I thought age 4 would be better. I was wrong.

by renegademama

Georgia, age 4 (as of August 5), pretty much sees me in two ways:

  1. I need to be so close to you I’m literally sitting on your face; and
  2. I’m trying to figure out what exactly your purpose is here.

We all know “terrible twos” was an invention by some prick who never had a 3-year-old, and found it amusing to make new parents think 2 is bad when actually, Dante’s 10th circle of hell is right around the corner.

Age 2 is sipping hot apple cider during a crisp fall evening with big orange leaves crackling at your feet. Age 3 (and 4, evidently) is like getting a bucket of ice water dumped on your head (only not benefiting a nonprofit) and the leaves shoved in your ears by a tiny insane human squealing “I don’t like the orange leaves. I ONLY LIKE THE RED LEAVES!”

And you’re like “but I didn’t make the leaves, sweet angel from heaven.”

And she’s like “I. DON’T. LIKE. THATTTTTTTTT!!”

And screaming and crying and growling and fists and shit and you’re like “This is why nobody likes you.”

But you keep it inside, because you can’t actually say that to a toddler. I mean, out loud. Plus, it’s not true. Everybody in fact likes her a lot since she saves this behavior for you and you alone. And maybe daddy. But mostly you.

And sometimes, when you’re in public.

Like the other day when we went to get Arlo’s birth certificate from the court records place and it had already been decided that Rocket gets to push the button on the elevator (because these are the issues that now concern me, people. This is important stuff here. WE MUST MAKE SURE IT’S FAIR AND EVEN AND RIGHT AND TRUE when it comes to elevator-button-pushing. Fuck my life.) But somehow, even though it was clearly Rocket’s turn (Georgia pushed them on the way up), and sharing and turn-taking have been working parts of our psyches for at least 2 years, suddenly, right now, this shit is INTOLERABLE and the thing to do when Rocket pushes that elusive, gorgeous light-up button is stand in the corner and let out some wails that might shatter the elevator glass, were it not bulletproof.

I ask her “Why are you such a dick?”

No, I don’t. But I really, really want to.

Instead, even though it’s never worked once in the history of motherhood, I attempt reasoning with her (also because this makes me look like a good, conscientiousness mother in front of strangers) “Georgia, you pushed the buttons on the way up. It’s Rocket’s turn now,” but we’ve entered full-toddler-psychosis. It’s no use.

Only thing to do is ignore it. Only way through it is through it. Going on a fucking bear hunt, folks. Somebody save me from these horrid jokes.

I am, after all, in an elevator with a toddler, newborn and 8-year-old. Can’t really sit there and “talk it through” lovingly in a supportive mom voice, exploring complex feelings of displacement (new baby came, very hard on toddlers) and existential toddler angst.

She probably just has to poop.

Or needs a nap (which she abandoned 6 months ago, because clearly if it’s helping her mood we should get rid of it immediately).

Besides, I have no capacity for supportive mom voice at that moment.

So the husband picks her up and puts her over his shoulder and she loses it all the way home.

People look at you wondering why your kid is so terrible, all tantruming-the-fuck-out and you just ignoring her. I feel like that’s excessively unfair because in my experience the only way to get them to stop being assholes is to ignore their asshole tantrums.

Yes, that’s my profound parenting insight.

If you have a better plan, please shove it up your ass.

Sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just bitter.

Well maybe I meant it a little.

But seriously, right? I can’t give in to my daughter’s irrationality and so, a tantrum ensues. The only thing that will stop the tantrum is letting her push the button. But if I do that, she’s earning what she wants from the tantrum, and will thereby do it again. And again. And again.

And the next thing you know, she’ll be the woman at the Target checkout line screaming at the pimply faced teenager for not giving the appropriate discount on her Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. You know, the one we all look at and think “Why didn’t your mom teach you any damn manners?”

So in the interest of the greater good, sometimes you just gotta let them wail and wish you didn’t have kids, and endure the looks of strangers who have either never raised offspring or are better parents than you. Or think they’re better parents than you. There is no doubt that there are many, many better parents than me.

Except at the county fair. I am better than those parents. Just saying.

Anyway, the other day, Mac was changing the screen on one of the windows in the back of the house, nowhere near Georgia’s room, FYI, and she starts screaming and crying that Mac had “ruined the magic secret door to her bedroom.”

Look, kid, you can’t hold us accountable to your paranoid delusions of weird toddler shit. Err, I mean “imagination.”

A few hours later, we were driving along in our vehicle and Georgia asks “What’s that?”

I answer: “A restaurant.”

She asks “Why? Why mama why? Whywhywhy?”

I roll down my window and scream into the night “I can’t live in these conditions!”

But nobody hears my cries.

Leaving the house the other day, she says “I want to bring that stroller!”

But we don’t need that stroller, so I tell her.

So she furrows her brow and wails and screams, because that makes sense.

I tell her “I’ll give you $100 if you stop making that noise,” but she has no appreciation for money.

God help you if you don’t give her the red cup.

Or ask her to leave, anywhere, ever, in a hurry.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, change your plans in the middle of the day if those plans involved parks, friends or grandmothers.

Right, because plans never change in families of 4 kids and a mother who puts things in her calendar then forgets to look at the calendar.

And if she squeezes the newborn’s face and makes him cry, don’t say anything, because SHE WASN’T HURTING HIM.

And I’m not jumping on the couch, she says, in an up-and-down motion.

“I DO WHAT I WANT!!!!”

 

Oh, George. You’re driving me fucking batshit.

Next week you start preschool.

I’ll miss you terribly.

Sort of.

Yes, terribly.

And not.

 

Yep, this is it. Motherhood. Age 4.

Thumbs up.

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*********

up-on-the-hill-ad-v2.1You know how you “meet” somebody via the interwebz and you know you could be friends? Yeah, that’s what’s happened with Amii and me. At least on my part.

She founded and runs “Up on the Hill,” a seriously awesome store that carries all the things I want to buy my annoying toddlers and babies. No, I mean it. That’s true and real.

Read her words and figure out why I fucking love her and what she’s done: “My husband used to work in the beer and wine industry, and was actually quite well know for his palate when it comes to beer, but was laid off 3 weeks before my due date with baby #2. Despite the stress we had a successful HBAC, and a little bit of savings. After 2 months of unsuccessfully trying to find a new job, we decided to open a business ourselves. 

We opened Up On the Hill in October of 2012 and never really looked back. Having a passion for cloth diapers and baby-wearing I jumped into this with no real business background, just 15 years in food service. It’s been quite the learning experience.

We are located in Historic Shepherdstown, WV and also carry children’s clothing and natural toys. We strive to carry items you won’t find in big box stores, and are huge supporters of local and small businesses. I have a 4 year old son, River,  and 1 year old daughter, Luna.”

 MY PEOPLE.

So click this link and buy some shit. We have an “affiliate” arrangement going, so I actually get a little something too when you buy. So help two mamas out. Fuck Walmart. Thank you.

Much love.

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Don’t mind me, I’m just lost (in the existential sense, thanks)

by renegademama

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I get lost sometimes.

And then again. And again.

But I don’t want to write about that. I’m tired of writing about that.

I’ve written it all before.

I don’t want to write about anything, really. And that’s not new. I’m sick of myself. Do you ever get sick of yourself? Your story? Your “insights,” the shit you keep giving the world, even your humor or other things people like about you?

Does it ever begin to feel false and wrong or just simply totally uninteresting? Like it’s all a gimmick? A bunch of bullshit?

Or maybe that’s not even it. Maybe that has even too much definition, too much clarity. Maybe you’re just floating up in the air at random like a balloon 400 feet in the air and wind and clouds.

That’s where I am.

I think.

How the hell am I supposed to know?

I haven’t written anything here for a few weeks.

Can’t.

I’m struggling. When I’m struggling a little, I write a little.

When I’m struggling a lot, I write nothing.

(And worry all day about the fact that I’m writing nothing (because I’m never going to write again, obviously.))

I get ideas, but they don’t seem right. I start things but I don’t finish them, because it all feels like a lie.

It all feels so wrong I eventually determine I’m just fucked.

But maybe I’m not fucked. Maybe this is just new motherhood, again, when I’m rearranged and my life family home brain is recreated. Destroyed, and reborn, though I kick and scream and worry I won’t get found again. Maybe I’ll stay lost this time. Maybe I was never found at all, but rather just found some groove that felt comfy and cozy and allowed me to delude myself into thinking I had some control, like my life was moving in a direction that made sense, that I’m a grown-up.

I’m not trying to be deep.

IMG_9842

I’m fucking

confused.

I want to be “authentic” but I can’t find “authentic.”  What the fuck is authentic?

I want to be “real” but “real” is a series of days that knock me flat. How do you write about that?

I can’t get anything done. I NEED A MOTHERFUCKING ROOM OF MY OWN.

I get, you, Virginia.

Actually, at this point, I’d settle for a corner of the bed.

“Authentic” is that I’m so exhausted I can’t think of simple words and I wake up feeling like a bolder is flattening my forehead and my eyelids weigh approximately 12,000 pounds each and I’ve got 3 kids and a newborn in the house all day and night and it’s summer and every time I “finish” the laundry every hamper is full again.

But that’s not it.

My tired is a relentless tired, one that smashes me every single day, and keeps happening because Arlo goes to sleep at 11pm or so but I NEED SOME FUCKING SPACE so I hang out by myself in bed and read or play on my phone for an hour or so which puts me asleep at 12am or 12:30 and he wakes at 3 or 4 and then Georgia wakes at 6am and it starts all over again. I have a tired that makes me want to sit down and cry sometimes, or throw a temper tantrum, which I do occasionally, then I feel guilty for acting worse than the children I’m trying to raise. Sometimes I realize it’s 3pm and I have eaten only 4 bites of Cheerios, but not on purpose.

But there’s more.

I have ONE article due each Tuesday and it takes everything I’ve got, people. ALL OF IT. All the creativity. All the energy. All the mental faculty. Is that pathetic? Probably. But it’s real. There’s no time for creativity, for art, for spirit.
I’m an insane overly sensitive irritable zombie milky ass human.

Nah, not that.

IMG_0963I’m a mom hanging out with 4 kids, happy as hell to be home with them, loving her house and dog and backyard hens, grateful for the article-writing gig (virtually my only income right now). And in the evening when I give my baby boy a bath he coos and smiles at me and it’s just him and me and sometimes I hold him naked against my chest and I almost cry I love him so much and I’m so grateful for him and his milk sweet breath.

And we’ve been going to the library every week, which is a new thing, discovered because it’s hot as fuck and we’re broke and it’s free and cool. Ava thinks she wants to grow up to be a librarian. Last year it was a NASA engineer. I find that wonderful.

I told Rocket Arlo is getting his shots soon, so every day he asks “Is it today?” Finally I asked him why he keeps asking and he said “I just think I should be there.”

Those were the words, but the look on his face said “I don’t want my brother to hurt without me.”

And I thought about the way Mac always said he wished he had a brother and now there are brothers in our home and it’s gorgeous.

That’s true, too.

Georgia turned 4 and I enrolled her in a little nursery school around the corner. We got a cedar play structure as a gift from my inlaws and Georgia taught herself to swing. This morning I looked out there and she was naked, swinging in the sunlight. The light hit her gold hair and body and I just stood there watching because it was beautiful.

We have 4 hens. The kids named them all “Tina” so they can yell “Tina you fat lard come and get your dinner!” The labrador has made friends with Tina. Yes, that’s correct. The 90-pound dog kicks it with the chickens.IMG_1239

Rocket is begging to go back to regular school because he wants to be with the rest and he always wants the opposite of what he has, but did I mention he learned to read FOUR WEEKS after leaving school? Four weeks, people. Four weeks of homeschool and he went from knowing maybe ¾ of his letters to reading at a kindergarten level. By 8 weeks he was at a 1st grade level. And now, sometimes, he reads some 2nd-grade-level books. The pressure and anxiety of that classroom were literally destroying his ability to learn. It’s so hard for him.  He worked so hard to read. My God he worked so hard. I knew public school was slaughtering him. I knew it, so I responded, and he thrived. Sometimes I don’t blow it. What.

But he wants to go back to school, and we live in a better (read: wealthier) district so we’re giving it a shot, again.

I’m terrified though. And it’s probably a mistake. But as my friend said, “If he’s going to make it in public school, it will be this one.” So here we go.

 

Yes, here we go.

Please don’t tell me I’m depressed, or need help, or whatever the fuck. Maybe I’m a little depressed, but depression is an abyss, and I’m not in an abyss. I can see out, and I know it won’t last. This is different. This is right. This is life knocking you around, making you uncomfortable.

I’m just lost, so every story I try to give or say or write sounds not quite right, because if you’re lost you can’t wrap life up into some package, to be delivered and opened and consumed. You can’t turn it into something contained and palatable and friendly. It’s only messy and rugged and spilling wide open, everywhere, until it finds new edges, and contains itself a bit, and you open your eyes wider to a world you thought was much smaller, before.

And you’re glad you didn’t settle for the old, comfortable version. All worn out and tired.

 

Now the baby is crying. He was asleep.

I had a few minutes. Those few minutes are gone.  More will come.

Georgia is singing to him, trying to soothe him: “It’s okay, I love you, you love me, all the bad animals are gone….”

Kids are insane.

This shit is nuts.

I’m a fucking maniac.

Nope. Not that.

 

Here I am.

Alright.

 

IMG_0124

brothers, found.

 

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Imagine all the people trying not to be dicks

by renegademama

So the other day I was at Costco. For our overseas readers, Costco is grocery store on steroids. Everything in is it huge, bulk, wonderful. I love Costco. It’s very American.

I shop there often because my family somehow manages to consume like 3 loaves of bread and 2 gallons of milk a week, even though I rationed milk consumption to dinner-only since the kids kept getting dehydrated in this fucking Valley heat.

Why do I admit these things online? There’s something wrong with me.

Though I’m technically there for “staples,” the miracle is that once I enter those giant roll-up doors, I realize I pretty much need every single thing in the damn warehouse, but none of this has anything to do with the story.

So anyway, against my better judgment, I venture into Costco with all four kids. Yeah. That’s three plus a newborn, folks. I knew I was playing with fire. It was like 3pm and 104 degrees or some nonsense. 3pm sucks. Everybody’s tired and miserable and generally over it, but rather than staring at walls at home (or napping), I’m towing them all through the sun-kissed aisles of ridiculous American consumerism. The baby was asleep in his carseat but I knew it wouldn’t last. He’d been asleep too long. Georgia was nearing the point where her exhaustion turns into squirrel-on-crack behavior. Bouncing off the walls, I believe it’s called.

And the two other kids, well, they’re pretty reliable. They behave in Costco. MOSTLY.

My coffee had worn off.

The kids were hungry.

So, why, exactly, why was I doing this?

Because I was having a little dinner party for my mother-in-law’s birthday that evening, and I had no food, as per usual. No choice, motherfucker. GET THIS SHIT DONE.

We do okay as we walk through the aisles. I was going quickly. There were samples. I thought I might actually pull through without disaster.

Then we hit the checkout line. It became very, very clear to me that I will not pull through.

The baby starts doing that closed-eye head-turn “wah wah wah” thing. The fists start shaking, the legs kick a bit. Of course I start pushing the stroller back and forth, doing the frantic “Shh shh shh” thing, but I know it’s not going to work.

He settles for a moment. Five seconds letter he’s back at it with more force.
“Fuck. Should have put him in the carrier.”

But I didn’t want him on my body. IT’S 9 MILLION DEGREES and the thought of 30 minutes in air-conditioned Costco without a sweaty head and 20 feet of material across my chest just sounded too amazing. Sometimes we need our bodies back for a moment, ya feel me?

I glance at the line ahead of me and see the slowest moving humans on the planet. They’re enjoying a chat with the checkout dude. I realize this hell is my own.

The baby’s really getting worked up now. I remove him from the seat but he wants to nurse, bad. It’s been over 2 hours at this point. He’s clearly wondering how he’s managed to stay alive this long.

I hear a woman say “Honey, sit down! You’re going to fall!” I look back and see Georgia attempting to STAND in the cart (which the

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

kids were pushing). With the baby in one hand I grab Georgia with the other, tell her to sit down. She ignores me. She’s been ignoring me lately. I can’t figure out if it’s a fun feature of age 3 or some twisted symptom of my-mom-just-had-a-baby-and-I-hate-life syndrome. At any rate it’s loads of fun!

I curse myself for not bringing the carrier inside. I consider leaving the checkout line completely and nursing the baby in one of those giant chairs in the furniture area. But the dinner party. I don’t have time. And his diaper is wet too. Nope. I have to plow the fuck through. Get through this line with a screaming newborn and horribly misbehaving toddler and the card and the wallet and groceries and the cart and stroller.

By this time, Arlo is wailing. I’m bouncing him on one arm and pulling the toddler into the seat and trying to use my nicest voice (as opposed to my “I’m going to fucking kill you” voice) to tell my older kids to please load groceries onto the black moving belt thing (WTF are those called?) and I realize in a flash that I look absolutely pathetic. My shirt was even pulled up a bit, exposing stretch marks and a belly modern society would call “fat.” I’m straddling the line of humiliation and PURE BEAST MODE.

The dude asks me for my Costco card. I’m trying to buckle Georgia in with one hand and soothe the baby and direct the other kids and get the card and pull my shirt down and move the cart through the thing.

People are looking at me. I’m terrified of keeping them waiting.

My god in that moment I swear I almost looked at complete strangers and asked “Would you HELP me?”

But I didn’t, because we don’t do that sort of thing. Nope. This is America, where each human fends for herself and a dumb broad like me, well shit, I’m the one who decided to have all these kids and go to Costco and whatever, whatever.

Ain’t my problem, lady.

Sucks to be her.

HURRY UP, pathetic mommy, so I can get home.

Imagine if somebody walked over and started putting some groceries on the moving thing. Imagine if somebody came over and said “Here. Let me get this toddler buckled in.” Or asked “Can I help you?” Shit. Even a smile would have altered my life.

Honestly, I can’t believe somebody didn’t intervene solely because it was too painful to watch.

I’m a tough sonuvabitch. I’m tough as nails. I don’t break easily and this ain’t my first rodeo, but you know what? Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we need somebody to take a minute or two and just HELP. I never ask for help, but I would have proposed marriage to the human that lent me a hand in that moment.

But nobody did. And that’s cool. I don’t deserve shit and I’m not entitled to anything. I knew I’d survive, and I did, and I don’t feel sorry for myself.

But I made a decision right then and there that the next time I see some human struggling, I’m going to help her. I probably would anyway, but from now on it’s a self-imposed requirement. And I’m going to make my kids help strangers when it’s obvious they could use a hand. We live in a community. When the fuck are we all going to act like it?

Of course we don’t have to. Of course it’s not our problem. But you know what is our problem? Not being a dick.

And as far as I can tell, watching some pathetic, overwhelmed woman like me in the Costco checkout aisle while glaring at her angrily is, in fact, being a dick.

And once again, my comment policy pulls through like a brave warrior, life mantra, the deepest spiritual concept ever written:

Try not to be a dick.

Just try. Let’s all try. I’ll try, you try. Boom.

 

 

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NEW SPONSOR:unnamed

Marianne Elliott (author, yoga teacher and human rights activist) had me at this question: “Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do?”

Well, until I read this one: “Do the voices in your head tell you that you can’t do it because you are not ready, not qualified enough, not good enough?”

Um, yes.

You know, the thing is, you know when somebody is speaking your language,willing to speak the truth, and brave enough to face the real shit.

Marianne Elliott strikes me as one of those people.

She’s enrolling now (deadline is August 1!) for her online class 30 Days of Courage, which is meant for “people who want to step out of their comfort zones” and lead a more courageous life. (Is it wrong that I immediately think about traveling the north American continent in a trailer with my family? That’s what I’m into lately.)

In her words, you’ll learn:

• how to build a stable foundation for your courageous life;
• practices to cultivate your innate inner courage;
• ways to use curiosity and experimentation to sneak past the guards at the gate to your comfort zone;
• how to find the small act of bravery that you can do right now;
• exercises to tone your courage muscles;
• practices to ensure your courage is also compassionate.

She offers all kinds of other classes too. Check them out.

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37 reasons I’m having trouble “embracing the moment”

by renegademama

Sometimes I complain about motherhood.

Shocking, I know.

And every time I do, somebody somewhere somehow gives me the same sage advice:

Enjoy it before it’s over.

Live in the now.

Soak it up.

EMBRACE IT.

And generally speaking, my urge is the same. I basically want to punch them in the face. Not because it’s bad advice. It’s not. In fact it’s the best advice ever. It’s solid fucking gold. It’s true and real and exactly what I should be doing.

This, of course, makes the advice that much more annoying, since I know they’re right and yet I can’t seem to pull together this much-desired full-moment-embrace.

At least not always.

There are various reasons for this during any given day. I’ve decided to compile a few.

So here you go: 37 Reasons I’m Having Trouble Embracing the Moment

  1. I’m so tired I recently told somebody I had a baby girl. Yeah. My baby has a penis. So until further notice, I had a boy.
  2. It’s tough to really be present when your consciousness is sustained through 12,000-calorie, 25 grams of fat, 40 tablespoons of sugar, 6-shot iced coffee drinks.
  3. No for real, there’s a time each day when I think I may actually die from this exhaustion, but then, like a beam of hope and light and truth, comes the drive-through espresso place and I know I’ll make it ONE MORE DAY.
  4. But then I remember I will never lose the 30 pounds I’ve got attached to my ass if I keep drinking that shit. But I do it anyway because survival.
  5. Speaking of shit, I’m pretty sure there’s baby poop under my pinky nail.
  6. I made eggs for breakfast but my toddler “Only eats eggs on TUESDAYS!” So she screamed and wailed for approximately 30 minutes (even though she has no idea what day it actually is). Obviously.
  7. It’s so damn hot I can’t stand wearing the “quality” nursing bra to support my 15-pound-each breasts – it’s so ITCHY! – but the cheap ass (comfortable) one from Target gave me a clogged duct and if I don’t wear the 6 feet of “quality” material around said boobs (and nursing pads), milk drips out of them and onto my clothing.
  8. So basically, my choices are: uncomfortable, hot and itchy or uncomfortable, wet and milky.

(Embrace that, bitch.)

  1. I’ve been taking my placenta pills like a motherfucking boss but sometimes I wake up and I’m sure I have A.) Ruined my life and B.) Permanently ruined my life.
  2. My toddler just peed on the pool deck.
  3. Sometimes, my 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son bicker so long and so hard about something so stupid I actually pack up the insane toddler and screaming newborn and go to the park just so I don’t have to hear their voices for 15 minutes.
  4. When we get there, they sit on the bench beside me and whine that it’s hot.
  5. While my boobs itch.
  6. Then I usually say something horrid like “GO AWAY NOW.”
  7. And feel guilty about it because I know time flies and carpe fucking diem.
  8. I embraced motherhood 15 minutes ago. Now I want to sit on this bench and play Candy Crush and pretend I’m still 21 and hot and living in Barcelona.
  9. I have so many people demanding things from me ALL DAY LONG your voice has just become ONE MORE VOICE in the long line of voices asking me to do things and consequently I don’t hear you, at all.

But really, what part of “join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice is unclear to you?” Why can’t you just say “Yep.” When I bitch about motherhood? Why do you have to give me helpful words or whatever the hell that is because you know what I hear? All I hear is “If you were a better mother you’d be enjoying every second!”

18. Well shit. Now I can’t embrace the moment because you just told me to “embrace the moment” and now I feel guilty for not embracing the fucking moment.

19. And this leads me to think about how my tween will be 18 in 6 years and instead of living “in the now” I’m wondering where the last 13 years went and how come I didn’t “live in the now,” then, when I still had a chance and she was younger and nicer.

20. I’m thinking about money. Namely, the way we have none.

21. I’m wondering how that article that’s due this evening is going to get written when my baby decided that the only palatable life activities are nursing, sleeping against the boob (because I DIE WITHOUT THE NIPPLE MOM) and pooping.

22. I’m crying over nothing.

23. I’m answering questions from my kids about why I’m crying over nothing.

24. I’m making a mental note not to watch rescued-elephant videos ever again.

25. It’s 4pm and I just realized the circus needs to eat. Again. Why must they eat so often?

26. The dog ran away, out the broken fence. We need to fix the fence. He’s a sweet dog. I love that dog. I need to pay more attention to the dog. Sorry, dog. (No worries. We found the dog.)

Hey. Hey you. I AM EMBRACING MOTHERHOOD, just not at this moment. Why isn’t that okay? I ENJOY MY KIDS, just not at this exact second. Why is that a problem? Aren’t all jobs annoying at some point? Don’t all jobs have some aspects that suck? I mean if I were a lawyer and I hated doing time entry would you be like “Enjoy it.” Embrace it. Time flies. Someday you’ll be too old to record your time.” No. Of course not.

But this is motherhood, you say. Motherhood is precious. It’s all so precious!

NO. No it is not.

Sometimes it’s not precious and I really, really think we’d all be better off if we stopped telling mothers to “enjoy every moment” when some moments are really, really (sometimes literally) shitty, full of nothing more than grit and dirt and work and grime (with a hint of cuteness).

27. I was up until midnight writing an article. My baby woke up at 3am and wouldn’t go back to sleep until 5am. At 6am my toddler woke up and bounced into my bed “I’m here to cuggle (cuddle)!”

28. It’s hard to embrace something when your eyes won’t open and your head is pounding and your arms are stuck under an almost-crying newborn and a flailing 3-year-old.

29. It’s 5am and I’m torturing my newborn with that snot-sucking device so he can finally sleep, FINALLY.

30. But I can’t sleep because I’m 97% sure he has whooping cough.

31. Better get on Google and explore whooping cough. What time does the pediatrician’s office open?

32. Oh great. It’s 6am! Here’s Georgia! Toddler cuddle time!

33. My kitchen smells vaguely of vomit and mildew.

34. My voicemail is 90% full. I fucking hate voicemail. Text, people. TEXT.

35. I have 17 flagged emails in my work inbox that need attention and my auto-responder says “Just had a baby” even though it’s been 5 weeks and they hover in the back of my mind like the most irritating buzzing fly you’ve ever heard.

36. My kids are eating mac and cheese again. I can only imagine what the processed cheese-like substance is doing to their brains.

37. We need to go to Costco but the tired. Oh. My. God. The tired.

And this baby.

And these kids.

THEY’RE JUST EVERYWHERE. And it never, never ends.

the haircut in question.

the haircut in question.

 

Eventually I give up, fuck it, park my ass on the chair and watch some 30 Rock reruns. For a minute I laugh, we all laugh, as the baby tries to nurse Rocket’s nose. And Georgia did her swimming lesson without crying. Came out beaming “I was SO GREAT in that pool, mama!” And the dog jumped in the kid pool like it was his own personal Raging Waters and my husband got an amazing haircut that makes me want to, ahem. And the grin on Ava’s face when she got her prize for reading 4 books at the library’s summer reading challenge. Oh, the innocence. It was almost as if she were 6 years old again.

I saw it for a second, just a second. My second, and hers.

As her smile hits my heart, I hear an explosion in Arlo’s diaper and something wet on my arm. I change him in the back of our hot SUV while the kids argue about who sits in front and Georgia removes her clothes, again, because that makes sense. I see my coffee in the stroller like a silent beacon of hope.

So there. 37 reasons I’m having trouble embracing the fucking moment.

And 1 or 2 that keep me trying.

 

Now please, for the love of God, stop telling me to embrace the moment. I’m embracing what I can, as best as I can, along with every other mother I know. And besides, 

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A letter to my newborn, while I’m still a damn near perfect mom

by renegademama

Dear Arlo,

I was looking at you today and thinking about how right now, today, the day you turn 3 weeks old, I’m a damn near perfect mother to you. I think this is why I love, crave, the newborn stage. Maybe it’s just biology, evolution. But for me, I think it’s more, because for me, it’s the only time I truly feel like a 100% capable mama. Like I’ve got this shit IN THE BAG. I’m a knock-it-out-of-the-damn-park newborn mama.

My job is defined. My role, clear. I nurse, clothe, bathe and hold you. I give you the breast to comfort you, whenever you want. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to wonder. I don’t believe it can be done “too much.” In fact I think that’s the biggest crock ever. I wrap you up and carry you against my chest. For hours. Sometimes I lay you on your back so you can kick and look around and I can watch you and coo at you and smell your head. This is what we do, round and round, I know it and love it and own it completely (because you’re my 4th!). I’m tired, oh, so tired, but I know how to mother you now.

I know just what you need. I know what to try.

And this, I know, will fade.

You cry. I change your diaper, clean your little umbilical wound, wipe each little roll of your legs and pick you back up. Kiss, kiss, kiss. 

Your brother Rocket is 8 years old. The other day at camp another boy made fun of him because his toenails were painted. The boy taunted him then ran around telling the other boys how “Rocket has painted nails like a girl.” They all laughed. When I asked him what he did in response he said “I just walked away.” I wanted to die for a minute, because I can’t fix that. I see my son and his dropped eyes and the feeling of rejection and horror as all the other kids laugh. And I’ve got no moves. No arsenal. No sound or breast or wrap to pull that pain to me and make it go.

Your crying almost always subsides when I hold you close and kiss your temple.

But in that moment with Rocket I feel only a rage that’s useless, the desire to pummel some stranger assholes raising asshole kids. I’ve got nothing to offer my boy. The clichés don’t work. I want to beg him to stay true to himself no matter what the other kids think or say, but is that real and true and valid? At what point do we fit in because it’s easier, or, and this is the saddest part, SAFER?

When you stir, I pat you, rock you, nurse you again. Again. I check you when you’re sleeping, feel your nose and toes to be sure you aren’t too hot or cold. I keep you at my bedside or on my arm, against me. I know you should be right here. Now. Nowhere else. I do not question.

Your sister Ava will be 13 in November. Sometimes she looks at me and I almost can’t find my child anymore. She’s changing so fast and sure I’m left in the dust, where I should be, and I can’t stop biology. Soon the teenage years will come then she’ll be gone. I yell at her sometimes (man she enrages me!) because my God she’s just like me and I simply can’t stand it, the thought of her inheriting the ways I suck. I lie down at night and think of the ways I’m failing her, how I could be better. How soon, soon…

I do not fail you, newborn. Not yet. I’m your perfect mother.

You cry, I hold. 

Feed. Change. Rock. Bathe.

Two days ago Georgia had to have dental surgery because her 2-year molars came in with virtually no enamel and they all needed root canals. One was extracted. I saw her in that surgery gown holding her Tigger and I had not one single move to keep her near me, to fix it. I had to let her go, down the hall, to be put under anesthesia, endure pain. They said it wasn’t anything I did. Or maybe it was medication I took while pregnant or breastfeeding. Doesn’t matter, does it? I cannot save her from that which is coming her way. I have nothing up my sleeve. I watch and love and hide my tears so she won’t see I’m terrified.

When you take a bath I put a warm washcloth across your belly and chest and legs to keep you warm, tell you I’m here. You cry anyway when I wash behind your ears. You’re so dramatic with your wailing. But in the hooded towel you find your tiny fist and I say “It’s okay, little buddy” and it’s enough.

It is enough. 

 

So hey, newborn, Arlo, I think I just want to thank you, for these few weeks of damn-near-perfect motherhood, while you’re just barely detached from me and my job is so clear.

Thank you for this time of meeting all your needs, pretty much all the time, or at least knowing how, more or less, to do so, without my personality flaws getting in the way. Your personality doesn’t clash with mine. Your whining doesn’t drive me around the bend. You don’t irritate me. I don’t irritate you.

Not yet.

You haven’t gotten sick yet. You aren’t defiantly yelling “no” for no apparent reason. You aren’t losing your shit because I gave you the blue cup instead of the red. Your hormones aren’t raging. My temper hasn’t screwed up our day. My impatience hasn’t snapped at you when you ask me the same question fifteen times. You don’t want to play board games I can’t muster the energy for. You don’t need camps I can’t afford. You aren’t worried about the bullies in junior high. Or the bullies anywhere. Nobody cares that you can’t read yet. Other people’s douchebag kids aren’t near you. Nobody makes fun of your baby acne.

You are only you. And I, I am only me. We’re just these two physical beings – still kind of primal and raw and distilled – so now, just for now, I’ve got everything you need.

Tomorrow will begin the series of letting go, and I’ll be ready for that, I think, or actually not at all, but I’ll do it anyway because it will be my job then, but it’s messier and harder and uglier than this.

This is simple. I’ve got this.

One day I’ll see you and I’ll have no move for you, either, no way to fix it, soothe it, clean, calm, or make it alright.

But not today.

So yeah, little one, thank you for these few days of perfect motherhood.

I guess I had forgotten I had it in me.

You’ll forget I had it in me, too.

But for now, we’ve got each other dialed, kid.

You and me.

Love,

Mama

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Once again, thank you Sarah Maren for the photos. Sarah took these portraits on June 8, when Arlo was 4 days old. It was a fucking lovely afternoon of our families hanging out. She’s an artist and a dear human and wonderful friend.

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