Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 62

Field Report - First Day

7:20 a.m. -- After generally uneventful morning, managed to get 5-year-old onto the bus fully clothed and with a reasonably healthy lunch packed.

8:30 a.m. -- Received call from school informing that 5-year-old would be returning at 11:15 a.m. because ice would be shooting from the sky.

8:31 a.m. -- Did frantic math to figure out whether needed to reschedule 3-year-old's well child doctor visit in town 45 minutes away.  Decided to chance it.  Prepared alibi in case of failure.

9:30 a.m. -- Entered 3-year-old's doctor's office with said child in full Batman regalia.  Was clearly relegated to role of Alfred.  Story previously disclosed. 

11:00 a.m. -- 3-year-old deposited to daycare facility JUST UNDER THE WIRE.

11:15 a.m. -- Resumed custody of 5-year-old.  No ice.  Many chores and missed schoolwork duties completed.   

11:16 a.m. through 4:40 p.m. -- NO.  FRIGGING.  ICE.

4:00 p.m. -- Resumed custody of 3-year-old.  Returned to vehicle from daycare facility to find 5-year-old reading a dinosaur book with his gentleman's bits having a walkabout.  Was informed there wasn't enough room in his pants for them.  Drummed forehead repeatedly against vehicle.

4:20 p.m. -- After world's fastest grocery run, attempted to check out.  Card refused.  After consultation with bank and much confusion on both parts, came to light there was banking error on the part of husband.  The one who is out of town.  And not standing at a busy grocery store register with the world's loudest Batman and his annoying older brother who has a single minded determination to defy physics and flip over any grocery buggy he comes in contact with.  OUT. OF. TOWN.  (Banking error corrected, access to money fully restored.)

4:45 p.m. -- World's earliest dinner because everyone was oh god dying of starvation.  Did not care.  Denied request for cheese on 5-year-old's happy dog bun, because he was having mac-and-cheese as a side already.  Went to change clothes in dryer.  Returned to find this loophole created by the tiny lawyer.

He's going to make his frat brothers so proud someday.
5:15 p.m. -- Engaged in discussion with 5-year-old regarding the nature of T-shirts (they look like the letter T).  Held arms out to demonstrate.  Was informed the shirt did not make a T because my stomach was "too fat" and made a bump, and the letter T has no bump.  After much discussion about why one should never say that to a person ever, much less to one's own mother, came to discover he meant my boobs.

6:20 p.m. -- Received makeover.

Calm down cartoon and bedtime engaged early.  Several cookies consumed.  Forgot to hit the wine store after bank card debacle.  Trying to console self with Cherry 7-Up and pretending it's some sort of exotic cocktail. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 5.61 (Alternatively, Day 1095)

Dear Henry,

Every February, we do battle.  It has been this way since your conception.  You definitely won the first round, being born precisely as you wanted and I had zero say in the matter.  All the rest have been a draw, with survival being the only requirement on both our parts. 

The magic part comes in March.  That's when we come together, still fighting, but back to back now.  I'm okay with the Februarys (well...mostly) if I know March is coming.  With you.

Today, you are 3.  You're about 3 feet tall.  You weigh about 30 pounds.  You like superheros and robots and playing hide-and-seek with your brother.  Your favorite things to eat are cheese and happy dogs (shocking, I know).  Your favorite things to do are read bedtime stories, talk in silly voices, and run in crazy circles.  You're still wearing diapers, because you don't give two damns about not wearing them.  If you're serious about something, if you really want to fight about it and we won't give in, you will. not. cry. no matter how badly you want to.  And my favorite part of every morning is snuggling with you, because you hold nothing back. 

You are my last baby, and you are not a baby anymore.  I hope you aren't upset if I'm slow to move into big kid-hood with you.  And if I hold you back, maybe a little, just for a tiny bit longer.  Don't worry, nothing will ever truly hold you back.  Not you.  Not ever you.

Happy Birthday, Short Round.

I love you,


Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 5.23

Everything You Need To Know About Being A Parent In Three Vignettes


By the end of dinner tonight, both children were sobbing in their respective rooms.  The 5-year-old was distraught because we wouldn't allow him to have dessert after he ate too fast and threw up his meal.  The 2-year-old was inconsolable that he was being punished after throwing fork (he was overcome by righteous fury because he wanted the dinner back that we took away...because he refused to eat it).


Bedtime snuggles with the 5-year-old often means playing make believe quietly in the dark.  Tonight he was cooking for me.

C:  Here's some chocolate pie.  Would you like it wrapped in silver sparkle paper or pink confetti?

Me:  Err, silver sparkle.  Definitely. 

C:  Here you go.  Would you like to know what else we have at this restaurant?

Me:  Sure.

C:  Fireflies!  [pointing to his ceiling, where there is a plethora of glow-in-the-dark stars and planets]

Me:  This is a really lovely restaurant.

C:  Also?  Back scratching!  [shoves me over to scratch my back]

Me:  This is the best restaurant ever!

C:  I know, right?!  It's amazing.  And here's a bedroom, so you can take a nap.

Me:  Well, thank you, because I am tired and it's bedtime.  So that's a good idea.

C:  Shhh.  Just sleep.

Me:  [pretends to snore]

C:  [leans over and pretends to start putting things in my mouth]  We also feed you while you sleep.  Eat, eat, Mommy, eat. 


 After being, err, force fed while unconscious, I gave Charlie his hugs and kisses so I could leave him to sleep.

Me:  I love you more than all the stars.

C:  I love you more than all the cars.

Me:  Oh.  Well, then.

C:  There are more cars than stars, you know.

Me:  ...I kind of don't think so.  There are so many stars we can't count them all, and then more than that farther than we can see. 

C:  Huh.  Well, I love you more than all the stars and all the cars.  And all the lamps in all the houses.

Me:  That's a good amount of love.

C:  It's the best amount.


Every single day it really sucks.  And every single day it's just a little scary.  And every single day it's beyond beautiful.  And some days, it's all three of those at one time.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day 5.11

So I have crazy in spades.  I accept this the way I accept that I have brown hair and am 5'4".  Sometimes, though, it swells up in a giant, nutty wave that even makes me give myself a side-eye. 

Last night when I was giving Charlie his bedtime snuggle, I had the thought, "What if I die tonight and never get to snuggle him again?"  IN MY DEFENSE, I'd been having a ridiculous headache all evening and was kind of convinced I had incurable brain ebola cancer.  Shut up.  ANYWAY.  I really got to feeling pretty strongly that, obviously, this was a sign and I really was going to die and then I was tearing up and didn't want to stop snuggling him.  But.  I had work that's due on a deadline, and also I had to pee.  So I had to get up eventually.

When I did get up, I followed my crazy train of thought.  I was not living like I was dying.  If I was, I would just pee the bed (I suppose?  I'm not really sure; I think even in my actual last moments, I'd try to make it to the toilet) and I'd sleep there all night and I would FEEL ALL THE FEELS.  Trying to do that, though, would not only be counterproductive to the point of legal and financial penalty on my part, but it would also be so incredibly emotionally overwhelming that I realized if I did try to live like I was dying all the time I'd hate myself and everyone around me would probably hate me, too, (this besides being broke and starving) and it would all be kind of counterproductive to the whole point.

I tell you all that to tell you this.  My takeaway (besides that it's always okay to not wet your child's bed, no need to feel guilt there) is that my "live like I'm dying" is just to be present in the moment.  No thinking about what I didn't do, no thinking about what I have to do next.  Just enjoying the way the shampoo smells in my kids' hair and the way Henry fits just so on my lap so that I can put my chin on his head and the way Charlie likes to twirl my hair while I sing him his night-night song. 

I want to try this with the bad stuff, too, though.  With discipline stuff, half the time I'm all, "If we don't get this right right now, he's going to steal from old people when he's a dickhead teenager."  (Crazy.  Spades.)  It makes me super tense and it isn't exactly fair to them.  I'd like to try to make a more conscious effort to leave whatever crap they did that morning and whatever nefarious future I see for them all out of it and deal with just the behavior that's right in front of me.  I've been doing a lot better with anger management the last couple months (I'm a holder-onner, y'all, blech), but I could do more.

So there you go.  That's my most recent giving.  The gift of presence.  (GET IT.  PRESENCE/PRESENTS.  I CAN HAS CLEVER.)  (Is the Cheezburger reference already dated?  Damn it.) 


Because I didn't take any other pictures today, y'all get to be present with me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 5.7

We got a call this evening that there's a delay tomorrow because the temperatures will be so cold (3 degrees, THREE DEGREES, with a wind child in the negative double digits) that they don't want people standing out at the bus stop getting hypothermia by the dozen.  My love for the two-hour delay is the polar opposite of my feelings for snow days.  Two-hour delay means sleeping in, yet still getting my work done.  It means having a lazy, cozy morning with the kids and still getting rid of them.*  Snow day means being locked in the house with them, at a complete loss as far as efficiency and function, yet still holding onto a flickering hope that maybe they'll be so engrossed in Follow That Bird that you can get this one little thing done justrealquick.** 

Whatever, nature.  Bring it.  IT'S NOT LIKE I HAVE A LIFE TO LIVE, NO WORRIES.  I have crappy wine (still -- I really should have poured it down the drain, but maybe a small part of my brain was all, "Now, let's not be so hasty, missy," just in case of emergencies) and potato chips and three kinds of dip and two pounds of cookies and Netflix at my beck and call.  I'll just work at night.  I don't need sleep.  SLEEP IS FOR BABIES.***

I might, however, need a Tahitian vacation by the end of this stupid winter.  Maybe even of the Agent Coulson variety.

* I love my kids.  I promise.  Loads.  I just also love my sanity.

** The flickering hope is a LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE.  Perhaps why it is flickering.
*** "Sleeping babies" is a euphemism.  For what, I'm not sure.  It's just not an actual thing.


So I am not a lover of the winter.  But.  I will concede it sure can make for pretty pictures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 5.6

In which many observations of Childhood Thermodynamics were made.  And new laws were written.  And very little actual work got done.

Zeroth Law of Childhood Thermodynamics:  I call this the "HAHAHAHA, no" law.  Whatever, stupid first and second and third systems in equilibrium.  There is NO equilibrium of energy when a child system is present with an adult system.  NONE.  ALL of the energy is on their end of the scale, so FAIL.  In fact, they remove energy from the adult system.  They're like little Daleks with their toilet plunger arms sucking your soul directly out of your face just so they can have a cookie after lunch because you have no will to live, let alone tell them "no".

First Law of Childhood Thermodynamics:  If you increase the internal energy of the child (which really means you just wait for 5:00 p.m. to roll around), the energy explodes out in every direction and affects everything in the surrounding 500 yard radial environment, AND YET it remains constant within the child as well.  It never. Ever. Runs out.  Ever.

Second Law of Childhood Thermodynamics:  Supposedly no reaction is 100% efficient, right?  There's always loss just from the effort of working that doesn't get converted into energy.  Well, let me introduce you to the Tantrum Law.  What energy is lost in the reaction of the face-on-the-floor tantrum (i.e., the loss of effect when the parent walks away facepalming) is TOTALLY MADE BACK UP in pretending to get over the tantrum, asking the parent for a snuggle, and then headbutting said parent directly in the face. 

In other news, Snow Days are bad news bears for my mental health.



I mean, yes, it is that slick, powdery crap that isn't awesome to drive on.  But you know what fixes that?  PLOWING.  WITH A SNOW PLOW.  ON THE ROAD.  Rassnfrassn...

I am beginning to accept we are in entering those Dark Days of winter, in which the temperatures are completely intolerable and snow days are going to pile up and I'm going to wrap myself in all my hand knits and glare balefully out at anyone who so much as hints that they like this crap.  The fairy lights (I have also embraced my Madonna-esque faux British side) around the windows in our downstairs living areas are one of the few things that keep me hanging on to anything even resembling positivity.  I think I'll keep them up until spring.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5.5

I love my children like whoa.  (...it's still cool to say that, right?  I don't know.  I always feel like Joey when I break that one out, and then I have to explain that Joey is Blossom's brother and then I have to explain who Blossom is and then I realize it's potentitally way not cool.  Moving on.)  I love their bizarre, rambling stories about the crap that goes on in their brains.  I love the way Henry asks, "Can I kiss you?" even though the answer has never been no.  I love the way Charlie sings "Sweet Home Chicago" at the top of his lungs.

You know what I also love?  When break is over and they go back to school and daycare and I can sit in my house and listen to absolutely nothing.  I spent much of the holiday break on high alert, because I fully admit my kids are Not Perfect (with capitals, even) and while it's not cool when they do their crap at our house and potentially break, stain or lose stuff, when it's at other people's houses (family, friends, strangers, I don't care) it's so not cool it will never get a date and will live in its parents' basement for the rest of time.  So, yes, I fully admit I am TOTALLY OKAY with shipping them back off to their classes so that I can appreciate the time I do have with them rather than spend it with one twitching eye on the clock wondering why the hell bed time is taking so long to roll around.


Forms of giving in which I have participated over the past few days:

-- encouragement
-- thanks
-- extra change in the jar
-- a little something just because

Way in which I failed to give: 

-- The weather was doing this wintry mix crap and there was a guy walking along the side of the road wearing a trash bag and a wool cap.  Charlie and I were driving to the store and, while sitting at the stoplight, I thought long and hard about getting the dude's attention and seeing if he needed a ride.  But Inner Me, who has clearly seen too many episodes of Castle, balked.  I had my kid with me.  What if the dude wasn't on the up and up?  What if the trash bag was cover for his Tommy gun?  (Maybe Castle isn't the problem, maybe The Untouchables is.)  In the end, I sat there so long going back and forth that he crossed the road and wandered off on the other side of the median where the traffic was one way in the other direction, effectively making my decision for me.  I'm still torn about that one.

Other ways in which I spent my last couple days:

-- Putting diapers on dinosaurs.  Ironically, Henry also wanted to put pajamas on T-Rex and the only item of baby clothing I could find was long sleeved.  You can pretty well tell how TR felt about this entire ordeal by the expression on his face.

-- Driving.  And driving some more.  And then a little more after that.  You'd think after 2,000 miles round trip I'd be done (AND I WOULD THINK THAT, TOO), but then comes the minutiae of getting back to daily living:  grocery shopping, running errands, taking care of the things that didn't get done before we left.  I love my truck, but Sweet Baby James, I'm ready for us to have a break.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 5.2

Two things:

1)  The "5.2" in the title is indicative of this being the second day of the fifth year of my 365 Project blog.  It does not mean this is day 5 and 2/10ths.  Or that it's the second iteration of the fifth day.  It merely means I wanted to distinguish this Day 2 from all the previous Day 2s and I'm trying to be as confusing as humanly possible in doing so.

1a)  I note that as I go to publish this, it's actually rolled over past midnight.  So I should retitle it 5.3.  BUT I WON'T.  You don't own me, Universe!

2)  This isn't actually the fifth year of this blog.  It's, like, the fourth year and a couple days, but technically I posted my first entry in 2010 SO I AM COUNTING IT, DAMN IT.  A little because I enjoy the neatness of it being the 5th year in 2015 (look at all those beautiful 5s!), but mostly because that's going to make it so much easier for me to remember down the road.  If I could get away with posting it as Day 15.2, I totally would.

3)  Okay, three things.  I KNOW.  It is not January 1.  I missed the stupid New Year's post by a day.  Think of it as me asserting my individuality.  Or my "don't give a @&!#"-itude.  Or we can all just accept the reality that, y'all, my entire family was packed into a car for 500+ miles on New Year's Eve, this following another 500 mile car ride together a couple days before that, and after 10 days on the road New Year's Day went something like "MUST FIND A WAY TO GET AWAY FROM THESE PEOPLE FOR FIVE MINUTES SWEET BABY JAMES" and then I fell asleep watching Guardians of the Galaxy, which, seriously, is NOT a fall-asleep-able movie.  If I wrote anything yesterday, it would have been, "Happy Nwehafduihacjkbvakljhn..."


Last year my resolutions all fell under the header of organization (well, all but one):

Daily To-Do List
Enjoy Myself

 I...sort of did well with them?  I did keep a budget spreadsheet all year that I updated daily and rocked it.  As much as one can rock a spreadsheet and a bank account.  But, honestly.  TOTALLY ROCKED IT.  

I did not keep a schedule.  I mean, I keep a dinner schedule (I plan a menu for the month on the first day of each month so I don't have to agonize over what to make for dinner every. single. night.), but nothing else.  Well, not during the summer.  The summer, frankly, mostly sucked as far as that went.  By the time school started, my eye had a permanent twitch and I was calculating how many organs I could sell just to get Henry in daycare, too.  (As it turns out, all organs are still in tact -- and inside me -- and we found an awesome center 10 minutes from the house that isn't wildly out of our budget with me working days.)  School and daycare schedules dictated by others?  MADE MY LIFE.

Simplifying and minimizing...I guess?  We got rid of some furniture (out of necessity -- it was a black hole masquerading as a love seat) and rearranged the living room to be less cluttered.  The play room is nothing BUT clutter.  More on that later.  Cleared out the mud room like my life depended on it and it's stayed decluttered since then.  But no real major overhaul.

Daily To-Do List.  HAHAHAHAHAHA, no.  I cannot tell you how many times I stutter-started this.  I mean, I for realsies tried.  But then I'd hit a day where I didn't have much to put on the list (which seems like bull crap, because there's always SOMETHING, but nothing pressing to put on it) and so I wouldn't make one and apparently one day off ate my to-do list's will to live and I just wouldn't take it back up for two weeks.  For the record, those were the weeks when I'd forget really important things and/or screw up the rotation of the earth.  So I probably should continue to have this as a goal.

Enjoy myself.  I did some.  I didn't some more.  Which kind of leads me to this year.


I pretty much have one goal for 2015:  to make it the year of giving.  I have taken so much from those around me, especially since I had kids, switched to survival mode, and retreated into the Fortress of Solitude.  Now that Henry's closing in on 3 years and both kids are operating fairly independently in school and daycare, I feel like I can finally step outside and breathe again.

I have found that the people I look up to most in life are those dedicated to giving of themselves to uplift others.  I've always kind of thought of them as magical and special and the best kind of people there are.  It struck me recently that a lot of what I don't like about myself is the taking -- or at the very least, the lack of giving.  I have withheld, especially these past few years, because I needed everything I had to give for myself.  And that's made me feel low and ugly and like I am not enough.  So maybe wanting to be more giving is still selfish, because I like me when I do for others but it's not technically supposed to be about me.  Whatever.  If I can't win, may as well be happy losing.

So by "giving", I mean lots of things.  Giving time, giving love, giving charitably, giving kindness, giving attention.  We are by NO means rich, but if I believe one vote counts then I can believe that so does one dollar or five minutes or whatever.  I want to try to find something to do daily, but it's not about that.  Quality over quantity and blah blah blah.

Two (more) things:

1)  Giving to me also means less taking.  So less bringing in of the crap I do not need that clearly does not fulfill us (and hopefully more of the giving away of the crap that already is in).  This means -- GULP -- I'm going cold sheep for 2015.  No more new yarn.  I mean it.  I have five bins shoved full of the stuff; if I can't find a use for it, I obviously have no business bringing more in.

2)  I am, and will continue to be, aware of my limits.  I cannot give what is not there.  This isn't meant to create pressure to put on myself.  It's meant to help me feel less isolated, even if that isolation was self-inflicted in the first place, and more like I'm filling my place in the world in a positive way.  Which sounds all boojie-boojie woo woo (this is a technical term only to be used by professionals), but mostly it probably just means I'm having a mid-life crisis a couple years early and y'all should all just be happy I'm going the uplifting route and not buying a Maclaren and driving it off a cliff screaming, "YOU SHOULD HAVE LET ME EAT THE PIE!"  Or whatever.


Pictures.  Just because.  Have a cape (or three).  Happy New Year, y'all. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 270

How to take your children to the zoo (adult partner not included) in 16 easy steps.

1.  Obtain a concussion in the manner of your choice and decide that a visit to the zoo with your darling babies (preferably all under 5 years of age, so that there is a great deal of autonomy that enables you to believe you don't need assistance in this undertaking, yet the children are still dependent enough upon you to make you feel as though you will be imparting great wisdom and benevolence upon them by granting them this outing) is, in fact, a good idea.  Bonus points if you have no zoos within 100 miles of you and the trip will include at least two hours strapped into a moving vehicle together.

2.  Prepare!  Zoo food costs the GNP of a small European nation, so packing a lunch and some snacks is a great way to make sure you return home without having to sell yourself into prostitution.  Of course, because you planned the trip in the first place, you are A Good Mom and pack healthy yet desirable foods which your children have eaten before 9,000 times and you're sure will be a hit.  You even remember the cooler and ice pack for refreshing drinks and yogurt!  Make sure, however, to forget to pack any food for yourself.  This is important.  It triples your martyrdom points and, also, low blood sugar is a fantastic thing when dealing with small children.

3.  Pack it all up!  Load the diaper bag (because, of course, this trip is best made if at least one of your children is not yet potty trained) with an extra set of clothes for each child, all food and drinks, diapers, wipes, toys for the car, some first aid necessities, bags for trash, wallet, keys, camera (DO NOT FORGET THE CAMERA FOR THE LOVE OF GOD; super bonus points if it's not a point-and-shoot, the heavier the better), tissues, and a couple pens and paper just in case you need to write a "rescue me" note.  Now remove one crucially important thing for a Very Good Reason that you will never remember later.  (My item of choice is the wipes, because it lends an extra air of thrill and excitement when you don't realize it until you absolutely effing need the wipes right effing now.)

4.  Get in the car and go!  Things to do in the car:
  • Realize the stroller you have on hand is the one without any "holders" of any kind, so not only is your child extremely likely to drop anything of great importance he might be holding at any given time while sitting in it, but you cannot store the diaper bag in the undercarriage and will be carrying approximately 75 pounds of crap in a crippling manner for five hours.  Make a mental note to stop at a big box store (because that's never a bad idea) to pick up a more ergonomically correct backpack.
  • Give your children something to eat that creates an unholy mess.  MAKE SURE you've left out the wipes if you make this decision.  This helps you justify the watered down unsweetened tea you left in the cup holder from the day (or two) before, which makes a perfect rinsing agent.
  • Allow the children to bring along devices that play loud, yet conflicting, music.
  • Engage your children in bright, excited conversation that touches on their interests to let them know this day is about them!  My personal choice this time was to try and relate a quote about road trips from one of my 5-year-old son's favorite movies (Blues Brothers), except I couldn't quite remember how it went.

    Me:  Hey, what is it that Elwood says about going to Chicago and having a tank of gas?
    Him:  Shit, we're out of gas?

    (While that is a quote related to gas from the movie, no, that is not the one I was looking for.)
  • Count how many times the children hit/poke/almostbutdon'tquite touch one another after you have given the "keep your hands to yourself" edict.  Super bonus points if you then take this number and subtract the corresponding amount of dollars off their allowances.  It is highly likely they will become your new source of income and you can quit working.
5.  Make the stop previously mentioned to purchase a new backpack.  Be sure to forget to buy wipes.

6.  Make a second stop to buy wipes.  Best if you can do this at another big box store because you cannot locate a gas station or small pharmacy, despite the fact that you typically can't go four steps without tripping on one.  Also best if you enter the store with purpose and determination in the entirely wrong direction and have to circle the entire building.

7.  Arrive three hours after your intended ETA.  Bonus points if this means you miss out on the brief window of pleasant, happy behavior from the children and have now moved into "this is my usual nap time and I need to make sure the ENTIRE WORLD knows I'm missing it right now" territory.

8.  See one exhibit.

9.  Realize you left something crucial in the vehicle while transferring the diaper bag contents into your oh-so-smart new backpack.

10.  Return to car to fetch said item.  Bonus points if you make a questionable parenting decision like allowing your children to sit at the top of the hill (fully in your view and within 30 feet of your destination) because there is no paved path and getting the stroller up it once was a complete cardiovascular workout that you would prefer not to repeat.  Race down and try to get your stuff out of the car before CPS arrives and removes them from your custody.

11.  Reenter zoo.  Immediately stop for lunch because one child is hungry.  But only one.  Do not concern yourself overly much with the nutritional well being of the other child, however, because he will demand food approximately 5-10 minutes after you've completed your lunch break and have neatly stored everything back into your bag.  Don't worry about that, either, because he will not want one single thing you packed despite the fact that he has never before rejected these items and has, in fact, previously gone on a hunger strike until these items were obtained.

12.  Plow through viewing all the animals like a semi truck on nitrous.  Why?  Child A would like to stop and read all the educational information, locate each animal in its habitat, play with the learning centers, and essentially experience the zoo as it was intended.  Child B is incapable of remaining in one place for more than a microsecond without emitting a sound the military could utilize to directly pierce the enemy's brain and kill everyone within a 500 yard radius without expending a single bullet.  Child B, sadly, wins.  (Take lots of pictures to be viewed with Child A while Child B is comatose and locked behind a door somewhere later -- the actual reason for bringing the camera -- and plan to buy Child A a consolation milkshake.)

13.  One item of significant emotional value must be lost and/or destroyed before exiting the park.  The item of choice during our most recent trip was the 2-year-old's sippy cup, which he kicked into the fishing cats' habitat from the viewing platform above them.  Both he and the 5-year-old lost their actual minds.  So did the fishing cats.  Bonus points if you can escape the situation without being tsked by another zoo patron.  Super bonus points if you refrain from physical violence if you are tsked.

14.  Make sure to run out of all food and drink before loading your children back into the car.  Bonus points if the batteries are also dead in their extremely noisy toys.  Don't worry; the noise your children will make up for this loss.

15.  In the event that your commute home is clear and fast-moving, directly reroute yourself into the heaviest traffic you can locate.  If all else fails, only visit the Smithsonian Zoo in D.C. and depart during rush hour when large sections of your return home have been closed for "emergency repaving" without any prior warning.  This guarantees you will maximize your bonding time with your children.  Be prepared for tears, but do not despair.  They will help with the dehydration issue.

16.  Whatever else happens, be sure your children DO NOT sleep on the drive home (which, with any luck, will have been extended by an hour due to traffic and construction).  Bonus points if you continue to forget to feed yourself in your desperation to get the *&@% home.  Think how much weight you're losing!

If you do not follow each of these steps (all of which can be easily personalized to fit any type of outing you plan to take as the sole adult chaperoning your children in a public place), you may never truly be able to appreciate things such as silence and food and the glory of your empty home after the last one has departed for the workforce or college or prison.


We had only been there 5 minutes.  Charlie had already tried to upturn the buggy twice.  GOOD TIMES.
If you're really lucky and love your children enough, some day they will look at you like this.


The mama lion feels me.  I love that she's feeding one cub to the other here.  YOU GO, GIRL.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Day 202

To Myself On My 35th Birthday:

That is one seriously narcissistic opening.  But I have some stuff I want to say that I want you to know when you're in That Place.  The ugly one, with the crying and the snipping and the unattractive outlook on life in general.  I like to write letters to my kids on their birthdays, because I love them and I want them to know that.  Well, I want you to know that, too.

The other day I was driving through the city where Henry and I were in the hospital for, lo, those nine thousand years.  Or six weeks.  Whatever.  It was hard.  The part when I was in the hospital was hard enough, but at least then I had a staff of people taking care of my physical needs (and even sometimes the emotional ones).  When I got out, my family very graciously helped me to stay in a hotel about four blocks from the hospital so I could remain near Henry until he was released. 

I would walk those four blocks eight times a day, four there, four back.  I would cross the street in the same place, see the same cars parked in the same spots, watch the sidewalk go from the same uneven bricks to the same wide blocks of concrete.  I put one foot in front of the other for three weeks in a row and vaguely noticed how normal that seemed, just taking a walk.  And inside, every day, eight times a day, I would think how much I hated myself.  

I couldn't carry my baby the right way, my body rejected him, and because of that now I couldn't take care of either of my sons.  I didn't want to be at the hospital.  I didn't want to be at home.  I didn't want to speak to anyone.  I didn't want anyone to abandon me.  I didn't want to ask for help.  I didn't deserve the help I got.  I went over and over and over all the choices I'd made during my pregnancy that I thought I shouldn't have made, convinced that I brought it all on myself.

Super long story short, I was pretty broken.  It wasn't the first time.  It wasn't really the last, either.  It was just a pretty tangible time that I happened to stumble across yesterday.  For so, so long I've been thinking it's my broken parts that define me.  Every day I think bad thoughts, I make bad choices, I don't do something when I should, I do something when I shouldn't, I don't do enough, I don't try enough.  I tell myself that because this is how I am, my friends and family will eventually catch on and stop liking me.  Or loving me.

So here's the actual truth.  ALL of that is a lie.  You are not defined by your broken times.  That sidewalk between that hospital and that hotel is four blocks long.  And that's it.  That is not the road you will walk forever.  It is not the one you have to walk, and it's not the one you deserve to walk.  You had trouble in college.  And then you graduated.  You hate your day job.  You're working on changing that, still, even though you've fallen flat on your face twice now. 
You are not a bad mom because your body failed.  You aren't bad because you had to leave one child to care for another.  You aren't even bad for wishing you hadn't decided to have a second kid.  You've had hard thoughts.  You have been depressed.  A lot.  Many times.  And then you got help.  You don't own the copyright on broken.  It's a human condition.  

You are defined by the part where you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You kept walking.  You're still walking.  You haven't stopped so far, and that's the only thing that matters.

I know myself enough to know that I'm not always going to remember this, so I'm telling it to you (me?) to remind myself that I knew it once.  And that it's important enough to remember again.  Let other people love you and accept it for what it is.  Remember that you'd love someone else in your shoes.  And, please, know on the days that you don't know, I love you.  You're not so bad at all.



Because writing a super hard letter to myself isn't self important enough, HERE IS A PICTURE OF ME.  Apparently that's how I roll now. 

So I really kind of hate pictures of me.  I'm sharing today because: 

(1) I don't want my kids to hate pictures of themselves.  They're gorgeous because they exist and they should always think so. 

(2) I always, always, look back on old pictures and think, "Why did I hate myself?  I look so happy and healthy and great!"  I never, never, look at contemporary pictures that way.  So here, me, ask yourself why today.

(3) Henry wanted to take my picture.  He has learned how to push the shutter button on the camera phone and he thinks capturing a moment is awesome.  And it is.