Spring Break Snippets

This Spring Break we made a trip to a local beach. I grew up vacationing there, so sharing the experience with my children is priceless. Seeing my kids frolic in the same waves, scamper on the same sand, and skip through the same little town I once did is heartwarming. Hearing them say they have the same warm adoration for that little oasis that I do makes my heart swell.

However, any parent who has traveled with children knows that a vacation is not a “vacation” anymore once there are small children involved. Fun? Memorable? Filled with laughter? Yes! Relaxing? Leisurely? Calm? Hahahaha… no.

That is why grabbing hold of blessed bits of beauty and rare fleeting moments of silence amidst the relocated (and at times amplified) chaos is a practice in gratitude and sanity. Here were some of my precious excerpts.


Breastfeeding my toddler seaside. A rare sweet nursing moment amidst the gymnurstics stage.


Two whole minutes of blissful silence. Thanks to two kids on Kindles and one kid taking a brief nap. It was short but delightful.


The excitement upon cresting the dune onto the beach and seeing a gorgeous day ahead.


We reconnected with beach friends we’d made years ago. Seeing the kids fall right back into their playful rhythm as we chatted happily was heartwarming. I adored my childhood beach friends. Now my children are beginning to experience that loveliness.

Finding My Direction

I signed up my littlest for preschool. Starting in September,  I will have 3 child-free hours to myself twice each week. Some parents rejoice at this shard of freedom. They regard the open hours with delight, imagining the quiet, the swift errands, the to-do list toppling abilities, the ease of exiting the car without unlatching and unbuckling other humans only to relatch and rebuckle their wiggling bodies a short time later. I, on the other hand, feel simultaneously mournful and lost.

I’m not ready to have my littlest leave my hip. I’m not ready to begin closing this young childhood chapter. I’m not ready to let go. I’m not ready for this next step. He is, though. So my level of readiness is moot.

I’m lost because I don’t know what to do with the vast yet limited time. One of the 3-hour preschool days will be dedicated to grocery shopping. Because every parent knows how demanding that errand is when accompanied by one or more children. So that leaves me with one 3-hour day to do with as I choose. So what do I choose?

At first I thought I could restart my International Board Certified Lactation Consultant educational endeavor. Then I realized that 3-hours once a week provides opportunity for a sliver of coursework — the credits which nullify after a limited time period — but offers no window for the requisite supervised patient hours. Then I remembered the level of flexibility I will require for sick days, class parties, school holidays, field trips, preschool performances, parent coffees, etc. The two-day preschool schedule is not stagnant. And so the educational goal was shelved, yet again, until all of my brood is in full-day school.

So, what’s a more viable option? Exercise?? Maybe. But I’m a workout DVD person as opposed to a class go’er. By September I will likely no longer be pumping (I realized this with a heavy heart. My surplus output is dwindling at 19 months postpartum — as it should — but, natural or not, the progression is bittersweet. No more 24/7 toddler companion AND no more milk donation??? I am wounded at the mere thought.)  So I will likely replace my pumping time with at-home exercise anyway. Exercise class option negated.

Perhaps I’ll volunteer! That’s a more likely choice. Given my looming milk donation end date, I will want to give back another way somehow. I began contemplating possible charities. Then I realized a more personal opportunity. Perhaps I could regularly volunteer at my eldest’s school! I have been remiss in my inability to participate to my desired degree this year given my littlest’s schedule and breastfeeding demands. Maybe that’s the solution. Maybe I might have possibly found an appropriate time filler. Something that gives me purpose. Something that still connects me to my maternal duties. Something that will make the time seem less empty and more fulfilling.

It’s hard being a stay-at-home mom. We give so much of ourselves to our children. Our identity becomes entwined with our maternal duties, just as a lawyer, an artist, a scientist, or a medical professional identifies with his/her career. Except children grow up and away.

We cheer for the development, praise the growth, but mourn the loss of our baby. To be needed in that primal way, to be wanted and loved and cuddled, to be present… it is a fleeting gift.

The constant demands of the newborn phase throw us into a world all our own. A survival-based existence of milk and spit-up, sleeplessness and lullabies. Then, in all too short time, the phase is over. The once-infant is walking and talking, becoming more child than baby. The increasing independence means that the burgeoning child is beginning to experience the world on his or her own. Once school begins, swaths of the child’s day will no longer be witnessed by us. We won’t share in those memories. We won’t know all of his or her friends. We won’t kiss all of the boo-boos or high-five all of the accomplishments. The child will be creating memories of his or her own. Without us.

As my littlest takes his own first step into the world I must bolster myself. I must cheer him on instead of holding him back. And I must take my own first step back into the world too. I must simply determine in which direction.



Seeing my Former Self

I was standing in at the grocery store register, trying to entertain my 1.5-year-old to just get through the last 5 minutes of the errand without a meltdown. We’d made it this far — thanks to our Ergo 360 and nursing on the go — we just needed to last a few more minutes.

Then I saw her. The mom with what appeared to be a 4-year-old, 2.5-year-old, and infant. It was me last year. Outwardly, she appeared calm wrangling her brood as she awaited staff assistance, but I could sense her camouflaged stress and feel the familiar cloud of perpetual chaos.


The sight took me back to that not-so-distant time. I remembered the constant demands, as no one was independent yet everyone had an attitude. I recalled that unshakable exhaustion, as I got little quality sleep but lived a life that required high energy and even loftier levels of patience. I remembered being in survival mode 24/7. I remembered the haze, the self-imposed guilt, the frustration of doing and giving it all yet feeling as if I accomplished nothing. I remembered the tenderness, the cuddles, the duckling fluff infant hair, the afternoon playdates, the chubby toddler cheeks, the preschooler lisps, the calmer schedule. I remembered my entire trio being younger, smaller, pudgier, needier.

After swiping and signing to pay for my groceries, I looked down at my toddler, squirming in the carrier, and realized how far my life had progressed. How quickly things had changed. And then it hit me: in no time, none of them will need me for the little things. They may reluctantly call upon me for a listening ear, life insight, or homework help, but I won’t be so central to their lives. If anything, I’ll be an irksome source of embarrassment and nagging. At least until much later years, if I am so fortunate.

My harried days are numbered. My children are growing faster than I’d choose and, with that swift development, adjusting my life, my identity, my purpose.

I have no control over the tide. I am merely swept along, clutching to memories and moments as they rush past. I see my previous life stages drift away into hazy memory as I careen towards an unknown destination. If I focus too heavily on the past, I miss the present. If I dwell on the ambiguous future, I miss it all. If I try to fight the tide, I’ll drown.

Bundling up my toddler, I looked back at the mom of 3 under 4 and remembered being her. Part of me was glad to have moved beyond the madness, but another part of me envied her. She doesn’t realize how beautiful her present exhausted state is, how much she’ll treasure those memories, and long to be so intrinsically needed. I certainly didn’t when I was her.

I gave my toddler a squeeze and batted away tears as I passed my former self. Leaving the exhaustion and beauty behind, I faced the day with a greater appreciation. I will survive the frenzied day-to-day but I will also savor, for it will be a memory in too short time.

Mommy Burnout

I’m a stay-at-home mom of 3 kids and I’m burnt out. I am mentally, emotionally, and physically tapped. I have no more left to give, but keep giving I must because my 5-year-old, 3.5-year-old, and 16-month-old need me. My husband needs me. My family needs me. My friends need me.

My 5-year-old needs to chatter about her social escapades, ask random questions (“What do mermaids eat for dinner?”), and safely lose every one of her marbles in evening meltdowns while I listen, answer, and herd her back into wholeness. My 3.5-year-old needs to ramble about Rock Star Barbie and princesses’ hair, ask 15 times in 1 hour if we are going to Meme’s house even though his book bag and lunchbox are clearly set out for school, and request impromptu cuddles, while I act enthralled, calmly respond, and happily embrace. My 16-month-old needs to cause calamity, rough-house, and breastfeed on demand, while I ensure safety, fun, and nourishment. My husband needs me to communicate and interact like a loving, appreciative, present, well-mannered partner. They all need me to cook, clean, wrangle, organize, referee, chauffeur, and schedule. And just generally be a decent, happy human.

I have neither the energy nor the wherewithal to effectively do any of this right now. Nope. Not a bit.

I’m done. Keg’s tapped. Peaces!

So what do I do when I’m burnt out? Honestly, I snap more than I should. I lie awake wracked with mom guilt from all that I expect myself to do but can’t due to lack of time. I mentally berate myself for each of my accurate and perceived shortcomings. I replay every misstep and lament what was left undone. I feel every ounce of my overwhelmed state. I feel guilty for being overwhelmed instead of savoring this fleeting precious life stage that, one day, I will earnestly wish back into present time. Then I self-defeat by piling more tasks and to-dos onto my rambling list of expectations. Because I’m a mom… that’s what we do. Life does not stop simply because we are exhausted. There is no vacation day for us… no breather.

Without true respite, how do I pull myself out of these natural and normal burnout blips? Self-care, fortitude, and friends. Mainly, though, patience. I try to focus on things that fulfill me, fuel me, and make me feel healthy overall. For some that may be painting or jogging, yoga or reading. For me, sneaking exercise into my daily routine helps immensely. I fuel myself by focusing on hydration and nutritious foods, without depriving myself of whimsical treats. I surround myself with fun friends that leave me feeling supported, happy, light, and positive. I afford myself patience knowing this blip is reasonable, understandable, and temporary.

I cut myself slack. I forgive myself for my abbreviated patience. I remind myself this is temporary. I’ll be back in the game soon.

Mommy burnout doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. It means you’re human.



My Kids are A-holes: My Afternoon of Mommy Hell

When it’s 12:30 and you’re already wishing it was wine o’clock,  you know it’s bad.

I love my kids. I always wanted to be a mom. I’m immensely fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to parent my own biological children. Nonetheless, on occasion, my kids can be real assholes.

I knew my day was apt for a left turn when all of the kids were awake before 7:00am. Still, it was going to be a busy day complete with two school drop-offs, grocery shopping, grocery unpacking, preschool costume parade which coincided exactly with the inconveniently scheduled kindergarten early dismissal, lunch prep, breast milk pumping, and packing and shipping of frozen breastmilk for my milk recipient. There was lots to do but, fortunately, The Hubs was there to pitch to make it all work.

The Hubs took on school drop-offs and the yougest and I headed to the grocery store. Errand completed, groceries unloaded, lunch heating, and we had 15 minutes to spare before heading to the preschool parade. Just enough time for a nursing session. The Hubs manned kindergarten pick-up and the youngest and I drove to preschool. Perfection! That’s when the day went sideways.


– We arrived at the school and the yougest was cranky. If he wasn’t attempting to waddle into the street, he was a fussy puddle of baby on the sidewalk. He repeatedly flung his chubby face at the glass double doors and streaked his way down the the glass in toddler melodrama.

– After the parade, the yougest and I headed to the classroom to retrieve the now-exhausted middle child.

– The middle child, dressed as the blue-haired merman from Nick Jr’s “Bubble Guppies”, refuses to leave the classroom or don his backpack until I put his blue wig in the backpack. Fine. Blue wig in backpack… whatever.

– We get to the car in the bustling preschool parking lot. He wants me to remove his costume pants right then and there. No. We live 3 minutes from school. You can survive. You’re wearing scale-printed leggings for goodness sakes! Get in your car seat.

– As I buckle the boys into their car seats, the middle child asks to hold his treat bag. I say he can but he may not eat anything from it. I hand him the bag. He flings it beside him in frustration because why look when you cannot eat?

– I pull out of the parking space and the middle child asks what’s for lunch. He throws his shoe when he hears it’s not noodles with meatballs.

– We haven’t even exited the parking lot when he throws his sock after I tell him that, no, I will not make him a separate lunch.

– We’re not even out of sight of the school when he throws his other shoe upon realizing, to his utter horror, that there’s a commercial on the radio. He shrieks that he wants music.

– Music comes on. I turn up the volume and he screams he doesn’t want music. I turn it louder and tell him I won’t turn it down until he stops screaming and whining.

– He eventually stops screaming and whining. I turn down the music.

– He wants his treat bag from the school party. It’s right next to him but he claims he can’t reach it. He can. He won’t. He freaks out and throws his remaining sock. Verdict: no treats for the rest of the day. He flips.

– I remind him of our in-car shoe removal policy: as soon as we park he has to collect his socks and shoes and walk inside as he is. He freaks out.

– We get home. The Hubs has successfully retrieve the eldest from school and is already back home. I unbuckle my youngest and unfasten the middle child. Within the seconds it takes me to walk around the minivan to let out the middle child, he has managed to refasten himself in the car seat and is losing his mind over being stuck in the car seat. I free him (though I really don’t want to.)

– I walk the emotional middle child through grabbing each thrown foot covering. He wails the entire time and walks barefoot into the house, the mermaid flippers appended to his scale-bedecked leggings wiggling with each step.

– The shoe-less Bubble Guppy melts as he gets inside. He remembers he didn’t want lunch.

– I put his treat bag on the counter so I can heat lunch, and he attempts to swipe the bag. I retrieve the bag and remind him that he doesn’t get treats today. Threat: his treat bag will be thrown away if he tries to steal it again.

– He complains about the lunch I’m preparing. I tell him to skip lunch then.

– He steals the treat bag. I throw the bag away. He screams. I tell him to go upstairs.

– He yells in the hallway that he’s hungry and wants lunch. He rips leaves from the fall garland and throws them down the stairs.

– Fuming, I put him in his room.

– I plate lunch. Everyone — minus the middle demon spawn — is eating. I hear him throwing stuff in his room (plastic hangers and stuffed animals) and yelling at me through his pacifier. Whatever. I’m eating.

– The tantrum is over. I send my eldest to fetch the middle child and to remind him that, if he’s good, he can come have lunch.

– Now wearing only tight whities, the middle child sits at the table, face red and puffy from the tirade, and happily exclaims that the lunch is yummy. The F… really??

– My eldest finishes lunch and goes to get a lollipop. I open the shrink wrap and lollipop shards fall all over the floor.

– I vacuum the lollipop bits. My youngest tips back in his chair (we have bungeed it to the table for just this reason) and gets stuck in the reclined position. I save him.

– My middle child can’t pick up the small pieces of lunch with his fork, so I have to feed him the rest. Meanwhile, my youngest demands immediate release from his booster seat.

– I clean up the middle and youngest children and get them ready for naptime.

– I send my middle child upstairs to go potty before naptime. He somehow pees in his underwear and in the toilet simultaneously. Skills.

– I go upstairs. I step in the pee puddle barefoot. Because, of course.

– I clean up the puddle and get my middle child ready for a nap.

– I nurse my yougest for his nap. Halfway through he pops off and wiggles down to the floor. No nap today.

– I put my youngest in the playroom where my eldest is chilling, and I get my breast pump together.

– I sit down to pump. 5 minutes in: “He stinks!” Complains my eldest. “Poo poo!” squeals my youngest.  I’m pumping so I tell them to hold on until I’m done.

– I finish pumping. Subpar output — a kick to the areolas for a pumping mom — but it’s reasonable given my stress level.

– I change my youngest: “poo poo” was an understatement. Total outfit change required.

– I have 15 minutes of break time before naptime is over. I pour a mug of hot tea and sit. Ahhh!

– 5 minutes later, the yougest is melting. He has decided that he wants to nurse and that it is now his naptime. Sorry, kid! You can nurse but you’re not napping.

– It is 2:00. Naptime is over. Post office, barber shop,,and dinner prep here we come! I unlatch the youngest and we gear up for the remainder of the day.

We survived. I didn’t lose my mind… entirely. I’ll call that a win.





I Wonder What Outsiders Think

I can only imagine what I look like to outsiders. Every day at kindergarten pick-up, my two boys run and play on the school lawn. There, beneath a shedding oak tree surrounded by grass and partially encircled by a well-tended flowerbed, the younger siblings of the school’s students play as we await the daily exodus.

The preschoolers and toddlers run in the shady grass, sharing toys and digging with sticks in the dirt. Meanwhile, moms look on from the sidewalk, chatting about extracurricular activities and school happenings.


Then there’s me. I bob from one mom group to another uttering perhaps one maybe two complete sentences before racing to fish acorns from my 1-year-old’s mouth (trying not to get bitten in the process and swiping his back-up acorns from his soil-smothered mitts), fetching him from the flowerbed as he attempts to hurl a rock at the school building, redirecting him when he acts like a chinchilla and hurls fistfuls of dirt over himself as if taking a dust bath, prying him off of a bike left locked to the metal bike rack, reminding him not to tackle bigger kids, correcting him when he uses the metal flagpole as his own personal xylophone. Meanwhile, my 3.5-year-old scampers happily with the others, playing tag or airplanes in the sun.


Every day I leave pick-up feeling like a haphazard bulletin board. Ideas and phrases, reminders and memories tacked at random but none of it illustrating a cohesive work. It’s simply an organized mess. Harnessed chaos.

And such is my life with three kids 5 and under. It’s a mess. It’s chaos. It’s exhausting. It’s mine.

One day I’ll be able to speak in complete sentences. One day life will be calm.

Until then, I will run and chase and scold and laugh and save and redirect, all while trying to pretend I am still capable of adult conversation. I will live this mayhem — exhausted and fulfilled — every day I’m able.

Who cares what outsiders think? I hope they laugh. I do.