeling the pressure to Cherish! Every! Moment! 

And I WANT to. I'm not being obnoxious or sarcastic. Even on the rotten days when my kids are horrible and I'm exhausted and out of patience, I've been thankful for the option of being a stay at home mom. I quite enjoy not having a boss or responsibilities to other people besides my family. It's given me space to devote to the not-paid things I'm really interested in doing. I am a terrible housewife and a lazy mom, but I'm good at lots of other things (and other aspects of being a mom!) and I can do all of that because I stay home. I'm suited to it, which really does surprise me, and because I stay home my career-oriented husband has had near complete freedom to pursue his goals. I struggle with not earning money and the paycheck=worth feeling, I sometimes feel useless or not as accomplished as my working mom friends, and the full-time working husband/stay at home wife dynamic can be confusing in 2015. But ninety-nine percent of the time, I'm confident in my role. 

So what will it be like when Emma goes to kindergarten?!?!

I've had MANY more-experienced-parents say to me that as your kids get older it becomes more important to be around for them. I... am not sure about that! I mean, we'll see how it goes, right? But just on a daily taking-care-of-everyone's-needs basis, it seems like things are only going to get simpler. (Until my kids start demanding to be driven to sports and social engagements, I suppose. I'm sort of hoping they are couch potato nerds on that front.) People might start being actual helps in the taking out the garbage department, the cleaning up of the kitchen department, the laundry department, and the - could it BE? - cleaning the toilet department. (All things I am notably lazy and bad at, btw.)

And when all three kids are in school I expect finding time for bakery emails and the gym and meeting up with church people and PTA social media and whatever else I've dipped a toe in to be MUCH MUCH EASIER. I will probably not go back to work, the big reason being that I don't have a Work to go back to. I was "in publishing" (the scare quotes are super valid) before and have no interest in going back. The career-type jobs that interest me (design, coding, user experience stuff) feel very hard to get into at age 36. I think I missed the boat on those things, which is probably just how it goes when you have absolutely no idea what you want to be until you're no longer in your 20s. And the stuff I'm ACTUALLY interested in (almost all church-related things) aren't paid. Ha. Honestly, if I went back to work it'd probably be as a part time admin or a barista or some job at the kids' school, something where I would leave all my work at work and still have enough time to do the things I'm involved in now. And I could see that happening. If something presented itself, I'd seriously think about it. Grad school? HA HA HA. What for? I can't justify however many thousands of dollars for an MFA, which is really the only degree that sounds awesome. Phillip went to the iSchool (I like to think of his master's degree as my third child, Emma being the fourth) which could potentially be up my alley, but again, I don't think I want a Real Job. Maybe some sort of spiritual direction type certificate, but when I'm, like, 50. That's got plenty of time to percolate. 

ANYWAY. ALL THAT TO SAY. These last (hopefully) months with just Emma and me at home, that's an Era coming to an END. I just want to be aware of it and make the most of it, while also reserving my right to fall down foaming at the mouth on Terrible Children Days. Library story time, which I regret to say I didn't even bother to look up until this morning, is every Monday. What if we did the gym after the bus stop and then headed to the library on Mondays? That would be a GREAT routine! Preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays - more gym and plenty of unpaid-work-that-I-still-have-to-get-done time for me. Wednesdays and Fridays reserved for our typical coffee and shopping, or visiting Grandma, or hanging out with Mommy's friends, or folding clothes in front of TV. 

Maybe all this stuff is also on my mind because of how BIG Emma is getting. She's just a big girl these days, with plenty to say about everything. She's the little spoiled sister in our family, but when it's just her and me I can see how much her brain is expanding: her vocabulary, her ideas, her thought processes. IF ONLY this would extend to the bathroom! I keep saying I'm going to take her to a naturopath, so I should actually get on that. I think I've been slow because in my heart of hearts I suspect this is a LEARNED ATTITUDE, not a physical issue, and I am not going to get the potty training timeline I prefer. What kid do you know who's been dry overnight with nary an accident for 1.5 years, yet will not even TELL you when she needs to go poop? (Sorry Future Emma, but the fact that I have to resort to discussing your habits (or lack thereof) on the blog is YOUR fault, not mine.) I mean, I devoted my Christmas novena to this issue. I AM PRAYING FOR HONEST TO GOD MIRACULOUS HEALING. 

Let us all direct our good juju to the potty training gods and the people who decide whether a four-year-old-but-turns-5-in-3-weeks gets to enter kindergarten in Seattle Public Schools. I thank you for your efforts. 

 


A Lone Wolf Enjoys Her Space

Day Two, Lone Wolfing. 

Oh, didn't I tell you? Phillip is in Vegas for a week [VEGAS] at a company conference. He keeps sending me pictures of dessert spreads and fancy appetizers, so we're not speaking to him. Easy to do when he's not here!

Lone wolfing with three kids ages 8, 7, and 4 is a FAR FAR CRY from lone wolfing with three kids ages 4, 3, and not yet 1. Or even with two little kids and pregnant. What I'm saying is that I did not have one ounce of anxiety over Phillip going away 4am Monday through 9pm Thursday because HELLO, I've got BIG kids. I might even have looked forward to it a tiny bit because does anyone care if I make Real Dinner? Noooo, no one cares, bring on the cereal. 

Don't worry, Phillip, I made them eat green beans with their Honeynut Cheerios.

I did fall right back into that habit of scheduling the crap out of myself for Lone Wolf Week. Tonight is the only night I don't have friends coming over for wine drinking, and that's because tonight I went to the PTA meeting. (FREE CHILDCARE. WHY YES, I SHALL ATTEND.) And even during the day I have done an incredible amount of socializing for a self-proclaimed introvert. Not to make it sound like I'm skipping from social engagement to social engagement, no, more like I spent the entire four hours Emma was at preschool having Meaningful Conversation with the same single person. AND IT WAS GREAT!

Gosh I love Meaningful Conversation. 

Tomorrow, though, tomorrow Emma and I are going to Rest. I am going to lay in bed with Two Dots (HATEFUL HATEFUL GAME) and Emma will snuggle next to me with her fourteen stuffed puppies and her books and the iPad and three blankies and we will only get out of bed for snacks. I will be fully rested for my evening of Meaningful Conversation with the friend coming over when the kids are in bed. 

Ohhh, this is where people get the idea that SAHMs have lunch hours. 

(That was an inside joke. I don't even remember how it started. Someone left a comment on someone's blog? About how THEY wish they could take a lunch hour like a SAHM? And Maureen and EBJ and I will think this is hilarious until the day we die.) 

But you know, sometimes it ain't all bad being a super lazy mom of a super snuggly four-year-old. 

I'm not all lazy. I'll have you know that tonight I 1) volunteered to update newsletters and websites etc. for the PTA and 2) sent an email volunteering to teach homeschool art class as an after school activity. LOOK AT ME JOINING THINGS. 

But I AM lazy. Like I am going to leave alllll the dishes because I will have all the time in the world TOMORROW. Do you know that Barry Louis Polisar song 'Tomorrow'? AKA the Mighty Maggie Theme Song? Yep. Going to bed. xoxo

 


"Normal", church, gyms, anxiety, babies. So. The topics you've come to expect.

SOOOOOO everything should be good, now, right? Kids are in school AND taking the bus, which is pretty neato for all of us. Emma goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She'll start going MWF if a spot ever opens up, but honestly, I'm already over the driving schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I'm not in a huge hurry for her to switch. And when they're all out and occupied I've been grocery shopping, drying and folding laundry (not just leaving it in the washing machine to mold for days on end) (you do this too, don't lie), and also a lot of staring at blank walls which is something I feel I deserve. At least for a little while. 

Like the gym? Yeah. I thought Emma HAD a MWF preschool schedule so I was going to do the gym each of those mornings. But she didn't get a spot (fine) and now I only have TWO Emma-free mornings and that feels like so much less time than THREE Emma-free mornings. Also, on one of those mornings I somehow mostly-committed myself to what I thought was a bible study. At the time I thought Emma could go with me and be in the new co-opy childcare set up (Catholic churches: Y NO BABYSITTERS?) and we would have four out of five mornings nicely scheduled up, but now I'm all WAIT. I'm going to be spending one of my only two kid-free mornings HERE? It's not a bible study either, it's a lay Dominican spirituality class (my church is a Dominican church. Parish. Something or other.) Which is cool if you are into that sort of thing, but I think I am not? I liked the lady leading it, but all the kid noise was distracting and several times I found myself thinking, "I COULD just read a BOOK." Of course, the point was to MEET some of the other women at my church because I'm actually ready to stop being a crotchety run-away-as-soon-as-Mass-is-over Catholic. But I don't know. One of the few women I know at my church is the ORGANIZER of this ministry thing, so I could just say HEY, plz invite me over for talking and wine with the other ladies. Then I wouldn't have to learn about St. Dominic. 

(I'M SORRY ST. DOMINIC.) (#BADCATHOLIC)

Anyway. It will take a bit for me to figure things out, I guess. I decided that next week is the week I make myself go to the gym and get back to the place where I LIKED going to the gym and it felt like a regular part of my week. Oh, this reminds me to update you on my Dosage Lowering Experiment. I was supposed to go down one step, and if I was feeling fine after a month, go down another step. Well, I haven't gone down the second step. It isn't that I'm experiencing anxiety, but I feel like I'm hovering in the place where I could easily tip over the edge. Sometimes it feels like an actual LINE, or a FENCE even, that I'm sitting on top of. A feather could knock me into the abyss. I'm not QUITE on that fence yet, but I feel like going down another step MIGHT put me there. This may not make sense unless you are crazy like me. But I'm trying to reason with myself. I could try it and see what happens. But I could also NOT try. It's not like I HAVE to try. It's not like anyone's out there pushing me to try or shaming me into it... except my own self. I really think the only hope I have for losing this weight is to consume less of this medication. But... it seems I'm not just SAYING "not anxious is better than skinny", but am actually living it out. 

I might take that step down still. I haven't completely decided. My brain doctor is out on maternity leave and there's no appointment set up for me to say definitively what's going on. I have space. I like that.

And quite honestly, the only thing fattening up this much as really changed about my life is that it's much harder to find clothes I feel good in. Which is a big deal, but not the hugest deal. I can still find SOME cute things. I don't ALWAYS feel like a whale. I haven't, you know, lost any friends or been kicked out of parties. 

I suppose there's the looming specter of diabetes. HEH.

All the moms I know are exhausted. We're all feeling a little guilty, because HELLO, school was supposed to solve all our problems. But the starting of school - getting up early, making lunches, homework, piano practice, shoehorning everyone back into that routine - is sort of exhausting! We are HAPPIER, but man we're tired. Phillip wants to take the big kids to do some outdoorsy thing with friends on Saturday and because I avoid outdoorsy things like the plague and Phillip doesn't want to deal with the still un-potty-trained four-year-old, Emma and I are going to have a nice long boring day by ourselves. 

Did I forget to tell you my baby is four? My baby is four. That birth story from hell is now four years old. I know I'm still not over it because every time someone tells me THEIR birth story my whole body contracts in fear. But my baby is FOUR. I am delighted by her every day, and also kind of heartbroken. I've got big kids now. All big kids. I'm good with babies. I'm a good mom to babies. There are a lot of babies in my family, but none close by. No one has a baby I can just borrow for a few hours to tamp that feeling down. I told Phillip last night and he was super jokey and dismissive and I got MAD. This is a real feeling. And I'm not saying I want to have another one, but I also don't feel done with taking care of them. So I don't know what to do with that. 

OKAY I THINK I'LL STOP NOW! Time to throw some pizza at the kids and head to a [deep breath] PTA meeting. WOO HOO!

 


In which I tell my own self how fast it goes

I forgot about our big trip there for a second. Then yesterday I realized we have no tickets for Venice to London and I should probably get on that and then I got frustrated with my options (suuuuuper cheap for an 11pm flight, nearly 3x as much for a daytime flight) and now I'm done again. My dad keeps asking me about cars and car seat regulations and of COURSE I haven't figured that out because that's got to be the most boring part of our trip to research. But we booked the London apartment. We have tickets to cross the Atlantic there and back. The Paris flights are purchased. Big stuff accomplished. 

(Except for the packing. Oh my God, the packing. Every time I start to think about what suitcases or what kind of carryon bag or how many pairs of underwear or if I need to buy the kids new things because maybe they've grown out of their summer clothes I MAYBE start to cry. A little bit. Paging Emily Cassee.)

I was thinking February was going to be a nice drifting back into routine, but NO, have you heard of Valentine's Day coupled with 100 Day and (imagine Jack motormouthing excitedly) PAJAMA DAY TOO! I did not think about Valentine anything (except for bakery stuff, I suppose, and barely even that since I took our store down and we're not shipping anymore SORRY), until maybe yesterday. Oh right! I have to get the kids valentines! (See how I didn't even CONSIDER helping them MAKE valentines?) 

Also 100 Day. Yippee. And Pajama Day is stupid. There. I said it.

Also there are LOTS of February birthdays I 1) have already forgotten and 2) am bound to forget. And did I tell you I'm going on a little road trip with a friend at the END of February? Which is actually not that far away? I did plan out the whole thing and everyone's been notified and I know what's going on, but still, whoa. That's coming up quick. (Church conference. Redding, CA. DRIVING. God help us.)

My parents took Emma overnight last week and it was freakishly quiet for almost 48 hours in my house. I could THINK! I started to wonder if this is what it will be like when she goes to kindergarten. Preschool, when she starts, will just make everything worse. I want very much for HER to go, but it's not a convenient schedule and will involve lots and lots of driving back and forth for pick ups and drop offs. But it can't be worse than the year I had a kindergartner and a preschooler and a BABY, so chin up, Maggie. No, the rest of this year (we're attempting to start her in preschool at the end of February, early March, just until we go on the trip) and all of next will be all about the Annoying Schedules. MAYBE the following year, if we decide not to test her for early entrance to kindergarten (born 3 weeks past the cut off). But the year she DOES go? Whatever shall I do with myself? 

MAYBE the bakery will be ready for world domination and I'll be very busy indeed. Even if it isn't, our hope is that we get busy THIS year and will need a sort of on-call additional baker. That's the goal. So it's entirely possible that even a regular baby bakery will keep me busy. 

But what if it doesn't? Or what if we don't HAVE the bakery then? 

See how I was all whiny about being busy at the start of this post and now I'm freaking out about NOT being busy? I must be excruciatingly difficult to live with. 

My big kids are getting SO. BIG. and my little kid is getting big too - she wanted me to hold her in church and my arms wanted to die. I keep thinking about how when JACK was 3 he was a BIG BOY and I sent him to preschool and he had to be nice to his little sister. And now his littlest sister is 3 but she's still my BABY. Junior high me is severely unimpressed with my lack of attention and care for birth order unfairnesses. 

I was telling my mom how it suddenly got hard staying home with just Emma. I think that has MUCH to do with the fact that she stopped napping, if not EVERYTHING. But also the not being potty trained, the not having a preschool or class or regular outing we do (besides, ah, coffee and pink cake pops.) I've been thinking so much about preschool and mother's helpers and childcare at gyms and stuff like that, but I know from having the older two, once it starts it just keeps going. No more little kids at home with me. 

It hasn't even happened yet and I'm still marveling at how fast it went. 

 


Things At Which I Do Not Suck Volume One Million

Today, which is not yet over, was a TERRIBLE HORRIBLE DAY. Many many things went wrong today, including: 

  • my treadmill flat out STOPPING in the middle of a RUN! And it was quite possibly the slowest run I've ever run on that stupid treadmill! What gives, Treadmill?! Has my girth finally become too girthy for you? Do you completely reject the notion that I will ever lose any weight? I GET TO REJECT THAT NOTION, NOT YOU. FTLOG Treadmill, GET IT TOGETHER.
  • Emma was a huge PILL. Clingy, whiny, and forevermore un-potty-trained. On the frillionth changing of the pull up I groused at her, made a few unnecessary Vehement Gestures, snapped, complained, whined back, and made my three-year-old cry. WELL DONE, ME! That's a surefire way to encourage using the potty! 
  • I bought this wire shelf thingy that was going to be the reason why I could bring myself to clean the bathroom. I was going to put all my daily lotions and potions in it, thereby permanently-ish clearing off the bathroom counter, aka one of the most tedious cleaning-the-bathroom-tasks. But when I drilled the hole it wouldn't go all the way through. I could put an anchor in the second hole, but the first hole wasn't deep enough. In my frustration I stuck in the anchor in there anyway and whaled away with a hammer, thereby BENDING THE ANCHOR and now I have two useless holes in my bathroom wall and it's still filthy.
  • I forgot to buy the next level piano book. And then I forgot that we HAD piano today.
  • Emma fell asleep in the car on during the two-minute ride to school pick up. This means she will not go to bed until, oh, midnight.

I am feeling VERY FAILY, Internet friends. I have FAILED at exercising and will wear leggings FOREVER. I have FAILED at potty-training and Emma will be wearing Doc McStuffins pull ups FOREVER. I have FAILED at keeping my house clean and my family is going to live in squalor FOREVER. I have FAILED at a home improvement project AGAIN which means Phillip has another thing to add to his forever-long list of WIFE HOUSE FAILURE. I have FAILED at keeping track of my kids' one and only extracurricular activity and now they are NEVER going to get to play soccer or learn Russian. And I have VERY MUCH FAILED at this new no-nap situation and I am NEVER going to figure out how to get my stuff done with Emma 1) playing iPad all day or 2) randomly falling asleep during the day when I am helpless to prevent it. EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. 

It is most definitely time for A List Of Things At Which I Do Not Suck (And Some At Which I Am Downright Ass Kicky.) 

  • Ordering Costco groceries from Instacart. It took me about five minutes to place my order. It will be here at 7pm. ROCK ON.
  • Not following through on Potty Training Threats. "I know I said you don't get a marshmallow, but you look so pathetic, here, have four."
  • Typing one-handed on account of holding a mopey clingy three-year-old in my lap. 
  • Not freaking out about cutting all my hair off. (GOODBYE, LONG DEAD-ENDED BOB! HELLO UNDERCUT WITH SUPER SHORT SIDEBURNS!)
  • Planning Europe trips. 
  •  Accruing frequent flyer miles I cannot use. 
  • Calling my mother when I have a spare 5 minutes and cutting her off when I have to go pick up a kid.
  • Binge-watching television. 
  • Collecting stuff for Goodwill. 
  • Not waking up when Phillip's alarm goes off. 
  • Scrounging enough food to compose two grade schooler lunch boxes. 
  • Texting despairing messages to my friends. 
  • Sending invoices for macarons. 
  • Saying, "Huh! Wow! Neat!" when repeatedly asked to admire a Minecraft creation/drawing/interpretive dance to 'Let It Go'.

SEE I'M NOT ALL DISASTER AND HOPELESSNESS! 

 


I wrote this instead of napping

It's not normal to want to take a nap evvvvery day, right? I don't have tiny babies, I am not up all night, I do not go to bed fantastically late or get up horrifically early. But I am tired ALL. THE. TIME. I started taking iron pills again. Well, I started last night. So only one so far. 

I'm also trying to figure out when I can get some exercise. And I'm not even talking a run or a TV workout in my living room. Just WALKING, at this point, would be good enough. I think I've identified my pitfalls. The biggest one is that I absolutely hate changing out of my clothes into workout clothes. This sounds really stupid, but I HATE IT and in the time it takes me to change I can almost always talk myself out of whatever I planned to do. I hate ruining whatever hair and makeup I did that morning. I hate exercising WITH a kid, ie: a workout video that they "do" with me, a kid in a stroller, etc. I have to make exercising as easy as it can possibly be.

What worked for me in the past was exercising during nap time BUT! That was when I had absolutely nowhere to be, no school schedule to adhere to, no reason to put real clothes on ever. And I may have had two babies then, but they both took hours-long coordinated naps, leaving me a half hour to run and another two hours to sit around doing whatever the heck I wanted. The child at home with me NOW has recently quit her nap and alone time is PRECIOUS. 

I haven't wanted to work out in the mornings because after I buckle all the kids in the car and drop them at school, Emma and I are ready for our DAY. We grocery shop or regular shop or coffee shop. We visit friends. We do our thing. 

THAT SAID. Mornings are getting rougher for me (see: Always Tired) and it occurred to me that I don't HAVE to get ready before I have to take the kids to school. I COULD drive them to school in my pajamas. Or pajama-like workout clothes. I don't HAVE to wash my hair or layer concealer over the dark circles under my eyes. I COULD take those kids to school, stick Emma on the playroom couch with the iPad, and get on my treadmill. Which is what I did this morning. An hour of that, a shower, and there was still time to sweep the kitchen floor and write bakery emails and let Emma write all over a kindergarten workbook. Was it as awesome as going to Target? Not really. But we hung out with friends after lunch and went to the library during piano lessons and I was still Really Freaking Tired, but I exercised! 

Maybe this could be what works? For now? 

I've got a lot going on this week. I'm helping Katie with my grandma's dessert table. My house is pretty gross since I fired my housecleaners. I'd normally ignore the squalor for another week or so, but my Colorado brother is flying in for the funeral and staying with me Friday night at least, and while his bed has clean sheets, the shower situation is not so stellar. I need to pay my kitchen rent and write whatever I'm going to say at the funeral. (Something short and sweet, nothing big, but still, I need to come up with whatever that is.) The kids don't have school on Friday, but Phillip is going to take a bereavement day and I'm going to get my hair cut. I'm not sure this is a wise or thoughtful thing to do, but the fact is that this long-ish bob STILL feels foreign on my head and the more grown out it gets, the more I hate it. I feel like my face has grown too fat for short hair, but so be it. Short hair is for me. Oh, and a brow wax, because I feel my most confident right after my eyebrow hairs have been forcibly ripped out by the roots.

Morning exercise. Iron. Faking experience and know how in bakery emails. I GOT THIS.

 


A SAHM shrieks into the empty not-listening evening, then sucks it up (she promises)

I'm going to write myself a small, indulgent, self-pity post, okay? And because this is the internet and it CAN'T go without saying, I LOVE MY FAMILY and I ACKNOWLEDGE MY PRIVILEGE, but I'm still going to whine because MY WEBSITE. 

Also because OH MY GAWD if my three-year-old doesn't start using the potty soon I'm going to need a padded room. She is almost always dry when she wakes up. If I stick her on the potty at regular intervals, all is well. But I can't think of a single time she's told us she needs to go BEFORE SHE'S ACTUALLY GONE. I swear, we are going to be buried alive in filthy pull ups. (I'M SORRY FOR THAT IMAGE.) Memories of potty training the other two are vaguely unpleasant and I know for certain that I never felt like there was a method or rhyme or reason or trick or ANYTHING other than persistence and hope and the knowledge that they wouldn't go to COLLEGE in diapers. But I'm also getting onto myself for not going whole hog and committing a week to getting this over with, you know, like clearing the schedule and wearing underpants or going without and working with her. Except DEAR GOD I can manage, like, one day of that. Then I'm bouncing off the walls. I cannot stay home all week. I cannot give potty training every ounce of my attention and effort and maybe THIS is why she's not trained yet and etc. etc. horrible mother. 

Also, just my three-year-old in general. Anyone who follows my instagram account knows how very sunk in love Phillip and I are with our BAYBEEEEE, but this kid never shuts up and guess who gets to hear eeeeeverything. Emma has never had a thought she hasn't expressed out loud. She's never heard a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift song she hasn't needed to shoutsing (again: stellar parenting). I absolutely adore her, but sometimes I need some QUIET. I'm like Davis in White Christmas. I need her to get married and have five children and if she only spends five minutes a day with each kid that's FORTY-FIVE MINUTES FOR ME. 

I know I'm supposed to find myself a mother's helper or childcare so I can work at home, but there's not a lot of room in the budget for that. So I ask my in-laws for help a lot (and they always say yes, THEY ARE LOVELY), but right now I'm still feeling frustrated that I haven't been able to do the website updates for Thumbprints. The day I planned to spend working on my own, for which I had childcare, I ended up spending with my family while my grandmother was in the hospital. Obviously I am not sorry I did that! But it's been really hard to find any time to do real things I need to do. I feel GUILTY that I haven't secured a regular babysitter or childcare, because that's what everyone tells me to do, and I feel guilty for WANTING to secure a babysitter or other childcare because we can't really add that into our budget! 

ALSO Phillip is leaving tomorrow night for a long weekend with old friends, skiing in Montana. This was his Christmas present. I am not at ALL begrudging this trip and it's fun to see how excited he is. But I AM begrudging the fact that he's leaving for a long weekend without having to think AT ALL about how to manage everything at home. He doesn't have to! I am here! I will take care of everything! All he had to do was get the day off work on Monday and boom. He's off. Whereas I am going to a conference at the end of February and had to move mountains to figure out how to take care of the kids while he's at work. Like, actual mental gymnastics. Getting people cars ahead of time, asking in-laws to get Emma on certain days at certain times, writing out a schedule for my sister, and of course I'm going to freeze some dinners and leave notes on the refrigerator, AND THEN FEEL GUILTY THE WHOLE TIME because I'm taking four days away from my family to do something unnecessary and totally for my own self. 

My family makes fun of me a lot for being The Guilty One. So I know. I know that I maybe feel more guilt about this sort of thing than the average SAHM. But maybe not. I don't know. I feel guilty that I don't have a job that contributes financially to our family. I feel guilty for asking other people to take care of my kids so I can go away and do something fun, or asking my husband to adjust his work schedule. I feel guilty about not wanting to spend the money for childcare when I am already home. I feel guilty for not having my website updated yet. I feel guilty about ALL THE THINGS, ALL THE TIME, and then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. 

I mean, I PREVAIL. Guilt is not STOPPING me from going on my mini road trip to the conference in February and it's certainly not stopping me from dumping my kids with my mom and dad when all the Blathering ladies are here (where in the world is Phillip going to go?!) And I'm clearly not so guilty that I can't feel frustrated with the world for being the one who has to manage it all. 

I'm just feeling like there's things I wanna get DONE, but NO, I have to change yet another three-year-old diaper and everyone is TALKING at me and the sink is full of dishes and when am I going to cross this stuff off my list and why do I bother cleaning anything up when everyone is going to mess it up again and WHY IS THIS ALL ON ME (AND WHY I CAN'T I DO IT BETTER?)

GAAAAHHHHH ok I'm done. I'm going to put on my grown up mom pants and figure out what we're going to eat for dinner (it IS 5:40pm) and run to Target tonight for last minute catering open house supplies for tomorrow, for which my in-laws are babysitting, and then OK YES I CAN DO THIS.