The Happiest Place On Earth…

…is not where you think it is.  There are no friendly mice or glamorous princesses.  Well, there might be ONE princess but she prefers neons and animal prints over pink and poufy any day.  If you’re wondering about the prince, he’s there too.  He loves legos and hex bugs and mine craft.  The queen is a stunning zumba/barbell/step-aeorbics instructor who rules firmly but fairly in the magical kingdom of Newsouri.

(It should be noted that Newsouri is, in fact, Missouri in kid-speak.)

My son, Max, is nearly five years old and he makes sure to tell me daily that he plans to run away to Newsouri in order to escape my tyranny.  I didn’t know it at first but it seems that I’m actually the evil queen in this situation.  Ruling with an iron fist and unreasonable demands like:

“Please tidy up your bed.”

“Go put your shoes in your shoe basket”

“You need to flush the toilet EVERY time you use it.”

and the worst of them all… “No, you may not have cookies before breakfast.”

I know.  You’re wondering what kind of monster I am or how I manage to live with myself issuing orders such as these.  Quite frankly, I’m beginning to wonder too.  Especially in light of his constant threats to move to his Auntie’s house…in Newsouri.

Moving to Newsouri is his solution to everything.  Don’t want to eat what I cooked for dinner?  Move to Newsouri!  Get in trouble for hitting your brother?  Run away!  To Newsouri!  Hate cleaning up after yourself?  Max says that in Newsouri, you NEVER have to clean up your toys. So you should definitely go there.  (Though I have a sneaking suspicion that these rules would be news to all the children who currently reside in the grand state of Newsouri.)

At first, I was sympathetic to these outbursts and threats.  I know it’s a sort of phase.  He’s testing, pushing our buttons, experimenting with threats and ultimatums.  I remember doing this as a kid too.  There was always somewhere that I was just certain wouldn’t have such awful rules about behaving and cleaning up after yourself.  So I get it.  I really do.  But I’m also OVER IT.  My kid has threatened to relocate to Newsouri so many times that I’ve barely stopped short of telling him to just fucking do it already.  As it stands, I’ve started to talk him through the logistics of moving out-of-state.  I tell him that Daddy and I would be heartbroken to see him go but if he really thinks it’s the best thing to do then he’d better prepare properly.  I remind him that Newsouri is really far away and well, he can’t drive yet so he’s going to have to walk and it’s literally going to take him several days to get from our house to his Auntie’s.  Also, those legos that he doesn’t want to clean up?  Yeah, he can’t really take those with him because they won’t all fit in his backpack and I’m not entirely sure that he could carry them while walking that far.  And I’m not really sure how he would eat while he was traveling because he doesn’t have much money to buy food with and I’m not sure that he knows where all the restaurants are.  So many details!  Who knew?!  His solution, of course, is to have his Auntie and cousins come pick him up in their car.  It’s a good solution.  It would get him safely from point A to point B.  Except I’m pretty sure his Auntie isn’t in the market for a cute but bitchy five-year old right now.

Sometimes I also like to remind him of the reality of how his Auntie rules her roost.  She’s the one who taught him the phrase, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  So I’m not entirely sure where his idea of her as a permissive, lovey-dovey, everyday-is-a-party kind of Aunt came from.  The most recent example would be this conversation:

 

 

(I walked into the kitchen at 7am one day to find that Max had eaten all but one of the sugar cookies we had planned to have for their afternoon snack that day.  He was well aware that this was not ok.  I called him into the kitchen to talk about it…)

Me: Well honey, sneaking cookies before breakfast is not ok. I hope you understand that this means you will not be having a cookie for snack this afternoon.

Max: What?!  But I WANT a cookie for snack!!

Me: I know but you chose to sneak in here and eat cookies before breakfast.  Now the only cookie left is the one I had saved for Mason.  So he will still be able to eat his cookie later but you will just have to eat something different.

Max: NO!!!!!  I want to eat a cookie!!  Mason can just share his!  It’s a big cookie!

Me: I will not make Mason share his cookie.  You’ve already eaten more than your share of the cookies.  You made a choice to be sneaky and eat them this morning.  That choice has a consequence, which is that now there is no cookie for you to eat this afternoon.

Max:  That’s IT!  I’m leaving!  I’m moving to Newsourri!!  I can eat whatever cookies I want in Newsouri!

Me: (who is sick to death of hearing about Newsourri) Oh really?!  You wanna know something about Newsouri?  Your Auntie, who lives in Newsouri, DOESN’T BAKE COOKIES.  THERE ARE NO COOKIES IN NEWSOURI.  Your Auntie bakes cookies once year, at Christmas, and that’s it.  Your Auntie doesn’t even eat potatoes so I can promise you she’s not baking cookies just for fun.

Max: (looks completely shell-shocked. I think his eyes might fall out of his head.  He has never known an existence without baked goods.)  Well…I still might go!

 

 

Le sigh.  I’m at a loss.  If he were older I might seriously consider seeing if my sister would take him for a couple weeks.  A couple weeks where she just happened to need a lot of help doing projects in her house or yard.  I feel like we would both win in that situation.  Free labor for her, a little tarnishing of the Newsouri gleam for me.  But he’s four, going on five.  He’s young, if sassy, and I’m trying to get through this phase without losing my sanity.  I know his version of life in Newsouri is complete fiction, made up in his clever little head but somehow it still stings to have it thrown in my face every damn day.

I’ve started fantasizing about a preschooler version of Scared Straight; no cookies, no iPads, lots of chores, early bedtimes and someone is always using your favorite action figure. 

Until then, I’ll continue my mean mommy ways and finish each day with a visit to the bar cart.  I have a feeling there are mom’s in The Kingdom of Newsouri who do the same.

This Too Shall Pass?

I broke down crying in the pediatricians office last week.  Luckily, we have a wonderful pediatrician, one who listened as I expressed my concerns.  She didn’t brush me off or get impatient.  She made sure I felt good before she left the exam room.  She also reassured me by saying that my postpartum hormones are pretty much at their peak right now so all this turmoil I’m feeling will settle down.

So maybe that’s it.  Maybe its just hormones.  Or the fact that only one out of every ten meals I eat is actually a proper meal with something akin to nutritional balance.  Or the fact that even though my baby is really a very good sleeper (the best yet!) I’m still just tired.  Regardless of what’s causing it, the problem is that I’m terrified.

I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life and I’m absolutely fucking terrified.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I’m waiting for something to go terribly, horribly wrong.

I have a daughter.  A beautiful daughter.  My Marleigh.  She is sweet and smart and strong and I’m so in love with her I don’t know what to do with myself.  I tell her a million times a day how beautiful she is.  How sweet she is.  How adored she is.  I coordinate her little outfits with her little headbands and I love every second of it.  I tote her around, an extension of my body.  I feel kind of odd when I’m not holding her, even though I wanted a break.  I worry.  I worry about her getting sick.  I worry about SIDS.  I worry that even though she’s only 12 weeks old I’m somehow managing to ruin her already.  By telling her how beautiful she is am I somehow programming her subconscious to believe that her worth lies in her beauty?  Will she go to college seeking approval from people based on her appearance?  No.  Of course that won’t happen because she’s not allowed to go to college.  Ever. Because BOYS. But seriously, I want her to feel strong, capable, confident and incredibly beautiful.  I hope that everyone she meets loves her even a fraction as much as her brothers do.

Marleigh’s brothers.  My boys.  My heart swells just thinking about them.  They are so full of energy and life.  They are a thousand words on top of countless noises.  They run, jump, climb, balance and crash.  They adore their sister and live for the moment she smiles at them.  They smother her with kisses and sing to her when she cries.  They are the lights of my life, my first loves.  Their big ideas and sticky fingers make me feel young and old, all at the same time.  I worry that I’m not giving them enough these days.  I worry that I’m not taking enough pictures of them or playing enough Candyland.  I worry about being too strict and then I follow that up with worrying that I’m not teaching them all the right things: manners, compassion, perseverance and how to enjoy life.  I worry that I’m doing it all wrong.

I worry about kidnappings, car wrecks, freak accidents and vaccines.  I worry about tornadoes and fluoridated water.  I worry about having everyone I hold most dear ripped away from me.  I worry that worrying about these things makes me a weak person and a poor mother.

I look at my bright, healthy, happy children and feel utterly undeserving.  But, my god, I love them so much it hurts.

I want to wrap this post up into some neat, tidy life lesson.  I want to tell you that I felt all these things and then somehow, with great strength of character and a brilliant epiphany, I overcame and am a better person today.  Stronger.  That I didn’t lie in bed the other night hiding tears because it’s so fucking scary loving people this much.  That I didn’t think about deleting that last sentence because it sounds angsty and borderline stalkerish.

For better or worse all I have to offer you, and myself, is honesty.  Murky, complicated and incredibly unflattering honesty.

But that’s a start, right?

I Don’t Mean to Brag but…

Our newest family member, Marleigh Juliana, was born just over two weeks ago.  On her older brother’s birthday.  Because she has no problem asserting herself.  She is sweet, chubby and cuddly.  Everything a newborn baby should be.  Her brothers absolutely love her.  Max is thrilled to pieces each and every time she opens her eyes and looks at him.  Mason, whose birthday she so boldly took, literally cannot be in the same room with her without touching her; kissing her, gently patting her head or poking her tiny feet.  It’s pretty adorable.  Overall, I would say both boys are adjusting very well to having a little sister.

As for me, well, I think I’m doing ok too.  When people ask me how I’m adjusting to life with three kids, I’m not always sure what to say to them.  How do you know you’re doing well?  There’s a pretty wide range of success markers to gauge yourself with.  Anywhere from “Well, We’re All Alive” to “Why Yes, These Are My Skinny Jeans and I DID Just Churn That Butter By Hand”.  So I started taking stock of my recent successes to see where I stand.  I think you’ll be pretty impressed.

  • I have washed my hair three times since giving birth.  This is right on par with my pre-baby hair washing average.  A clear win.
  • I have not peed my pants even once.  (If you’ve ever had a baby, you totally get this.)
  • All three children have been fed daily, multiple times per day.
  • I did not scream, “HOLY FUCKING SHITBALLS!!!!” every time Marleigh latched on to nurse the first week.
  • I’m pretty sure I got very nearly three hours of sleep the other night.
  • I have cooked fish sticks, salad and blueberry muffins.  Not all on the same day, obviously, that would be crazy.
  • I remembered to order diapers from amazon.
  • I have managed to get all my kids fed, dressed and out the door before 9am on three separate occasions.
  • I’ve gone grocery shopping and remembered pretty much everything.  For the most part.  Sort of.
  • I only broke down sobbing twice when literally EVERYONE in my family got sick and/or got pink eye right after we brought Marleigh home.
  • I did not completely lose my shit when our air conditioner went out pretty much the moment that everyone in the family was finally healthy again.  Because that wasn’t frustrating at all.
  • I was told by the nurse doing my post-partum exam that I have “…really firm abdominal muscles…” and “…a remarkably fast-shrinking uterus!”  I assume this is all underneath the generous layer of squishy tummy that I’m sporting right now.  Regardless, I’m clearly a fine specimen of human female. Don’t be jealous.
  • I have brushed my teeth every day.  Except one.
  • I can change a diaper in the dark.
  • The baby has only peed on me twice. So far.
  • I have cut the baby’s nails without injury (to her) or panic attacks (for me).
  • My one-handed Pinterest-ing while breastfeeding skills are pretty epic.

Also, I managed to write this blog post in under a week.

I think I’m getting the hang of this.  My next goals are to shower daily and actually FOLD the laundry.  At that point I should be able to qualify for the Motherhood Olympics.  I’ll probably win.  Unless there’s a swim suit competition.

Peanuts & Cracker Jacks

If my sons ever doubt my love for them I will remind them not of the months I spent carrying them in my body, the hours I spent giving birth to them (9.5 and 7.75 respectively…not that anyone’s counting) or even the countless hours of sleep lost caring for them (approximately one billion).  No, I will be reminding them of yesterday.  The sunny, blue sky filled Sunday in June when we took them to their first baseball game.  Why?  Because I fucking HATE baseball.  I LOVE my children but baseball…just shouldn’t exist.  It makes me angry.

In fact, if we were to make a list of things I believe should be banished to the underworld (where are those angry Greek deities when you need them?!) it would read something like this:

  1. Nicki Minaj
  2. Baseball
  3. Nickelback
  4. Spiders
  5. Oreos
  6. Orange Flavored Anything

So how exactly did I end up going to a baseball game on a hot Texas day at 38 weeks pregnant?

I was tricked.  Tricked by cute little people.  It started out so innocently…

 

Max: Hey Mom, one day I want to go to a baseball game with Daddy and Uncle B.

Me: Awww…well that sounds nice.  I’m sure Daddy and Uncle B would love to go to a game with you.  Maybe we can work that out.

Max: Yeah, that would be so fun.

Mason: Yeah, we would like to do that.

Me: Ok.  (This sounds adorable!  I’m totally going to buy them tickets!  For their birthdays!)

 

So as I was working out all the details for this little outing – thinking the entire time that maybe I’d go get a pre-baby pedicure while the boys were at the game – my husband suggests buying the fifth and last ticket in the row we were on.  He made it sound so reasonable.  What if we want to invite one of our dads to go too?  What if Uncle B’s wife wants to go?  What if the boys want me to go?  I pretty much stopped listening after the part about our dads so I just clicked and paid for that last ticket and didn’t give it another thought.  Until we told the boys about the game and the first words out of Mason’s mouth were, “Mama!  Do you want to go to the baseball game with us?!  You can sit in a seat with all the other grown ups and watch me play baseball!!”

Oh dear.

Two major problems with this scenario.  First, NO I do NOT want to go to a baseball game.  Ever.  I would prefer to stay home and scrub every tile in our house with a toothbrush.  Second, my son thinks he is going to be playing in the baseball game.  Of course I can’t tell him I’d rather torture myself than go to a game with him.  Especially since I’m going to have to break his little heart about that whole “only the professional players are allowed to play at this game” thing.  In an effort to soften the blow, I agreed to go to the game before I attempted to explain how attendance at sporting events usually works.  Which, by the way, is borderline impossible to explain to a stubborn very-nearly-three-year-old.  He pretty much ignored everything I said and moved straight on to requesting that I take to him buy a “baseball hand” (aka baseball glove) so he could play at “his game”.  This conversation was repeated for the better part of two weeks.  Which wasn’t frustrating at all.

Finally, game day.  I’m right in the middle of being hugely pregnant and feeling very nest-y and the last thing I want to do is go to this darn game.  There are baby blankets to fold and muffins to bake!  But I love my boys and they are excited, so I go.  And here’s what happens:

  • I pay for this game with MONEY and I attend this game SOBER.  The first sporting event I’ve ever attended in my life that didn’t involve kick ass free seats & free booze on the company dime.  I firmly believe this is the ONLY way to attend any sporting event.  Little League is going to be a rude awakening for me.
  • Upon arriving at our seats, both Max and my brother step in gum.
  • Max gets his foot stuck in his seat and drops his $50 pretzel on the ground.
  • Mason also drops his absurdly expensive pretzel on the ground…and attempts to pick it up and eat it.
  • Both boys get bored after approximately seven minutes.
  • We take them to a playground within the ballpark (genius) where they play happily until a little girl in line for the slide in front of them pees ALL OVER the steps, walkway and slide.  They were not happy when we made them climb down instead of letting them happily prance through and slide down the trail of urine.  We’re awful parents like that.
  • We attempted to console them by taking them to buy “baseball hands” at the gift shop.   The gift shop that was SOLD OUT of baseball hands.  And gloves, for that matter.  They settled for some small bats.  I anticipate a game of Beat the Crap Out of My Brother with My New Bat to commence after breakfast tomorrow.  At the latest.
  • We hawk a piece of jewelry in order to go buy hot dogs and hamburgers.  They eat three bites before managing to drop these on the ground too.
  • They start asking for popsicles.  There are no popsicles to be found at the ballpark.  Ice cream cones are a completely absurd substitution and we are idiots for suggesting them.  Dippin Dots are finally agreed upon.
  • We settle back into our seats just in time for a fly ball to come literally curving around the net straight towards Max’s head.  Seats that we very deliberately chose because of their low likelihood of fly ball traffic.  Luckily I’m married to a freaking ninja with crazy fly ball catching skills; he caught that damn thing before it shattered my kid’s face.  He was so excited to have caught a fly ball.  I was ready to beat that player with his own fucking bat for nearly hitting my kid, scaring the shit out of me and taking a solid eight years off my life.  I think my blood pressure is back to normal now.
  • My feet are now swollen.  This irritates me.
  • The game finally ends!
  • We work our way to the end of a seriously long line so that the boys can “run the bases” down on the ball field.
  • Parents are not allowed to accompany their kids.  We watch our babies hike all the way down the stadium and onto the ball field without us.  I completely cease breathing.
  • We watch our boys run with gleeful abandon around the bases.  I almost cry.  They’re so focused and so incredibly happy.  They look a little nervous coming back up the stairs towards us but they’re little champs, so proud of themselves.  Giving us high fives and hugs like crazy.  (fuck…I’m crying right now just remembering it.)

As we drive away from the ballpark, they are exhausted and quiet.  I glance back to see Max’s eyes sliding shut and his mouth curving into a sweet, sleepy smile.  At home, we put them to bed and they insist on sleeping with their new baseball bats.

I still fucking HATE baseball.  And I would still prefer slurp up cold (free) beers if I have to attend a game.

But I am madly in LOVE with my children and if sweating and swelling my way through a stupid game is going to make their childhood just that little bit more magical, then I’m in.

 

Wherein I Do Not Cough Up A Baby

Once upon a time, there were two adorable boys sitting at a kitchen table eating breakfast.  The boys were cute.  Very cute.  And still quite young, only 2 and 3 years old.  Their names were Max (the three year old) and Mason (the two year old).  Because of their cuteness, their youth and the fact that they were supposed to be eating breakfast quickly before preschool, their mother was not at all prepared for the conversation Max initiated.  It went a little something like this…

Max:  Mommy?  How does Baby Marleigh come out of your tummy?

Me:  Well, when she’s big enough she’ll be born.  Then she’ll be out!

Mason: Yeah!

Max:  Yes, but…how does she GET out?  Like all the way out?

Me:  Oh.  Ummm…well…mommies have a special part of their body for babies to be born from.  So when it’s time, she’ll just come out of that part.

Max:  Ok…so…will she crawl up your throat and come out of your mouth to be born?

Me:  (WHAT. THE. FUCK. That’s…terrible.  Like I’m going to just cough up a baby one day?!  That’s possibly the ONLY thing I can think of more traumatic than vaginal birth!  Although, it IS kind of funny.  And really, he’s smart to think of that since he believes that the baby is in my tummy and he knows that throats connect to tummies, blah blah blah…)

Haha!  Well, no.  She will definitely NOT do that.  That’s just not something that is possible for babies.

Mason: …or safe!!

Me: (laughing…a LOT.)  Yeah, you’re right Mason.  It probably wouldn’t be very safe for babies to be born through throats and mouths.

Mason:  Yeah.  I know.

Max:  So then how will she be born?

Me:  You know how I said that mommies have a special body part for babies to come out?  Well, she will just come out of there when it’s time.  (Seriously?!  Am I going to have to talk about vaginas at breakfast?!  We’re leaving for school in five minutes.  What if he goes to school and starts telling all his friends about vaginas?  Will all the parents be mad?  Will his teacher wonder what the hell we’re talking about at home?  Where the hell is their Dad?!?!?!)

Max:  Ok.  So maybe you mean she’ll come out of something else, like…your belly button?

Me: (Realizing the kid is serious.  He will not be put off any longer.)  No honey, not my belly button.  Though I can see why you think that might make sense.  *sigh* Actually, you know how you have a penis and mommy does not?

Max: Yeah.

Me:  Well, the part that mommies have instead of a penis…that’s for having babies.  That’s where the babies come out.

Max: OH!!  You mean the black part?!

(I’d like to interject here.  I’m a natural brunette.  I DO keep certain things, ummm landscaped but I’m not so much a full brazilian wax kind of gal.  So, reading between the lines, perhaps you can see where he was going with that little comment…*ahem*….pardon me while I die a little inside…)

Me: (utterly defeated) Yes, you’re right.  The black part.  That’s where the babies come out.  (How is “the black part” better than vagina?  I should have just said, VAGINA! Now he’s going to be referencing pubes at school instead of genitalia.  Great.)

Max: Ok!   

Mason: Mama?  Did you put yogurt in my lunchbox?!

Me: Yes.  And I put bourbon in mine.  Now go find your shoes.

And that is how NOT to explain childbirth to your preschooler.