Real Life: Wednesday Absurdity

We had 3 kids in 4 years. Now, with our offspring aged 2, 4.5, and 6 years, life is — well — humorously absurd. They say you either laugh or you cry. We laugh. A lot.

These tree scenarios aptly described our run-of-the-mill Wednesday evening.

**My 2-year-old tantruming beside me at the dinner table seething that he simultaneously does and does not want eat his dinner… because 2-years old.**
Me: Remember when a kid fussing and crying used to stress us out?
The Hubs: **laughing** Yeah. Now it’s just the background noise of our daily life.
———————-
**The 2-year-old squat-runs pantsless into the dining room holding his bum**
Me: NO POOPING IN THE DINING ROOM!
2-year-old: Bwahhhhhh!!! I wanna poop in dining room!
———————
4-year-old: What’s N + N + a banana?
Me: **staring blankly wondering how my life got so absurd**
4-year-old: 5

Sooo… yeah. That’s Wednesday in our house.

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.

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

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

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

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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.

Next Year will be Entirely Different

“This year will be tough,” I thought to myself, anticipating the summer beach trips at my mom’s beloved but entirely toddler-unfriendly beach house, “but next year… just wait until next year!” The glass-topped tables, the readily accessible stairs, the breakable lamps attached to tuggable cords, the vulnerable trinkets, the vertical blinds, the unlatched cabinets, the massive canvas painting hung within swatting distance above the sofa, the media console with an array of enticing buttons… so much to safeguard from my bumbling tike. But being at the beach makes it all worthwhile.

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Summer 2016

I envisioned my long, memory-filled, sand-dusted, sun-soaked days wrangling my kindergartener and preschooler while simultaneously chasing my toddler on the beach, at the pool, on the playground, and then at the beach house. I recounted the strain of having no childproofed place I can safely place my littlest so that I can cook dinner, pack the beach cooler, make snacks, go to the bathroom, or just sit for a beat. I remembered how I woke up every day at 6AM on vacation and popped him — wailing — into the pack-and-play so that I could wearily pump, set out breakfasts, and pack for the day’s beach excursion before the rest of the house awoke. I remembered the sinking dread I felt at the prediction of a rainstorm that would keep us trapped inside.

This year, I’ll have to wean from pumping before we take our trips and I’ll have to wear him whenever we’re in the house, because a pack-and-play will no longer stand as an impeding obstacle to my athletic tot. I will be on duty from wake-up to bedtime. I will enjoy it. I will treasure it. I will end the season with a multitude of photos and a plethora of cherished memories. I will be exhausted in the best and most depleting way.¬†“Just push through this year,” I reassured myself, “next year will be entirely different.”

Then it struck me: next year will be entirely different. It will be easier, but next year they’ll all be older. My herd will be 7, 5, and 3. 7… 7-years old! The better part of a decade? And my middle son a burgeoning kindergartener?? No more baby? No more toddler? Tears welled. My throat grew tight. They’re growing too fast! Make it stop!

Sure, life will still be loud and chaotic, because that is our familial heartbeat. Vacations will still be life relocated. I will still fight the descent into anarchy by planning and packing, scheduling and routine. My “vacation” will happen each night during the two hours between the kids’ bedtime and my own. I will, no doubt, still referee and soothe, corral and amuse, but I won’t be needed in that primal way. That exhausting, rewarding, wholly taxing manner that both fills the soul and drains all mental capacity.

And with that I stopped coaching myself to “just push through this year” but, instead, to savor it. Because next year will be entirely different.

Day in the Life of a SAHM

We’re just three weeks into the school year and I’m doggie-paddling. Anyone else feel like they’re this close to drowning? Anyone?

It may not sound like much but managing a half-day preschool calendar and a full-day kindergarten calendar along with a 1-year-old’s routine, household duties, and a breast pumping schedule for milk donation has me harried. I am still new to this regiment and — full disclosure — it’s tearing me limb from limb. And we don’t even have homework or extracurricular activities yet, people!

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This is a glimpse at my average weekday schedule:

5:00/5:30am: 1-year-old wakes to nurse.

5:45am: Put 1-year-old back to bed or bring him downstairs with me (depending on how early he feels like waking.)

6:00am: Eat an apple and drink green tea while I pump. Catch up on news, check social media, and edit the blog while I moo.

6:40am: Done pumping. Clean pump parts, put lunchboxes I filled yesterday into backpacks, set out shoes (and jackets, if needed), and put out breakfasts I made the day before. Pour myself a second cup of tea and head upstairs to get ready. Husband (aka: The Hubs) lumbers downstairs around now, unless the 1-year-old awoke him a bit earlier, and brews coffee while starting his work-from-home workday.

6:55am: 1-year-old is in the tub beside my vanity playing while I get ready. I switch between doing my hair and make-up and ensuring he doesn’t try to eat the bathtub drain.

7:15am: 1-year-old is done with the tub. Time to get him dried and dressed.

7:20am: Wake up kindergartener. Race back to my bathroom to finish up the last bits of my morning routine before she calls me to do her hair.

7:25am: Kindergartener is dressed. I play hairstylist.

7:27am: 1-year-old is causing mayhem so I ask The Hubs to fetch him.

7:30am: Kindergartener heads downstairs to eat breakfast. Preschooler is awake and headbutting his bedroom door.

7:35: Preschooler is pottied, dressed, brushed, and coifed. He heads downstairs for breakfast.

7:40am: I go downstairs dragging a hamper of dirty laundry.

7:43am: Start the laundry. Start to tidy the kitchen. Someone needs help with something (baby gate, breakfast, wardrobe malfunction.) Take my vitamins. Blend my smoothie that was prepped the day before and transfer it into my straw cup. Breastfeed 1-year-old while giving the kindergartener a 2-minute warning before it’s time to leave. The Hubs goes upstairs to get dressed.

7:45am: The Hubs is dressed. Kisses, love, wishes for a good day, and reminders to be a friendly friend. The Hubs and kindergartener leave for morning drop-off.

7:50am: Breastfeeding 1-year-old because he got distracted with big sister’s exit. Preschooler demands a snack though he’s holding his half-eaten breakfast while wearing a princess costume.

8:00am: Tidy kitchen. Clean smoothie mixing vessel. Rinse pump parts and clean up breakfast aftermath. Prepare prechooler’s snack after collecting his empty breakfast plate.

8:02am: 1-year-old wants a snack too. Prepare his snack.

8:05am: Now I’m peckish. I pour a small bowl of hippie cereal (seeds, buckwheat groats, dried berries, coconut flakes, and cashewmilk) and sit down with the mug of cold tea I forgot to bring upstairs with me.

8:10am: I’m sitting and eating cereal. Catching up on social media and/or local news. Playroom scuffle breaks out. Scoop the last bites of hippie cereal down my gullet on the way to referee the brawl.

8:15am: Playroom peace attained. I check the oven clock. How the HELL is it only 8:15?!? I check my phone. Yep… 8:15. Shit. I clean up my cereal and unload the dishwasher.

8:30am: In the playroom reading with the minions.

8:35am: Clean-up time (code for: tot coup d’etat)

8:39am: Playroom moderately tidied. 1-minute warning to departure for preschool drop-off. I head to the kitchen to fill my water bottle and notice my smoothie sweating on the counter. Oh right, I made a smoothie! (Like I do every. Single. Day.) I put the smoothie next to my water bottle and keys to bring with me. Then change 1-year-old’s diaper.

8:40am: Drama ensues because leaving the house must always involve chaos and yelling. Always.

8:43am: Boys are in the car, shoes on (so help me!), and buckled into their car seats. I flop into the driver’s seat trying to remember what it was like when all I had to do to leave the house was put on my shoes, grab my keys, and leave. The mental file is too outdated… file not found.

8:50am: We arrive at the school early because I’m a type-A pain-in-the-ass who fears arriving late. We wait for 3 minutes in the car before starting the unbuckling routine. Meanwhile, I drink my now-melted smoothie.

8:58am: Preschooler is kissed, wished a good day, and signed in. I chat with some familiar faces then head to the car, 1-year-old riding on my hip.

9:01am: Get in the car and head either to Target or the grocery store since no other fruitful destinations are open at this time. On storytime days, Target is our destination.

9:20am: Arrive at Target. Pop 1-year-old in the Ergo 360 and off we go.

9:25am: 1-year-old is peckish. He nurses in the Ergo while I grab paper goods and eye all the women’s fashion section from afar. Target is now my fashion magazine. Oh, wide-leg jeans are back in!

9:38am: Checked out, paid, buckled in, still parked, I grab my phone and add something to the grocery list that I just remembered we need. (Thank you, Wegmans app!)

9:55am: We arrive at storytime before the library even opens (see 8:50am time slot for reasoning.) 1-year-old is chilling in his car seat so I turn up the music and check email and Instagram while we sit. I remember I need to schedule a pediatrician well-check… mental reminder. Then I realize I should probably drink more water, so I chug.

10:05am: Heading into storytime, the cereal and smoothie and water have caught up to me. Pee break in a public restroom while holding my 1-year-old: amateur contortion.

10:10am: 1-year-old is enjoying free reign of the children’s section. He keeps a close eye on the doors to the storytime room.

10:30am: The doors open. 1-year-old charges in. Storytime!

11:05am: Heading home for lunch.

11:15am: Wash hands then microwave last night’s leftovers for lunch while the 1-year-old shrieks out of sheer starvation, unless The Hubs (who generally works from home) had a slower morning and was able to heat up lunch.

11:30am: Eat lunch and rehash the morning with The Hubs.

11:40am: Clean up lunch and set up tea kettle to brew.

11:45am: Head upstairs to change 1-year-old and nurse him for naptime.

12:05pm: If I’m lucky, the 1-year-old is finally asleep and I can head downstairs to pour a cup of tea and set up my breast pump. If he’s not asleep, I’m still in the glider being milked.

12:45pm: The Hubs kindly leaves to pick up the preschooler.

1:10pm: I’m cleaning pump parts and bagging milk when the preschooler arrives home. He potties, scrubs his hands, and goes down for a nap.

1:15pm: I pour my second cup of tea and sit down with great aspirations of ass-sitting. Instead, I make the grocery list and meal plan, check my calendar, scout weekend activities, call the pediatrician to make the well-check, and check email.

1:30pm: One of the boys awakes. They’re not supposed to be up until 2pm but, gosh darn it, one or both of them nearly always awakes now. I remember the load of laundry in the washer as I go to collect the early riser. I transfer it to the dryer before I go upstairs.

2:00pm: Naptime is over. A part inside me cries… another potentially restful naptime lost. Back to snack-making and kid-wrangling.

2:15pm: Feed the boys a snack, figure out a car ride snack for the kindergartener and the neighbor girl we drive home, and tidy the inexplicably messy kitchen.

2:30pm: Start getting everyone ready for kindergarten pick-up. Drama — as always — upon our departure.

2:45pm: We pull into the school parking lot. (School doesn’t let out for another 30 minutes but, I think you know by now that this is how I roll.)

2:50pm: The boys play out front with other younger siblings while I simultaneously chat with fellow parents and fish acorns and rocks from my 1-year-old’s mouth.

3:15pm: The kindergartener and neighbor girl head our way.

3:30pm: Everyone is noshing on granola bars and rehashing the day’s events as we exit the school parking lot.

3:40pm: Home. Shoes off. Hands scrubbed. A small snack is served at the heathens’ demand while I clean out the lunchbox and review evening expectations: any papers, homework, items of note? The kindergartener regales us with details of her day. We listen.

4:00pm: Kindergartener heads to her room for quiet time. Preschooler tries to join her but must stay downstairs instead. You want to watch “The Little Memaid” for the 456734th time? Will it make it so you won’t try to sneak upstairs to make fart noises outside of your sister’s bedroom door? Fine. I start dinner, lunch, and breakfast prep. Kids pepper me with: “Can I have a snack?”, “Can we go outside now?”, “Is it dinnertime yet?” The answer is “no.”

5:00pm: Dinner. Everyone is excited and claims they will eat every morsel.

5:20pm: Everyone except for the preschooler has finished dinner. The dinner drama ensues during dinner clean-up and morning prep. Start the dishwasher.

5:45pm: If the preschooler hasn’t finished now, it’s too late. Playroom time to let dinner settle. I breastfeed the 1-year-old while checking social media, email, check in with friends about this life event or that, and check the next day’s calendar.

6:00pm: Wrangle all of the kids outside to play.

6:40pm: Everyone comes inside. I throw the dry laundry into a laundry basket and put it in the family room (where it will sit mocking me for at least 2 days… or until I run out of laundry baskets and am forced to fold it along with three other laundry heaps.)

6:45pm: Playroom clean-up (always a pleasant experience… like a root canal without painkillers.) The Hubs showers and, once I can see the playroom floor, the kids and I do storytime.

7:00pm: The Hubs supervises the kindergartener’s shower and the preschooler’s bath. I get the 1-year-old in pajamas and nurse him before bed. I peruse Pinterest and plan playdates or outings with friends while breastfeeding my sleepy 1-year-old.

7:40pm: 1-year-old is in bed. I shower.

7:50pm: On the sofa with my giant bottle of fizzy water, my breast pump, and The Hubs to watch one of our shows (presently, “Narcos”) then chat about the day before heading up to bed.

9:30pm: I set my alarm for way-too-damn’-early o’clock but know I won’t even need the alarm because of my 1-year-old.

And I do it all again tomorrow.