TWO – My Baby Volcano!!!!!

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My baby boy is explosive emotion, wild energy, and ear piercing noise. Joyful belly laughter that elicits immediate smiles and torturous whining and screams that have your sisters clasping their ears and weeping because you just won’t stop crying. During the past two years, we have suffered hearing loss because you are the loudest baby yet, maybe the loudest baby ever.

I thought third babies were supposed to go with the flow, be easy breezy, but you rocked our boat completely. As I said, you are loud, it is impossible to ignore our baby. You erupt in fury if you don’t like something and your moods derail the most carefully prepared plans.

You make your third time mama feel like a first timer.

Daddy calls you our Sour Patch Kid, sour and then irresistibly sweet. You revolt and then ask for snuggles. When your sisters cry, you earnestly ask them, “Are you okay?” As you pat their backs and stroke their faces. Then the next minute you are throwing matchbox cars at their heads with tremendous force, grabbing their hair, and hitting them with all your might.

My three children are like magnets, you can’t keep your hands off one another, but then the electro magnetism switches and you repel each other with equal ferocity. Then minutes later you are inseparable and stuck together again. Your biggest sister dotes on you constantly, carries you around the house, and usually allows you to join in her play. Middle sister loves you one second and clocks you in the head the next. The intensity of the love/hate relationship between you and your middle sister baffles me. Your shared sibling bonds are stronger than I ever expected.

Currently, Disney Cars is your passion and you talk about it constantly, though you don’t have the patience to sit through the movie. You love Lightning McQueen, cars with smiley faces are the best, and you carry them wherever you go and sleep with them in your crib.

Much to your dad’s delight, starting at 18 months (maybe younger), you enjoyed shooting hoops in the basement. You love basketballs, throwing balls, toys, anything. You have a mini golf club and endlessly hit golf balls around the yard. You do this all left handed, which I’m learning may be the athletic coup de grace. We beam at your hand eye coordination and laugh at ourselves for thinking at two that each of our children were child prodigies. We are as amazed by you as we were by our first two babies, watching a baby grow and acquire new skills never gets olds. You are all unique little people.

Although we may think you are a baby genius, you learned to walk later than your sisters and managed to bump your head into the coffee table several times a day for several months straight. You love play doh and especially love to eat it. You laugh as you stuff it in your mouth because you suckered mom and dad into giving you play doh, yet again.

Getting out of the house has become nearly impossible, for example, one day as I filled water bottles for school, you made a beeline through the dog door and ran straight for the dog poop in the yard (for some reason you love touching dog poop). “Icky, mama,” you shouted and picked it up and smeared it all over your t-shirt, which led to tardy slips for your sisters and me carrying a toddler in a diaper into each of their schools. As I signed tardy slips and politely conversed with acquaintances, I wondered why we still smelled like poop, left the school, and realized you smeared me as well. This is how we roll, and it’s not always pretty.

The girls had bunk beds until you started scrambling up the ladder and leaning over the guardrail in the mornings as I brushed their hair before school. “Mama, watch me,” you shouted with glee as you leaned over the side. Then one day, you jumped off. We detached the beds to make our morning routine safer.

You are fast and give me heart palpitations. One night as I cooked dinner, you dashed out the kitchen, jumped through the dog door, sprinted around the yard, and attempted to climb the fence into our front yard. “I want to see G.G.’s car,” you said, a smile stretched across your face.

Speaking of G.G., another favorite is your grandmas. You love your grandmothers. If they are with us, you want them to constantly carry you. You talk about them and their cars constantly (because grandmas and cars may be the best combination ever). On Thanksgiving, everybody went around the table and said what we were thankful for and when we got to you we didn’t think you understood, but you stated clearly, “I’m thankful for my grandmas.” As a first time mother, I would have been insanely jealous if you preferred someone other than me, but this time around I appreciate their extra arms and your special relationship with them.

“How are you today?” Is your constant refrain when you see someone new and then you introduce yourself by your first and last name and say that you live in Colorado. “I’ll see you next Thursday,” you tell your teachers. You speak in full sentences and articulate thoughts way beyond your two-years (again, our baby genius).

When your sister played Kion, the elephant, in her school performance of the Lion King, you sat in the audience, shouting her name when she came on stage and then screaming Hakuna Matata throughout the other scenes. Almost immediately, Nana escorted you out of the auditorium.

You had the stomach flu the night before your 2nd birthday. You threw up and lay in my arms, tearfully asking me to make you better. Your family party was cancelled, the freezer broke, and your ice cream cake melted. A birthday two days post Christmas confused you, “I want Chanukah to come to my party,” you told me. When we gave you presents, you thought it might still be Christmas and handed them out to your sisters. “It’s not Christmas,” we told you, “It’s your birthday!” My Christmas baby will wait another year to have a birthday party, but your sisters want to make the next one a big birthday party (since you missed this one) and teach you what birthdays are all about. Christmas baby, birthdays are your own special day. You deserve a special day.

You are more than a handful. You are a mini volcano of love, precociousness, sunshine, rage, fire, energy, earsplitting headaches, tears of happiness, tears of frustration, a toddler jokester, a mini athlete, social charisma, mommy’s boy, daddy’s boy, your grandparents’ baby, and your sisters’ favorite/least favorite little person. You make us happy hermits who can’t leave the house for fear of the most intense and persistent little tantrums. At times we brave it and leave our house and then realize you are supremely charming and do better in public than home. After a successful experience we attempt to leave again, only to suffer an explosion and swear we will never ever leave the safety of our home. You have made me seriously consider buying a toddler leash.

We love you and thank you for making our lives colorfully chaotic and never dull.

Sorry for the delayed birthday note, as you know, things have been pretty busy.

We love you. Happy 2nd Birthday Baby!

Him and Me

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I’m surfacing, taking a deep breath, and slowly peering out from the fog.

It seems like we’ve been sick for months, stuck in doors, endless days of fussiness and fevers. I haven’t slept. I haven’t cooked. I haven’t written anything. We have been surviving. I’ve felt pulled in different directions like there wasn’t enough of me for all of them. There were tears (mostly the kids), shared sighs of desperation (the adults), and tempers erupted (all of us).

Over the weekend, my husband and I went out for a date night. A cool night, we stood at a roof top bar that looked out over the Denver skyline. My hand tucked in the back pocket of his jeans, starving because our reservation was at 7:30pm and we normally eat at 5pm. A middle-aged man tapped me on the shoulder, “You two are a really cute couple,” he said, “I mean your hand in his pocket,” embarrassed he blushed, trying to explain himself.

“Thank-you,” I smiled. Happy, I felt like a cute couple. We are good, I’m impressed with us, after nine-years of marriage, three kids, and the ups and downs of work, marriage, and life. We’ve come a long way, but it all still feels the same. Fifteen years later, he is still the gorgeous boy at the bar and I’m still the girl peeling the labels from my beer, except Saturday we ordered our drinks and the bartender asked for my ID.

“I forgot my ID,” I whined.

“I can’t serve you,” he barked.

“I’m obviously older than 21.” I responded. “Please, I have three kids. We never go out.”

“It doesn’t matter. I card everyone under 50, and you are not 50. Sting operations happen here every weekend. NO ONE WILL SERVE YOU.”

So really, nights out as a 20-years-old with a tattered fake ID and date nights at 35-years-old, I’m still begging the bartender to make an exception with the same cute boy standing by my side. Everything changes and nothing changes at all.

A Trip Away

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It’s hard for me to leave my kids – nearly impossible. I may be in the minority. I know other mothers who went on solo vacations away from their children months after they were born. I felt differently. I didn’t want to leave them. The idea of leaving them brought on major anxiety. After my first child was born, my husband and I argued about taking vacations away. He wanted them and I didn’t. My feelings stemmed from a mixture of anxiety, hormones from breastfeeding, control freak tendencies and my own childhood memories when my mother took trips away.

***

On a side note, readers, please have patience for those people in your life who struggle leaving their children. Their decision to opt out of a weekend away is not about their friendship with you/ their love for their husband/ or the importance of the event, it is about them having the faith to leave their heart/the center of their life’s orbit in the care of someone else and trust that everything will be okay. They will be missed but not forgotten. This takes a lot of faith. Some parents understand that if they leave it will be fine and others need some time to figure this out.

***

As time passes, I realize the importance of taking mini vacations. I realize my most precious little people will thrive while I’m away. Most importantly, I want to be an example of a mother who is more than just a wife and mother. A mother who is a woman. A woman that likes to have fun. A multidimensional woman who values family, friendships, adventures, self-care and pursues her dreams.

***

“Mama, you’re going to a Bachelorwet party?” My three-year-old asks, her mispronunciation may be the cutest thing ever.

“Yep, a Bachelorette Party in Miami,” I chime. I’ve been anxious about this trip for several months, but as it approaches my excitement increases.

“What’s a Bachelorette Party?” The girls ask.

“It’s a party you have with your girlfriends before you get married.” I say.

“I want to have my Bachelorette Party in the jungle,” my five-year-old declares.

“Pretty cool,” I say. My mind races, I am pathetically nervous about this weekend:

  1. I haven’t seen my roommate from college in years (in which I became a mom to three kiddos) and I don’t know any of the other women joining her on this weekend.
  2. It has been a long time since I’ve been out after 10pm in Denver, let alone Miami.
  3. I am slightly intimidated by the other women on the trip. These women are successful, from New York City and Los Angeles – I think, clearly, cooler than a stay-at-home-mom from Denver.
  4. In situations where I don’t know anyone, I’m embarrassed to say, my husband has become my security blanket. I think this happens to a certain degree after nine years of marriage, especially for introverts who struggle to leave the couch.
  5. I have never left all three children.
  6. I could die in a plane crash. My husband would be left alone with three small children. I visualize him remarrying a beautiful young thirty-something (perhaps 20-something) immediately and my children calling her “mom” as I become a distant memory. For this highly paranoid reason, I haven’t taken solo flights away from my kids. FYI, I’m aware that there is a higher probability of me dying in a car than a plane crash, but for some reason air travel makes me paranoid. It would be very unhealthy if I was this anxious every time I got in the car.

***

The trip could have gone in a number of different ways, but in the end it was amazing.

I felt good. I went on a shopping spree, which was really a declaration of having possession of my body again –no more pregnancies or breastfeeding. I bought a couple of amazingly “hot Miami” dresses to wear out at night. I bought some bootie sandals like these –  seriously, they make any outfit.

I called my twin sister and told her that if I died in a plane crash, she would have to move to Colorado and tell my children stories about their real mom every day. She told me to “Shut-Up”, but promised she would in the case of my death.

I got on a plane with a small purse. (Other parents will recognize the miracle of this moment). I brought this book and finished listening to this Podcast.

I was ambitious. I packed this book and this book as back up, but I didn’t read either of them.

The afternoon I arrived I sat on the beach and ordered a fresh watermelon drink spiked with vodka and drank it in the sand.

I discovered there is such thing as a selfie stick. As someone who can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve taken a selfie, I came to appreciate the invention (you can take group photos of everyone without anyone stepping out of the picture) and now realize why other people’s selfies are way better than my own (it takes practice).

My beautiful friend from college and I caught up.

I met her amazing friends from New York City and Los Angeles. They seemed intimidating, but they are REAL and so much FUN. My husband can spend days with a group of men and come away with few personal details. Forty-eight hours with these women and we became friends, we listened to each other’s stories, took a break from our lives, shared and connected.

I realized Colorado girls have style too.

I didn’t talk about my kids. Okay, I shared a couple of pictures and funny stories.

I enjoyed hearing – “What, you have three kids? I can’t believe it.” It turns out I don’t have a MOM tattoo stamped on my forehead.

I appreciated and loved my husband from a far. He didn’t complain once about single parenting while I was away.

A five hour flight delay, I came home to freezing temps and a windshield of solid ice. Refreshed. Exhausted. Out of routine. Back to the grind. I ordered some new lipstick, which is always a good “Me” sign.

Warning – The Invisible Virus

Guilt – A highly contagious virus is spreading like wildfire this flu season.  Parents, especially mothers are highly susceptible.  This includes: stay-at-home, working, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, single, coupled, same-sex, attachment-parenting, helicopter, free-range, tiger, and any other type of mother you can think of.

There is no known vaccine.

The virus may cause insomnia, emotional distress, stress related headaches, attitude problems, marital discord, stomach aches, and nausea.  It may lead sufferers to drink copious amounts of wine or binge eat after bedtime.

There is no known cure.  Although sleep, exercise, yoga, wine and confessing all your guilt inducing sins to your true friends will help alleviate symptoms. Acceptance, of oneself and fellow sufferers is key to moving forward.

Let’s support one another in this parenting escapade.

We are all doing the best we can.

Also, if you get a chance check out my essay “Mom Guilt” on the Huffington Post – share it, like it, tweet it, and email it around.  You can “Fan Me” if you want the Huff Post to send you an email whenever I publish over there.

I am an insecure writer, so any fandom is much appreciated.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justine-solot/mom-guilt_b_5793030.html

Thanks,

Justine

Mom Guilt – I Will Do Better

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My head is heavy on my pillow. I roll over in my bed, trying to turn my brain off. It is time to sleep for hopefully three hours until the baby wakes me for his midnight snack. Instead I endure a mental pummeling. Why did I get so impatient when my four-year old treated the minivan like a jungle gym? I raise my voice too often. I tell them to hurry too much. I’m not a fun mom. I don’t read enough with the baby, his bedtime routine is non-existent. I was on the phone when I should have been playing with my three-year-old. I must schedule more special individual time with each of my kids.

Thoughts hit rapid fire, they don’t listen, is there something wrong with them, do other preschoolers listen better? Is their behavior normal? Is there something wrong with my parenting? Are my expectations too high? Am I putting unnecessary pressure on my oldest? Should I sleep train the baby? Will sleep training cause emotional problems?

I am so tired.

Pow. Bang. Boom. The punches keep coming. I take the blows like a professional, but I feel them hard in my gut. I gasp for breath, the guilt. I am a crappy mom. I must do better! I feel defeated.

I make a promise to myself.

Tomorrow I won’t raise my voice. Tomorrow I will be “fun” mommy. Tomorrow I will be less stressed and smile more. Tomorrow I will look at my phone less and play with my kids more. Tomorrow we will eat healthy foods. Tomorrow everyone will brush teeth morning and night. Tomorrow there will be less screen time. Tomorrow I will participate in child directed imaginary play (good for their self-esteem). Tomorrow I will get two loads of laundry done at least. I will return friends’ phone calls. I will be a better mom. I will be a better wife. I will be a better friend. I will be the fun parent.

                                                                       *****

I suffer from mom guilt. Every night I unleash an internal assault upon myself. It has gotten worse since the girls have gotten older and seem to deliberately antagonize each other and myself. I know I’m not alone. We all feel it. However, recently I discovered a temporary scapegoat for my mom guilt rage – Hands Free Mama.

Instead of directing my frustration at myself, my husband, my children or my dogs, I am directing my mom guilt anger at the Hands Free Mama. Her essays about putting the phone down, not yelling and not telling her children to hurry up have gone viral. I wholeheartedly agree that nothing is as important as the time we spend with our children. Further, she insists that we must focus on our young children because we will never get this precious time back (a true but very guilt inducing message).

She has one post in particular, The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up that makes me feel exceedingly guilty. The angelic mama eliminated “hurry up” from her vocabulary. One of her children was a “stop and smell the roses” type of child. Before becoming Hands Free, the writer lived a frazzled life. She told the child to hurry up. Then enlightenment struck, she realized she bullied her child by rushing her and decided that she would be more patient. Just like that, she reformed. She accepted her child for who she was and started scheduling herself at her daughter’s pace. Sometimes they were late, but she acknowledged “… I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young”.

In theory, I agree with the Hands Free Mama. My children are paramount. My time with them is priceless and I must do my best to enjoy my time with them without distraction. But, and this is a big but, I must do this in the context of the real world.

Hands Free Mama makes me (and possibly others) feel like bad mothers. Her perfection makes me mad. Maybe my anger stems from jealousy of her seemingly endless patience and energy? Or maybe it’s because she makes millions of women feel guilty because we fail to live up to her standards by setting our agendas to our preschoolers’ time clocks. We aspire to live as she does, but we fail because we are women who have jobs, household responsibilities and other children, in other words, full and busy lives.

American society has become very child-centric. Parenting theories a la the Hands Free Mama, tell us that we must focus even more on our children. If they act out, they are feeling ignored, so we must have time-ins rather than time-outs. We must never raise our voices. We must never be distracted when we interact with them. We must schedule our lives around endless afternoon activities. We must never get frustrated when our children don’t listen. We must. We must … And if we don’t, we are parenting failures.

We put too much pressure on ourselves to be too many things. We are human. Humans raise their voices. Humans get impatient. Humans sometimes need to make phone calls, respond to emails or meet work deadlines when their children are present.

Being human is not a disservice to our children. The real world is not going to revolve around our grown children.  As adults they will have to show up on time to school, interviews and work. Their future bosses, acquaintances, friends, husbands and wives will be human. They will be human and sometimes will raise their voices, make mistakes, be distracted and be busy. We must teach our children to forgive them when they do these things.

Children learn what it means to be human from their parents. Isn’t it best that we prepare our children for an imperfect world? I aspire to spend undistracted time with my children, to refrain from telling them to hurry up, to not raise my voice, to be patient and to spend quality time with each of them.

Most likely through the course of a day, I will sometimes be patient, undistracted, calm and fun, but I will also sometimes raise my voice, be impatient and distracted. If I am the un-pretty version of myself, I will apologize to them, I will try to do better and I will try to forgive myself for not being a“perfect” parent. My children will learn that I am human (as they are too) and make mistakes, but also learn the importance of taking responsibility for their own mistakes and saying sorry.

I Will Vacuum More (Or Maybe I Won’t)

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“I will at least vacuum on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays,” I chant in my head as I glance at the floor and see my Basset Hound’s hair bunched together like tumble weeds on my hardwood floor, floating down the hall as the fan turns on overhead.  “I must vacuum at least three times a week, this is disgusting,” I think, “I am a complete failure of a stay at home mother and wife,” the words echo repeatedly in my head over and over again.  How I have gotten to the point of equating vacuum frequency and my self worth, hmmm … I have no idea? Irrational comparisons.

My big shopping day is on Tuesday morning when my mother in law is watching the girls.  On Tuesday, I try to get all my shopping done for the week.  The goal is to write down lists of recipes with fresh ingredients for each night of the week and stock the refrigerator full with dinners, lunch meats, and fresh fruit.  Tuesday night we will eat chicken with a fresh vegetable side, Wednesday there will be fish, and Thursday a pasta meal.  Those days I cook I alternate from chopping vegetables and preheating the oven and telling my girls that I will play with them in a minute, right after I put the chicken in, or after I season the vegetables.  I need to just get one more load of laundry in the machine, a stack of clothes folded and put away before dinner, “girls just give me one more minute,” I repeat like a broken record.  If I cook dinner in the evening there is not much time for post nap fun.  There is no time to go to the playground, no time to meet up with a friend, and I can’t quite figure out how all the other mothers seem to cook and fill the afternoon with outdoor fun.  Though admittedly I am a culinary novice.

Some weeks I get dinner cooked and served every night.  The food groups are all represented and I feel a sense of pride that I have achieved culinary success.  I smile as my husband walks through the door, feeling a little Martha Stewartesque.  Other weeks, lots of weeks, I call my husband at work, “Can we just order take out tonight?” On these weeks I just can’t seem to pull it together.

Google is my answer to all my culinary and parenting questions.  To a certain degree I don’t know how my mother lived without it, but maybe she was mentally healthier without it.   Most days my husband comes home and a screen is pulled up on his laptop with the search terms – How long to bake chicken breasts? How long to bake potatoes? How do you cook asparagus?  He laughs to see my googled “how tos” pulled up on the screen.  I’ve cooked a million chicken breasts, but I’m still looking up the time and temperature of the oven.  I don’t like to take risks.  I’m a rule follower.  I follow recipes to the T.  For my risk adverse rule follower personality type the Internet is a lifesaver, a safety net of endless answers to all my culinary questions.

The Internet serves as my lifesaver and also my own personal hell (especially as an uber competitive perfectionist).  If you google “what to do about dog hair?” – the only answer you’ll get is that you must vacuum every single day.   Which leads me to wonder, does every shedding pet owner in the world vacuum on a daily basis?  Before the Internet became mainstream, a mother could use her internal barometer to compare her housekeeping, the status of her kids, and the dinners she cooked.  She could be blissfully ignorant of how she measured up in comparison to all of her friends, and back then her friends only included her immediate circle (whom she saw and spoke to regularly).  Now her friend circle has been exponentially expanded via Facebook and social networking, it extends back to acquaintances from childhood, middle school, and elementary school.  Sure, back in the day, she had certain friends and her mother-in-law that made delicious home cooked meals and mopped pristine floors, but in her mind they could be the outliers, the overachievers.  With the advent of the Internet, Facebook, and Pinterest, I am now painfully aware that some mothers prepare glorious meals every night, some cook seven meals on Sunday and freeze them for the entire week, and they puree their veggies and hide then in their macaroni and cheese.  These mothers have been creatively crafting with their kids all day long, they hand sew keepsake baby shower gifts, and come Halloween their kids costumes are hand stitched by their mothers.  These mothers vacuum daily, these mothers mop, and these mothers iron too.  I am competitive, but I cannot compete with these mothers.  Seeing their perfection can often drag me into motherhood despair.

In my own defense, what is the point of vacuuming and mopping all morning when the dog hair tumbleweeds will return in a couple of hours?  What is the point of taking my car to the car wash when the next ride we go on, my two year old will pour her snacks all over the back seat?  My version of a car wash is to let my dog in the back seat to eat up all the old cheerios, crackers, and pirates booty.  I should let him do this on a weekly basis, but sometimes the weeks get away from me.  Am I supposed to sacrifice my at best two free hours a day during naptime to clean or vacuum, maybe?

I chant as I get in the shower, “I will vacuum on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.”  Unfortunately, I have already failed. I’ve vacuumed a couple times, but not enough.  The Bassets hair will never be erased from my floors.  But on a happier note, I’ve cooked dinner a lot this week (only a couple of nights of takeout), we’ve planted tomatoes, splashed in the pool, and played endless amounts of lost boys where I pretend I’m Captain Hook and chase the girls around the yard.  So maybe I need to learn to give myself a break.  Maybe there is more to being a stay at home parent than vacuuming and home cooked meals, at least I hope so.

I guess the point is that no one can do it all, but you can torture yourself trying.  Although sometimes it seems like someone may do it all or have it all, this is impossible.  Once a task moves further up the priority list another must slide further down.  This, my friends, is life.  For the rest of 2013, instead of worrying about what I haven’t done or haven’t done well, I will focus on what I have done.  My glass will reflect the fullness of what has been completed rather than emptiness of what is left undone.  If my girls and my husband don’t care then neither will I.

P.S.

I am embarrassed because this post is a feminist’s nightmare.  I am an educated woman, why do I care about these 1950’s housewife standards?  But, Cie la vie, I am an educated woman and care about many things and my housekeeping shortcomings falls on the list.

The Mean Mommy Monster

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This morning the sign on our door should say BEWARE OF THE MONSTER.  The monster in our house is not in the closet or under the beds.  She doesn’t appear in the dark at night, but sometimes it’s sleepless nights of restless dogs and whiney toddlers that lull her from her cave.

The dreaded Mean Mommy Monster, everyone beware when she raises her fearsome head.  Husbands run, toddlers hide; the She Beast is ruthless.

She appears harmless, hair pulled back in an unwashed ponytail, yoga pants, and a t-shirt. You might notice she needs a pedicure, a pluck, and a wash.  Sometimes she can be appeased with successive cups of coffee or a couple extra hours of sleep, but other times there is no escaping her wrath.

The Mean Mommy Monster likes to sleep until seven a.m., but becomes fierce when she starts the day before six a.m.  She often emerges during the morning rush, clothing two toddlers, packing lunches and attempting to leave the house.  She snaps, biting words “Help Me please… We are late again! Listen! Girls!”  She speaks in cutting phrases.  She is short on patience and her temper is even shorter.

Toddlers beware! Disobedient dogs better scramble.

Today she appeared when the dog started having panic attacks at 3am.  He jumped out of bed and the mommy jumped out after him for fear the dog would wake her daughters.  The mommy tiptoed down the hall, silently shutting her three-year-old’s door and snuck back to bed.  Dog returned to bed too. 30 minutes later the dog was up, click clack nails on the hardwood floors. The mommy was up too – the dog lay down.  Hit repeat, the same scenario every 30 minutes until five a.m. when the dog jumped from bed, click clack down the hall, scratch-scratch on the daughter’s door. The mommy held her breath, praying for more sleep and that her daughter didn’t hear him. But then, “MOMMY”, and the Mommy Monster slowly crept out from under her down comforter.

“Our dog needs Xanax,” she muttered to her husband. “We have two kids under three, why is the dog keeping us up all night?”  She glared at the dog, “BAD DOG!”

Husband nodded in agreement, “We can try to keep him downstairs, but he’ll probably whine.” Quick kiss on the monster’s head and the husband escaped to work.

The Mean Mommy Monster was tired, but she wasn’t ghoulish yet.  Coffee could only do so much.  Swim class at 9am, an insulting email and the baby’s new favorite game of stripping nude after Mommy finished dressing her, unleashed the perfect storm.

The play by play, she dressed her girls, swimsuit for the big girl and a clean outfit for the little one.  She slipped out of the room to dress herself. Shrieks erupted from her children.  The baby tore off her pants, shirt and diaper. Big girl squealed, “She’s naked!” The Mean Mommy Monster emerged from her cave, half naked chasing the baby around the room as the baby screamed, “No Mama! No Diaper! No Mama! No Diaper!”

Around the room they ran, the shirtless monster yelled, “Help me pleeeease. We are late.”  They circled the room, shrieks and giggles further enraging the Monster.

Big girl munched pretend food, “I want to play,” she responded.  The Mean Mommy Monster fumed.  The Mommy Monster pulled on big girls’ clothes as big girl sat limp on the floor.

“Help Me, Please,” the monster snapped repeatedly. “Swimming is for you, it’s supposed to be fun.  We don’t have to go.” The baby pulled off her clothes for the third time and big girl laughed hysterically.

Finally downstairs, the Monster began the arduous task of putting little feet in little shoes, the baby screamed again. “I want crocs,” hysterics, “I want crocs,” at the top of her lungs.  These two-year-old tantrums pushed the monster’s limits.

“Stop,” screamed the Mommy Monster, “No Crocs, snow on the ground… No Crocs.”  Baby screamed and hit the floor in a ball of anger.  “Screaming doesn’t get what you want,” the Mommy Monster screamed back, clearly not listening to her own message.

The Mommy Monster snapped.  She tried to control her fury.  Her yelling made her kids feel bad, but she felt worse.  Her short temper ate at her on these days.  She pleaded, “Help, please, help…” but she knew her expectations were unrealistic for her two kids under four-years-old.

She strapped the baby in her seat as the baby yelled repeatedly – “Stuck, stuck, stuck!”

“That’s the point,” the Mean Mommy Monster muttered, “car seats make you stuck.”  Baby screamed and the Mommy Monster drove.

She wanted to turn around.  She wanted to go home, give up on swim class and the outside world, but she pulled into the YMCA.  They sat in the parked car. The Monster took a deep breath.  She felt bad.  She felt sad.  She felt guilty.  It had been a hard couple of weeks.  She apologized to her little girls strapped into their car seats, “I’m so sorry Mommy was so grumpy.  I was too grouchy this morning.”  She meant it.

In class, the Monster and the baby sat together on the bench, watching the big girl swim happily.  Another mother sitting nearby asked about the morning.

“It’s been rough,” the Monster replied.

“I hate those mornings,” the other mom stated.  “The mornings when you snap and the children should just get out of your way.  My acupuncturist told me that we all have these moments. Moments when we don’t like who we are or how we behave.  She said our moms had these moments too and typically we don’t remember them, so we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about them either.”

It struck me – this could be my new friend.

Her words, a relief, like ending a yoga class – Namaste – the divine light in me in me honors the divine light in you.

Or in this case, the Mommy Monster in me honors the mommy monster in you.  We are all okay.

 

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