How do you know you’re a mom? When you arrive at the parent-teacher conference with moose jammies, a squash-covered toddler spoon, and a giant goggly eye in your purse… but no pen.
What is that smell?
Every time we got in our minivan there was a horrible stench. My husband compulsively checked under the seats for lost sippy cups filled with rancid milk. He scoured every nook and cranny for the source of that smell.
Only I knew that the smell was rotten eggs from that time I lost it in the grocery store parking lot and egged the interior of my minivan.
I blame it on those horrible car-shaped grocery carts. We would pull into the parking lot and my boys, ages two and three, would whine and whimper until we found one. And once they were buckled in the car cart, all they wanted to do was get out of it.
The trick was to not let the cart come to a complete stop. So I found myself pushing it ten feet in front of me while I stayed behind to haphazardly grab what …
A classic rock-bottom moment for me was when our small city condo was on the market.
At the time, I had a newborn and an 18 month old. Our condo was overflowing with a ridiculous amount of cribs, jumperoos, swings, bottle warmers, and a ton of other critically important baby paraphernalia. Our realtor was appalled. “It smells like baby in here!” she’d snap, spraying her lavender air freshener in our faces. “You’ve got to get that baby smell out of here!”
We’d watched the boring buy-a-house shows. We knew how important it was to stage the place. Each showing was painful. After frantically cleaning and stashing items for a few hours while carrying around a toddler and a newborn, I felt like my arms would fall off.
It was tough, but we did have it down to a science. Boy, our system worked. All it took was that text, “showing at 1:00,” and …
‘Twas one month into summer break
And all through the house,
Every creature was stirring
Mom, both kids and her spouse.
Wet bathing suits and towels lying
On the floor without care
With hopes that the Laundry Fairy
Would soon see them there.
And I in my tank top,
shorts and baseball cap,
Wishfully dreaming the kids
Would just take a nap!
When suddenly from the top
of the stairs I did hear
Yelling and screaming,
A gasp and then tears.
I dashed up the stairs
To see what was awry,
And what they had done now
That had made them both cry.
When what to my wondering
Eye I did see?
A pile of toys about
As high as my knee.
I should have known better than to take two preschoolers to the car wash on a cold, drizzly morning and expect to return unscathed. But I naively and optimistically told myself it would be a great time to do it because no one else would be washing their cars in such terrible weather.
I set off in high spirits, enthusiastically shuttling the kids into the car with the umbrella and talking about how much fun we were going to have at the car wash.
It’s all a bit of a blur now, but a few snapshots linger in my memory:
Parking in the vacuum-only spot and herding both kids out of the car with strict instructions not to step out of the white lines; trying to give them both jobs to do–having Nate stand on the mat to hold it still while Eliana vacuumed–which quickly turned into a game of Eliana trying to …
11:17 a.m. Wake up to a cheekful of drool. Roll back over and nod off.
12:42 p.m. Stumble to bathroom. In kitchen, stand in front of open fridge for three minutes. Shut fridge, open cereal cabinet. Notice note from Mom: “DO YOUR LAUNDRY TODAY OR SUFFER LOSS OF PRIVILEGES!”
12:55 p.m. Locate younger brother. Successfully convince him that sharing laundry duty will be a win-win for all.
1:20 p.m. Stuff four loads of dirty clothes into washer. Pat self on back for brilliant efficiency. Pour extra detergent in to make sure all the heavy metal t-shirts get clean. Start playing bass at full volume.
1:45 p.m. STARVING. Open fridge. Cobble together a PB&J, followed by salami and cheese with a tall glass of milk. Put empty carton of milk back in fridge. Flip on computer.
3:45 p.m. Micromanage little brother as he attempts to transfer overpacked washer load into dryer.
3:55 p.m. Resume World of Warcraft …
This morning after finally getting all three kiddos off to school, I lumbered into the bathroom to take out my contacts. I unscrewed the left-side lid, popped out the lens and put the lid back on. Next I unscrewed the right-side lid. Instead of a bath of sterile solution, I discovered that …
My son came back from a playdate at a new friend’s house. “Their house is SO much cleaner than ours,” he said.
I told him not to see that friend again; that family’s a bad influence.
There’s a theory that says the harder you work on something, the happier you are with it and the more you value it. It’s called “The Ikea Effect.” In their Harvard Business Review paper, Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariela asked: “What if it isn’t love that leads to labor but labor that leads to love?”
The researchers found that when people work on a project, they lose the ability to see it objectively. And the harder they work, the more they love it. So that Billy Bookcase leaning to one side in your living room? It’s your prized possession.
I know all about The Ikea Effect because I have three children. My kids are smart, stubborn and what we politely call “spirited.” The work is hard, and yet I love it. Or maybe: I love it because the work is hard.
My first child enjoyed crawling down stairs to inspect sewage drains and climbing up trees that grew over cacti. I mapped out the nearest ER because I was sure that’s where we were headed. Then I had twin girls. Imagine the toddler years, multiplied, with girl hormones, in the same house. When the girls were two, our neighbors called the police to report they heard “screaming and slamming doors.” That wasn’t even our worst bedtime…
I love to cook. Actually, let me revise that: I love to cook for adults.
Adults say nice things about your food, even if you can tell that their tastebuds aren’t quite on board. They generally eat what is placed in front of them; they may leave the dry chicken breast on the side of the plate and play “the vegetarian card,” but at least they have the good grace to lie. With the odd exception, food finds it’s way from plate to mouth without going via the floor, the table and the walls. Most adults are pretty adept with cutlery, though some still wield a knife and fork as if they are about to commit first-degree murder on a potato.
Cooking for my little boy is different. It sucks every bit of pleasure out of cooking and leaves me with an unpleasant chore. Why?
Toddlers are the fiercest food …
I used to say that I needed a surveillance camera in my house to catch my two Boston Terriers in various acts. Nowadays, I’m thinking of going through with it– not because of the dogs, but because of my 22 month old.
My daughter had a busy day yesterday. …
After our kids are asleep we turn off the monitor; the idea is, if they need us, they come to our room.
But one night, I woke to the sound of faint giggles. I didn’t look at the clock. I walked into the kitchen confused–all of the lights were on and all of …
I had some friends over one evening with the idea that once the kids went to bed I would have some girl time and wine time.
My three-year-old twin boys had been really great at going to bed–just laying and talking until they fell asleep.
I was gabbing with friends some two …
Changing diapers is part of the job of being a parent.
As an expectant father I had never wiped another person’s rear before. But when my son came along—a tiny delicate mass that would be dependent on his father to protect him–I knew that I was in for some firsts.
At the hospital, it was all a blur. Sleepwalking through my first diaper change, the nurses were there to help and I was happy to let them. I had been through so much already. Poor me, right?
We came home and I got the hang of it. For the next few days the diaper changing continued without incident. Set baby on changing pad, unlatch diaper, keep it covered. Wipe. Change. Got it.
So when company came to visit and it was time for the diaper to be changed, I jumped in and scooped up the baby, eager to prove I was on top of things. I remember the impressed looks on the faces of our guests as I took initiative. We strolled into his room and I set the little guy down. Singing silly little songs about silly little things. All was good in the world. Then I took the diaper off…