next exit: easy street

I am currently one week into a four-week intensive parenting challenge that I'm calling "The Gauntlet."

Not only are we (I) still dealing with the aftershocks of moving a family of 4, but we're (I'm) tying up the school year, celebrating 75% of the family's birthdays, and sending Ryan off for a much-deserved weekend of solitary camping and fishing. And we're (I am) doing it with a nasty summer cold and at least one verifiable case of pink eye in the fam.


Here's my question, and it came to me as I was hauling the recycling from Buster's party out to the curb this morning.

How easy can this be?

I have a lot of shit going down for the next few weeks - events, parties, travel. And all that is on top of my regular skipper duties, keeping this family on course and upright.

So I ask again:

How easy can this be?

A yoga teacher was the first person who ever asked me that.

We were holding an impossibly long chair pose, and she walked around the room looking at all of our grimacing faces and curling toes. "You are all working really hard," she observed, taking her life in her hands. (If you think about it, tho, it wasn't that big a risk. Our quads were shot. She could have outrun us by walking at the average pace of a Target shopper who has left her kids at home that day.) "What if this wasn't hard," she asked. "What if this was easy? How easy can you make it?"

(The answer, btw, is "easier than it was before she said that," but "not as easy as sitting in an actual fucking chair.")

I asked myself the same question years later when I was in labor with Buster. As the contractions got stronger and pinchier and twistier and barfier, I muttered the question like a mantra:

How easy can this be? How easy can this be? How easy can this be?

(The answer, btw, is "easier than if I hadn't said that," but "not as easy as druuuuuugs y'all.")


"How easy can this be," is a hard concept to apply to parenting, for a few significant reasons:

1. With very few exceptions*, kids aren't easy. 

They simply are NOT. They declare a state of potty emergency as soon as you get on the highway at 5:20 pm. They wake at nocturnal hours, scream in libraries, run away from home, inquire loudly about the unexpected size, shape, or color of other human beings, bite you in front of the new neighbors.

They're HARD.

*Exceptions include when kids are under the influence of Benadryl, high fevers, or European parentage.

2. There is so little to opt out of. 

We don't choose hard shit to raise the bar; our lives are hard shit, and we have to meet that bar.

We have the number of children we have - we can't surrender the tough kid on days we're feeling frayed. I know I have 3 kids, but Horcrux has been such a dick lately... I think I'm just going to leave him in his room today. That way I'll only have 2 kids. I can do 2 kids.

The kids need to eat and wear clothes and attend schools and see doctors and therapists.

They need something from us approximately once every 8 seconds (there are numbers on this, people). This is the bare minimum of our days: meeting someone else's need every 8 seconds.

And that's just the needs that your child articulates (in either words or orc-screams, depending on the age and saturataion of bloodlust in your child).


There are other needs - a birthday party next weekend means you have to suck it up and take a trip down the toy aisle at some point, and you know what that means!!!

orc screams
it means orc screams
at target

You have a water bill. And a bladder. And overdue books.

To which of those things can you simply say, "No, thank you."

I'm really asking.

3. Fuck it today means fucked tomorrow. 

Fuck it, I'm not doing laundry this week!
...  hope you can make it out of the house next week. Literally. The mountain of crusty oatmeal shirts will likely block all points of egress from the structure. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying, like, get extra band-aids and bottled water or whatever. Or wait, did you think someone else was going to do your laundry? You didn't think that, did you? Oh, honey. No.

Fuck it! Sure you can watch 2 movies this afternoon! It's nice to relax in bed together.
... let me know how that goes when the second movie ends and you have to transition their volted-up, overstimulated little brains into "blocks" and "puzzles" just in time for the 4:30 suck pocket.

Fuck it, okay, crackers for lunch.
No that doesn't mean crackers for dinner. 
No, that doesn't mean crackers for lunch every day. 
EAT AN ORANGE, for the love of God.

4. We really do give a thousand fucks.


It's not an act.

We really do stop and run back inside for our canvas grocery bags.

We really do pause to read the nutrition facts on a cereal bar. 16 grams of sugar? Is that okay? We think about it.

We would love to go back in time and take back that we said that if Buster says "stupid" one more time we won't be going to the zoo today.


We would love to be deaf for however long it takes a toddler to spit out two syllables.

The lunches are packed. The sunscreen's applied.

But we can't.

We made a promise, not just to our child today, but to the adult we hope our child will become. We promise that grown man, "I will not let you become a bullying, entitled, sugar-addicted, cavity-ridden douchenozzle wearing a gas mask to work because the Earth is barely inhabitable anymore. I promise you. I will raise you right, kid."

5. Easy long-term is so fucking hard short-term.

Sleep training, for example. You want the dream of putting your kids in bed, saying good-night, and leaving the room, followed by the sound of nothing at all because your child is already asleep? Who doesn't! But that long-term ease of sleep means that tonight you have to start making some boundaries with your kids that they are not going to like AT ALL. And you know what that means.

Me: No more drinks. No more stories. No more playing. It's time for bed.



But even though "ease" isn't built into the daily life of parents, it is an important unicorn to seek.

We are, after all, only human. And we can shelve our own needs in 8-second increments for ONLY as long as it takes to either pee our pants or lose our minds.

So this week I'll be taking easy street, and I'm inviting you to come along with me. 

Let me be clear: Easy street is still a street. It's not a cruise or a hammock or your bed. You still have to get up, get shoes on, and walk it.

But it's just... easier.

Easy street doesn't mean locking your worst kid in the closet and turning up Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (Yeah, I just wrote "worst kid." I'm evolving as a parent and as a human and I can say "worst kid" because I know now that a) Everyone has one; b) That title shifts from kid to kid based on who's dropping a nap and/or who has just called the cashier at Target "penis"; and c) Everyone knows you love your worst kid just as much as your best kid, obvs, nbd.)

Easy street means taking a hard look at the parts of your day that you usually check out for, and asking yourself if you can add or subtract something in order to make them easier.

Doing the dishes? Add a glass of wine and an episode of Seinfeld.

Just finished putting the kids down? Subtract cleaning up the toys on the floor, and add a walk in the evening air and a phone call to an old friend.

Come with me, friend.


Here's our first assignment:

1. Identify 1 thing that you're dreading tomorrow.

2. What can you add or subtract to make it easier?

There are no rules here. Add a latte or a brownie or a midweek pizza night. Subtract saying hi to judgey moms at pickup, or fucking bath time. They're not THAT dirty.

Comment below with your dready thing and your addition or subtraction!

See you tomorrow!



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