Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tired Ramblings

The other day when we were Skyping with my parents Benjamin made up his first potty joke. He just poked his head out of his bedroom door to tell it to me again.

"Mom?" he whispered.

"What, buddy?" I sighed.

He was put to bed an hour ago and I'm exhausted.

"My funniest joke is a potty joke. Knock, knock!"

"Who's there?"

"Potty," Benjamin giggled.

"Potty who?" I asked.

"Potty—someone goes pee in there!"

I roll my eyes and give him a courtesy laugh. I don't really want to encourage potty humor but I also don't want to crush his spirit (at least not more than I've already done today). It's not that I mean to crush his spirit. It just happens sometimes.

For example, when I was tucking him the very first time of the evening he was chattering away and my head was about to explode. I don't know if my kids have always been this obnoxious or if it's because there's a new baby in the house but they all seem to be loud and needy and super emotional. And then I'm also needy and super emotional. And we really, really can't wait for Grandma to get here because I'm not ready to do this on my own!

Auntie Sarah sent a letter to Miriam, in response to a letter Miriam sent to her. She said something about Riley (who is 2.5 months old) and then said "being a mom is not very easy." To that I say, "Amen and amen!"

Anyway, I was tucking Benjamin in and he asked me to sing him a song, so I started singing him a song and then he started chattering to me again, louder this time (because he had to talk over my singing). I stopped singing and said, "Benjamin! It is bedtime! I have listened to you talk all day long. Now it's your turn to stop talking and listen because if you want me to sing you have to be quiet!"

"Okay, Mom," he sniffed. "I will. But aster 'oo has 'or turn to talk to me can I has my turn to talk to 'oo?"

I realized that although I had spent the entire day having my ears accosted by his noise (noise, noise, NOISE!) it's possible I hadn't really been listening. I also wasn't sure that I could listen any longer.

Sometimes you have to put the newborn down on the living room floor at 5 AM and walk away for a bit. There's a toddler equivalent to that, right? It's called bedtime. Some days I'm like, "Wow. Bedtime already. Let's read one more story and cuddle a little longer." Other days I'm like, "Is it bedtime yet? It's only noon?! Stop the madness."

Today was one of the latter days (despite the calm start to our morning) and I really was not sure I could listen to him say one more thing so I gave him ten seconds.

"You can talk to me for ten seconds," I said, holding up ten fingers and counting down silently.

"Okay, Mom!" he said. "I love tractors and sharks most of all. *Blows raspberries* There! I just blew a shark into the room. But he isn't biting me and he isn't biting you. He just eats dinosaurs and houses, but not our house..."

He chatted about the imaginary shark swimming around his room for the remainder of his time. And I really don't know if it's important that I listened to him. Perhaps it was. Perhaps it wasn't. But I do know it didn't hurt to listen to him for ten seconds and it made him rather happy.

Lately I've been forcing him to grow up a bit. He hates getting himself dressed, and I've been making him do that. He also hates taking himself potty but I've started making him do that himself, too, and we've seen great success on that front.

The other day I helped him for some reason and instead of doing "stand potties" I sat him down on the toilet (let's be honest—it was probably a BM because he doesn't do those alone yet) and said, "Okay, buddy..."

"AIM DOWN!" he sang out. "I already know that, Mom!"

It made me laugh because I'm pretty sure I do say that every time I sit him on the toilet.

Anyway, he's done well, but I think he's been feeling a lot of pressure lately, with big brotherhood being forced upon him...and then being made to dress and potty himself as well?!

Miriam has been quite the handful as well. Today she actually put her hands over her ears and started walking away while I was, admittedly, harping at her over something that is probably too trivial to have been harped at over (she would not do a job that I asked her to do several times over the course of the day). She also had let her mouth flap the whole day long. It was like she and Benjamin were having a competition to see who could talk to Mom the loudest and longest.

Around lunchtime she  approached me and started asking me a question.

"Mom," she said, her inflection rising—clearly indicating this was a question. "If we ever have another baby and Dad’s in the steering place so you’re not in the steering place and not in the place beside the steering place and Benjamin doesn’t have to sit in his car seat anymore because he can have a booster seat and Rachel is big enough to just sit in a seat without a booster so she's sitting in the place beside the steering place and Zoë won’t be in the baby car seat anymore and…"

"Miriam," I interrupted. "My head is spinning from trying to follow what you're saying. Can you just get to the point?"

"The point?" she asked.

"Yes, the point. What's your question?"

"Question?" she asked.

"Yes. What are you trying to say?"

"Well...nothing," she admitted. "I'm just talking."

This child enjoys talking, especially to an audience. And now she has a very captive audience: Zoë. Zoë can't go anywhere to get away from the chatter unless I take her there. Miriam will talk to her when she's awake and she'll talk to her when she's asleep. She'd talk to her all day long if I let her and I'm sure that would be great for her language development but...I can't take it.

See, Miriam was blessed with what I like to call a Minnie Mouse voice. It's my voice. I have a high-pitched voice, I admit it. And it's really not a terrible thing to have a high-pitched voice unless, of course, you're talking to a baby because the natural thing to do when you talk to a baby is to talk in your sweetest, highest-pitched voice and if you already have a sweet, high-pitched voice then baby talk amplifies that to the point of being unbearably squeaky.

I was fairly going crazy by the time Rachel came home from school. Miriam and Benjamin were still misbehaving—Benjamin was screaming about everything and Miriam was just being kind of bratty and everyone was fighting and all Rachel wanted to do was to "come home to a happy home," she sobbed.

Goodness! Now everyone was crying! AGAIN!

We talked about it at dinner after Daddy came home and I think it went over fairly well.

Sometimes I feel like I give and give and give all day until there is nothing left to give. I can't listen to Benjamin talk for ten more seconds. I can't stand Miriam's disobedience. And I can't handle Rachel's emotions. Because there is a baby who just pooped and she's hungry again but because I've been distracted by other children that baby is now screaming her head off.

Priorities, children! Ain't nobody going to be sane for very long if the baby keeps screaming like that, so back off and let me do my thang!


It's a very good thing that Grandma will be here in a few days because I'm really not quite ready to do this on my own.

Today reminded me of how I felt so many years ago—nearly a quarter of a century!—when my family was going through a hard, hard time. I had started keeping a therapeutic journal of sorts, filling the pages with all the bumps and bruises my poor six-year-old heart was experiencing.

These were true bumps and bruises, not traditional childhood unfairnesses but real life challenges.

Not "my mom had a new baby and has no time for me anymore" complaints (though I know what those feel like, too). These were more along the lines of "there are always cop cars parked in front of my house and I don't quite understand why even though I know my sister is missing."

Anyway, I wrote in my journal that I was excited that my grandma would be coming because "then someone will have time for me." Everyone was always busy with something or someone. I had a two-year-old brother, a missing teenaged sister, and two other siblings besides (and Josie was soon to be on the way). I'm sure my mom was doing the best that she could but I just felt...forgotten...and I hoped that maybe my grandma would heal that niggling feeling in my heart.

I'm not sure that she fixed everything entirely. I was probably too shy of her to really let myself get comfortable because back in those days I didn't get to just visit or Skype (which is almost as good as a visit) my grandma whenever I wanted to. She sent birthday cards and valentines every year and called my mom long-distance every Sunday (and the kids would sometimes pop on for a quick hello and goodbye) but I didn't really know her. And I was pitifully shy as a child.

Anyway, I'm familiar with the feeling of being caught up in an overwhelming situation that I have no control over and that has all the grown ups tied up by things other than me, so you'd think I'd be able to be more sympathetic to my children, right? But no. Instead I feel more sympathetic to my mother because I'm tired and I have no idea how she did it all.

  • Parenting six kids: teenagers and babies at the same time.
  • Handling crisis after crisis: job losses, run-aways, teen pregnancies, etc.
  • Working full time (and sometimes more).
  • Going to school after those six kids were born (my mom got her BA in 1994, the year Josie was born, and now has two master's degrees and a PhD).
She did all that and somehow managed to keep it all together, too. Inspirational, I tell you.

Surely I can handle baby #4 without cracking. 

And surely my kids can handle the next few "newborn months" without being too emotionally scarred from being "ignored."

Even so, we're very much looking forward to Grandma coming because...that loud crash I just heard?That was Miriam "accidentally" doing a somersault on her bed. And, like I mentioned, the kids have been in bed for an hour already...

I could definitely go for some backup around here.*

*Andrew's currently here and he's very helpful, naturally, but he's also leaving for two weeks on Sunday, so...


  1. Well, you had a hard day! But, when I am not the one doing it, well, it was pretty funny to read about! I am glad that your humor is still there in the telling. I read parts aloud to Dad and Patrick and we all laughed. (Sorry.) Yesterday I was at Emily's and oh my goodness! Her kids, too! They were hilariously awful! Especially her 11 year old!! It was all I could do to keep myself from laughing out loud. She was staying so calm and rational, and I was so glad that I did not have to do that ALL DAY anymore! :o) (Em's husband came in and said to his son, "A..., you have to shut up, Dude. You are being so annoying" in his calm, lawyerly voice. Anyways, craziness abounds in lots of houses with kids. You are not alone. And you can do it! You've got this.

    1. And thanks for understanding me a bit better...that is the best thing about getting older; you start to understand your parents better. I was just saying a prayer of thanks for my mom and dad the other night, so grateful for things they did/said/were that I did not appreciate so much at the time. So thanks for that.

    2. When my dad came up to help with the new baby, Gavin threw a tantrum and my dad just laughed. It makes him happy to see me go through what I put him through.

  2. OK, this post makes me glad that Beth is still an only and that she'll probably be 4 before we have another kid, and I'm too old to have more than 2 or so...
    Your mom is super cool, by the way. I love running into her in the library periodically. I didn't know how crazy it was at your house when you were a kid. That makes me respect your mama even more.

  3. I totally agree with you - Myrna is amazing! She's my hero!

  4. Yes, yup, uh huh, I feel ya sister, amen, and can I get another amen. I'm so right there with you. It's a TINSY bit better most days now-a-days, but I can't imagine it ever going to any sort of normal....In the words of the Red Green Show, "I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."

  5. I'm pretty sure when people say, "oh going for three to four was easy," they just forgot that "easy" means not soul suckingly tired. I guess that is the pleasantness of forget a lot of the crap you don't want to remember. That being said thanks for the reminder. I'm going back and forth on that fifth kid...I gave myself a six month deadline to decide for sure and these post remind me that honestly right now I'm in a pretty good place :). Glad your mom is getting there soon!!!!!

    1. I wish it was her mom! But it is Andrew's mom. That's okay--the kids love her to pieces! Lucky Nancy to have Karen coming. Lucky Karen to be going!