The Scary Stuff

Some aspects of life with children can only be described as, well, for lack of a better word, scary.  And by scary I mean stomach churning, vomit-inducing and make-you-break-out-in-a-cold-sweat terrifying. What better time to laugh about the horror of it all than Halloween?

Take the classic barf-in-the-carseat scenario as an example…we’ve had one of those this week (hopefully you have NOT), and wow…scraping that stuff out of the non-removable parts and crevices and buckles…let’s just say doctors should send new parents home from the hospital with a haz-mat suit, a five gallon bucket of Clorox and a documentary on what things may come out of your child. 

Last week we had a rip-off-your-diaper-and-poop-on-the-front-doormat incident that created a few poopy footprints and a bleachable moment for our wood floors and bathtub.  That was a shocking first…if I make a documentary for new parents, I promise to include naked pooping toddlers squatting in a living room in the opening scene. They do exist!

What about the weird people in the grocery store with no boundaries? SCARY!  I can’t speak for parents with only one child, but in my experience with taking twins out in public, every fourth person we pass wants to have a conversation with me about how their uncle’s dentist’s secretary had seven sets of twins…I’m all for polite small talk and don’t mind comments and an occasional question from a stranger, but there are some WEIRDOS who come out of the woodwork when they see me coming. I’ve had a three minute rant on how awful life with twin teenage girls will be and a woman who told me she wouldn’t wish infant twins on her worst enemy.  Seriously…I wish I was making this up…talk about scary.

The full-blown toddler tantrums are just starting at our house, and I’m afraid. Very afraid.  I told Munchkin 2 last week that I was out of bread and would make her sandwich on a tortilla, and my little tiny angel morphed into a screaming and kicking terror on the floor. We had the same scene after she learned last night she can’t fly like a bird…I never know what might bring on one of those terrifying meltdowns. It’s like living with a miniature and adorable version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…

Honorable mention on the scary list belongs to the cabin-fever-like shakes and crazy eyes that can strike after spending too many hours alone with toddlers in the house.  You know, that moment when you realize you asked your dog if he had a good day at work and you can’t remember the last meal you had that wasn’t composed of goldfish and chicken nuggets.  It’s a scene straight out of The Shining minus the killing and creepiness.  Scary. Super scary.

You can’t forget the classic poop-in-the-bathtub or the soaking-mom-in-so-much-barf-that-she-has-to-shower incidents.  And a shout out most definitely belongs to the tarry meconium diapers and the crusty umbilical cord stump from the early days.  

What terrifying parenting moments would you add to the list?

Embrace the Glitter

My first year of teaching, a fabulous veteran teacher gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me and resonated in my life at home with my twins.  Our team of teachers was planning some kind of super-messy and stressful arts and crafts project for our first grade classes, and she mentioned using glitter.  

“You go ahead–I think my class will skip the glitter!” I quickly replied as visions of students lost in clouds of glitter danced through my head.  My neat and organized classroom was not about to be sacrificed for an art project! Talk about a chaotic disaster AND a guaranteed way to ruin my good relationship with the custodian.  The next time I had someone throw up after lunch, I knew I’d regret not staying on his good side. 

“Oh, you’ll get used to it!  You have to embrace the glitter.  It’s just part of it, and the kids love it,” my teacher friend replied as she handed me a ridiculously large tub filled with so many containers of glitter that I’m positive there was a gaping hole on a shelf at Hobby Lobby somewhere.  

Holding the arsenal of glitter which would certainly be the doom of my teaching experience, I realized there wasn’t a way to ease into this glitter experience with baby steps. It was going to be an all or nothing experience.  Who was I to argue with my friend, though?  She was the teacher I wanted to be some day, and embracing the glitter was apparently part of the territory. 

With a deep breath, elevated blood pressure and a mantra of “embrace the glitter,” I reluctantly gave a rule-filled lesson on how to correctly use this sparkly holy grail and turned my students loose on their craft.  

I braced myself for the impending disaster…the clouds, the glitter in my hair, the disapproving looks from the custodian…but instead I heard giggles, excited voices and even a little voice shouting, “This is the best day ever, Mrs. DeBusk!”  

The classroom was definitely not in its orderly state at the end of the day, but it was worth it.   Kids love to get messy, and as teachers and parents, we have to be willing to embrace the glitter sometimes in order to let children enjoy being kids.

I have thought many days lately about embracing the proverbial glitter with my toddlers as we pull off couch cushions to build mountains, dump out blocks to make towers and spill milk to learn how to drink from “big girl cups.” My sweet little angels can literally destroy a room in under three minutes (hence their nickname, the twin-nadoes).  

Overlooking these messes does not come naturally and still causes my blood pressure to rise.  It is still a daily battle to see the mess as the sign of happy kids rather than a failure on my part to keep a neat home.  Maintaining a house and children to look like a magazine spread from the pages of Southern Living is not only unrealistic (and incredibly stressful) but also prevents our kids from being kids!  

Allowing my family to play and live in a relaxed environment is something I believe is a secret to a happy home.  It teaches my girls and reminds me it’s ok to make messes and to let go of perfection.  It helps me to enjoy being home and to keep perspective on what’s most important in life.  Hopefully, too, it will help me to raise children who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

So go ahead–break out the play dough and finger paint on a regular basis, encourage your kids to pull out the slimy insides from the pumpkin and to dig for worms in the garden, and roll up your sleeves and join them!  

The days of perfect houses and glitter-free living will inevitably return (if you want them to, that is–I personally hope to be glitter-tastic for the long haul) when these sweet little ones grow up and move into their own places one day. In the meantime, embrace the glitter, the clutter and the chaos and let your kids enjoy every opportunity to do the same.  Stay messy, my friends!



Recharging

We started out having one of “those” days today…you know what I’m talking about…those days that coffee is a survival tool and the first five minutes leave you wondering how in the world you’re going to survive the next 24 hours.  We had markers on the rug, a failed jack-o-lantern craft scattered across the kitchen floor and two poo-splosions in the first hour.  (Credit for those disasters belong to, in no particular order, too many chicken nuggets, a distracted mama and a very misleading Pinterest pin about fall fun with toddlers).  

Like I said, it started as one of “those” days, and we went outside after lunch in hopes of maintaining the last remaining shred of my sanity.  (There is only so much biting and crying and craft-astrophe clean-up one can handle without alcohol before noon).  The change of scenery plus Mama stepping in dog poop in bare feet helped turn the tears to laughter.  Did I mention it was one of those days?

Sooner or later, though, one munchkin hurt a toe and another ran into a table, and I was back to consoling and snuggling away the tears.  We all three sat together in a lawn chair, and somehow a few renditions of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” started the ball rolling on one of those (get ready for some sappiness) magical parenting moments.  

Small fingers rubbing your arm, soft baby hair on your cheek, little voices singing a word here and there and begging for “more songs, Mama.”  You know exactly what I’m talking about because you’ve had those moments, too…the times that make “those” mornings a distant memory and remind you why you keep up the challenge of this parenting business. 

The stained rug (come on, OxyClean–make me happy in the morning!), the dismembered jackolantern craft and the nuclear diapers quickly became small details of a good day instead of the defining moments of a terrible day.   

Talk about powerful!  I’m amazed at how these little munchkins can just make the world stop spinning for a bit as you kiss a booboo, sing another silly song and give more hugs and kisses.  It’s an incredible feeling of importance because no one can do the job just like you do…and nothing else matters in that moment except taking care of your little people. I like to think of them as “recharge” moments because they seem to refresh a drained spirit and provide the energy to carry on.

It’s taken me a while to be able to seek out those sweet moments and allow them to shift my attitude towards the day, but what a difference it makes when I can!  Here’s to reading an extra book with your little one, snuggling longer after a booboo kiss and finding time to rub a soft head of hair several times during the day. This day only comes once–may you find many moments to recharge! 

A Fresh Start

So my last official post was right before my girls became mobile…chasing babies who like to head in two different directions has left little time for blogging, but I missed it so much that I decided to upload a new app to make iPad blogging super convenient and give it another shot. Thanks to some encouragement from a good blogger friend who writes for the Greeley Moms page and awesome readers like you who shared my recent post about being real with one another as parents, I’ll be writing monthly for the Greeley Moms blog (yay!) and as often as possible here. 

Should you choose to become a blog follower or to stop by to read once in a while, I promise the following things to you, my fearless and busy reader:

1.  I will respect your time.  My goal is to leave you feeling better than when you arrived, either because you had a good laugh or came to a realization about parenthood to remind you of what a fabulous parent you are. (Should your sense of humor be drastically different than mine, I cannot be held accountable for a failed laugh attempt.  I’m asking you to please give me credit for trying rather than resorting to dull blog posts as mentioned in the following two promises).

2.  I will not bore you with a rehash of the mundane details of my day simply to make a post or mimic a lame Facebook status update. You had your own breakfast (if your children were nice enough to let you put them down for five minutes), ran your own errands and did (or did not do–no judgment here!) your own dishes today–who cares what anyone else did! I get it–if you only have a few minutes to spare, don’t waste them reading something you couldn’t care less about!

3. Unless I find a super useful, super amazing or super “you can’t live without this” pin, I will happily leave Pinterest out of the picture. I do reserve the right to post a Pinterest fail, though…not that I know anything about Pinterest failures…no judging!

4.  I will be real.  There is enough sugar-coating of this parenting business out there to make us all feel terrible about our parenting realities (ahem, thanks Pinterest!), and I promise to be a voice of reality through it all.  

5.  I will remember the dad perspective–there are some rockin’ stay at home and working dads out there who deserve a shout out. Please forgive the past posts that only say “mom” instead of parent.

6.  I will read and respond to your comments–they are greatly appreciated!  I’d even love a suggestion for a blog post or to hear a funny story from your life in the deep end.

Enough time wasting–your five minutes is running low!  In honor of the fresh start, here is the post I wrote for the Greeley Moms. Enjoy, and see you soon!!

Little crayon scribbled pictures displayed in a nice row on the refrigerator waiting to be filed in each child’s special box of memories, dinner in the crockpot from your homemade freezer meal stash, a sparkling and empty sink next to a happily humming dishwasher, children blowing colored bubble snakes on a freshly mowed lawn after painting the sidewalk with homemade scented paint…rainbows, butterflies, unicorns…you know…all of those realities that we moms enjoy every day? 

Seriously…I think this is the way I pictured motherhood in my head in my delusional and judgmental pre-kid days…and probably why I have had many rough days adjusting to the lack of picture-perfect-ness that comes with the territory in raising children (especially my precious twin toddlers).

There is grape jelly on my couch from one of the dozens of PBJs I’ve made in the last few days.  It doesn’t really look like jelly, though…more like mud or some leftover science experiment dragged in from the backyard.  (It blends in nicely with the pen scribbles from last night…note to self: check pinterest for tips on cleaning ink out of microfiber).  I meant to clean it off today, but when I went to get a cleaning rag, the dishes and a major stench in my sink caught my attention, and I never made it back to clean the couch.  There are red crayon marks I found today on my kitchen floor after cleaning off the brown crayon on the wall and the orange crayon on the oven.  (These artistic expressions happened while I was vacuuming down the hallway for 20 seconds…it is counter-productive to clean with toddlers on the loose!). The load of laundry I started earlier today is still sitting in the washer because the dryer is still full of one of a million loads I’ve done this month but haven’t managed to put away. One of my daughters has a big bump on her head after yelling “one, two, free, dump!” (translation: one, two, three, jump!) and jumping off our bed that is way too high for a toddler to be on unsupervised while I was distracted by re-hanging the artwork her sister had pulled off the wall just seconds earlier.  I have a gym membership I am hard pressed to use, and it’s a fabulous day if I get to shower, much less wear makeup or blow dry my hair.  I really dislike crafting and cleaning, and even though I enjoy cooking, the mess and clean up are rarely worth the energy anymore!  

Yep–rainbows, butterflies and unicorns!  Adjusting my expectations of motherhood to match the reality of motherhood has taken me almost every day of the 19 months I’ve had with my twin girls, and I’m still finding myself with an occasional day of dark despair over how crummy I must be at this whole parenting thing since I don’t measure up to the other amazing moms I know. Because other moms have it all together, right?  

When is the last time I had a good laugh (or cry!) with a friend about the hard parts of motherhood?  Why is it that allowing a crack to show in the facade of “having it all together” is frowned upon and discouraged?

Many fabulous mothers, myself and my friends included, are feeling like we don’t measure up because we tend to leave out the imperfections, the struggles, the shortcomings and the challenges when we share our lives with each other.  Avenues like Facebook and Pinterest make it so easy to show only the warm fuzzies and the successes that we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and are left feeling like failures.

Let’s be honest for the sake of our sanity–motherhood is incredibly challenging, and that’s ok!  It’s a huge part of the territory!  It tests us, tries us, breaks us down and leaves us wondering what in the heck we’re doing some days.  It leaves our houses in a constant state of chaos, our laundry baskets overflowing and our hair a little less fabulous than the pre-kid days.  But all of those things shouldn’t be seen as failures but rather part of the process of doing the best we can do to raise little people to be successful, independent and intelligent.  Let’s help each other to embrace the challenges, share the failures and cut one another and ourselves some slack.

Despite the marked-up walls and the forgotten PBJs drying out between the carseats, being a mom is the best job in the world and such an important role in the lives of our children.  We need to surround ourselves with friends who encourage us and will also be there to help us adjust and readjust our expectations to fit reality. We need to laugh together over the mess, have play dates with dishes in the sink, meet for coffee without wearing makeup and not be afraid to be have a heart to heart in last night’s peanut-butter smeared yoga pants.  True friendship is about encouraging one another where you are in life and not holding yourself or your friends to unrealistically high expectations of rainbows and butterflies.  Sometimes on those never-ending days of whining and exhaustion and “I think I just want to sit in the car for some peace and quiet,” we need to know that other moms have terrible days, too, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with out success or failure as a mother.  

Help a friend out this week and share your honest tales from the trenches of motherhood.  Host a playdate without homemade veggie muffins–get out an opened box of vanilla wafers, put in a pot of coffee and open up your home and your heart to your friends.  Let’s be real with one another and embrace the challenges and chaos as a team!  Here’s to NOT having it all together!

The link to the original post on the Greeley Tribune website:  http://www.greeleytribune.com/news/feature3/8275846-113/motherhood-clean-friends-moms