Fifteen Things that Sum Up the Ridiculousness that is Parenting

Fifteen Things that Sum Up the Ridiculousness that is Parenting

I’ve learned quite a lot over the past six years as a parent. I’ve learned what to do and infinitely more what not to do.  Kids are often times the best teachers to have; from our kids, we learn how to live and how to love; how to be humble and how to be proud; how to keep it together when we ultimately just need to lose our shit.  You get the idea.  As a mom of two mad-crazy little guys, ages 2 and 6, I have begun to really lose my shit lately.  I’m not as cool and calm as I always thought I’d have been; my 12 year old self figured I’d be a hip, laid-back mom. BAHAHAHAHA.  These days, I’m so high-strung that a Stradivarius would be envious.  Thankfully, I have realized this and I am trying to find the humor in things that would normally set me off like a Roman Candle.  Because of my new-found work-in-progress, I have begun writing down little snippets of what parenting is to me.  Now, you may find yourself jumping on my bandwagon, and you may leave here today thinking I’m a total fruitcake (and… you’d be right).  Nevertheless, parenting is, like I said before, a life lesson for us all.  And so, for those of us who live in the real world of make-believe and near parenting-induced alcoholism, who also do not have the benefit of expensive live-in nannies, I present to you my list of “parenting is…”.  I hope it at the very least brings you a chuckle if not a Katniss-esque salute of sympathy.  I’ll be starting my list with one point that ventures towards the macabre — but I know y’all will feel me on this…

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  1. Parenting is: plotting out for weeks on end the murder of America’s favorite fictitious character, Mickey freaking Mouse.  Call it hateful, throw around the term “kill-joy”…. but that mouse is a parent’s nightmare on crack.  Now, did I personally always feel so violently towards the peppy, over-the-top excited little dude?  Nope.  There was a time I, too, was rather fond of Ears.  But Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has rendered me irritated, at best, with it’s unrealistic expectations of childhood behavior.  Not to mention, he’s Connor’s idol and a small mutiny occurs in our home every time that damn mouse is refused.  My mind is leaning towards a Saw like end to the Mouse.  I’m thinking a backwards mousetrap.  Too much?  Oh, well.
  2. Parenting is: wanting to get housework done, but the toddler is sleeping on the couch, and if parenting has taught you ANYTHING its, “Don’t wake the bear.”  Hello, Netflix marathon.
  3. Parenting is: stress eating cheap pizza because “For the love of God and my waistline, quit stalling and do your math facts!”  Move over, skinny jeans; the muumuu is strong with this one.
  4. Parenting is: hovering around the fridge, spoon in hand, avoiding hard stares and denying any knowledge about the banana pudding on the second shelf (behind the Country Crock, adjacent to the Dijon) and arguing that, “No! I’m not going to eat anything, promise! DON’T JUDGE ME, TODDLER!”
  5. Parenting is: a conundrum.  On the one hand, parents love to their kiddos sing pretty much anything.  On the other hand, hearing the chorus of any song over and over on continuous loop because that’s literally the only part of the song they know makes people want to pull their hair out and throw darts at the walls.  See also: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse freaking theme song.  Scooby Doo’s theme is equally annoyingly endearing.

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  6. Parenting is: telling the kids to shake it off after pretty much any injury, knowing full well that if it were YOU, you’d either A) swear at the air until the “ouchie” goes away, B) cry like your two year old who has been refused Micka Mouf, or C) stress eat anything that doesn’t move.
  7. Parenting is: repeating yourself calmly a thousand times over, in the most serene of voices, until something in you snaps and suddenly your neighbors all think you’re a metal-band groupie and, “Oh my gawsh, she ate a bat’s ear off, I swear!”
  8. Parenting is: hearing yourself say things — things that should never be said — and not knowing which direction the day will go afterward.  Case in point: I always say weird, off-the-wall things to my kids.  They do weird, off-the-wall things, after-all, and well… shit happens.  But the other day, I said within a five minute span, “QUIT LICKING THE DOG!”, “No, we cannot sell your brother.  No, I do not care that you need more Legos.”, “Santa does not bring presents to little boys who pull on their private area.”, “Please quit putting your butt on the window and put on some pants.”, “No, wiping your ass is not one of my favorite things to do.”  “No, I do not think I look like Velma.”, “We do not point guns at the mail lady.”, “No, I do not think she looks like Velma.”, “No, I will not smell your finger.”  Five minutes.  No lie.  I’ve thought about bringing my kids in for testing, but I’m afraid I’ll never get them back from testing.
  9. Parenting is: s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g  e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g… until your six year old breaks down that impenetrable code (damnit, ELA).  Then, parenting becomes speaking in movie references to anyone who will understand because said six year old is all, “I ain’t droppin’ no eaves.”
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  10. Parenting is: attempting to reason with a screaming, tantrum-throwing toddler, only to realize that it would be easier to do and sing the Hokey Pokey backwards and in Pig Latin.  It would also be more enjoyable.
  11. Parenting is: looking feverishly at that untouched bottle of wine in your fridge and managing, somehow, to save it for the weekend even when it’s been a Monday of a Wednesday.
  12. Parenting is: ending most days with someone in tears, someone else covered in Nesquick, and you on the verge of nervous breakdown… but, one way or another, finding the humor in it all, odds be damned.
  13. Parenting is: guidance, chauffeuring, chaperoning, disciplining, kissing booboo’s, and scaring away the monsters.
  14. Parenting is: being loved and getting to love.  It is special.  It’s a gift.  It’s humbling.  It’s pride-bearing.
  15. Parenting is: an experience.  Several experiences, really.  Ones that should be spent with your kids, not at your wit’s end.  It’s hard, it’s tiring, it can be a nightmare; but it’s worth it. They’re worth it.  And so are you, momma and/or poppa bear.

This Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful for my kids.  I am proud of who they are — even if they drive me positively berserk.  They are my reasons to be thankful for anything; I am blessed beyond measure.  And tired.  I am so, so tired.  Time for the daily battle with Mickey Mouse.  I’ll give you a hint who wins: it’s not me.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

5 Reasons My Two-Year Old is Stripping

5 Reasons My Two-Year Old is Stripping

Ah, exhibitionism: it ain’t for all of us. My two-year old, however, has certainly taken a shine to it lately.  Usually for no rhyme or reason at all, at any time of day, I can find Connor butt-naked, riding some kind of toy or, like the other day, attacking his completely grossed out older brother, with nary a care in the world.  Take the other day, for example:  he had been playing in his room when the doorbell rang.  It didn’t occur to me then (though, perhaps, it should have) to check him out before he came bounding into the living room STARK FREAKING NAKED while I signed for a package from UPS.  I don’t know who was more mortified — me, or the UPS guy.  But Connor was delighted to show off his current lifestyle choice and showed zero signs of self-consciousness.

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This is a relatively new thing to Con.  Not too long ago, he hated being naked.  HATED. IT.  Like, “I will put on every ounce of anyone else’s clothing if I am not supplied with my own” hatred.  I’m not sure when the change occurred, but this new thing… I’m not feeling it.  Thankfully, he’s a little fella; I can still fit him in 24 month onesies without them looking all kinds of ridiculous.  I’ve thought and thought about what could possibly have triggered the new-found love for streaking; here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Luke Bryan.  No, I’m not saying Connor is stripping for Luke Bryan.  Keep your imagination in check, partner.  But the other day Mr. Bryan’s song Strip it Down came on, and while LB usually makes my kid cry (not even kidding — I always have to change the station in the car his songs come on), this time Connor stripped it down.  Subliminal message?  God, I hope not.
  2. Potty training.  Rather, the ongoing joke in this house that we call “potty training”.  For Connor, this simply means he sheds every piece of fabric and discards his diaper or PullUp accordingly.  But instead of running to the potty, he goes Marathon Man on me and runs, loose as a goose, through the house.  Kid’s pretty fast when he’s not suited up.
  3. He’s Tarzan incarnate.  He’s always had an affinity for the outdoors; perhaps he’s just trying to live out a past life?  We live in rural Louisiana; I can’t have little nude dudes running around my house.  They have laws for that around here, for crying out loud.
  4. He really enjoys grossing out our semi-modest six year old.  I really think I’ve hit on something here.  Connor comes bolting around a corner like a skinned squirrel and Gabe just dies.  Con thinks Gabe’s revolted cries for help is hilarious and climbs all over him like a spider monkey.  I’ll admit — it’s pretty funny.  Kind of contradicts my “keep to your personal space” rule, though.
  5. He’s a two-year old boy who has recently found every guy’s favorite body part and is innocently living the dream.  This is probably the real reason, although not as fun to think about like my Tarzan theory.  Gabe and Connor are night and day about EVERYTHING, and it oddly didn’t occur to me that they could be polar opposites on the subject of “modesty” (whatever “modesty” means in the light of little boys, anyway).  Gabe likes to be COVERED — even when he sleeps.  Connor, on the other hand, would be happy if I’d let him roam Target in the buff.  Obviously, that ain’t gonna happen.  I may as well let well-enough alone, though, and take solace in the fact that, for now, his little tush is still cute and said tush can fit into snap-able onesies.  Praise Jesus!  Hopefully this little phase of his won’t last too much longer… our UPS guy still can’t look me in the eye and with Christmas around the corner this could pose a problem.
Changing Leaves

Changing Leaves

It’s my favorite time of year again, y’all: fall.  Autumn.  Harvest…  whatever you like to call it.  I love the word “autumn”, myself, but living in a small-ish town in Louisiana, I get looked at funny when I toss that word around.  So I simply leave it at “fall” and go on with my days loving the cool(er) weather and, per the stereotype, pumpkin spice everything.  I loved pumpkin spice before it was trendy, so I make no apologies for the warmth and goodness of a good pumpkin-y, nutmeg-y latte.

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Anyway, I’ve always found that fall brings more changes than just crisp, cool air and falling, beautifully colored leaves; it always brings life changes — at least for me it does.  As if on pattern or cue, fall delivers to me different, sometimes intimidating, but always good change.  I seldom know what I or my family is facing, but I can usually rest-assured life will find its way of sorting itself out.  Fall has been closely followed by the birth of my children and brought with it the marriage of me and my husband.  It has been with me when I’ve faced new jobs and their challenges; it has even carried with it new friendships that I am blessed to still have today.  This year, it has given us the loss of my job.  As of last Wednesday, I am officially at SAHM status.  Things came up and it was made plainly evident that I needed to be home.  I. Am. TERRIFIED.

I have never not worked.  I have held at least one job (sometimes two or three!) since I could legally work and drive.  I had three jobs during my pregnancy with Gabe (talk about exhausting — working three jobs pregnant [two of which I stayed on my feet and even climbed ladders, etc.]), and stayed with my office job when I went back to school for my marketing degree (for which I still have not obtained).  I have always liked to stay busy and am not averse to working my tail off.  So this new stay-at-home-mom thing… it’s flooring me.  I love my boys, but I’ve never felt like I’m “stay at home” material.  I am gruff and grumpy… total momma bear.  I’ve never, ever been super good with kids and it’s always seemed easier for me to go to work and let them go to school or daycare for our “space”.  Admittedly, I hated only being with them from 5-7 every morning and 5-bedtime during our evenings and it really was vital at the time that both my husband and myself work; in today’s economy, it really does take two incomes unless you’re a Kardashian.  Well, I don’t know about you, but my hidden talent ain’t balancing a cup on my behind, so there goes that idea.

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Since I’ve been “home”, Connor and I have not been “home” for entire day… at all.  It may sound silly, but I get the housework done quickly and we bolt.  I’m too antsy to be hemmed in all day, so off we go.  What have we gotten done?  A little grocery shopping, a few errands here and there, and a lot of mall walking.  I’m pathetic.  I’m going to have to give it up eventually, I know.  But Ev can tell you — I don’t even do good staying home on the weekends.  I don’t have to spend a dime, but I absolutely do not want to be locked in a house all day.

But I have decided to make the best of it.  Starting Monday, Connor and I are going to do things at home.  He’s two, so potty training needs to take priority.  I forgot how hard that is to do in town (been four years since I’ve had a two year old, y’all) and he’s showing signs of being ready.  So I suppose we’re going to batten down the hatches and poop-proof the house until he gets the hang of it.  Tonight, we’re making homemade pizza and painting pumpkins (Gabe wants to paint his like Luigi from Super Mario®) after homework makes its painstaking existence known.  I have decided that just because I’m not used to being a SAHM, that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I will make the most of it even if it means I pull my hair out and look like Britney version 2007.  Afterall, fall has always brought with it changes for me — and how often has this season given me bad luck?  Fingers crossed for me, y’all.  Can you add SAHM to a résumé?  I already feel like a poorly informed, unpaid intern.  Sigh.

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Ten Things I’ve Learned Living With Little Boys

Ten Things I’ve Learned Living With Little Boys

I have been “mothering” for a little over six years, now.  Actually, if you want to be real about it, I’ve been “momma bearin’ it” for a little over six years.  I’ve done a lot of things I had previously said I’d never do.  I’ve said a lot of things I never thought I’d say — or have to say (one of my favorites: “Please stop trying to lick your brother’s eyeball”).  I’ve slept more than I thought I would have, and I’ve also slept much less than is probably necessary to function.  I’ve figured out that I’ll cover pretty much anything in ketchup if it’ll get my kids to eat and that I may be an enabler to my two-year old’s fruit snack addiction.  That said, I have learned quite a lot living with little boys.  I’ve Google’d, Bing’d, Wikipedia’d, and WebMd’d pretty much everything there is to Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and WebMd regarding kids (and on how to maintain my sanity sans booze).

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I posted a status the other day on my page about needing to learn to check the inside of my shoes before putting them on thanks to having Things 1 & 2 running around.  That got me to thinking, “What all have I learned since I’ve been a boy mom?”, which inspired this post.  This is the kind place my brain goes to around 10 o’clock every night instead of closing up shop for the day.  But it’s to your benefit this morning that my poor old brain is overactive, because here are my top ten things I’ve learned while living with my little monsters boys:

  1. It is absolutely vital that one check one’s shoes before putting them on.  It is in my house, anyway.  I’ve killed many a toe thanks to Lego blocks and even small action figures finding their way to the deep, dark recesses of my footwear.  I check those bad boys with a flash light and, some days, even something pointy so I don’t have to sacrifice my fingers.  My kids think they have jokes these days and I’m just waiting to “find” a frog or something in there.
  2. No matter how long and hard you preach, socks and underwear will likely never make it to the washer.  Shirts, pants, and even a stray tennis shoe will at least get to the floor in front of the washer.  I’ve washed plenty of change and even a wallet or two (oops…).  But I have to check under beds and other pieces of furniture for undergarments.  Connor, the two-year old, has taken to throwing his socks away these days, so I also raid the trash.  It’s pretty fantastic.
  3. Your kids will never need you for anything of dire importance once your buttocks are firmly planted on the toilet.  They will, however, need you to open a jar of pickles (why are you even in the kitchen?!), to ask about the theory of relativity (relatively speaking), and “why is brother wearing a blue shirt, because wasn’t he in green earlier?” (<— that happened).9b7ac1fff5f9305ce0181d24821e1202
  4. Sleep is a distant memory that I’ve grown to resent.  A night without the kids?  Sleep!  Not. even. close.  Housework?  Yep.  Binge Netflixing?  Naturally.  Simply sitting in the quiet?  Sure.  But sleep?  Not I.  I don’t sleep when my kids are home, and I physically cannot sleep if they’re gone for the night.  I’ve learned that I’m an utter weirdo, in that respect.
  5. “Batman and Mario are most certainly real and how dare you question their existence?!”  That conversation not only took place, but I felt sure that Gabe was looking at resumes for other mothers on the slick afterward.  I’ve learned that Mario, Batman, and even the Ninja Freaking Turtles are very real to little boys and damnit, do not question it until they’re at least in high school.  And even then… sore subject.
  6. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will buy you a good five minutes worth of a shower.  That’s probably it, though, unless your kids zombie out to TV.  My oldest is guilty of that, but the little one will notice five minutes in that he’s not glued to my ass.6e9e5ca87735e1e5d80de6503442e8cc
  7. Little boys are rough and sturdy, but only if you let them be that way.  When Gabe was very little (about Con’s age), I watched his every move like a hawk.  Someone called me out on it and I backed off slightly.  Now that we have Connor?  Psh.  Unless there is a tremendous amount of blood or bones jutting out, our motto is, “Shake it off.”  Insurance premiums are expensive enough without tacking on minor cut and bobo costs.
  8. Little guys will always need cuddles even if they’re embarrassed to admit it.  Gabe has turned a page in his cuddle bear life; he no longer appreciates it when I give him a kiss (or a hug!) goodbye at daycare.  I’m lucky to get a fist bump.  But, if I play my cards right and no one is looking, he hugs me tight just as I’m walking out the door.  Only for a second, though — “the guys are looking, mom.”  Connor is only cuddly on his terms… he’s catlike, in that sense.  A grouchy little turd who wants cuddles one minute and will claw your eyes out the next if he thinks you’re enjoying getting loves.  I’ve learned to be as nonchalant as possible with that kid in regards to “love time”.
  9. There is nothing little dudes won’t take apart and try to put back together.  As is the case, my house looks like a replica set of “Sanford and Sons” on the regular.  We’re working on it, but some days it doesn’t even pay to act like I care.
  10. And finally, I’ve learned that little boys are tough and rowdy and put up a great “he-man” face, but they are pretty insecure little creatures, too.  Most days I tire quickly of being constantly called upon and tugged at… but I know one day it’ll all be long gone and I’ll miss it.  Funny thing, missing what you had once it’s gone.  So this evening I think we’ll curl up on the couch once homework, bath time, and supper is done.  We’ll have popcorn and watch Hocus Pocus and I’ll live in the moment while it’s here.  And I’ll probably wonder, most likely around 10 o’clock, what else they’ll teach me.  And I’ll wish I knew where the time goes and why, when it does, does it go so quickly.

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Connor Turning Two

Connor Turning Two

My littlest grizzly bear,

Time has flown by in a whirlwind, leaving you at an altogether difficult age for all parties involved.  You, vehemently searching for your independence — all the while still needing momma & daddy; and the rest of us, wanting you to find your independence so we can catch our breath — all the while needing you to want us a little while longer.  You, not unlike the daunting task that is parenting, are a ticking time bomb wrapped in a riddle.  To say I have enjoyed every moment of your life would be false.  You are HARD.  You are WILLFUL.  You are the toe up my nose every God bless-ed morning at 2 A.M.  But you are also an award winning hug giver.  You are the smile and the giggle every afternoon at five when I pick you up from daycare.  You are my “for no other reason than to flush the toilet” toilet flusher.  You are part of my heart-song and the reason for our hard cider stocked fridge.  Most importantly, you are my beautiful, blue-eyed, old-soul little boy.  And I love, love, love you.

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One day you will grow up for good; you will not remember the headaches you caused any more than you will recall the smiles you so casually produced.  You will grow up to be tough and strong, despite your small stature.  You will be fearless and bold; I hope you will also be kind and compassionate.  But for now, you are the hell-raising, ankle-biting age of two.  Compassion and kindness are not often synonymous with “terrible twos”, so I will keep praying that you develop those traits.  Until then, here are some things about you that I am somewhat fond of:

  • You call anything not water, “moke”.  Probably because I made the mistake of giving you a sip of my Coke once, and in a fit of desperation to get you to drink anything else, I called your apple juice, “Coke”.  You replied, “moke?”  And so it stuck.  I have no shame.
  • You love hot dogs (no judgment, Earth Mommas) but refuse to eat them if I cut them up.  So I watch you like a hawk anytime a hot dog of any ilk is in your presence.
  • You are your bubba’s biggest fan.  Which is crazy, because before you came along, I thought I would always be his biggest fan.  But you have beaten me, bar none.
  • If I’d let you, you’d eat a family size box of gummies EVERY DAY OF YOUR EXISTENCE.  But hey, if a bag of gummies gets you to relinquish your pacifier and get out the door every morning, then so be it.  Again, no shame.
  • In keeping with the “m” theme, you call your binky (pacifier) “mink”.  Actually, you always say, “my mink! my mink! my mink!” anytime you’re looking for it — even if it’s in your chubby little hand.  I’m going to miss that one day… but probably only after we’ve paid off your braces for pacifier-induced overbite.  You also call Mickey Mouse “meeka moush”.
  • You are a foodie most days, but only on your terms.  If food is not made to your liking, or if you’re simply not in an eating mood, to the floor it goes.  Or my hair.  Or to the walls.  Wherever.  Did I mention that you’re a hard kid?  If not, there it is.
  • You twirl my hair when you are falling asleep.  This is sweet but also painful.  I recently cut my hair and you were not happy with me.  Don’t worry, though; my scalp is paying for my treason.
  • You say “please” (peesh), “thank you” (tay-too), and “bless you” (bess ooo) without prompt and with much gusto.  And if thanks are not reciprocated?  Well, it’s no skin off your back to simply repeat it a million times.  We’ve learned to belt out a quick, “Thanks Con”.  But one day, when I’m grilling you for, “Yes ma’am” or, “thanks”, I’ll miss it.
  • You still love being tickled and you LOVE playing in homemade tents or peek-a-boo with Gabe.  You should know that he loves it — even if he is five going on sixteen.
  • Speaking of,  your bubba adored you from the moment we found out about you.  He was three, then.  You are his buddy and he is your hero.  Most days the two of you are inseparable.  Hearing you both cackle makes my heart beat harder than I ever dreamed possible.  Until I hear a crash… or nothing at all.  Then my heart beats with the fear of a thousand lost souls.  Time moves like icebergs as I’m rushing to see who is dangling who by who’s toes… or who has climbed the bookshelf… you get the idea.
  • You mourn (literally, mourn) for Gabe every weekend that he is gone until he comes back.  Then, in an instant, those little eyes turn from gloom to euphoria.
  • Your dad comes home on Fridays more often than not.  The moment you hear the door, you run to him as though you hadn’t seen him for years.  I love that.
  • You wait for me at the door every day before I pick you guys up from daycare.  I love that, too.
  • You call blueberries, grapes, and strawberries “bapples”.  You call apples “berries”.  And you call bananas, “nuh-nana’s”.

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You are a mess, my love.  A wonderful, loud, chaotic little mess in size four tennis shoes.  But you are MY mess.  OUR mess.  And we love you as big as the sky.  Happy birthday, my little bear.

Love,
Momma

Can I Get a Sleep Stunt Double?

Can I Get a Sleep Stunt Double?

Lemme tell you guys a little something about myself (if you don’t already know):  I hate co-sleeping.  Hate. It.

I’m not talking about my husband, so much.  That is, until he puts his big, cold man feet on me or steals the covers.  Then, maybe.  But, no — I’m talking about the children.  The Hobbitses.  The little people that siphon energy and live off of sleep-hungry parents, such as ourselves.  The boys can sleep anywhere: vehicles, Target, high chairs… but when we need them to sleep?  When we announce last call for bedtime?  When we’re begging and pleading and reading the millionth story and getting the thousandth cup of freaking water??  No dice.  “Sleep?  What is this sleep you speak of, crazy woman?!”

C. sleeping in his highchair.  Because it's not his bed, that's why.
C. sleeping in his highchair. Because it’s not his bed, that’s why.

See that picture?  That’s Con sleeping in his high chair.  Because it’s not his bed, that’s why.  Also, please pardon the mess; he’d just eaten dinner.  By eating dinner, I mean painting with it and the passing the hell out because why not.  Anyway… back to the horrors of co-sleeping.  Last night, after we’d eaten dinner, completed homework and chores, and had our “stalling in the bathtub because I don’t want to go to bed” bath-time, I attempted to put both guys down to bed.  It was 8:30, right on time, and God bless it, they simply weren’t having it.  Gabe was all, “MO-OM!  We’ve only read four stories!  I wanted five!  SEE?? I’m THIS many, so we need one more story!  Mo-om!  MOM!”  And Connor, of course, caught his second wind after having fallen asleep in his oatmeal and was just… everywhere.  Does it make me a bad mom for having considered just leaving him in the chair, covered in oatmeal, just so he’d stay asleep?  ‘Cause I’d be straight-up lying if I said the thought had never occurred to me.  In fact, it “occurred” to me while I washed the dishes (while he was still in the high chair), helped Gabe with homework (see: high chair), and completed some back-to-school paperwork (..ditto).  It even occurred to me when I went to go start the bath.  In fact, on the way to the bathroom I distinctly remember thinking, “He’s safe and buckled in.  Not like he’s stirring, or anything.  Gah-dangit, I have to wake it up.”

Anyway, I succeeded in getting Gabe to sleep only by threat of removing Mario Kart from his very existence until he’s forty.  Connor… I wasn’t so lucky.  My shadow isn’t as glued to my ass as Connor is, guys.  So, I stayed up with him.  I thought, “Maybe if I watch enough Murder, She Wrote, he’ll pass out.”  As if!  I watched half a season of Murder, She Wrote before turning it off.  I’m not going to say I was getting ideas, because I wasn’t… but if I had.  Oh, if I had.  So off to my bed we went.  I did the usual “prepare the bed for the acrobatic toddler” routine and laid pillows everywhere (knowing that they’re only there for peace of mind), and attempted to wrangle the bull that is Connor.  Around midnight, he finally dozed off.  I must have done likewise shortly after, because before I knew it is was 3 o’clock in the morning and Gabe was there.  In the middle of the bed.  Leaving a good two feet of bed UNUSED.  I’ve drawn a primitive diagram for your enjoyment of my misery:

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Yes, Legos.  I’m telling you — they turn up when you least expect them.  They were NOT there when I laid down.  At least, I don’t think so.  Anyway, this was at 3 A.M.  It gets better (…worse??):

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My kids are contortionists, I tell you.  In a past life, I’m sure both were members of the Russian circus… flying off the trapeze and managing to move their bodies through tiny hoops of fire.  Apologies for the roughness of my drawings — much like there is a reason for my not being a dancer, there is also good reason why I am not a cartoonist.  The bottom two images are between 4 AM and no sleep o’clock when I decided to say, “Screw it,” and removed myself from the clutches of drool-covered toddler hands.  Oddly enough, I was still running later than I would have liked to have been for work.  Hell, at least I can stare blankly through the windshield while I’m driving to work.  That’s pretty much as close to sleep as I’m going to get to for the next, oh… rest of my days.  What is that in dog years, I wonder?  Gah, I’m tired.

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an actual cartoon from an actual, and one of my favorite, cartoonists.
Reliving the Terrible Twos

Reliving the Terrible Twos

Before Connor, I thought I had learned a lot about parenting in general.  Gabe was almost four when Connor made his grand entrance, and in nearly four years I considered myself a “parenting pro”.  These days, I consider myself a parenting buffoon.  Bill Cosby said it best when he said this in one of his routines:

“[Two children] qualifies, because a person with one child, I don’t really call them a parent… because there are too many things left out.  For instance, if something’s broken in the house, you have one child, you know who did it! See, you don’t have to go through “I… I… I…”. You know the child did it! Also, people with one child do not have to go through “Willyoustoptouchingme?” I mean, if you got one child and the child is doing that, then you gotta take it away.”

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And he was right, y’all.  The older I get, the funnier that man becomes to me.  I don’t care if everyone is butt-hurt over whatever happened forty years ago.  The man was a parenting genius, and it’s funny because it all rings true.

Like I said, before I had Connor I thought I had this whole parenting gig figured out.  Gabe was such a good baby and not that bad of a toddler.  I knew what he needed and what he wanted, and unless I was at school or work, he had my undivided attention.  When I was pregnant with Con, Evan & I included him on everything throughout my pregnancy and I can say with certainty that he never felt left-out or unwanted.  He loved Connor from the moment he knew about him (adores him to this day) and was over the moon when he finally got to meet “liddle brudder”.  I was positive that having two would be no different except for the obvious addition.  I was WRONG.

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Two years and a few figurative heart-attacks later, I realize just how retarded I must have sounded to anyone who already had multiple children.  My house is a wreck.  My nerves… they’re a wreck.  I have forgotten the meaning of sleep and sanity, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even humanly possible to be SO PISSED OFF at my kids and at the same time LOVE THEM EVEN MORE than I did prior to pissed off-dom.  It’s a crazy thing, parenting two children (or maybe just boys…?  dunno).  Don’t get me wrong — single-kid parenting had its challenges.  Like… ah, hell.  I can’t think of anything.  Because everything that I used to think was hard or a pain in the ass… it really wasn’t, in hindsight.  There was a point when Gabe was challenging and I remember thinking, “How… the hell do people do this?!”  And now all I can do is laugh at my former self.

Connor has surpassed, “challenging”.  If I’d given birth to Connor first, the likelihood of there having been a second child would have been… not at all likely.  Connor is night to Gabe’s day.  I’ve never met such a strong-willed kid.  At least, I’ve never met such a strong-willed child that I didn’t want to throat punch on occastion*.  Forget the terrible two’s; Connor knows no prejudice to any age.  After six months, the jig was up, and he went from sweet, tiny little thing, to HOLY HELL, DON’T GIVE IT FOOD AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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I love both of my boys, don’t get me wrong.  I only joke about all of this because I make horrible, ugly faces when I’m crying, and I’m not trying to do that to you guys.  That said, isn’t adding levity to some situations the best way to get over them or to keep one’s sanity?  Gabe has his faults, that’s for sure.  Connor isn’t alone in antics and shenanigans.  But Gabe isn’t as good at hiding his shenanigans; craftiness isn’t his strong suit.  That’s probably for the best since the (almost) two year old seems to think he’s Billy the Kid incarnate.  I am officially taking a backseat to parents who have more than two kids and who have not lost their minds.  Hats off to you guys — I really have no idea how you do it.  And SAHM’s?  Know that I’m sending you a mental Nobel Prize.  Staying home with 2+ ankle biters under the age of 18, and without visions of straitjackets in your head… that’s both admirable and terrifying.  Meanwhile, I’m over here trying my best to not spill my beer while I’m rocking in a corner come  two o’clock every afternoon.  All kids are different.  Maybe not wildly different as is the case with my boys, but they’re different nonetheless.  What discipline or praise may work on one child will probably not work on the next.. or the next, or the next, etc.

For example, Gabe came home the other day with a report on unusually bad behavior.  I took away Legos and anything with a screen.  His chore list increased, as well.  I told him that he could earn stuff back over the course of a few days if I received reports of good behavior.  Over the week, he steadily earned back his freedom.  I haven’t gotten a bad report on that kid since.

Connor doesn’t learn that way.  Let’s just say that we have a local exorcist on speed dial.  We’re still trying to figure out what gets his attention.  Granted, he is two.  But I’d already figured out Gabe’s kryptonite at this age, so I’m hopeful that Connor’s will turn up soon.

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Connor is not all bad, obviously.  He can be so sweet and he is smart and wildly independent.  I know his independence can eventually be great thing.  Gabe has to work for things; not that he’s stupid or slow, because he’s not.  But if you’ve kept up with my posts you know what little road blocks Gabe has had to learn around.  Connor comes by things naturally and with ease; he clearly does not have all the disadvantages Gabe does.  And I’m thinking that’s a big part of his current problem.  He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it; he just can’t quite figure out how to communicate that.  It will come, in time… and with that time his attitude will smooth out.  Until then, I’ll be over here hugging myself, with or without the help of a jacket.  The Terrible Twos are here… and I’m still not ready for them.
*No children were harmed in the writing before, during, or after this post.
**Day drinking was also not a factor.

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Potty training.  It’s a bitch.  I hate it, y’all.  I know it’s a necessary evil, but gah.  It’s awful.  I started potty training Gabe around 18 months.  He didn’t care for it then, and, if I’m being honest, he still doesn’t like taking the time to go do the doo.  He does it anyway, obviously.  But he was a tough one to teach.  His SPD didn’t help matters and by the time the four year mark rolled around we were both a crying mess.  Finally he caved and I never figured out why he did.  I chose not to question the potty-training gods, though, and let well enough alone.

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Nearly two years later and Connor is actually showing signs of wanting to train.  So long as all he has to do is pull off all his clothes and run around bare assed.  The moment his little cheeks touch the plastic kiddy toilet, he’s up and done.  Running through the house in a flash.  Gabe liked books and small toys, so getting him to sit on the toilet was never an issue.  It was getting him to go while sitting on the toilet.  But Connor doesn’t like to sit still; he’d rather be climbing and streaking.  I figure he’ll be 40 by the time he’s finally trained to not drop trou and to use the toilet efficiently.

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Anywho.  A few years ago, Huggies had this PullUps commercial that I loathed.  I was a little bitter (okay, a lot bitter) about Gabe’s lack of progress and the Huggies mom was all put together and had built this sort of kinetic speedway for her kid’s first flushed BM or whatever.  Who the hell has the time for that?!  I mean, let’s be real here.  I’m not even going to lie; the whole premise behind it was genius.  And mad props to whoever put that bad boy together.  But I am not about to put together a kinetic freaking speedway the span of my entire house just because of a movement.  I’m not.  Because who’s gonna have to pick up that mess?  Mom.  Not to mention, that kind of thing gets to be expected and I am most definitely not constructing a different kind of celebratory racetrack every time one of the kids decide to save their underwear.  Not until I get a volunteer to do the dishes.  Which, with my luck, will never happen.

I’m kind of aggravated with all the hype of speed-training and over-rewarding-training.  Whatever happened to simple potty training?  Why make everybody feel like a parental failure and a potty training flop because we’re not throwing confetti and showing off engineering skills for something is natural?  It’s just ridiculous.  I mean, I’m not offended.  Really, I’m not even bitter (regardless of how the post sounds).  I’m just irritated.  Who the hell does that?  I’m the ultimate shortcut taking mom.  It’s not that I don’t care and it’s not that I can’t be enthusiastic.  But I keep it real.  And, real talk?  I’m up every freaking morning at five.  I get us all dressed and ready, fed, and chauffeured to various locations.  I work from 8-5 and in-between random doctor visits and occupational/speech therapies.  I maneuver around this errand and that errand and come home to clean my atom-bomb survivor house, cook dinner, and hose off the kids who appear to have trekked through a mud-pit at some point earlier in the day.  The fact that I’m not bribing my kids with candy and junk food is a friggin miracle and they’re doing good to get there chore list tackled.

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I guess bottom-line what really chaps me is this constant pressure to be a perfect parent.  I hung that dream up years ago.  And I’m alright with that.  Because making mistakes is part of the learning process.  And at the end of the day, I’m entitled to screw my kids up at least a little bit.  I love my boys and if I haven’t made that clear enough then I guess I’m not the mom I hoped to be.  But I make my kids learn by trial and error.  They have their own duties (even the one year old) and they answer for their mistakes (even the one year old).  They’re smart little guys and I put probably too much faith in their abilities.  So if my one-year old can load clothes into the dryer, wash his own hands, and bring me a diaper when he’s dirty, then he can potty train a la old school.  If constructing expressways in my bathroom is the only standing between me and good parenting, then so be it.  I’m too busy wiping butts and cleaning pee off the walls to care.

If a Taco Falls and a Five Year Old’s Around…

If a Taco Falls and a Five Year Old’s Around…

…does it make a sound?  According to Gabe, yes.  I’m gonna go ahead and put it out there that this post isn’t exactly politically correct.  So, if you get butt-hurt too easily, move on.  Should you choose to stick around, please take note that the following conversation happened between me and my five year old who doesn’t even like hurting spiders, let alone people’s feelings.  We don’t teach hate and we all share a fondness for most things TexMex.  That said, let’s move forward.

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While watching Big Hero 6 on my laptop at work:

Gabe: Mom.  The movie’s making taco noises.

Me: Do what?

G: The movie.  It sounds like tacos.

Me: *typing* That’s nice…..

Five minutes later…

G: Mo-om!  It still sounds like tacos!

At this point, I stop what I’m doing and listen in case the disc is skipping.  It wasn’t.  They were speaking SPANISH.

Through a fit of laughter I managed to get out:

M: Baby.  They’re speaking Spanish.  Not tacos.

G: Sure sounds like tacos to me, mom.  But you’re old.. so okay.

 

i need this in my life.
i need this in my life.

Y’all, I about fell out of my chair.  And on the menu tonight… nachos.  Because tacos.

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Twenty-Seven

I turned twenty-seven on Saturday morning.

At 8:10 A.M. Saturday morning if you want to be über specific like my mom.  But it’s cool if you’re more into generalities.  I feel ya.

Anyway.  I’m twenty-seven now.  I feel no different than I did the year before or the year before that.  In fact, I feel better than I did after my twentieth birthday (hello, hangover!).  Now that I’m a responsible absent-minded mother of two, I have no time to properly cultivate a good (?) hangover.  And for that, I am thankful.  I was never good at that scene, anyway.  And for that, I am also thankful.

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I’ve learned a lot in my twenty-seven years on the planet.  I’m a little embarrassed sometimes at what I don’t know.  But, in a quote paraphrased from the humble-yet-wise Socrates, “The wise man knows that he knows nothing,”  I must be freaking brilliant because there are days I don’t even know where my own head is.  Sometimes, I feel like I know too much.  Y’all know what I mean.  Those little moments that spring up and you wish to God that he’d not forgotten to install the memory erase button?  Yeah.  We’ve all been there.  All too often.

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So here’s a list of things I’ve learned during my time on the planet.  Some are pretty obvious.  Some may be familiar to your own learning experience.  Some, admittedly, are kind of dumb.  You’ve been warned.

  1. No amount of fibbing, wishing, or praying can take back or erase a text message.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU’RE TEXTING/IM’ing?/EMAILING THE RIGHT PERSON.  Take it from me and foot-in-mouth disease.
  2. Baby pictures always seem to come up in doubles and triples.  You burned the album of baby bath pictures?  Congratulations.  Keep looking, though.  ‘Cause your mom’s probably got two other identical albums stashed away for such purposes.
  3. You will get used to being puked, pee’d, and pooped on by your children.  No matter how old they are.  Other people’s kids… and other people?  You will still probably get queasy at the least and/or prepare for a body fluid domino effect at the worst.  Luckily, I seem to have inherited an iron gut.  Thank you, sweet baby Jesus.
  4. Anytime I hear, “MOM!” I turn around.  It’s a reflex.  I don’t care whose kid he or she is… I will turn around.  And I’ll probably answer.  Crying babies = ditto.  It’s a curse, I tell you.  I even hear it in my sleep.
  5. Road rage gets worse with age.  Add children to the mix, and it’s a homicidal breakdown waiting to happen.  Unless you’re super into finding “inner peace”.  In which case, you suck.  And you’re probably the reason my road rage is the way it is.
  6. I always thought that (road rage aside) I would be pretty reasonable growing up.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a woman and my mood has a hormone switch that goes from 0-60 in .00001 seconds.  Regardless, I always assumed I could keep my emotions and mouth mostly in check.  Again, enter children.  And if life has taught me anything, it’s that I can bark at my children any time of the day.  And that it’s out of love. . . mostly. But if anyone else barks at my kids?  LAWD HAVE MERCY, JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL… ’cause I’m about to come unhinged on you.  Back it on up, honey.  Back it on up.
  7. Groceries are mad expensive.  If groceries keep going on up, we ain’t movin’ on up to the east side.  I never thought that being an adult would be so costly.  I don’t know how I ever thought that, honestly, having grown up with two working parents.  But I got a good taste of it at twenty-one when I had Gabe.  And I’ve been a bit of a money hoarder ever since.  Don’t get any ideas and think you’re going to rob me blind, though.  The government’s doing a good enough job at that by…
  8. …”giving” me shit insurance.  The mythical definition of insurance is: the act, business, or system of insuring life, property, etc against loss or harm.  I’ve learned, though, that the literal definition of insurance is: to rob middle-class Americans blind before retirement so that retirement is only legends heard of as children.  True story.
  9. On topic with groceries: ALWAYS make a list and NEVER go hungry.  And if you have kids and can help it, go after nap time or “butt-crack of dawn” early.  Trust me.
  10. It took me some time, but I figured out that it isn’t the number of friends a person has at any given point.  It’s the quality of the relationships.  In my life, I’ve been blessed with great friendships.  Some have come and gone for a spell, others have stuck it out.  The relationships I have these days are precious to me.  I don’t see these people often and we can’t talk every day due to… well, life.  But I know if ever I need a hand, someone will come running.  And I’m proud to be able to do the same for them.
  11. I’m in the process of learning that sometimes all I need is the support from the hubs and that sometimes all he needs is my support.  Whether it be physical, mental, emotional… even silent… we’re a team.  It’s harder a road than I thought it would be some days, and other days it’s pretty easy to fall in line with.
  12. Marriage is hard in general.  But for us, divorce isn’t an option.  Because what good is holding guilt over someone’s head for 50+ years if everything ends seven years in?  I’m kidding, y’all.  Seriously, though. . . we’ve already experienced some hard-hitting stuff.  And it’s been tough.  And some days it might have been easier to throw in the towel.  But ultimately, he’s my weirdo.  So I guess we’re staying put.
  13. No matter what they tell you, childbirth is the easy part.  Third degree tear?  C-Sections?  Please.  Wait until you’re hiding in the pantry with a pint of Haagen Dazs and a shot of whatever beverage (adult or not) is within arms reach, praying that your kids won’t get up from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and discover your hiding place.  Parenting has it’s good days.  But it definitely has it’s “hide out in the pantry and pray bedtime carries it’s ass” days, as well.  But chillax — that should mean you’re doing it right.
  14. When you’re young, crying and flirting will probably get you out of a ticket.  When you’re a mother, you pray the police have a heart and let you go because, “the baby only sleeps when the car is in motion… and he’s about to blow a gasket.”
  15. The same does not apply to grocery store clerks who could care less that $0.78 a pound is ridiculous for bananas and that you missed the sale for teething biscuits.
  16. High school seems like an eternity.  College finals can be daunting.  Hold on, man.  The end is near.
  17. Family is pretty much an extraordinary thing.  And I’m not just talking biological (see #9).  My kids call my best friends aunt & uncle.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because having learned about Gabe’s three girlfriends (two at school and one at daycare), I’m ready to call in the troops with our rocking chairs and guns in hand.  Paintball guns, y’all… don’t get your panties in a twist.
  18. A night out with the girls is amazing and just what the doctor ordered.  Whether you’re single, in a relationship, married/divorced with kids… whatever.  A night out with your pals is the ultimate in refreshing.  Guys, same goes for you.  Just keep it clean, ladies and gents.  Social media, you know.
  19. An evening out with the hubs/little lady is even better.  If you have kids, try not to talk about the weird stuff that comes out of their noses or how cute or hilarious it was because it kind of looked like Abraham Lincoln.  Talk about yourselves… or anything else, for that matter.  You only have a few hours to pretend that you’re childless.  Revel in it,
  20. I figured I’d be a “progressive” woman when I was younger.  That I could hang out with guy friends solo and still be in a relationship.  You can’t and, really, you shouldn’t want to risk it.  Not that anything would happen.  And I’m not trading in my independence for an apron and a 1950’s edition of Southern Living Recipes.  But unless Ev can be around, it can’t happen.  Ditto for him.  I’ve learned that things can happen, it’s my job as a spouse to try and keep things from happening.  Accidental or not.
  21. It took me several years, but it hit me a while back that my little brother is one of my best friends.  And why not?  We’ve seen a lot together.  My kids adore him.  He’s pretty cool.  It was one of the best realizations I’ve ever had.
  22. I have learned and relearned that you can’t make people love and respect you.  Those are two things that come naturally and cannot be forced.  It can be learned, absolutely.  And I’d say that a learned love and respect can be the best kind.  But you can’t make it happen.  And when you come to terms with that fact, you can live a more content life than you could imagine.
  23. I said it once recently, but it’s worth a repeat.  When I was younger, I was scared of everything.  I was content to sit idly in the background.  Having little ones changed that in me slowly but surely.  If you ever have the opportunity to have little ones and give up some pretty sacred pieces of yourself, do it.  It’s amazing.  Even on the Haagen Dazs days.
  24. Unless you’re born into money or have the power to summon wild wealth on a whim, new business ventures are scary.  But once you see things taking form and going forward, it’s a pretty cool experience.  Definitely equal parts cool and risky.
  25. Buying a house is a pain in the ass.  But to get out from under a rent note is a relief.  Moving is also a pain in the ass.  Find reliable friends to help.  Cook for them.  Laugh with them.  Mark boxes FRAGILE.  Drink after all is said and done if necessary.
  26. If you take note of nothing else I’ve mentioned, do yourself a favor and write this down: Remember to laugh.  It’s easy to get down and discouraged sometimes.  Remember to laugh… even if you have to find something to laugh at.
  27. Lastly, the past twenty-seven years has been a roller coaster of up’s, down’s, and twirly loops.  In twenty-seven years, Gabe will be nearing thirty three and Connor twenty-nine.  I’ll be fifty freaking four.  There may be grandchildren… possible retirement.  Who the hell knows.  I’m still learning how to navigate the ride, but I’m ready for the next go around.