The most commonly heard phrase in our household used to be “I love you.”
Now, it’s “Go to bed.”
Our children are trying to slowly destroy us with interrupted sleep.
In the middle of the night my daughter started horror movie shrieking from her bedroom. I rushed in to find her placidly playing with crayons. She calmly asked, “Can I have a glass of water please?”
Her screaming disturbed Huck, so within a few minutes as I am just about to drift off to sleep, he strolls into our room and says in an outside voice, “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?”
For absolutely no reason.
My husband and I shout nearly in unison, “GO TO BED!”
I can only think of two things worse than being awoken by my children: A fire alarm or being waterboarded.
I love sleep. Why don’t my kids? Or maybe the better question is WHY DO OUR CHILDREN HATE US?
Why else would they refuse to sleep through the night when they are so far beyond infancy?
You know how in movies sometimes, it seems so sweet when the parents rushes to their child’s bedroom to calm their fears after a nightmare?
It’s not cute. It IS the nightmare.
And now my husband is harboring not so secret resentment toward me because I am a sound sleeper.
Oh, I am fully aware that the mumbled f-bombs and sh-bombs are for me.
Hey, if I were wearing ear plugs I’d be a bad parent. But, it’s not my fault that after 3 years of not getting enough sleep my subconscious has tuned out MEANINGLESS SHRIEKING.
Even if I do wake up, it takes me infinitely longer to get the kids back to sleep. I guess something about mommy screams “party time!”
But, I can’t just tell my husband at 4 a.m. “Honey, you’re so much BETTER at putting them back to sleep.”
Heaven forbid there is ever an actual emergency involving my kids. I will shoot out of bed like a zombie and shout, “GO TO BED!”
Things that make me irrationally angry on a regular basis:
1) Deodorant stains on the bottom of my shirt.
2) When the bottom of my jeans get wet from puddles, then I sit on my feet at work and then my butt is also wet.
3) When you dye your hairline and actually end up dyeing your forehead and/or ears.
4) Peaches that look absolutely delicious, but are actually tasteless and gritty like they’ve been pumped full of oatmeal.
5) When the Walgreens employees tell me to “be well.”
6) When drivers blast crappy music with the windows down. It’s usually angry rap or Mexican music that makes me crave salsa. (Tampa NOT Tijuana)
7) Forced banter with the hair stylist. We have nothing in common except that for that hour we both care about my hair.
8) People who can’t properly pronounce words ending in “ing.” It’s not cry-EEN or walk-EEN. These people typically also have difficulty spell-EEN.
9) When you get to the bottom of the coffee cup and the grounds have piled up, the last swallow like cold, bitter mud.
10) My kids. Okay, kidding… kind of.
For the first time in my life, we are paying someone to clean our house.
I am terribly conflicted about this stunning development.
Part of me stands by the long list of reasons why I have always cleaned up after myself.
1) My mama raised me that way.
2) Nobody else should have to deal with my filth.
3) Maids are for rich folk.
Then, there is the part of me that thinks I will sleep more soundly knowing mysterious kid goop will disappear, nail clippings will be sucked from the carpet like an alien abduction and we might finally be able to see through the glass doors of the shower.
We were still so uncomfortable with the concept that we totally spent an hour last night “pre-cleaning.” Which begs the question, why are we paying someone else to do it?
My husband swept and vacuumed up all the dog hair. (and then told the kids the resulting tumbleweed was a Guinea pig. I swear my son’s eyes lit up with excitement for a second)
I wiped down all of the counters and tidied up all the random marbles, rubber bands and dirty socks that migrate around the house like gypsies. (no offense to any Gypsies out there)
I’m just hoping the woman who cleans sees that there’s no food goo on the kitchen counters and forgives the strange pink mold on the floor of our shower.
The last time we had someone clean for us we were moving out of our bungalow and letting the renters move in.
When the woman said, “Man, these people probably never cleaned the house before. The dog hair is unbelievable,” my husband straight up lied and pretended it was the previous renters. (who didn’t exist… we were the ones living in a house of filth)
We aren’t disgusting people. We are just full-time professionals with two messy rugrats, two mush-faced old dogs and ZERO TIME.
We are just scraping by.
It’s a choice between laundry or cleaning.
Bath time or cleaning.
Eating or cleaning.
Sleeping or cleaning.
At some point, you’re just like SCREW CLEANING.
Unless there is Vodka. Then, I would consider drinking and cleaning.
At 1 in the morning, I awake to my daughter screaming for “mommy.” I turn to my husband and ask in sleepdrunken stupor, “which kid is that?”
He says, “It doesn’t matter, just go.”
I find her wide-eyed in bed. She says, “something pulled my arm.”
I said, “Like your arm got stuck on something?”
She says, “No, something grabbed my arm and pulled me.”
She says she’s too scared to sleep in her bed because it might grab her and pull her again.
A normal mommy would react in the following possible ways:
1) “Honey, you must’ve just had a bad dream. Nothing grabbed your arm.” (and then probably sing “Hush Little Baby”)
2) “Baby, your pajamas are just too tight.” (She insists on wearing flannel Minnie Mouse pajamas in Florida in March that are a size 24 months… and she’s 3)
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not a normal mommy. I immediately feel a shiver of chills and start imaging evil spirits grabbing my daughter by her elbow to pull her away.
It would explain why she always seems possessed. In my drowsy state, I am unable to process what she has told me and probably look as creeped out as she is.
So, I take her into our bed with her pillow, bunny and blanket.
Within 2 minutes she is kicking me repeatedly.
She says the blanket is making her itch.
Then she says she needs water.
Then she says she spilled the water.
Then she says there is something in her eye. Specifically something black. I think that is what we call “night” or “darkness.”
My husband shouts that she needs to stop talking and she starts to cry harder about the imaginary thing in her eye.
Alma and I relocate to the couch where she yells at me that my legs are too long.
Finally I take her back to bed where she shrieks like she’s being assaulted.
Eventually, her wails are intermittently interrupted with mumbles of “I have to potty” “I have to potty.”
So, we attend to that business.
I finally get her to go back to sleep in her room with her ghost.
The it takes me another hour to fall back asleep.
At this point, we’re getting about as much sleep as a typical parent of a 3 month old. Everybody expects that mom to be exhausted and cranky.
So, do I get a pass? Can I drool on my desk and tell someone to F-off and blame it on my shitty night of sleep?
Maybe tonight will be better. Unless the grabby banshee goes for my son.
In which case, we’re gonna go to that exorcist I just heard about in Lakeland.
Our daycare sends home little sheets of paper that tell us how our children did that day at school. It includes whether they slept, ate and what their mood was. Usually it says “happy” or “cranky” or “seems sick.”
The other day Huxley came home with one that said, “Aggressive toward friends. Hitting, kicking, pushing.”
He just turned 2 and he’s already gotten a bad report card??
I’m just curious what the teachers think this accomplishes for a family like mine. I work such long hours and my commute sucks so hard that my kids are at school for up to 11 hours a day. So, how am I supposed to correct my son’s bad behavior?
Isn’t it just really a way to grade the parent?
“Your kid is a dick. You get an F!”
I am contemplating sending back my own report cards.
“My kid came home with so much crusted snot he can barely breathe. You get a C-.”
“My daughter came home with stamps all over her arms that made her look like a UFC fighter on a losing streak. You get a D.”
“You gave my kid a cupcake right before I came to pick her up. F! F! F!”
All of this being said, they’re practically raising my kid for a minimum wage, which makes me sick on so many levels.
And Huck is being aggressive.
Last night he threw a pink ball and hit Alma right in the head while she was eating dinner. She was mid-chew and began bawling with chunks of white rice falling from her mouth. We told him to say sorry and he said, “No way!”
He’s always been good about apologizing. I even have success forcing them to “hug it out.”
Not this time. He got time out because he refused to say sorry. So, he sat in his room shrieking for ten minutes.
“Are you ready to say sorry yet, Huck?”
“No.” (continues sobbing uncontrollably as he is placed back in time out)
Ten minutes later, we do it all over again.
This went on for an hour. By this point he’s doing that weird hiccuping cry, the ugly one we try so hard to avoid as grownups.
I gave him a bath, calmed him down and once he was in his pajamas requested he apologize again. I explained that even if it was an accident, he hurt Alma and should say he’s sorry. He walked over and said, “Sorry Alma” and they hugged. Alma even told him it was okay.
I thought I couldn’t get any prouder, but then Alma turned to me and said, “thank you, mommy.”
I asked, “What for?”
She said, “Doing all of this for us.”
I don’t know if she even knew what she meant, but it melted my heart. I may even give myself a C on my report card today.
It was a huge weekend, anticipated for weeks.
Nana was coming to visit.
I asked Alma repeatedly what she wanted to do with Nana when she came to stay with us for a couple of days. She said “she’ll give me bunny ears.”
The chick has a memory like an elephant. (What exactly is it that elephants remember? That their life is boring? That bathing is still unnecessary although you smell that foul?)
She actually remembers that Nana gave her and Huck bunny ears around this time last year for Easter. She was 2 then.
A Nana visit means great anticipation.
Not for Alma. She has to be reminded about how many days are left. She still thinks anytime after today is “tomorrow.”
Huck has no concept of time, particularly when it comes to when it is appropriate to wake up screaming and demanding milk.
A Nana visit means I am counting down the days until I have a spare moment alone with my husband.
I count down the days until I can have a conversation with my mother that’s not over the phone and interrupted by her News Director looming over her at the top of the 5 o’clock newscast. (she also works in this Godforsaken business)
So, when I get the text message from my mother saying her flight has been delayed by an hour I immediately feel a lump swell up in my throat like a rock.
Then I get all weirdly hypochondriacal and convince myself the cramp in my calf is a blood clot and I am about to die without seeing my mom one last time and my children will grow up motherless and turn into drug addicts.
She still arrived in time to see the kids before they went to bed.
We still got to go to dinner.
It was probably just a leg cramp.
We had a wonderful visit with one exception. It’s those damn expectations that destroy everything.
We made plans to go to the beach on Sunday, just my mom and me and the kidlets. (My husband can feign feeling left out, but we all know he gets the best part of that deal)
We started by swinging by McDonald’s to get the kids something quick to eat. My mom totally freaked out while I was driving because Alma’s egg white was sliding out of her sandwich. Like… full on crisis mode.
Huck’s oatmeal was too hot and had chunks of fruit that could pose a choking hazard.
So, we ended up sitting in the Target parking lot waiting for an eternity for the kids to finish their food.
I think my mother underestimated just how long it takes my daughter to consume even a small portion of food. Even without television to distract her, each individual bite comes with a 3-4 minutes pause in between. It’s like she has to digest each morsel before moving on to the next.
So, we eventually make it inside the Target where I spend the college funds we were never going to start buying a bunch of crap for the beach.
Got a cooler, umbrella, weird screw shaped thingie to get the umbrella into the ground, sunscreen (which is ridiculously expensive… and is probably just lotion with ZERO SPF… and we’re all gonna die of cancer anyway) and fruit, cheese and juice.
Oh, and Minnie Mouse flip flops because Alma refused to leave the house without wearing her pink cowgirl boots.
We find parking at the beach despite it being Spring Break. I wait in line at the parking pay station for some dipshit with a million quarters to pay. Seriously, are you really going to stay at the beach until TOMORROW?
That dipshit is followed by another dipshit who doesn’t understand which buttons to push.
That dipshit is followed by another dipshit who doesn’t remember what their parking space number was. So, they just keep trying endless combinations like they’re trying to crack a safe filled with cash.
Finally, we pay and start to load up our gear. We managed to find a way to carry all of our crap, without realizing that we also have to schlep two small human beings across a busy parking lot.
Like two pack mules with midgets, we wobble across the boardwalk to the beach.
On the other side, we’re immediately slammed in the face by gale force winds, pelted by sheets of sand. The kids burst into tears simultaneously, cowering and grabbing at the beach chairs I’m holding. The strap is digging into my shoulder like a scythe.
Alma is screaming that her flip flops are digging into her feet.
But, we keep moving. There has been much to do about this beach day. The last cancellation of a beach day led to a wild tantrum by my daughter that could’ve gotten her Baker Acted.
We end up trying to set up shop behind a sand dune, but we were being sandblasted. The kids were terrified. It was Lawrence of Arabia dermabrasion for babies.
So, we find a way to gather up our enormous haul and drag the screaming kids back to the car.
Poor things had sand in their eyes.
My mother and I were chewing grit for the rest of the day.
The inside of my purse could fill an hourglass and then some.
We ended up trying to salvage the day by heading to a park. I had to sit and watch our stuff because Lord knows that even in St. Pete some crackhead will steal your purse. My mother was watching the kids on the playground and had the revelation that it’s impossible to keep them both safe.
Alma is ideal for snatching and Huxley is hell-bent on playground suicide.
The wind was just as strong. Check out my kids speeding down a raceway. Or just sitting in a stationary car.
My mom had the genius idea of filling their buckets with ice from the cooler so they could play with it like sand. Note to self and to any Florida moms. Ice is cheap or free and won’t get stuck in anyone’s crevices.
This is the kind of afternoon that leads to what we refer to as the “cruise ship effect.” There is much consumption of alcohol followed by big evening plans that turn into an unusually early bedtime.
It’s like, “Let’s hit the midnight buffet! Yeah!” Then, you wake up drooling at 2:30am.
I actually caught my mom snoring during “The Road.” And she loves Viggo Yellow Rice Mortensen.
I had a great time, but it was no day at the beach.