Five Things You Should Never Say to the Mother of Your Children

Dear Husband,

You are a wonderful father and husband. I thank Fate everyday that we crossed paths and managed to scare each other into getting married. You do the grocery shopping (usually with the kids!), help with bedtime, cook dinner at least two nights a week, and are home for dinner almost every night. You are a dream! How did I get so lucky?

But, there are some phrases you should just stop saying. Every time I hear them, I  contemplate a one-way ticket to Tahiti…for me. Alone. All by myself.  For starters, here are five things you should never say to the mother of your children:

We need this in our house.

We need this in our house.

1. “I need a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom.” Almost without fail you come home, say hello, kiss me on the cheek, get the kids riled up with excitement to see their daddy and then excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. Alone. With the door closed. And locked. You get annoyed when one of the kids tries to follow you in there, or worse, bangs on the door demanding to be let in. I get to go to the bathroom alone only when both kids are at school or in bed. That averages out to about 1.5 times a day. And in reality, usually during one of those times you are in the bathroom brushing your teeth. No, dear husband, you get to have an audience, complete with running commentary on all of your body parts. Prepare to be humbled.  And by the way, our three-year-old is potty training so show some enthusiasm!

2. “I thought you were going to _______ .” Yes, I had big plans for today, too. I thought I was going to get a shower. I thought I was going to call the plumber. I thought I was going to put the Christmas decorations away.  I thought I was going to make it to the pharmacy. I thought when I grew up I would  travel around the world saving children from orphanages but then, guess what?? You knocked me up. Twice. And now those little bastards are holding me hostage everyday making me do things I never dreamed I would do without someone putting a gun to my head. I do not control my days, let alone my hours or minutes. Yes, I thought I was going to do something today too, but alas, I only managed to keep our small humans alive just so I can live to tell of their tortures tomorrow.

3. “Have you seen my ______?” You are a grown-up. I am keeping track of my stuff and the humongous piles of crap that come with our two children. I cannot keep track of your stuff, too. Please do your part and find your own crap. And while you’re at it, pick it up and put it away, too.

4. “It’s been a while since we…you know.” Yep. And it’s gonna be a while longer (see #1 and #2). I am never alone. Someone is always touching, grabbing, licking, wiping, hitting or otherwise abusing my body. At 8:30 at night when that finally stops, the last thing I want is a grown-up touching, grabbing, or slobbering on me. To say nothing of the other thirty things that I didn’t get done today that I must now somehow get done between the hours of 8:30 PM and 11:00 PM. Yes, I miss you. Yes, sex is important but you knocked me up (twice, remember!) and now I have certain responsibilities. I should be free in 2018.

5. “I don’t feel so well. I’m gonna take a sick day.” I call this the Man Flu. I didn’t coin this phrase but it is so true. It doesn’t matter what the affliction is but men seem to suffer so much more than anyone else when they are sick. In the five years I’ve been a parent, there is only one thing that has made me take to my bed and it was a horrible case of mastitis (can I get an “Amen!”?). So, dear husband, not that you aren’t allowed a sick day but you aren’t allowed to then lay in bed all day, complaining of how bad you feel and summoning me to fetch you drinks, medications, and meals.The barely controlled chaos of my day tips into uncontrolled chaos with the addition of your sickly demands. The lives of the three other people in our house must go on. I get sick yet our kids still get to school. They still get fed.  I still wake up at an ungodly hour to snuggle our youngest so he doesn’t wake our eldest. You can take a sick day but don’t be surprised when I only manage to throw some Children’s Tylenol and a gummy bear vitamin at you as I pass by with a half-naked toddler.  Yes, that is probably poop smeared on your drinking glass because you summoned me in the middle of a diaper change. If you get sick, do what I do and Suck. It. Up.

I love you. I appreciate you. You are amazing. But please stop saying these phrases unless you want to  be forced to hunt me down on a remote island in the middle of the South Pacific.

Hm. I think my plan is about to backfire. <Sigh.>

In case you didn’t see it, my husband  posted his reply, “Five Things You Should Never Say to the Father of Your Children.”

Photo credit: Beautiful Freaks
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Awesome Moms on iPhones

A blog post, “Dear Mom With an iPhone” has been making the rounds and every time I see it my hackles raise up like a porcupine cornered by a hound dog. Yes, I’m feeling defensive because I am absolutely That Mom. My iPhone and I make regular appearances at the local park. So…here I thought I’d give it a different take:

Dear Mom on the iPhone,

You are awesome. Seriously. Take a minute to revel in your awesomeness. You are juggling 52,532 things on any given day all while being accosted, battered, verbally abused, and ignored by the very people whose schedule of feeding, bathing, entertaining, enriching and otherwise caring for, your entire existence revolves around – Handsome Little Devils and Perfect Princesses that they are. Oh…and you have a spouse, probably aging parents and at least one high-maintenance friend or relative who also demands your attention. God, you’re amazing! Oh, you have a job outside the home, too? You just doubled the number of balls you’re juggling because you have a second family to manage. Holy crap. I just died of exhaustion thinking about that.

So yes, you are thrilled that they have taken a break from pummeling each other over the last yellow Lego to push each other down the slide. You are thrilled to have ten minutes that don’t require your complete attention and adoration so you can see if your doctor has called you back to schedule that appointment you haven’t been able to make since….well, whenever your post-partum check up was because you haven’t had time to take care of your own health because you’re driving to the pediatrician’s office every other week to fish out a Lego from Handsome Devil’s nose or have the doctor look at Perfect Princess’s ears to see if that recurring ear infection has gone away, yet. <Gasp for air>

Oh, look, your kids just jumped off the swings and they are yelling at you, “Look Mom! Look what we can do!” And it’s amazing. And you should take a second to verbally acknowledge what they did. But, guess what? Your mom just called and she needs you to call her right away to help her decide what dessert to serve at your sister’s baby shower. And there are three emails waiting from parents from school who want to know if you can help work the bake sale on Friday. Oh, and you still haven’t called back your best friend who is passing through town tomorrow….oh crap, that was yesterday. Never mind. At least that’s one less thing to do. And your boss needs you to review the 123rd draft of his power point by tomorrow and wants to know if you have time for a “quick” call at 3:30 (when you’re supposed to be picking up Handsome Devil from soccer and taking him to the dentist).

Oh! Perfect Princess just made it across the monkey bars all by herself! That’s incredible. She’s never done that. Huge accomplishment in her short life. It is. Make a big deal about it at dinner tonight with Dad. But you have about three minutes left in your ten minute window before Perfect Princess decides to dump a bucket full of sand on top of the head of the cute girl in the pink flower dress. So, in those three minutes you better text your husband to tell him to pick up milk and cereal, find your son’s shoes that mysteriously disappeared in the sand, call your sister back and tell her you can’t watch her kids Friday night because you are now manning the bake sale table and call the mechanic to get your car scheduled for a service.

You can do it! Because this is what you do everyday and you are awesome at it!

Remember, as a parent, we get to witness amazing feats and accomplishments of our children every day. It is what inspires us, endears them to us, and keeps us from totally losing our minds when they fill the toilet full of Play-Doh. But you will miss a lot of moments in their life, big and small, and that is ok. Repeat after me, “That. Is. OK.” They know you love them. They know you support them.

Because, while you did not play with them at the playground, you did play a marathon game of Chutes and Ladders yesterday and didn’t say anything when he went up the slide instead of down and won the game just because you love the big smile he gets when he wins.

Because you stayed in her room late last night and helped her turn the scary shadows in her room into magical sleeping fairies.

Because when he was sick, you laid down with him in his bed rubbing his back until he fell asleep.

Because you made her favorite snack when she came home from school and told you her best friend didn’t want to play with her at recess.

Because you dug 11 holes in your flower bed to find him 20 worms to add to his snail and worm collection.

Because you taught them to have confidence in their own abilities and pride in their accomplishments – and not just because you do.

So, go ahead and take the last minute of your ten minute window to try another level of Angry Birds because your kids are going to be just fine.  You need a minute to let your brain rest and not think about those 52,532 balls (or 105,064 balls if you have a paying job). You love your kids and you are awesome.  And they know it. And that’s all that matters.

Love,

This Mom and her iPhone

And with that, I’m down to 52,531 balls.

Tucking in the chickens

I feel the need to document one of the more ridiculous activities in our life from the last month. A little bit of background: when we bought the new house, the contract stipulated that we also take possession of the three chickens currently residing at the house. They were cute and charming and produced wonderful colored and tasting eggs (see previous post for an introduction). We loved our new-found identity as suburban hispsters with backyard chickens. But one of the chickens had a taste for blood that rivaled Hanibal Lecter and it became obvious that she wasn’t well-suited to being a positive experience (or role model) for our young kids. So, off to another chicken-loving family she and her two companions went.

But we had already drank the Backyard Chicken Kool-Aid so new chickens were purchased. They aren’t babies (we are already raising two kids and baby chicks are just about as big of a commitment…we aren’t having a third child for a reason), but they aren’t full-grown either. In preparation for the new chickens we did our research. We learned the pecking order is a real thing and it would take a couple of weeks to sort itself out with plenty of blood and feathers to show for it.

What no one told us is that we would have to teach them to go to bed.

Really.

I still don’t have my four-year-old trained to go to bed, how was I going to train five chickens to go to bed? Which method would I use? Babywise? Healthy Habits? Ferber? Attachment? None worked with my four-year-old so my confidence level that we were suitable chicken keepers was pretty low.

After much reading (it’s scary how much is out there about raising chickens) we learned chickens have a roosting instinct that makes them seek higher ground as the sun goes down. Unfortunately, as someone pointed out to us, chickens are about as smart as a rutabaga and they aren’t very discriminating about where that roost may be. It could be on a large rock that is just a few inches off the ground. It baffled us why our chickens were choosing to pile themselves, all of them, onto a single 12″ stick that was stuck about two feet off the ground in the corner of their cage, completely ignoring the wonderfully cozy, enclosed roosting bars inside their hen house.

Rutabagas, indeed.

We were told we needed to train them to roost in the right place. For three weeks, every night, our evening routine consisted of dinner, bath for the kids, brushing teeth, singing songs with the two-year-old, putting him down, then wrestling (literally) our four-year-old, reading books, going to the bathroom, singing Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star, tucking him in and then marching outside to the chicken house and grabbing each chicken, one-by-one, off their ridiculously chosen perch (on top of another chicken in four out of the five cases), gently shoving them up the chicken ladder leading to the hen house and then opening the door to the hen house to make sure they were all actually roosting on the bar and not just standing there (rutabagas!). You add the hysteric flapping of wings and chicken poop flying everywhere and suddenly our bedtime routine became a whole lot messier.

We were told it would take two weeks. It took more than three. Three of the chickens caught on pretty quickly but two hold-outs drew it out. They simply were not interested in joining their friends inside the house. We clearly had not met their demands. We were stumped.

So, I called a new friend I had made over the summer. Mike The Chicken Farmer in Sonoma. He was a bit bewildered. He’d never had problems with chickens roosting but he admitted he was a “real” chicken farmer and he didn’t have time to tuck in his 100+ chickens every night (I’m pretty sure he thought I was a rutabaga). But he did say that chickens are followers (see: pecking order) and that maybe we didn’t have the right order. We needed to get the alpha chicken to roost before all the others.

Ok. We knew which one was the alpha chicken so we tried that. Didn’t work. We were still stumped and feeling silly for already dedicating three weeks of our lives to this endeavor. Justin had been handling the bulk of the chicken bedtime and it just so happened he couldn’t do it for a couple of nights, so I did it. And guess what? After two nights of me tucking in the chickens, all five began roosting in the hen house on their own.

I guess we were wrong. I’m the alpha chicken and Justin ranks at number four in our flock of rutabagas. Yay, me!

I think.