One Year

One year later. those words keep echoing as I was writing this week’s essay. It is about growth, acceptance and adventure. My favorite topics to write about. As you are reading this, try this writing prompt: where were you last year? what did your expectations for the immediate future include and how is the reality different? 

I realize I am curled up next to a crackling fire. My toes are heating up and the night air above me takes on an embracing calm chill. I need this now more than ever. My phone is unable to reach a call, or a buzz of bank alerts as a reminder of how close I am to failing at this. But I can’t yet define failing as every day is just a struggle to get from one moment to the next. So many people depend on me not to fail that I may have been doomed before I started. (According to my anxiety) What a year it has been. I say to the fire, and the air. Here I am, writing in the dark. Living this moment a year later than when I started this journey. Two toddlers are asleep in a tent; I hear a soft roar of their snoring as I take my sigh of relief in the form of a freshly poured glass of wine. The fire is begging me for it and I am happy to abide. This is my therapy, my happy place. My love hate relationship with the world, especially the people in it, has pushed me toward solo relaxation. No waiting in line to use the restroom or nudging my way through crowds while lost in a sea of people watching – Just me, the fire, the chatter of my older daughters and light conversation with my husband.

Continue reading One Year

Thanksgiving Hangover

November 27, 2016

We pulled into our driveway. Back to our familiar little house, back to our familiar little life. The comfort was quickly replaced by screaming: toddler screaming. Jackson started yelling. “Kimmy house! Kimmy house!” He fell asleep in mid tantrum when we left my sister’s house, three hours earlier, and resumed as soon as we got home. He stomp-cried his way up the front steps as my hands shoved gently guided him through front door. This was met with more crying; as if he was in desperate despair and “Kimmy house” were the only words he knew. “He is hungry” I translated walking into the familiarity of my house. A house that nailed the mannequin challenge: everything still in a state of disarray created by trying to usher four children in the car. A reminder of that Wednesday morning was frozen in time, the drawers were half open in failed attempts to match socks and the dishes were stacked in a failed attempt to load the dishwasher. I sifted through our refrigerator and pantry for a quick snack and realized the reality of being out of town – no grocery shopping. After contemplating serving him Ketchup, I looked around for traces of his three approved meal options, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or cereal. His fierce loyalty to keeping his coat off made me hesitant to try anything else, but the only real food option we had was leftover thanksgiving dinner. I tried some mashed potatoes. “No! Peanut butter jelly!” He demanded, jamming his hood over his head as a cold reminder that he was in charge. “We don’t have any bread.” I reasoned. “How about turkey?” As if that was some secretly approved menu item no one told me about. “Go Kimmy house!” His back stiffened and he was slinking out of the chair. Shit is getting real – he is taking this tantrum to the floor.  I opened the pantry in my own quest to find Dory – the Dory themed box of mac and cheese. I see cereal, Chocolate Cheerios, and do a quick victory twirl. “Coco Cereal?” I suggest. The crying stops like a glimpse of sunshine over the gray clouds. “Jackson want coco cereal.” (Yes I am raising Tarzan). I empty the last of the cereal into his bowl and topped it with the remaining milk. He begins to devour the cereal and looks up at me. “Jackson want coco milk” he requests. I point out the newly formed chocolate milk in his bowl. He sips for a second. “Jackson want coco milk” he says again. “How about apple juice?” I fill one of his cups with juice and try to find a straw lid. He is partial to the straws lately over the sippy lids, one more step toward cup independence. I can’t find the straws. Damn, probably buried in the pile of dishes I have yet to load or attached to stray cups tucked under the couch, or bed, or any other random place I cringe to think milk is hiding. “No lid!” He yells as I had him the juice. He is kicking his feet against the table. I see a cereal spill in the near future and sit on the chair next to him, finally removing my coat and shoes – ready to reason.

Me: No Straw, lid. Do you want to sit in time-out?

Toddler: Straw! Straw! Straw!

Me. No straw, lid. Time out!

Toddler: Straw. Jackson want straw!

Me. Time out?!

Jackson: Go to Kimmy house!

 Finally, I removed the lid and he drank the juice.

 I like to refer to this phenomenon as a Thanksgiving hangover. We all had it. The sluggish movements, the desperation not to go back to normal conflicted with the need to be relaxed and settled at home while doing absolutely nothing. Thanksgiving is a time of indulgence. I am thankful for food on the table: so I eat so much food that it drowns my stomach in a gluttonous decadence; so thankful for family that we over indulge in the warmth and the buzz of togetherness. The good parties always result in an emotional hangover. When I have a good time, it is easy to feel a hesitation to jump back into normal routine. I just want to keep the party going. As a parent of a toddler, I know the price of any party and it is a multiple day hangover – the kind that used to come with epic nights of tequilla. In that moment, I realized what I was truly thankful for. In those final defining months of my working life, I couldn’t afford a multiple day hangover. It would have grabbed hold of me, around my neck so I was barely breathing. There were always deadlines, and schedules that weren’t mine. I am thankful for the moment we pulled in the driveway and I was no longer hung over. My home, my life- my little adventure of a life-now on my terms. We will be back to normal, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. That night I ate two pieces of pie for dinner. After, I ran to the neighborhood convenience store and did one of my most normal tasks: I grabbed a gallon of milk and a bottle of wine.

Hanging with Papa, Blue and some friends. No wonder he didn’t want to leave. xoxo

Toddler Savings Time

November 9, 2016

I hear crying. I am confused. It is still dark out. “Let Jackson out!” then more crying. “Let Jackson out!”. It is starting to register. “Fucking 6:30,” I mutter as I look at my phone in disgust, as if Jackson’s early awakening is its fault. My eyes are struggling to open, partly due to darkness but mostly due to last night’s mascara I forgot to remove. This is why Moms don’t get a night out. I grumbled as I finally rolled out of bed to get Jackson before his yelling woke his sleeping little sister. Open the door and he is sitting on his bed crying. “Living room! Living room!” he yells, immediately squashing my inner instinct to lay in bed with him and hopefully get another hour.

 We lay on the couch as he nestles up against me. I give him an encouraging kiss on the head; still hopeful this isn’t our official wake time. “Watch Paw Patrol” he insists. I look at the TV; then the remote; the TV is closer but both involve getting up so I switch on the TV then flop back onto the couch. I resume controlling the Nick Jr. app from my phone. After a series of menu prompts, I get to Paw Patrol and switch on the first episode that comes on. “No No No” he demands. “Monkey! Monkey!” there is an episode where the pups save a monkey. It is his favorite one. I can’t see enough through my mascara glue glasses-less fog. This one? No! This one? No! This one? No. His cuddling has turned into flopping and his cold toes keep hitting my bare legs. We finally find the monkey episode and resume calm cuddling. I can feel my eyes start to close, drifting off into Mom sleep –soft, light, but still aware. He starts whimpering and presses his face up to mine. “Appe Juce” he whispers. Huh? “Apple Juice!” he yells. “Apple juice please. Mom” I correct as if any polite courtesy is going to make up for me having to get up again. “Appe Juce Peese” he says in a sweet tone. I got him some juice and gave up on getting anymore sleep.

It was Sunday, the first day of daylight savings. Our physical clocks had been changed, but our mental ones were still confused. It is jet lag and no vacation. Every six months, the god of time decides we need to shake it up. Would you like it to be dark at dinner? Yes. Do you already have trouble being on time and going to bed? Let me make it worse. I struggle to be a routine adult. I am usually late, never organized, last-minute planning, no schedule sort of stuff. I can’t always do and feel the same thing every day: motivation. Some days I am a machine -I clean, organize, write, exercise, even shower. Some days I give into the blah and enjoy some needed laziness. I spent a lot of time thinking there was something wrong with me for that. When will I become a responsible adult? Creeping into my late thirties, I assumed this is something that would happen by now. Being a mother of four has forced a schedule on me. I have come to realize toddlers need structure. They seem to eat and sleep better that way. Sigh, I probably should have read more of those mother hood manuals. Maybe there would have been a chapter on surviving daylight savings time. “How to save daylight and sanity: the double toddler edition.”

 Once the morning disruption was ironed out, the day continued in the longest and most delightful way possible. A weird, extra hour Zen seemed to wash over the town. Maybe it was the sunny, seventy-degree fall Sunday…in Ohio November that made morning stress melt away. It was only an extra hour right? I cleaned the house. The girls cleaned their room-with minimal eye rolling. Laundry is done and the kitchen sink is (gasp) empty. We went to the library, then the playground. At the playground, Jackson walked up to a little girl and knocked her over. But guess what? The mom was actually cool about it. It was almost blaringly too good to be true. I just knew there would be a payoff for this. “All magic comes with a price.” I muttered, thanks Once Upon a Time.

 The evening was the revenge. As soon as the sun started to set, Jackson started to turn- like a toddler werewolf. I was sitting in my chair, taking a minute to relax when the turn started. All of a sudden Jackson became Tigger. His top was made out of rubber, and his bottom made of springs. He was bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. He wanted to sit on my lap then stiffen his body so he would roll to the floor. Then he wanted to yank the “recline” button on my chair, causing a surprised reaction as it flipped out. Then he wanted to run and throw himself on the couch. Then he climbed up on me like a dog -who sniffs my hair and licks my face. Then he stood on the arm of the chair. “Get down!” I threatened. I tried to grab him but he jumped. As I attempted to resume a conversation with Liv, he jumped back on the arm and then on the back of the headrest and started to flip on the lights. I grabbed him off the chair and took him downstairs to play. At least then he could jump all over the furniture and land on a carpeted surface.

 We made it to early evening  before all hell really broke loose. Josh made burgers in some hipster chef way that involved two thin patties with some caramelized onions in the center. Yes, it was pretty damn amazing but Jackson didn’t agree. I put his burger and tater tots in front of him and he curled himself under my chin. “Jackson scared”. He said. Lately he is afraid of everything; trains, alligators, kids at the park, and on and on. “What is Jackson scared of?” He didn’t respond. I grabbed his burger and pretended to take a bit. “Yum. Jackson’s burger.” I said. “No! No! “Snakes in there. Bugs in there. Spiders in there. Jackson scared.” He yelled. “There are no snakes in your burger.” I promised. “No! Bugs in there. Jackson want a treat.” By treat, he was referring to the Halloween candy. About a week old, we were somewhere between eating all the good stuff and ignoring the rest, causing it to remain until next Halloween. His favorite was Nerds, and we had enough left to keep him up for a week. “Eat your burger first.” I said, knowing I was already loosing that battle over a fictitious snake. He kept yelling about the treat. “No.” I kept saying more firmly; I threatened going to bed, time out and even kicking his ass. (The last one in my head of course..). He was in meltdown mode. Flailing all over the ground like something out of a horror movie. He stood up and threw himself at the TV console table. He wasn’t close enough and landed splat on the ground. The anger intensified as he wound up again and made contact with a bedroom door. BAM! He hit his head. His crying was confused. Pain? Anger? “Are you ok?” I asked. He responded by throwing himself back on my lap. Josh and I both had our recliners out; eagerly ready for bedtime. He tried to climb on the table between us. “No!” I said. He threw himself at Josh’s recliner and missed, hitting his head on the bar holding the chair out. This cry was all pain. He ran right back to me as I inspected his head. “Band Aid” he yelled. He is in the Band-Aid for everything phase and buying Thomas the Train ones wasn’t the best idea. He followed me to the bathroom as I retrieved the Band-Aid- hoping to get a Percy one since we always get a little chuckle out of his mispronunciation of “Percy”. (Look Mom-Jackson got “Percy” on my arm). “Jackson do it!” he declares. “Ok. Fine. You do it”. He immediately puts the Band-Aid on the wall. Then peels it off. Then puts it on his arm, then the door. As he peels it off the door, the corner sticks together. I knew this wasn’t fixable but did my best attempt to try to pry the corner off the rest of the Band-Aid. He is on tantrum fire and his continuous stop; drop and roll isn’t working. I give up. Guess who gets to watch a bunch of other kids play with toys on YouTube for the next hour? Good thing he is cute- see below

 It was the final part of the game (insert cliché sports metaphor here). I was losing to day light savings. Here’s my comeback story: they were both asleep before 9. Victory. Ready to savor in my victory in true mom style fashion: I poured a big glass of wine. I had a drink for all the changes I have endured lately and for the ones I am trying to conquer. I had a drink for all the Moms out there that are struggling to wrangle in toddlers after their demise is easily set by a lost hour.