5 things ALL parents do.

In lieu of the normal “x things y-style parents do”, I’ve decided to be a bit more inclusive. Because as parents, we all need the daily struggles and triumphs to unite us. This is a crazy hard club to be in, and it gets even harder when you try to fit into groups and realize you may have fallen short.

So without further ado… The 5 things every parent will do before their babies grow up.

 

  1. Count down to bedtime. A day with your kids is rife with triumphs and joys and reasons to smile. But sometimes, you need to countdown to bedtime. And when it finally arrives, it’s perfect okay to breathe a sigh of relief that the day has come to an end. Because with kids, things can get downright Alice in Wonderland crazy sometimes.
  2. Go insane. Some days call for it. Maybe you woke up to a poop painting on the wall, or your kiddo is throwing a tantrum because you won’t let them climb the chimney, or you’re just feeling touched out. You will feel on the brink of sanity sometimes. Often (or maybe that’s me). It’s okay. Don’t sign yourself up for a padded room just yet. It’s just a small part of your life with kids. It will pass. And come again. But the important part is that it isn’t constant.
  3. Fail. Every parent on the face of this earth WILL fail some days. Maybe not at an entire day. Or maybe at everything. It’s okay. If you haven’t had a day like this yet, rest assured that it will come, and you will move past it. You’ll grow stronger in your failures. It’s okay not to be the perfect parent. Your children will grow up loving you more knowing that you go through the same things as they do, and they’ll be better people as well. It’s okay to show your flaws.
  4. Grow. Whether you had your kids at 18, before your life really even started, or at 40, after you’ve had many life experiences, parenting will help you grow. It’s completely different from anything you might have done before. Parenting is a hard job. A usually thankless job. It has it’s ups and downs. It can threaten to break you or lift you up in ways you never knew before. It’s a lesson in humility and patience. It forces you into being a bigger, stronger, smarter person than you may have been before children. It’s a beautiful ride, and it has some really beautiful consequences, too.
  5. Love. Parenting is the ultimate test in love. You’ll love every day. At the best and worst times. You’ll love more than you knew you could. And if you have multiples, you’ll multiply that love when you weren’t sure you could. You’ll love from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. And while they’re sleeping and you’re staring at their little faces, you’ll be certain this love is going to smother you with it’s greatness. You’ll love your children until they’re old and gray, no matter what, because you’re a good parent, and you’re doing a great job (remember that. Even if no one is telling you, just remember that).

 

No matter whether you’re young or old, have 1 kid or 15, no matter where you come from or how you were raised, you’ll go through it all. Because it’s all just part of this crazy, maddening, amazing, beautiful journey. And when it’s all over (it’s never really over), you’ll be a better person for all of it. So when you’re having a bad day, remember to give yourself some grace, and know that everyone else is going through all the same things.

So, you had a bad day.

Today is a bad mom day. A downright shitty one. Frankly, yesterday was too, but we’re going to focus on today. Every mom in the history of ever knows what I’m talking about when I say this. I’m often sarcastic about my life, which includes the comings and goings of my children, but today, the sarcasm is absent. Because today is a day I could really use a hug. Today, for some reason, the edge is a little nearer, and I’m closer to tumbling over it.

 

Let’s start with this morning, when despite the fact that my toddler went to bed past midnight, both girls woke up at 8am, a solid 2 hours earlier than their normal. I’m still sick and running on less sleep than I really honestly need to be able to kick this. I rolled out of bed knowing that they would be in a tired, cranky funk, and that I wouldn’t have enough patience to fully deal with everything effectively. They almost immediately started crying after getting their milks. It didn’t stop for 2 hours. I have a gnarly sick voice, so they’re hearing exactly nothing I say over the din, not that it would matter.

While they cried, at me, at each other, at nothing, at everything, they trashed things. Not in the way that children normally do as they play. An angry upheaval of our home, ripping things, smashing things, tearing up anything they had enough strength to break. While I tried desperately to maintain the calm and protect our home from complete, real destruction.

The baby crawled into the kitchen while I was wiping the toddler’s butt & ate dog food. And dumped the whole cat/dog water dispenser. Tons of water, everywhere. First things first, I had to clean up the babe. Then the mess just stared at me. Laughing cruelly at me. By this point, I’m near tears. I’m wet, I’m dirty, my already barely in check anxiety is threatening to explode. I’m not handling the day well. I’ve already yelled a couple of times. Loud, raspy, hoarse yelling. Like my neighbors judging me yelling. Which I remind myself of while I’m trying not to cry. Because that seems like the best strategy for falling apart.

 

In an effort to not relive the food and water incident, I load us up to head to Walmart for a baby gate (our fifth one, which now officially closes us in completely). It’s gone from 30 degrees to 80 in a week’s time, so we’re hot and bothered because we’re not used to the temperature. Not a great start. I get to Walmart (which is 3 minutes, and less than a mile, away), and while I waited for my Starbucks, the baby fell asleep in the car seat. We switched to a convertible this week, which means I need to wake her to go in or sit in the Walmart parking lot with a toddler for an hour or more. Not happening. So I go to get us out and realize I forgot the baby carrier because this was supposed to be a 10 minute trip. Cool, now she has to sit up & she’s tired. Recipe for disaster.

We get inside and she’s tolerating it. The toddler is in the back of the seat with her treat from Starbucks, a carton of chocolate milk… My hopeful tactic for remaining calm. It fails. While gate shopping, L gleefully decides that her $2 carton of milk should be sprayed all over the shoes we just bought her 4 days ago. I want to explode because this is becoming a typical behavior. Instead, I just tell her that she’ll stop receiving treats if she’s going to use her powers for evil. 5 minutes in, and as soon as I have stuff in my cart, L has to pee. So we trot all the way to the back bathrooms because they’re the only ones I’m willing to enter. We disembark from the cart (because it’s filled with a gate & I’m not about to get accused of trying to stuff a gate down my pants… #Walmart), without a baby carrier, which means I’ll need to hold R with one arm and help L get up, wipe, get down, and wash hands with the other. We get all the way into the bathroom, and L flatly refuses to pee. She’s laughing hysterically like she’s punk’d me. After some convincing, I give up. We go back to the cart, all buckle in, and go back to shopping. Repeat this entire process two more times. Complete with her refusal to pee. But what do you do with a toddler who has a very low tolerance for holding it?

By this point, I’m sick, I’m hot, I’m tired, I’m DONE. We check out and get to the car. I get R into the car, and suddenly L has to pee again. We’re 3 minutes from home and I don’t want to completely undo a car seat just for her to “trick” me again, so I take the risk of trying to make it home. Big, horrible, stupid mistake. She pees in the car seat. The one that just has to be hand washed, and air dried. Which takes two days. And we literally just returned the spare to my mom’s house LAST NIGHT because we didn’t have the space to store it at our house.

 

We’re home now, my patience so thin it could tear apart at any moment. L is dry. R is asleep in the crib. When L asked to watch “the Boovs”, I happily turned on Home in an attempt to zone out and regroup. Which is really the only option left, because I feel screamy. And also slightly like running away. There is no sarcasm that can laugh this day away, so I’ll just count down until my husband gets home. Or until bedtime.

 

Oh… And just now, as I was proofreading this, L decided to just stand in the living room and pee her pants while watching the movie, then proceeds to tell me we don’t have a toilet, so she peed her pants. Is this day real or am I having a nightmare?

Fully in survival mode.

Me and my husband are both pretty sick this week with strep throat. I’m not a graceful patient when I’m sick, but my husband just melts into whatever bed or couch is near, and that usually means a crowbar will be necessary to excavate him from the area. Both children, however, are well. Which translates roughly to “we have all this energy to break things and kill each other and mom and dad aren’t gonna do anything about it! mwahahahahaha!!”

Right now, my 8 month old is just hanging out under the dining room table. Normally, I’d have gone to “rescue” her from a situation she doesn’t want remedied, but right now, just hang out there. I’ll throw a blanket over & you can have a fort. I’ll be over here popping DayQuil like it’s candy while you’re at it. Mommy needs this, shortstack.

My 2.5 year old is still in bed. It’s inching up on 11am, but I don’t care. I know it means by tonight that I’ll have pulled all my hair out when bedtime came and went like a leaf in the breeze, phasing no child here. But right now, I’m taking a break, before my sick patience gets tested every 3 seconds. The good news is, I have no voice, so I can’t feel guilty for yelling. Because I can’t. Even when I want to. I can’t tell if that’s a victory or defeat.

Back in the day of childless abandon, I used to grab a couple NyQuil at bedtime and pretend I was queen of my bed for ridiculous amounts of time. That is no longer an option. You see, with children, they do strange things in the night that need tended to. For example, last night, as I’m exhausted, reverting to my inner cavewoman, and snotting from basically every hole in my face, L decided to take a couple laps around the house while yelling “Mommy!!” at 330am. Totally cool. You see, if I’d been doped out on NyQuil, I’d have missed that amazing opportunity to lose more sleep than even necessary. And that’s just not going to work. R also decided to just sit straight up in her crib at 2am and try to play for an hour. Because I wake up randomly at 3am & decide to go for a bike ride. It’s a thing people do (I’m side-eyeing as hard as I’ve ever side-eyed in my life).

Now that the day is ramping up to start getting chaotic, I’m going to employ what I consider to be one of my best mom tools on a day like this: Daniel Tiger on Netflix. Because the more he sings stupid songs that I’ll know until I’m 97, the less talking/moving I have to do. Which is basically what I’m about right now… My husband is at work, so I have to figure out this sick with kids thing on my own today, which basically just means I can’t go “that’s awesome, bet Daddy would like to hear all about that!” But good ol’ DT is going to get me by. He’s my best tiger friend right now.

And coffee. Sick or not, you’ll have to pry my coffee cup from my cold, dead hands.

 

Excuse me while I convince the children that Mommy CAN actually see them through her closed eyelids. Because this plague is going to be the end of me.

Things I loved about my home birth.

You might remember that I mentioned having a home birth last year with R. But I didn’t go into a ton of detail, because frankly, birth can’t be summed up in a paragraph, not accurately anyway. Maybe I’ll tell my birth stories soon, but for now, I’ll just give you the highlights. These 5 things made home birth everything it should have been and everything I wanted it to be for us.

1. I was fully in my comfort zone. Not a ton of people know, I suffer pretty badly with social anxiety. Because of this, the idea of being in a room with 2-3 strangers with my lady bits on full display was a nightmare for me. My husband will attest to the fact that during my first (hospital) birth, I did not calm down about it, even as I was pushing L out. At home, it was a different story. I had no interest in a nurse I’d just met 45 minutes prior staring me down like that. We don’t know each other that well, ma’am. At home I could lumber through my house, get comfortable wherever I pleased, crawl around on my own floor without feeling like a stranger had pooped there recently. I laid in my own bed, showered in my own shower, and I moved about as I pleased, without needing to figure out where I’m going, or alerting someone.

2. My daughter didn’t feel displaced by the birth of her sister. As many second time parents know, the worry of what will happen to your first born while you’re in the hospital is a real problem and can really put you ill at ease. At the time, L was cosleeping, had never even been left with family for any amount of time, and was socially anxious as well, even with people she knew. Sending her away to a foreign experience while I myself was in a state of chaos would have been terrifying for both of us, and would have hindered my ability to free my mind and allow her sister to come easily. So it was amazing that she was able to be in our home with my husband at her side whenever she was awake. When she was awake, her and my husband sat in the living room or ate or whatever it is that they did, while I wandered around, likely sounding like a dying moose. She fell asleep on the couch just in time for me to begin pushing and she woke within 20 minutes of her sister being born. After meeting her new sister, she sat in the chair next to our bed and watched and talked to us while me and R were getting settled. She came and sat in the bathroom with us and me & R took an herbal bath, and she eventually felt ready to go eat breakfast with her dad while we were nursing. She even got to be part of the stat checking for R.

3. I got to do whatever I wanted. I wasn’t being monitored (other than the occasional quick BP check or a heartbeat check with the doppler). I wasn’t trapped in a cramped room while nurses walked in and out just as I was getting into a groove. I wandered around, found comfortable positions on my own, I showered like 50 times, laid over the edge of my tub for about 45 minutes while I worked on getting R to a better spot. I like to be alone for the majority of my labor, so it was really nice to just be able to leave and go somewhere by myself without being pestered. I was in the safety of my own home, so I could do as I pleased without a nurse tsk-ing at me, or giving me some rundown of policy when I break a “rule”.

4. I really KNEW everyone who was at my birth. Each of my midwives had spent hours and hours with me. Every prenatal visit with them had been an hour or more of actual face-to-face time. There wasn’t a random stranger involved, there were no mid-labor introductions, there was no “this is how I like to do things” because all of that had been talked about at length in our many prior visits. They knew what was important to me, and there was no one there would didn’t know my real birth plan. There was no one there that made me feel the need to advocate for myself. We were close enough that when they showed up, we all fell into this seamless groove. They didn’t need to be instructed on where everything was, because they’d been here twice before. It was such a comfortable setting, which I really valued more than I thought I would. My husband was right by my side without being ordered to hold one of my legs. He was able to just hold my hand, brush my hair away from my face, and give me drinks in between contractions, just like I wanted for our first birth.

5. It was really MINE. In my previous birth, it never felt like my experience. I felt like I was whisked through birth, whisked through recovering, and that was that. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. But with my home birth, it was MY experience. It was on my terms, according to my plan (as much as is possible, anyway), and I was able to really immerse myself in my birth. It felt like I had done it all on my own, in a good way. I felt empowered by my birth, not crushed and exhausted by it. It was a birth I was proud of, and while I’d been proud of my babies and our journeys together with both births, I didn’t really own my hospital birth in the way I owned my home birth.

 

I know home births aren’t for everyone, and I’m sure many of my friends and family were horrified that I chose to birth without a team of emergency medical staff on call, but it was right for us, and honestly, I would do it again, if the idea of adding a 5th person to our home didn’t fill me with dread. It was just what I wanted for our family. And I think it benefited every one of us.

 

For anyone getting ready to give birth, whether home or hospital birth, the only thing I can tell you for when things are getting tough and you don’t think you can keep going is this: “you’re already doing it. You’re tougher than you know.” That’s what my midwives told me when things were getting hard, and I wasn’t sure I could keep going, and it has resonated with me since.