Motherhood is fraught with illusions of passing boats, convincing me that this is just a time of waiting: waiting for my boat, waiting for my turn, waiting for my next, like motherhood is just an in-between stage. I anticipate and prepare for the “after our kids…” instead of investing and digging into my NOW.
I’ve seen that when learning comes naturally to a student, they get accustomed to it being easy, so when they are faced with difficulty, the willingness to keep trying and push through frustration is more indicative of long-term success to me than if they can get stuff on their first try. Eventually they will be faced with hard stuff. How will they respond? Kids that keep trying and don’t give up surpass everybody!
We are so close to returning to civilization, our hands totally free. They will no longer be filled with a tiny hand as you cross the street or with that squishy little body in the rocking chair; we won’t have to use them to spoon-feed a mouth or turn the pages of a book; we won’t use them to haul around a bag full of 18,000 essentials or to clean up twice as many messes.
But then I think back to my education degree and remind myself that Hattie just turned THREE, and this pressure that has been created to have my kids literate by the age of 4 and performing long-division by 5 and composing symphonies by 6 WAS NOT created by teachers or child development researchers but by the pressures of a flawed system and competitive parents.
Here are some activities that keep all three of my kids (4, 3 and 1) entertained for at least 30 straight (almost) uninterrupted minutes.
MY CLOTHES. I can’t wear an outfit for 5 seconds before something is spit up on it or spilled on it or wiped on it. Can my Target clothes stand up to this kind of laundering? The answer is no.
It’s been one of those weeks. And it’s Wednesday.
I have found that “those” weeks are placed directly after the really awesome weeks, as not to inflate my sense of mom-awesomeness. Momsomeness? Mawesomeness? Mmk. Last week was Clark’s first full week back to school (for practice and inservice) and the Lord taunted me with a smooth and breezy week to break me in to this new life. Monday, I got the babes decked out in their Steer red, white, and blue for Booster Bash at the football field (only to realize the event lasted a full 8 minutes); I toted them to the grocery store Tuesday and got $180 worth of groceries without any tears; entertained in the stands Thursday night at the football scrimmage; and then got all children to bed by 8 (first time in the history of EVER) Friday night while Clark was off scouting; I swept the floor almost every day, dished out less than three spankings throughout the week, and cooked dinner 5 friggin’ nights.
So what I’m saying is I should have seen it coming. Pride cometh before the fall.
My first mistake was cheating on Hayes’ diet restrictions and eating 2 … okay 3 chocolate chip cookies. And three scoops of the dough. Then, I tried to drink a cup of decaf coffee and TURNS OUT decaf coffee is not so decaf. Google it. This led to a rough few days which led to a rough few nights which led to a grumpy mother which led to “Y’all watch a movie on the iPad while mommy lays on the bed” which led to time outs and bad choices and stomping feet and “Well hell, I can’t parent right now. Can I quit?”
Then we ran out of food.
My plan to go to the grocery store alone on Monday night failed when Hayes screamed till 11:30 so Tuesday morning with the brood it was. I foolishly texted my friend who offered to keep one of them, “They usually do okay as long as I crack open some muffins.”
Pride goeth before the fall.
I wrap Hayes on me, load Hattie in the front of the cart and Charlee in the back. We are on Aisle 5 with approximately a third of the cart full when I get a whiff of stank. Hayes always picks the most opportune moments to poop his pants so why not now? As I shuffle us all towards the bathroom, I’m mentally digging through my diaper bag trying to determine if I even have wet wipes and a diaper. Because I’m so on top of things, I do. But because I’m NEVER on top of things, and knowing that this was certainly a blowout (as that is the only type of dirty diaper that exists in Hayesville), I definitely do not have a change of clothes for him.
** sidenote — Flashback to two weeks ago when I did the walk of shame out of a restaurant bathroom with a naked Hayes while eating lunch with a sweet couple we’d just met that took us out after church. Did I learn my lesson? No. I am a gamblin’ man and a loser. **
I unload the cart of children, grab the diaper bag and usher them into the bathroom to survey the damage. For Hayes, not too bad. It got on his pajamas (because why should babies wear real clothes in public) a little bit but I wipe it off with a wet wipe. Totally fine. I bathe him in wet wipes and saddle him back into the Sleepy Wrap but the screams don’t stop as expected. I mean, he’s at a full-fledged 10.
As I’m attempting to shove a paci into the mouth of a feral kitten, I see Hattie’s shorts on the floor of the bathroom and hear Charlee sweetly coercing her in the stall, “You can go tee-tee in the big potty! Here. Take off your diaper.” SAY WHAAAAT? “NO MA’AM! You can NOT! DO NOT REMOVE THE DIAPER!! DIAPER DOES NOT COME OFF!” (Baby still screaming. Elderly women walking in and leaving again.) “Put your shorts back on right now.” (Hattie crying, Hayes crying, Charlee looking at me like I’ve lost my dang mind. It’s fine. I have.)
I’m furiously beebopping the baby back and forth when I think, “His bottom was really red I think. He probably had that poop in his diaper for a while. Do I have any diaper cream?” Of course not. He’s never had a rash before. Why would I have diaper cream? I unload him back out of the wrap and undress him again to find a bright red bottom. I dig through the diaper bag in desperation and find nipple cream… it’s probably the same thing, right? Without googling “Can I put nipple cream on my baby’s diaper rash” I lather that bad boy on and stick him back in as Hattie continues to attempt to put her shorts on upside-down. Unsuccessfully. While sitting on the floor of the Wal Mart bathroom. What. Ever.
Internally I debate, do I just leave the basket of groceries and get in the car and leave? A day of hunger won’t kill them. Will we survive this trip?
We get her shorts situated, I bounce Hayes back and forth for another couple of minutes and he finally calms down to a 2. Then we make our way towards the door. I half expect there to be a crowd gathered outside of the bathroom exit trying to figure out what all the commotion is but only a couple of people are staring. I try to smile a “I’ve totally got this under control” smile as I wipe away the sweat dripping down my temples.
I load the girls back into the cart and proceed to give them a pep talk (“I need both of you to listen to mommy and follow directions RIGHT NOW … “), Hayes passes out in the wrap, and we press on. They ended up doing great and we now have food and we made it home and I still like them.
What I’m saying is I’m now doing all my grocery shopping online.
These are the days, my friends. Tomorrow will be better. Because tomorrow we won’t have to go to the grocery store.