You know the expression happy wife, happy life?

There's another expression I'd like to coin this evening:

Shitty bedtime, everything is shitty.

Shitty bedtime isn't like shitty rush hour. During shitty rush hour you might be like, AAAH this is terrible, but it's terrible in an acute, isolated way - there's a finish line, and when you cross it there's this rush of relief. You know, like a hard poop, or a final exam, or after you barf.

You come into the kitchen and you're like "UGH that was AWFUL," and people will listen to you. They'll pause Netflix and come in and lean against the counter to hear the harrowing tale of how you had to sit a soft seat in your air-conditioned car listening to whatever you wanted for a whole hour.

But even if you still need some time to shake it off, it's over, you're out of the car or bus, and met with sympathy from your loved ones, and now you can just relax and start your evening of freedom and tapas and wine.

Conversely, shitty bedtime shits on EVERYTHING.

Because when bedtime goes shitty, there's a cascade of shit dominoes that shits on every moment of your life until you die.

also
you might be
just a touch
more dramatic
slash apocalyptic
about stuff

Bedtime shitty? First of all, shut up, don't even think it, no matter what time the kid goes to sleep, of course your child won't sleep in. What, are you 7 years old? Do you still believe in Santa and the electoral college too, Otis? Sit down and listen. Or better yet, go to bed, now. Did I stutter? You're going to be up at 5 am with a lunatic rage beast on the loose in your house where there are knives and tiny Legos. GO TO BED.

Bedtime shitty? Your child will need a good hearty breakfast more than someone summiting Everest, yet he will be unable to sit still for anything other than waffles drenched in syrup but probably not even those, let's be honest. You'll cut them wrong. Like a monster.

Bedtime shitty? Hope you didn't have anything fun or important planned tomorrow! Reschedule the kid haircut and call off the zoo trip, because your kid is going to be a manic poltergeist and you will call this day a win if you both get through it with all your fingernails still attached.

His daily to-do list will be like:

- clear all the counters onto the floor with one long sweep of the arm
- hit someone with a broom
- draw blood
- scream for a snack that isn't regionally available
   (PRALINE)
   (I SAID I WANT A PRALINE NOOOW)
   (who told him about pralines)
   (WAS IT YOU RYAN)
- stare into space with eyes full of tears like you're so thirsty but someone just took the last juice box and poured it on the ground right in front of you and then pooped on the puddle and Mom said we're out of straws anyway
- hit someone with a rake
- trip over nothing, fall onto a pillow, spend 27 minutes squealing, squawking, and screeching inconsolably
- start biting again, or possibly for the first time
- hit someone with a shoe, accidentally drop shoe on own foot, it's a moccasin but restart the clock on that 27 minutes, we're going again

Bedtime shitty? Hope you weren't planning to do anything with your evening tonight! Push back the yoga class and call the fruit flies in for supper - you won't be enjoying diversion or a clean kitchen! All you'll be doing tonight is sitting at the foot of your child's bed as he pokes your ear with his toe, while you grit your teeth, stare at the wall, and lovingly tend to your simmering resentment toward your spouse for impregnating you!

Bedtime shitty? Hope you're okay with this conversation, all day!

You: What do you want to eat baby?
Child: AAAAAAAHHHHH
You: Anything you want. Anything at all. I jut want to put calories in you. SAY A FOOD AND IT IS YOURS.
Child: AAAAAAAHHHHH
You: Brownie sundae!
Child: AAAAAAAHHHHH
You: Goldfish crackers smothered in maple syrup!
Child: AAAAAAAHHHHH
You: My hand. You can have my left hand, just let me get out the ketchup and take off my rings. Gnaw on my bones, baby. PLEASE JUST EAT SOMETHING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
Child: ... ... ...
You: Wait--
Child: AAAAAAAHHHHH


Bedtime shitty? I regret to inform you that the following will also be shitty:

- Your impulse control. All you're gonna eat is bread with cheese melted on it with a side of bread with sugar and butter smeared on it. Because vegetables are cute, but your soul is dying and D.H. Lawrence said that the human soul needs actual bread more than leafy greens.

you know what
jarofquotes.com
you are--
you are just--
why do you have to--
nobody likes you, you know

i need some pancakes


- Your hydration. All you're gonna drink is coffee and liquor, bud. Because water is cute, but you need some fucking results.

- Your ability to not weep over a box of raisins that goes into the washing machine by accident. Dude, it was old towels in that load, seriously, it's not a big deal. And yet, you are clearly dead.

- Your kids' ability to say "yes" to things they want. This one's super fun:

Me: Do you want some chocolate milk?
Kid: (looks like he's having a stroke and/or might have to sneeze)
Me: OK well just let me know if you decide you want--
Kid: AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH

(and he's dead)

- Your spouse's attitude when he gets home



- Your attitude when your spouse gets home






Bedtime shitty? Nobody's pausing Game of Thrones to come brush invisible crumbs off the countertop and nod sympathetically as you talk about your crying baby. And you don't expect them to, because:

a) many of your other parent friends are also walking in the valley of the shadow of shitty bedtime and they can't even hear you over the sound of the voice in their heads sobbing, "Oh thank God, I'm not the only one"

b) you can't bear to tell any more shitty bedtime stories because you hate everything especially the sound of your own voice

c) unlike shitty rush hour, which is a tiny bit your fault but mostly the fault of everyone else occupying space on the highway, you have a sneaking suspicion that shitty bedtime is ALL YOUR FAULT.

You know you did this to yourself by choosing the sleep training you chose (it doesn't matter which one you chose; they're all wrong), or keeping the kid up too late, or trying to put him down too early, or giving him raisins with dinner, or wearing those pants today I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY but when bedtime is shitty the only thing you know for sure is that there was a secret formula to easy bedtime that a better/Frencher parent could just somehow KNOW, but you just fucked it up somewhere along the line.

It's like coming home from Burning Man with crabs. You know that one of the choices you made out there in the desert was a real fuck-up, but which one was it? And you have no one to blame but yourself. And now wherever you go, you have crabs. And nobody feels bad for you. Because one day not so long ago you were like "Fuck it, let's have a baby," and it's your fault if you signed for it without reading the fine print.

Shitty bedtime is not a shit pile; it's a shit cloud. Everywhere you go, it is shit.

This is a public service announcement for anyone who didn't know:

When your friend with a kid says, "Oh, we're doing okay. Bedtime is just really hard right now," what she's really saying is:








PS, if you need the somewhat more assertive mug that was the thumbnail for this blog post:
you can get it here



If you enjoyed this post, stay in touch and please share it with someone who has great taste in blogs like you do. ;)

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$2 or $5 a month from you helps me grow this blog, write more stuff for you, and treat this work like, well, my job. 

Thanks for reading! 

xoxo,
Katie
I know four people who have had their first baby in the last couple of weeks and my Facebook feed could not be more delightful, which is something I haven't said in at least 247 days.

___


People tell you to enjoy every minute and you want to kick those dorks right in the goods, I get it.

As someone who has NEVER told and will NEVER tell a new mom to enjoy every minute, I will help you hold a fool for the kicking. Because before spouting off that grade-A bologna, she shoulda asked somebody.

Um, hi.
I can't really walk yet. 
I have no idea what I'm doing and a human life is in my dumb no-idea hands.
My jugs are swollen and angry and painful like two just-inside-the-nostril zits on my chest that never stop popping.
Nothing is normal.
I'm scared to poop.
I googled something about the baby's toenails and THE BABY HAS TOENAIL LEUKEMIA.
People keep asking me why the baby is fussing as if I know.
My lifelong habit of "sleep at night" has just been kicked, cold-turkey, and I am not handling that well.

But yeah, no, thanks, I'll enjoy eeeeevery minute of this physical, emotional, psychological night circus. This is VERY PLEASANT and NOT AT ALL AWFUL.


wheee


There's no other way to slice it: bringing new life into the world through your most tender territories is grown-ass lady's work. That shit is not for sissies. And there's a lot that feels desperate, terrifying, claustrophobic, and infuriating in those first days and weeks of new parenthood. You are, of course, serving the first days of your life sentence, ya new fish. The world just changed shape on you, which can feel like the apocalypse. I have logged many many posts detailing each of the horsemen, the plagues and portents and Armageddonish feeling of new parenthood.

But, you know what? There are good times.

I found so many treasures trudging through the deep sand as a new mom.

I did not enjoy every minute, and I would NEVER advise you to try.

But I enjoyed some of the minutes.

When I think about those minutes, my chest opens up the same way it does when Chicken jumps into my arms, and his smooth arms wrap around my neck and his legs squeeze my ribs and I know he still feels safest right here.

Here are a few of the moments I enjoyed. To the new moms, these are the things that still make me smile, 5 years in.

- 1 -
Game On

Chicken was born late at night and fell into his first sleep in his little plastic bassinet on wheels around midnight.

I sent Ryan home so he wouldn't have to sleep on the plastic bench cot in the room. It wasn't a sacrifice - we lived across the street from the hospital and there was a small army of nurses and midwives who promised to see us safely to the dawn.

Ryan promised to return bright and early with donuts. I don't remember falling asleep.

Chicken woke up crying.

I don't remember what newborn cry he had - was it a gassy bleating sheep cry (wa-a-a-a-a-a), or the Mama-I-need-you-now cry, the two-toner that starts low and ends somewhere around stabbing (wa-AH, wa-AH) - but I do remember that I woke up immediately, and for the only time in my life that I can remember, I had a thought that was accurate both in fact and scale.

This is the first time my son will ever wake me up in the middle of the night. This is the beginning.

There was no one else in the room. I looked at the controls on my bed and the wires stickered to my arm, the tubes that still held me by the vein. I wondered if my epidural had worn off enough for me to walk. I wiggled my toes. I thought about pushing the call button.

I got out of bed, carefully, and shuffled to the bassinet. I stood over my son as he twisted and cried, his hands up and fisted in that newborn surrender to this big, cold world. I picked him up.

This is the first time he called me.

"What do you need, little one?" I asked him. "Are you hungry?"

I sat on the plastic bench and tried to remember how to do the thing I'd done once before, a few hours ago, while in pain and shock. Step one: hold him in right arm so his body is across yours, and his face is at left boob station one. Step two: use left hand to kind of pinch your boob and shove the nipple in his mouth once it's really wide open.

(Listen, I know it sounds easy.)

He wouldn't latch so I rocked him in the dark on the plastic bench that sighed and moaned when I shifted my weight.

This is the first time I'll sing to him. 
OK...
about to start singing...
for the first time...
Here we go...
Oh my God I'm coming up blank on lullabies here. 

I don't remember what I sang. It might have been Sweet Baby James. It might have been the ABCs.

He fell asleep and I called a nurse to swaddle him. "You can call us when he wakes up again and we'll help you feed him," she said as she tightly rolled my son into a blanket with brisk, gruff motions that made me wince even as he snored and snuffled.

The nurse left, and I lay back down in my bed and felt very awake.

First one down. 
I can do this.
Wait, but what did I do?

Nothing, really.

I was just his mom.

For the first time in my life.

In both our lives.


- 2 -
Mother Comrade


There was nothing that didn't scare me for the first couple of months.

I'd sit down to a hot lunch cooked from scratch by my husband, take one bite, and think, "What if I lose my mind and hurt the baby?"

My legs would go numb. My breath would shorten, my heart race. I would not be able to look at the food, much less summon any desire to put it into my body.

I didn't sleep more than a couple of hours a night for the first week and a half - at the hospital there were murmurs of transfer to the NICU and possible infection, and as I wheeled 36-hours-old Chicken to his first chest x-ray, a nurse barked at me that I needed to get a breast pump immediately because he'd be too sick to nurse soon.

15 minutes later we were back from radiology, left in our room, and told to get some sleep.

I turned to Ryan and said, "He's not on monitors or anything. We need to take turns watching him breathe. I'll take the first shift." I couldn't cry. I couldn't feel anything. I had watch to stand.

That part doesn't make me smile, of course.

I tried to explain to Ryan and Mom after we got home and my terror metastasized to include paralyzing fear of postpartum psychosis, stomach flu, Ebola, car accidents, earthquakes, and accidentally leaving the baby in the car. I tried to tell them why I wasn't eating or sleeping but they looked at me like I was scary, rather than scared. I still couldn't cry. The pediatrician told me to have a drink and get some sleep.

I felt loved but broken and very alone.

I lay on the couch one afternoon, my stomach in knots over something both hellish and hypothetical, and I texted a friend, not even a close friend, just the only other young mom I knew in the city.

"This is really hard," I said.

She didn't offer solutions or recommend a book. She didn't tell me to just wait until I had a toddler and a newborn like she did at the time.

She just said, "It is SO HARD."

And then she said, "You are the best mother in the world for your son."

I cried.

That was the first moment I felt welcome in this new life. I felt not crazy. I felt like I fit, because what she said was true, and spoke to a deep fear that I didn't even know I had: My friend told me that nobody else could do better than me at loving my son. She said I was doing the best job anyone could do.

She said that sometimes you feel beaten at the end of the race because you gave it everything you had, you fucking champion. Turn around - there's no one else in sight.

She said she saw my hard-won victory, and she was on her feet cheering for me.

I felt loved, and right, and not alone.


- 3 -
I'll Take It

The first time I drove my son, just me and Chicken, it was to go to a lactation consultant. Because all I do is win win win no matter what.

I took the baby down to the car and clipped him in. I sat behind the wheel. I breathed. I started the car. The Beatles sang "Eight Days a Week."

I backed out of the spot. I signaled, turned onto the street.

I drove 2.4 miles in 8 minutes. I parallel-parked outside the small office on a side-street.

We were early. I took Chicken out of the car and stood in the shade on the sidewalk. I swayed with him and sang Eight Days a Week until it was time.

"You came by yourself?" The lactation consultant made the exaggerated frowning-mouth, surprised-eyebrows face that says "I'm VERY impressed and you look like you need a win."

"Yep," I said. "Ryan's at home. I wanted to do this on my own, though. Gotta live, right?"

"Right," she said. "But still, he's what, 14 days old and you're already out and about? You're a rock star!"

hahaha

WHAT


Thought #1: OMG am I a rock star? Holy shit, I AM a rock star! I had a feeling I might be, but I didn't want to, like...  Thank you so much, seriously.

Thought #2: Wait, does this count as out and about? Driving 10 miles under the limit to a lactation consultant appointment? Is this what my life is now?

Thought #3: Wait, are other people not out and about 2 weeks after giving birth? Am I doing this wrong?

Thought #4: Nah girl, you're good. In fact, you're better than good. The lactation lady said you're a ROCK STAR.

Thought #5: I love her.

Thought #6: Googling:



One of my favorite things about being a new mom was the times I could vault over the incredibly low expectations that people have of new moms. (And also all the times I barely met the incredibly low expectations and it was still totally fine.)

"You're DRESSED? And SPEAKING? Holy shit, is the President also on hold waiting for your input on the thing with the UN right now?"

"You're out with the baby by yourself? And how many dragons did you slay on your way to this, the coffee shop, for your latte of triumph?"

"You bought bagels for our visit!?! What, are you secretly Galadriel the Lady of the Wood and the greatest of elven women?"

yes
i kind of am

would you like
some
water
with your bagel

Simple tasks, common courtesies, basic socialization - all of these achievements were greeted with celebration and applause. Basically all I had to do for those first few weeks was maintain two pulses, not soil myself, and only murder people not in front of a camera, and I became a Super Mom.

Whatever, I'll take it.


- 4 -
A Few Odds and Ends

- Every Tuesday and Wednesday for the first 3 months I went to a new parent support group for 2 hours in the afternoon and it became the axis upon which my entire life spun. The best part of those days was when I would stop at the drive-thru Starbucks on my way to group and get an iced coffee, an ice water, a chocolate donut, and the veggie breakfast sandwich, the one they don't have anymore that had peppers in the eggs. I would eat. The baby would sleep. I would listen to an audiobook. The car became a tiny air-conditioned world in which I had the time and space to enjoy small things like peppers in eggs and a good paperback read aloud. In a life that became, very quickly, about the resources my child needed instead of the comforts I wanted, those nosh'n'drives were, quite simply, nice.

- One day I nursed and then changed Chicken's diaper at Nordstrom. They have very spacious and comfortable rooms for mothers at Nordstrom, by the way. Another mom was in there with her toddler. "Tell me it gets easier," I said. She coughed out a laugh. "I can't do that," she said. "But I can tell you that you'll get harder."

- Those first really epic baby pictures. Not the adorable ones with gam-gam and noo-nob, not the profesh ones where the child is folded into a fleshy baby egg, nude but for a crown of pinecones and duck feathers. but the REAL ones. The ones in mid-spit-up, the ones with the evil face or the pooping face. The ones where you can see yourself falling crazy in love.


#nosenursing
#joy


hahahahahahahahaha
hahahahaha

oh shit he spotted me


- My certainty that strangers would delight in him and believe him lovable, even if he didn't perform baby tricks for them on cue. I miss that. My kids are old enough now that they have to earn love from strangers, which is a shame because most of the time when we're around strangers my kids are testing their long-term performance art piece entitled "SNAP: a creative exploration of the limits of a mother's love."

- 5 -
The Mom, The Myth, The Legend

I would never tell you to enjoy every minute. NEVER.

I will, however, tell you that every minute you spend, whether in reverie or misery, is a moment that you earned, a moment you survived, a moment that wove itself into the myth of how you became a parent.

I wonder how many times a day my infant Chicken heard me whisper, "Okay, okay, okay" or "We've got this," or "I've got you," or "I can do this," or "Everything is going to be fine, baby." If I spoke the recommended 30,000 words a day to my baby son, I think at least 28,000 of them were assertions of our okayness, or at least promises of our future okayness.

I was lost and it was hard.

I look at this picture now, taken when Chicken was 9 days old and Ryan and I were 1 week into Gitmo-level sleep deprivation:

yikes
we look like
we were just rescued from a collapsed mine
after 9 days
but by north korean sleeper agents
and then given a shower
and thrown in front of cameras
to record a statement of allegiance to the supreme leader

and ryan is blinking SOS
and I'm tattooing a secret message to my parents on my leg off-camera

like
we look insane
trapped
pained
dazed
exhausted
and yet
smiling?

so basically we look like new parents
is what we look like

This picture was taken the day the pediatrician told me to have a drink and get some sleep.

This picture is what I look like when I am profoundly not okay.

And what I see when I look at this picture is the fact I started there, afraid of everything, and now I'm here, having performed the Heimlich maneuver in real life, called poison control four times in four years, swept my son to the ER for possible battery ingestion, answered his questions about death and God and friends and anger. And my life isn't perfect and neither are my kids, but I walked myself step by step out of a place where I believed, deeply, that I was not going to make it.

I asked for help; I learned the ropes; I built my life. The mom at Nordstrom was right - I did get harder.

On the day Chicken was born my world did an Easter Sunday - it died and rose again. I am so damn proud of myself. I learned the new world.

It helps that even in the resurrected world, there is Starbucks.


___


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And if you're a big fan, please consider supporting my blog through Patreon

$2 or $5 a month from you helps me grow my blog, write more stuff for you, and treat this work like, well, my job. 

Thanks for reading! 

xoxo,
Katie
The boys finished dinner at 6:08 pm and Ryan and I were supposed to be out the door by 10 past for our date.

I did a quick mental inventory of my appearance:

- a baggy Pink Floyd tank top with a brown stain on the chest (It was either poop, mud, or chocolate pudding. Two of those semi-solids are whatever, and the other one is also whatever, but in a secret shame kind of way, like at home it's whatever I'll change when I can, but with people it's like now I understand what I am and I shall return to the hills from whence I came.)

- cutoffs that fit this morning but after getting the boys in and out of the pool twice, and in and out of the bath twice, not so much. #ElephantButt

- flip-flops, no makeup, dirty hair bordering on clumps

I looked at the clock, which ticked to 6:09.

ALL RIGHT PEOPLE. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.



First priority, eyeliner. Pro tip: When you're looking greasy and shitty, the more eyeliner you pile on, the more your profound filth looks like a choice.

exhibit a
this piece of shit

caught here at the moment he was thinking

wait
she was recording that?

wait
she has visible bruises on her face?

why is she being
so mean to me?


In 3 minutes (I'm a wizard, not Jesus), I pulled on jeans, flailed my body into a cute top, WAIT back it up, gotta change the bra for this cute top, OK BACK IN THE CUTE TOP, then attempted to untangle a five-stranded necklace from the bottom of my suitcase before temporarily greying out - which always happens when I engage in fine-motor fiddling under the gun - and then coming to and saying "fuck it I'll grab a scarf."

Why did I do this?

I was going to a movie.

I was going to sit in the dark for 2 hours next to a man who had a front-row seat to my vagina when a blood-and-slime covered baby head was bulging out of it during childbirth.

TWICE.

Why did I stop for eyeliner? Why did I change out of my poop shirt?

My husband was wearing almost exactly what I'd had on - shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops - and he was ready to roll.

Why did I feel obligated to change? Why did I not even CONSIDER not changing?

___

Whenever I think about the mandatory physical perfection of women, I always think about Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's brilliant bit at the Golden Globes:





If you're a mom, all you have to be is an attentive parent who doesn't worry about vain things like gray roots or shorts that fit. Sounds easy, right?

WRONG.

You ALSO have to package yourself in a way that is practical, stylish, appealing, relatable, sexy, demure, funny, but not too funny, and smart, but again, eeeasy girl.

You have to select your LOOK in a way that clearly transmits to the entire world what kind of dame, hussy, virgin, bitch, power player, hippie love mama, or All-American-girl-next-door you are today, based on your grooming, personal accessories, choice of apparel, body language, and general demeanor.

But quickly!

But flawlessly.

But without WORKING on it!

But SLAY.

But in TWO FUCKING MINUTES!

And women everywhere said:

NO PROBLEM! 
I CAN BE EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME WITH NO RESOURCES! 
I HAVE LITERALLY BEEN TRAINING FOR THIS MY ENTIRE LIFE!
But then when I do that, you'll recognize how fucking impossible this is to sustain, right?
Like, once I have my foot in the door, I can relax and not have to be everything to everyone anymore, right?

And the whole world said:

Actually, no. You're in, bitch. You're in this for the rest of your life. You will have to fight your way out with deep therapy and numerous subscriptions to feminist podcasts that at first you'll think are super extreme but after a year or so you'll go looking for harder stuff. You and I both know you're not doing therapy and feminista podcasts, so go put on some blush before you drive me to the airport at 4 am.

If you take too much time to get ready for your date, then you're neglecting your children, and then the drug addiction will be your fault, really.

But if you don't take enough time to primp and prettify, then you're murdering the romance in your marriage. And then the affair will be your fault, really.

I wish I were exaggerating, but as I pulled on my jeans and dashed down the hall with enough time to snuggle my kids before running out the door with Ryan, I actually thought, "OK, I did it, my husband still knows I'm sexy and my kids still know I love them. OK. OK. Whew. So glad I brought those jeans."

You and I both know it's not about the jeans.

If I believed that a single wardrobe choice could actually impact my family's health and happiness, that would be placing an insane amount of faith in the ancient mystical powers wielded by a single pair of jeans. And these were GAP jeans, people. That's muggle denim. Solid construction, zero wizardry.

Of course I know that my jeans aren't all-powerful.

It's just that I don't trust other people to know that, too.

___

I don't personally care about pleasing strangers with my appearance.

But I DO care about my self-worth, 
and my self-worth is determined by my appearance and its ability to please strangers.

If it's hard to wrap your mind around that (Hi Greg, thanks for reading this far!) let me put it another way: You might not care about the quality of Iowa pastureland, but you give a damn about the flavor of your steak, right?

The thing is that the flavor of your steak depends on the quality of pastureland, so even if you don't give a fuck about grass, you kind of do, actually, by default, if you want a good grass-fed steak.

I don't care what strangers think of me, but I DO care that I have value in the world that strangers inhabit. I care about that nice juicy steak, which means like it or not I have to spend every day keeping my grass super grassy so people will give me steak.

When I say, "I'm going to put myself together," so that I can go out, I don't parse my word choice very carefully most of the time. But think about it. I'm putting myself together.

I put. My SELF. Together.

I  choose my appearance and by extension my identity, value, and treatment by strangers. I build a brand statement out of my self. I invented this Katie, custom, for THIS trip to the mall.

I do what all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't do, and I do it every damn day most of the time without even thinking about it. Not because I give a fuck about grass, but because if you want the steak you have to care about grass, and if you want to be visible and valuable as a lady, you have to care about your appearance.



I don't care about what strangers think of me. 

But I am both comforted and humiliated 
by the way that my self-worth is determined by what strangers think of my appearance, 
and how they treat me as a result.

Let's return to the steak metaphor - You care about steak but not grass, but caring about steak means you HAVE to care a little about grass, right?

Now imagine if you had to learn a shitload about grass, farm grass, fertilize grass before you could even get a whiff of that steak. Imagine if you had to spend your time and money tending to grass, making it look just right, before anyone will let you glance at a cut of meat.

On the one hand, that's a pretty simple formula to get some fine-ass steak, right? You have one job: make sure that grass is vibrant and swishy and sweet, and ring the bell, boys, it's dinner time.

But imagine that wasn't your one job. Imagine if you had like 5 jobs, including raising your children and your actual fucking paycheck job. All of a sudden this grass shit starts to get pretty tedious.

Imagine if, despite the baby pics on your desk and your actual personality that consisted of other interests, people started to know you as "the grass guy."

Imagine if one day, after all that grass which you traded for all that steak, you had a moment of clarity where you remembered that you DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT GRASS, but now your entire identity is based on this grass that you're still growing and tending and spending your money and time on even though you don't give even a single sliver of a fuck about it.

That's kind of embarrassing, right? Kind of diminishing? Are you starting to hate yourself? Starting to feel small? Starting to wonder how much you actually care about steak? I know just how you feel.

It is comforting to know that if you hike up your boobs people will be happy to see you at Chili's, and you'll probably get some free jalapeno poppers.

But it is fucking embarrassing to change your clothes 30 times in search of your self-worth. No matter what you end up wearing, you know it's just a costume.


I don't care about what strangers think of me. 

But I do care about living my one and only precious life 
with my health and self-worth intact.

Imagine if your grass wasn't quite up to snuff and nobody even offered you a menu at the steakhouse.

Whether or not you care about grass, when people treat your grass like currency that you can exchange for steak, it becomes your fucking currency, right? When nobody's buying your grass, you feel pretty shitty, right?

Hear this truth: If I ever have to bolt out the door wearing shitty clothes and the underwear that gives me muffin top, all day long I'll be questioning my worth as a human being. Straight up, bad underwear RUINS my day. It sounds shallow until you remember that IT IS NOT BECAUSE I GIVE A FUCK ABOUT MY UNDERWEAR.

It's because I am now spending my mental energy on whether I qualify as human within the confines of this too-small elastic band, instead of on how I can move my career to the next level, or how to connect with my husband, or whether I am actually happy, or how I can strengthen my friendships.

Imagine if growing your grass hurt your body. Imagine if the fertilizer you used increased your chance of getting cancer. Imagine if the blades of grass cut and squeezed your feet while you worked.

Imagine if you kept charging more and more grass farming supplies on your credit card and you got the statement at the end of the month and you were like $3,000, FUCK I don't even CARE ABOUT GRASS!

The next logical statement would be "... and I don't give a FUCK about STEAK anymore, either."

That's the thing. Sooner or later most of us have a moment when we remember (not realize, we realized it a long time ago) that no matter how much we love steak, that shit will never love us back.

No matter how hard I work to be pleasing, I'll never have pleased anyone to completion, right? "Pleasing" is not a state the one acquires. Teeth yellow and wander askew and you think about spending the money you set aside to travel to Spain on Invisalign instead - better to be pretty in Wal-Mart, or slightly snaggle-toothed in Barthelona?

This is not an easy subject to wrap up neatly. I'm in the middle of this - I've had no epiphanies here.

All I wanted to say was I went on this date and I wasted 3 minutes dressing myself to earn passage through a movie theater in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

And I wanted to tell any gentlemen out there who make jokes about how long it takes women to get ready for a date:

Dude, I understand that it can be annoying to have to wait an extra half an hour for your date/wife/partner/whatever.

Remember that it's not about the clothes.

She doesn't care about looking cute; she cares about being valued. She isn't the one who picked her physical appearance to value - the world picked that for her and she has very little choice but to play along.

She's suiting up in there for whoever she needs to be to allow strangers to hear her voice and see her face. She's trying to crack the safe to get off with the good opinions of the strangers she hasn't met yet tonight. THAT SHIT TAKES TIME.

When she does emerge, the only acceptable thing for you to say is:

Ready to go? 
Great! 
So tell me, what do you want to achieve in the next 3 months and how can I help you get there?

Seriously, that's the ONLY thing you should say.

If you want to vary that question you can ask for goals 6 months out, or say "wonderful" instead of "great." Although "wonderful" sounds a little passive-aggressive, honestly.

And I mostly wanted to send this message out to the women to say:

If you feel this way, I do too.

You're not shallow.

Or, you know, you might be a little shallow, but not for caring about whether the world sees you.

And if you do ever get out there on date night in a poop shirt?

Girl, I'll SEE you.




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$2 or $5 a month helps me grow my blog, write more stuff for you, and treat this work like, well, my job. 

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I HAVE CALLED THIS MEETING OF PARENTS OF THREENAGERS BECAUSE WE ALL NEEDED A REASON TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE HOUSE TONIGHT.

Hi! Welcome! Please take off your shoes.

The benzodiazepine bar is in the kitchen -There's a bottle of Klonopin open, but I also have Valium, Amy brought Xanax, and Rachel's on her way with the Ativan.

And the pizzas are on the sideboard - there's a whole pizza for everybody so don't be a little bitch and stop at 4 slices.

We all know why we're here. Now let's try to fill that bottomless hole inside that aches all day long, okay?


___

On the night before Buster turned three, he turned his rosy, plump little baby face up to me and cooed, "Hewwo beautiful girl. I wuv you. Sweet dreams!"

I smiled down at him. "Sweet dreams to you, my angel." For he was an angel. And he always would be.

Or so I thought.

The next morning, when I heard rustling behind his door, I went in and sang out, "Happy Birthday, my darling boy!"

He pulled his face from the pillow and turned to look at me.

WHAT THE--

The soft, pink, cupid's bow lips with which he kissed me good-night only hours before had been devoured by a snarling pig-mouth monster, capable only of emitting the range of noises you might experience when putting gravel into various bladed kitchen appliances, or playing an accordion while dying of TB.

GRRRRRRR (coffee grinder)

UUUUUNGH (blender)

AAAAAUGH (disposal)

And his eyes? The night before, they were rich brown pools of warm comfort, twin chocolate baths inviting you to come in and surround yourself with liquid unconditional love. At 2, he had puppy eyes. But on the morning he turned 3, they had chilled, sharpened, and hardened, and they glistened like the eyes of a chocolate lab gone rabid. The eyes of a man-killer.

At 2 years, 364 days, he was a snuggler. Trademark catch phrase? "I want kisses!"

At 3 years, he became a sulker. Trademark catch phrase? "Ugh, nobody CARES, Mom."

is that watermelon?



whatever


What the fuck?

2-year-old Buster stroked the downy cheek of a newborn baby with the same perfect, gentle smile that I imagine illuminates the face of Jesus Christ himself every time a puppy falls asleep and begins to snore.

3-year-old Buster slapped a baby at his own birthday party. SLAPPED. A. BABY. ON. THE. HEAD.

And then, as the infant's mother inspected the curvature of her baby daughter's head for dents, Buster stomped away with slumped shoulders, leaving a trail of "UUUUUNGH" in his wake, and successfully creating, for all of the guests, the story they will tell about our son should he ever be convicted of puppy milling or first-degree Internet mansplaining (because, seriously, that will be a crime someday. I have a dream.)

What the FUCK?

A kindly Asian grandma waved to him at the supermarket. He bared his teeth and wrinkled his nose in the international sign of "I AM AN ORC," and the woman clutched her own hands and shrunk away. I crouched down and said, "Dude! What's going on? She was just saying hi,"and he hissed in a hoarse demon voice I'd never heard before, "She was ssssstupid."

I considered getting him a custom-printed straitjacket in safety yellow that says:

IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO SMILE AT ME,
DON'T.

IF YOU ARE ABOUT TO WAVE AT ME,
STOP.

I HAVE BLOND CURLS BUT
I HATE YOU AND EVERYONE.

Or possibly one of these:

i mean
i wouldn't cinch it up or anything

Actual conversation today:

Me: (singing softly in the car)
(car honks)
Buster: When you sing, cars start honking.

My 3-year-old has reached shade level: Toddler Rihanna.



And there's only so long you can attribute the savagery of this side-eye to dropping a nap or not enough crackers.  (But girl, more crackers can't hurt.) You can't deny it. You have a threenager.

At a certain point, three things become terribly, mercilessly clear in your mind:

1. There is for sure a 14-year-old dorkwad sneaking into your child's room at night and whispering asshole teenager things to him.

THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION.

Who else could have taught Buster how to say "You're the worst," and "This dinner sucks," and "Shut up, stupid," and "Ack, lame," and of course his trademark catch phrase, "Nobody CARES, Mom."

What, did those words just emerge from his subconscious? Is spontaneous teenage assholery a normal developmental leap, like the ability to hop on one foot and roll his eyes when I speak?

no
no they did not
KYLE
you fuckin shit stain

nice face btw
where's you get it
the butt store


2. This is not "an opportunity."

You know, like "throwing food" or "making a choking noise on purpose when he's eating nuts and then smiling at you when your heart stops." This one can't be empathized or boundaried.

This is not a "teachable moment," where you can explain how words hurt people's feelings.

This is not a "cue the piano" moment. Uncle Jesse can't do SHIT for you. And Uncle Joey can fuck right off too, him AND his beaver.

beaver
woodchuck
all i see is a stupid face
also that puppet

i'm sorry dave coulier
i'm not mad at you
i'm just
i'm so tired

Threenagers need to be guided, of course, but they don't allow you to GUIDE them.

They need help, but they ask for help by screaming "NO DO IT MYSELF" when help is offered, then melting into a rage-puddle on the floor when they cannot, in fact, do it themselves.

Your work is necessary, but it will not be satisfying. Because threenagers need you to just stand there in silent prayer like a statue of Gandhi while they are the human equivalent of everything that can happen with a fingernail. (Nails on a chalkboard. Nails bent backward. Nails slammed in car doors. Nails with bamboo needles shoved underneath them. NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS WITH NAILS.)

This is not an opportunity.

This is a stress test.

And sooner or later, everybody breaks.

3. You are a terrible mother. 

"You are a terrible mother," is the parenting equivalent of the ending of Planet of the Apes - it might be a dystopian hellscape, but fuck me sideways if it doesn't make HELLA GOOD SENSE.

You might see it right there with your own eyes and think, "No... no... that could never happen..." and yet there it is. THERE. IT. IS.

Shit, that explanation ties up EVERY SINGLE LOOSE END in this, your life, if your life was the worst movie you have ever seen. (Honestly, where was the editing? How many times do we need to see the main character eat cake while she stares vacantly at a reality show she doesn't really care about?)

Of course, no matter how true your terribleness feels, as irrefutable as a statue half-buried in the sand, you know that's just some made-up shit, right?

Your kid's the captain of a speedboat stuck at full throttle careening toward the reef through a titanic shitstorm. And you're just the lighthouse. There's only so much you can do, friend. He's got to zig, zag, splash and sputter a little for a year or two. That's not a reflection on your parenting, just a fact of biology.

To paraphrase Louis CK, this is a hurricane. Tape up the windows and wait for that shit to pass.

In the meantime, do your work, say your prayers, have some Xanax and chase it with a pizza.

You're among friends.




If you enjoyed this post or really any of my posts, please consider supporting my blog through Patreon

$2 or $5 a month helps me grow my blog, write more stuff for you, and treat this work like, well, my job. 

Thanks for reading! xoxo


WEEK ONE OF EASY STREET: ACHIEVED.

It was strange to prioritize my own ease, pleasure, and enjoyment this week... like I'd borrowed my friend's shoes, and even though we wear the same size, the feel of the sole is odd, and every time I take a step I am aware of that step in a way I wasn't last week. I think, "Huh! Another step. How novel."

It was extra strange because it was a big week - Chicken graduated pre-k, and it was his special week at school so it was a double-whammy.

Buster also took his shot at the crown with sudden, operatic separation anxiety (because I needed more things), and this weekend Ryan went camping solo so I was planning to be on my own Saturday and Sunday.

Straight-Up Shortcuts & Hacks

- Dinner.

Fuck off, sweet potato enchiladas. GTF outta here, black bean soup from scratch.

I served canned soup, take'n'bake pizza, bags of salad, microwaved frozen peas, pre-cut veggies and fruit instead of whole, pre-shredded cheese instead of the brick. I stopped just short of Stouffer's but that was last week and tomorrow's a whole new ballgame.

#StandardsAreAThingIHad5YearsAgo

- Separate corners.

At the first sign of conflict between Chicken and Buster, I separated them. HARD.

I did not fight the good fight. I did not seek to deepen their understanding of the importance of compromise and communication. I avoided the shite out of those conflicts and I don't regret it for a second. I alternated which kid went to the bedroom with a toy of his choosing. I turned on an audiobook, and I closed and locked a door between them.

- Please don't hate me, because I'm about to say something that is so cliche but it was true this week so I feel like I have to be real here...

Instead of exercising, I just got outside and ran around with my kids. I mean, I RAN tho. My kids are fast. I broke a sweat 4 days out of 7. We played Dragon Tag and Robot Hide and Seek and Airplane Catcher. These games sound complicated but they're like cocktails: the Boulevardier, the Old-Fashioned, the Manhattan, the Sazerac... yo that's all whiskey with a garnish. And all those games are some blend of chase, catch, tickle, scream, release. It was honestly SO fun.


Treats and Specialities

I indulged this week.  How, you ask?

How DIDN'T I indulge this week? I made my daily stuff YUMMIER.

Put it this way... every morning for breakfast I made a toasted everything bagel with sharp cheddar cheese melted on top in the broiler. And I discovered a profound truth about life and happiness and salty bread and melty cheese... THEY ARE ALL ONE AND THE SAME. #LiveEveryDayLikeItsCheesyBagelDay

There was wine! Cake! Daily pounds of cheese! Creamy night moisturizer! Every water was a can of Kroger-brand sparkling water! But most importantly, I gave myself permission to eat the delicious organic berries and cherries that I buy for the children. And oh, those berries were SWEET.

I also treated myself to a babysitter this Saturday morning while Ryan was hiking and camping. I got a haircut and went grocery shopping for the week while the sitter ran my boys into the ground, handled the negotiations around the cool new Paw Patrol water squirter, cooked them lunch, and dealt with Buster's nap.

Shit I Skipped

- Laundry.

I know I said I was going to do 1 load a day. Buuuuuuut I maybe did 2 loads this week. Every time I passed the growing pile of grass-stained, oatmeal-crusted, hose-water-soaked Osh-Koshes, I was like

nope

- E-Mail.

I just... didn't. That's a luxury and a privilege, to be able to basically ignore emails this week without fear of losing my job or my 40% off code at Shutterfly. But who are we kidding, if you ever pay full price at Shutterfly (or shipping, for anything, EVER) you are a damn fool who deserved to get taken.

- Small-talk with my regular weekly small-talk people.

You know the people you see every week - the other mom whose kid sees a therapist at the same time yours sees your therapist, another mom in the parking lot or the gymnastics class waiting room, Brandon at Starbucks drive-thru? I didn't this week. I smiled, I nodded, I wasn't rude. But I didn't put my energy into trying to connect with them. I didn't feel like it. So I didn't.  I took my own side in that debate. "You don't want to, and you don't have to. You don't owe this person anything. Pay for your coffee and be on your way."


Counter-Intuitive Master Strokes

- One morning I woke up an hour before the kids. 

KATIE. How is LESS sleep Easy Street?? I'll tell you how. In that hour I watched 2 episodes of Kimmy Schmidt, decided I'm kind of meh on this season, made myself a hot breakfast, packed lunches, made the class treat for Chicken's special week, and by the time the boys' alarm clock light turned green I was 3 cups of coffee deep, talkin' fast and trembling lightly.

- One night for dinner I made bruschetta. 

I know what you're thinking - that's a shitload of dicing for someone on Easy Street! Well, yes, but CHECK IT. I walked that street with a glass of wine in my hand, watching The Handmaid's Tale, and there was cheesy oil-soaked bread at the end of that street.

- Ryan and I got it on even though we were both tired.

Listen, I know a lot of our relatives read this blog and I don't want it to get weird but y'all know where our babies came from and it wasn't a berry-bush. It was a P in V and we're M and W and that's how it goes down sometimes. (I mean, more than sometimes...)

ANYWHO, you know how they say the hardest part of going to the gym is putting on your shoes? That's kind of my point of view with good old-fashioned marital relations. The hardest part is deciding to. Once you lace up it's good clean sweaty healthy fun and you're almost never like "Oh man, I wish I'd just watched another episode of Kimmy Schmidt instead."

And that was my experience this week.

Me Time

I tried to find an hour every day, whether that was after bedtime or in the middle of the day, when I could tune out and do my own thing.

- I took a HIKE on Sunday. And then I went to a MALL. And then I went to DINNER. And saw a MOVIE. With a FRIEND. Not a drill, not a joke, not a dream.

- I packed the iPad for long drives into the city with the boys, and let them listen to their audiobooks in the backseat while I listened to mine up front.

- I took a long walk during Chicken's appointment on Monday.

- After bedtime I made bruschetta for myself, or I had a cup of tea and some cake with a good friend who came to visit at the new house.

I enjoyed shit that was just for me.

Lesson learned: Easy Street is a beautiful boulevard to walk, especially when you can strike that balance between handling some shit and deferring other shit.


So now what?

Well, obviously I'm going to keep going down Easy Street. I've had a taste of my kids' berries and I'm not going back.

But Week 2 is going to be tricky.

- School's out for summer, which means I am excused from 2 hours of daily drive to and from Seattle (hallelujah), but my attendance is now mandatory at "my children" 24/7 until September (wait what).

- Remember that camping trip Ryan took? Welllllllll he came home with some stitches and bruises after he fell halfway off a mountain. Don't worry, my man is THE man and he never falls halfway off a mountain without paracord and leather-palmed gloves for rappelling, so he rescued not only himself but also aided in the rescue of 2 others who found themselves on the same rocky cliff only a couple of hours later.

But he's sore, swollen, and touch'n'go when it comes to things that I usually take for granted like "Can the children please sit with you for stories," or "Play that game where the boys hit you repeatedly with pillows, they need it, it's either that or we chain up a goat and lock ourselves in the car."



- I can't put off the laundry anymore. I'm wearing the terrible underwear right now.

So stay tuned for more info about Easy Street: Week 2.

And I continue to invite you to join me.

Too often we don't give ourselves one-time breaks because those are breaks we can't do ALL the time.

"I can't order pizza on a Tuesday; we can't afford takeout every night!"

Nobody can! But can you afford it tonight? Are you exhausted? Is it 45 minutes to dinner and you'd rather spend those minutes trying out Dragon Tag than dicing an onion for homemade stew?

I hereby tell you to go for it. I hereby give you permission, not that you need it, unless you do, in which case PLEASE TAKE THIS PERMISSION and go enjoy some shit and relish the delight of not doing the shit you thought you had to do!

Even though it's going to be hard to make time for myself with the kids home all day, I'm sticking with Easy Street. Because I deserve to eat the good berries and write my little blog. Because I have this one wild and precious life. And because my happiness trickles down (and not just because of these terrible underwear) (ew I know) (sorry) (sorry not sorry).

Leaving you with that image byeeeeee!

why

Have you ever been on a play date where the other kids are like #IWokeUpThisWay?

(this will make sense in a minute)


You know if you have.

Your friend's 2-year-old walks up to her mom and says, "Mama, water?"

The mom says, "Sure baby, you know where the cups are."

You watch the child walk to a low cupboard, remove a single cup, walk to the fridge door, press the cup into the water dispenser until about half-full, and then bring the cup to her lips to drink.

You watch all of this while holding a bottle of water - not a sippy-cup, a BOTTLE - to your 2-year-old's mouth while he stares vacantly and bangs two blocks together like a monkey that flunked out of cosmetic testing school.

Oh my God, you think. It's already too late for this one. Good thing I'm pregnant again. We'll just call Barney our rough draft.

You say something to your friend. Perhaps, "Wow, Angela. That was amazing," or maybe, "I bow before your majesty, o enchantress of Seattle," or possibly even, "What the fucking fuck, girl."

She laughs, but in an awesome self-deprecating way, like your friend would obviously not be bragging about how gifted her child is without a sprinkling of kindness, because she's fucking perfect and shit.

"Oh, yeah, that. You know, we just got lucky, honestly. And we have to really enjoy these few months while she's outpacing her peers in 'drinking water.' That shit doesn't last forever, you know? I mean, at some point other kids catch up on that one. There is a ceiling, right?"

Everybody laughs.

Angela smiles over at Mandy, who is counting softly in Mandarin while she holds a flawless dancer pose.

Angela looks back at you and holds painfully kind eye contact as she says, "But wow, Barney, his hand-eye coordination is amazing! He's going to be a baseball player!"

You look at your child, who goes to bang two blocks together and misses and falls over onto his face and can't figure out how to let go of the blocks to pull himself up again.

"Yeaaaah, that comes and goes," you say.

You go home and vow that by next week your child will be drinking water from a cup with no lid.

Or probably with a lid, let's be honest.

Or holding his own bottle.

There's a reason they call them "baby steps."


___


I still measure my kids against their peers when it comes to soft skills, the character traits that are complex, never-acquired, and fluid. Bravery, kindness, leadership, ability to articulate strong feelings, ability to control impulses... These genuinely valuable skills are tricky as hell to measure, because some days your kid is a champ and other days he's a Trump, and the difference-maker is whether he got a snack on time.

However, I've long since stopped measuring my children against their peers when it comes to what I call "parlor tricks."

Parlor tricks are the flashy, adorable, and meaningless gestures of coordination or sophistication that have little to no relationship to your skill as a parent or commitment to your work.

Parlor tricks are finite accomplishments, and they are all skills that neurotypical and able-bodied kids eventually master, so whether they do it at 4 months or 6 months, or 1 year or 2, chances are that your kid will arrive at some point.

Parlor tricks include:

- saying multi-syllable words
- clapping
- drinking from a cup
- using a fork
- trying salmon
- putting on their own shoes
- riding a bike

What does it matter if you first put on your shoes when you were in Mater diaps or Power Rangers briefs? Are we really going to believe we're failing at the thing we're working the hardest on, just because our kid isn't that into forks yet? With the gift of time and perspective you can take a deep drag on your Parliament and exhale a great big "fuuuuuuuck no."

But early on, your confidence is still a seedling, the tender growth you can't quite lean on yet. You watch other people's kids and care, deeply, about where you and your child exist on the spectrum of peers. Based on parlor tricks.

I wish our self-worth weren't quite so negotiable.

___


Angela didn't wake up one morning and say to Mandy, "You're ready, daughter. Follow my instructions very carefully." Angela didn't talk Mandy through filling a water cup at the fridge door ONE TIME and then Mandy had it on lock.

(Actually that for real could have happened because we might as well start calling Mandy Madam President right the fuck now, that girl has powers y'all.)

At some point, between the moment of parlor-trick-inception, and the moment of play-date-demonstration, that shit was a puddle on the floor.

Parents have to make choices every day about when to "teach skills" and when to "take care of shit." When we're feeling strong, our kids can crack the eggs for us. On rougher mornings, not so much.

We have to make choices every day about what skills we must prioritize - those skills are influenced by our values, our environments, our friends, and our needs. Swear to God, the only reason Chicken learned how to pull on his own pants was because Buster was teething and wouldn't get off my boob, and we were late for a field trip to the zoo, so we talked that shit through. I was like Jeff Daniels in Speed you guys.

okay okay
on the front of the pants there should be a button
what kind of button?
it's
it's a button
a pants button
a BUTTON
look for the only button
on the--
ok
thank you
yes
so you've got the button

beneath the button
are two hollow cylinders of fabric
those are the pant legs
sit on your bottom
and slide your legs
feet first
into the pant legs
until your feet
come out the bottom
wait
wait
is the button in the front or the back
chicken
where is the button
ok stop
just stop
let's go back to the button
If you watched Chicken get dressed today, you might think that kid had been putting on pants since his first Cheerio, but don't ever forget: there was a day (a month of days, in fact) that "pants" was the thing that fucked my day up, Monday through Friday, and "pants" was the thing that fucked Ryan's whole weekend. Pants was a PROCESS at our house. We chose pants to make our lives easier.

We didn't choose "drinking without a lid," until one day I was feeling strong and tried that shit. (Pro tip: Put like a half inch of water in the first time, you guys. Don't be like me.)

Here's how the cycle goes in our house:

1. I feel strong. (And/or situational chaos mandates a massive and rapid skill acquisition for my child. See also: Pants.)
2. I decide to try something I've seen other children do. I pitch it to the kids.
3. They're psyched. They LOVE SKILL ACQUISITION!!!
4. I talk them through the process while preparing the necessary supplies.
5. I present the necessary supplies and repeat, very clearly, the first step.
6. It all goes horribly wrong.
7. I have to make the choice: I want to bail and try again in 5 years, but now they've had a taste of man flesh, and they won't stop until they've feasted. I must choose between suffering their outrage that I'm pulling the plug, or repeating this exercise (while swallowing my own growing desire to run, just run, just run far far away) for however long it takes until they can do this damn skill without staining the drywall.

buster
doesn't believe in forks right now
it's super fun
after the rice and peas incident of tuesday
i have vowed to serve him only dry cereal
and cut up string cheese
until he stands down


I'm writing this today, because today Buster asked for a banana.

1. I felt strong.
2. I said, "Sure, babe. You know where the bananas are. Go ahead and get one."
3. He was so psyched. He slid the door open and walked into the kitchen.
4. I called after him, "Pull one banana off the bunch and come outside to eat it, ok?" He called back, "OK mom!"
5. A moment of silence later, I checked in. "Everything ok?" He called back, "I'm just picking!"
6. I went in to check on him.




he didn't pick these


Listen, it wasn't a catastrophe. If the cost of my child's growing independence is 3 bananas I have to bag and eventually put in smoothies, I'll pay that PLUS tax (I'm assuming tax is 9.6 blueberries) every single day until the kid can go for one banana, and return with one banana.

My point is that the next time you see a kid go get a single banana without opening every other banana, know that at some point, not so long ago, this was a thing. It was a WHOLE THING.

The next time you see a kid tie his own sneakers or successfully place a pretzel inside his mouth on the first try, know that you are witnessing the result of someone's absolutely batshit crazy, invisible, thankless, drive-you-to-drink labor.

When you see a child, take nothing for granted.

Every glorious thing a child can do (and every horrendous thing a child does not do) is the result of  - yes - that child's hard work, but also 729 mopped up water spills, 411 bananas we had to put in the freezer, 9 million reminders to "take your finger out of your nose" that were met by 8,999,999 mischevious smiles and flicked boogers.

The point is this:

Everything is a process.

Kids are so much hard work.

You don't see most of the work that other people do.

They don't see most of the work that you do.

Whenever you're tempted to complain about a whiny kid, or a spilled drink on the table, remind yourself that children are born with only the instinct to gulp the life out of human bodies and dig their tiny sharp fingernails into human flesh to ensure they don't get left behind. If that didn't happen to you today, that child's parent worked fucking hard on that, so slow the fuck down with your snark and have some goddamn gratitude.

Let's stay nice out there.


___


If you enjoyed this post, read my blog regularly, or think you might want to start, please consider supporting my writing through Patreon. $2 or $5 a month might not mean a lot to your wallet, but to me, it means that other people care about this work as much as I do.

I write this blog because I believe that parents deserve writers who love, understand, and celebrate all their hard work. We need writers who will laugh with us after even the worst of awful, scream-in-your-pillow, cry-in-the-car days. This is the best way I can show up for other parents.

I'm grateful every day for the people who read, share, comment, like, and support this work. That means if you're reading this, I'm grateful for you! Thanks for showing up for me, too.

xoxo