The Power Struggle is Real

Having more than one kid has turned me into a white, maternal version of Rodney King. “Can’t we all just get along?”

These little bastards will fight over anything and everything. Then they try to play it off in the most contemptuous manner. As if they have no clue how they’ve gotten into this mess in the first place. The look on their faces is a cross between Elle Woods and Forest Gump. “Who me? What did I do? No, my brother’s face just fell on my fist.”

I’m over it.

The latest power struggle is about seating placement on the couch. It starts from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep. Personally, I could care less who sits where, but these fights aren’t quiet and throughout the day I find myself hissing through clenched teeth and an angry voice, “DON’T WAKE UP THE BABY!” I can’t seem to get a handle on it and I’ve tried everything. Assigned seating, couch rules, strict monitoring of couch placement, nothing is working. They are the sneakiest little couch bandits. One minute, everything is fine, I go to the bathroom, and all hell breaks loose. I’m about one more fight away from getting rid of the couches all together. “Here you go suckers, sit on the floor.” That’ll teach ’em. Let’s be honest though, I’d be cutting off my nose to spite my own face, and ass, and circulation. I need a better plan than that.

I’m thinking of investing in a barrage of whoopee cushions and strategically placing them all along both couches. The look of complete surprise on their little argumentative faces would be priceless. Crap, that won’t work. These are boys. Fart noises are their national anthem. This is not a good idea.

Ohh, maybe I can try a shit-ton of water balloons… Haha, you wanted yummy comfort and now you’re soaking wet. But…. guess who’s going to be the one to clean up the couch, change everyone’s wet clothes and have to do an extra load of laundry? Yup, you guessed it… me. Backfire city.

OH MY G-D!!! I’ve figured it out. This idea is going to win me a Nobel Peace Prize for sure. I’m taking the cushions… ALL OF THE CUSHIONS. If you want to sit on the couch you can come to me for a cushion. You may only have one cushion at a time (this will stop all the fights over who was laying down first, who is touching whom, who’s butt is in the other brothers face, eyes, foot). This idea is parenting gold right here.

I AM THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!

Now I’m off to test operation cushion.

But first, I have to vacuum the couch.

I hope it doesn’t wake the baby.

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It’s a Small World After All

Ahh…

The epic and famous Disney World ride. When we made the pilgrimage to Disney during my childhood, I’d insist on repeating that ride on loop. My parents joked about the earworm of a song which played over and over again in their heads for the remainder of our vacation. Did I care? Nope. Not one bit. Kids are assholes like that.

Last week we took our children to the Magic Kingdom. We were in Orlando for a soccer tournament, so the theme park would be a one day event. My Husband and I had prepared ourselves for the absolute worst. Hot weather, exhaustion, a 5-month-old, 2 older children with conflicting interests and a 5 year difference in age, plus tantrums. Due to the fact that Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve alcohol, we readied ourselves like soldiers going to battle. Bad behavior would not be tolerated at any level. Even though tickets to the Disney parks now cost an insane amount of money for a family of 5, we were willing to haul ass if anyone lost their shit, including the adults. No one was going to end up like Clark W. Griswold today.

Maybe it was our attitude going in, take no prisoners, if-this-isn’t-fun-we-run attitude, that made the actual events of the day so surreal, but I’m still having a hard time believing it wasn’t a dream.

The kids were AMAZING. They were on-their-best-behavior BRILLIANT.

We actually had… wait for it, wait for it… FUN.

I know!! Family fun!! It’s like the fucking Loch Ness Monster to most parents. We walked the park, picking and choosing what we would and wouldn’t do as a unit. Many situations involved Hubby and the older boys hitting up and attraction while I fed the baby, rocked the baby, tried to keep the baby from melting. This was fine with me. Watching my sons agree, and enjoy their precious time with their father was breathtaking. “And who knows when they will ever behave this well again?” kept echoing in my subconscious. That bitch always knows how to ruin a party.

With all the new rides at Disney (completely unlike the trips of my youth), combined with the “Fast Pass” system and the insane amount of other people at the park, It’s a Small World, was never even discussed. The 3-year-old didn’t know it existed, the 9-year-old couldn’t have cared less, and me? Although it was my childhood favorite, I wasn’t about to sacrifice our fantastic vibe for a personal trip to yesteryear in 98 degree heat. That was a non-issue. As we walked past the legendary portal, I gave it a second glance. Hubby saw it in my eyes, but he knew my motives to keep on walking. They were his motives too. Harmony.

By this point in the day it was hot. Actually, hot is the understatement of the year, it was abysmal. Even as year-round Florida residents we were suffering. The baby looked a great deal more than his genetic half-Irish at this point. While looking for some shade I found the Holy Grail of the theme park… an air-conditioned, covered alcove with misting fans… HOLY SHIT!! Is this heaven? “No, it’s Iowa” quoted my inner bitch in her sarcastic tone. We’ve obviously watched Field of Dreams too often. Note to self: Don’t let the inner bitch pick movies anymore.

With my ideal spot secured, I sent the big boys along to their next ride. Our day was almost over and I was happy to have a luxurious place to feed the baby and rock him to sleep. I stood there, pushing the stroller, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. When I looked up, a woman of Asian decent had locked eyes with me from 20 feet away. She too, was pushing a stroller but with adorable, identical twins. I gestured that there was room in paradise, and she made way into my happy place with a nod of her head that sounded like thank you to my brain. We rocked our children while reading our phones, and sometimes our eyes met and we smiled. You know, that knowing mom smile? It’s the smile of being in the same boat, usually up shits creek without a paddle. I reveled in the fact that even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, we did, mom-ally.

The alcove had open air walls. People could see inside. Moms are the most resourceful and resilient bunch to ever walk the earth. When other moms saw us, and our strollers, they knew this place was comfy and safe. In the next 45 minutes we were joined by another Asian mom, a mom in a sari, and a mom in a full traditional Berka covering all but her smiling and thankful eyes to have a cool spot for her children.

That’s when it hit me like a ton-of-bricks. As an English-speaking American, I am in the minority of the ethnic pie-chart that makes up the world. That doesn’t bother me, not one bit, but as Americans, it’s easy to forget there is a whole globe of other people out there too. Other moms. Just like me. Who only want our children to be safe and happy. I’m sure that’s what Walt Disney was trying to project with It’s a Small World back in the day. Before ticket prices were exorbitant, before lines were 7 hours long, despite wars and politics dividing people. As a kid, I KNEW THAT.

Although I didn’t get to ride the actual attraction that day, I was reminded though the connection of motherhood, it’s a small world after all.

 

Running Away and Joining The Circus

The circus always freaked me out inside. On the outside I was fine.  “Yay, circus… as long as I can eat peanuts.” But not on the inside. My inside was all “Shit, the damn circus.”

It wasn’t the clowns. Everyone is always bitching about the clowns. I have no beef with clowns. Mimes, yes. Mimes are super freaky. Why are you in a box? Why are you holding a flower but everything else is expressed though gestures and accompanied by music? Yikes. Clowns, whatever. Unless we are talking about the clown from It, and I don’t think we are.

The circus freaked me out for many reasons. The complete “freak show” of it all was a big part of it, and I’m not talking the “bearded lady” or the “tattooed man”… that was never part of the circus I grew up with. Now that I live in Florida that is the crazy shit you see at the fair. I’d never been to a fair in New York. The fair is a completely different post. The freak show part of the circus (for me) was that it was a stage show, not like Shakespeare in the Park or My Fair Lady, those are actual stage shows; but that it had all of these animals and performers looking like they belonged somewhere else. I cannot think of a single thing stranger than seeing an elephant in the same place I have seen a hockey game. That’s just fucking ridiculous. I’m not even a huge animal rights advocate but at 7 years old, when my grandmother took me to the circus, I knew it didn’t fit.

As a Stay-At-Home-Mom I’m with my kids all day, everyday.

ALL DAY, EVERYDAY.

If you’re not a Stay-At-Home-Parent just let that resonate a little bit. Let it marinate in your brain until you feel it. Do you feel it? Good. If you are at home, like me, know this, I FEEL YOU!

On Sunday my husband doesn’t work, and under normal circumstances I usually get some sort of reprieve from my band of merry men. I don’t get mani’s or pedi’s or massages or facials. Usually I just leave the house for an hour. 60 minutes where I don’t have to do shit for anyone else. That is 1 hour for me out of the 168 for everyone else. Boom.

Until recently.

Hubby has been coaching a soccer team and they have had tournaments on Sunday for the last couple weeks.

Today was the first Sunday Hubby had been home in a long while.

I NEEDED A BREAK.

As I grabbed my purse and keys to “go to the store” I said.. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I’m gonna take my sweet ass time.” He smiled and nodded as I sprinted out the door like a teenager heading to a kegger.

As I put the key in the ignition I actually thought of just GOING…

Driving… driving away… far, far, away… Going to Key West… Or Miami… or joining the circus.

And that, my friends, THAT, is how batshit fucking crazy these kids can make you. They can drive you to the brink. Screw that, they can push you way beyond the brink. Screw that, I’m at the point where I don’t even recognize the brink. The brink? What brink? The fact that I even considered (just for one hot minute) running away to join the circus (an entity that I’ve always loathed in its entirety) as a happily ever after from my current home life situation says volumes in itself.

Besides, I don’t have nearly enough tattoos.

 

 

Aunt Flo Gone Wild

So this is what it’s come to…

Pitiful.

It’s almost as if my body has decided to revolt against me.

Menstruation after motherhood is straight up cruel.

I’m wearing a pair of leopard print, full bottom, granny panties to bed. Sayonara thong back. Why you ask? Oh the reason is ridiculous. After giving birth to 3 beautiful boys, I had a tubal ligation. A procedure I would do again in a heartbeat, because I know we are done having children. But I definitely would have thought twice about this decision if someone had warned me about what having my tubes tied would mean to my body, my menstrual cycle and my energy level.

The baby is 4 months and 3 weeks old. This is now the 6th time I’ve had my period since his birth. Crazy right? And this time, Aunt Flo decided to get here a week before she was scheduled. There is nothing worse than an unwanted and unexpected house guest when you have a family to think about.

Many family members act differently after you have another child. You can have jealous brothers and sisters, wishing that they too where adding children to their mix. Your own parents can either be supportive or think you have lost your damn mind, and usually, your other children are either pleased or disappointed by having a new sibling… but Aunt Flo? Aunt Flo had handled it the worst.

She never just walks in through the front door at lunchtime anymore… Nope, now her flight comes in at midnight or 2 am. You’re groggy and tired and well… bleeding like you’re dying. Aunt Flo can do that to you. Because you’ve known her a long damn time. You’re used to her bullshit. But after kids? Her bullshit has been magnified 10 times over. I really wouldn’t mind the old Aunt Flo, with her old ways. But the fact that she’s waking me up every 2 hours for clean underwear is incorrigible. I mean, the bitch has been in my life for 24 years. I should already know what’s up. Now she is no longer comfortable with the bedding I have, the towels I have, the tampons I have… now, after 24 years of “sisterhood” Aunt Flo needs pads again. Really?  What in the sweet fuck is that? Pads? I’m not 12.

Nope, not 12. The 3 children in front of me asking for fruit snacks and Slurpees are a daily reminder of my age. Sadly, Aunt Flo hasn’t gotten the memo. That bitch never checks her inbox. EVER! Honestly, after that last 5 months of the new Aunt Flo, I’m really starting to miss the first time Aunt Flo showed up unannounced.

It was a track meet in the 8th grade and I was 13. I was wearing green short shorts with gold trim (think 80’s) and my stomach hurt horribly. Of course I thought it was nerves. I had just finished a 100 yard dash and I was warming up for my long jumps. I was young. I was gangly. I was boobless. I thought I had years to go until I met Flo. That’s when Aunt Flo decided to sashay into the track meet. Decked out in a flowing red dress, red hat as if she was about to watch the Kentucky Derby, 6 inch stiletto heels and all. I left the track meet in pain and shame, dreading to tell my mother that we’d have to set up a room for my “unannounced visitor”.

I begged Mom not to tell my father. Although we were close I just didn’t think that “my” Aunt Flo was any of “his” business. Of course, he brought me home a dozen white roses and I cried. I didn’t want to have to hang out with Aunt Flo every 28 days. I didn’t want to be a “woman”. I was still just a girl.

Aunt Flo and I have never been besties. I mean, how could we be? Always wondering if she was coming… or going because Hubby had already come. Pregnancies were a lovely and wanted distraction from her monthly visits. But then our final son was born. And I guess Aunt Flo really missed me. Or she is now working with Tampax and the pad companies as a lobbyist… either way, she’s obviously teamed up with Lady Macbeth and they are, at present, playing a high stakes game of Texas Hold-em in my uterus.

Lady Macbeth just took the pot with a straight flush. I need to go lay down.

19 kids and counting? That Duggar woman is starting to seem like the smartest chick on earth.

 

Introducing Solids: 5 Easy Steps so You Don’t Lose Your Shit

So your baby is ready… or your pediatrician says your baby is ready for solid food.  If you’re a first time parent… Yay!

If you’re like me, and this ain’t your first rodeo.. not so much.

Ugh.

Starting a baby on solid food is a milestone for sure, it’s also a huge, fat, pain in the ass.  It takes babies much longer to eat solids then it does for them to drink a bottle.  They (and their little intestines) have just gotten used to processing breast-milk or formula… now lets chuck some processed vegetables or fruit into their GI tract, or, if you’re really balls-to-the-wall daring, meat.  As you can imagine, since it’s only taken anywhere from 4-6 months to get to this point, I’m sure it’s going to be a cakewalk.  Keep dreaming, John Lennon.  You will end up with something on your face, but it won’t be cake.

Step 1, Dress the part

I have loads of my friends who do Tough Mudders, Color Runs and the like.  They wear spandex and tutu’s and they are ready to get dirty and look pretty.  Here we concentrate on the former not the latter.  You are going to get dirty, pretty… not so much.  Be prepared.  Be prepared like a Wilderness Girl at the annual jamboree with Phyllis Nefler at the helm.  And I don’t mean Gucci bitches… I mean a shirt you hate and comfy pants, maybe even just underwear. But don’t forget some sneakers in case you need to make a fast getaway from a baby about to projectile vomit.  New textures can do that to a baby.  This is one of the infinite number of reasons every shirt I own is stained with something.

Step 2, Mind your Peas

Some people say cereal first, some say cereal never.  Since I’m on my third and the other 2 have no food allergies my doctor said to start him on vegetables.  On my 2nd child I thought it would be easier and more cost-effective to make my own baby food.  In the end it was neither, and I could never get the consistency right. Just another waste of time to add to the time suck.  This time around I didn’t even try that route.  We began with peas.  Who doesn’t love peas?  Let me take that back, lots of kids hate peas when they are growing up because they are green and similarly named to number 1 in the bathroom.  But babies?  Babies love peas.  Although peas are usually a hit with taste, they also look like the dirtiest food to pass from your spoon into your baby’s diaper.  And that is gross.  You’ll be in hell for the first bowel movement post peas, but they usually eat them up just fine.

Step 3, Have the proper equipment

You need the proper tools to successfully feed a baby solids.  A bib is a must (unless you have them shirtless, which I rarely ever do).  You’ll need one of those little spoons with the a plastic tip (trust me on this) and you’ll need a 5 point harness of some kind as baby is probably not able to fully sit up by himself.  Now you might even want to make sure you have a bucket or garbage can right next to you (especially if you are already pregnant again) while feeding little Johnny because watching him eat, and spit out, and re-eat the spit out, can make anyone nauseous.  If you have a really queasy stomach you might want to have Hubby do all the solid feeding and hide in the bathroom with a bottle glass of wine until it’s over.  It’s not pretty.

Step 4, Know your audience

Okay, so you’ve feed little Johnny twice and he’s done really well.  Next time you are sure to be over ambitious and schedule a meal when other people are going to watch him.  Do not do this.  I repeat, do not walk down the path to show off to the Jones’, Grandma, or even your own older children.  This will not go over well.  Unless you consider Exorcist as movie with a good ending.  Just know your role, stay in your lane and keep feeding time under wraps and during down moments until he’s been doing it for months.  Then you can try to show off.  But I can pretty much guarantee that his first time in front of an audience he will sneeze peas all over grandma, barf on older brother or just refuse anything you offer him outright (thus making a liar out of you).  And as cute as it can be to watch him eat, it’s just not worth the aggravation.

Step 5, Expect failure and deal

Solids will start off bad.  He’ll spit them out, he’ll cry, he won’t want them. But, like it says on the bottle… Lather, rinse, repeat.  Eventually, at some point in his life…. he will be a good eater.  Or at least an eater.  He’s going to get big and learn that he needs food to survive.  Hopefully he chooses something other than chicken nuggets and french fries, but lets not worry about that just yet.  Right now, it’s your job to just keep shoveling things, lots of different things, into his mouth, and take the massive time-suck that introducing solids is, and make it your bitch.

Best of luck moms! Happy Feeding!

 

 

 

You Want a Piece of Me?

Everyone wants a piece of mommy.

Everyone.

This isn’t always a bad thing.  But it is an exhausting thing.  And I’m starting to wonder where their need for me ends and where my need for myself begins.  And just writing that sentence down makes me feel super guilty.  Which is really fucked up.

I’m not blaming my family.  Don’t think that for a minute.  I made the conscious choice to bring all of these little people into the world.  There were no surprises, no “oops” babies, no regrets.  But how can I still tend to all of their physical and emotional needs, while still preserving a slight sense of self, and not feel bad about it?  Considering it’s 1pm and I just realized I haven’t brushed my hair or teeth today (I know, gross) I really need to figure this out.  I did remember deodorant though, so I’ve got that going for me.

A good mommy friend of mine just opened a spinning studio.  It looks beautiful and exciting and she’s been asking me to come in and take a class.  Who am I kidding?  She’s a personal trainer, she doesn’t ask.  She’s got my number because I need a drill Sargent and I love her sweet ass for it, but I’m not gonna lie… I’m scared shitless of so many different things about this, so much so, that I’m really walking the plank with little baby steps.

Fear number 1…

I am in awful shape.  My baby is 4 months old and the only exercise I’ve done is lift a wineglass to my mouth.  I have no endurance, a sagging, three-peat, c-section belly and I’m winded after a diaper change.  What if I make a fool of myself, even more than normal?

Fear number 2…

I haven’t had great experience with spinning class.  I took a spinning class once at the local YMCA.  I was young, in shape and childless at the time.  I did the class for 10 minutes, said “Fuck this”, hopped off the bike and scrapped the shit out of my shin on the pedal.  While I hobbled from the class, bleeding, I vowed to only stick to workouts I like. Which, by the way, have turned out to be “no workouts”.

I’m amazing at not working out.  I could take the gold medal in that.

Fear number 3…

And this is the most completely ridiculous and irrational fear… What if I really, really, like it?  What if I like it so much that I have to get a sitter for my kids and actually make time for myself?  What if I actually get in shape?  Will I be able to maintain?  Will I have to make separate meals for me and the rest of my family?  Will working out cause me to miss out on things I’d normally have to sit around and bear the burden of being the only one to do them?  Can I make a plan and follow through on it when it has nothing to do with my children’s happiness but everything to do with my health?  Would that make my selfish?  I feel so strange about taking time for myself although it doesn’t make any sense when I say it aloud.

Eek!

She tells me that all I have to do is stay on the bike.

If I can stay on the bike I’ve done it.

If that’s the case I might just sit there and not pedal.

The Mother I Thought I’d be Versus The Mother I am

I always knew I’d have children.  That was just something in the cards for me.  I never thought I’d have 3… but that’s for another blog.  I remember being a teenager and talking with a friend about where we saw ourselves at 35… I said, point-blank, married with kids.  And she said she was never having kids because she’d never be able to be “the mother she wanted to be”.   At the time I thought her words were so bizarre, so strange.  How could she know the future?  You are the person who decides how you will act, what moral compass you will follow.  You dictate your future.  At 15 I was really into that whole dogma.

Now, looking back on that conversation, I’m shocked at the words of wisdom provided to me by a person who was so young.  She was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY right on.  I am nothing like the mother I thought I would be.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not a good mom, although I do have my moments of total insanity.  But I’m not “that mom”.  That imaginary figment could never fly around here.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will always be able talk to me, about anything, and I won’t judge them.

Mother I Am…

They talk to me, about anything, and I judge the ever-loving shit outta them.  I judge them so hard I’m Judge Judy.  I don’t always hand down a sentence but believe me, I judge.  And they aren’t even teenagers yet. Oy.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My kids will always be able to pick the radio station in the car.

Mother I Am…

Fuck that.  After hearing Timber a million times I’m picking the radio station.  “When you have a car you can listen to what you want.”  {Did I just say that? My mother used to say that}

Mother I Thought I’d be…

I will actively play with my kids all the time.

Mother I am…

I can’t believe I even thought this was possible when I was younger.  Like, I actually resented my mother at times because I didn’t think she played with me enough.  And she played with me a lot!  Between the housework, the siblings, the drop-offs and the pick-ups, I’m lucky if I get to eat a meal sitting down.  Play with you?  Another game of Candy Land?  We’ve already played 5.  You must be joking.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will travel.  We will see the world together.

Mother I am…

Traveling costs money.  Traveling with small children is a mind numbing siege that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  The last trip we took was a 2 hour car trip to a soccer tournament and I actually considered putting duct tape over the mouths of the older 2.  Travel?  I don’t fucking think so.

Mother I thought I’d be…

Each of my children will have their own personality, and I won’t let their behavior, good or bad, change how I feel about myself.

Mother I am…

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When they accomplish something fantastic… I too, feel fantastic.  When they act like animals… I see that as a direct reflection of my parenting failures.  Just because I feel this way doesn’t make it right.   But it’s still how I feel.

No, I’m not the mother I thought I’d be.  Far from it.  I have cobwebs in my house, I’m not hip, I’m embarrassing, and I’m not always fair.  But I am here for them… 24/7, no matter what.

And I’m laughing.

And I’m trying.