About Last Night: A Tale of Poop and Parenthood

No matter how exhausted I am, I procrastinate going to sleep. Life is chaos these days, and I crave the semi-quiet hours after the kids go to bed. So after dinner and dishes and laundry and lunches I like to read or write or contemplate putting the clean laundry away before realizing that’s a terrible use of time. I also like to completely zone out and stare at my phone. The night hours are sacred.

But last night? Last night I went to bed early. EARLY!

I’ve been working out at 5:30 a.m. for the past few weeks, and with intermittently sick kids, sleep has been an endangered commodity in our home. I was giddy with the idea of turning in early and getting some quality rest.

But you know that saying, “[Wo]man plans and God laughs?” Well, let’s talk about how I got that reminder last night.

Here’s my timeline:

9:45 p.m. – I get in bed. Stretched, tossed my hair like a Disney princess, smiled, exhaled deeply and turned on white noise. I triumphantly passed out in 14 seconds from sheer exhaustion.

2:09 a.m. – Jolted awake when Maya wakes up screaming. Enter stage one of denial. Pretend it’s a dream.

2:26 a.m. – Maya continues to scream. I place a pillow over my head and aggressively start willing her to sleep in my mind. This can work, I know it can.

2:34 a.m. – I admit to myself she is not going back to bed, and since she’s been sick, and Jim is sick, I go to check on her. She needs snuggles and Tylenol. I trudge to the kitchen with her.

2:35 a.m. – I near the kitchen and smell something. I can’t quite place it, but it’s bad. Smell Maya’s bum…nope, not the source.

2:35 a.m. – Oh. Oh no. NO NO NO NO. Discover my dog had diarrhea in about 16 spots – all carpeted. Start to gag. Still holding crying baby. Question whether to put baby down to clean up poop, or desert the poop minefield to get the baby to sleep. Baby wins.

2:50 a.m. – Finally get Maya back to bed. Spend 20 minutes cleaning up dog poop, questioning my existence and true purpose in life. Lots of swearing. Gagging. Mild rage.

3 a.m. – Go back to bed. Too mad to sleep. Then even madder I’m wasting precious sleep time being mad about dog shit.

5 a.m. – Alarm goes off to work out. NO NO NO NO. Too early. Snooze.

5:10 a.m. – Re-awaken to a strange noise. It’s Lila singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at the top of her lungs, two hours before she usually wakes up. Again question my existence.

5:11 a.m. – Enter Lila’s room to discover every single toy and book strewn about. It’s basically like her room was struck by a violent toy tornado. The damage is impressive and terrifying all at once. I tell her to go back to bed and she launches into a most insane tantrum. This kid wakes up happy every single day. Why today was the once-in-a-lifetime anomaly I have no idea.

5:30 a.m. – Get Lila calm and settled through a series of positive reinforcement, hugs and shameless bribes. YES YOU CAN HAVE SPRINKLES FOR BREAKFAST. Eat my pre-workout meal. Curse my dog a few more times.

5:40: a.m. – Start workout. Initially feel like an uncoordinated donkey. End up feeling like a majestic unicorn gladiator.

6:30 a.m. – About to finish workout, feeling slightly redeemed about my life. Maya starts crying. I pause my workout to go and get her. She immediately poops. NOOOO I HAVE ONE MORE SET OF EXERCISES LEFT. Again the quandary of trying to finish something but needing to clean up poop. My OCD tendencies are having a ball with this one. Alas, the poop must wait as I finish the last few minutes of my workout.

6:40 a.m. – Change poopy diaper, get ready for work. Vow to go to bed early again tonight.

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10 times I won at life and/or parenting

Ever scroll through your iPhone camera roll and pause to scrutinize an image, to try to figure out what the heck it is, and why you took a picture of it?

It seems I have a lot of those images.

I never realized how often I did it, but apparently I’ve been compiling a whole collection of photos of awkward moments in my life. I’m not a hoarder, but I think I’m an over-documenter.

I hope this array of photos and (memorable?) moments makes you laugh, because each one of them may have made me cry at the point it was taken, but now, in retrospect, is kind of hysterical.

At the very least, I hope this gives you a “me too” sigh of relief and some extra reassurance that no one’s life is as peaceful or organized as their instagram feed may portray.

  1. That time I backed out of the garage before the door was fully up. Because it’s tricky, you know, to wait the full 10 seconds it takes for it to open. This may shed light on how smoothly getting out of the house with two kids goes for us on weekdays.
    garage
  2. When you wake up and realize there is no toilet paper. Like, none. So you say a prayer of thanks for Amazon Prime Now.
    tp
  3. Ever put up a Happy Birthday banner in August, and get around to taking it down in December? Truth be told, the pink butterflies grew on us.
    banner
  4. The day I actually got Maya to daycare ON TIME and she threw up all over me in the parking lot.
    puke
  5. Last month we went on a family picnic (my idea) and right after this picture was taken it started pouring and everything got soaked.
    picnic
  6. When your toddler drops a hair tie in the toilet (before flushing) and you have to fish it out so it doesn’t “go into the ocean like Nemo.”
    hair tie
  7. Why is there a Maglite in my bathroom, you may ask. Well, sometimes when a toddler chews a piece of her Lion King book into a spit wad, and shoves it up her nose at 10 p.m. and tells us – through hysterical sobs – that “SIMBA IS IN MY NOSE,” a Maglite, tweezers and strategic nose blowing come in handy. Note: it was successfully dislodged, and she no longer sleeps with books in bed.
    maglight
  8. The same toddler who dropped the hair tie in the potty and and put the King of Beasts up her nose also managed to lean forward into the menorah on the first night of Hanukkah this year, and singed a few hairs off the top of her head.
    menorah
  9. We’ve had the winter crud in our house for three weeks. This is a snapshot into what it’s been like to keep two sick kiddos entertained while they feel awful.
    floor
  10. And here’s our latest family photo, which I adore. But this image came after Lila got dog poop on her pants (outside bottom of her right leg – squint and you’ll see it), and had to be bribed with a lollipop to cooperate. Maya wasn’t feeling well, so the world’s happiest baby refused to crack a smile for a single photo. Jim and I had slept a combined six hours the night prior, and everyone was in a fabulous mood.
    pro photo

I like real life. I like oversharing. I love when things get messy and gnarly and hilarious. Each of these moments was HARD at the time, but I love looking back at how they weave together to tell our story in this season.

Maya at Four Months

Maya, you are four months old and an absolute delight.

I write lots of posts about you in my head, day after day, but getting them out and published has been tougher (time is a sparse commodity these days).

You are just the sweetest baby. You are so happy and content – I’ve never seen anything like it. You have a calm and joyful nature, full of smiles and rarely ever crying or upset. Even when you do cry to momentarily alert us that you’re done napping, or would like some attention, as soon as we smile at you and greet you, you give us a huge smile as if to say, “Just kidding guys! All good here!”

Your teachers have told me verbatim, “We love her. She’s the kind of baby we all dream of taking care of.”

You maintain some strange eating habits. Sometimes you only want to eat a few times a day, and are easily distracted or disinterested in nursing or bottles, yet you’re healthy and growing so quickly! At your four-month well check you were in the 80th percentile for weight (15.12), 89th percentile for height, and your head was in the 93rd percentile.

You can roll onto your side and are much more interested in tummy time now that you can lift your noggin up and look around. You discovered your toes this week and now we can find you peacefully holding onto them while observing the world around you.

You love to snuggle and nuzzle in my neck which is my favorite right before your bedtime. You like the bath, your carseat and being worn.

You are endlessly patient with your big sister’s efforts to play with you and feed you, and seem to enjoy watching her. You are chattering, cooing and shrieking all the time, and finally getting into a good sleeping routine. Your bedtime is 7 p.m., and after a dreamfeed around 10, you’re typically only up once more to eat before waking for the day around 6:30 or 7 a.m.

We love you so much and how you have completed our family.

 

motherhood is the greatest equalizer

momsToday I saw a mom in a moment of complete distress. The kind of situation where everything around you kind of blurs and quiets, and you’re laser-focused only on what’s happening right in front of you. A woman I know who is unfailingly poised and stoic got a phone call with emergency news about her son, and completely fell apart.

My heart sank. I froze. I wanted to throw up just hearing her cry.

And I realized in this moment – in which I was so peripherally involved – that all that mattered was whatever might ease what she was experiencing. That was it.

I didn’t care if she nursed or co-slept or let her kids watch tv or worked full-time or if her kids ever bolted away from her at a zoo. In this moment, I felt an overwhelming awareness that as moms, we’re all in this together on a pretty fundamental level. That the greatest equalizer we’ll ever know is the love we have for our babies.

There are so many ways moms judge and evaluate one another these days – it’s even become popular to jokingly use that term – “Don’t judge me…” or, “I sort of had to judge her…” There’s an endless list of qualifying questions we like to know about each other, to gauge how aligned we are, how comfortable and unguarded we can be. Part of that is fun and natural, to be vulnerable and find affinity with new friends – if nothing else it’s common ground for conversation. But sometimes it goes too far, and instead of working to bridge differences, it forces us to put up blocks.

So much of what we use to filter thoughts and judgments about others is irrelevant. There are so few things we can actually control, yet it’s amazing to see how parents lash out at one another for discrepancies in how things are done.

Amazing things happen when we’re open to new ideas and approaches. If instead of defaulting to the horrified, “I would never do that, and here are all the reasons XX is better,” re-train your response to be more along the lines of, “She feels XX is the best for her family, and I wonder what I can learn from her way of thinking.” It sounds completely cheesy and foreign, I know, but how cool would it be if we all were a little more open to learning about each other instead of compartmentalizing everyone? After all, we’re all doing what we believe is our very best.

 

On love and motherhood.

The depths of your love. 

…For your child. When she runs to you at toddler warp speed, arms waving and feet thumping noisily against the ground, squealing and panting in pure joy at the sight of you, to throw her arms around you in triumph. 

When she sleeps so peacefully you just stand and stare in silence. She’s finally still after days of non-stop energy. Her even rhythmic breaths, tiny hand twitches and perfect profile illuminated by the nightlight. You tear up, every time, because you cannot fathom that this was created within you. 

When she melts down, has loud tantrums, pulls your hair and kicks her shoes off, and you love her even harder because you hate her unhappiness in those moments, as trying as they are.

…For your husband. Who stood steadily by your side as you endured the physical and emotional pain of labor. Just as clueless and terrified as you, but forced to be the rock as you both waited for your world to change. 

Who was just as tired as you were, and just as in love with your wee one, but who had to go back to work two weeks later while you had months to bond and learn each other. Who took care of your dogs and your meals and frankly your sanity while you figured out nursing and bottles and went weeks without normal conversation.

Who you form an breakable bond with over the love only you two can know for your child. What an amazing notion that this thing – this love without bounds that takes your breath away – can be known by another?

…For your own parents. Who did this all for you. Who knowingly watch you make the same mistakes and all-knowing proclamations that all new parents do, without ever questioning or judging.

Who stressed over what brand of car seat and high chair to buy you before there was an Internet to use for research. Yeah, chew on that. 

And who feared for the world their children would grow up in, just like you do. 

You hear all the time that having a child breaks open your heart and ignites your  ability to love. I’ve previously compared it to seeing the world in color versus black and white. The way you perceive every aspect of life is forever enhanced and made brighter.

Mother’s Day is not always an easy day. For many it brings joy, but for others it’s the cause of hard feelings and emotions. Regardless of where the day finds you, know that you are loved, and that it’s ok to feel whatever you need to feel today. 

Pardon the peanut butter on my pants 

As I wiped peanut butter off my slacks with a wet paper towel in the women’s restroom this morning, a younger female colleague walked in. Initially I was kind of embarrassed and tried to cover up what was happening from this innocent person still safely cocooned from the madness of parenthood. 

But, ever-phobic of awkward silences, I played it cool for about 1.5 seconds before blurting out an enthusiastic version of, “My daughter wiped her peanut-butter hands all over me while I was washing yogurt out of her hair, and I thought I got it all, but guess not!” 

And this gal 10 years my junior gave me a compliment more meaningful that she ever could have planned. 

“I can’t believe you’re a mom before you come in here, that’s just so impressive that you do all that. I can’t even imagine. You’re awesome.”

I’ve been given all kinds of advice as a woman in the corporate workplace, some spot-on, other pieces wildly offensive. The ones that really irk me though are the pieces that seem to detach motherhood from a woman’s career – rather than letting the two intermingle. 

“Don’t ever tell anyone when you’re thinking about getting pregnant, people will write you off.”

“When you come back from maternity leave, you can’t cry or show that you’re emotional, it sends the wrong signal.”

I understand this advice, I really do. And I recognize that it’s always been well intended, offered up from those who’ve traveled this road before me. But it supports the outdated idea that work-life balance is easy…”I shall work now without a thought of my family for nine hours, and completely transition to home life as the clock strives 5!” 

There’s no perfect balance in any one person’s situation, but I wish there was a greater focus on work-life integration – how to support employees at work so they also feel supported at home. It’s not realistic to compartmentalize our lives in ways that stifle important parts of it. 

If you’re showered and wearing matching shoes when you come back from maternity leave, you are a champion human being. And if you can balance your family commitments and still show up ready to kill it at work each day, you deserve every possible type of recognition. Not just kudos for wearing a lot of hats, but support and flexibility when you need it to keep all the planes in the air. 

That funny little interaction this morning was such a refreshing pat on the back that it’s ok for more traces of one side of life to bleed over onto the others, even if it ruins your outfit. 

  

Lila at 18 Months: Outside! No! More!

I posed the following question to Lila this weekend, “Sweetheart, do you feel like you live in a foreign country for giants?”

Because seriously.

This tiny human babbles to us in a language we’re just beginning to be able to comprehend, and navigates a world where she can’t reach, see or maneuver the things she wants on a daily basis.

This age is so fun and so hard. Fun because we are really starting to communicate. You answer no (and occasionally, yes) to questions and express consistent demands. “More!” “Outside!” You have so many more words than even a few weeks ago (outside, owl, sock, open, apple, elbow (or Elmo, hard to say) and so many awesome animal impersonations.

You are content to spend hours outside in the backyard and on walks, and love your slide and playhouse. You like to watch and mimic what mom and dad do, which is a great help in yard work. You do not like to go to bed.

We know when you are happy, angry, tired or scared (verses early infancy when there were fewer distinct emotions). When you hear loud trucks or motorcycles, which previously were ignored, you now start repeating, “No, no, no, no” and run to use to be held. Confession: I do not mind this one bit.

A new favorite pastime is climbing into your plastic laundry hamper so we can push you around the house in it like a racecar. You are also fascinated with buckles of any kind. You can buckle yourself into your highchair and swing and it is a painstakingly slow process that we DARE NOT interrupt. You wave at airplanes and tell strangers “hi” and “buh-bye” everywhere we go. You love to climb and are remarkably strong, I often can’t get things out of your grip without a proper distraction.

You went through a dramatic food throwing stage for a few weeks that seems to be passing, but you have definitely moved past the garbage disposal stage of eating. Now you are still into most foods, but too busy to sit and eat. You prefer to grab a bite, run around, come back for more and repeat.

You love school but drop off is still a dramatic event most days where I hear you screaming my entire walk out. I’m told it’s your age, and that it’s normal, and that it passes 30 seconds after I leave, but it’s the worst part of my day to leave you screaming. The best part of day, that has me speeding the whole drive home, is walking in to get you. As soon as you see me you shriek and smile and run over laughing. Best. Thing. Ever.

I feel like we are friends, you and me. That may be a silly thing to say about a toddler who can’t really verbalize much yet, but it seems completely fitting. I am in constant awe of you and of our connection in a pinch-myself-is-this-real kind of daze. I constantly ponder the miracle of your creation and how truly remarkable you are. How fully you embrace parts of your dad and me, but also how parts of you are innately unique.

It’s weird how fast and how slow time goes at different moments, but ever since you were born I’m so much more aware of time. Of days starting and ending, the culmination of a month, the significance of a year. I think that’s an entirely new perspective gained as a parent. No matter how fast or slow it goes, it’s amazing to spend it with you.

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