one of those days

It was one of those days… one of those rainy days where I had no patience and the kids had no chill and everything they did or said made me want to tear my hair out and scream. And I did scream, actually, several times. For them to listen. For them to stop screwing around. For them to just DO what little I was asking them to do.

The house has been a mess for longer than I’d like to admit. Today was finally a day when we had nothing in the schedule and I could just spend the day getting this sty under control. All I wanted was for the kids to get their toys and their stuff out of the living room. 99% of the goddamn mess was their stuff. Socks. Headbands. Legos. Books. Stuffed animals. Random small toys. Just stuff. Strewn about. Under foot. On the couch. Under the couch. All I asked was that they bring it up to their bedroom. And I asked. Kindly. Repeatedly. Until I was asking not so kindly. I’m not proud of it. But I lost my shit. I was just so tired of doing everything by myself.

After I finished what I could and finally managed to get the kids to cooperate (a little) I dragged them out to go grocery shopping. I didn’t want to. I actually texted a friend joking that I wanted to go take a nap just to escape the kids for a little while. But we needed food, and the rain had let up a little, so grocery shopping we went. Lucas complained that we hadn’t done anything “fun” today. Quinn complained that she didn’t feel good. I ignored them both.

First we drove well out of our way to drop off a couple bags of clothes I wanted to donate. Stop one? No longer there. Stop two? Not taking donations. I finally found one of those shady clothing donation bins in a gas station parking lot and we were on our way. We get to the grocery store, I get the kids out of the truck, and halfway to the store door, Quinn stops, burps, and then pukes several times. (Side note: this is the second time she has puked in a public place in two weeks. Last week was in the aisle in Walmart. This was a step up, relatively.) After the puking ended, she was fine, so we continued on with the grocery shopping. (Don’t judge… this was the cheap grocery store 15 minutes from my house. There was no way I was going home at this point.)

Thankfully the kids were well-behaved during the actual shopping part (I think the puking subdued them.) I finished quickly and headed back home. While putting groceries away, I discovered that the bottom of my refrigerator was full of about a half inch of water. So then I spent a solid two hours cleaning out the water, moving the fridge away from the wall, vacuuming the vents, emptying the freezer, removing all the built up frost, sweeping and mopping the floor, and pushing the fridge back. What a goddamn nightmare.

The day ended with the kids eating dinner, watching a movie, and finally going to bed.

It was an exhausting, exasperating, infuriating day.

And it’s over now.

I’ll start again tomorrow.

the most important thing in the world

Tonight in the restaurant parking lot, as I struggled to buckle my sleeping six-year old into her carseat while simultaneously ensuring that Lucas was safely getting into his side of the car, I was approached by a homeless man.

He stood a respectful distance away. I never felt unsafe. I was in a brightly-lit parking lot. There was a crowd of at least a dozen people within shouting distance.

He called me “ma’am.” He pleaded with me not to feel threatened and, gesturing to a fresh black eye, asked that I not beat him up. He told me he and his wife were living in their car. He told me he was trying to find work, but with a criminal record he was having a hard time. He asked for money. Specifically, he asked for $1.

My first instinct was to ignore him. Or to respond with a curt “I don’t have any money” just to get him to go away.

But Lucas was intently watching this interaction. Here was a man who needed help. Here was a man who asked politely for me to help him. How could I possibly explain to my child that I wasn’t going to help him when it was well within my power to do so? Maybe he needed money for drugs or booze. Or maybe he and his wife needed a meal. If working in public service these last two years has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes really good people fall on really hard times.

I handed the man the $5 bill I happened to have left in my wallet. He looked surprised. He asked me if I was sure. If it was too much. And when I nodded and told him to have a nice night (which upon reflection seems so ridiculous given his situation) he thanked me profusely and thanked God and walked away.

As we drove away, Lucas asked me if I’d given the man money. When I said that I had, he asked me why. I told him that sometimes you do things just because they’re the right thing to do. The man needed money, I had some extra, so I gave it to him. Lucas said, “You’re a really nice person, Mama.”

I asked him, “You know what the most important thing in the world is?”

He took a moment and responded, “Kindness.”

I think I’m doing this parenting thing right.

Uno

If your childhood was anything like mine, you played a lot of board games. My family was especially fond of Trivial Pursuit (we almost never knew the answers), Monopoly (the money eventually disappeared after we’d use it to play “store”), Life (everyone wanted that high salary card!), and Uno.

Recently while I was feeling nostalgic, I introduced my kids to Uno. I wasn’t expecting much. It’s a really simple game, as you’re well aware, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to capture the interest of my admittedly technology-obsessed kids.

Evidently, my worry was unfounded. They love it. They love it a lot. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that they love it more than their Kindles. Guys, THEY LOVE IT MORE THAN THEIR XBOX.

Do you realize how amazing this is?

I can now get them to drop anything they’re doing just to play a hand or two of Uno.

I’ve capitalized on this by including it as the beginning of our bedtime routine. If you’re having trouble with bedtime, I highly recommend doing something like this. It gives them some time to wind down. It provides an amazing opportunity to bond without having to compete with a screen. It’s fun. You can claim it helps with math and color recognition skills. And once the game is over, it’s a definitive moment indicating that it’s time for bed. My kids respond well to clearly defined limits and “end of the game”=”bedtime” really works well for us.

Maybe as they get older, we’ll move on to more complicated games. But I kind of like the idea of playing Uno with my teenagers every night before they go to bed.

Uno

Outting the underwear

It’s that time of year, friends. Not back to school, and not jingle all the way. The time of year that my mother used to call the Annual Embarrassment. And while I usually like to think of myself as more modern and a little less ‘embarrassed’ than our older compatriots about such things, it’s still that time of year when we ladies all make the collective “ugh” face and coyly hide our undies and bras in the neatly folded pile on the chair of the gynecologist’s exam room.

WHY DO WE DO THIS?

It’s absurd, friends. Where she’s going, she isn’t going to give the sight of those unmentionables a second thought. Assuming, naturally, that you had enough time to quickly stuff your unders deep into your neatly folded pants before you hear the tell-tale rattle of the chart on the outside of the door, her soft knock and then suddenly her face is craning into the room.

We’re all unique people, living our unique lives and experiencing our own unique challenges. It’s the trip to the gyn that unites us. All of us, shivering under paper gowns that, yeah, we know, open to the front.

Huddled in that room today, sisters, I went rogue. And I feel free.

#undiesontop

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Laugh, Cry, or Dig a Hole and Die (of embarassment)

Busy busy busy. But who isn’t?

I have a large calendar, basically an adult trapper keeper (yeah, you know what I’m talking about). It has a red cover and I’d rather lose my wallet than it. I would be lost. Today’s square wasn’t too full. Joe was out of town (actually that changed yesterday but I didn’t erase it), a last minute dentist appointment (I’d rather go to Gitmo), and the orientation at the littles’ preschool. The orientation was just for parents so I couldn’t bring the girls. When Joe was still supposed to be in Chicago I had arranged with the school’s director for her teenagers to babysit my girls at their house.

Never write something on the calendar in pen. It's a bad idea.

Never write something on the calendar in pen. It’s a bad idea.

Luckily Joe’s trip was cancelled so I was able to make the last minute dentist appointment without some serious finagling. He arranged his day to meet me at the dentist (I have to assume he didn’t eat lunch in order to do so…at least his grumpy mood indicated that he was hangry…) and I was able to endure the hell on earth that is a dental cleaning. (I mean, seriously, I HATE the dentist. It probably deserves its own post…but it would just be a string of expletives and angry emojis). When I got home I almost immediately started dinner. We usually eat a little later so Joe can join us, but tonight we needed to leave no later than 6 to drop the kids at the sitters’ and make it to orientation.

Can I just say, this will be our third year (and third child) at this preschool. I feel like I’m *probably* well oriented. The director even gave me a bye when I asked about it. But she also offered her kids as sitters and I am too much of a rule follower not to go when I have the ability to.

So that brings me back to dinner. (I joked with the receptionist at my dentist’s that the only reason I make food is to throw it away…tonight was no exception. One day these kids are going to have to feed themselves and they will regret all this food they were too picky to eat. Or not…at least until they’re parents themselves and in the same situation.) Dinner wrapped up and as we were cleaning up I realized we were running low on time. I started rushing. I yelled at the kids to shoe-up and move out. We hustled into the car. Drove to the sitters’ house. Then I behaved like only a mother of three who’s running late does. With barely a hello, without letting anyone get a word in edgewise, I basically THREW my kids at her. “Here’s some microwave popcorn if they want a snack, diapers, wipes, my phone number, Joe’s..oh and don’t give Elizabeth any dairy. She’s allergic.”

“Um…I am babysitting for you tomorrow.”

“What? Isn’t tonight the… wait, what?”

“Yeah. My mom is getting her hair done right now. Today’s Wednesday? I’m babysitting tomorrow…Thursday? The thing at the school, it’s tomorrow.”

I can’t even. I got nothing. I don’t know how, or why, or when I screwed up my dates so badly. Or how I didn’t realize the mistake sooner. I’m not sure if it’s funny, sad, or embarrassing.

Mostly I’m kinda bummed I have to put on real clothes two nights in a row this week because of my mistake.