Playground Politics

*This goes out to the parents out there* …. Think back, to your days before “parent” was a label applied to you. What were your thoughts on children, moms and dads, and discipline? What sorts of behavior would you witness with rolled eyes and scoffing?

*This goes out to the parents of multiple children out there* …. Hey! Remember when you had one child and they consumed your world? Every moment you had eyes on them, you knew their quirks and had no doubt of their brilliance and uniqueness? Remember going to the playground and following their every step, every triumph of a ladder rung climbed, every round on the slide? Did you ever see some random, disheveled child pushing your precious out of the way and wonder aloud: “Whose kid is this??”

My personal answers to the questions above are probably pretty obvious.

Before I had E, I didn’t think about parenting at all. I had very little interaction with children beyond the ones I encountered at work, and I usually observed every scream or whimper or booger-streaked face with disgust.

That is, until I had a baby, and my entire life revolved around just E. I thought I had it figured out. I brought him to the playground every single day, rain or shine or wind or snow…. I hovered and hemmed and hawed over him at all hours of the day. I’d see sloppy looking moms parading their multiple offspring off and watch in horror as they pushed, shoved, and ran amok. And, I judged. Oh, how I judged.

But then I had two babies in a little under two years. Suddenly, the playground as a destination because a “trip”, a big “deal”. Beyond that, I started to see the play areas as a place for “them” and the benches along the side of the structures as “my” place. The luxury of sitting back and watching them do whatever it is they wanted seemed like a no brainer.

And my eyes were opened to the phenomenon of “parents of one”. I don’t judge them, because I was them for four and a half years, but looking through the playground scene with my new lenses of a “mom of three”, I started to realize how different I was from them. Usually its Mom and Dad following every step of little Jr and their adventures in the structures, with lots of “Be Careful!” And “Oh look at you!” Meanwhile, I’d be in a corner, trying to appear forgotten. I want my kids to play, but I don’t feel the need to follow them everywhere.

This brings me to today; another playground trip on a warm November afternoon. The sun was bright. I have a quiz to study for and three kids under my watch (as the hubby is flying for a few days) so I foolishly thought I’d have time to look over notes at the local playground. I forgot it’s a weekend. I should have realized every other parent in our suburb had the same idea as me: enjoy the sun while we can. And I should have realized that while I’m perfectly okay with watching the 2-year-old climb up a slide the wrong way, the vast majority of parents out there (especially the ones with only one kid) frown upon such behavior.

So, what should have been a relaxing escape from our house, became an internal struggle of my own. I don’t want to be “that mom” whose children are causing issues, I don’t want someone to see my little L and H seemingly alone and assume their parents aren’t mindful of the abduction risk of unsupervised children, but I also know that particular playground, being fully fenced, is pretty safe. I know that kids want to climb up slides backwards and I know that they don’t need me there “just in case”. So it becomes a show, and I have to act. Because I care too much about what everyone else thinks. Their frantic anxiety becomes my frantic anxiety.

After an hour or so I was sick of chasing H so I told the kiddos it was time to go home. To play in our own backyard. And guess what? In the privacy of my own home, confined in the fully fenced back yard, I can sit and study over the pulmonary system and even read a novel without worrying about H and L taking turns going upside down, down the slide. I guess it’s true: there’s no place like home.

Creeping of Christmas

I just stood in line 20 minutes for a cheap red plastic cup. It was free. It has a major corporate logo on the side, and if I use it after 2pm between now and January 7, 2019, I will receive fifty cents off every $5 “Holiday” drink.

If you are in the know, you know I’m talking about Starbucks.

In my defense, I needed coffee this late morning anyway, as I am currently sitting in the college library prepping for my third exam of the year. I have the expensive habit/routine of needing my ‘bucks fix prior to studying. I get the drink, I find the quiet corner of the library with the great view of a large oak tree out the window, I put on my beats and I get to it.

Because Starbucks has my email address and knows how Basic I can be, they sent me the reminder last night of their latest marketing ploy and it stayed in my mind. Honestly I’m not a big latte or mocha drinker, I tend to take my coffee iced, cold brewed, with just a splash of sweet cream. But learning the holiday drinks are back and I could get something free out of it, I braved the line and ignored the mobile ordering option.

I was one of the last to get the free cup before the store ran out; according to the Starbucks Subreddit, other stores were out by 6am. I felt that consumerism smugness come out, mwhaa ha ha I got something you didn’t! – but now I just feel like a corporate cog.

Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, today is November 2nd. We still have a freshly carved pumpkin on our front porch and the leaves in New Jersey are just starting to turn into spectacular shades of yellow, orange and red. Can we all enjoy fall for a few weeks before the whitewash of red and merry take over?

On one hand, I’m excited for this time of year. The anticipation build up, seeing my kids enjoy the holiday season, listening to Christmas music and decorating our home is so much fun. I do love it. But our culture is creeping these darn holidays out sooner and sooner. School started in September and the store loaded themselves up with Halloween decor. Christmas crap was on shelves before Halloween even started.

Yesterday I used a free hour without kids to check out Marshall’s and Home Goods, I had the idea of purchasing Thanksgiving swag since we are hosting this year, but the stores were all Santaed out. Really? Really? I can’t buy some fake leaves or a stuffed Turkey to display on November 1st?

Beyond this frustration, I also hate how we are supposed to spend an insane amount of money every year to show how much we love one another. It’s nearly an American Patriot Act, this obligation, and each year the pressure is more and more. My kids don’t need anything. They still play with the wooden train set my oldest has had for seven years. They putter around with crappy old toys all the time and they are happy.

So it’s with excitement, resentment, cynicism and optimism that I end this post with a “Happy Holidays!” This one phrase is loaded and you can take from it what you wish. I’m going to focus my next few weeks on FALL and cover my ears if I hear a Christmas Carol until the day after Thanksgiving – expect, of course, I’m in line to get my .50 discount on a holiday cup of cheer.

How to get an A in Chemistry

At Age 34.

With 3 Kids.

And a Husband and a Dog and a (part-time) job.

OR: The Story of My Last Few Months as a Student

Joining the ranks of the “going back to school” crowd was something I never expected to do. I used to roll my eyes at classes over the age of 25 when I was a teenager in college. They were so serious and dedicated to doing homework. Total brown-nosers. I got my degree in my mid-twenties and then joined the work-force, eventually settling for my part-time gig at Starbucks as I have three children at home. Starbucks suits me just fine, for now, but whenever I fill a mop bucket or patiently explain the difference between a Java Chip Frapp and a Double Chocolatey Chip Frap to a fourteen-year-old a bit of my soul dies.

So, last semester I decided to enroll at the community college. Nursing has always seemed like a “great option” with “flexible hours” and “amazing pay”. I like helping people. Talking about “goals” and “aspirations” helps me feel like I’m not wasting my life away, but actually signing up and paying tuition made it all very real to me.

I’ve taken a few other classes from Suffolk (the community college) over the years towards the goal of nursing but this was the first science class. I’ve fulfilled every other non-science prerequisite so I now had to face the meat of these core classes.

I heard from three fellow baristas, all young and smart, “Chemistry is fun!”. Is it though? I took a course in my undergrad years, more than ten years ago and I didn’t do so well. Granted, I wasn’t motivated and I spent way more time planning on which bar I’d frequent with my girlfriends rather than studying, but chemistry really wasn’t my jam. I scraped by with a somewhat decent grade and focused on my English degree.

So the first day of class I approached the room with trepidation. The room was completely full. A good mix of the community at this entry-level course: teenagers with speckled acne and plenty of women my age. I sat next to one and we quickly found out we both harbored the same goal of nursing. “It’ll be easy!” She said to me, clutching her 7/11 coffee, “Nursing is great!”

Our teacher was an older Indian woman in a sari. She seemed very calm, very kind; informed us she had never once failed a student and she wouldn’t fail any of us and said chemistry is easy and we would all fall in love with the science and the beauty of it.

I was impressed and felt happy. I got a great professor!

But then she started lecturing and I quickly realized she was disorganized and all over the place. A student sneezed, another student said “God Bless” and she went on a 5-minute tirade about “cockroaches” forming when one student says “God Bless” and it’s a major distraction- her little detour on her expected decorum in class lasted five minutes.

I quickly learned I would need to teach myself the bulk of the class work. I started studying. Daily. I devoted at least 45 minutes a day to the damn chemistry book. The first exam came. I had the highest grade at 83%, but the majority of students scored in the 20’s and 30’s.

I befriended a gab of older lady friends (I say older but they were all my age). They would text me questions all the time, but never questions about chemistry. No, they asked things like, “How are you doing so well?” “What can I do to do better?”. I was kind in my responses; “Well, go onto the online module at just work the problems over and over…” “I have to study a lot. I set a timer and just work until it goes off…” “It’s a lot of work but the resources are there”.

I get it. It’s hard to study something that you have zero interest in. Chemistry isn’t the most exciting science, and a lot of it feels made up. But once I got the hang of dimensional analysis figured I could tackle any math-related problem thrown at me. There wasn’t much memorization, really, you just had to get a feel for the periodic table. Moles and molarity and molecules and atoms have the same basic problem set up- you just can’t let all the words and chemical formulas throw you off.

So slowly I started feeling less sorry for my fellow students and felt more sympathy for our professor. They started rebelling against her, calling the dean, many of them eventually dropped out. They blamed their poor performance on her teaching style. The texts from them started getting very annoying; “We are PAYING for a grade she can’t fail me!” “What does chemistry have to do with nursing anyway?” “I don’t have time to study, we should learn this all in class!”

I have three children. Two were still in diapers when I started the class. I’m still breastfeeding the youngest. My husband is gone for long chunks of time. I work the closing shift at Starbucks and it exhausts me. I could find a million reasons why I couldn’t study but guess what. Between training for a half-marathon, workouts, 3-11pm shifts at the Bucks and a baby who STILL doesn’t sleep through the night, it really wasn’t that hard finding the time to study for 45-minute stretches.

And I actually grew fond of studying. Not the subject matter, really, but the process of it. Sitting down in a quiet atmosphere, playing the “study” playlist on Spotify, and really focusing on my work. No distractions. Actually concentrating on something pretty complicated and applying my brain towards something more challenging than “I, like, want a cappuccino? But with no foam? And non-dairy but extra whipped cream?”

The media obsession with lazy millennials started making sense to me. Let’s not take personal responsibility for ourselves and just whine about our 20% exam average. Our class of 35 quickly dropped to 12. Of those twelve, one other woman and I averaged high 80’s to mid 90’s on the exams, there were two men who were averaging solid 70’s, but the rest of the class took test after test with scores in the 20’s. Our professor even let us retake an exam, one that was particularly tricky (formula names and balancing) and even with the retake, which we studied for a week straight, most only got 30%. For the last exam, the professor GAVE US THE TEST to study from. The exact test, just some of the numbers or formulas were tweaked. Me and my lab partner both got 100%- those other women my age but with less children than me? 30%!

So, if you’ve made it to the bottom of my chemistry-class-bitch-fest, first of all, thanks…and secondly, the answer to this post’s title is pretty simple. If you want to get an A in Chemistry, you’ve gotta study your butt off and even if your professor has a 1.8-star rating on ratemyprofessor.com, it’s up to you to find a way to pass. Seriously, if this old lady with babies and a husband can manage, anyone can.

Next up for the Spring semester is Anatomy and Physiology. I’m nervous, but, I know I’ll do it. And if I can’t do well, it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

 

 

the paci menance

Last week, we broke our daughter’s heart. We denied her her one true love- something that brings her comfort, something she’s held dear her entire life. Ever since the night she took her first breath, it’s been there for her. Through sleep, sickness, happy times, the boring times … this precious talisman has calmed and soothed her. It’s never let her down.

And we took it away with little fanfare, harsh and abrupt.

I’m talking of course about her pacifier. The nook. The dummy as the Brits’ say – to L, her renowned “Paci”.

Paci and L went together nearly everywhere, although, because my kids crave security items in an excessive way, she also always has to have her blanket as well. But Paci was always first to her. And though we attempted to limit it, regulating it only to car rides, nap time and bedtime, the stinker always found a way to sneak it in all hours of the day. Multiple times a day I’d turn around to see her clutching her blanket with her pacifier spinning in her mouth, sucking furiously and glazed. If she got angry, upset, or hurt, she cried out “Paci blanket! PACI BLANKET!!!!” before “Mommy” or “Daddy”.

Anyway, if you knew L, you’d know I’m not speaking in hyperbole. My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter has a real problem.

So, last week. We are at an outdoor concert, a Spice Girl cover band down by the beach (a topic of which could easily segway into an entirely different post, such as, how is it possible the Spice Girls were popular 20 years ago? Does the world really need a Spice Girl cover band? How much of our tax money went towards this super group of girls?) and L was a handful. A loud, overtired, cranky toddler mess. When will my husband and I learn not to expect too much from our kids in public, at outings?

Upset over her behavior, my husband told her she couldn’t have the pacifier any longer. By this point L was screaming. “I’m serious, L” he said from the driver’s seat of the minivan, “No more pacifier. Ever.”. He then looked at me, “I’m serious, N. I’m for real”.

I just nodded, dreading the night ahead. I know it’s time, but, I also know her. I know how stubborn she is. There’s a reason she’s still in diapers; she’s a master of ‘sticking to her guns’ and I’m a pushover.

We got home, and she sobbed. Her chest heaved and she cried, and shook, and pleaded. My heart broke for her. Her paci has been an appendage for her, literally, since she came out of me. And to just take it away, like a 2.5-year-old band aid, ripped from her so harshly, well, it didn’t same fair.

But I held strong.

I gathered her up in her toddler-carrier, and swayed with her and her blanket as she convulsed with sadness. She fell asleep. I kept her on my chest and sat down and smoothed her hair and thought, “This wasn’t bad”.

Then 4am happened.

The girl wasn’t going to sleep again. Since she shares her room with her older brother, and we didn’t want her to scream the rest of the night, my husband took her out to the living room and turned on Peppa Pig. We took the loss.

Later that day I found an old pacifier of hers and snipped the end, a bit. I’ve tried this trick before and the girl demanded a different, whole pacifier, but faced with “no” paci or a “damaged” paci, she took the damaged one. This turned out to work beautifully. She was weaned within a few days. Now she proudly says: “Blanket, no PACI!”

Moral of the story? L is a child who needs a more gentle transition. Another lesson: we took away baby H’s pacifier. He has little complaints and doesn’t seem to mind, and we are avoiding the tears that poor L went through.

The next hurdle with L is the same one I so flippantly wrote about a few months ago: potty-training. Stay tuned, friends.

earning the stripes

This weekend I took three kids to a county farm 50 minutes away and rocked it. I mean, I really did. It was easy, even. All by myself I navigated and educated and culture-ated the kids. I strapped two babies onto me, and my six-year-old walked along with me and we took in the baby animals. No fits. No screaming. No stress.

During these moments I feel like “mom-ing” is easy and I’ve got it down to a science.

Then someone up there decides my pride is growing at a cancerous rate or something and I’m knocked back down.

I got a call from school yesterday – my boy had an accident. Like, a bathroom accident. We didn’t hear much info beyond “it was bad” and he needed a change of clothes.

So, I entered the nurse’s office and found my poor child sitting on one of those puppy-training pads with a garbage bag tied around his leg. The nurse informed me his shoe was full of feces and the feces was all over his legs – ok, this is rapidly becoming explicit and not in a fun way so let’s just finish the paragraph with this: I’ve never before seen anything like this, and years of cloth diapering paid off just in that I didn’t add to the bodily fluid messes by vomiting. Spraying the poop of my two-year-old’s down the toilet made cleaning up my boy’s mess not seem as tragic or gross.

We came home and I took a garden hose to every piece of clothing he had worn, he hopped into the shower, I was informed via phone from the school that due to the explosive nature of what he did he wasn’t permitted back at school for at least 24 hours. We spent the afternoon outside, (E is fine by the way. I’m not sure what happened, really. He’s not sick in the least and hasn’t had a repeat) and internally I whined about having an unexpected weekend day with him home the next day.

It’s terrible.

But when he’s at school I have a routine set with the babies; gym-shower-lunch-nap-time. E is a great kid but him being home a full day adds a level of “what are we going to do now?” to each moment. Especially on a school day.

Anyway, said powers above punished me for my unkind thoughts in more ways. First, I made the dumb choice of brewing iced tea in an antique glass pitcher – I swear I never before knew the elementary-level thermodynamic rule that boiling water and glass don’t mix, so I was shocked and appalled when the gorgeous heavy pitcher literally exploded, staining the kitchen with red passion tea. Beyond destroying precious family heirlooms, I also managed to stub my toes and knees on various doors and furniture several times – stone cold sober I must add.

Basically, it turned into one of those days where I feel I couldn’t win and while my kids ran circles around me fighting and screaming and the baby needed constant attention I just wanted to give up, but, as every other mother knows, you don’t get to give up. Ever. Especially when your spouse is a pilot and away for days at a time.

I will finish this by saying today has gone much better. I got in a great spin class at the gym, we had a healthy lunch as a family together, and my little boy hasn’t said “Mommy I’m bored” even once, so that has to count for something. Days like today make up for days like yesterday, those days when you are reminded just how hard this whole parenting thing really is.

 

mom

I work with kids. Literally. Kids so young, some don’t have bank accounts. Last week I traded a shift with a boy who had to get permission from his parents in order to work an evening shift on a school night.

I also work with people my own age, and also a handful who are older, but – most of the time, at work, I’m the “old lady”.

It’s an odd role for me.

I’ve been working customer service jobs for over half my life. In fact, as long as some of the kids at the ‘bucks have been alive. There are times I find myself frustrated with a young’in, like a new hire’s blank, devoid-of-all-personality personality, and I have to remind myself that I was once 16 at a new job, too. And I was scared, overwhelmed, didn’t know what to do with myself. When the older, or “old” as I thought of them, coworkers would talk to me, I’d stutter and look at the ground. So I work hard to engage with the shy kids at work, encourage them.

And this is hard, sometimes, because like the old adage says, you can lead a 16-year-old to an espresso maker, but you can’t make them suddenly have a sparkling disposition.

I do find myself having those old people thoughts of “What’s wrong with kids today?” It’s trite and easy to fall into that pessimistic, critical thought pattern. Each generation thinks they are superior to the next, so I’m not saying this, exactly. But, the differences between someone who brags they “Once used a VCR” compared with an aging old fart like myself do seem to widen as the years past.

The oddest role I have there, the label that doesn’t fit me exactly, is “Mom”. Like, I know, I’ve been in the “Mom” game for nearly seven years, but it is odd to hear it all the time. “Oh, Nicole, she’s this way because she’s a Mom”, or “Oh my God, Nicole, you’re such a Mom!”. I still think of myself as “lady with kids” but that label, “Mom”, seems so formal or something.

A part of me likes to imagine they are referring to me as “Mom” in  *this way* but I know it means I’m a fuddy-duddy lady completely out of touch with what the cool kids are doing these days.

And I am fine with that.

Really.

The idea of being 18 again, but adding in the expectation of a perfect selfie at any angle, having to present myself in an ideal way online, and having to wade into the dating waters in this age of zero-phone-calls and the idea a guy will ghost you; oh man. I’m glad I was born in the cusp of the generation of men who called, and I got to meet guys (back when I was single) the old-fashioned way, in person, not online.

It is sort of funny, on a Friday night and a 19-year-old is eager to get released from their shift to “Go Out” and I’m steaming milk, I think “this is my social life, right here”, because, in a certain sense, that’s true. Slinging drinks, blending fraps and mopping the floor are my escape from ‘mommy-hood’ and that might be a role I never once imagined I’d find myself in.

 

mirror bookends

My baby is already six-months-old. I’m trying hard not to resort to tropes of “Stay Small!” and “Stop Growing!” because, obviously, a growing and thriving infant is a healthy happy baby; but, in truth, my mind is boggled when I really think about how fast time has gone by. Not that I want it to slow down, but, it is causing a bit of mental whiplash to me.

H and E are bookends to each other. My two boys, six years apart, and in between I have changed so much as a person, and especially as a mother. At night, when my older two kids are slumbering away and I’m curled on the couch with H nestled in my arms, I wish the me-seven-years-ago could witness the happiness, the ease one can have taking care of a new baby.

Because MeBefore parented the exact opposite from MeNow.

MeBefore parented nervously. MeBefore worried incessantly about ‘bad habits’, especially in regards to sleep behavior. MeBefore slept trained baby E at four-months-old and sobbed in my husband’s arms as I listened to him wail, thinking “this is what’s best for him”.

MeBefore googled everything, from poop color to rashes to the best toys. I knew E’s age down to the week number and day- I remember in group discussion boards writing, “Ok, so E is 16 weeks and 3 days old, is it too early to start solid foods?”

Above all, MeBefore worried way too much about what other people thought, their opinions, and how my mothering would stack up compared to anyone else.

MeNow, with the experiences of raising both E and L, knows you can’t spoil a newborn. And it’s pretty hard to spoil a baby under the age of one, too. MeNow follows my instincts, not what I read online or what other people tell me. This confidence allows me to enjoy the small moments, the snuggles and cuddles and just being with H so much more. In turn, H is an easy, happy, flexible baby.

On the flip side of this bookend, some of the obsessions I had with parenting the “right way” with E have slacked in regards to H. For example, a few weeks ago I read a book exclusively to H. He was awake and the other kids were out of the room, so I picked up a baby board book, and started reading. The poor kid’s eyes bulged with joy. He kicked and cooed and reacted as if the book were a dose of Molly and he was raving at a cool Brooklyn dance club.

I realized at that moment, I’d rarely read just to him. Like, ever. Sure, he’s there when I read to L or E, but he’s sort of just in the room or environment. Basically all I did with baby E was read to him. Poor H obviously loved and appreciated me reading solely to him. I regret the reality that H is often toted around as a baby accessory as I chase the older kids around, and since I wear him in a carrier or wrap he literally becomes an accessory on my person. I know his big baby brain is absorbing all the stimulus and he’s learning just by being with us, but that one on one attention is something I need to strive to give him.

Also, I have a hard time remembering how many months old he is, let alone the week number.

I think I’m getting all introspective because H is the last baby. I look at him, trying to remember to savor every moment, but then L starts screaming from the other room or E demands a snack and before I know it I have to put H down on the ground to go solve the crises of the older kids. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though I’m a better mother now than before, I also am aware H is facing a much more distracted and harried mother so maybe I shouldn’t feel too sorry for E and his clueless mother of MeBefore.

This six-month milestone is a big one, and I know six months from now I’ll have a walking toddler in H, who will throw fits and have opinions and my baby will no longer be a baby anymore.

 

IMG_0522
Hey, Mama, Stop taking bathroom selfies and read me a book, why don’t ya?

 

never enough

“Chronically Sleep-Deprived” is a label all parents claim. Especially parents of young kids. Especially mothers who breastfeed and co-sleep. When my husband is out of town, my mornings are exercises of me battling a need to “sit” and wake up all while changing diapers, outfits, making breakfasts, breaking up fights between the two older kids. I am a night owl by nature and have raised three early-morning-worm-eaters.

I like a lazy morning. These do not exist at this house.

In turn, I also like a lazy evening. My kids go to bed early, usually by 7:30, so I have a few luxurious hours to myself to binge watch the TV shows of my choosing (just finished season two of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, now onto season two of Mr. Robot). I usually have baby H in my arms, or by my side, and that need of “just one more episode” makes it so I’m not in bed until 10:30 or so….

And then, I have a crazy goal this year of reading 101 books. I know I can do it, I’m currently reading books number 14 and 15, but this goal requires some serious pre-sleep reading. And Husband calls me around this time, so by best estimates, I’m asleep around 11 every night.

Last night H decided to fully wake up, cooing and laughing, around 11:15, and then didn’t settle down until 1 or so. I let him sing to himself as I tried to slumber, but last night he wasn’t having it. We have the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper attached to our bed, and, usually, he’s totally fine in there, but last night the kid wanted to lay in my arms. Now that he’s a pretty solid 5-month old I’m a little more at ease with him actually in my bed, but I don’t want to start each night off that way.

So last night it was a half-asleep parody dance of picking him up out of the co-sleeper, settling him down in my arms, then putting him back down in his own space only to have to repeat it five minutes later. I finally just gave up and H won the battle. The little stinker snuggled into me and I tried to find that happy medium of sleeping next to him with a blanket and pillow all while not having the blanket and pillow anywhere near his face (which is tricky).

Fast-forward to 6 am, the 6-year-old crawling into bed with me, and his every ten minutes or so plead to me to “wake up”. I eventually tell him to “get himself Cheerios” around 7 am and I follow him out of bed around 7:30.

I wish I could bounce out of bed with a halo of birds singing around my head, smiling and calm and cook these impossibly healthy breakfasts for the kids (that they actually eat) but this is not possible, like, ever. I wish I could responsibly turn in for the night at the same time each night, knowing full well the demands of early morning parenting, but apparently, this is not a possibility either.

So I’ll continue this hazy, distracted, grumpy, tired version of ‘mommying’, at least today. Perhaps tonight I’ll turn a page tonight and learn my lesson and go to sleep earlier, but with a full queue of Mr. Robot to watch, I’m sure I’ll skirt responsibility once again. Some lessons are never learned.

 

not this week, satan

Something in this universe is conspiring against me working out this week. Be it Mother Nature via a massive snowstorm nobody saw coming until the day before it came, or my kids misbehaving in ways I’ve never seen, it’s pretty clear I’ve had to fight this week just to make it to the gym.

Finding motivation is hard enough, but throw in all these other distractions and it’s downright nearly impossible.

On Wednesday morning I barely got the kids out of the door in time to drop my son off at school. I drove nearly to the gym (a ten-minute drive) and realized my phone was at home. I have to have the phone for babysitting so we raced home, I sprinted inside, and once we got back to the gym parking lot at 925 for my 930 class, my daughter started screaming, “NO GYM!”

“Yes gym!” I cheerily shot back.

Getting inside the gym with 2 under 2 is an ordeal. I look absolutely ridiculous on good days. But on this day, I walked in with a yoga mat and L under one arm, and H in his carseat hooked under my other. I put L down to check in and she promptly turned around and ran out the door. “NO GYM!!!”

Everyone laughed at the check-in counter. I scooped her up again and asked them if they could sign me in. We made it to the elevator, and once we got into babysitting she was in full-on tantrum mode. This is not normal behavior for her. She usually loves the gym. The sitter and I looked at each other, I shrugged, and booked it for the class.

Yesterday it snowed 12 inches in 4 hours and the gym closed. I sort of got my workout in by shoveling, but it wasn’t the same.

Today I knew I would need serious discipline to make it to my 930 class, taught by the best instructor at the gym. The car still had a blanket of snow on it. So, at 840 I turned Daniel Tiger on the TV, bundled up, turned the car on and scraped and shoveled. It took much longer than anticipated but at 910 I still had enough time. I put the babies in the car one at at time, and then my oldest son.

Before I pulled out I did the mental checklist: purse, wallet with cash for babysitting, water, yoga mat …. shoot my phone! My son was playing with it. He didn’t know where it was. It was 915. I spent 10 minutes pacing through the living room/ kitchen in that manic fashion only someone who has misplaced something essential can. I went to the car and yelled at E (I feel bad about that now, but at the time I was so angry). I look around more, it’s 925 now so the class is in the crapper, and thankfully someone sent me a text message because I heard it ding from his bookbag. Why he put MY phone in his backpack is beyond me, but I grabbed it, walked as quickly as I could down our ice-covered front steps, and we went on our way.

L pulled another gym resistance move but I was beyond the pale. I scooped her up again, I dropped the kids off at exactly 945 and I went down to the treadmills to do run intervals. I had seen Amanda and the class-that-could-have-been doing their thing, so I was peeved on the way down the stairs.

Curse these kids, curse this weather, curse it all!

But, the run was awesome. Nothing like a good sweat to revamp my mood. I got a good 45 minutes in, returned upstairs to a crying L (apparently she had been stealing toys from other kids and needed to hear ‘no’ from someone other than me). I didn’t even blink. I had a high and squeezed her tight and we went downstairs and I treated them to McDonalds for lunch and all is well.

I never thought I’d take up the “gym” as my church, but it seems like it’s the only space and time of my day that’s just mine. Especially now that I’ve returned to work, I really have to commit to finding the time to go in. Especially when the entire universe and possibly Satan himself is conspiring against me getting a good workout in. Not this week!

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