Sure, moving sucks, but at least with all those spare boxes you can save a ton of money on a babysitter, right?
Yesterday while walking home after picking my husband up from work, I was, to put it simply, wigging out. This week Baby 1.0 appears to have dropped her last remaining nap. Though each day we try, and try again, she just won’t fall asleep, and by 5 o’clock, we are both at our wits end. Nearly in tears, I explained to him how each step has been so hard for us, and I just have never felt like we were really getting it, if you get what I’m saying. This whole time we’ve been surviving, but I have never felt like we are thriving. With her deciding this week to drop her last remaining nap, yet again, I am left scrambling as I figure out how to manage this next developmental stage.
Today the frustrations again reared their ugly head after I lowered a sleeping child into her crib, just to watch her eyes pop open, and remain open. How stupid was I to think that for the first time this week, I would get to pee alone, and then eat a sandwich without someone screaming for me to draw another picture of a cat.
Now before you get all “It could be worse on me” trust me, I get it. The guilt of feeling frustrated and complaining that my healthy, wonderful child won’t sleep or eat when there are people with sick kids, or worse, no kids due to some tragic situation, makes me feel absolutely despicable. I should just be thankful I have a kid, right?
But for the love of all that’s holy, would it be too much to ask that the kid I have just eat a meal or two every day without me having to chase her around the house with 18 different options, and then, because she is tired and needs it, get a little sleep? It’s eating and sleeping, I’m asking for here, not the solution for the conflict in the Middle East.
So what do I do? What can I do, other than just put one frustrated foot in front of the other, and carry on as we always have, waiting for us to both settle into yet another new pattern. I’ve been through enough with Baby 1.0 to understand this is temporary, and in no time at all we will both adjust to 13 hours of awake toddler-time. But until then, all I want to do is cry, eat four chocolate croissants, and whine about it on a very public platform. When does this get easy?
It happens so fast. Although I’ve never been in a tornado, the aftermath appears the same. Toys, trash, food and clothes are scattered everywhere. The three lowest shelves on the bookshelf have been completely emptied, the books strewn haphazardly around the living room. A windowsill has been broken, leaving a piece of molding dangling carelessly, inches from the floor. Glancing towards the door I see what is either a turd or a half-eaten teething biscuit, peeking out from under a stray boot. “Please don’t be a turd” I say to no one in particular. The cats cautiously navigate the mess with curiosity and a mild degree of fear, which I echo. My husband exits the bathroom, steps over a soccer ball, dodges a laundry basket and nearly crushes a set of custom paper mache finger puppets and sighs. The only one who seems unaffected is Baby 1.0, who is contentedly shredding pages out of a magazine. “What happened?” he asks. “She woke up,” I reply.
This mess, this unbelievable mess, is Baby 1.0’s mission in life right now. There are few things that bring her more joy than dumping, smearing, swiping, emptying and otherwise removing the contents of anything that has contents. From baskets of blocks to bowls of blueberries, nothing is safe from ending up in a pile on the floor. The white carpeted floor, mind you, which is quickly starting to take the appearance of Desert Storm-era khaki camouflage. The fridge seems to have become a breeding ground where tiny containers spawn other tiny containers, all filled with a few bites of food Baby 1.0 has decided she no longer likes. The windows and sliding glass door are nearly opaque with sticky finger prints and tongue marks alike.
But the mess isn’t contained to the play area, or even the house for that matter. The car looks like a giant hamster nest, with enough Cheerios, raisins, and shredded paper to sustain a family of 4, and keep them warm in even the coldest of winter nights. The stroller, no matter what I do, seems to always have a new crop of crumbs escaping out of crevices, waiting to be ground into the carpet, or be gobbled up by grubby fingers on the way home from the park. Somehow we even leave the park looking dirtier than it was, with a trail of wood chips following us home, as if we were the lumber-jack version of Hansel and Gretel.
For the most part, the mess doesn’t bother me. Or at least it didn’t until this morning when I was hunched over the sink, eating second breakfast, nestled between a greasy paper bag waiting to be taken out to the compost, and what remained of the bowl of aforementioned blueberries rescued from the carpet. But standing there, disintegrating breakfast burrito in hand, I couldn’t help but wonder, am I super gross, or is my acceptance of this mess a survival mechanism? I tend to lean more towards the latter, because it’s not like I don’t try. All day, every day, I am constantly picking up here and there. But the mess multiplies in a way I can never keep up with. And so things happen, like a greasy paper bag, waiting on the counter for days to finally make it down to the compost.
I suppose this is just par for the course, and in due time she will learn to help us pick it up and put it away. So for now, I think I will stay the course, and do my best to simultaneously turn a blind eye, and try not to fall victim to the dreaded full-bodyweight-on-a-lego scenario.
So who’s with me? Any other parents out there with houses that could potentially be confused for an episode of Hoarders?
You know what they say: Reading is good for the body and the mind.
Have a funny picture of your tot doing something silly? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll turn it into a Parenting In 5 Words Or Less!
A letter to Baby 1.0, days before you turn 18 months old.
Oh Baby 1.0, you are growing so fast. It seems like just yesterday you came into this world, with your head full of black hair, and your tiny pink lips. It’s no secret we had a bit of a rough start, but that doesn’t take away from how much I love you, and have loved you, from the very first second of your known existence. Every day you grow, and every day you change. Looking back, there is already so much I fear I’ve forgotten, little details buried under more recent developments that are equally as important. So today I will write you this, in hopes that someday, you can look back and know how I was feeling days before your 18 month birthday, and if not you, then me when I am days away from your 18th year birthday, and I want to rip my hair out because you have decided to get a neck tattoo and run away with a biker gang to Costa Rica.
-You sing songs and communicate with us by meows. You also seem to think you have kitty cat hands and feet, and often hold them up to me requesting I kiss them by making a pouty face and sadly meowing at me until I do it. In fact, as we discovered tonight, you actually quite like it when we talk to you and pet you like you are a cat. (Note to self: socialize Baby 1.0 with more babies, and attempt to reinforce she is indeed a baby.)
-Speaking of animals, you love dogs. I mean, you really love dogs. The way you say it “dawg dawg daaawg” makes me laugh every time.
-You have an insatiable appetite for dancing to questionable music. To be fair, it’s not all questionable, as you will dance to anything that makes a rhythmic sound (including the dryer), but you appear to show a strong preference for pop, much to your daddy’s chagrin. I may or may not have introduced you to that pop, so I don’t care much. I just like to see you happy. We both do.
-You still have baby breath, and it is the most amazing smell in the whole world. Sometimes while I’m rocking you to sleep and you are breathing tiny puffs of air in my face, I close my eyes and try with all my might to put that smell so deep in my brain I will never forget it. It is the only thing about you that is still baby-like, as you are turning into a little girl faster than I am prepared for.
-You love books. You have always loved books, but the bigger you get, and the more capable you are at handling them, the more you love them. I hope you always feel this way.
-You are so smart. I can’t imagine this ever changing, but you never cease to amaze your daddy and I with how much you know. You just have to see us doing something once, and for better or worse, with enough time, you will figure it out.
-You show an incredible degree of empathy for humans and animals alike. When our rambunctious young male cat picks on our old female cat, you drop everything to break it up, and then calm our old lady. When someone is crying, you are right there to pat them on the back, or participate in a good old-fashioned sympathy cry. You have a good heart, little baby. I hope that never changes.
-You are fearless. There is no play structure too high, no hill too steep. You take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’ and this is equal parts admirable and terrifying. I hope you continue to toe the line here, and never fall too far on one side or the other.
-You love your daddy. I get that, he’s a pretty great guy. Watching the two of you together, laughing and being silly? It doesn’t get any better. I hope you always think he is as funny as he thinks he is, though I worry one day you will think both of us are actually quite embarrassing.
-You are loved. Though you’ve never been a snuggly baby, occasionally when I do get an extra long hug in, the feeling of your little body in my arms is enough. It’s all I could ever ask for in this world. You are all I could ever ask for in this world. I may make light of the parenting undesirables, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t change one single thing about our experience together. You are truly my sunshine, little baby. I love you so much.
We have another guest appearance today! Let’s give a warm welcome to this handsome little man, who ragamuffin hair or not, is still quite a charmer!
Got a picture of your own kid you’d like to see featured on Hold Me, Don’t Hold Me? Send them to email@example.com with a little background info, and I’ll turn them into the next Parenting In 5 Words Or Less.
High-five, Cosmopolitan magazine, you’ve really outdone yourself this time. For as long as I can remember, you and your pack of underweight, photoshopped, pop-stars have been haunting check out lines and doctor’s offices, but until this weekend, I’ve never taken the bait. And now? Well now I just can’t stop shaking my head.
Let me explain. Since getting married, I’ve started receiving random magazines in the mail. Latina now comes on a monthly basis, as does the old standby, Redbook. This weekend, a new magazine showed up in my mailbox. One with bright colors and bold promises splashed across a cover bearing the face of a generic 20-something, with multicolored hair and talons for nails. “LOOK SEXY NOW Make Them OBSESSED With You!” one headline screams at me in pink and yellow font. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t being obsessed kind of a bad thing? “Hot Tips for Hot Lips + Hair + Skin + Nails” reads another. Thank God, because what I need in my life
are some hot lips is a ninety-eight hour nap. Oh Cosmo, how did you find me?
For some reason, unlike Latina and Redbook, instead of just throwing it in the basket with the other magazines I am apparently hoarding, I decided to take a little looky loo.
Flipping it open, the first thing that hits me is the smell. What is that smell?! My nose is confused, and is alerting me to dangerous levels of bug spray and rotting fruit. I flip through half the magazine, away from the offending perfume ad, and find myself looking at a page covered in what turns out to be blush. The headline reads: “Q+A Your Burning Blush Q’s”. Immediately I think, who could possibly have a question about blush that would be defined as “burning”? Do people actually wear blush on nights other than Halloween or their wedding? Reading on, I encounter a few blush-related brain busters, with the crowning jewel being, “What if I’ve put on too much?” This question is a “burning” blush question? What do you do if you put on too much blush? Wow. Here’s my “burning blush question”: Have you tried putting on less blush? Or maybe not wearing blush? More importantly, how have you found yourself in a situation where you’ve put on too much blush, so many times, you need to write into a magazine about it?
After staring at the page with a look of confusion and concern long enough to start seeing a magic eye in all of the crushed, smeared and spilled blush, I flip a few more pages to an interesting article called, “Hey, Can I Borrow That?” Here, the fine people of Cosmo go through your beauty supplies, and tell you “worst case scenario” what you could get by sharing aforementioned supplies with your friends, who according to Cosmo, seem to be incubators for a number of serious diseases. Here, I learn sharing a razor could give you HIV, sharing a face-cleaning brush (this is a thing?) could give you a skin infection, sharing anything that touches your eyes could give you conjunctivitis, and anything that touches your lips could give you a cold. Okay, fair enough. Since my beauty regime consists of lotion when I remember, and some chapstick before bed, I think I’m all set here. But good to know that the next time my friend asks if I want to borrow her “face-cleaning brush” maybe I should think twice.
Flipping through more pages, at a much quicker pace as my interest is waning, I see what appears to be some sort of drunken clown woman dressed in an oversize handkerchief, attempting to emulate a dying bird. She is perched in front of a window with blinds being blown askew, which reminds me Baby 1.0 has torn down one of the same sort of blinds in our house, and I need to figure out a way to reattach it before our security deposit gets dinged.
Moving on, I turn to a page with the title “3 Secret Kink Props Hiding In Your House” and because when I initially read it, I thought it was talking about popsicles, I read on. Quickly I discover this is not about popsicles, but rather makeshift sex toys the common female already owns. They have a few uninspired suggestions for handcuffs and paddles, and then, from whatever is even farther out than left field, I read “electric toothbrush=vibrator”. Whaaaaaaaaat? Your toothbrush? As a vibrator? Are you serious?
This discovery prompted my very own burning question for Cosmo: What the crap?! Who, over the span of 40 or so pages, doesn’t find it odd to caution someone against borrowing lip gloss, but thinks it’s totally awesome to use your toothbrush as a vibrator? Is this a joke? Should I be laughing instead of making this face:
Obviously, I am no beauty expert. Maybe blush is actually really tricky, and necessary for people who are, like, office clowns or something? Maybe “face-cleaning brushes” are all the rage, and at my next doctor’s appointment they will ask me if I’ve been brushing and flossing my face every day, to which I will lie and say yes. Maybe that drunken bird woman is making an important statement about equal rights for women. These things I don’t know. But I do know, you should not use your toothbrush as a vibrator. Good God. Talk about things you never thought you’d have to say. So thanks, but no thanks Cosmo. No thanks.
All of the images, except for my ugly mug, belong to Cosmo, and all the answers to any of your burning blush questions can be found in the February 2015 issue.