Life Lessons at 5-Years Old

“Other kids say I’m not a good artist,” my exhausted and melting 5-year-old lamented after I’d praised the self-portrait she’d drawn at school.

2016-11-10 06.53.59.jpg

She had been an emotional disaster since lunchtime, so I knew this upset was going to feel larger to her than usual. She was feeling raw, tired, and completely incapable of handling life.

As much as I was over her pendulum swings, I knew I needed to dig deep past the frustration and nurture. There in the kitchen, I crouched down, opened my arms, and asked if she needed a hug. She tearfully nodded and walked over. I sat cross-legged on the tile floor and she folded herself into my lap.

“I’m sorry the other kids hurt your feelings. I think you’re a great artist.” She smiled and sniffled. “It’s important to know, though, that for all of your life there will be people who are better than you, worse than you, and equally as good as you at all kinds of things. And that’s ok. Just because someone else is a great artist, it doesn’t mean you’re not good too. We all have different gifts. Some people are good at math, some are good at art, some are good at running, some are good at getting their heads stuck in holes.”

“I like running!” She said excitedly. “Good,” I said, “and your brother likes sticking his head in holes. You both have things you like doing.” We both giggled.

“You can be good at lots of things,” I told her, “but you won’t be good at them all, and that’s ok. I still think you’re a good artist though.” We hugged then off she went. Repaired for the moment.

Life lessons at 5-years old. Puberty should be fun.

The Loneliness of Motherhood

Motherhood is lonely. As moms, there’s always someone clinging to us, following us, needing us, demanding of us. Even when our children are not physically present, their needs are still in the forefront of our minds.

As mothers, we are constantly surrounded by humans — big and small — but rarely do we truly get to connect with them. We are too busy chasing and aiding our little herds to meaningfully socialize. No matter the size of our “village” or quality of our friends, we will have periods during which we feel alone. We are lonely amongst the madness, isolated amidst the crowd.

When we try to converse with others, it’s guaranteed that a majority of our thoughts and sentences will go uncompleted. “Mommy, I need to go potty!” “Mommy he’s not sharing!” “Mommy, watch this!” “Mommy, I’m stuck!” Each intercession permanently derails a line of conversation. Then there are the maternal sensors that ping every few moments interrupting you just as your child licks the floor, crawls towards power cords, attempts to fly, tackles her sibling, or uses a public drinking fountain as his own personal splash pad.

For many of us, social media becomes a form of self-medication. We use it to camouflage the isolation. We like, post, comment, pin, and tweet to feel less alone… to connect. But it falls flat. It’s not the same.

Occasionally some of us can break free and revel in a mom date. We order adult drinks and savor the ability to eat our meal without having to simultaneously referee. We chat and laugh, we feel human again. Then it’s time to go home to the children we adore and miss, despite knowing full well the level of chaos that awaits us.

We arrive home with our emotional tank closer to full. We’re refreshed and replenished from our social outing. This is temporary, and we know it.

Every tantrum, every meltdown, every sleepless night, every departure debacle and bedtime battle drains our emotional tank. Sweet moments and tender cuddles reverse a bit of the loss, but the loneliness is an emotional hemorrhage that will leave us empty if unattended. The sense of isolation will render us shriveled, aggitated, overwhemed, fatigued, and depleted. We cannot pour from an empty cup, but we must.

Motherhood is joyous and stressful, love-drenched and tumultuous, priceless and taxing. It’s a beautiful gift but it’s lonely.


I hate Wednesdays.

Every-other Wednesday we all have to get up extra early and be out of the house by the time I usually wake the kids any other day of the week. Every time — every single time — #1 is shocked and horrified by the early start, and battles me all the way through the morning routine. #2 moans and wails, trying to sneak back into bed. #3 decides to take this opportunity to unravel the entire roll of toilet paper, eat unwashed socks in the laundry basket, and tip over shampoo bottles.

Once dressed and brushed for the day, the boys and I drive an hour in traffic to my parents’ while Hubs has a breakfast date with #1 before preschool drop-off. The boys and I enjoy time with extended family (the bright spot in our day), then venture back home where I tell myself the boys will nap… they must nap. I NEED them to nap.

Despite the early start, no one naps. Because of the early start, everyone is an asshole.

Wishing coffee into wine

Pumping during what is SUPPOSED to be naptime and wishing this coffee was wine

To make things even better — because I am a genius — I signed up #1 for ballet after preschool on Wednesdays. She loves ballet… pink, tutus, what’s not to adore? However, an extra-long day paired with having to act like a decent human being in public for that many consecutive hours means meltdown mania from the time her tulle-bedecked tush enters the house until she’s shuffled into bed. Some days she even continues her tirade in her sleep, awaking refreshed and rejuvenated after unknowingly verbally eviscerating me All. Night. Long.

I hate Wednesdays.

Thank God for wine!

Bad Days

“So, I found a drive-thru vasectomy place.” Hub’s comment about sums up our day. The level of exhaustion anf frustration at the end of a very bad, very long kid-wrangling day is maddening.

#1 was snarky and stubbornly negotiating like a lawyer. #2 was  throwing one screaming fit after another. #3 was getting into everything and started a lovely phase of shrill chimpanzee-like shrieking.

I sit nursing #3, listening as Hubs bathes #1 and #2. It’s not going well. Both have had treat priveleges revoked for the next day and they haven’t even rinsed out the shampoo yet.

I don’t know how I’ll make it through the last half-hour before bedtime. I don’t know where I’ll gather patience for tomorrow. But I’ll do it. I always do.

Nursing session is done. Kids are bathed. Bedtime. #1 asks me to cuddle with her and tell her a bedtime story. I put my head on her chest. I feel her ribs rise and fall as she tells me which story she wants. I feel her excitement as I begin. She puts her hand on my shoulder as I reach the end. I kiss her soft, soap-scented cheek and wish her sweet dreams. “I love you!”

I am restored.


“All I Wanted…”

“Gahhhh!” “But whyyy???” “Nooo!” The moment of agitation and defeat when your seemingly innocuous plans have been thwarted by your own offspring.

“All I wanted was to…” it could anything: nap, pee in peace, make one phone call without stopping to referee or assist small humans, sleep, prepare a meal without having to drop everything to feed or wipe someone, exercise, have just one bedtime when everyone stays in their bed on the first try, arrive on time, have one drama-free playdate, pump, sit on my butt for five straight minutes, poop, wear clothes without stains, drink a hot beverage at its intended temperature, etc. Some days the plan change is easier to accept than others. Then there are those days when one untimely potty joke or one predigested milk deluge is beyond your patience level. You’re tapped out, the well is dry… and they can sense it.

As if driven by predatory instincts, our cherished offspring will claw, tantrum, and spew us into submission. Then, when we mourn the shattered want before us, they look at us with their saucer-like eyes in inocent bewilderment. As if they had no part in our mommy meltdown.

You have been defeated. Perhaps tomorrow you will be victorious… perhaps.

Froyo Meltdown

A weekday outing to get frozen yogurt with friends… gold star playdate overflowing with giggles and sprinkles, no? Unless you’re #1. #1 took this sugar-soaked opportunity to release her inner demon spawn in public.

As I ensured #2’s container remained free from allergenic contents, #1 grabbed a mamoth paper cup and began pulling serving handles, pouring ribbons of frozen colors into her container. I caught her as she reached the fourth lever. I took the cup: “Only Mommy pulls the handles, hon’.” #1 was irritated.

I moved to the toppings. #2 wanted gummy frogs. As I plopped two jiggly, technicolored frog-shaped blobs into his dairy-free treat, #1 melted on the floor because she had a dollop of melting frozen yogurt on her finger. I handed her a napkin. Unsatisfactory! I offered to help her wash her hands after we pay. The horror!

“You have until the count of three to choose your toppings, or you don’t get any.” 1… no movement 2… a scowl. 3. I put the paper bowls on the scale, smiled, nodded, and paid as the teenage cashier looked back and forth between me and my enraged firstborn, who was now writhing like a rabid octopus and demanding toppings.

#2 and #3, completely unfazed by #1’s public display of demonic possession, sat and partook in the playdate. I invited #1 to calm down and join us.  “I don’t like ice cream without toppings!” “I’m sorry you didn’t choose in time. We’re here with friends. You can either be friendly and join us, or go alllllll the way down to the end of the bench and sit by yourself. I’ll hold onto your ice cream.” She wailed her way down the bench and curled up angrily in the corner.

The rest of us chatted and the well-behaved children happily slurped colorful frozen spoonfuls. “Stop talking!” #1 barked from her pouting perch. I glared at her and returned to the conversation. “This isn’t fair!” She lamented as she scooted closer. I turned to her and quietly gave her one more chance, reminding her that she’d be sad later if she wasted this fun playdate being grumpy. She fumed. I turned back around.

Then I see #1’s sparkly light-up sneakers next to me. She has returned. She scoffs at her naked, partially melted frozen mound — which #3 had sampled — and rejoins the playdate.

Frozen yogurt playdate: survived.



“That” Mom

I was just “that” mom. I am accustomed to the looks of bewilderment and shock I get when I walk in public with #1 (4.5yrs) and #2 (nearly 3yrs) holding my hands as #3 (9mnth) is strapped to my chest. Today, though, I didn’t even bother noting the surrounding glances, gawks, and glares as we painfully selected balloons for #2’s upcoming family birthday gathering.

Three “Bubble Guppies” balloons… the errand should’ve been uneventful and swift. Hahaha!

#1 had to touch every single pink ballon in sight, got a nasty case of the “I wants,” and then came the back-talk. Mean mommy verdict: “No treats tonight!” Cue the 4.5yo elbow to my thigh which she regretted about 3/4 of the way through the swing. Mean mommy point and glare.

We head to the register… My Little Pony toys, Frozen t-shirts, candy… the party store gods loathe me. I decide to ignore the rapid-fire “I wants” for sanity’s sake.

We make it to the register — I’m still ignoring — then, as I swipe my credit card, #2 decides he wants a Rapunzel party. He selected the “Bubble Guppies” theme a month ago. We have the plates. We have the cups  He came with me to order the dairy-free ocean-themed cake. We just got our three freakin’ “Bubble Guppies” balloons. Get me out of here! Sorry, bud, you’re getting “Bubble Guppies.” #2 flails. Meltdown. On the ground. Complete loss of leg control. So I drag him toward the door in the manner least likely to cue a CPS call. Now, he’s demanding his birthday is today: “My burpday is April 7th!” “Yes, but today is April 1st and your family party isn’t until the 3rd.” “Noooooooo!!!!!” I contemplated the carry-of-shame but figured he might kick #3 who was strapped to my chest. So I tried reasoning with him. It worked enough to get to the car before he melted, body half in and half out of the minivan. #1 stepped over him muttering about My Little Ponies as I slid #2 on his belly inside the van.

Buy birthday ballons: check.