Days of Plenty

Lately my children have been on sweetness overdrive. Seriously, the stuff that comes out of their mouths the last few weeks make me stop in my tracks, get all doe-eyed, and let out an audible “Oohhh!”  Here are a few examples:

-While reading a comic book, David asked me what lovesick means. I explained that sometimes when you love someone your stomach gets fluttery and your heart races and it makes you feel sick in a good way. His reply, “like how I feel about Sydney at her birthday party.” Awww….

-A few nights later, David tells me, “Mom, I’m lovesick for you.” Double Awww…

-I go to the Y to workout and leave Ben at the daycare for about an hour. When I came to pick him up yesterday, the girl a the counter was holding him. When he saw me, he got a huge smile, clapped his hands and yelled, “Mommy’s here!” I don’t know if anyone has ever been more happy to see me than my kids are, even if I have only been gone from the room long enough to go pee.

-A recent conversation between David and Ben:

David: Hi Ben, did you have a good sleep, sweet pea?

Ben: Yes!

David: Can I snuggle with you?

Ben: Yes!

David (crawling under the covers): See outside? It’s foggy today.

Ben: It’s foggy!

David (kissing Ben on the forehead): I love you.

Ben: I love you too!

-Ben’s favorite game right now is when I pretend to be a shark and he’s a fish. I do the Jaws theme (na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, NA-Na-NA!) and then eat him up. My kid is pretty rad.

-David calls me sweetie, honey, and “my best mom” on a daily basis. Must remember this in the future when those names will be replaced with annoying, nag, and “pain in my ass.”

Life is about the tiny moments of joy that too often pass by unrecognized. I wanted to save these, write them down, give them a place of permanence for a time when I need to be reminded that everything is amazing. Because everything is.


Sentences I Never Said Before Having Kids

Motherhood forces you to explain the obvious, the absurd, and the disgusting on a daily basis.  Every so often you hear yourself utter a sentence that makes you stop and think, “Did I really just say that?”  For example:

-“If it stinks, stop sniffing it and go wash your hands.”

-“Please stop licking my sunglasses.”

-“I already told you, they don’t sell shrink-rays at Target.”

-“You can’t eat your ice cream until you finish your french fries.”

-“I’m sorry, but when your brother throws up on your shoes it’s time to leave the zoo.”

-“The mailman doesn’t want to see your wiener, please close your shades.”

What is your favorite parenting sentence?

Confessions of a Tired Mom: Why I Decided to Sleep Train

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture.  Deprive someone of sleep for long enough and they will be willing to betray their country, confess to crimes they didn’t commit, and forsake every family member they have.  After nine-and-a-half months without a full nights sleep, I am positive that the key to taking down al-Qaeda is to have their top general care for a baby that refuses to sleep. In a few short weeks his brain will be so addled that he won’t remember to inform his operatives that the secret password was switched and he will leave the blueprints for the next terror strike on the table at Starbucks while he is waiting for his triple-shot latte.

Irritability…check. Memory lapses…check. Decreased reaction time…check.

Before you all judge me, I realize that Benjamin’s sleep problems are my fault.  They are the same problems that David had with sleeping when he was a baby.  Instead of letting them cry a little when they were infants, I picked them up, rocked them and nursed them to sleep.  At first I would be able to lay them down once they drifted off, but after a few months, both boys decided their favorite place to sleep was on top of me, and I accommodated them.  It wasn’t out of some strong maternal need to be in physical contact with my children at all times, but because it was the easiest way to get the most sleep at the time.  You would think I would have learned my lesson the first time, but I didn’t, and holy crap am I paying for it now.

Let me paint a picture of what I typical night is like for me now.  At 7pm I go to lay down with Benni in my room.  Since my husband gets home around 5:45 that means we say exactly three sentences to each other (“How was work? The kids are driving me nuts. Dinner is on the stove.”) before I have to get Benni to sleep.  Once in my room, I lay with Benni while he flops around, tries to climb over me to get out, and (on really fun nights) crams his fingers in my eyes.  Eventually, he settles down enough to drink a bottle and then falls asleep, my arm acting as his pillow.  I then spend about 30 minutes trying to get my arm out from under him without him waking up before I give up and resolve myself to a bedtime that even senior citizens would laugh at.  And then Benni wakes up.  At 11:00. And 1:30. And 3:30. Around 4:30am he feels pretty perky and tries to get up for the day.  I know that because he hits me in the face and then giggles as I scream “It’s time for sleeping!” I then repeat the process of getting him to go to sleep which takes about 45 minutes.  If I’m lucky, he will stay asleep until 6:30am, but I’m not usually lucky.  On a typical night, I estimate I get around four to five hours of sleep (cumulative not successive), which is nowhere near enough.

Given that I sleep less than an insomniac on a 5 Hour Energy binge, it’s pretty remarkable that I am still able to do all the things required of me as a wife and mother and remain fairly pleasant and coherent.  But if I am being really honest, while I do the things required of me, I don’t do them well.  Things slip by me, emails go unanswered, calls go unreturned, paperwork, bills, appointments are all forgotten.  Relationships, like my marriage, like the one with my oldest son, start to show the wear of too little time and attention.  And it’s all just too much for me anymore.  Something has to change. So I am going to let Benni cry it out.  You can think I am selfish or cruel if you want to (I obviously have had those thoughts about myself as well) but I have to get my life back, even if it’s just a free hour in the afternoon and a few consecutive hours of sleep at night.

While I know this is not going to be easy, I think it is the best thing I can do for me and for my family.  And when I feel my resolve start to slip, I will keep this quote in mind:

The Lies Moms Tell

I am being held captive, trapped by a tyrant.  He demands that I do as he wishes.  If I don’t, if I try to assert my independence, act as a free person, he explodes with rage.  He screams, kicks, and wails.  I try to outlast him but his will is stronger than mine.  Sometimes I try to sneak away while he is sleeping.  I hold my breath as I slip my arm out from underneath him.  I inch my body away from his, placing a pillow in between us as a decoy.  I ease myself up and away, never taking my eye off of his sleeping body.  I stand frozen, shocked by my sudden freedom, and am elated.  I dance silently out of the room.  I am free!  In my jubilation I throw open the fridge door with too much gusto, anxious to find sustenance, and I hear the high pitched scream of outrage from the next room.  I hang my head in defeat. He has discovered my escape.  For a moment I consider ignoring his cries, but inevitably I give in and return to my place on the couch.Image

This is the scenario I go through every day since Benjamin was born five months ago. Benjamin only sleeps if I am his mattress and I have to nurse him so often during the night I’ve stopped bothering to put my boobs away (much to my almost five-year-old’s horror).  But when people ask, I lie.  I say he sleeps great, that he is an easy baby.  Sometimes I lie because it’s easier.  And sometimes I lie because to admit the truth would be to admit my own shortcomings.  I can’t get my kid to sleep in a crib. I suck as a mom.             

  A quick google search of infants and sleep done out of desperation seemed to confirm this fear.   Each forum was filled with posts from moms complaining that their babies slept like they were under sedation, and reading this made me feel even worse. I wanted to find one of these moms with a baby that sleeps ten hours at night and takes two three-hour-long naps during the day and explain to her that what she had is what I call a high-end problem.  Complaining about a baby that sleeps too much is like complaining that your Mercedes is too fast or your four carat diamond ring is too shiny. 

After my initial jealousy and sleep-deprived rage, I began to feel like a failure, like Benni’s inability to separate from me was something I created.  Could I really have ruined him by attending to his needs too quickly as some websites suggested?  Were everyone else’s babies really sitting contentedly in bouncy chairs, sleeping away the day in cribs while mine transforms into a screaming ball of fury the moment his butt hits the baby swing seat?  And then I had another thought: maybe these moms were lying too.  Could they be putting on the happy face of motherhood to fend off the judgments of others?

 It’s not surprising that moms lie.  Just look at the recent brouhaha started by Time magazine over attachment parenting.  Mothering is hard and it is only made harder when the rest of the world judges how it’s done.  Somehow, in this woman-negative culture, it isn’t good enough that we love and raise our children the best we know how, we are seen as failures if our children don’t conform to unrealistic standards of what is “normal” or we choose to mother in a nontraditional way.  And so we tell lies to avoid the scorn.   I know I am guilty of telling mommy lies.  It is easier at the time to just say great, everything is great and easy and perfect when people ask about the baby.  But now I am beginning to realize that these lies not only make moms feel like failures, they also create an illusion of motherhood that doesn’t resemble reality.

                So here is the truth: my baby only naps if my nipple is in his mouth and I don’t move or breathe too loudly.  I let David have potato chips and chocolate milk for breakfast because I was too tired the night before to go to the store and there was nothing else in the house to eat.  On the all too rare occasions that Benjamin does fall asleep on his own, I usually spend that time catching up on Us Weekly headlines and playing Words With Friends rather than wash dishes or fold laundry.  While playing a Jonah and the Whale video game during a play-date, David yelled out “God damn it!” when his turn ended.  I laughed and said he must have heard it on TV.  He did not hear it on TV. 

                It’s freeing to admit that things aren’t easy, that my parenting style is more survival-mom than tiger-mom.  Go ahead, try it.  Confess your mommy lies and share your less than stellar moments in parenting.  I promise not to judge.

A Day in the Life

Lately I’ve felt like I get nothing accomplished all day.  It seems every night I go to bed with dishes left in the sink, a living room rug covered in dog hair and Cheerios, and a pile of laundry where my couch use to be. Seriously, this laundry pile is becoming an issue.  No matter what I do, it never gets smaller.  It’s like a beast out of Greek mythology, if you cut off its head, three more sprout in its place.

Laundromodus, the creature made completely of clean laundry that has taken over my couch.

I decided to approach this problem logically. I kept a log of everything I did for a day to see where all my time goes.  Here is what I discovered:

6:27 am- Am awoken by a thumping on my forehead.  Open my eyes to see David peering down at me while he whacks me in the head with his Nemo. And so the day begins.

6:30 am- Shuffle out to living room and make coffee.  Stand staring at coffee maker willing it to go faster to no avail.

6:35 am- Change David’s diaper and get him set up with Cheerios, a banana and a sippy full of milk. Sigh deeply as David throws Cheerios on the rug and eats them off the floor.

6:45 am- Finally, coffee is ready.  Sit down with a cup when I realize the living room smells rather disgusting.  Double sigh.

6:47 am- Change first poopy diaper of the day.  Take it to the outside trash so the rest of the house isn’t filled with the noxious odors held within it. Realize after I come back inside that I just wandered outside without a bra on for all the neighbors to see.  Triple sigh.

6:55 am- Return to my cup of coffee after washing my hands and realize my coffee is now cold.  Drink it anyway.

7:00 am- Make David breakfast.  I know what you are thinking, the floor Cheerios and banana were his breakfast, but D is like a Hobbit.  That was first breakfast, the meal he eats so that I can get a cup of coffee in my system before I have to make actual food.  Second breakfast consists of two eggs, a tortilla and grapes.

7:15 am- Wash dishes from last night and this morning while David eats. Once the kitchen is clean I realize I forgot to make Casey’s lunch.  Shit…

7:32 am- Clean kitchen for the second time after making lunch for Casey. Am beginning to realize the inefficiencies in my routine. May have found room for improvement.

8:00 am- After doing two loads of laundry and adding to the ever-growing pile of clean clothes on the couch, I go to the bedroom to wake Casey for work and put on a bra before I humiliate myself again. Come back into the living room to find David completely naked dancing in front of the television to the theme song for Curious George.  Decide it is easier to leave him that way and get a second cup of coffee.

8:15 am- Realize I made a mistake in not getting David back into his clothes when he pees on the carpet.

8:26 am- Rug cleaned and D dressed again.  Notice that funky smell from earlier is back.  Oh my God, what is it about a clean diaper that makes this kid need to poo?

8:37 am- Poopy diaper #2 changed and disposed of.  Pace around the living room waiting for Casey to come out so that I can get into the bathroom.  Irritation builds as I ponder the unfairness of having to wait to go to the bathroom while others just let it loose whenever the mood strikes them.

8:42 am- Casey is finally up and I head to the bathroom.

8:44 am- Am hit in the head by the bathroom door when David pushes it open yelling, “Mama.” I guess my alone time is over.

9:00 am Abandon the plan of logging my activities for the day when I realize I do way too many things to keep track of.

After looking back on my incomplete log, I realize that I do a lot in one day, even if it doesn’t look like it.  I have come to terms with the fact that my house is never going to be spotless and the laundry will continue to take up residence on my couch.  As long as we are able to open the door without a flood of unfolded socks spilling out on to the porch, I think we are in pretty good shape.