Up All Night

I screwed up again…

The 3pm energy drain hit me and I did it.

I had that one last afternoon cup of coffee.

Now it’s 1:30am. And despite the fact that both of my little angels (we’ll call them that now that they’re passed out) in their own beds, in their own room, and Michael is at work.

I could be downing a bottle of wine and watching Call the Midwife reruns. Or finishing The Sandman graphic novel I started earlier. I could be getting a couple hours of blissfully uninterrupted sleep. But no…I’m doing the fucking dishes.

“Why in earth would a woman choose to do dishes at 1am?” you might be asking yourself. The smart ass in me would say “cause the maid doesn’t come until Thursday”. And the realist in me says “cause I AM the maid”.

I also just switched over the laundry and set the diaper covers out to dry.

And now I’m wide awake…

My home isn’t spotless. In fact I’m fairly certain there’s thin (or thick depending on where you’re sitting) layer of white dog hair coating every floor of the house. It’s quite soft on the feet. Not so kind to my black wardrobe pieces.

And I don’t expect it to be. Having two small children has made me set my expectation levels incredibly low. And yet still I am surprised by how unexpected everything goes in our life. Life with small humans requires a lot of planning and preparation, both of which I struggle with.

The simple fact is that things can’t run smoothly in the mornings unless the kitchen is clean. Even my bare bones morning schedulencan be easily derailed. Everything takes longer if you have to wash a pan just to make some eggs, or shuffle things around to get to the butter dish. And god forbid there’s no sippy cups clean for her majesty Cedella’s morning juice.

And diapers? Well…we kinda need those. All day, every day. And they have to be washed before the stench takes over the girls room. We’ve got them both sleeping in there now…can’t ruin it with dirty diaper pail stink.

Did I mention both girls are sleeping in their own beds? All. Night. Long.

Yea, I may have postponed doing the dishes until 1am. And I’ll probably be tired tomorrow because I’m up so late. But today, I got an adjustment, ran into good mama friends and their kiddos, thrift shopped, hung outside with my big girl, finished a book and enjoyed a home-cooked family dinner.

I gotta say. Today was a good day.

Though could someone please remind me to stop drinking coffee at 2pm from now on. Yep. Feeling old.

But most importantly…

The dishes are done, man. ::wink wink::

Am I the only one that finds herself doing housework at odd hours of the day and night?

Guess who just climbed into my bed as I finished typing this? And no, it’s not the one in the crib.

Goodnight.

How I Stay Sane: a SAHM Guide

Part of the constant struggle of being a SAHM for me is staying busy. Not that I can’t always find a cobweb that needs sweeping or a dish that needs washing or a sippy cup full of spoiled milk that needs tossing, cause I can.

When Cedella was born and I was all alone with her all day I can remember how much I felt the urge to clean everything, always, non-stop. Then when I was IM’ing with friends a week or so ago (Hi Ashley and Nicole!!) I was reminded that in those days, keeping my child alive, fed and clean was priority one. Keeping the house clean was two. Keeping my husband fed and clean was three. And me? Well…I was probably around number 1001 on the list of priorities.

Over the past three years I have really expanded my social circle in Lansing and am so incredibly happy to say that I have real friends here. Friends to go to movies and awesome new restaurants with, that don’t mind if we talk about kids and husbands all night. Friends that are just as nutty and obsessed with baby carriers as I am. Friends that don’t look at me funny when I’d rather give my girls garlic, lemon and honey than antibiotics when they’re sick. And friends that I can trust the birthing of my babies and my kids lives forever after with.

It’s not easy this whole motherhood thing. But knowing that I have these woman, well that helps so much more than I ever imagined it would.

So with this incredible social circle I am able to keep sane on any given week.

What are my other secrets?

Secret #1: Getting out of the house!!!

It sounds simple. But anyone that has a 3 year old will tell you that getting them dressed and out of the door is a feat in and of itself. But add a second small creature (and their belongings) into the mix? Well you might as well be packing for a trek to the moon. So leaving the house with two may be intimidating and even sound counterproductive. But just the act of getting everyone into the car and heading out for an adventure is enough to clear any bad moods and put smiles and giggles back into the day. Fresh air and some fresh tunes on the stereo = happy family.

Secret#2: Get Involved in Local Groups

I go to about 4 or 5 meetings/playgroups a month. Once a week at least. Counting it up that way seems like a lot, but it’s so worth it. Not only did getting involved in a local mom’s Meetup group help me to meet one of my closest friends, Leslie, it brought Cedella her BFF Anna. So thankful that for the small time I participated in the group I was able to meet Leslie (she gets bloggy with it at Pretending to be a Grownup, go visit her so she’ll write some more :)), and from there Katie. And being involved in both the local LansingBabywearers and Delta-Waverly La Leche League has allowed me to meet and befriend so many awesome mamas like Gwen, Cindy, Kristy, Meghan, Jessie, Zaje, Mia and the aforementioned Nicole and Ashley.  Not to mention our amazing birth center (which sadly closed in October) which brought me so many more life-long friends like Annie, Heather, Molly, Clarice and Audra. Finding all these outstanding ladies to connect with has been a life-saver. Knowing that there’s always someone to vent to or get suggestions from keeps me from feeling like my children are conspiring to kill me. Thanks ladies 😉

Secret#3: Getting dressed

Now I love my yoga pants as much as everyone else, don’t get me wrong. I can be found in them pretty constantly when I’m in the house. But I do not wear them in public. Unless I’m literally going to a yoga class. When I leave the house I get dressed like I would have when I had a job. Granted I wear more jeans than I would have to work, but jeans wash anyway sticky kid handprints better than dress pants. And I wear makeup. Full face, definitely mascara, sometimes lipstick (but usually chapstick). Every time. It makes me feel like a whole person and not only somebody’s Mommy. Though it may be hard to find clothes to accommodate both my mama body and my fashion sense (see RANT here) it’s worth it to find fun clothes that make you feel good about your self. Yes, it has meant buying a bigger size than before I was pregnant. But it’s worth every penny to feel cool and confident and ::gasp:: sexy again. Also, by getting yourself in order you project the image that you are organized and have things all together. That leads me to…

Secret #4: Let the House be Messy

Being all put together and fashionable in public no one will ever know or even care that your house is a total disaster. Because if you can put on mascara before a playdate who cares if your sink is full of dirty dishes, right? But seriously this is one of the biggest things I’ve had to let go over the past 3ish years. Since becoming a SAHM there is such a battle over what my actual role and job is. Am I Chief Child Care Provider only? Or Nanny with a splash of Housekeeper? Some days I feel like I’m an all-out indentured servant. But it’s ok, because after nearly a year of caring for a small child and trying to keep my house immaculate I gave up. Toys are always on the floor, there’s always a laundry mountain in the corner of a bedroom and there are dishes in the sink. And you know what else? My children are clean and smart and loving. They have oodles of time to play and learn and laugh with their mama. And that is really more important than spotless floors, no?

Secret #5: Invite Someone Over

But whenever you’re feeling like the entire cluttered mess is getting out of control and you just can’t take it anymore…invite some friends over to play, or better yet, for dinner. Cause then you have to clean the house. And usually you only have like two hours to do it. I get more done in that way than I ever do when I have a full day with nothing on the schedule. And usually it stays that way for days after. I hit every single room (except our bedroom) and the whole house is wonderful for at least a week. I’m seriously considering weekly dinner parties…

Secret #6: Stop doing things that you’re not getting help with.

Or perhaps my most important tip for household woes. When my husband stopped putting his dirty clothes in the hamper (cause I’m not his mama and refuse to pick his dirty drawls up off the floor two feet away from said hamper) I stopped doing his laundry. One day he had no clean underwear. He was a little pissed. I was more pissed. For the most part he’s pretty good about getting the things in the hamper now. And doing dishes. And every once in a while he surprises me by taking the garbage out before I’ve removed it from the bin and propped it up against the back door. It’s the little things…

Secret #7:  Alone Time/Mom’s Night Out

And my above all gotta-make-time-for-it secret is to get out of the house with only other ladies in tow and have some fun!! It could be dinner and a movie or dinner and drinks or just dinner. Huh. Apparently my girl’s night outs always have something to do with food. Or drinks. Well, let’s be honest, that’s a great place to start. Whatever you do make it a regular thing. I still go to the book club at my old library, driving over an hour in various weather conditions once a month to see my amazing book-loving friends. Not just because I can’t find another book club but because it’s my thing, my regular monthly night to talk to other adults. It is like air to me at this point. Plan these things in advance and just do them. If someone asks you to go do something without your children for heaven’s sake just. say. yes. And at the end of the night, when you’ve had a great time, schedule the next one!

Hope that some of this Mama wisdom is helpful to you. As always take it with a grain of salt and use whatever works for your family. But please, remember, your family only runs well if it’s engine, it’s brain, it’s soul, it’s Mother, is doing well. Take care of yourself and everything else will fall into place. We as mothers and women need to start treating ourselves with respect and loving ourselves. Cause we really do make the world go round.

Love to each and every one of you who reads this.

Photo from one a Ladie’s Night Out last summer. These ladies. They help me stay sane by getting a little crazy. If you know what I mean 😉

 

 

 

 

 

The Trouble of Two

Words haven’t been easy to come by. That’s not quite right. It’s time that hasn’t been easy to come by these days.

I’ve got plenty of words. Most of them have four letters. The one I use the most has ten.

F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-E-D.

Everything seems tricky these days. Even eating lunch is a full scale production that takes nearly an hour. Getting the three of us dressed and ready in the morning? 45 minutes on a good day (2 hours the other day. 2 HOURS.) And don’t get me started on naps. And that’s just the normal things we have to get done every day.

Our home, our life, even my car seems to be disorganized, disheveled and chaotic.

It sucks.

When Cedella was born and I was learning how to be home and how to fill our days and how to get along in a new city, life seemed so incredibly hard.

And then being pregnant chasing a toddler was just so challenging.

We walked into the house from the birth center on the day Isora was born and perhaps a bag of crazy followed us in the back door. Cause it’s been pretty cuckoo ever since.

Truth is that The Biz is only 8 months old. Only 8 months old? And holy shit she’s already 8 months old.

Seems like once I recovered from her labor we were fast to get into a routine and our leisurely pace to things. The three of us took naps together, or I let the girls sleep and was actually able to ::gasp:: mop the floor! It was as if Isora had always been in our family and our lives hadn’t really changed too much.

We had a summer full of travel and playgrounds and pools and fun. And maybe because we were so busy and so relaxed about things I didn’t see the Beautiful Monster growing right beside me.

Cedella is 2 years and 10 months old. And she thinks she runs our household. Over the past year as she has grown in independence, she has grown in bossiness. The more she learns the more she feels empowered and the more she thinks she’s in charge of all of us.

In the first few months of Isora’s life, Cedella was never mean to her sister. In fact she smothered her with love and affection. She reserved all of her anger and meanness for Michael and me.

But for the past month, now that Isora is sitting, crawling, standing and getting into everything? Cedella is being downright nasty to her sister. There’s a lot of snatching toys out of the baby’s hands, pushing the baby over, tackling her to the ground, shouting in her face. Which means there’s also a lot of shouting and time outs happening.

I talked all about the gentle discipline methods that we try to use in my guest post on Hormonal Imbalances The Gentle Road… and we are still very much attempting to practice these methods but it is just HARD.

There are moments when it takes every single cell in my body wants to grab my child, throw her over my leg and spank her butt. But I know that I just can’t do it…because I have. And it was HARDER.

Yes. I spanked my child. I was trying with absolutely no success to get her to settle down and stop messing with her sister. She began screaming “NO!” at the top of her lungs and just wouldn’t stop. She started screaming right into her sister’s face and Iz started crying. And I grabbed her, put her over my knee and smacked her little behind sharply three times.

The air in the room seemed to change. Her whining became a full-fledged cry of pain. When I sat her up and looked at her face she was bright red. She was gasping for air and she wouldn’t look me in the eye. Tears streamed down her face and I had an instant and guttural memory of being spanked as a child.

I grabbed her and picked up Izzie and held them both in my arms, all of crying and shaking and screaming. I knew I could never put her through that again. I couldn’t put myself through that again.

So I try. I really really try to be more patient. Not to immediately raise my voice. To look at things from her perspective. To let go of the small things and laugh things off. But I can’t handle the violence between the girls.

I know siblings fight. I’m not expecting them to always get along and never argue. But this early? It’s just too much. And it’s all Cedella being aggresive right now. What’s going to happen when Iz gets big enough to fight back? I shudder to think.

At this point I don’t know how to get anything done if I can’t even put Isora down for a few minutes without Cedella giving her a black eye. Load the dishwasher? Can’t do it with Izzie in a carrier and can’t do it with Izzie on the floor. Something as simple as loading the dishwasher becomes a major problem and takes three times as long.

Organize the toys? The second they’re all away, Cedella takes them all back out again.

Put the books on the shelf? She’ll take them all down.

Clothes hung in the closet? She decides to put on a fashion show and take everything off the hangers.

And poor Izzie. I spend so much time talking to and disciplining Cedella that the Biz always gets the short end of the stick. And right now she’s going through a growth spurt, wants to nurse constantly and will not be set down. Ever.

I can’t pick up my phone to make a phone call without it directly signaling at least one of the children to have a melt down. I cannot go to the bathroom without an entourage. My house is a complete disaster area and I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other dog’s worth of white fur on my floors. I can’t find clean socks or underwear for the kids because if they’re clean they’re in a laundry basket and if they’re dirty they’re in a laundry basket and it’s hard to tell which is which some days.

I know that with Cedella I really didn’t start feeling like a had things together until around 11 months. And then she learned to walk and got a mouth full of teeth at once. And all our scheduling and sleeping and organization went to hell again.

So I know that some day things will get easier. But right now? They are hard. And as Isora enters this clingy phase and still has no teeth (I am waiting with bated breath for that shoe to drop already) I know it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

My whole second pregnancy I felt like people were trying to prepare me for the Trouble of Two. That it is just so much harder when there’s two. But it’s not that much harder than one. So you have to pack slightly more in the diaper bag. A bit more food. More clean clothes. More diapers. But not THAT much more. Just more. (BTW my Mom has already said that three is nothing once you get used to two. Is that for real though?)

Since I’ve had the pleasure of having more than a few nights of putting the girls to bed on my own I have to say, once I got the routine down, it wasn’t too bad at all. Maybe a bit stressed, but not horrible.

I think where the Trouble of Two comes in is the personality of the kids. Something you could never never ever prepare for. If Cedella was the easy kid and Isora was the tricky one made things would be easier. I could just pop the tricky kid in the carrier and call it a day. But no, I’m not popping my tricky kid into the carrier and going on about my day. My chiropractor would NOT be pleased with that!

So what’s the solution? Obviously spanking is out. Time outs are pretty much a joke. Taking away toys or sweets or cartoons doesn’t really work. Taking away playdates gets her thinking but still doesn’t curb the bad behavior. What else should I try?

Suggestions and comments are always welcome because I trust all of you and am literally at the end of my rope here…

And just so that you don’t think my kids are always so unreasonable and evil…

Thanks for giving me the opportunity for a good old fashioned rant. I needed that.