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.