Simple as it may seem, to most parents, having the house to themselves for an entire afternoon is a rare and exciting opportunity. We asked some hardworking mamas and papas around the country what they would do if this happened to them. The results were clever, hilarious, but mostly, just plain true. Read on to hear all of their answers and then chime in with your own response!
Recently, I went from being a mother of one to a mother of two. The first few weeks of having two children had its challenges. Everyone was short on sleep and I was constantly occupied by the newest member of the family—my infant son. But Dad stepped it up, giving big sister a ton of love and attention and I was actually quite satisfied to be clutched by this new baby round the clock. I was happy to spend my days (and nights) getting to know the tiny person who’d already occupied my body for the better part of a year.
While there was undoubtedly more on my to-do list, overall, things didn’t seem that much harder. I even told a friend who inquired about how my life was different that it really wasn’t. While, yes, there was new baby who cried in the evenings, we were still doing the same things we’d always been doing.
Now five months into having two kids, I take it all back. I’m no longer high off birth hormones and newborn fumes. The acid trip has worn off and real life with two kids—one preschooler and one infant—has set in. Though I’m overjoyed to be reveling in what I feel is my “complete family,” I can now say with complete confidence that having two kids is no freaking joke. I’ll be the first one to fully acknowledge that having one child can be tremendously challenging, as well, but here’s how my life has changed since I gained one more.
I don’t like doing most chores. In fact, during my entire freshman year of college, my sheets never made it into a washing machine once. I know, it’s disgusting and totally sickens me now, thinking of how they were a very light shade of beige by the end of the year. At some point in early spring, I almost couldn’t take it anymore and was getting ready to tear them off my bed, but my roommate made a suggestion: “Well, you’ve made it this far, you might as well just keep it going.” I was easily persuaded.
Come summer, I think I just threw them out and vowed I’d do better the following year.
But my while my “better” might have meant a few more trips to the laundromat, my hatred for doing chores, especially dishes and laundry, hasn’t subsided that much since 2003, the year I graduated from high school. I do these things now, and frequently, but I only do it so that my kids aren’t running around in filth. It appears I value their health a bit more than I did my own.
I’ve always suspected that a little too much was done for my sister and me when we were young (and not so young). My room was often cleaned for me. My laundry was washed and folded. On occasion, I rinsed a dish and put it in the dishwasher, but usually, I just put it in the sink and left it there, as if that was half the battle. I really don’t remember doing any chores as a kid… ever. And while I think there is some value in letting kids be kids, I also think doing chores as a child makes adjusting to doing them as an adult much easier.
When a parent becomes a grandparent, a series of chemical reactions take place in the human brain. This release of hormones (endorphins, oxytocin, etc) is known to contribute to what is generally referred to as “The Grandparent Effect” – grandparents doing whatever the hell they want with no regard to consequences all in the name of love.
Obviously, I’m joking, and I fully appreciate the amazing love Grandparents give. But the hormone cocktail would help explain some of the bizarre grandparent behavior I’ve both experienced first-hand and heard about from friends that seems to peak at the holidays. In fact, it’s one of the biggest complaints I hear new parents talking about: “Why do my child’s grandparents think they can do whatever they want with my kid just because it’s Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza? They should know better!” Or, to quote a friend, “Why are there candy cane flakes in my 8-month-old’s neck rolls?? She doesn’t even have teeth!”
If the grandparents are coming to town this holiday season, you may want to post this list up on your soon-to-be goodie-stuffed fridge. Or better yet, print it out and send it to them anonymously BEFORE all hell breaks loose at the “most wonderful time of the year.” Here’s what I’m telling my kids’ grandparents this winter:
I am weary, laying in my bed, half-asleep but not quite done for the day. The baby will be awake in an hour, or a half hour, or maybe three minutes. Who knows. Big sister was just up again because she had to potty, then a nightmare. Dad is out of town and there is no one to smack in the belly to tell to rock the baby at least once. That typical feeling that it’s just me is compounded right now.
Today was hard and I didn’t do my best.
I have those seamless days when everything goes off without a hitch. Like Monday when big sister woke, cheery and bright-eyed. At my request she ran into her room and picked out an appropriate outfit and put it on. She ate her breakfast without me having to ask her to stop messing with the baby and sit back in her chair. Well, maybe I asked her a couple of times.
I had gotten a few hours of sleep, at least, between feedings. The baby was bubbly and chirpy. The big girl put on her shoes, even tied them and smiled proudly. I dropped her off at pre-school. A quick kiss and she entered happily and started playing. I drove away feeling good, no guilt about leaving her, no worries about her missing me and her brother when we were gone. We got home and I nursed the baby back to sleep. I tidied, threw some dishes in the dishwasher and a load of diapers in the wash. I sat down and wrote something I felt good about. The baby woke, nursed and didn’t scream his brains out on the way to get big sis from school. The rest of the day went pretty much the same. Good moods and easy going children. If all days were like this, I’d have three more kids and a dog named Tilly. Or Vinny. Or Buck.
But all days can’t be like this. If they were no one would do yoga or cry and drink wine and write blogs about parenting. There would be nothing to cleanse your soul of, no struggles to relate over, no worries to send out into the world and hope you get something back. Some days you just do what you can do and hope it’s enough. Some days are like today.
I’m already awake when it starts because I never really went to sleep. The baby was up all night, and I mean, all night, tossing and turning with a stuffy nose. Every half hour or so, I offered my breast but he turned away, not hungry, just tired and fighting sleep. I rocked him and tried to sooth him but the night was still so damn long. The sun rose and that dreaded feeling came over me- “how will I make it through this day?”
Right away, big sister is being argumentative at best, just downright nasty at worst. She’s rough with the baby, too rough to let slide. She’s into everything, pulling out every toy, book, game. She doesn’t want to get dressed and in a few minutes, I’m down on the floor, shoving books back on the shelf while the baby pulls at my shirt and drools on my shoulder, pleading with her to pick out a sweater. Another fifteen minutes of this and I’m angry, but so is she. And she’s angrier when I sit down to nurse the baby and she has to eat breakfast alone. She’s whining and I’m sad and guilt-ridden and it’s not even 8.
Finally, after a lot more redirecting and pleading, we are off to school. The baby wails and turns purple while big sister covers her ears in the car. She doesn’t want to go. She wants to stay home. I remind her that mommy has to get some work done today and school will be much more fun for her. I drive away defeated with the baby screaming the whole way home. When we get there I nurse him and he falls asleep instantly, but wakes when I put him down. I nurse him again, hold him for fifteen minutes to make sure he’s hit his sleep-cycle. I put him down. He wakes. Finally, I rock him and hold him and just let him sleep on me for an hour while I write emails on my phone, asking editors I’m mildly intimidated by for extensions.
The rest of the day is the same. There are a few good moments mixed in. But overall, I am overwhelmed and exhausted and I know I’m not doing my best. My daughter is talking, talking endlessly and sometimes I go “yeah” or “okay” or pretend to be enthused but really, I didn’t even hear her. I don’t even know what she asked me and when I realize this, it kills me.
After dinner, baths, snuggles, books, nursing and rocking and more nursing, I pour myself a glass of wine and drink half before dumping the rest back into the bottle when I hear the baby. I will go lay with him and try to get him back to sleep. It’s nearly nine. I’ve had about fifteen minutes to myself and I spent them sitting in a chair with my eyes closed, waiting for the next call of duty I knew was moments away.
Even when they are draining me, I can see how lucky I am for this family of mine. But I can’t always give them everything. They deserve the best of me. They truly do, but since they have all of me, how can I give them my best always? Some days I can’t give it because I don’t have it- it’s not in me. Some days I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel and going through the motions. Some days “good enough” comes in it’s place.
I didn’t do my best today. I did all I could and I tell myself, “it’s enough” because it has to be. Tomorrow is another day and it will be better, brighter, more rested. Tomorrow, there will be more laughter and no matter what I’ll give it all I’ve got.
Like most loving, decent, kind and patient spouses, I don’t like to rag on my husband. I really don’t! But sometimes his actions make me question if he is in fact, watching an episode of The Office in his head instead of being marginally invested in whatever else he is doing. Like having a conversation with his wife or caring for our two tiny humans.
I love my husband dearly. I’d marry him again if I could. Sometimes I wonder how we even found each other in this crazy mixed up world. In fact, I’d make a list of all the things he is doing right, but it would be too long and too gushy and I’d lose my street cred. Even so, I’ve had to practice patience over the last five years of my life as a spouse and a mother because though raising little ones is tough, I think co-parenting (and co-existing under the same roof at all times) might be even tougher.
Since my partner (for life, ahhh!!… still gets me) also happens to be such a good sport (remind me to add that to the things he’s doing right list)…
Here are 16 things my husband is usually doing wrong (according to me):
1. Not answering questions. I talk. He doesn’t answer. I talk louder. He still doesn’t answer. I talk REALLY loud and he says “geez, why are you screaming?”
2. Not having breasts and therefore not being able to do the midnight feeding, the 2:30 am feeding OR the 5 am feeding.
3. Moving too slowly. This typically pertains to when bedtime is looming, when we have anywhere to be at a specific time or when one of our kids is about 30 seconds away from a huge meltdown. Enter: slow mo.
4. Looking at his phone so much you’d think there was a real life naked woman in there who talks to him and doesn’t leave a trail of breast milk wherever she goes.
5. Coming home with sixty percent of what was on the grocery list and a whole bunch of stuff that wasn’t.
6. Two words. Selective. Hearing.
7. Two more words. Fake. Pooping.
8. Also, getting home from work and immediately excusing himself to poop when I haven’t pooped alone in five years and have been drowning in children all day.
9. Forgetting to flush. If it’s yellow, whatevs, I’m mellow. If it’s brown… PLEASE flush it down. I’ve already seen more poop today than you can possibly imagine.
10. Basically just pooping too much altogether for a thirty year old man.
11. Being able to sleep through crying, whining, and me being body-checked by children.
12. Falling asleep the second his head hits the pillow.
13. Working out twice and losing 8 pounds while I busting my ass at the gym five days a week and still have to wear pants with an elastic waist.
14. Buying so many kinds of good beer that I have no choice but to drink them. Hence #13.
15. Always needing me to find things.
16. Putting clothes on the little people. The tag goes in the back. Always in the back. How he did not think the backwards bathing suit on our four year old looked completely insane is beyond me. We are not raising a mini Christina Aguilera here!
but THIS happened.
My son, Tener Day, was born on the evening of June 10, 2014 at home in a birthing pool full of love (and some other stuff).
Birth story coming soon! Time is not of the essence right now, as my breasts are currently in VERY high demand and I want to do the experience justice.
For now, here’s a few pics of the little milk-slurper.
Thanks to all who have given their support to our family during this time. All the love and meals sent our way have made the transition much easier than we (I) imagined!
Five years ago, I came fumbling into the world of parenting. It wasn’t intentional and I thought about the possibility of not becoming one. In the end, my child altered my life for the better. If it hadn’t happened by accident, I never would’ve made the conscious choice to have kids.
Having children is restricting in so many ways. Early mornings take a lot of adjustment and I think the lack of sleep is still one of the most mind-numbingly hard things about it all.
But it’s more than that. It’s that feeling that you are no longer steering the ship of your own life because someone else is. And half the time you don’t know where you’re going or even if you’re going. You’re just along for the ride.