The Olaf Debacle

For at least a month (and that is no exaggeration) Maggie, age 3, has been begging me on a daily basis to wear her “Olaf with the carrot nose” costume.  And when I say daily, I actually mean several hundred times a day.  It became laughable.

Olaf

 

“You have to wait until Halloween Mags” was my usual reply.  Routinely she followed up with a confirmation “Halloween?”

Yes.  On Halloween you can wear Olaf and you will be the cutest Olaf in all the land.”

“Ok.  Mommy.  When is Halloween?”

“When the leaves turn orange and all the kids wear costumes.”

We repeated this conversation a few thousand times and just before we both completely lost our minds, Harborween arrived. Every fall we drive four hours to visit our friends in Vermont and celebrate something called Harborween.  It is a fun tradition.  It’s a pre-halloween celebration and a chance for all the kids to wear their costumes, carve pumpkins and trick-or-treat.  At last, Olaf could be revealed to the world.  I lugged the whole costume.  The fuzzy head with the carrot nose.  The snowman’s midsection, some white pants to wear underneath the snowman suit, the white shoes and a white turtleneck.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a child so excited to wear a costume in all my years as a mom.  We laid everything out the night before. When I kissed her goodnight I reminded her that tomorrow she could finally wear her costume.  She was delighted and fell asleep with a smile.

The following day I had a plan.  Trick-or-treating was scheduled for the evening hours so I knew I needed to feed the kids a decent meal before we left.  Food before trick-or-treating is absolutely necessary to keep mood swings and sugar highs under control. All moms know this.  Of course, this means that they have to eat before they put on their costumes to avoid the drama of spills.  I can’t even begin to imagine the scene that might happen if their only costume got ruined with a spill. GASP!  And because I suck at time management;  I fed my children in the usual manner before trick-or-treating…military style.

I must admit that I have a rhythmic way of pulling their chair out, ordering them to sit down and slapping food on a plate.  Then I linger to keep them on task.  I literally stand over them and monitor every bite with my arms crossed pacing back and forth like a drill sergeant.  Doesn’t that sound relaxing?  Well, let’s be honest, Halloween is not a time to relax.  We have a mission to complete.  I looked around the table.  All four kids were wide-eyed and focused on eating but for my entertainment I continue to taunt them,“If you want candy, you need to eat!  Let’s go little people!”

They shoveled their food in like good soldiers and one by one I sent them to get their costumes on.  Getting four kids ready for Halloween is no small task.  It is a well oiled machine with lots of moving parts.  There is always lots of stress.  Normally I am either barking orders or building their confidence, depending on each child’s personality.   “You look great, no really you do!  Just go!”  “You picked your costume, don’t blame me.”  ‘”I  told you it would be chilly.  You wouldn’t listen”  These are normal things heard in our house every single year.  There is always a certain amount of drama no matter how much you plan but this year I was caught off guard.

Maggie’s moment had arrived.  I took a deep breath and calmly approached my 3-year-old on one knee, “Maggie, guess what?  You get to wear Olaf now.”  

Her response shocked me. Perhaps it was my militant parenting style at dinner or maybe it was the mach 5 level of chaos in the room.  I’m not sure what it was but Maggie did NOT want to put her costume on.

“No!  I don’t want to!”

“What?  Of course you want to!  You have been begging me to wear this costume everyday for a month.  You love Olaf.”  

Then suddenly, without warning, Olaf was the devil.

“No!  NOOOOOO!  NO Olaf! I no like Olaf!  No mask!  I don’t want to wear a mask! I don’t like Halloween.”

Are you freaking kidding me?  What is this little brat doing?  She’s the one who begged me to buy Olaf.  My dumb ass actually spent money on a costume. I know better!  She tricked me. I wanted to spit venom and say evil things like ‘listen you little shit.  Put Olaf on and like it!  I’m not playing this stupid ass toddler defiance bullshit game.  You have been annoying the shit out of me for a whole month to wear this stupid snowman costume, now wear it!’ But instead I remained classy and spoke like a lady…

“Honey.  What’s wrong?  Look.  It’s your buddy, Olaf.” 

The thought of being forced to wear a mask with a carrot nose apparently traumatized Maggie.  Because we all know how terrifying a snowman can be, right?  (wink, wink) There was no rationalizing with my stubborn toddler.

“No, Olaf!   He’s NOT my buddy mommy!   NOOOOOO! I don’t wike him!  No mask-is (her word)”

I tried every tactic I could think of. “I’m getting your father.”  “We’re leaving”  “Do you want candy or not?”   “Olaf will be sad if you leave him here.”  “Please? You will look so cute!” “Come on Mags. You’ve been looking forward to this day” and then I finished up my very persuasive toddler conversation with my personal favorite,  “That’s it!  You stay here with daddy!”  This sent Maggie into a frenzy.  Apparently, watching football with daddy was not nearly as fun as trick-or-treating.  Who knew?  “No, no, no.  You hold me!  I want to go mommy but I don’t want to wear Olaf.”

I hugged her out of guilt because I was annoyed!!!  Then I sprinkled in a little sarcasm like all good mothers do. “Yes Maggie.  Look at Olaf with his carrot nose and fuzzy little head over there smiling at us.  He’s a very scary snowman, isn’t he?”

Unsure how to answer she slowly nodded yes and hugged me tight still muttering “I no like Olaf” under her breath.

“Yes, you have made that clear.”

I noticed the three older kids were getting antsy as they watched the clock tick.  We needed to get moving if we wanted any candy.  It was one of those mothering moments that I was forced to take a step back and put life into perspective.  I decided to give up. Olaf wasn’t happening.  “Ok, Maggie.  Get dressed. We will go watch the kids trick-or-treat.”  

Then everything calmed down and resumed to a normal level of chaos. I’ve never seen a 3-year-old so excited to wear jeans and t-shirt.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this year.  Olaf will go down in history as the most expensive Halloween costume that I was ever conned into buying.  I moved on but I’ll have everyone know that I didn’t  Let it Go.

Olaf can kiss my ass.  Stupid effin snowman.

It Never Ends

It’s an average spring day in May at my house.  3/4 of the kids are at school.  The laundry is spinning, the sink is piled with breakfast dishes and the dishwasher is loaded with clean dishes that need to be put away. I’ll get to those eventually. I’m sipping my coffee with one hand and logging onto my bank account with the other.  My 2-year-old, Maggie, is begging me to paint.  She pleas her case over and over again as she swings on the dining room chair legs in a rhythmic fashion.  She has already mastered begging.  Her tone and persistent whining are like fingernails on a chalkboard to an exhausted mom searching for a few moments of peace.

“Can I puwease paint somefing… anyfing..puwease Mommy!

I talk to myself.  Why paint?  Paint is messy.  Attempting to buy myself a little time, I respond. “Maybe later honey.  Why don’t you color?” 

“Nooo!  I don’t wike colors.”

I ignore her nasty attitude and study her.  Her arms are crossed tight and her eyes are angry but there is something adorable about her.  I love the innocence of her problem.  It makes me smile. I think psychologists call this motherly love. I call it happiness. I’ve learned that fighting with a 2-year-old never goes well. It’s best to smile and watch their bad attitude dissolve.

Ted is literally laying under my feet and slowly rolls onto his back.  He needs me to rub his belly with the heel of my foot.  I oblige and he thanks me with his chocolate-brown eyes.  

Bing.

The sound of a new email snaps me out of my daze.

images

Subconsciously that subtle bing sound gives me a mild panic attack.  Who is it this time? Perhaps it’s the team mom or the class mom. It doesn’t really matter I suppose.  Much like a child screaming “Moooooom!”  The fact that someone needs me for something I really don’t want to do makes me instantly annoyed. I mentally respond to emails with the same attitude I give my children when they cry my name.

“Whaaat? What do you want?”

I finish paying a few bills and then click over to my inbox and check my new message.  The title alone makes me cringe, “class sign up” It’s that time of year again when I am forced to donate obscene amounts of time, money and effort into school parties, sports, after school activities, teacher conferences and random celebrations.  Every single email requires some type of commitment from me.  I open the email that was sent less than 10 minutes ago, yet I am the last parent to sign up.  And by the way, how the hell does that happen? Did the class mom call all of her friends and warn them that a sign up email would be sent and to get ready in 3-2-1?  I mean really?  Ugh.  The only things left on the list were cupcakes and cookies.  Go ahead and call me an overachiever but I was kinda praying for napkins or paper plates.  I stared at the screen hoping another parent would magically sign up for both items right before my eyes and all the motherly guilt would be lifted from my soul but that did not happen.  The only mom’s left to sign up were the slackers; myself included. Sigh.  Should I do cupcakes?  No, Maybe cookies? Hmmm…distracted by another email.

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will Flynn be at baseball practice today?

And then another, Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

We are asking parents to send in a donation for the teacher gift?

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will Molly be at soccer practice tomorrow?

Bing

Mrs. Doherty,

Will the 2-2:30 time slot work for our parent/teacher conference?

Bing

All dancers will need a hair bow to match their costume for the dance recital.

Bing

Just a friendly reminder that we have you signed up to bring orange slices Saturday.

Bing

Have you paid your team dues yet?   They are due this week.  Thanks so much!

Bing, Bing, Bing...

It never ends.  Slowly but surely my calendar fills up and my bank account is depleted.  All I did was check my email and my mood completely changed.  I went from having a great day to feeling overwhelmed and broke.  I close my laptop to hide from the world.

“Mommy?  Can I paint now?”

“Yes Maggie.  That’s a great idea.  Let’s paint.”

Suddenly, painting sounds like an amazing idea.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I cannot wait for the summer.  I have absolutely nothing planned.

Cleanzilla

For the most part, I have always considered myself a somewhat tidy person.  I am not by any standards a neat-freak but I seem to have a wall that I hit when things get too disgusting in my house.  This threshold has gotten looser and looser with each new addition to our family.   Let’s just say that by the time the fourth kid came along, my “clean” standards have dropped considerably.

Over the years February has become my mortal enemy.  For the entire month we are cooped up in the house.  Everyday it’s cold, dark and gray outside. Where does the sun go?  I mean, for the love of all sanity, make an appearance will ya?  Yesterday the queen of all things warm made her grand appearance.  It’s like losing a child in the clothes rack at Target.  Should I kiss her warm lips or spank her ass for hiding? Anyway, I tried to enjoy her presence. It was that late morning sunshine. So bright and delightful.  I closed my eyes and felt the warmth on my face.  It made me smile.  I took a deep cleansing breath.  It’s the way I would breathe if I ever made it to a yoga class.  I felt so relaxed.  All of my problems vanished for a moment and life was good.

And then… I opened my eyes. That special bond I had with the sun was instantly over. The first thing I noticed were the disgusting, dirty windows.  And I am not talking about your normal dirty windows.  These were February windows.  It’s a combination of fingerprints, large amounts of dust and moisture that join together to form a sticky grime. The sort of grime you might find in a frat house.  Short of breath and embarrassed  by my own housekeeping, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a full bottle of Windex and a banner of paper towels.   I sprayed and wiped in a frantic fashion until it was eventually clean.  How could I have missed this?  I look out of this window every single day.  Apparently the gray clouds of winter mask poor house cleaning.  In some ways it’s delightful and relaxing but when that first burst of sunlight pours through your home; prepare for the embarrassing reality. I feel the same way when I step on the scale after the holidays. It’s overwhelming. The paper towel went from pure white to army green as I made a welcome entryway for the sunshine that I have missed all of these dark, cold months.  I stepped back and admired my work.  It’s interesting how cleaning a window can make the whole room feel clean.

I talked to myself and made a promise to do that more often. I walked back into the kitchen and bent down to put the Windex back under the sink.  The sunlight followed me and magnified more grime.  There, along the baseboards, I saw splatters of all sorts. Apparently someone spilled a chocolate milk and what seemed to be an entire  bowl of spaghetti sauce but never thought to wipe it off of the baseboard. I grabbed some disinfectant spray and began scrubbing.  I shamed myself under my breath as I continued to work diligently.  What on earth?  How did I let this get so bad?  I scrubbed and scrubbed until the baseboard returned to its original white color.

441237_1273750429847_full

Again, I promised myself that I would make a point to look at those baseboards more often.  Thirsty from all of that scrubbing; I rewarded myself with a little water break.  I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.  I put it to my lips and just before I took my first sip, I noticed the spots.  Water spots on the glass. Tons of them.  What on earth is going on?  I’m a pig.  No maybe I’m just raising pigs. I’m not sure but I do know that I’m the only one who notices or cares.  Disgusted, I put the spotted glass in the sink and that’s when I noticed the hot chocolate and coffee stains all over the counter.  This is the moment when I felt myself losing it.  It’s as if I couldn’t move fast enough.  I cleaned the counter and then all of my actions became a blur.  I ran from appliance to appliance cleaning like a complete lunatic.  My eyes couldn’t find anything clean.  Every single thing I looked at was dirty. The refrigerator was decorated with hand prints, the oven door was brown, crumbs were all over the toaster, a bowl of spaghetti exploded in the microwave, water stains on the dishwasher, dust on the lights and the place mats were stuck to the table with syrup.  A demon took over my body and I have no idea what I was muttering under my breath when my daughter walked in to find me.  God bless her poor sweet, innocent soul.

With great caution she whispered; “Mom?  Are you okay?”

I snapped “No.  I am NOT okay.  Are you okay?”

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened.  I just realized that I live with a bunch of pigs.  Disgusting dirty pigs.  All of you.  Did you spill a chocolate milk and leave it for me to clean up?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Either you did or you didn’t.”

“Well.  I did.  But I definitely cleaned it up.”

Then my head spun around a few times and I pointed to the baseboards. “You didn’t clean the baseboards!  I’ll tell you that!  They were filthy.  Totally gross! I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed them for 10 minutes.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it..”

She stopped talking and looked at me like she was afraid to say another word.  I must’ve had steam coming out of my ears and devil horns on my head because she backed out of the kitchen slowly so I wouldn’t attack.  Armed with a disinfectant spray and an unbroken stream of nasty comments under my breath; I returned to my cleaning.

I heard my husbands footsteps coming down the stairs and heading toward the kitchen and I felt myself getting angrier and angrier.  I needed an adult to verbally abuse.  Why am I the only one who cleans?  Shouldn’t he be 50% responsible?  When will these kids be old enough to clean the right way?  He walked in the kitchen and was heading for the coffee maker when my 8-year-old stopped him in his tracks.

“Dad.  Don’t go in there.  I’m warning you.”

“Why?”

She pointed and stared at me like a monster “It’s not Mom.  It’s Cleanzilla and you don’t want to get in her way!”

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Go

Today I caught myself daydreaming about having a house full of boys.  Specifically, boys with short hair.  Here’s the thing, all my girls were born with bad hair.  It’s thin and tangles very easily.  It causes drama.   I hate drama.  I know I have complained about this before but I think I am officially throwing in the towel today.  I had what Oprah calls an “ah-ha” moment.  A light bulb went off in my head and I learned a very important mom lesson.  Here is how it all unfolded….

Let It Go

Maggie is only two and a half years old and is an absolute beast when I need to brush her hair.

“Mags.  Come here sweetie.  I need to brush your hair.”

I waited in the bathroom armed with a brush and some detangler spray and prepared myself for the worst. She politely responds from the playroom, “No thank you!”

“Yes.  Maggie.  You need to come to the bathroom please.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Maggie.  I’m counting to three.  1…2……………3!”

My threat did not work.  She didn’t budge; so I walked into the playroom with parental authority and took matters into my own hands.

“Did you hear me call your name?”

She stands with her hands on her hips and whines. “I don’t want you to brush my haaaaaiiiir Moooooommy!”

I change to my sweet mom voice; “C’mon.  It will only take a minute.”

“No!!”

Now, I’m getting pissed.  “Hey? You don’t tell mommy no.  Do you understand me young lady?”

Judging by her reaction; I don’t think she liked what I had to say.  She prepped her whole body for a dramatic toddler tantrum.  Her bottom lip started quivering and she made a fist with both hands.  Arms straight and stiff by her side, she screams.   If I had a video of this little scene, I’m certain that high schools all over America would use it as a form of birth control.

I attempt to bring her back to reality.

“Maggie.  Stop that screaming right now.”

We now have a full toddler meltdown. She is on the floor pounding it with her fists and kicking her feet.    The first time I saw my child do this, I was alarmed, horrified and stunned.  I wondered where I failed as a parent and questioned the sanity of my offspring.   But by the fourth kid, I laugh.  The amount of energy used to fight a hair brush is comical to me.  I pick her up and hold her.

“Maggie.  Shhhh, now stop that.  Mommy just wants to brush your hair.  It will only take a minute and then you can play again, OK?”

She stops crying for a minute to look at me.  She takes the brief moment to give me a nasty look and then returns to her stubborn tantrum.  Sometimes removing a toddler from one location to another is enough to snap them out of their funk; so I try it.  Gently, I sit her on the couch with a blanket and allow her some time to calm down.  I return a few minutes later.

“Ok.  Are we ready now?”

Through sniffles and tears she shakes her head yes.  Hooray, step one is complete.  She agrees to the “torture”. Together we walk to the bathroom and she stands on the step stool and looks at herself in the mirror as I begin to brush through the tangles.

There is a barrette sitting on the counter that distracts her 2-year-old brain.

“What’s dis?

“That’s a hair barrette.”

“Oh.”

Then she turns on the water full speed.

“Maggie, what are you doing?”

“I washing my hands.”

“Can you please wait and do that after I finish your hair?”

“But I gotta wash my hands.”

I quickly pull half of her hair into a piggy tail and secure it with a hair band as she reaches for the soap.

I turn off the water and return the soap to the edge of the sink.

“Maggie. I said no.”

She crosses her arm in defiance but quickly forgets she is angry when she sees a hairdryer on the counter.

“What’s dis?”

“That’s a hairdryer.”

“A hair dryer?”

“Yes, a hair dryer.”

Let the records show, that this simple line of questioning is making me dumber and dumber as the years pass.

I am consumed with putting the second piggy tail in when she turns on the hair dryer.  The noise scares her and she drops the hairdryer on the ground and starts crying.  I continue brushing her hair while she pushes my hands away.

I impress myself at this point.  It’s as if I am in a rodeo and I am tying a calf’s legs together.

“Hang on, don’t move.  I’m almost done.”  

“No Mommy. Stop it!”

Quickly, I finish and secure the hair band and throw my hands in the air like a cowgirl racing the clock. Yeeee-haw!

cowgirl 2

“OK, you can go now.  I’m all done.”

She runs away.

I am sweating.  Isn’t that pitiful?  I sweat doing hair.  I picked the hairdryer up off of the floor and took a deep breath.  Phew, I did it.  Toddlers have an amazing ability to make the most simple tasks difficult, don’t they?  I planned my daily schedule as I wiped the spilled water off the counter and put the hair accessories into the drawer.

Maggie was quiet watching TV when I walked by the playroom and noticed.  There she was, sitting in front of the TV watching Dora.

She was content.

She was quiet.

And she had a new hair-do.

Her piggy tails were gone.  She ripped them out. My jaw dropped in total shock.  How dare she undo my masterpiece!

In her defense, she is a girl who knows what she wants.  She tried to make it clear to me that piggy tails don’t excite her; but I did not listen.

I felt defeated.  I lost a battle with a 2-year-old.  I sat watching her for a few minutes.  I actually considered putting those piggy tails back in her hair.  Sure, I could win this battle.  I am bigger and stronger but what was the purpose?   I mentally listed the reasons why I thought redoing her hair was important to me.

1. Because I said so

2. Because it looks better

Suddenly, both reasons felt stupid and a huge waste of energy. It was in that moment that I decided hair was not a battle worth fighting.   I got her dressed and brought her to the store with the messiest hair in the world.

It took four kids for me to learn that a beautiful smile was far more important than messy hair.   I’m smiling too because today I learned to let it go.

 

 

 

We’re Gonna Miss The Bus

Holy crap!  This morning was what classy moms call “a real shit show” at our house.  I am drinking my coffee in celebration as we speak.  Yes, I am celebrating.  Celebrating that all three kids got on the bus and I don’t have to look at their faces for the next 8 hours.  Is that wrong?

Sounds so simple doesn’t it?  The school bus arrives at 8:11am and my only job is to get them on safely.  Piece of cake right?  Yeah, not so much.  Let me break it down for you.

7:23 am

Flynn (age 9) enters the kitchen after his shower with soaking wet hair, shorts and no shirt in a panic “Mom?  Please tell me you washed them.”

Me: “Washed what?”

Flynn: ” My favorite black sweat pants”

Me: “They are soaking wet buddy.  I just switched them over to the dryer.  Sorry.”

It sounded like a small animal was dying a slow death when he heard the bad news.

Flynn: (fists clinched) “Ahhhhhmeeeeyaaaahhh…..Moooooom!  I NEEeeeeD those!”

Me: “Cut it out, will ya?  Wear some jeans. You’ll be fine.”

Flynn: (As if I asked him to wear a dress or something.) “Jeans.  Nobody wears jeans.  I don’t even have any jeans.”

Me: “You have at least 6 pair of jeans.  Go find them and put them on so you can eat breakfast.”

Flynn storms off like he has a terrible life muttering God knows what under his breath.  I pester him, like all good moms do, from the bottom of the stairwell. “That’s why I asked you to lay out your clothes last night!  So this doesn’t happen.”

Flynn: “I hate jeans!  I’m not wearing jeans!”

Me: “You’re going to look funny getting on the bus without pants.”

I hear dresser drawers slamming.  Apparently Molly (age 8) is awake and out of the shower because I can hear their conversation.

Flynn: “Don’t look at me, Molly!”

Molly: “Geez, Good Morning to you too!”

(Flynn’s bedroom door slams)

Then Molly chimes in “Mom?  I just got out of the shower. Do I have any clean jeans downstairs?”

Me: “No.  Find something in your closet.  You have a bazillion choices.”

Molly: “None of these jeans fit right.”

Me: “I’m in no mood Molly.  Find something.  This is why I asked you to lay out your clothes last night.”

Molly: (feeling defeated) “Fine. And by the way, Teagan is in the shower now.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

7:46 am

Flynn comes downstairs for breakfast still wearing shorts.

I give him a disapproving eye and he defends himself “I really, really, REALLY do NOT want to wear jeans.  Please Mom.  Can we just wait and see if the sweat pants dry?”

Me: (I’m already exhausted.) “Fine.  Just eat your breakfast please.”

7:55 am

He eats his breakfast as the dryer tosses his sweat pants in a rhythmic fashion.  Molly enters the kitchen dressed and ready for school.  She sits at the kitchen table directly across from Flynn and stares at him.  He glares at his sister and arranges the cereal box to block her view.

Molly: “Good morning mom!”

Flynn grunts in disgust at her positive attitude.

Me: “Good morning!  You need to eat quickly so you have time to blow dry your hair.  It’s soaking wet.”

Molly: Ok, what’s HIS problem? Why is he wearing shorts?” (pointing to Flynn)

Me: “Mind your own business and eat.”

Flynn: “Yeah Molly!  Mind your own business.”

I yell upstairs “Teagan are you coming down soon??”

Teagan:(age 5) “I’m getting dwessed Mom!  This skirt doesn’t really fit me.”

Me: (Now I sound like a broken record.) “That’s why I asked you to lay your clothes out last night.”

Teagan :(aggravated) “Uggghhh…it’s too big for me!”

Me: “Come downstairs, I will help you!”

7:58 am

Teagan comes downstairs with soaking wet hair, holding her skirt so it doesn’t fall off of her. I approach her and adjust the butttons inside the skirt.

Me: “Ok Sweet Tea.  Eat your breakfast quick.  The bus will be here in 12 minutes.”

Teagan: “What?  I can’t eat that fast.”

Me: “Eat!”

8:04 am

Flynn gets up and opens the dryer “Mom.  They’re dry.” I walk over skeptically to see for myself.

Me: “No, they are damp.  You will freeze if you wear these. Go brush your teeth and give them some more time.  Actually, can you please just wear jeans?”

He ignores my plea to wear jeans and bolts upstairs to brush his teeth. Molly follows close behind him to do the same.

Me: (yelling upstairs) “Will you bring Teagan’s toothbrush downstairs for her please?”

Molly: (as she is brushing) “I will.”

8:06 am

Me: “Thank you! (I turn my attention to Teagan and pull her chair away from the table) You’re done sista.  The bus will be here in 5 minutes.  We need to dry that hair.”

Teagan: “but…I’m NOT done eating!”

Me: “Bring your cereal into the bathroom so I can dry your hair.” (Eating cereal while someone does your hair is totally normal, right?)

8:07 am

Molly runs down the stairs, slings open the pantry door, grabs a snack and shoves it in her backpack.  Then she sits down to put on her shoes.

8:08 am

Flynn literally knocks me over as he runs to the dryer.  He opens the dryer, grabs his damp sweat pants, takes off his shorts and puts them on.

Me: “Those are NOT dry Flynn!! (I turn to Teagan) Now brush your teeth please.”

Flynn: As he throws a snack in his backpack “Mom.  I promise, they’re fine”

Molly: (sticking up for her brother) “Mom!  Flynn is right.  All the boys wear those.  They don’t wear jeans.”

Flynn: (he high-fives Molly) “See!!!!”

Me: “Oh. Well, I’m glad to see you two like each other again. ”

8:10 am

Me: “The bus will be here in exactly one minute.”

Molly: “Mom!  My hair.  Can you put it in 2 braids?”

Teagan finishes brushing her teeth and I slap a barrette into her hair.  I call Molly into the bathroom and start braiding her damp hair at lightning speed .

Teagan: (devastated) “Mom?  I don’t have my snacks!”

Flynn: (Waiting with his coat and backpack on)”We’re gonna miss the bus! Hurry up girls!!!

Molly: (confident and unfazed) “As soon as Mom finishes my hair, I’m ready!”

Teagan tries to rush and ends up running into the bathroom door.  She bumps her head and is now crying.   Flynn comes to her rescue and grabs any ‘ol thing out of the pantry and throws it into her backpack.

Teagan: (Still crying) “Mom? I don’t like those snacks Flynn picked…AND.. I have to write my name on them. My teacher says so.  It’s a rule!”

Me: (I finish braiding Molly’s hair and instruct her to get her coat on) “Teagan bring me the snacks you want and a marker.”

8:11 am

Flynn: (screaming) “Mom!  It’s 8:11.

Teagan:(yelling through tears) “We know Flynn!  We are trying to hurry!  Stop yelling!”

Flynn:(yelling louder now) “We’re gonna miss the bus!”

He walks outside and slams the door.

Maggie: (enters the room crying) “Where the big kids going?”

Me: (I’m writing Teagan’s name on her snacks) “Good morning Maggie.  The big kids are going to school.  Molly, go outside with Flynn.  Teagan, put on your coat and backpack…HURRY!”

Maggie: (drops to the floor in a full tantrum) “Noooo!  Why they go bye-bye?”

Our chocolate lab,Ted, licks Maggie to comfort her.

Molly steps over Maggie and Ted like they aren’t even there. As she turns the doorknob to head outside Flynn flings the door open and screams at the top of his lungs,  “The BUS is HERE!”

images-2

All 3 kids run full speed out the door and down the driveway.  I leave Maggie and Ted behind as I chase after Teagan.  Somehow I manage to throw her snacks in her backpack and dry her tears on the fly.  Who says I’m not athletic?

Teagan (as she is running away) “Thanks mommy!  Love you!”

Me: “Love you too!  Have a great day! Be careful, you’re running so fast!”

Teagan; “I’m ok mom!”

As they get further and further away I silently pray that nobody trips while in route.

Somehow everyone makes it on the bus without a hitch.  We all wave goodbye and I can finally take a deep breath.  I can’t believe they actually made it.  I have to say, sometimes I impress myself.

I dreamed about a nice quiet cup of coffee as I made my way back towards the house; but instead I was greeted at the door by a two year old, holding a blanket and sobbing.

8:14 am

Maggie: “Why you leave me Mommy?”

Me: (Picking Maggie up) “Aw, don’t cry. I would never leave you.  I had to get the kids on the school bus, that’s all.”

Maggie: (Settling down)”You not leave me.”

Me: “No Maggie.  I will never leave.”

Maggie: (grabs my cheeks and kisses me.  She is suddenly smiling and happy.) “Thank you mommy!  I’m glad you’re home!”

Me: (giggling) “I’m glad I’m home too!”

 

Our home is crazy but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Holidays

Every year I send out a holiday card to all my friends and family.   I try to choose a good photo that sums up the year.  This year was no different.  In early December I started brain storming.   I searched through the hundreds of photos that I snapped throughout the year.  Nothing.  They all seemed so boring. To be honest,  I wasn’t sure if a card would ever happen this year between all of the kids activities and hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The Birth Of Our Card

We decorated our Christmas tree one quiet night in early December.  It was an unplanned moment that unfolded into a great memory with the kids.   The older three are finally old enough to actually help and 2 year-old Maggie was in awe as Christmas unfolded in front of her.  She couldn’t stop staring at the lights and sparkly ornaments. Her innocence brought a smile to all of our faces.  The hours snuck away from us and before we knew it, it was past their bed time.  I sent everyone upstairs to put on their pajamas.   I used those few kid-free moments to clean up some of the mess strewn all over the family room.  The hubs made a cozy fire and we were definitely feeling the Christmas spirit .  There is something very satisfying about crossing “decorating the tree” off of my enormous holiday to-do list.

One by one the kids made their way downstairs to kiss us goodnight and then Maggie entered the room.  She was butt naked, carrying her pajamas and diaper in her hands.   To say that it caught us off guard is an understatement.  We laughed our sides off and through the laughter I  informed her of the obvious,  “Maggie!  You forgot your clothes girl.”  She ignored me, dropped her pajamas on the floor, walked right up to the tree, put her hands on her hips and BOOM…our Christmas card was born.

photo-12

No skirt on the tree = proof that I didn’t stage this photo

Snapped with an iPhone.  It is imperfectly perfect.  I can’t think of a better photo to sum up our year.  This is totally my life.  Just as soon as I feel like things are going well, something crazy and unplanned happens.  I think this is true for just about everyone I know.  Life is a constant roller coaster ride, so hang on.  You can either laugh or cry.  I choose to laugh.  After all, laughter is the best medicine on earth.

Happy holidays to all of you from my crazy home to yours!  May 2014 be full of prosperity, good health and happiness for all of us!

Love,

Mrs. D

All Rise, The King Has Arrived

Flynn (age 9): “Mom, Um…remember you said we could put Christmas up today.  Can we?”

Me: “Geez..I’m so tired, Flynn.  I spent all day taking down the fall decorations.”

Flynn: (very disappointed) “Aw, really?  That stinks.  You promised Mom.”

Me: “I know I did.  I’m sorry.  I’m exhausted! Can we do it tomorrow, please?”

Flynn: “What if I help? I promise I’ll help.  C’mon. I’ll get all the stuff out of the attic for you.”

Molly (age 8): “Me too, Mom.  Pleeeeaaase.”

As a parent, I try to have some integrity and let’s be honest; I’m always exhausted.  I feel like I could fall over from exhaustion every…single…day. The ever present mom guilt gets the best of me and I reluctantly agree.  I’d rather be a zombie than a liar.

Me: “OK, let’s do it.  Go get the decorations.”

They take off for the attic and Maggie (age 2) and Teagan (age 5) are holding hands chanting  “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!”

The giant bins of Christmas decor make their way down from the attic.  Every year I have to mentally brace for the most exhausting month of the year.  The last one.  December.  It’s the way I would imagine mile 26 to be in a marathon if I ever got off my lazy duff and ran one.  Exhausting, long, and busy yet fulfilling in some demented way.

Flynn: ( looks at the eight plastic bins full of Christmas decor )“Alright.  Looks like we have everything. Can we open everything up now?”

I realize that it’s just me with four excited kids.  Someone is missing from this “family” scene.

Me: “Wait. Everybody slow down. Where’s Dad?”

Flynn: “I donno.”

Me: “Well, we aren’t decorating without Dad.”

Molly: (screaming) “Dad!” (louder now) “Daaaaad”

Maggie: (Running in circles clapping her hands)  “Daddy!  Daddy!”

Teagan and Flynn run to the top of the basement stairs and scream together “On three.  Ready. 1-2-3  DDAAAADD!!!”

Me: “Can you please go look for him rather than scream?”

Ming: (annoyed) “What?  Why is everyone calling my name?”

Flynn: “Mom says we need you.”

Ming: “Why?”

Flynn: “We are putting up Christmas decorations and Mom says we can’t do it without you.”

Ming:“Alright.  I’m coming.

They hear his footsteps walking upstairs and they can hardly contain themselves.   “Daddy is coming!  Daddy is coming!”

announcing royalty

Ming opens the basement door and all of our offspring cheer like royalty has entered the room.  Let the festivities begin, the king has arrived!  Ya know what’s annoying?  I set him up for that entrance and I didn’t really mean to.  I suppose I could have decorated without him but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the “Let’s Be A Perfect Family” handbook; Christmas decorating is in there and daddy contributes.  Anyway, Flynn and Molly rip into the organized bins and quickly turn the room into a disaster zone.  There is tissue paper flying and fragile ornaments being man-handled by an eager 2-year-old.  I have an incredible tolerance for chaos but this was too much.

Me: “Whooooooa!  Everyone stop!”

They all freeze and stare at me like a pack of deer in the headlights.  I can’t believe they actually listened to me.  The only sound that can be heard is Ming stirring his coffee in the kitchen.

Me: “I want this to be fun but we need to have a system.  I don’t want all of these ornaments to break, do you?  Now, everyone line up and pick one ornament at a time.”

They quickly filed into a straight line the way big families do. Youngest to oldest and nobody disputes it.  Maggie looks up with a big smile and eagerly points to the one she wants.  She is quite pleased that she picked one with a little puppy on it.

Me: “Good girl Maggie!  That’s perfect for you!  Now go find a special spot on the tree to hang it.”

She waddled over toward the tree and hangs it on a branch that already has an ornament on it.  Her ornament is squished and barely on the branch.  Every single bone in my body wants to move it to a new branch but I resist the urge and tell Maggie “great job!”

Teagan’s turn now.  She picks her ornament and finds a spot on the tree.  Oh look.  Somehow she managed to squeeze one more ornament on the exact branch that Maggie picked.  I want to get up and move it.  I want to tell her it looks terrible but I don’t.  I say “Great job Teagan!” like a big liar.  Then in a passive aggressive motherly sort of way I remind Molly to “spread the ornaments all around the tree.” I say it loudly so Teagan can hear. This is the way I have to deliver my message while keeping peace.  If I told Teagan directly, we would have tears and the night would be ruined.  There are a lot of logistics to decorating with four small children. Ming;  however, is completely oblivious to all of this.

He enters the room with his cup of hot coffee.

king chalise

 

He sits in his favorite chair…

ThroneAnd he watches the show.  Christmas is unfolding before his very eyes. The holidays must be very enjoyable for my husband.  The royal treatment begins on December the first and continues for the entire month.  He watches the tree getting decorated.  He enjoys the cookies that are baked for him. He eats the delicious meals that were carefully planned.

the king meal

 

He watches the children unwrap the pile of gifts that Santa Claus researched, purchased and wrapped.  He smells the aroma of various Christmas candles placed strategically around the house.  He exclaims “You’re Welcome” when guests thank him for the perfect gifts he didn’t know he sent.   He smiles when he learns that his annual Christmas Card made it into the hands of relatives that he hasn’t spoken to in years.  His robe is always clean.  He walks down a red carpet that has been vacuumed daily and drinks his hot coffee from a clean chalice all season.  This season I am leaving a message for all of the kings loved both near and far.  Remember, you’re only as strong as your people. That is all.

What Would Mrs. D Say?

Dear Mrs. D,

My mother and Mother-in-Law keep tons of crappy treats around and allow my kids to eat as much as they want, even after my husband and I try to regulate it.  I used to give up because it’s only temporary but on at least 8 occasions I have been up in the middle of the night with one or more puking kids. Even though I mention it the next day, these selfish granny’s still “love” them with junk! How can I put an end to this? I dread the upcoming holidays because I’m pissed about the puking.

Feed ‘Em Sugar Till They Puke

Dear Feed ‘Em Till They Puke,

Wow!  Everyone loves a little sugar but this sounds like a code red.  I think we are going to have to pull out the big guns.  Think about it; if you simply ask Granny to stop, she will probably accuse you of being an overbearing Mom.  We all know that’s not the case, so here’s the plan.  Lay down the law with your kids. “Only one piece of candy if you’re sleeping at home.   When you go to Granny’s you can eat as much as you want.”  One night of puking on Granny’s turf should resolve this little problem for you without any confrontation.

Mrs. D

Dear Mrs. D,

All my 10-year-old daughter wants for Christmas is an iPad Mini.  I think it’s an expensive gift. What do you think?

Santa Ain’t Rich

Dear Santa Ain’t Rich,

I agree.  An iPad Mini is an expensive gift but I think you should embrace it.  It’s a beautiful moment when Santa only has to wrap a few quality toys.  It also teaches the value of a dollar!

Mrs. D

Dear Mrs. D,

My 6-year-old cusses like a f–king sailor.  He uses all of the right words at all of the right damn times.  How can this be? What do I do to make him stop? This shit is ridiculous.

Sincerely,

Mother of a Damn Asshole

 

Dear Mother of a Damn Asshole,

First of all, he sounds like a bright child if he is already using profanity correctly.  Nothing is more annoying than someone who can’t drop an F bomb appropriately.  As far as controlling his foul mouth, I am going to suggest a drop of lemon juice on the tongue after each cuss word and a sturdy pair of ear muffs.  The ear muffs should be worn anytime you are speaking for the next few months.  I hope this helps.

Mrs. D 

 

Do you have a parenting question for Mrs. D?

Please write.  mrsdohertyunleashed@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: Any and all answers are completely unprofessional and should not be taken seriously.  Don’t be an idiot.  If you have real issues, seek a real professional, not me.  Any question sent via email can be used on my website and/or social media.  Authors will remain anonymous. You suck.  Just kidding. I was making sure you were reading this very important message.  Don’t sue me. I hate that.  It ruins all the fun and then you really would suck.  My advice is random and solely depends on the amount of sleep I got last night.  Sad but true.  Peace out bitches.

 

 

The Ding Dong Made It All Wrong

I had a 16 month old, Flynn, and a newborn, Molly.   Molly was born two weeks prior by c-section and I was blessed with lots of family support.  For those first 2 weeks I had more help than jobs.  My mom made meals, my mother-in-law helped with laundry and many helped with babysitting, diaper changes and cleaning.  It was a very happy time. Our family was growing and I was immensely grateful for two healthy children.  As time passed, family members returned to their busy lives and slowly we adapted to our new family of four.

I will never forget my very first day alone in the house with two babies.  They were both in diapers and I had my work cut out for me but I was excited about it.  I like a challenge. Especially when it involves screaming babies, lots of spit up and cleaning up more poop than a dog park.

The hubs left for work and I could tell by the love note of to-do’s, that he believed in me.  I have two babies and two hands.  What’s the problem? Throw in the fact that I was a labor and delivery nurse and it sealed the deal for the hubs.  He was confident.  Much more confident than me.  I distinctly remember watching him back out of the driveway.  He was bopping to his music and to be honest it made me sick.  I knew he was going to work but in my postpartum warped head he was well on his way to freedom. I muttered things like “Who does that asshole think he is?”  I spent most of the morning walking around the house having a nice little pity party and talking to myself like a complete psycho.  I’ll admit it.  I was overwhelmed.  I jockeyed my time between breastfeeding and Elmo.

The hours passed slower than my grandmother’s bowels but eventually my big moment arrived.  Nap time!  Flynn went down without a problem and I was thrilled to spend some quiet moments with my newest addition.  Nursing a newborn seemed enjoyable and easy without a 16 month old flopping on the ground begging for me to hold him or trying to lift my shirt to see what I was doing.  I finally had a little peace.  I nursed her until she was full and then tucked her into her bassinet for a snooze.  For the first time all day, I felt like I had my act together.  Two kids really aren’t so bad when they are sound asleep.  I even found a little time to take a shower.  Carefully, I wheeled the bassinet, where Molly was fast asleep, into the bathroom and started the shower.  Norm, our yellow lab, followed me in and laid on the bath mat the way he always did.

Before I become a mother, I took a shower for granted.  Now I know better.  It’s not only a place to get clean; it’s also alone time.  In my mind, I was at the spa.  I took a deep breath and closed my eyes letting the warm water pour onto my back.  All was going well until I heard Norm growling.  Norm didn’t have a mean bone in his body but he protected us.  Typically, he would growl if he heard a noise in the house.  It wasn’t unusual for him to growl if he heard the water pipes clanking or a truck outside.  I assumed he was hearing one of the many phantom noises and reassured him that everything was ok.

Shhh!  It’s OK buddy.  Settle down, you don’t want to wake the baby.  It’s OK.  Good boy.  Lay back down and let Mommy shower.

Comforted by my words, he settled down and curled back up into a ball on the bath mat and closed his eyes.  He was content for a few minutes until he heard the sound that would change my entire day. 

[Ding Dong]

Oh my God, I didn’t prepare for this.

The doorbell.  The mother-effin door bell.

Nothing sent Norm into a bigger barking frenzy.  I kissed my spa experience goodbye.  I knew I shouldn’t have gotten cocky and tried to take a shower.  I frantically washed the shampoo out of my hair.  Norm jumped to his feet.  His ears were up and he gave a big

Woof!

My heart sunk.  I could hear Molly stirring in the bassinet as Norm became increasingly more excited.  I talked to him from inside the shower as I finished up. Begging him to ignore the doorbell.

Shhhhh!  Please.  Shhhhh!  Lay down.  It’s OK Normie.  Shhhh!  It’s OK.

I prayed to the baby sleeping Gods.

Please let whoever the hell is ringing my doorbell GO AWAY!

Unfortunately for me, my prayer was not answered.

[ding-dong]

Norm simply couldn’t contain himself.  He jumped up and bolted toward the bathroom door.  It must have been quite a sight.  100 lbs of Labrador Retriever slammed into a newborn bassinet sending it sailing across the bathroom into the wall.  All of the commotion woke Molly up and sent her into a hysterical almost inconsolable high-pitched screaming frenzy.  The bathroom door was closed and Norm wanted out. He continued to bark and scratch at the door begging for me to open it.  He was by all standards a caged animal. Molly continued to scream hysterically and I was completely frazzled.  I began talking to myself.

Oh shit.  I need to hurry.  Molly needs me.  Shit, I still have conditioner in my hair.  Oh?  Who cares?  I’ll rinse it later.  No, I better rinse it now.  Yes, Molly is safe.  Hysterical but safe.  I’ll rinse it quick.  [deep breath] Who is ringing the doorbell?  Ugh.  This sucks.  How could this happen?  I prepared.  I planned.  All I wanted to do was take a shower.  OK, I’m done.  It’s OK baby.  I’m coming.  Mommy is done.  Norman!!! Norman…I’m gonna shoot you!  You created this freaking mess! 

I wrapped myself in a towel and picked up Molly to soothe her.  Eventually, we made our way to the bathroom door and opened it to settle Norm’s nerves.  He bolted out the door, skidded around the furniture and picked up so much speed on the wooden floors in the hallway that he bulldozed into the wall to stop himself. I watched in horror as a picture frame fell off of the wall and crashed to the floor.  Norm wasn’t fazed by any of the damage he was leaving behind him.  He was on a mission.  As he was turning the corner to go down the stairs, he heard it again.

[Ding Dong]

images-1

That dog nearly lost his mother-effin mind.  He tried to move quicker than his body would allow him and his hind legs toppled underneath his body causing him to slide down the wooden steps and crash into Flynn’s bedroom door.  I stood at the top of the stairs, my hair dripping water all over in the floor and watched my world fall apart.

Norm’s barking terrified Molly and once again she began cry.  That’s when I felt it.  Breastfeeding mothers know what I’m talking about.  It’s that moment when the sound of a high-pitch screaming baby sends a direct message to your boobs to “download” and to put it mildly, mine did.  They downloaded and unloaded right there in the hallway.  Milk was squirting everywhere.  I felt like one of those sprinklers from the 80’s .

Sprinkler

Ahhhhhhh!  What the hell is happening to me?  Aliens are taking over!

There was no stopping the chaos going on in that house.  I was naked, squirting milk, completely unprepared and confused.

Oh…… My…..God!

Seemed to be all I could say, over and over again.  In efforts to slow the pressure of my squirting boobs, I allowed Molly to nurse on one side and pressed a towel against the other side.  I was about as comfortable as a thong up Oprah’s ass but at least the baby wasn’t screaming.

Of course, now I had a new problem.  Flynn was awake and crying.  It turns out that having a 100 lb dog barrel through your bedroom door barking and jumping is not a soothing way to wake up.  It must have been a terrifying because Flynn was screaming  like someone murdered Elmo.  The life he once knew as an only child was officially and abruptly over.  In some ways, I could relate to how he was feeling.

I wrapped the towel around my body and crouched down as I made my way down the seemingly long flight of stairs, still nursing Molly.   Norm continued to bark and scratch at the front door.  He ran from window to window panting and barking trying to see who was outside.   There is nothing I wanted more than for the doorbell to stop ringing and for the visitor to kindly LEAVE.  She was relentless.  I’m sure all the commotion inside and my car in the driveway confused her.  I heard a female voice on the other side of the door saying hi to Norman and asking him if mommy was home but I was not about to invite her annoying ass inside.

Of course I’m here!  Don’t ya see my car in the driveway?  Don’t ya hear two kids screaming their heads off and a dog going ape shit?  I’m naked and slightly frazzled. We’ll talk tomorrow.

She couldn’t seem to accept the fact that I was not going to answer the door no matter how long she stood there.  Norm continued with his insanity.  I tried to ignore him as I helped Flynn out of his crib and into my free arm.  I sat down on the glider in his room where I sat so many times before when Flynn needed consoling.  He snuggled into my shoulder that was still wet from the shower and his crying eased a little bit at a time.  I stared off into space and rocked them both.  I wondered if I would ever get dressed or how the hell other moms managed two kids gracefully.   I was a complete mess and the only logical thing to do at this point was to cry. So I did just that.  I cried until eventually…I laughed.  Nobody warned me about this kind of shit.  I had everything under control until I heard the ding-dong.  It was the damn ding-dong that made it all wrong.

I learned a great parenting lesson that awful day.  It doesn’t matter how much you like schedules and control of your life; there is no possible way that you can think of every single detail.  I’ve learned to be flexible.  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, if you know what I mean?

I’m An Amazing Liar

I constantly lie to my kids to get them to do what I want.  I’m getting so good at it that some might consider it a mommy super power.  They were flying out of my mouth this morning like it was my job. I spewed three absolutely effortless lies in less than thirty minutes.  I know lying is wrong but what if there is a hidden positive lesson?  Does that make it better?  For instance:

LIE #1

I told Maggie that if she didn’t stop whining, the window would break and all the squirrels would come inside and sit with her while she ate her breakfast.

squirrel at table

*nom-nom-nom-nom* “I’d like to make a toast to the girl who made this possible” *belch* “Cheers Maggie!”

How creepy is that?  And what kind of mother comes up with that shit?  I’m not sure where that came from but it worked.  I hate whining.  I bet in hell there are kids who constantly whine.

LIE #2

I told Teagan that if she didn’t eat her waffle, her teacher would be able to see that she was hungry and she might not move up the behavior chart today.

Behavior Chart

Make better choices Teagan!  Eat your waffle!

Teagan aims to please, so she chowed down.  C’mon?  Every child should eat breakfast and she needed to focus.

LIE #3

I inspected Molly’s teeth after she brushed them for approximately 3 seconds.  Then…the lie…The tooth fairy watches you brush your teeth, ya know?  She KNOWS that you forget the molars. There is no way you will get money for those when they fall out.   Why would Peppermint leave you a reward for a yellow tooth?  This worried Molly and it should.  She ran back upstairs and brushed again.

tooth_fairy_2

I’m watching you Molly!

Am I alone here? Do other mom’s tell lies?  What’s the biggest lie you have ever told your children?