Hope everyone out there is having a lovely Valentine’s Day out there! Today, I’m celebrating the MotorDaddy, Michael. He’s amazing, puts up with a lot of crap and is a blast to be around. Of course, the Motorkids, Buster and Princess have gone off with Grandma and Grandpa. So Michael and I get to hang out. He’s at the store as I type this, but by the time he reads this, I’ll be at a bar by myself. He’s got a treasure hunt of clues to find me. (They’re supposed to remind him of the happiest moments in our lives and how much fun we’ve had in our 10+ years together. )
If he’s reading this, he’s found clue #12 and is looking for this, clue # 13:
Our little life was going so well that we decided to add to our family. A canine member. And while we loved Whiskey, she had to return to Heaven a little early. So, in 2014, we got this precious pooch- Emma. Even though she’s quite a pain in the butt sometimes, the kids love her and she’s part of the family. Find her, she has #14! (This is probably the only day you can’t say “That dog hasn’t got a clue!”)
Hopefully I see you soon, Michael!
I’m lucky to be able to work from home, people say. And I wholeheartedly agree that I’m lucky my employers trust me to accomplish things out from underneath their ability to watch me. Otherwise, a day like today would be a total bust. There is no available daycare or school, so I couldn’t accomplish anything if my work could only be done from my office.
But actually doing the work feels anything but lucky with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old stuck inside after a blizzard.
To imagine what it’s like, I’ll start with a “choose your own adventure” for you. For reference, Princess is my 5-year-old daughter and Buster is my 2-year-old son.
First,* it will take you anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours to be able to settle in and begin to concentrate. During this time you’ll be interrupted every 30 seconds to 2 minutes because someone is thirsty, missing a toy, cold, or suddenly intolerant of the socks they’d chosen to wear this morning.
Then, the kids will fall into a little quiet game of some sort and, finally, you’ll be able to concentrate for a full 5 minutes. You’ll glance up to perform supervisory duties as expected. Here’s what you’ll see:
(Choose a creature: Buster, princess, the dog) is holding a (choose one: pair of scissors, your favorite scarf, a toy car, a lamp) and trying to use it to (choose one: smear, tie, climb, cut, poke) (choose one: peanut butter, curtains, boogers, the couch, your favorite shoes, the cat). Of course, as soon as you begin to request that this behavior end, (choose another creature: Buster, Princess or the dog) decides this is the optimal moment to (choose one: vomit, start yelling loudly for Daddy, poop, start singing, “Do you want to build a snowman?”)
Of course, once that situation has been addressed you’ll begin again at the star. Repeat 3 times.
Next, you’ll turn on the TV so you can get a couple of phone calls in. You wait until both kids are completely engrossed in a show. You pick up your phone. Before you dial, you glance their way again. Both will still be staring at the TV, drinking from sippy cups. “You guys okay?,” you’ll ask, just to test their attention. They don’t respond.
You dial-up Mr. Importantcustomeryouvebeentryingtotalktoforamonth. (We’ll call him Mr. I.) It starts ringing. You glance at the kids – still no movement.
A smile creeps across your face as instead of the usual voicemail, you hear “Hello?”
You open your mouth to speak, but before you do, you’re startled by the two-year-old standing at your knee. He has made it from the couch across the other room to your side silently and impossibly, like one of those haunted dolls from a horror flick.
“I NEED YOU TO HOOOOOOOLD MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!,” he shouts.
“Hello, Mr. I, I’m so glad…” you sputter as you stand up and begin to try to outrun your son.
You try locking yourself in the bathroom but it’s even louder with Buster turning the locked knob repeatedly while shouting “MOMMY HOLD ME MOMMY HOLD ME MOMMY HOLD ME!!!!” so you burst out and head through the kitchen.
“Yes, Mr. I, I have some great news…” You’re starting to sound a little out of breath as you bound backwards up the stairs, gesturing with your best, most serious ‘be quiet’ finger-wagging-angrily-in-front-of-your-mouth face.
“MOMMY, I COME UPSTAIRS TOO??!!! I NEED YOU AND I NEED BRUSH MY TEETH!!!”
You’re violently shaking your head and backing away from the toddler while cheerfully saying, “great, great, we can’t wait to see you. I’ll be glad to…”
You escape out of sight in the upstairs hallway, hurry off the call in about 3 seconds and hang up. You’re ready to tend to whatever emergency caused this behavior from the toddler. Already, you’ve forgotten the entire conversation with Mr. I, including what you’d promised you’d be glad to do.
You race down to bottom of the steps, eyes scanning the entire room to find toddler in dire need of you. You spot him, back on the couch, staring at the boob tube, sippy cup tipped up. It takes you three, “BUSTER MIDDLENAME, what do you need?!”s to get any response.
Finally, he removes the sippy cup with a little slurp and a quiet “What mommy?” oozes all sugary sweet and innocent from his tiny little toddler mouth.
Now, you glare silently as you head back up to the * , expecting in-office tasks to take 4-5x as long at home. Repeat until your husband walks in, asking “How was everybody’s little snow day? At least you didn’t have to be out there in the elements like Daddy!”
If he’s lucky I won’t tell him where he can put his elements.
So, it’s October, which means that weather is changing. Which means that a certain wardrobe changeover is required for two children. But it’s not like for grown-ups because you don’t just have two categories – winter and summer. You have something like 5 categories: a.) Summer that fit great but won’t fit next year, b.) summer that might fit next year, c.) Winter that is too big, d.) winter that fits just right, and e.) winter that is too small. The trick, you see, is to go through your kids’ clothes and only have drawers and closets with category e clothes. Sounds easy, right?
Just sit down and have at those clothes and sort them out. Now, add in 3 bags of clothes from the cousin with the super-awesome wardrobe who somehow never stains anything or wears them out. You have to mix those in to avoid buying things. Still, all good stuff and sounds easy.
But the clothes start to come in faster. My daughter has the addition of a November birthday. So, already, family are starting to ask what the kids need for birthdays and holidays. Have to get to that sorting so I can answer the question – the truth is that I have absolutely no freaking idea.
You have to find a spot where all of these clothes can be sorted into the proper categories.
So, you try to go through it a little bit at a time, right? That makes sense. As you do a load of laundry, sort out the not fitting so good out of season stuff. But since you’re slowly sorting, now you need a spot where you can collect the small, summer stuff. Perhaps a nice bag in the corner of the room or a basket, right?
Good, we’re doing great here. On our way to neatly organized drawers and closets! Clothes are coming in, but we’ve got this under control. We’ll just sort and put away and get to the bottom of this “What clothes do the kids need?” question.
Enter two-year-old and four-year-old. They spy basket and/ or bag of ill-fitting-out-of-season clothes. Immediately begin putting these clothes on. Or, at least removing them from the bags/baskets. Perhaps because you’re busy trying to fold the other laundry or heaven forbid sort the items in the overflowing closets and drawers. Now the kids have worn the clothes that were designated for removal and the clothes are dirty because they dragged them across the floor, which likely hasn’t been swept because you’re trying to get a handle on this clothes situation. Now, they go in the laundry again…
It’s okay, though, it’s a nice Sunday afternoon, you’re putting some laundry away, getting ahead of things a little.
You realize some of the clothes from your little collection area have wound up in the toy box, too, which needs to be gone through. Because you have similar categories of toys, too – too young, too old, just right. More toys are coming soon, too, on the way with birthdays and holidays.
So you take a minute to start to go through those. Gotta make room. You realize that the toys have subcategories, too, like “needs pics for FB Tag Sale,” niece may want that, “no idea what to do with these little things; who can I pawn this crap off on?!” You absolutely cannot throw them away, they are plastic and batteries and built for leaking toxins into soil. You’ll just basically be killing sea turtles and may as well head out and slit the throats some delightful endangered species yourself if you put those in the trash for the landfill. So you put all of these in the office to get to in a while.
Then, you get back to the kids’ rooms to fold and put laundry away, and do a little sorting.
Guess what the kids find while you’re busy?! A super cool stash of toys in the office! They can’t leave those in the office…
And this is when mommy stops to blog and cry a little.
And then someone needs a snack.
And then there’s an email – what about that <insert task I’d committed to completing>?
And it’s already 12:30 pm and we were going to stop by and see daddy. Or visit the playground. But I haven’t event vacuumed yet. And we’ve got a side dish to prepare and candy before a trunk-or-treat.
And this is why my brain buzzes all the time and I can’t. ever. shut. it. off.
I recognize that this is a first world problem – too many clothes and toys. And I’m grateful. But I’m stressed and the guilt never seems to end; guilt over throwing away unused toys, not getting tasks done because of the sorting, not letting kids play with toys they suddenly want again… There has got to be a better use of my brain than this continuous logic puzzle of “stuff.”
But this time of year it’s like Tetris. I am constantly moving and shifting clothes and toys to perfectly fit the next onslaught of generosity directed at your children. Because if heaven forbid that l-shape goes on upside down on top of the highest part of your puzzle, next thing you know, all the shapes are just piling up and piling up and next thing you know you’re at the top and it’s game over?
Oh if only….