For the Love of Toddlers

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
February 7, 2017

Maybe it is midnight. Maybe it is four am. I am emotionally and physically exhausted; as I have been for the last few years. Am I still watching TV? Mountains dissolve into the screen answering my question: screen saver is on. A tiny voice yells out. First it cries, then begins saying my name “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” with increasing desperation. Jackson. I open the bedroom door. “Blue stars. Need blue stars.” He says knowing I will be sleeping next to him tonight. I turn on the stars, (part of a toy that shuts off after twenty minutes) reminding my self to continue looking for his missing nightlight. He rolls over, as if the crying never existed, and burrows his head into the space between my chin and shoulders. I kiss him on the forehead and whisper, “love you”. “I luff you Mommy” he whispers back.

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Confidence

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
January 14, 2017

Confidence. That word is kicked around a lot. The only confidence I can count on is the ability to settle a constant dispute between toddlers. Barely. Confidence. What does it mean? I own this room. I landed that job. I made that sale. Is it being completely comfortable in your own skin? I think about it a lot. I scribble, “work on confidence” on the top of my carefully selected 2017 planner. My guide to a beautiful life, it promises. The flower pattern on the cover is too irresistible to pass up. I want to work on my confidence. I have been meaning to do that for a while now since it has been a long struggle for me. Somewhere, I will always be that twelve-year-old girl who was the butt of unattractive jokes. When I am feeling especially down on myself, I can hear whispers of past classmates, loser. Adolescence came at me pretty fast; I wasn’t prepared to be a woman. I was happy just being a kid. I was perfectly content to hang out at my friend’s pool wearing a neon pink bathing suit that my mom picked out, not thinking twice about how it makes my boobs look or whether or not I should have shaved. Last year brought a lot of that feeling back. The fourth baby was a total shocker. I wasn’t prepared to be a full-time working mother of four. And like my sad attempt to hide my blossoming sixth grade chest in a sports bra under my uniform white tennis shirt, I wasn’t fooling anyone. And dwindling amount of confidence I had going into 2016 completely faded by the end of the year.

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Breathe

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
December 31, 2016

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.

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Mission: Bedtime

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
August 9, 2016

The art of bedtime as told by a tired ass Mom.

Every night I enter the bewitching hour of 8 PM with a guilty excitement that the kids are going to bed – followed by dread of how the process will unfold. I have not always been the best at keeping routines or doing the same thing every day. Example – remembering to take a damn pill at the same time every day was too much to handle since I ended up with three surprise pregnancies. (that’s 25% planned/75% unplanned) I have always struggled with organization and routine. My right brain is too powerful and I live in a world of chaos and (gasp) sporadic bed times.
After Cece was born, bedtime became a series of hopes and guesses. I hope she goes to bed before midnight. I guess Jackson is tired. There was even a few weeks where the bedtime routine was: Get in car. Drive until kid falls asleep. I was getting desperate. After a long day at the office followed by toddlering all evening- I needed a few hours  to do what moms across the globe do when their kids go to bed: wear fat pants; sit in my chair; drink wine and glue myself to social media then TV. I craved those times. I have mom friends who would tell tales of a mystical 8PM bedtime and my head would spin with delight of all the possibilities that an evening that began at 8PM would hold. I could watch TV. I could knit a blanket. I could blog again, or read again, I could finish the laundry..so many activities. Tell me more about this 8 PM bedtime, I ask. Tell me about this unicorn. Then there it was. That word again. Routine. (making Daniel Tiger face) routine. Yes, a routine: a timeline that would occur at the same exact time every night, routine.

So here goes. 8PM was unrealistic- we were trending around 11PM -so 9PM was the goal. When we crossed the Colorado boarder from Kansas, I expected the scenery to magically change into a mountainous paradise. It didn’t happen right away, but we drove on and finally scenery exploded with beauty. This was the same for bedtime. It didn’t happen the first or the second or the third night but dammit I was committed. I made up a song. Bath time. Brush Teeth. Bottle. Bed. 

Judgment moment: My son is two and a half and still has a bottle at bed. Ok its out
there. I know it is bad, but getting my son off the bottle is on my long
list of things to do behind clean garage, pay off credit cards, removing
chipped toenail polish and oil change. I accept it as his security blanket and
know that one day that phase will be over.

The seven thirty alarm sounds off in my head. They are happily playing and I step outside for a mental pep rally. Breathe in and out. I am ready. Preparing for the after bath squirm fest, I set out pajamas and diapers. Cece likes to curl up like a potato bug at the site of a fresh diaper and Jackson  runs around the house naked (or air-drying).

8PM. Bath. They love bath time. Jackson methodically runs his cars along the side of the tub and Cece licks the walls and eats the bubbles. Three nights in a row, bath time is interrupted by floating turds. “Cece poop!” Jackson yells and we immediately abort the bath. I try to remove kids and poop in a rush of towels and toilet paper. (note to self: buy fishnet) I dry and dress Cece first. She fights me  then becomes fascinated by sticking her finger in her belly button so I am able to slip on her diaper and pajamas. “Jackson’s turn!” I say. “Brush teeth?” he reminds me. How dare we leave the bathroom before this step is done. He points to the Elmo toothpaste. I squeeze it on his toothbrush knowing he will never forget the time I accidentally used the Crest. “Mama brush teeth” he says. (My evening dental hygiene has vastly improved since we began this routine.) Once we are done, I wrangle him into his room and attempt to get his pajamas on. He does this rolling bended leg move that makes it impossible enough to get pants on that he is able to jump up and go running. This begins a chase followed by a tackle and lots of giggles.

I let them run off bath energy while I prepare the bottles and make a lame attempt at cleaning. I repeat the little chant so they know that we are still on a mission. Bath time, brush teeth, bottle, bed. Jackson laughs. “Bottle!” he repeats. We are back on track. He runs to the kitchen to watch me pour the milk into their bottles. I set the lid on the counter, playfully close to the edge. He grabs it. “Oh no!” yell, familiar with this daily banter. “give me that lid, Mister!” He takes a mad dash into the living room and throws it behind the reclining chairs. I know exactly where it is because he does this every night.

The three of us march into their bedroom for bottle/book time. I shut the door. Blackout curtains have helped create the illusion of nighttime when the sun is still setting.  Jackson picks out the same four books every night. Three by his favorite author Sandra Boynton and Good Night Blue. They know each page by heart but are still excited. Three singing pigs say, LaLaLa. No!No! you say. that isn’t right. The pigs go OINK all day and all night. They crack up. As  I finish a book, Jackson says “another one”. We are all out of books now so I quickly turn off the light. They fuss a but are comforted as I crawl in bed between the two of them.

Final step – Getting them to actually fall asleep. The three of us lay there-In total darkness and total silence. I have tried nightlights, star projectors and music machines and learned that sleep and distraction don’t mix. Jackson cuddles into my side and I stroke his hair. Cece is more like a fish, flailing on my other side. She starts to burrow, then sits “Hi!” She laughs. “Shhh,” I whisper, “bedtime” She flails away.  I can feel Jackson’s breath getting deeper, he is starting to drift off. I cuddle him close and start kissing his head. His puts his leg on mine. I sigh. Still awake. Cece stands up. “No Cece.” I say. I gently place her back to the sleeping position while maintaining the hair stroke that I hope will coax Jackson to sleep. She plops her thumb into her mouth. I slow my breath to releive a bit of tension. I imagine I am just finishing a perfect yoga class and am laying in coupse pose; deep inhale deep exhale. Kids can sense tension and if I start to let my anxiety take over they will never fall asleep. They can sense my weakness. Jackson is lightly snoring next to me. I roll toward Cece, still holding on to him for comfort. She is quietly sucking her thumb. She doesn’t like too much cuddling when she is tired so I rub her back. The flailing has stopped and I can tell she has drifted off as well. Time to make the escape. I wiggle my arm from under Jackson and roll Cece away so I can get out of the bed. I have to maneuver over the safety rail and find my way through the darkness, to the door, praying for no stray blocks or trucks along the way. The floors squeak under me and look at them one more time as I open the door. One turn of the knob and I am out of their room. Freedom! The mystical unicorn does exist. I am enjoying it right now.

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Because, Toddler

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
August 16, 2015

Q: Why haven’t I written here in over two years?

“No No!” I say for the millionth time today. Jackson is climbing on the chair next to me. He hasn’t technically done anything wrong yet, but he has the look on his face that alerts me that he is scheming. He starts to paw at things on the table while I scan all the objects to quickly determine what will be bad enough for me to quit nursing Cece and grab from him. Keys. Anthropologie catalogue. Nah. I may never be at the goal weight that allows me to spend $100 on a T shirt that looks like it is from a thrift store. Pen, potentially dangerous depending on if he can figure out how to click the tip. Remote. Hmmm…how invested am I in this episode of “Jeopardy”? He grabs the keys and starts hitting the unlock button causing the car alarm to go off. Great. Now I have to pull Cece back and grab Jackson. Cece immediately begins to cry and Jackson sees me coming for the keys and starts running off with them hitting the unlock button as he goes. For her own safety, I set the crying infant down and chase the toddler. I finally catch him and take the keys. He screams. And she is screaming. and the dog is barking because of the honking car. Sorry neighbors. He is a toddler.

Sometimes I try follow him around and pick up the toys he has randomly discarded around the living room. I read a book titled “organizing with kids” or something unrealistic like that. One of the chapters was all about having a designated playroom and not keeping toys in the living room. Clearly that person did not live in a small house. The living room in our house is the TV area, office, entry way, occasional dinner area, homework haven, toddler entertainment area and infant changing station. I believe all rooms should multi task. That is getting the bang for your square footage buck. Just invest in nice storage…that way your junk is stored in pretty boxes and baskets. Most of the time I am following Jackson around with one of these pretty baskets collecting the scattered toys like they were currency. I sit to pick up the toys from a basket he dumped over (then immediately moved on). One thing I learned with a baby boy is never to make eye contact when you are sitting on the floor. That is always an excuse to pounce. Before I know it he has body slammed me and was grabbing my neck as if he had the strength to knock me on the ground. I give in hoping that there is some sort of magical correlation between increased wrestling time and earlier bed times. He then sits directly on my neck and digs his little toes into my shoulders. This is not the best time to figure out it is time for a toenail clipping. His knees are now against my cheeks and his face is directly above me. I notice some drool beginning to form at his lip. As if in slow motion, it starts to get bigger and fall toward my face. Of course I scream which makes him laugh. He tightens his knees around my face causing my lips to purse out in some sort of upside down duck face. This makes him laugh harder and makes my mouth a bigger landing area for droll. I now have droll on my face and probably in my mouth. There is a diaper way to close to my head that is most likely dirty. My toddlers knees have become a nut cracker and my head is the nut.

Why am I so tired?
Why can’t I manage to complete a full thought?
Why has it taken me over a year to write a full story?
Who is president?
What day is it? Actually, what year is it?
Is he standing on the table?
Why am I fat?
Which celebrity couple is now getting divorced?
Are baby doll dresses and Doc Martins back in style?
Am I dreaming?
Will the food I made get eaten or thrown off the high chair?
When did my boob become a stepping stool?
Is he eating lotion? Again?
Who put my phone in the trash and my wallet in the tub?
Why is there a toy truck in my purse ?
Did I actually think I could take him to a movie?
Why don’t I pay attention when people give me simple directions (sign on the top line…)?
How many times did I go to the kitchen and forget why?
Why is Mickey Mouse always on?
Why are the dog and cat hiding?
I want to answer this by saying because he is a toddler, but actual full sentences rarely come out of my mouth these days. So if you see me looking extra mangled and worn down it is not because I had a baby a few months ago. Its. Because. Toddler


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