Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

Momfessions: Part 2

It’s that time again. The moment where I drag out my worst moments, my not-so-proud talents, my dirty, dirty secrets. The time where I say all the things I hope and pray other moms/dads/parents/humans are feeling because I can’t be the ONLY one that does/feels/thinks these things. RIGHT?!

It's TRUE.

It’s TRUE.

And today I feel it’s even more important to talk about the nitty gritty, the behind-the-scenes that will send non-parents RUNNING, because there are some incredibly brave, new, raw parents in my life, ones that are probably sinking under a hundred ‘flaws’ that are actually ingenious survival tactics and I want them to know that they are NOT alone, it DOES get better, and one day (I SWEAR/HOPE) we’ll look back and remember this time of war with fondness. AND that it is NOT today.

My house is always a disaster. No, really. Seriously. There are always Cheerios and crackers and other random dried food on my floors. I can sweep once, I can sweep a hundred times, I can not sweep for a week and the result is ALWAYS the same. It’s depressing. And my socks and my children’s socks (if they’re wearing socks) and Ben’s socks and all of my guests’ socks are ALWAYS crusted with something horrible. And I feel bad. But then I sweep and within seconds it looks as if I don’t give a rat’s ass about my floors. And in truth? Right now? I don’t. On the one hand, it’s too hard to care about something that NO ONE ELSE EVER CARES ABOUT. And on the other hand I’m providing my children with important immunity-boosting licking opportunities. The more dirt they eat, the stronger their bodies will be at fighting off the plague, right? Right. Because science.

I feel bad when I go to other people’s houses. Because my house is SUCH A TREAT to be in (i.e. you can find a treat on the floor regardless of the room you’re in…) that when I go to other people’s houses I can not see the flaws. All I see are all the things that they’re doing better than me…like the sweeping, or the dishes being all clean, or the fact that clear counter space exists, or that the bathroom doesn’t look like a frat house bathroom, or the grown-up furniture that looks like it belongs in the room, versus the what-we-had-given-to-us-or-found-on-the-side-of-the-road decorating aesthetic we’re currently obsessed (read: stuck) with. I try to tell myself that I don’t know the whole story. That I don’t know what they’ve sacrificed to get it done. I don’t know what kind of woodland creatures they have employed. I have no idea what’s hiding behind the doors or in the drawers I’m not privy to. But every time…EVERY TIME…I feel like everyone else has a grown-up house and I’m living a dorm life with three kids and that somehow this is a failure.

I hate when my babies are sick. And not because I feel bad for them or I wish I could take it away from them. But because they SUCK at being sick. They don’t want to watch TV all day. They don’t want to lie on the couch and sleep. They just want to whine and cry and be hugged and cuddled, but not that way, this way, no you’re doing it wrong, why do you SUCK, why did you put me DOWN, pick me UP. AND. They like cuddling while they puke. They don’t know how to blow their noses to remove the snot so they stop coughing. They still want to DO something even though they have no patience or capacity for it. I love my babies. But sick versions of them SUCK.

I love hunting boogers. Some people love popping pimples. Others adore digging out blackheads. Some people are vomiting just reading this. BUT. I take great pleasure in stealing my children’s boogers. Especially Isaac’s. He gets so grumpy and his boogers are so satisfying and big and…I kind of love it. I even like going after the ones that Lillian and Sophie have missed. It’s disgusting, but it’s the one pleasure I get from my kids being sick, so I’m going to take it.

My kids don’t do chores. I know I’m supposed to assign chores to my kids, but I just haven’t. I’m too tired and there is too much to do. And teaching my kids to do the things they could be responsible for is exhausting and takes more work than me just doing it. I know it’s a future investment thing, that if I spend the 9384737 minutes and 382473984 kJ of energy, it will pay off big in the future. But, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to do the dishes, but more than that? I don’t want to teach someone how to do the dishes. I have, however, just won the jackpot. Remember Adam Sandler in Big Daddy, where the kid tells him he wants to go to school and he’s so impressed with his parenting strategy because by letting the child choose his own path he ultimately picks the right thing to do? That is happening in my house RIGHT NOW. Sophie and Lillian have magically started clearing their plates after dinner and take turns sweeping and have even cleaned up their playroom spontaneously a bunch of times. It works! Adam Sandler is a GENIUS. Wait…

I hate bedtime. I have a friend (Hi, Heather!) who is basically in charge of all the bedtimes all the time. And I have no idea how her children are still alive and her marriage is intact and her hair is not snow-white. Seriously. Bedtime is not the cozy, cuddly, dreamy place that TV/movies/ads/bookstores sell it as. It is not filled with sweet children who are cutely snuggled in their pyjamas, waiting patiently and quietly while their parents read them stories filled with wonder. It is a cluster-f#*@ of nonsense, where everyone is tired (me) and hyped up (them) and no one is doing what they’re supposed to (Lillian) and there are a thousand questions and demands (Sophie) and people chucking their favourite blankets and pillows out of their bed (Isaac) and someone is sobbing in the corner (me). It’s a lot of asking them to sit still so we can read the damn story and praying that it will be over soon because if I don’t have fifteen seconds of time to myself before I have to go to bed to wake up to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, I might just kill someone. I hate it. Almost as much as doing dishes. At least they don’t bounce around and change their minds over what story they want read while screaming about putting on their pyjamas. So, actually, I hate it MORE than dishes. (It’s serious, yo’).

Welcome to the underground.

Welcome to the underground.

Okay. I’ve confessed my sins, my dirty secrets, and the things I probably shouldn’t have said out loud. Now it’s your turn: what are YOUR confessions? Momfessions? Dadfessions? Humanfessions? SPILL. Then I won’t feel so naked.

~ Julia

My sleeping pill

I have a bedtime ritual. It is as regulated as our children’s bedtime routine, where we get into pyjamas, pick three stories (1 per kid) and then read them all until each kid is calm and sleepy and full of tales. It is absolutely necessary that I follow this routine, otherwise I will not be able to sleep for hours.

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison - A thriller that made me want to stay up all night...yet let me sleep.

A thriller that made me want to stay up all night…yet let me sleep.

I’ve tried skipping it. I’ve tried mixing it up, doing something different. All with disastrous results that end with me restless, sleepless, tossing and turning, and my brain talking up a storm.

Because therein lies the rub – my brain? My sadistic, nonsensical, ridiculous, overachieving brain won’t SHUT UP when I go to bed. It finds that the bed, with its cozy mattress and its warm blankets and its huge pillow is the perfect place to review all worry, concern, to-do lists, problems, and, of course, singing any of the ditties or jingles or super fun children’s songs I’ve heard that day. My brain SUCKS at sleeping. And I hate it. Because I LOVE sleeping, DESIRE sleeping, walk around all day long wishing sleep were mine right now.

Dear Amy, Let's be friends in real life, because you seem to really get it. And it would be awesome to be in the same room as all of your talent and sass. Love, Me

Dear Amy, Let’s be friends in real life, because you seem to really get it. And it would be awesome to be in the same room as all of your talent and sass. Love, Me

I figured out the key to my sleep a couple of years ago. It was when I was in therapy for PPD with Lillian. Nancy, my lifesaving therapist, asked me how I was sleeping. Of course, terrible! I had a newborn AND depression wrapped in an anxiety disorder. I would lie down and either Lillian would wake up or Sophie would wake up or my brain would wake up. And then it would be morning and I’d have to do it all over again.

She suggested I ‘download’ all of my lists and worries and problems onto a piece of paper that I kept by the bed. Essentially, when my brain popped up with something to think about the moment my head hit the pillow, I could write it down. The idea was with practice I could write down everything BEFORE I lay down and then my brain would be quiet and I would sleep and everyone would live happily ever after.

Sometimes I do running math in my head...converting miles into kilometers, thinking about training and running and not running...but this book put me to sleep AND made me never want to stop running.

Sometimes I do running math in my head when I’m trying to fall asleep…converting miles into kilometers, thinking about training and running and not running…but this book put me to sleep AND made me never want to stop running.

It didn’t really work that way. The act of writing down everything turned more into a brainstorming of session of things that I could think about during the night, versus me getting rid of things to think about during the night. In short, it backfired.

But then I tried reading. I love reading. But with babies and my scattered brain, sitting down and reading during the day was (and still is) next to impossible. But at night? When everyone is tucked in and I have the bed to myself (because Ben is inevitably playing video games downstairs), I can read under covers, curled up with characters and lands and stories that are not my own. And that is the key.

My current sleeping pill. I love this book so far. This one makes me want to keep turning pages, be a better writer, get published...and go to sleep.

My current sleeping pill. I love this book so far. This one makes me want to keep turning pages, be a better writer, get published…and go to sleep.

When I read at night, my brain shuts off. It tunes out of my reality and tunes into other people’s trouble, worry, concern, fantasy, dreams, and to-do lists. Reading launches me into someone else’s world, so I don’t have to think about my own.

And that is the key, the piece, the only thing I can do to really get to sleep. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed at my regular bedtime, 10 p.m., or if I go to bed at 1 a.m. It doesn’t matter if it’s before a weekend afternoon nap or the big sleep in a hotel room in Baltimore. It doesn’t matter one iota. All that matters is that I’m quiet and reading a novel, a memoir, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, works of art, or fluff pieces. I need to read to escape to find the peace and quiet that I need to get to sleep.

How about you? What do you do to get to sleep? Sex? Warm milk? TV? Candy Crush? Or are you like Ben and all you need is a blanket, a pillow and your hearing aid out? Because that guy? He can fall asleep in an instant and I’m left hanging out with a snoring bear, while trying to shut off my brain…unless, I’ve got me a book, then I can tune out the lumberjack and tune into another world that acts as a portal to the most treasured gift ever – sleep.

~ Julia