My kids are great kids. They are smart (too smart) and loving and so kind to each other and to their parents. They are both quite verbal (too verbal) and they talk all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. I mean, it feels like I haven’t written much lately and it is largely because Ella has been responding to my question about how she is doing for several weeks. I am here now because they think I’m showering. I’ve had to reduce myself to tradeoffs of basic, life-critical elements. But I digress (and if I focus, perhaps I can write AND shower). (Also the dog is probably destroying something upstairs. It is like when Ella the whirlwind was one and a half years old and I had to set up a sacrificial area of the house if I ever wanted to do something by myself. Now I set out things that belong to other members of my family for Maisie to chew so that I can sneak down alone into the basement.)
The kids. Great. They’re great. We’re all great. Everything is good.
Except the lying.
Why is there so much lying?
I never beat them; I never send them to bed without dinner; they don’t get crazy punishments like you might see on a Buzzfeed list. So why do I get ridiculous stories in response to so many of my direct questions? I am savvy, though. Whenever I hear the following phrases, I know that I am getting something “fictional:”
No. I am pretty sure that you are completely unaware of what you do accidentally. Like, ‘D2 and I were playing and then we accidentally got out the shaving cream and it accidentally is in symmetrical piles on the stairs. And then Maisie ate it–but we told her not to!’ Or, ‘Mom, I am sorry, but I accidentally borrowed your necklace and then used it as a jump rope but it wasn’t big enough, so it broke and the beads are now in the garden.’If you can tell me about it, it was on purpose.
“I just thought that I…”
No. You didn’t. You knew that you could not. And you’re checking to see if I also remember that you could not. To see if you are in trouble.And I do. And you are.
“Just one more…”
No. I know exactly how this works, since I do it, too. Just one more cookie. One more show. One more book before you go quietly to bed. Only you’re a kid, so, no. Just wait one more minute while I finish this and then I will come up there and stop you.
No. You never did nothing. Or want nothing. Or think nothing. “Nothing” did not happen at school. You didn’t do “nothing” to your crying sister. “Nothing” is not a choice of which vegetable you want for dinner.In your life, there isn’t nothing. There is always something. So just tell me what it is, for better or worse, or I will go completely insane.
No, not from Halloween (though if there is a way to become a hero by eating fun-size Snickers bars and Kit Kats, that might be a contributing factor). I am for real: my mad parenting skills are not just impressive–they are superhuman. For example:
I can shift time. We’re one week into end-of-daylight-savings-time. Or, as many parents-of-toddlers know it, “[redacted] kids wake up crazy early day.” But I now have seven years’ experience getting children–and now a baby animal–who have no concept of time to adjust their entire lives by an hour, simply by yelling and locking people in their sleeping areas. In just one month’s time, I can get my children entirely recovered from Daylight Savings, waking again at a reasonable hour. Probably. By Christmas, for sure.
I can do things while asleep. While we’re waiting for the full effect of #1 power, I use this: my ability to parent and run a household half asleep. I can ask people to get dressed, authorize extra early morning cartoon screen time, and like photos on Instagram all while mostly still asleep. For example, D2 was a 5:30am riser for a long time. I don’t remember many details, because I think I have PTSD-repressed them, but I do remember the lingering emotion between MI and I about “who’s turn?” and “who’s idea to have another kid…” that added drama to that year. I also remember one morning when she was about 18 months old and loved fruit snacks. She found a new box in the pantry, right across from where I was laying on the couch. She loved them, but she couldn’t open them. She brought them to me, her sleeping guardian, and I gave them to her as a pre-breakfast snack. 7 times, apparently. I woke up in a pile of wrappers. See–I can even feed them while asleep.
I can both clean all the time and have the house be a total disaster. I straighten the house for hours a day. Days a day, even. The kids make so much mess that the only way I’ve found to keep the house neat is to minimize the amount of time we are awake there. Before we had kids, it took me a while to put away the clean dishes because, well, I didn’t feel like doing it. Now putting away dishes is the best because it is easy, I could do it peacefully in the kitchen while listening to a podcast on my headphones, and it is one of those chores that immediately shows results. But, no, it still takes forever in our house to put away the dishes because that is supposed to be a kids’ chore. So even though I’d happily just do it, my chore is to make them do it; SO. MUCH. HARDER. I mean, asking them to pause making messes in the living room so they can come bicker while slowly putting spoons in the fork slot–that is TOUGH. Sometimes it takes two days. Sigh.
Poop does not phase me. I love to tell a good poop story. Kids provide so very many. Even puppies have nothing on toddlers, I’ve found so far. Single friends listen, horrified, and tell me “I just can’t do that.” But when you’re alone for bedtime and your kid poops in the tub, well, you can’t just leave it there. And there is no service call for that. Even if you wanted to just move, you have to clean to show the house. So you deal with it. You wash your hands and get it over with. Now, after 7 years, I am immune to shit and can keep my cool when others lose theirs. For example, a few years ago at a race, one of my friends had a very unfortunate port-a-potty visit. She responded by screaming and texting people about the woeful state of humanity. I was the one who dealt with it–someone else’s poop, someone else’s shorts, public restroom, no big deal. Superhero.
I can make two kinds of dinner in 12 minutes. I am like a short order cook. I really like to cook; I like to play with recipes and cook with vegetables and make things that are healthy and creative. But when we get home from work and school, everyone is starving and I have 15 minutes to get an adult meal and a kid meal on the table. I know that they say not to do that–it should be one meal for the whole family. But I won’t eat quesadillas every day and I cannot figure out how to get the girls to eat food with vegetables or anything red or anything with sauce or anything where multiple ingredients are mixed together. So there are two versions. If you think about it, I cook 14 dinners a week. Unless we order pizza. And go out to eat on Saturday. And eat cereal on Tuesday…
Some of you readers may have noticed a significant slowing of posts in recent weeks: sorry about that. I have been doing minimal “screen time” lately–computers, TV, reading humorous-but-meaningless lists on Buzzfeed–because three weeks ago, I suffered a concussion. I thought I’d had concussions before–once in seventh grade at recess, once in high school at gymnastics practice–but I realize now: I have never had a head injury before; not like this one.
I am tired all the time. I get killer headaches–still!–if I try to think too hard or stay awake for more than 8 consecutive hours. I nap like a one year old baby–long, hard, and often, with bouts of whimpering and feeling sorry for myself.
How did I get a concussion, you ask?
D2 headbutted me. (You should try telling people you have to miss work for a week because your three-year old headbutted you. It provides an excellent study in human facial expressions and people’s ability to say something other than what they’re actually thinking.)
I was up early with D2, like often happens. We were in a playful, loving mood, and she had just woken up, so had lots of energy. We began to roughhouse on the bed–D2 loves to roughhouse. Tickling and being pretend thrown or used as a pillow … the toddler usual. But that fateful morning, roughhousing went awry.
It was time to get ready and I tried to get up. D2 climbed on my back. I kept up with the roughhousing game, gently trying to shake her off. She clung tighter, slightly constricting my flow of both oxygen and patience. I shook her off a bit harder and reached around to unlatch her vice-grip hands. She saw it coming, though, and headbutted. I don’t think it was in malice, but she was on my back and I couldn’t see her face. All I know is that her hard-headed forehead cracked me in the soft place behind my right ear. Hard.
I knew it was bad–worse than the usual child injury. It even hurt worse than when Ella broke my nose at church earlier this year at the altar during communion (this is the best parenting year, too, by the way. For real.) I have since had many parents–most parents?–tell me that their children have kicked/headbutted/punched them in the face or some other sensitive spot. One person even got a broken nose! For me, this was my cheap shot.
I shook it off the best I could, got ready, and launched into the summer camp/school/work morning routine. About an hour and a half later, though, my vision got funny. I couldn’t focus and whooshy white dots danced across my line of sight. I was driving at the time, but was close to work, thankfully, and parked quickly. (As a note, I think such circumstances bring me in line with the skill and behavioral norm in Washington, DC, am traffic. I am mostly looking at you, drivers from Maryland.)
In my morning meeting, things didn’t really make much sense and I had a hard time following what we were talking about. This, in and of itself, isn’t uncommon for a first-thing-in-the-morning government bureaucrat meeting, but I found myself drifting. At one point, I leaned my head against the cool metal door jam and considered a nap. (We all know this isn’t an outlandish mid-meeting desire either; it was exceptional only because I actually did it, rather than just wished I could.)
When it was my turn to talk–and I cannot really confirm this because I don’t remember the specifics–apparently I talked nonsensically about the movie Frozen. THE MOVIE FROZEN. Oh, the injustice. That when I suffer a brain injury, inconsistencies in the plot line from the movie Frozen are what start to come out–my subconscious, leaking out without filter. Insult to injury. People exchanged looks and I won a free teammate escort to the nurse’s office. (Yes, we have a nurse’s office. It is exactly like the one I had in elementary school, where you get Tylenol, a band-aid, and an ice pack for everything. All it is missing is kids with braces brushing their teeth after lunch.)
The nurse declared concussion and told me that MI could pick me up, or she could call an ambulance. I briefly thought the ambulance sounded pretty cool, but was not hit on the head hard enough to ignore the complete mortification of being carried out of one’s workplace on a stretcher after being headbutted by a toddler. Even if she’d hit me hard enough to knock my head clean off, I needed to walk out of there myself to maintain my dignity. (In the end, I limped out of there, leaning heavily on MI while holding the nurse’s ice pack on my head. Dignity is relative, right?)
Hours and days and even weeks passed and mostly I slept. I took five hour naps. I went to bed at 5:30. I woke up at noon. I feel asleep in the car (shotgun, Maryland, you can only sleep while in shotgun!). My kids learned to creep carefully and quietly around the house and be extra nice to me on account of my “brain owie” (which D2 does not know she was responsible for. I should ask her, actually what she thinks happened to me. It is probably hilarious.)
I can’t work a full day yet and get bad headaches if I try to do almost any adult activity; last week on vacation I had to miss seeing a summer blockbuster movie in the theater because it was too large a screen and too intense a soundtrack and I couldn’t handle it (just like when we took Ella to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Except we went… so much screaming. So many tears…) And yet, it has been pretty fantastic. My kids are soooooo nice. MI is taking care of me in a way that I haven’t experienced maybe since we had kids.
Sure, my job is about thinking, which I can’t do as well anymore. And I am going steadily more stir crazy without my usual workouts. And I know there are words I used to know that I can’t come up with anymore (shortly after the injury, I called a plate a “dinner circle,” for example). But I get to sleep all the time and am surrounded by the best version of my family–caring, kind, and a bit more quiet.
Plus, I have convinced myself that eating ice cream is the only way to ice your brain from the inside. Time for my treatment and my nap.
2008-9: Small, new, baby–too small even to watch television–arrives. I have never seen Dora the Explorer. My world is about to change.
2010: Family trip to Asia with an 18-month old in coach. I unveil the magic of television watching for the first time, hoping it will be a spellbinding gift that will buy hours of peaceful time on the plane. 18 month old watches Dora the Explorer–in English and Korean–for about ten minutes. Seems. . .unimpressed. Crushing maternal disappointment for the first–perhaps only?–time that my kid will *NOT* watch TV. The flight is so very, very long. (Its completion is still one of my top five lifetime accomplishments.)
2011: Dora–and general TV watching–finally take. At first she silently observes with saucer-wide eyes and the slightest of smiles. By the end of the year, mini-marathon sessions are possible–30 to 45 minutes of free hands for parents!–and the characters have become well-loved family friends. We love music and know all the songs. (Not hard. One is just the word “backpack,” repeated 37 times with different inflection.)
2012: Someone gives us a plastic, purple, talking backpack and a book that does not fit on the shelf and includes 12 micro Dora figurines. The backpack sings its own theme song, or name, or life mantra: “backpack, backpack;” we listen again and again, longing to uncover the mystery. The figurines possess a strong sedative power but, if they are lost, as they often are, sleep is a stranger to us. We learn the best places to search for objects lost by the nonsensical and barely verbal, the best ways to distract emotional toddlers from unpleasant realities, and the occasions when you just have to cry it out.
–Suddenly, mid-year, the Dora love dries up: Swiper the rule-breaking-Fox is no longer cute in his capers. He is a dangerous social menace who can’t be trusted. We develop empathy for Dora and Tico and Roberto the Robot–who are often the victims of Swiper’s TRULY SENSELESS crimes. Hysterical crying makes even the most innocent-seeming episode a bridge too far. So we focus on reading books and playing with other kids and Dora briefly exits our life.
2013: A new toddler enters the scene, seemingly born knowing how to stream from Netflix, and she wants to watch Dora. She sits, saucer-eyed and smiles; but her older sister continues the Swiper-the-Fox freak out. So it is that they learn to fight over controlling the television, to tease each other about irrational fears, and to pretend nothing happened when parents arrive, skills that–as I remember it–will be heavily used in coming years.
2014: A trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house–CABLE! Nick Junior!!–reveals the existence of “Dora and Friends,” in-to-the-ci-ty. A catchier theme song and more mature content (Dora is a tween! in the city! with a changing wardrobe!), make this an instant hit. Upon returning home to our basic-TV-channels-only home, we begin learning the rule that we don’t always have and won’t always get all of the cool things other people have. This lesson is hard, and they test it weekly, just to make sure.
2015: We finally get cable. Not for Dora; I feel confident no one does that. It is maybe for MI to watch baseball, or to allow more movie recording options, or just so I feel hip (irony of using “hip” to be hip is not lost. The irony of “being hip” by getting cable during the 2015 cable-cutting era was lost, though, until MI pointed it out while proofreading. Whatever, haters.) We now have to and can record Dora and Friends in-to-the-ci-ty. The entertainment grail. We must now learn the secret of moderation–a lifelong human pursuit that applies to everything except smiling and cookies. We learn about finishing work before play, turning things off when it is time to leave, and not singing theme songs around people who are hungry.
They’re growing up, and the lessons are getting deep. It struck me how Dora has been woven through the early years of my children’s development in a way the show’s creators perhaps didn’t anticipate. We didn’t learn about passing first through the Coconut Forest, past the place with the bubbles that can be repaired with duct tape, to the big red hill that is actually a large chicken. We already knew that. We learned about family and fears and relationships and compromise…
…and this pearl of wisdom, which I heard Ella passing along to D2 at dinner:
Dora and Friends is not just a show. Dora and Friends is actually a non-fiction movie. It is about 2060 years ago, about *real* life, told in a fun, fiction-like way so that kids can understand. It. is. REAL.
It was nearly time to leave. Five more minutes, and I was trying to sneak in a few more dishes, clear a few breakfast plates, and speed blow dry my hair for work. Five minutes.
I asked D2 to put on her shoes. I asked her to pick up the toys on the living room floor. I asked her to finish her breakfast. I asked her to brush her hair.
She could not. She was unavailable because the only thing she could do was find Christmas ornament Princess Anna, so that it could accompany small, plastic Queen Elsa, who needed someone similarly sized with whom to play.
I knew where Anna was. I’d seen her in a toy bin earlier that week. We needed to GO. I spent two of the five minutes explaining why we did not have time because WE ONLY HAD FIVE MINUTES, then finally caved when I realized she cared more about finding Anna than I did about my plans at work. I found Anna. Just because toddlers are small and have different values doesn’t mean they are ridiculous, right?
Wrong. They are ridiculous.
I started to go upstairs for the speed hair styling–nope. Called back down to remove a tag that was stuck to Princess Anna, obviously making her impossible to play with. Maybe even impossible to touch, given the freak-out crying that was going on. [Why are we playing with a Christmas ornament in April? Why did it still have the tag on it? Why does Disney even make clay Christmas ornaments in characters that are only going to appeal to small children? What diabolical person first invented glitter?! I do not know.]But nothing could go on until there was no tag.
As I removed the tag, I took the chance to remind D2 about how this was *not* a plastic Anna.
This was no magiclip. This was BREAKABLE ANNA, and she COULD NOT drop it because it would break. She had to be sooooooo careful. (I knew this was true. Because Anna used to be one of a set; may Christmas ornament Elsa rest in peace.]
As I handed Anna over, tag-free, I asked
“Can you please be so careful? And make sure not to drop her?”
” I will be sooooooooo sooooooo careful. I will not–” [drops Anna.] “Oh! It is ok, she is okay! She did not break.”
“Ok. She did not break, but you dropped her right on the rug. If you drop her on the hard floor, she will break.”
Whatever. We both knew. I knew it was Anna’s last day. Anna knew it was her last day. Nothing could stop fate.
What D2 knew, though, was something else entirely: her mom was over-dramatic and clearly dropping the figurine was NBD. Parents.
Moments–seriously MOMENTS later–D2 quietly approached me in the bathroom where I was blow drying my hair any way, even though we were late. Clenched in her right hand, Anna’s body, coated lightly in glitter. In her left, Anna’s severed head, still primed with a white string to hang from the Christmas tree. Decapitated within 2 minutes.
As D2 told me that she was sooooooooo sorry (which is the same as being sooooooo careful, I’ve found, in terms of shaping children’s future behavior), I thought about how children were so hard sometimes because no matter how many times you said something or how seemingly simple the task–‘hold this one small thing that you wanted in your closed hand until we get to the car’–it never worked. And there was breaking and crying and lateness.
I left decapitated Anna on the bathroom counter–Toddlers, ye be warned!–and we left for school with only plastic Elsa, sad and alone once more.
Throughout the day, though, I realized that as rough as parenting toddlers can be, I am pretty flake-y myself. My follow-through, pretty toddler-like, in fact. The work project that I hadn’t sent out specifics for on which other people were waiting. The appointments I needed to call and set up, the chores I needed to do, the errands I needed to run, the more chores I needed to do. The puppy I decided I wanted yesterday, only to realize that . . we can’t have a puppy, so I had to back out and disappoint people, including myself. Today, even, the hour I should have spent prepping dinner and straightening the living room that I instead spent watching Disney Toy Collector and sneaking chocolate chips out of the pantry. Flakey.
I guess the world is too big and the tasks too many, and we are only really able to focus on the handful of certain things that really matter. And the trick is figuring out what those are and doing them well, rather than scrambling to hold all of them.
When I picked D2 up from school, she was running through the playground with a pack of friends. When she saw me, she ran straight over and, with a huge hug, presented me with “the longest piece of grass ever!” She had found it herself almost an hour ago and had been clutching it for me the whole time so that it wouldn’t get lost.
I added the precious grass to my nature jar, which is full of sticks and pine cones, grass and dry flowers that my girls have given more over the years. There was once a period spanning almost two-months when toddler-aged Ella saved me a handful of grass every day (similarly clutched for hours) so that I could share the best part of her day.
We don’t have a whole Christmas ornament Anna anymore. And I did a pretty mediocre job cleaning and planning my work project. But I have the longest blade of grass ever in my nature jar, which seems like evidence of us holding on to the right things.
The year is, I guess, 20…20? (I don’t know, actually. I think this guess is influenced by my having just gone to the optometrist.) and you are *on the Internet.*
Maybe its after school. You idolize me still, and want to read the blog you’ve seen me work on over the years, to love and understand me even better. And there you’ll find all of my parenting secrets from your early years. I knew this day would come. Now, you are ready for:
A list of things that I suppose I should tell you now that you can read my blog.
[[Aside to present day readers: The use of “sneaky code names” was at first a bit silly to me. Most of the people who come to this site at present know who I am (except that mystery reader in Qatar. Marhaba, Qatarian fan!) At least until I make it big in the blogging world, which I think mostly happened to people like five years ago. So, I worried that perhaps monikers are more confusing than helpful.
But, I recently read an article about cyber bullying that made me realize the value of code names in minimizing the material easily searchable about my children. I suppose they’ll leave their own internet trail, but I will try not to add to it. After all, I would hate for their friends in high school to know that they spent several years mis-using markers and failing to clear the table.]]
The batteries in musical toys given to you by relatives didn’t really last for one magical day. That was just my patience for them.
The store pretty much always has marshmallows.
I put kale in the milkshakes.
Yes, you had enough allowance money to buy peeps-on-a-stick. And a small bounce-y ball. But I wanted to help you learn about saving and those were terrible purchase ideas.
Sometimes I *did* have a quarter. But those are for parking, not artificially-flavored blue raspberry gumballs that one of you will swallow and one of you will lose in the car.
The cleaners never threw your art in the trash. You made an unsustainable volume of art, some of which was just off-brand pasta glued to green paper. Our house is small. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Eating candy has never made teeth fall out, that I am aware of. I have actually found (from my friend) that if you eat it consistently, you build up immunity and it cannot make you sick, even if you eat it on an otherwise empty stomach. Try not to overdo it.
I put carrots in the smoothies.
When you demanded medicinal cream for extremely minor or imagined injuries, I gave you Vaseline. It worked, though: check your hand! Healed, right?
They did have your size of light-up mock-glass slippers at Target. I just could not own them.
I was not really going to call your teacher/the neighbor/your dad/Santa to confirm your story. I could tell you were lying to me. You would crumble under pressure. Or Santa would actually know about it.
Soap isn’t that expensive. I just drives me crazy that I have to replace it weekly in the bathroom because D2 avoids cleaning time by creating Aerial’s under-the-sea bubble kingdom in the sink and painstakingly filling decorative seashells with soap.
Putting the Kit-Kat under Ella’s pillow from the Tooth Fairy was actually my (in retrospect, poorly thought-out) idea. We were out of dollar bills and I was not going to give you a five. And now you know about how I save quarters. When you gave me the melted part to throw away, I ate it.
Phew, I am glad to get that off my chest. Maybe I’ll make regular installments in this series. I know you’ll still love and seek to understand me. Except when you’re a teenager, which I am already working to make peace with.
D2 is getting older. Three, to be exact, which is pretty big and grown-up. And she is ready to do all sorts of things herself that grown-ups used to do for her. She dresses herself (today she is wearing both a dress and a maxi skirt–fashion at its finest), she makes her own lunch (mostly granola bars) and reads her own stories (mostly about fairies and High School Musical).
I like independence and there are quite a few things I am ready to stop doing as a parent, so I roll with toddler independent streaks. So today, when it was time to take cupcakes to our neighbors and she asked if she could carry them, well, I considered it.
These were amazing cupcakes. Yellow cake, whipped chocolate frosting, multi-colored sprinkles. Light and fluffy and chocolate-y and delicious. For the first batch, Ella carried the cupcakes and D2 delivered the accompanying card. Super successful. I watched from the door, seeing their adorableness on the sunny porch on an almost spring-ish day. Dresses and sunshine and cupcakes. Ahh.
When they got back, D2 asked Ella if she could puuuuhhhh-leease carry the cupcakes this time to the second house. This was a fuller plate (larger family). It was a much longer walk. There was a stiff breeze and she was wearing a maxi skirt, which they don’t actually sell for people her size, so its too long. This was a risky gamble.
I remembered the last time D2 got to “carry the cupcakes.” Last October for a cake walk. She dropped the cupcakes face down within 10 steps, smooshing them terribly into the plastic wrap. We still took them, but I don’t think they went in the first round.
Today, in retrospect, I should have wrapped them. But I thought that might give her a false sense of security, as I remembered how stuck the dropped ones got last time. So I just encouraged her to “Be so careful. Walk so slow. Be sooooo careful. Walk sooooo slow.”
They were off. I watched her slow progress across the courtyard. I could feel looming disaster and fragile hope, swirling together in the almost-spring wind. Ella dashed across the grass, carrying nothing but a card, while D2 painstakingly followed. Slow, careful steps. Man, she is cute and she is trying so hard. She is listening. She is getting so big.
She made it farther than I thought she would before it all went down. Near the large oak tree a protruding branch, or a strong gust, or the malicious hand of fate tripped her up. She was moving so slowly that it actually was slow motion. The cupcakes flew up in the air and gracefully arced in all directions towards the wet, leafy mulch.
I ran; the neighbor ran. Everyone was too late. D2 was crushed, picking up the gorgeous cupcakes, now decorated with “disgusting nature.” The neighbor said thank you and told her they looked like they had been delicious. D2 put them sadly back on the plate and headed to the house. She carried them successfully the whole way.
So, we’re making new cupcakes. And she threw those ones away all by herself and told me that this afternoon I could help her carry the next batch.
I often find myself on the verge of falling asleep of late. Like, could-drift-off-at-any-time tired. I accidentally fell asleep while trying to perform child bedtime multiple times this week. I think I was asleep before the girls were; I cannot confirm what happened with them because I was asleep.
It seems notably bad when I am driving to work in the morning. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this, not only for obvious safety reasons, but also because they seem to really be patrolling that corridor by the Pentagon lately. Plus, MI has heightened sensitivity about the new car’s paint since the time–now more than several days ago–that (probably) me (unknowingly) scraped the front on something (maybe) while he was out-of-town.
At first I thought it was my body’s passive aggressive protest against the unnecessary traffic buildup on Rt. 27–caused by selfish people forcing a late merge from the right lane that we all know has to exit.
Then I wondered if it was my subconscious’ way of trying to avoid going to work during a dry administrative patch that was, in itself, rather sleep inducing. Shouldn’t one fall asleep in the morning on her own terms?
I worried that maybe waking up really early to run a few times a week with my workout buddy was the elephant-culprit in the room (though people who run when it is cold and early and dark and COLD should never have bad things happen to them. That and cheese are the main reasons I do it.)
One day I realized that even though I was only just driving in to work to “start the day,” I had–in fact–been awake for four hours. I’d run (see above), dressed three people (D2 can do it herself…), made breakfasts and lunches (cutting the crusts off of at least six pieces of bread), done laundry (which now must be done every day?), washed dishes, and braided D2’s hair like Elsa (often requiring two attempts, since I struggle to get it “long enough,” owing in large part to D2’s short hair). That sounds like a rather full morning and well deserving of a nap.
I mostly stopped drinking tea. All winter I found it soothing and warming and peacefully ritualistic. And kind of grownup. And easy hedging in case it really does perform anti-inflammatory/weight-loss/brain-cell-development miracles.* So I started drinking green tea. And it was so fun to be warm and grown-up and maybe developing my brain that I started drinking more. And more. Until my doctor suggested that 10 cups a day of green tea might be why I have to go to the bathroom so incredibly often, and I should cut back. I replaced it with dark chocolate, which has similar health benefits without the peeing side effect, but still feel a bit short on caffeine.
The morning commute is D2’s turn to pick the music and she likes a relatively small number
of songs. Songs like Let it Go from Frozen and This Day from My Little Pony and Roll Up the Map from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And we listen to them over and over. And they’re all completely awesome songs–she has great taste across the board–so I have to keep singing them really loud. The whole way. It can get *exhausting.*
The only time I have to myself or to talk to MI or to get anything done is after the children go to bed, so if I am not falling asleep at 8:15 while “reading,” I am up until midnight. You’re welcome, Instagram friends, for the sacrifices I make to heart the pictures of your kids and restaurant dinners. Plus, online shopping is more interesting after I take out my contacts.
With so many options of what might be making me sleepy, I need an aggressive, methodological approach. So tonight, with the whole evening to myself, I read all of the catalogs I received this week in the mail, looked at RunnersWorld while half-heartedly watching Ellen, checked out some old photos of acquaintances on Facebook, and then binge-watched several episodes of a new show on Netflix. Nothing has come to me yet, but I am going to keep trying to figure it out.
My working hypothesis is that I am always tired because Germany (<–click link for best TV commercial ever).
Off to bed. I’ll be back on the case tomorrow. 😉
*Check out an article on the 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea. It is “proven” that it “may” help. It also “may” start managing all of your bills, scrubbing down the shower, and taking you out to pizza every other weekend. Results vary by individual.
I have been thinking often this past week of a friend–now living far away–who tragically lost her five-year old boy while on a family vacation. The tragedy of it hit me in the way such things do: reminding me of how life can be unfair and uncontrollable and sometimes so very painful. I have had a bit of an ache in my heart all week, wishing I could do something to soften a blow that will only become bearable with lots of time.
A few nights ago, I found myself feeling particularly nostalgic about the beauty of my children as we flitted past each other, unwinding from work and school, making dinner, setting the table. The common and often chaotic scene that night seemed a beautiful one; I felt surrounded by so much love and light and luck.
I decided a tribute was in order. The girls and I sat down at the dinner table. I lit a candle for prayer so we could be grateful and connected to one another, remembering the wonder and blessing that is every day. Just as we bowed our heads and I began to profess how grateful I was for my wonderful kids–who I would love forever and ever–D2 interrupted, calling my name. We aren’t super formal at our house, so interrupting happens every once in a while (read: it happens always. I have yet to speak two consecutive, uninterrupted sentences in my awake children’s presence since 2009.) And as you may remember from a previous post, we are still very much working on reverence. I asked D2 to be quiet until I finished. She did try, to her credit, but a few seconds later, she stood up on her chair and whisper-yelled: “Mom! I pooped!! Right now. I am so sorry.”
Serene expression of gratitude–paused. We went upstairs [parental edit] and finally came back some time later to an extinguished candle and colder dinner that no longer felt so idyllic.
And yet, somehow, it felt like just the right tribute to a five-year old and his loving family. A midst all of the difficulty of parenting small children–the challenges of which I well know–there is a joy; a freeing silliness; a sense of connection and responsibility and being needed and knowing completely true love that are pretty magical. And I need reminders of that magic to make sure I keep seeing the good things through all of the poop.