Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finding Beauty in the Chaos

“I don’t suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it,” was Edgar Allen Poe describing my sentiments exactly.

So this is how my morning started a few days ago: I sent Michael off to the bathroom, and he came barreling back at full speed with a texas-sized grin on his face. Using the potty is a really big deal You’ve got to be kidding me!* I know he never washes his hands without me reminding him a dozen times, so it couldn’t be clean, soapy water all over my lips. This is the conversation that followed:
when you’re three. I tried to give him a kiss, but he was already running off and all I could grab was his hand. I planted one right on his arm only to find out it was dripping wet. *

Me: Gross! Michael, why is your arm wet?
Michael: Because my toothbrush was wet!
Me: (Huge sigh of relief) Oh! Thank goodness. Your toothbrush.
Michael: Yeah, I dropped my toothbrush in the toilet.
Me: (NOOOOOOO!!!!)

Just another manic Monday. Did I imagine this is where I would be at 27 years old? Scrubbing toilet water off my face? Absolutely not. My life is complete chaos. And I love it. Okay, I don’t always love when they decide to simultaneously melt down in the middle of aisle 3 as I’m pushing a cart full of groceries. But I DO try to find the beauty in that chaos. Like, if I just keep my chin up and soldier on, I know I can make it to aisle 4…and that’s where the wine is!

A lot of people think I’m crazy when they hear I’ve got (almost) four kids, and my response to them: Yes, I am. Anyone who decides to have kids—whether it be 1 or 10—has to be a little bit nuts, don’t you think? Giving up the life you’re used to so you can cater to someone else’s needs 24/7 doesn’t seem like a totally rational decision. I used to be completely sane (I think!). Now I find myself in heated debates with my 2-year old over which Paw Patrol pup is the coolest. He always wins, by the way. Have you ever tried arguing with a toddler? It’s kind of of like trying to reason with a brick wall…if that brick wall could grunt, throw things, and repeatedly use the word “poopy” while spitting milk bubbles out of his nose. But, gosh it’s fun!

Yes, I know every word to every word to Frozen; yes, I stay in most Friday and Saturday nights playing Pretty Pretty Princess or Poopy Heads (that’s a real game!); yes, I spend more money on diapers than designer clothes; So yes, I may be completely crazy to have all these kids, but the joy this constant state of chaos brings me is indescribable and unparalleled.  

I often think that the days drag on and on and I find myself eagerly anticipating 8 o’clock so I can throw them in their beds and enjoy some much-needed time with my long-lost husband. Then a year flies by and I’m left wondering where the time went. A great friend of mine recently reminded me how important it is to stop and enjoy the mundane moments, to appreciate the beauty in the chaos. Tonight after dinner, I sat holding the boys on my lap with Charli breathing down my neck as we crowded around my computer watching the “Alphabutt” song. Yes, that’s a real thing and is exactly what is sounds like. (Click the link if you’re looking to channel your inner 3-year old!) Even though we replayed that dumb song 57 times, hearing their belly laughs never gets old. And when I have to go back into their rooms time and time again because they want more bedtime kisses…that never gets old either. Before I know it, I’ll be the one begging for those kisses, so I want to soak it all up now—preferably without the toilet water.

Friday, July 10, 2015

My Kids Are Trying to Kill Me

My kids are trying to kill me. They appear to be sweet and innocent, but in reality they are just tiny geniuses that spend their days plotting my demise. And I’m starting to crack. Let’s start with the toys. To the untrained eye, my house simply looks like a tornado came careening through it. But take a closer look and you might see that they have meticulously placed their Legos, Barbie shoes, and matchbox cars right at the bottom of the steps or outside my bedroom door. This trick usually results in the obvious I-hate-the-bottom-of-my-feet-right-now feeling. But if they’re lucky, my knees buckle at the pain shooting through my feet and I fall on said toys, piercing my knees and palms as well. Accident? I think not! If they’re feeling particularly malicious, they line these death traps up next to their beds and scream for me in the wee hours of the morning, just so they can catch me when I’m most vulnerable.

Does the torment stop there? Of course not. As of late, these masterminds have enjoyed taking the loudest, most obnoxious toy they own and placing it next to my pillow, so when I roll over the stupid thing goes off, giving me the heart attack they hoped for. They get extra points for using the seemingly-possessed doll that flashes its eyes open and closed while crying for Mama. I would LOVE to have a chat with whichever toymaker came up with that idea. They clearly did not have children of their own.

The only time I’m truly safe from their scheming is when they are asleep. Have you ever watched a child sleep? It is truly one of the most angelic things in the world. There are several times when I stand next to their beds and just stare at them. What I never thought of, however, was that my kids would do the same thing to me. But they don’t just watch me sleep and then silently leave my room. No. They get two inches from my face and scream-whisper, “Mommy! Wake up!”

I would like to blame each of my kids equally, but I have a feeling these are primarily the workings of my 5-year old inciter with help from her minions. What they’re really doing is playing an unfair hand. I cannot (in good conscience) reciprocate with death-plots of my own. I guess my payback will have to wait until they’re older, and it will come in the form of curfews, rules, chores, and volunteering to chaperone every high school dance.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Don't Say B*** on an Airplane (Hint: That Word is Baby)

Have you ever been on an airplane and the person next to you insists on making pleasant conversation for the entire flight? Now imagine…instead of a friendly stranger, it’s a wild, screaming two-year old who missed his nap, refused to eat lunch, and (shockingly) doesn’t want to be confined to a tiny seat for 2 hours.

This was my life about a month ago when we decided to take three kids on a plane. You could practically see the dread as we made our way down the narrow aisle on the plane, people's eyes pleading, "Don't sit near me. Don't sit near me!" I had seen some mom in the news that made individual bags of goodies for the people sitting near her baby and thought how brilliant that was! It acts as a buffer so they don’t immediately hate you for sitting within earshot of their seat. Then I remembered I have three children and don’t have time to be considerate towards the feelings of others anymore. Besides, if I had to suffer through it, so should they! At least after the two-hour flight their headache stops. (I’m just kidding! I really do love my children.) And in all honesty, the kids were behaving really well, thanks in large part to my husband who is seriously the best dad in the world. He always manages to keep them entertained with his endless supply of goofy tricks, so I sat back to relax. They were perfectly content. And that’s how I knew we were doomed.

There’s only so long your kids can act like little angels before something will undoubtedly go wrong. And we had hit our limit. We still had an hour to go in our flight and this time it was baby Ollie’s turn to grey my hair a little bit. He got quiet. Too quiet. I looked over at his scrunched up little face right before he let out that first grunt. Oh crap…literally.

What in the world was I supposed to do?! Have you ever been in an airplane bathroom? Yup…no room for a changing table in there. So I have a few options: A) I pretend it wasn’t my kid and blame the old lady in front of me. B) Squeeze the two of us into that pea-sized bathroom and wash his butt in the sink, or C) change him on my lap in (I kid you not) the very middle of the plane so everyone gets to enjoy it. So which option did I choose? You guessed it—option C. I was the asshole mom who chose to ruin everyone else’s happiness. By this point in my life, however, I pride myself in my ability to change diapers at lightning-fast speed, and I was on top of my game that day. I had him changed in less than 20 seconds. My husband—who was sitting in the same row—didn’t even notice. I call that one a win for mom.  I stowed the funky diaper in the bottom of my diaper bag, put everything I owned on top of it to hide the smell, and prayed for a peaceful end to that flight. So next time you’re sitting next to that sometimes-too-friendly stranger on an airplane, you can think back to this story and count your blessings.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kids, Cleaning, & Chaos

There’s a quote that says, “Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids.” On any given day, I can promise you that 80% of that quote is accurate in our household. The whole “happiness” thing is usually hit or miss. But I think the concept is spectacular! Spending time making memories with your kids is more important than keeping a clean house. And it is a rule I have chosen to live by. Not that I necessarily want to spend more time with my kids, but I so badly don’t want to clean, I’ll gladly use them as an excuse to avoid the task! I’m only kidding. I love playing games with them. It keeps me young. My self-image, however, has taken a bit of a hit. I never get to play the beautiful princess—I am usually relegated to the role of “Big Ugly Witch” (which I must say I’ve mastered over the years). I also really enjoy hide-and-seek, which we play for multiple hours on end, everyone using the exact same hiding spot every…single…time.  And although it can be a bit monotonous, every 5th time or so I shake things up by hiding under the blankets on my bed and get a good 10 minutes of quiet before they find me and I’m back into the fray. The kids usually choose to hide under piles of clothes and toys, if that gives you any indication of just HOW messy our house is on a daily basis.
                  I often think I have the messiest house on earth. I recently found that MUST be true when our 4-year old took it upon herself to clean the bathroom. Charli (who is learning about money by earning little allowances for helping out around the house) left to use the restroom and never returned. So, like a good mom, I set down my bon-bons, got off the couch and went to look for her. She was drying off the countertop of what appeared to be someone else’s bathroom. It was so clean! No toothpaste globs in the sink. No soap scum around the knobs. I was amazed…until I learned just HOW she cleaned so thoroughly. Let’s just say Michael’s toothbrush probably tasted a little funny the next time he used it.

That was almost as surprising as the time I walked into MY bathroom and found Charli standing there holding a towel and wearing a deer-in-the-headlights look. I was hoping she had cleaned it too, but I was very wrong. Our conversation went something like this:

                  Me: What are you doing?
                  Charli: I wanted to use your big girl potty.
                  Me: Oh, okay! But why are you holding that towel?
                  Charli: Sometimes when I pee, it goes down my leg.
I quickly hung Jim’s towel back on the rack, helped her wash her hands, and had a prompt discussion on proper wiping technique. (Jim, if you’re reading this…I’m sorry.)
                  I guess I’ve come to grips with the fact that my untidy house will never look like Martha Stewart’s, and I’m ok with that. There is nothing I would rather do than spend all my days hanging out with those rugrats. But hey, maybe if Martha had little kids at home she’d spend more time playing with them and less time playing the stock market!  J  Just a thought…

Monday, July 28, 2014

That Guy I Used to Have Time For

You know you’re a mom when your Friday night consists of eating popcorn in a fort made of formerly-peed-on (but recently-cleaned!) bed sheets and stained couch cushions.

You know you’re a mom when you’d rather be there, eating with your kids in that fort, than any other place in the world.

You know you’re a mom when your husband enters said fort and replaces the juice box you’re drinking with a glass of wine. And you suddenly remember just how much you love him.

I’ve had several “marriage experts” tell me that after having kids you can’t put your spouse on the backburner. Well, three kids and 16,728 diapers later (yes, I did the math), sometimes I forget that little piece of advice. They say to remember to do the little things like leaving love notes. I guess I can do that. Or have conversations about things other than bills and kids. Well, now my mind has drawn a blank. What did we used to talk about? And finally, try to look nice for one another, or more colloquially, don’t “let yourselves go.” At this point I start to think that these marriage experts must not have kids. Do you know how much effort goes into looking nice for your spouse? My average night’s sleep, which consists of about 4-5 hours, requires more makeup than any store carries in order to cover up the bags under my eyes. After nursing 3 kids, my bras need special reinforcements. My waist-line has taken a serious hit, so wearing anything but sweatpants is out of the question. And IF I get to take a shower, that means I’ve used up my 15-minute allotment of alone time for the day, which leaves no time to do anything with the bird’s nest on top of my head. So it generally hangs out in a matted clump at the base of my neck. Try to look nice? You’ve got to be kidding me!

Once upon a time, we had a date night planned. Needing more than 15 minutes, I decided to use the TV-babysitter so I could spend some extra time getting ready.  I was nearly finished and feeling good. Then Charli walked in. She looked at me and ever-so-innocently said, “Mom! You look so pretty. Can I go to Wal-Mart too?” Four years old and she has already mastered the backhanded compliment. But hey, if it’s good enough for the folks at Wal-Mart it’s good enough for me!

I don’t doubt that I need to show more love and affection to the wonderful man in my life, who is currently enjoying a tea party with our kids—British accent included. He is an incredible dad and a wonderful husband. Now, I’m no marriage expert, but here are just a few things that have worked for us:

   1.     On a date, don’t forget their real name. It’s not quite as romantic when you accidently call your husband “Dad,” even if that’s how you refer to him 99% of the time.

   2.     Hold “hannies” (most adults refer to them as hands) whenever you get the chance. Even small acts of tenderness can help keep the flame alive.

   3.     Laugh. A lot. Which is easy when you have kids because they give you some great stories. Like the time I was trying to get Charlotte to eat her banana and her 4-year-old response to me was, “It’s quite bland. I couldn’t possibly eat it!” Yeesh…I’m in trouble.

   4.     Sneak in a nice kiss whenever you can. You spend most of your days stealing all kinds of unpleasant kisses from your kids: the snotty-nose kiss, the covered-in-drool kiss, and the sneeze/cough kiss. Every now and then it’s nice to share a smooch with someone who has a more sophisticated sense of kissing etiquette.

At the end of the day, there’s no magic key to a successful marriage. It’s hard work. Every day. It’s a lot of love, a little give-and-take, and remembering to do the little things. On that note, I think I’ll leave now and swap out my husband’s cup of tea for an ice-cold beer…