(Pronounced like cow, but with an M. that is Cece’s word for Mickey mouse)
Dear Mickey Mouse-
Let me start off by saying I am a big fan. I have been since I was in diapers. You and your crew were my first friends. It is nice that you now spend so much time in my home again. At the risk of being judged by other parents, I am just going to come clean: I let my kids watch a lot of TV. I don’t mean to, but we are all happier people when the TV is on. See, you still bring joy to my life. But you already knew that, you are a smart mouse. I can’t quite figure out why you are still friends with Pete, he is seriously an asshole. But I am sure you have a reason, I won’t doubt you know what you are doing. You, little mouse, have become generation-less. I like how you have become quite musical in this new generation. The hot dog song? And kids eat it up. (pun intended) Anyway, like Goofy trying to remember quite how to say Toodles, I am stumbling over my words. What I really wanted to say was thank you for being there to help out this week.
I am running around the house trying to prepare for another holiday gathering. Presents need to be wrapped bought, and my house is in its normal state of cluttered chaos. Why do they need to dump the toy bins to play with one little thing? Cece has attached herself to my leg and Jackson weaseled a bike in from outside and was running over my foot, again. The girls were just waking up and their faces were glued to some device. I was letting Josh sleep in since he was fresh off two double shifts. I stood there, looking down at my ratty sweat pants tucked into my slipper boots and stopped in the now familiar command: breathe
“Hell of a winter we are having, eh?” An imagined passerby calls out to me smiling at the two toddlers playing around in the back yard. I tell myself they are some how missing the piles of dog poop were buried under the snow then thawed back out. Another thing on my to do list. I sigh as I am oddly reminded of the three-inch layer of dust on my windowsill. Jackson and Cece are battling each other with sticks as the dog darts out of the way. They are probably too young to be playing with those sticks. Oh wait, I stopped giving a shit what people thought especially in the judgment free zone that is my back yard. The trees are shaking in the loneliness that comes about when all your leaves have fallen. The breeze causes a ripple shiver in my shoulder. My watch dings. Breathe. I inhale, my gaze softening on the babies giggling around the yard. I exhale these insignificant moments of my day that I
will most likely forget tomorrow. I just breathe.
(Work Life): Alarm goes off. I yell upstairs for the girls to wake up; and roll over with the relief that I don’t have to be up for another two hours.
(Home Life): Alarm goes off. I am lying next to Jackson in his bed since he decided 11PM was the perfect time to wake up and party. In attempt to cuddle him back to sleep exhaustion set in. I stumble over him, trying to get over the toddler containment rail he hasn’t needed for the last six months, and creep out of his room- overly conscious of the consequences of him waking this early. I yell upstairs to the girls. “It is 6:20, are you guys up?” “Yes!” they both groggily lie. I find the couch to go back to sleep, snuggling under a knit blanket listening the girls bustling around above me. They eventually migrate downstairs and the creaking of the gate to the basement tells me they still have yet to take their clean laundry upstairs to put away. I remind myself to make my daily (ignored) plea to have them complete this task. I’m awake. The temptation of a toddler early morning overcomes my urge to go back to sleep. It is the only guaranteed chance I get every day.
(Work Life): Jackson is crying. I give Josh the giant guilt sigh and he gets up.
(Home life): I am devouring a warm fresh cup of coffee trying to decide the best way to spend the last of my time. I should write. I should fold laundry. I should unload the dishwasher, go for a run, or finish my Christmas shopping, shower, answer emails, plan meals, clean the fridge, update my resume or even masturbate. Something. One more scroll down Insta-Land. I promise. “Mommy. Mommy Mommy Mommy. Let Jackson out!” he cries.
Jackson and Cece fight pretty often. I am used to their fights. They usually start with food or toys. Jackson has it, she wants it, and he won’t share. She, now quick and agile, manages to outsmart him and get it. He screams. I grab it and hand it back. She throws herself on the ground in defeat. I split the food or find another toy and they calm down only to repeat this scenario five minutes later. My day is filled with meltdowns. Trying to be one of those moms that limit their kids’ TV time to a responsible eight hours, I have had enough of fire fighting dogs and high-pitched mice, and I turn it off. Meltdown. Jackson yells “NOOO my Paw Patrol. My TV.” “NO! Paw-po-tay!” Cece echoes as they turn the meltdown toward me.
Layla and Liv fight pretty often. I am used to their fights. It usually starts with “she is hurting my feelings” or “she won’t talk to me.” It turns into hushed hissing at each other and sometimes full out wrestling. I am often a character in their bickering. “Look you hurt Mom’s feelings” like I am some delicate little flower that can’t handle their little spats. (Some days I am). Honestly, all I really want is for them to unload the dishwasher. When they aren’t fighting they are really weird and giggly. Like they have a million inside jokes that I just don’t get. They are sitting on the couch, laughing, and watching some YouTube video. They are talking back and forth so much and so fast I can barely understand a word they are saying. Are they talking about people at school? Or a show they watch. “She has had like four ex boyfriends since the beginning of the year. But he is a pure child. I was starting to like them, and ship them but…” gibberish to me. Jackson and CeCe are playing on the floor. They have a little game of looking at each other and yelling “DA” followed by hysterical laughter. I sit in my recliner, the perch of motherhood, smiling at the chaotic life that I created.
I have to get something off my chest. I hate shoes and socks. I really wish someone had told me that half my parenting life was spent worrying about shoes and socks. From finding matching socks to putting shoes on wiggling little feet to the smell of shoes after a day of tween feet in the summer- everything about shoes is one giant parenting nightmare; and there is always a stranger around to remind me of the unspoken foot law.
Where in the history of mankind does it actually say that socks have to match? Perhaps there was a time when they all matched. Then dryers were invented: the anti-sock. Every time a dryer is run, a sock loses its twin. I have one athletic Puma sock from my college days. It lingers at the bottom of the missing sock basket, longing for the return of its mate-the same way I long for the return of my size 4 pant size. If foot law is ever studied, the day I became a parent has to go down as the pinnacle turning point for any established matching principle.
Why do socks always need to match? I answered that question about five years ago: they don’t. It starts with the pairing of similar socks. Two socks: pink at the bottom but different designs around the ankle: match. A black and really dark brown trouser sock: match. Two white socks, one adult and one child sized: match. It was a nice relief, just grab two socks and out the door. Not the endless pursuit for sock twins-which was to blame for most of my tardiness; most of it. If we are wearing boots and the socks don’t match who actually cares? About five years ago the Justice phenomenon happened. EVERYTHING Liv owned had to come from “Justice for Girls”. She would beg for those sparkly pull over shirts with bedazzled peace signs and a logo in bold sequins. Going to Justice with Liv was always stressful. She had a specific idea of what she wanted (banana earrings, monster high dolls, best friend necklaces, knee high “converse” looking boots with a blue leopard print and even more sequins). One day, she picked out a pack of socks. Unmatching socks. “Wait, you want to spend ten dollars for a pack of socks that don’t match? I have a whole basket at home. You can be the trendiest person in the second grade.” This was met with giant sad eyes so we bought them. I may have overpaid for that pack of socks, but as soon as that trend hit, they never wore matching socks again. Zebra on one foot? Watermelon on the other? So trendy and cool. How can we ever go back?
We are approaching winter, shoes season. The babies hardly wore shoes all summer. There was no point since they were always taking them off. I was perfectly fine with my loss on that battle. They were probably well known at the playground: the Barefoot Taylors. Don’t let your kids see; they will start to get crazy ideas about a barefoot utopia. Jackson was climbing the slide ladder monkeying his toes around the bars for better stability. An intently watching little boy began to take his off as well. “No No!.” his mom scolded. “We don’t take our shoes off. See. Mommy has shoes on. And daddy has shoes on. Sister has shoes on and brother has shoes on.” She condescended. The kid shrugged and ran off to the tire swing.
Just when I think I am starting to get this whole stay at home mom thing down; I get a little too confident. My plan: two stores and a drive through to the bank. First fail: getting them out of the door. I found at least four single shoes for Cece. In a rage of annoyance, I walked through each room. Looking in corners, and bookshelves and toy bins. Where is another shoe?! I put her socks on. She immediately took them off. Where is the other shoe? Jackson started taking off his pants. “No!” I yell. “Go bye-bye” I put his pants back on just as Cece follows his lead and takes hers off. Are you serious? I line up all her unmatched shoes. Hoping I was missing one possible mate. No luck. Jackson is running circles in the middle of the living room and crashing into the Christmas tree. Bulbs are rolling and I am still hunched under the couch praying a shoe will suddenly appear in the same place I have searched twenty times before. Finally, I find a pair of Jackson’s old shoes that are slightly too small on him and way too big on her. I tie them as tight as I can and load them in the car. Store 1: grocery store. Thanks to some free turkey at the deli, we somehow make it to the checkout with no meltdowns or sudden urges to climb out of the cart. Next stop: the bank to deposit cash. Fancy. I think as I slide my cash into the machine. “Error.” The screen reads, and only half of it comes back out. “Temporarily out of service” was the only explanation it had. I panic staring at the other half of my cash. I debate on whether it is enough to take Jackson and Cece into the bank. They are both sleeping and I am not prepared – I have no books, no toys, no candy and my phone screen is cracked. Cece remained sleeping and Jackson woke up and ran around the bank; pressing his face against the glass while people were meeting with bankers, trying to type on the computer in an empty cube, drawing pictures on the pamphlets. We had to wait to fill out some report. Luckily an extremely patient stranger let us go ahead of him. Last stop: Target – where toddlers turn into nightmares. Cece had one shoe off. I ignored any urge to put the other one back on. The good thing is that we only needed one item: the last of Josh’s birthday present. The bad thing is that electronics are located right next to toys. “Paw Patrol!!” Jackson kept yelling. “Get Skye! Get Rocky! Need pups!” We make it to the checkout since I caved and bought him a pup. He had the packaging open and the bar code was destroyed. While two cashiers were assisting on the pup crisis, the woman behind us entertained Cece. “Where is your shoe? She kept asking.