|These guys contribute to the adult-energy-depletion phenomenon known as a side effect of parenting.|
In the middle of the night, I wake up to use the bathroom, and I realize after being semi-conscious for a few moments that it’s early Friday morning, which means that I don’t have to get up at a specific time because it’s my morning off. I am so excited at the realization that I almost do a half-asleep happy dance, but I don’t because even half asleep, I understand that a half-asleep happy dance would end badly.
A few hours later, in the dark, at 6 a.m., about an hour before I was planning on getting up, I hear it.
The sound of my one-year-old, Lennon, calling me. “Mama!”
Oh gosh. Really? He’s awake? Wait, I rationalize. Is he fully awake, or maybe just partially awake? Will he fall back asleep? Yeah, he probably will. It’s still pretty early.
I get up. I go to Lennon’s room. I think of what I can do to appease him while I take a very fast shower. Joel still hasn’t left for work, so he feeds him breakfast for me, bless him.
My three-year-old, Emmett, is apparently also awake now. He gets up and proceeds to the kitchen. The entire house is awake, and it’s only 6:15 a.m. Joel needs to leave for work soon, so I need to hurry it up and shower before he leaves.
I jump in the shower in fast mode. Did I wash my hair yesterday? The day before? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway – I will wash it tomorrow, I promise myself.
As I am showering in fast mode, I start thinking on the positive side of things: it’s only 6:15, and thus I have three hours to get us ready and vacuum my house before we leave to visit a couple of friends. Plenty of time. I can leisurely do everything and still have time to spare, I think.
I spend the next three hours feverishly rushing around until the minute we step out the door.
Joel leaves for work and the boys flock to the bathroom as I am blow-drying my hair. Somehow the boys’ distractions cause me to forget about the whole parting-my-hair thing and only remember an hour later, when it’s way too late. I guess it looks passable. I really don’t want to throw it up in a ponytail because that would be “giving up” and I really want to feel like keeping it together today.
Somehow, Lennon is hungry again, an hour after Breakfast #1, so I feed him some fruit while I eat (Breakfast #2). I think that he might stay in the kitchen while I vacuum, but alas, as soon as I leave the room, he starts whining. OK, I think, he’s in his clingy-whiny mood. I can totally handle that.
He follows me around as I vacuum, crying sometimes, which I can sort of hear over the sound of the vacuum, and as quiet as it is, it still has the effect of a cheese grater on my nerves. He finds something to do, and I think, OK, this is great. I will just hurry and get this vacuuming done. I speed along, and since my hair is down, I try to see through my curtain of hair while I vacuum bent over, and it’s hard to see what I'm doing, so I bump into things and bang the vacuum cleaner into things all for the sake of me keeping my hair down and looking like I have things together.
I glance over; Lennon’s opened Joel’s sock drawer and is emptying the contents into a laundry basket. In his mind, he’s “helping with the laundry.” He’s not.
Little kids are constantly making messes, and I am constantly rationalizing in my mind what to do about it, by weighing the amount of time it will take to clean up the mess vs. the importance of continuing to do what I am doing. For example, I think, Oh, it will only take about 10 seconds to put the socks back in the drawer, so I will let him continue “helping me with the laundry” until I’m done vacuuming.
I didn’t take into consideration the trail of rogue socks that managed to migrate around the house.
Lennon is now bored of “helping me with the laundry” (can you blame him?) so he makes his way to the kitchen and starts unloading the pots and pans from the cupboards. I can hear the clinking over the vacuum. Again, I’m in the vacuuming zone and don’t feel that stopping to stop him would be worth it, so I let him.
Essentially, I’ve traded off cleaning two rooms while he makes two messes. Totally worth it.
Now I have to pick up socks, swinging my hair to and fro so I can see the socks, and pick up pots and pans and lids and put them away so I can keep vacuuming.
Lennon’s really bored now, as he’s “helped me with the laundry” and “cooked a meal” (housework sucks, right!) so he starts whining again. I give him some Cheerios, which quiets him down again. (Breakfast #3, if you are counting.)
I finish vacuuming, and find Lennon in the freshly-vacuumed living room, sitting amidst scattered Cheerios.
Totally fine. I will just pick them up myself.
Meanwhile, Emmett has been lying in his bed this whole time, “sleeping,” because he usually sleeps for a good 12 hours a night, but was up late last night and up early this morning. He proceeds to tell me he’s had an “accident” (I will spare you the details).
I clean it up. I make my way to the bathroom to put on some makeup before I forget and walk out of the house looking like how I really feel (tired, old-ish, a little worn out). The kids flock into the bathroom like zombies and won’t leave me alone, even for a couple of minutes. Seriously; what is with toddlers’ fascination with all things bathroom-related?
I weigh my options. If I kick them out and lock the door, they will scream like I’ve told them I don’t love them anymore. Not worth it for makeup, I decide.
Lennon further helps me make up my decision as he repeatedly cries, “Mama!” and clings to my leg, burying his face into my pants. What does he WANT? I ask him, and he replies, “Mama! Mo! Waaa!” Seriously; I cannot possibly decipher those syllables. My gut instinct is totally stumped, too. I don’t know. I could go with the excuse that I’ve nick-named “Ol’ Faithful” because I use it all the time and it’s usually appropriate: teething (an excuse I can only use for probably about another year, so yeah, I’m milking it). This time, however, I realize that Joel probably didn't know how much Lennon eats for breakfast and probably didn't feed him enough, so I decide that he’s just hungry again and maybe needs some more protein.
I take him into the kitchen, pull off his shirt, add a bib, and give him yogurt. He’s happy again. (Breakfast #4, if you’re still counting.)
OK; I’m back in the bathroom to deal with my face. Emmett’s there, but I can handle one child. The ratio of parent-to-child as 1:1 is pretty dealable. I quickly try to apply some makeup while he stands on a stool that is negative-1-inch from me and starts to pick up everything on the counter and examine it, asking me questions all the while. It’s only a matter of time before Lennon is done with the yogurt and I have a massive mess on my hands to clean up. Be it known that the longer you wait after a toddler is done eating, the bigger the mess it ultimately is. My heart starts to beat a little faster with the urgency of finishing the mascara, and trying to answer toddler questions while I contort my face into my mascara-application position.
Emmett’s attention moves to the pair of underwear he had had an accident in previously (yeah, I didn’t have time to deal with those yet), and picks them up.
“NO!” I cry in distress. “Don’t touch those!”
Emmett runs out of the room, hurt that I told him not to touch something that was on his body less than an hour ago.
I chase after him and wash his hands, and tell him to just please stay out of the bathroom for like 5 minutes. I figure he’ll be okay, and I hear Lennon making noise again, which probably means that he’s stopped putting food in his mouth. I imagine that he has a liquid Santa beard of yogurt on his face right now, and who knows where else the yogurt has seeped.
OK. Makeup done. Underwear dealt with. I’m in the kitchen now, and just as I arrive to marvel at how accurate Lennon’s Santa beard of yogurt looks, he drops the spoon on the floor, which makes a pretty impressive-looking splatter pattern on the floor, except that I have to clean it up, so I can’t appreciate it for its artistic, accidental type of beauty.
Yogurt cleaned up. Lennon’s fully dressed again and his stomach is full enough that he won’t be asking for food for another 45 minutes, if I’m lucky.
I see a window of opportunity to send a quick text message, and so I do, but not without Emmett asking me, “Whobody" am I texting?
OK. That was kind of funny. “Whobody.” I didn’t even correct him.
Text sent, bag packed, 4 breakfasts fed to Lennon, and 1 to Emmett, house vacuumed, two accidents dealt with and I can’t even remember what other things came up in there, I think I may have put in a load of laundry, but anyway, the kids’ shoes are on, and Emmett says, “Mama, my sneakers are really ‘coolio.’”
Some of the frustration from the morning vanishes as I take a moment to appreciate the reference to the ‘90s that Emmett has no idea he made.
With “Gangsta’s Paradise” in my head, we step out the door, and although Lennon’s whining has started up again, the minute we hit the outdoors, he’s quiet, Emmett’s asking me more questions, some of which I ignore (I’m sorry, but it’s true), and I’m spent, and it’s only 9:15.