2020: There will be multiple abs

Happy New Year, y’alls!

I felt the urge to mark this milestone, the passage of time by writing. An attempt to reflect a little more deliberately.

It’s the end of another year, and I felt like this year was on the upswing, which is saying a lot. I’ve had a very tumultuous several years lately. My daughter just turned frickin THREE, started preschool, and folks, we’re finally out of the tiny human slash baby phase, and oh man, it feels so good. We’re getting rid of diapers and some strollers and the high chair and baby toys…and making room for Frozen dolls, Legos, big feelings, and books.

Speaking of books, my oldest turned FIVE and he’s starting to effing r-e-a-d. The other day, I spelled s-n-a-c-k-s to my husband in front of the kids and my son PUT THE LETTERS TOGETHER AND SAID THE WORD. I’ve never been so simultaneously proud and horrified. I’m now going to have to learn French (or work on my Dutch, ja?) because my kids already know too much sign language and Spanish (seriously). Also, my son’s entry into kindergarten sparked this huge turnaround in terms of his behavior and maturity level. Finally, he’s not melting down during every little transition. And finally, he’s decided to EAT FOOD TO LIVE (not every day, but it’s progress!)

Because both my kids are in school now, this fall I got 6 glorious hours a week to myself. I joined a gym, and you guys, I am the proud owner of an ab. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

It’s been a big year and we’ve all gotten some breathing room; it’s been a life-saver. Right now I’m in the middle of winter break where both kids are home with me full time again and I seriously can’t remember how or why I got through having them in my hair and watching me poop and screaming in the house every. single. frickin. day.

I can feel the days, weeks, months getting more crammed and hectic as the kids get older and more active. As I continue to try and keep a lid on that, I’ve been enjoying having more intelligent interactions with them and watching them turn into little humans. Dare I say it, parenting has gotten easier, for the moment. I plan to enjoy it as much as I can, for as long as I can.

As for me, well…eventually the plan is to go back to work, hopefully part time. I’m dying to do therapy again. But, as soon as I start thinking about all the logistics, I feel incredibly overwhelmed. First, I have to reinstate my license which means spending lots of time and money getting my continuing education credits. That also means finding and paying for childcare while I do that. Then comes the job search, cover letters, interviews (all of which I loathe with the fire of a thousand suns). Any job would have to feel worth it (a privilege I recognize that I have). It’d have to pay enough and be close enough to home. It would either have to be super flexible OR I’d have to magically find childcare to pick up my kids and then there’s early release days and teacher work days and breaks and holy crap. Without family here, or a professional network, all this put together sounds like Mount Everest.

I know, I know, one step at a time. And I’ll do that. At some point.

As for now, I’m enjoying the small bits of time I’ve gotten to do what makes me happy. In the past year, I took two painting classes! And one was a bucket lister because I got to work with oils for the first time – LOVED it. I Marie Kondoed my entire house this year, more or less. It’s a work in progress, as I love to shop for just the right storage containers. We took our first major family road trip! I completed NaBloPoMo for the second time ever. I became secretary on the board of my local MOMS Club chapter. I was able to volunteer in both my kids’ classes. I made it to my first Women’s March (hopefully there won’t be a need for too many more of those). I saw NKOTB, and, more importantly, THE BACKSTREET BOYS! Dear lord that was fun! I ran my second 5k ever, through downtown Portland where we got to stop for donuts and beer mid-run. It was all about moderation, my friends. We went tent camping and went to an airshow, both of which were much better experiences (read: no kid breakdowns) than the first time we attempted them. I’ve also read 21 and a half books this year, whereas in previous recent years, I’ve only gotten to read about one a month.

Also this year, I am happy to report that anxiety was way down, and I got considerably more sleep and exercise. I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this part has felt.

WHAT A GREAT YEAR!

I’m so glad I took the time to actually list all that, because that does feel like a full life, doesn’t it? I’m grateful.

I’m confident that 2020 will be even better.

There will be multiple abs, just you wait and see.

 

Kinder Krazy

Starting kindergarten is no joke, you guys.

Because the start time for our school is so ungodly early, we’ve had to shove our whole schedule about an hour earlier in every respect: bedtime, waking up, getting to school, pick up, snack, dinner, rinse, repeat. In theory, this shouldn’t be so hard, one might think. Surely everything would fall into place after a few days, one might think.

One might think wrong.

Because then there’s all them special activities that go along with the start of another school year, like the PTA welcome schmoozy guilt trip, orientation nightmare, back to school gang bang, etc.

And THEN there’s all the early release days that I have to remember and holidays and teacher work days that I can’t for the life of me remember what day it is or what calendar it’s on (school calendar? district? PTA?) or which way is up or which part of my life is on fire.

Also, take all of this junk and double it, because my little one just started preschool (#hallelujah), so now I’ve got twice the pick up times, teacher work days, and gang bangs…at two different schools…in two different cities…in two different districts.

The kids haven’t even really gotten started in extracurricular activities, and already I don’t know how to fit everything in (that’s what she said). The biggest issue is dinner. See, my husband is the chef in this house (thankyouthankyou), because if it were up to me we’d have an alternating menu of gourmet PB&Js with a side of shutthehellup or five star ramen topped with idon’tcarewhatyouthink-eatit. Before the start of kinder, my husband would usually breeze home from work around 4:45pm and have about an hour to cook a pretty kickass meal that I’d love and my kids would tolerate. My kids are the slowest and whiniest eaters on this green earth, so sometimes they’d take an hour to put a minimally accepted amount of frickin nutrition in their bodies, but that was mostly ok. If dinner was on time, even if they took an hour to eat, they’d still have 15 minutes to play before it was upstairs for bed and lights out at 8pm.

But now…Now, there’s almost no time for my husband to scrape something edible together so we can start the screaming eating process by 5:30pm, so we can start the bedtime nightmare at 6:15, for zero extra playtime and lights out at 7pm.

It’s weird, but I find myself looking forward to a time when my kids don’t need 12 hours of downtime in a day in order to not be complete miscreants.

And that’s just the evening junk. On the days my little one goes to school, I have an hour wait time between one drop off and the next. What the heck am I supposed to do with that, besides get a refill on my vehicle’s built-in vodka cooler?

I’m also looking forward to the time when I’m more aware of what day it is.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss in this case, as one might think.

 

Freedom, PSL, and Winning

Holy crap, it’s here.

Right here, right now, I’m experiencing my first little break where both my kids are in school.

The first ever. Because I don’t have family in town (or in state), and because I haven’t worked outside the home, and because we can’t afford childcare all the time, this is the first time I’m having a legit break during the week since these kids have been alive.

At the same time I’m both crazy ecstatic and utterly lost.

I’ve realized I need to construct a precarious balance in order to maintain my mental health. At least, sometimes it feels precarious. If i don’t have enough to do, or places to go, or people to see, I quickly slip into feeling depressed. purposeless. empty. And if i have too much to do – if i am going from activity to activity with little downtime – then I find myself feeling anxious. exhausted. used up. unhinged, even. Kinda wild and manic, but in a bad way. In a way that feels unsafe and uncontrolled.

Now that my kids are in school and getting into activities of their own, I am concerned that I will have an even harder time managing my own activities and obligations along with theirs, that this delicate balance between stagnation and white water rapids will be even trickier to maintain. It’ll be interesting to see how much my kids will want to be involved in stuff, especially versus how much or little I’ll want them to be involved in stuff.

Balance, balance, balance.

In order to keep myself from going nuts or feeling empty during these small, sweet pockets of kid-free time, methinks I’m going to have to plan and schedule. Even if it’s just planning to watch TV or hang out at Starbucks.

Today, I am congratulating myself on a spectacular first morning of freedom. Observe the following:

1. I dropped off my daughter without crying (I cried on the inside)

2. I promptly posted my daughter’s totes adorbs First Preschool Ever pic to the interwebs.

3. I signed up for a gym membership for the first time ever. Weeeeeird.

4. I’m having my first PSL of the season and it tastes like sweet, delicious with the crispness of a Fall morning and the excitement of a zombie chase!

5. I got several MOMS Club business items DONE with the taste of synthetic pumpkin in my mouth.

6. I just got an email from my local library saying I won a prize through their adult summer reading program and I AM STOKED. I don’t know what it is but this is me, THOROUGHLY STOKED.

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Pumpkin-flavored Freedom

 

Preschool Must Think I’m a Hobo

My family, we’re not morning people.

Mornings are filled with grumbling and swearing and yelling and coffee and more yelling and sometimes tears. Eventually, we get pants on our asses and food in our tummies and we get strapped into the car to get to preschool about 5-10 minutes late every goddamn day.

I’ve tried different shortcuts, different mom hacks along the way to try and make it to preschool on time. I’ve tried setting my alarm earlier – didn’t work out really well because I’m in an abusive relationship with my snooze button. Long ago I stopped trying to put on makeup or do anything beyond getting dressed, washing face, and brushing hair. I get breakfast ready with machine-like efficiency. Cereal, milk, pouches, DONE. For a while I tried running out the door without brushing my teeth or doing mouthwash, convincing myself that I’d just do it when I got back home…and that rarely happened. I realized I was getting to the end of the day and there was fuzz growing in my mouth. Yuck. Plus, we were still arriving late.

The solution? I started bringing my mouth hygiene items along with me in the car! We’d rush out the door, drop off my son, and then I’d spend the 3.5 minutes in the parking lot brushing my teeth and mouth-washing. This, ladies and maybe two gentlemen who read this, was brilliant. Finally, I could do it all! I became evermore the Supermom, and my car the invisible jet.

…Except, we weren’t invisible. While I felt like a strapping, young backpacker going on an adventure through the wilderness of motherhood, I realized what I must have looked like to the other moms rolling up late with their kids, and to the preschool teachers who could clearly see me spitting into the parking lot bushes.

That’s right. I was barely dressed, still showing up late, standing in a parking lot and hunched over the shrubbery with white foam coming out of my mouth. I looked like a hobo. A hobo with great dental hygiene (or maybe a mild case of rabies), but still.

Over time, as my kids became more and more able to put their pants on by themselves, I was able to carve out time to brush my teeth at home again, and I figured this was it. Life was on the upswing, you guys. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

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And then my youngest started potty training. If you remember from previous episodes, she rocked it, but having her diaper-free meant that I had to cart around her little potty to avoid accidents. We brought the potty to the park. The potty comes with us on beach trips. And oh yes, you bet your mama wine sippy cup that it comes with us to preschool drop off and pick up.

So now I’m also the mom in the school parking lot whose kid is dropping trou and I’m discreetly pouring out the liquid waste if we don’t have time to make it to a real potty. (I also added another hairbrush to the center console because I can never manage to brush my daughter’s rat nest hair before we get out the door. Sigh.)

With all the teeth/hair brushes, potty, and wipes, my car is basically a rolling bathroom, you guys. It already smells like shit, might as well lean in to the stink (can I trademark that phrase?). I don’t know how other moms do it, but, all outside judgement aside, this seems to be working for us moderately well. Basically, I’ve lost all sense of shame. At this point, I might as well set up my own tent.

Who wants s’mores, y’all?

My favorite part of the day

Today’s my birthday, y’all. And you know what that means – I insist on some me time so I can wax poetic on my blog about another year gone.

Another year older, wiser, more tired. It’s also been a year a bit more hopeful than recent history. My kids are getting older and more independent (read: less dependent on mommy for every goddamn little thing), which is very much appreciated. We’re all creeping out of the baby stage, and while that makes a part of me kinda sad, it makes a larger part of me sigh with relief. We’ve got potty training on the horizon for the little one, and while that process will probably be a brisk walk through hell, I am giddy with excitement when I think about life on the other side. I simply won’t know what to do with myself.

Along those lines, in the fall my oldest will start kindergarten and my youngest will start preschool. That means I get some time to nap, clean the house, poop alone, and start the process of maybe eventually going back to work.

I think my brain just exploded.

And now I’m going to leave you with a little window into my day. It’s a story that’s been bouncing around in my head for a few weeks and I’ve been meaning to get it down in writing.

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One of my favorite parts of the day is when we read to the kids right before they go to bed.

My son has always settled down to be read to, but my daughter has only started sitting still for books in the past 6 months or so, and it’s glorious. Even so, she’s still demanding to help turn the pages, interjecting every 5 seconds with “waat hap-pen?!” but I’m not complaining.

Getting ready for bed is usually chaos. Screaming, streaking, wiggling. Diapers, pajamas, teeth brushing.

Each child gets to pick a book.

We sit perpendicular on my son’s twin bed, resting our backs against the wall. We use a body pillow for support that my husband first bought me when we were living in Boston, as a surrogate for his own body once he left to take a job in California. How time flies.

My son sits to the far left, then daddy, then my daughter, then me. Always the same.

We have a desk light on low. Daddy and I do all the voices. I specialize in Princess Sparkle, supersonic jets, and the Minosaur. Daddy’s really good at Old Bear and witches and farmers.

About halfway through the first book, without fail, the cat skulks into the room and jumps up on the bed, demanding my lap. Her furry body warms mine. My daughter reaches over to pet her back or poke her in the ear.

Snapshot: for about 10 minutes each day, or entire family is calm and snuggling and…together. All focused on the same thing for a brief moment before we say our goodnights and iloveyous, lay them in their beds, turn out the lights, and shut their doors.

Sometimes my son wordlessly reaches for my hand.

Sometimes my daughter rests her head against my torso.

Sometimes the cat purrs.

Sometimes my partner and I exchange a glance above our kids’ heads.

Always it’s my favorite time of day.

Always.

Part of the Adventure

Lately, I’ve been trying to stop grumbling (so much) about Oregon (but THE WEATHER!) and focus on the good things.  It’s come to my attention that I live here now, and my negative attitude may be getting in the way of feeling more content on a daily basis.

One of the small things I’m trying to do is appreciate my new preschool commute.  My son just recently started going (and saved my sanity), and so I make the short 10 minute trip 6 times a week now.  I’ve noticed that the commute is quite lovely.  It’s on a back road that winds between evergreen trees and other non-evergreen trees that were bright reds, yellows, and oranges a few weeks ago.  Sure, there are pot holes that emerge daily and I drive through a construction site and there’s one low-lying part that I’m terrified will end up flooding at some point during the year…but honestly, I’m trying to see these things as part of the adventure.

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NaBloPoMo Day 3

Math beans, hot coffee, and lunch standing up

You guys.

I just experienced the most amazing thing.  You have no idea.  Or maybe you do.  It’s worth its weight in gold, and I think it’s going to end up being my savior.

What is this magic, you ask?

It’s called PRE. SCHOOL.

OMG, you guys.  My oldest had his first day yesterday and it was HEAVEN ON EARTH.

He was excited to go and the drop off was a breeze.  I squatted down to give him a little peptalk, told him I loved him, asked for a hug, and I got a little choked up for a second and then sucked it back because I didn’t want to lose it in front of him, and then…we left.  And he was HAPPY.  Playing with the math beans.  Preschool has “math beans,” who knew?

I went home dazed.  I had no idea what to do.  I hadn’t planned this out.  Usually I have A PLAN.  Well…first things first, I made coffee.  And drank it HOT.  You heard me.  Holy crap, you guys, hot coffee tastes GREAT.  It tastes like preschool tuition well-spent.  And then I went on FACEBOOK.  Because I don’t go on there enough, amirite? I made sure to feed and diaper my youngest, but then…she fell. ASLEEP.  And then my head exploded because now I was really lost in mommy fantasyland.

So I did the dishes, put away laundry, and started to pack for my FIRST WEEKEND EVER AWAY FROM MY KIDS (but that’s a whole other post entirely).

I ate lunch.  MY OWN LUNCH.  It was hot.  I didn’t have to share.  I still ate standing up for some reason, because hey, let’s not get too comfortable here.

When I picked up the boy after what felt like 20 glorious minutes in heaven, he was still HAPPY.  And, ladies and gentlemen, he was still wearing the same shorts as when I dropped him off.  Which can only mean (and was confirmed by asking the teacher) that he DIDN’T PEE HIS PANTS on the first day.  Angels were singing, my friends.

We came home, he ate the rest of his half-eaten lunch (score!) and then HE TOOK A NAP.

The best part – we get to do this THREE. TIMES. A. WEEK.

Preschool tuition tastes like heaven in this mommy’s mouth.

(I think I’ve lost the ability to complete a coherent thought now, but I think you know what I mean.)