Sunday, September 25, 2016

Attn Kids: Four Things to Know About Our Home

To the small, technologically savvy people living in my house,

I know that this is 2016, and your generation is all about the screens, electronics, and instant gratification. I have no idea what your world will look like when you are my age, but for now, I want to point out a few things about our home that you may not have known about simply because they are not "high tech".

The handle on the toilet
You know that specifically placed, little handle that you pressed down ad nauseam (that means a lot) before you were potty trained? You know, the one that makes the water in the toilet spin around and gently disappear into the hole at the bottom of the bowl?

Well, I'm about to rock your world. That special lever does more that make me yell at you that you are wasting water. You'd think you'd know this given how upset you were when the potty "ate your poopy," and I gave you M & M's to make it better while we did the potty dance.

It seems though, that as you mastered the skill of the potty and wiping yourself (most of the time), you have forgotten about that very important lever. So, to refresh your memory, the lever makes your pee-pee and poopy – I won't stop calling them that until you start using the lever – go away. When you use it, our guests don't have to be surprised when they visit the guest bathroom, your dad and I won't have to listen to the bickering when you both tell on each other, and I won't have to be doubly disgusted when the dog drinks out of it.

It's called flushing. You should do it after "number 1" or "number 2", or hey, both! I'm sorry, no "swipe right" for that. It's just a quick push down and then watch your elimination sail away. I'll even bring back the potty dance if that'll help.

It's funny, because my experience with you both is that you love to push any button, flip any switch, and turn any dial when you don't know what they do. Well, guess what's just as much fun... doing any of those things when you know what's going to happen. And get this, the tiny switch on your wall in your rooms right inside the door turns the lights in your rooms on and off. 

On. and. Off. 

No technology needed. Not even a clap. Just, flip! and you can see the chaos that is your room. 

Now I realize that you might be confused about when they should be on or off.

Here's a good rule of thumb: if you aren't in the room, they should be off.
In the room and awake? On.
In fact, if you do that much, I'm happy to troubleshoot the rest of the options with you.

So, you know how they open and close?
Oh, you do? Hmmm. Ok. 

Laundry Baskets
I bet you were wondering what that large fabric basket in the corner of your room is that isn't the garbage. Have you seen it? It's so cool. You can put your dirty laundry into it INSTEAD of the floor. What??? I know. Mind. Blown.

Of course it doesn't take care of the cars and legos I gouge my foot on when I go in to lovingly pull the covers up over your sleeping body, but hey, I'm picking my battles.

Wait, are you wondering if Siri is the one who takes all that to the laundry room in the basement? Believe it or not - no.
If we asked her to do it, she'd offer to call Uncle Steve or give you directions to the pyramids.

Nope, it's me. Or your dad. Or… it could be you.

HAHAHAHA! Good one, huh?

Dreamers can dream.

Thanks in advance for your valuable time away from Minecraft, egg opening videos, or Garfield episodes. I feel special that you tore yourself away for a moment to listen to your dear old mom.

Hello? Hello?

Whatever. Love you.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Can I get a reset button please?

I start most of my days as a working mom out fairly strong. Especially the weekdays. The kids and I have a routine, and it works. I'm not saying that it doesn't involve some yelling and crying sometimes to get out the door, but it's manageable. Many times, however, the day's edges begin to fray as the day progresses. By 5 pm I'm pretty ready for that glass of wine that feels like a "Power Up" to get me through the rest of the evening until the kids are, adorably, asleep.

Unfortunately, yesterday was a day that went began to fray too early to wait around for 5pm. I needed help from the moment I woke up. I try to practice daily gratitude, but today, I tried to muscle it from the moment I woke up.

Does anybody feel me?

It started about 4:15 with a daughter walking into my room barking like a seal from the Shedd. Who gets croup in the summer? Steaming up the bathroom was super-popular with the sleepy 3-year-old, but she had been less than receptive to the idea of sticking her head in the freezer. So from 4:15-4:30am, we sat and sweat together.
From my chest I heard, "Mommy, this is girl time. No boys"
No, apparently not, since no one else was up and listening to her breathe like an 80-year-old and wondering when we have to make the call to go to the ER.

Good news: No trip to the ER. She fell asleep for 3 more hours.
Bad news: I did not.

Once everyone was up, and the first cup of coffee was ineffective as water, I assumed the second cup would fix it all. And it did. I was awake... and on edge. Perfect for a smooth send off to camp.

As I made my son's lunch in the requested paper bag for a field trip, I started to put his name on it and a little special note to him on the bottom corner. Well! You would have thought that I had dyed the bag pink. Real tears came up in his eyes, and the convo went like this:

Him: "Only put my name on it."

Me: "But I'm just putting something on there so you know I'm thinking about you all day."

Him: "I know you are, you don't have to write it."

In my combination state of tired and jacked up, I was unable to be the grown-up. The truth is that my tired-ass feelings were hurt and so were his. On a regular day, I might have sighed, pulled out a fresh bag and complied with his request, as I am the parent, and he is the child. Sadly for him, I'm not in that place, but I do agree to put a sticker over the note, which isn't perfect, but he reluctantly takes it.

In my state, though, I'm clearly not just going to let this roll like water off my back. I will most likely pull out my crazy later and bring it up again. He probably needs to learn how this works anyway.

To his future wife: You're welcome.

Finally, after much car bickering between tired, sick daughter and crabby, 6-year-old son who is apparently embarrassed by his mother already, we got to camp relatively unscathed.

As we get out of the car, my son and I hug it out. As we embrace, I glance at my car to see a tire that looks like a flat in the cartoons.

Sweet moment over.

After his drop-off, daughter and I hobble into the nearest gas station (luckily around the corner) to fill said tire with air. After finding a previous plug in the tire that appears to be squeezing out of the hole like me in a pair of Spanx at the end of a night, I hurry over to my "car guy". He informs me that not only is a new tire is essential, but in fact, I need all four replaced, of course, because the car is 10 years old.

I make a plan to get new tires the next day and double check with him that the sad plug will hold until then. Yep. I should be good. But we know that's not the day I'm having.

I get not five minutes away and the tire bursts as only it could in the movies. I hear the air quickly escape from it's container into the air and the car tilts to the side as I slow down and pull to the curb. I turn to look at my daughter and she says, "Why'd you stop, Mama?"

What I wanted to say: "Oh, I just thought we'd slow down and look at this community garden."
What I actually said:  "We have a friggin' flat!" (This is where you can nominate me for mother of the year)

On top of all of that, a woman who was having trouble getting by my car took the time to roll down her window. To help, you think? Let's see:

Her: "You can't park there!"

Me: "Seriously, you don't see I have a flat tire?"

Her: "Oh, I didn't know. You should put your hazards on."

Me: (yelling as she drives away) "The hazards are on, but thanks for the super advice."

The good news: I wasn't on the highway, and we were both safe in a car that had the ability to provide air conditioning while we waited. ...and I didn't throw pry bar I had in the trunk at the woman.
The bad news: My daughter had to pee. Bad.

The rest of the day followed suit:

  • I dropped everything I got my hands on.
  • I tried to get some work done, but hit walls at every turn.
  • Went to do two simple errands and both stores were closed for random reasons.
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Finally, as the coup de grace, the last words my son says to me as he drifts off to sleep are, "Can I please just have my name on the bag next time?"

Breathing deeply in my wine, I knew that there had been many ways this day could have gone severely wrong that would have been more life altering. It had simply been a day that I couldn't get enough positive momentum to turn it around.

This day needed more than a glass of wine. It needed a shower to metaphorically wash it off.
And a glass of wine.
And then I did what I should have done 16 hours prior. I went to sleep.
The most effective kind of reset out there.

Anyone have days they'd like to share?

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Motherhood isn't for Sissies

I don't even know if I'm allowed to use the word "sissies" anymore, maybe "courage challenged"? Regardless, I did and motherhood is not, so let's move on (I can think of several other even less appropriate words I could have used by the way).

When I was in my 20's, single and "on fleek" - assuming I used that correctly - I moved to LA from Chicago with no friends, all my stuff in a Toyota Celica, and a dream to be an actress. I thought that this would be one of the toughest things I would do and prayed that I came out whole.


I mean, I had to work, and then there was going out after work and sleeping in the next morning. And I had no one to focus on but myself. How awful. There was not one person relying on me to raise them into functioning humans except myself.

I later became a mom and had no idea the kind of challenge and growth I would endure during this metamorphosis. This little thing that so many people do is maybe the most challenging, isolating, and rewarding thing that I have done in my life.

I have a single friend with an amazing job where he shoulders a lot of responsibilities and makes many high-level decisions in a day that have potentially large financial repercussions for the company. He only has to spend one phone call with me with kids in the background to leave him shaking in his shoes. Sometimes he even comes to visit, and as he looks around him at my chaotic house, hears loud screams coming from upstairs, endures constant interrupting, sees spilling of whatever they are attempting to eat on the rug, and in general experiences the continuous melee, he keeps the visits short. I think I even saw him running to his car a little last time. As the godfather of one of my kids, I bet he's banking on our longevity, but after seeing us in action not convinced we are going to make it.

My point is that being a parent is hard core. My three-year old can take even the biggest and boldest person down to their knees when she wants to, but the longer I'm in it, the more resilient and determined I have become. I have come up with several pieces of evidence that parenthood isn't for sissies. There's by far many more, but since I can't hold my attention in one direction for very long, this is as far as I got:

1. Bodily function conversations.

"Mom! I pooped!"
"Congrats. I'll alert the media"
"Can you wipe my butt?"
"Be right there."

"Mom, you need to look in my underwear."

"Stop poking your brother's penis."

"Get you hands out of your vagina!"

All things that I've actually said or had said to me. You can't giggle or they'll keep doing or saying it, and you have to let them know you mean business to really shut it down.

2. The Sybil
They hate you, or they love you forty-two times in a day, and you have to remain calm and cool in response because it can turn at any moment. Staying effectively caffeinated is important to remain alert and ready, but not TOO caffeinated or you start to get reactive.

3.  Toddlers are like honey badgers.
They don't give a damn where you are in public when starting a tantrum. They want it, and they want
it now. Whatever it is. Their self conscious meter is about at a one. Plus, they aren't afraid to blurt out any conversations from #1. Anywhere - anytime. It is always on.

4.  Sleep.
There's a myth out there that when they become 3 or 4, you are over the sleep hump. And you are, the night waking is down to a minimum, but instead, they wake up and need things:

"Mom, I need water."
"Mom, can you cover me?" (That's right, can you get out of bed come into my room and pull my covers up which I am actually touching right now?)
"Mom, I had a bad dream."
"Mom, my vagina itches." (See, the #1 conversations come up anytime!)

They might even sleep some nights all the way through to give us a false sense of security, and then wake for 3 nights in a row, several times a night, to really mess with us. The middle of the night is like a sitcom that would be funny if it wasn't your life.

5. The other moms.
Some of these moms will be your amazing friends who get you through everything by providing a box of wine to enjoy, and an ear to listen whenever you need. Others will leave you feeling like you're failing miserably, and you'll be lucky if your kid gets into a online college.

6. The secret.
This whole raising of kids is hard. I clearly don't have a problem talking about it, but in certain circles, it seems taboo to admit it. We post on facebook all our perfect moments in order to lead others to the conclusion that we have it all figured out, but we know that that's about 30% right. More and more blogs are coming clean on the craziness that is parenting, but when you are face to face with moms and complain about your kids, some give the pitied look as if to say, "Oh, my kids don't do that. They are amazing. Little blessings everyday. You must be doing something wrong."

7. Tweens and Teenagers.
Look, I'm not even there yet, but I've seen my sister and my friends go through some things that make tantrums in the grocery and poop on a plane when you forgot to bring a change of clothes look like a cake walk. Sometimes I have to look away because it's too hard to imagine. It seems to me that if you can survive your teenagers -- the eye rolling, the friend drama, the getting caught with illegal substances, the fights, the total disregard for you as a person, the heartbreak of relationships, and the college application process -- you can really feel accomplished.

8. Your heart is split.
The minute they exit your body, your kids are like pieces of your heart running around the world making mistakes, getting hurt, and having wild successes. You, as a mother, will feel all of these as if they are your own. It hurts to see your kids hurt, but it's also your job to help them learn how to navigate those feelings. Since your coping mechanism is to sit in a dark room with a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream until it's better, you probably haven't perfected it. You have to simply fake it until you make it.

9. ---- sorry, I just got derailed by naked children running across my line of sight who are supposed to be ready for school!

Feel free to chime in with a few yourself. I'd love to hear them!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Screen time drama

As I sit here at my computer, I'm listening to my favorite kind of background noise. My son is in the living room playing with his Ninja Turtle legos with such intensity. "Pizza! Pizza! Sensei, we have to have our pizza!" He is so engrossed, and his world is so real that he hasn't even broached the subject of breakfast yet. Upstairs, I can hear my daughter playing in her bed caring for her "babies", singing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman," from Frozen, and creating her own imaginary world up in her room.

This is not a post about how perfect my kids are. It took me 20 minutes, some tears and a short tantrum to get here.

See, the moment he woke up, my son snuck over to my bed, pried my eyes open with his fingers and whispered, "Can I have the iPad? ...Play Minecraft? ...use your phone?" My daughter then piped in loudly from the other room, "If Tommy gets to use the iPad, can I use your phone?!?" (she is all about evening out the injustices of her world)

My answer, as always in the morning, was "no".

This is not because we are a family who doesn't have a TV, or is so disciplined that we just read books and only play imaginative games together.

I say no because I don't want them to be so reliant on a screen to entertain them. ...and I want them to learn to make their own stories instead of watching things with all the imagination filled in for them.

...and ...well. Truth?
I want to save screens for when I really need to get something done that requires quiet in the background such as work, a conference call, or the end of the day when I'm worn thin.

I'm not one of these parents that has no screen time in my house. In fact, I love my shows -- full disclosure, I still watch Grey's Anatomy. But in this age of iPhones, Gameboys, Xbox, and the literally unending amount of content to choose from, when does it naturally stop?

If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'd like to channel my inner 80-year-old grandma.
Okay, here goes:

--In my day, when I was a kid of school age, I came home from school to watch Brady Bunch. I think there were two episodes in a row. No question, I was riveted to the TV for that hour, but when that was over, I went outside to play. Why? Because I was a kid with impulse control and knew to make choices that were good for my body and my brain?


Because the news came on, or at least something that didn't interest me, and there were no other options. See, as some of you may remember, there were only 5 or 6 channels of note that were available, and you had to watch shows when they were on. ...and go to the bathroom or get a snack (you didn't have time for both) quickly during commercials.

When I tell my kids this, and they gasp as if I'm telling them about surviving Armegeddon.--

There, I feel much better.

Alen Lauzan Falcon
The truth is that if I had the choices that kids today had back then, I would have been like the kid from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory going from one show to another for hours on end, probably yelling to my mom to bring me my Salisbury Steak TV dinner to me.

When I had my first kid, I was all, "I'm not even going to have him in front of Baby Einstein."
Then he started moving around, and I changed my tune drastically, "When will a 30-minute show keep his attention for the full show?"
Now, I can't even get an answer about dinner unless I pause the TV in order to jolt him out of his trance.
The lesson: be careful what you wish for.

Stepping away from the TV is the other issue. One 30-min show isn't enough. It's, "One more? One more? Yes or no?" When the answer is no, there is a full breakdown, me threatening to give away all their toys if they aren't going to play with them, and a warning from me that if they only watch TV, their brains AND their muscles won't grow. (Drastic? Maybe, but they want to grow big and strong right now, so a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.)

Seriously though, I want my kids to have creative brains. I want them to be able to create their own interesting worlds. I want them to be able to think their way out of a problem when they are able. I want them to make up dance shows, play soccer outside, write stories, build a fort, make inventions, and, in general, develop a mind that can add to the world down the line.

...and I want to use TV to my advantage when I need it. Did I mention that already?

I also don't think that our public schools, for all the good they do, give kids time to use their imagination. There are plans and how-to's and directed writing and learning, of course, but they've shortened individual play and outdoor recess, so I'm pretty sure it's up to me to help them develop into creative individuals. The pressure of parenting and not leaving it all up to the teachers! Sheesh.

On top of all this, I have to set a good example and turn the TV off myself. I like it as background noise while I cook or clean. Don't laugh. I do those things occasionally. I would continue being a hypocrite except the TV is like a bright bug light to my children, and the next thing I know, they are in the room with me riveted to HGTV or a cooking show... or something wholly inappropriate, and I have to switch it off quickly before they see something and I have to explain sex or violence... or what "bitch" means.

The invention of the Tivo, DVR, DVD, iPhone, ipad, etc. had me so excited when they first came out because the idea of watching anything, anytime was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Until "screen time" became another thing I had to manage along with sugar and activities. Now I long for the channels to be limited to 5 choices.

At least until the kids go to bed. Then I want it all back for myself.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To my neighbors that installed cameras

Neighbors can be awesome. And they can be a pain in the ass. I happen to have the latter. When you live in a town home that shares a wall, not getting along can be a challenge. I could list the ridiculousness, but really, that's it's own post. Until then, let's just say that we can do no right and they are always watching. So much so that they installed cameras just under their roof pointing directly back at our back and front door. 
So, to our neighbors watching us in their monitor, I have a few spoilers:
  • We will be walking back and forth throughout the day to our back yard and car pad. Sometimes we will even walk to the front of the house where the second car is parked. Don't worry, your front camera will catch us as we get there and you can see us get into that car too.
  • I will be taking our the garbage once a day. --okay, once every other day. --okay, sometimes less. Enjoy the view as my husband or I carry big bags of garbage or recycling to the back. It will be riveting viewing.
  • As you know, I do have kids, so they will run around the front and side walkway of the shared part of the property. We don't have a neighborhood with kids in it, so they will make their own fun by making up races and different games. Don't worry, they know about your thing about your grass and they are vigilant about staying off of it, but please continue to watch and monitor this so you can be sure no sneaker or bare foot touches your spotty lawn.
  • I do let my kids play with chalk in the back and the front concrete. It's that or listen to them repeat over and over, "Can I watch a show? Can I play on the ipad? Can I play on your phone? Can I play on the Wii?" It's about to be summer, and they should be outside, so be sure to watch my budding artists draw things like haunted houses, ninja turtles, and penises. Yep.
  • The death cry of my 3 year old may keep you pretty busy checking your monitor as it happens multiple times throughout the day. I don't encourage it. Believe me. If I knew how to make her knee jerk response be something other than screaming, I would do it, but she has a big brother and this is currently her only line of defense.
  • As you know, we also have a dog. We will walk him. He too knows your thing about the grass, and so do I. Feel free to watch me walk him away from the house and then as I return, be sure to tune in as I throw the poop in my garbage and come inside. Do you have a recorder on that thing? I hope so because that's worth replaying over and over.
  • Finally, don't come cryin' to me when you glance at your monitor, which you apparently watch 24 hours a day, and see my husband in night vision video peeing in my garden. He read on the wonderful inter-webs that peeing around the perimeter is a natural and effective way to ward off bunnies from eating our flowers. Actually, it has many other advantages. I'm not making this up. I wish I could say it didn't work, but we had a lot of success last summer so... I just count my blessings that we are in the back, and he keeps this to a late-night activity and out of view of anyone passing by. Small miracles.
There are other things we might do such as take a family picture, have a birthday party, invite family and friend over, etc. Don't be offended that we don't invite you. You seem to have made it clear that you aren't interested in neighborly activities. We really got the hint when we would say hello, and you acted like you didn't hear us. We know you heard us by the small flinch and speed up as you walked by.

So, enjoy your own true reality TV show called "The Stewarts Do Stuff". I hope we live up to the cost of the camera installation. 


The Stewarts

Do any of you have neighbors that you don't get along with? I'd love to hear the stories. They'd make me feel better about the craziness we live with everyday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The day I rocked it as a parent

There are days like the one I’m about to tell. 
I had heard of them.
I thought they were only for “good moms” who were patient and kind and crafty and... well, perfect.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not fishing for compliments. On most days, I waiver right around "decent" on the parenting scale. There are those better than normal days where I hit "pretty good", but "wondermom" is a phenomenon that I had only heard about on Pinterest and Facebook.

I’m not sure what had gotten into me, but it’s like when a pitcher throws a perfect game or a basketball team goes undefeated in March madness. I was in the groove, and when that happens, you don’t ask why, you just thank God or the Universe or assume there was an anomaly in the time-space continuum and go with it.

I was with my 3 year old in the grocery store. 
That sentence right there would send shutters down any normal mom’s back, but it happens, and you steel yourself for the experience. 
However, this particular day, as if taken over by aliens, I entered the store with the attitude that this was going to take as long as it would take and I wasn't going to rush it. 


We enter the produce section first and, par for the course, she wants to help. Without thinking or trying to shove her in the cart seat where I have more control, I agreed to let her do so. 

I look at my list and say, “Okay, we need apples. Let’s get a bag and you can pick them out.” 
With that one simple statement, I completely blew her mind. Walking over to the bags, she looked at me as if to ask, “Who are you and where is my mother?” At the same time, you could see her shift into not caring that my body was being used by someone else. She was going to help and that was enough.

Her eyes wide, she took the bag as if it was gold in her hands and walked over to the carefully stacked apples. She looked at me, waiting for me to say, “Don’t touch that!” as she reached for the only apple she could, which was on the bottom of the pile. We all know that one apple from the bottom could send them all tumbling to the ground, and I usually would have announced that to the world, but instead, I said, “okay, now let me show you how to pick the right apple.”
We looked at them, lightly squeezed one, and talked about what makes a good apple to bring home. 
“Look momma! If I put my nail into one, it makes a mark!”
Without flinching, that one went in the bag.

We continued around the store in this same fashion. Me, the teacher, her the student. She was learning real world things from me, and get this, I didn’t once say, “hurry up!”

Then, magically, as we were waiting our turn at the deli counter, a woman turned to me and said, “You are a good mom.”

I looked at that woman, and I swear, she was surrounded by white light, a halo over her head and angelic music playing around her.

I said, “Excuse me?” I needed to be sure I heard her right.
And maybe turn on my phone’s voice recorder.

She said it again only slower and more pronounced somehow knowing that this was new for me, “You’re a good mom, the way you are in the store with her." 
"And you, my dear,” looking at my daughter, “are an excellent helper!”
My daughter beamed! I wasn't really ready to stop talking about my achievements, but she’d already moved on to my kid. Anyway, I said, “Thank you. It’s a good day.”

She nodded at me knowingly. I think she understood that one of those golden days was upon me and the more we talked about it, the more likely it would be to disappear. 
My number at the deli was called. I ordered what I needed and asked for samples for my daughter. We moved on, but I walked on air for the rest of our time in the grocery. 

I felt as if everyone was smiling at me. Cheering me on. As I navigated towards checkout line, I started to tense up knowing that the beautifully stacked goodies lining the rows as you funnel towards the checkout counter are traditionally a battle zone of “no you can’t have a chocolate bar or a bag of swedish fish." In another magical moment, there was no line, and I strategically kept her engaged past it all. Man, was I in the zone!

“Now help me get these groceries onto the counter please.” She too, was floating on air, and this was another coup for the day.

We paid for the groceries (she swiped the card and “signed”), she got a lollipop from the  cashier and we stood there just about to exit the store. I took a deep cleansing breath and smiled down at lovely child.

She said, “Can I push the cart to the car?”

I said, “Not in the parking lot sweetie, it’s not safe”

And the tantrum began. “I WANT TO PUSH IT!!!”

The golden moment was over, but I was still basking in it’s glory. So, as people walked by gawking at me pushing the cart and carrying my sweet, screaming girl under my arm like a football, I just smiled and kept going. 
I wouldn’t get annoyed or frustrated for at least three more minutes.

It was a good day. It was a glorious day. Or part of one. 
I'll take it.

If you haven't had one of these. You will. If you have, tell me about it. I need to know that it can happen again.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being a mom and having control. Not. Ever.

Janet Jackson sang about it.
Kids are struggling to get it.
And, dammit, in my own house, I thought I would have it.


In truth, the thing that I've given up the most since having kids is control.

1. I never knew sleep was optional.
When the kids were infants, whether it was nap time or evening, I wanted - nay, I needed them to sleep, but apparently they can smell desperation. I found out the hard way that I couldn't physically MAKE them sleep. This was a real ass-kicker. Sure, there were things I could do to encourage sleep, and I studied every technique in every book, but short of hitting them over the head or giving them enough bourbon to sedate them, they would sleep when they were good and ready. This was maddening, and they would push me just to the end of my rope. As I was about to lose my mind from sleep deprivation, they would close their eyes, but I swear I could see little insidious smiles on their faces.

2. Then there's eating. Or not eating.
As babies, when I was first adding real food to their diet, they ate everything. Clearly they were playing the long game. Getting me confident. Making me feel like I could rock this mom thing.
And then, just when I thought I'd figured out what my kids would eat, I would get bold and make one meal for all of us. Rookie.
I'm convinced they watch me spend time and energy working on a meal and decide proportionately how to difficult to be around it. I'm not a natural cook, so I'm sure they see the struggle unfold and think, "Nice! This is going to be a good day."
I serve it, and almost immediately, they tell me why they wouldn't, in a million years, touch the food that they liked when it was on my plate a week ago.
So, as my dreams of a family dinner such as the one on Blue Bloods fades away, I pour a glass of wine - oh, who are we kidding I've had one through meal prep - and make some mac and cheese. ...and oh so faintly, I swear I can hear the slap of the children giving each other five under the table. Maybe it's my imagination...

3. The battle of getting dressed.
The bandaid on her chin is
purely cosmetic
I want her to wear clothes. She does not.
I want him to wear underwear to kindergarten. He does not.
I want her to pick an outfit that doesn't make her look like she's on the show "Toddlers and Tiaras". She is clearly hoping to qualify.
And so it goes every morning. I've tried timing them. Bribing with TV. I've even shoved clothes on them only to have them peel them off and run around naked crying because, "I never let them wear what they want!" Simply isn't true, but there is no rationalizing with a toddler. 
They wait until they see me curled up in the corner looking at facebook at all the families who have it together to throw me a bone and get dressed or let me get them dressed.


This struggle for control can make me feel so powerless and frustrated, but I am able to see it for what it is. 
For a while. 
I mean, I'm the parent, right? I'm the adult, right? They are so little and their brains are just beginning to develop. 
I know this. 
I'm a rational human being.


I've been patient. 
It's the end of the day. 
We have been battle picking...
All. Day. Long.
I want to get to my wine, Blacklist, and, oh yeah, and to spend some time with that guy that got me in this predicament.

We are almost there when my son says, "You pick the story tonight, Mom."
Wow. I have the green light to choose something! Maybe we are getting somewhere, I think to myself. He is learning to give and take!

So, I go over the bookshelf, and I pick out a book. It doesn't matter which one because the result would be the same, but for the record, it's one he likes, so this feels like a safe pick.
Just as I'm about to sit down...

"I don't want to read that one."
oh no

"But you told me to pick the story tonight."
"I didn't know you'd pick that one."
"Yes, but you asked me to pick and so I did. Now this is what we are going to read"
Do you see it? I'm on the verge of picking a ridiculous battle. I could have just picked another book, but apparently I need control too.

"I don't want to!"
"We are reading this book. It's a good book. I've read it a thousand times to you. Now lay down!"
Yep, this happening. I can't give in one more time today. My sane part of me is looking down at this scene and shouting, "Just let him choose a different book!"

"Noooooooo! I'm not listening!" 
The tears begin. His. Not mine. ... Yet

"Fine! I will sit here and read this book to you. You can listen or not."
I begin, and as I do, he covers his ears and starts ranting to himself.

(under his breath) "You always make me read what I don't want to. I don't want to read this book. It's the worst book. I'm not listening. I won't read this book...." (and on and on and on)
I continue to read the book, but I'm human, and it's the end of day. I can't ignore the sound of his little voice one more page. 

"That's it! I'm done. Pick a book. Read it to yourself, and I'm going to put your sister down!"
Which certainly will go well, right? I'm in a great mental place for it.

"Noooooooo!!!!!! Mommy! I want you to read me a book!"
What??? Seriously?  
Oh yeah, it's all about control.

We do finally read a book. Or, in a tizzy, I send my husband up to read. But regardless, it gets done, and as I sit down with my glass of wine, the toll of battle washes over me. 

I wait for them to quiet, and then I go back up to watch them sleep. Partly, because I feel in control for the first time in my day, but also because the love I feel for them when they are sleeping is unmatched. This is how I regenerate for the next day. I charge my battery with loving thoughts.
Sometimes I have to go in a couple times.

Do you feel the battle of control in your house?