To My Third Child on Her First Birthday.

A fellow mom of three and good friend of mine told me if I could survive the first year of having three little ones, I could survive anything. ‘Just get through this first year‘. I’ve repeated this momtra over and over and over until finally, here we are: At the first year mark. We survived. Barely. But we made it. I dedicate this one to my last baby’s first birthday.

To my third baby on your first birthday,

The day I found out you were growing inside of me I cried–actually, I smacked your dad first, then I cried. I will admit, of all the emotions that ran through me in that moment, joy wasn’t at the top of the list–yet. Scared, overwhelmed, and sheer panic are the emotions that swallowed me whole. You see, in my mind and uterus, I was so completely done having kids. Your brother and sister had already chewed me up and spit me out up until this point, and I truly didn’t have any energy left. I gave all my baby stuff away in the move without a second thought of neeeding it. I lost count of how many times I half jokingly told your dad I would be living in a padded room if we ever had another. We had a child for each hand, no further discussion needed.

But God and my ovulation tracker app had different plans and here you are, an entire year old, and the only emotion that runs through me now is pure joy! Wait, that’s not entirely true. Impatience, annoyance, exhaustion and my morning coffee also run through me, but, joy is definitely the main one. The point here is that I didn’t realize how much our family of four needed that fifth wheel until you came into our life. You literally have been the calm within the chaos of our storm. All of those initial emotions of having another child–the panic, the fear, the overwhelming thoughts of worry all subsided with you. You are possibly the happiest baby: even managing a smile after your brother puts you in one of his signature headlocks.

Before I had you, I cursed all those lying liars that told me their baby slept through the night at six weeks and that’s all thanks to your sister never learning how to actually close her eyes. But, I can now say I’m a firm believer that not all babies lie awake at night plotting to siphon their parents last stitch of sanity. Thank you for that.

Watching you play with your siblings reminds me of when I was younger with my own: some of my best memories that I’m so glad you will have, too. Your energy is abundant, your three toothed smile is contagious, and your peg legged crawl is like no other. You rock your sister’s hand me downs like a boss, and don’t you worry, one day we’ll get you a brand new pair of pants–tags and all!

Crazier and louder this is true, but the biggest addition we didn’t know we needed is the blessing of you. Ava, you’re so darn special to this family, and I’m forever grateful and honored that you are mine. We love you!

Happy 1st Birthday.

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Officially Outnumbered.

Written April 14, 2017

These last 5 weeks have been quite the wake up call. I am officially outnumbered over here…I now have more children than sense and not a day goes by that I’m not slapped in the face with a daily dose of what the F*&%. Some days are good, some days are outright terrible, most days are ridiculously loud, but everyday is truly a blessing.

I started this motherhood journey four years ago with the will to be the “perfect parent”. Don’t we all? When I had only two, that hope was circling the drain along with my tears. But, now with three, that desire has completely gone out the window with that important receipt Ella decided to toss on I80. (Thanks, now I’m stuck with those, “I could have sworn I was a size small” pants until the end of time.) I know all too well that a perfect parent doesn’t exist and if one does, can you gladly point him/her in my direction and get to making me some of those glitter three tiered cupcakes made from actual unicorn poop. Oh, and do some of those cool, ‘too much effort’ crafts with my kids because all I have to offer is a dollar store coloring book with some broken crayons. #averagemomproblems With just one or even two kids, yes, I enjoyed having my husband around, but I didn’t NEED him per se when it came to shuffling the kids to the grocery store or to Hobby Lobby, or just hanging around the house pretending to do laundry and making meals for my kids who hate everything anyway. Of course, it was always nice to have another pair of hands around to wipe a booger off my back, fetch me another beer while I have a sleeping infant on my chest, wrestle with the kids, or have some adult conversation throughout the day. I felt pretty in control and organized when I had as many kids as I had hands.

Present day life with now three little people has me dreading the days Noel has to go to work. Begging, bribery, and trying to sabotage his alarm clock doesn’t work. I’ve tried it all. And for those that don’t know, he works 24 hours at a time, and if overtime rolls around, he’s gone for 48 #firefighterlife Can I handle all three alone for a whole day? Sure. Do I like to? Hell. No. My daily goal is to simply survive until bedtime rolls around, to get through breakfast without a whole bowl of milk painting the floor, and to make it one 30 minute span without someone biting someone. Picture this: me, sitting on the couch, left boob hanging out with a ravenous newborn on the right, yelling and repeating empty threats to the two toddlers who know damn well Mom ain’t gonna get up and follow through. I mean, “how many times has she sent us to our room for time out today” is what they say to each other whilst unraveling the toilet paper. I have accepted the fact that my public appearances alone with all three kids simply just won’t happen anymore, at least not for a looong time anyway, unless I’m feeling extra brave or stupid that particular day. Even when Noel is home, we have all hands on deck, it still takes us a solid 2 hours in advance before leaving the driveway. By the time everyone is fed, changed, bag packed, and potty trips are had–we usually say “forget it” and nix the whole trip. My rule of thumb when attempting to go in public, if I’m sweating and had to say the ‘F’ word more than 5 times before I buckle my seatbelt, we’re staying our asses home. Done. This is usually the case.

Despite all the chaos and commotion, I am proud to say the Repiscak Pack party of five is surviving. We are smiling and cursing our way through all the ups and downs, tears and poop, laughs and cries, cries, and more cries. Jesus Christ, why are they crying this much?! We had absolutely NO idea what life would be life with three kids, and frankly, I don’t believe we ever will have it all planned out. But, I know with some love, a little bit of Zoloft, and a whole lot of patience–and by patience I mean alcohol–we will all get through. Because I know one day everyone will sleep through the night. One day they won’t fall for my little mommy lies; “Oh shoot! I don’t know why McDonald’s is closed today”… [smiling to myself]. The day will come when I will trade diapers in for jockstraps and training bras. One day I won’t have to remind anyone to wipe after going #2. And one day they will all be too big to cuddle in my arms.

Yes, we are officially outnumbered over here, but I’m up for the challenge….I think.

Venti sized kindess of a stranger

Ella’s at school, I only have 2 out of 3 kids for a couple of hours, so I figure, “hey let’s be wild and go to Target! What’s the worst that can happen?”
 
I totally underestimated my children.
 
Liam & Ava took turns singing the song of their people from the shoe department to the freezer section—for those unfamiliar with the layout, it’s the whole god damn store. What song is that? I don’t know the name of it but I do know it consists of high pitched squealing, tears of their forefathers, and some snot filled gibberish. For the most part I ignored it, something I am becoming very good at by the way. But there were a couple of moments where Jesus didn’t take the wheel and being that I was in Target, I felt comfortable enough to let my crazy out—you know…surrounded by my fellow overwhelmed, overtired, and just plain over it moms. After my repetitive “sittttt dowwwwnnnnnn” (s) in my best exorcist voice down the shampoo aisle, and a man (with an obvious sense of humor) actually crouching to the floor, I finally waved the white flag of submission and knew it was time to haul ass to the exit.
 
But not before the next level battle of the self checkout which is an entirely other post. I honestly would like to ask management if I can review the tape of the shit-tastrophe that just graced their store. Anyway, after spending too much money and clearly too much time here, I do what any basic bitch in Target does— Starbucks. Duh.
 
And since I know you’re already thinking it, yes, I do like to torture myself. Moving on.
 
Behind me was a nice older lady whom had the pleasure of a front row seat to my traveling shit show. We kept making eye contact as I’m talking through my teeth trying to wrestle one of Liam’s legs back into the cart & picking up Ava’s thrown bottle for the 13th time. I thought for sure she was judging me so I began planning out come backs in my head, you know, just to be ready for any lip Critical Cathy wanted to dish out. I order my drink while simultaneously sifting through the empty sucker sticks & puffs in my purse and there it was. This angel of a lady steps up to pay for my drink & even makes it a venti for me! In disbelief, I thank her and insist she doesn’t need to do that. “You’re a good mom” is all she said to me. That’s it. That’s all she said. I took my now upgraded drink and headed out, smiling because 1) Liam farted on the way to the car and Ava belly laughed so hard, and 2) because there are still good people out there. People that get it. People that realize in between all the chaotic moments, an act of kindness can brighten this braless, mismatched, unwashed  hair, broken mamas day. And even 58 seconds later, when Liam became a whiny 33 pound bag of wet cement while I tried putting him in his car seat, that first sip of my ice cold gift was enough to keep me smiling.
 
Cheers!
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An Outing to Remember

Expectations and children: combining the two is about as useful as an elevator in a single story home. It’s not. At all. A majority of my days consist of staying at home, breaking up toddler fights, yelling about I don’t even know what anymore, and making food that everyone hates. What do I do when I need to press pause on the groundhogs day movie of my life? I put a bra on for the first time in days, squeeze into those too tight jeans, and pretend for just a little bit longer that this public outing won’t end with all or some of us crying.

Before I am even out of the garage, I’m hit in the face with reality–wait, nope, that was just a ninja turtle from the backseat. Someone’s hitting someone, the baby has just gotten word that she is, in fact, strapped in a torture chamber rather than the comfortable car seat I could have sworn I put her in. This one is whining about the sun in his eyes and the other is kicking my seat. All I can do now is mutter choice words under my breath and wonder again why the hell everything doesn’t have drive thru service?! I mean, come on people, this is 2017! Us parents need a more convenient way of obtaining all the important things to get us through those hard days; Chipotle and the Liquor store, for example.

Today’s adventure: the pediatricians office. The waiting room alone was enough to send me into shock. I mean, the fact that you put a big fish tank in the same room with grabby ass kids who are expected to sit nicely and wait 20 minutes after the scheduled appointment, mind you, without touching said fish tank…just no. Tsk, tsk, there’s that expectation thing again. You’re giving my kids far too much credit by posting the handwritten sign of ‘no touching the glass’ and actually expecting them to not touch the glass. Sure, I do my absolute best to herd them away from doing this but, I’m outnumbered 3 to 1 and have a baby hanging off my boob so the chances of me catching them before a tongue is planted on the glass are slim, at best. 

Being in the actual room isn’t any better, as if it could have gotten worse, right? I instantly start sweating because why is the heat turned up so high in this god forsaken place?! I lose a kid on the way to the room. It was fine, he found solace in someone else’s room, no biggie. Sidenote: Apparently shouting, ‘finders keepers! You touched him last!’ to the nurse who found him is frowned upon based on her horrified facial expression and all. On to the next battle. Shots. The needle kind, not the tequila kind, unfortunately.

Thirty pounds of pure pretzels, milk, and muscle: my two year old tank of a toddler is an absolute beast. Liam’s blood curdling screams trigger the next set of events that are best described as an absolute shit show. Ella hears her little brother in pain, and then herself begins crying. Not just a few empathy tears, I’m talking all out wailing as if she was the one on the table. Here I am, trying to talk Ella off the ledge and hold Liam down, and as if on cue, Ava begins to scream. 

When it’s all over, I look at three tear stained faces, their cries piercing my ears, and all I can do is join them. All four of us now losing our entire shit right here in this germ filled room. Trying to dress Liam as quickly as I can gets me a head butt right to mouth. I wipe the blood away like a boss and carry on with the task at hand. Ella has now managed to reach a new level of dramatics in life by slowly expelling a soggy cookie from her mouth, and Ava has worked herself up into a blow out attack up the back. Okay, I’ve had enough. Mom mode engaged. Numerous F bombs later, we’re finally ready to take the walk of shame. And like the pro I am (or try to be) I walk out of that room of horrors with a smile on my face. 

I was able to walk out smiling because I made it out of that room alive. Slightly traumatized but, alive. But isn’t that what parenting is about? Putting in the literal blood, sweat and tears it takes to raise our kids, all with the hope of making it out the other side alive. Slightly traumatized but, alive. 

The simple act of taking a shower when you have kids..is not so simple.

​How to take a shower with kids that are stuck to your side like a piece of half chewed gum:
1) Sprinkle a trail of snacks leading to the movie awaiting in the living room.
2) Run upstairs swiftly but quietly, making sure to skip steps because you need to hurry that ass up before your presence is missed. 
3) Turn the shower on to a hot enough temp that will easily break through the barrier of days old unwashed hair and peanut butter from someone’s sandwich from that one day. Take off your socks, and say hello to your kids. Yeah. That’s right. They found your ass. [If only they could find the napkin for their Cheeto loving hands that you literally just put in front of them that easily.]
4) Spend the next 3 minutes explaining why this is not their bath time, play ‘ew, what’s that’ as they point and laugh at your body, and argue with your daughter that no matter how fast she undresses, the answer is still no. ‘Put your clothes back on, this is my one shot of freedom, kid.’ [Cue 3 yo shirtless tantrum.]
5) Quickly jump into the awaiting shower and start counting to 60 because that’s how much time you have to get this shit done before the kids realize they’re basically unsupervised, although, only feet away from you, we all know how much trouble they can and will find.
6) Doing what we do best, here’s where that multi-tasking ability comes into play. One hand to wash your hair-shampoo only, no time for that fancy conditioner business, ladies- the other hand to shave ankle high, you know, just in case you wear leggings or something that would somehow reveal that winter coat you’ve been successfully growing during the hibernating season.
7) Watch helplessly through the glass door as your little angels raid through your makeup bag and conduct an experiment to see just how many items of clothing can fit in the toilet.
8) Use those last 5 seconds wisely; life reflection, quick pit swipe with the razor, or to just stand there convincing yourself that yes, you eventually have to get out and make lunches, and vacuum, and laundry, and, and, and…
9) Wipe your tears and leftover soap from your eyes, and accept that you will never shower alone until they are asleep, in school, or old enough to be grossed out by your saggy boobs. Whichever comes first.

Embracing The New Normal.

“Would you stop! I just cleaned that! Why do I have to repeat myself over and over?!”….the list goes on, and on…and on.

These phrases seem to be on repeat during the day in my house lately along with a few other choice words that go along with parenting children who think it’s funny to fart on you and are competing for the world’s suckiest sleeper: spoiler alert, they both win, or lose, depending on how you look at it. I find myself crying more often than my toddlers in a single day–and trust me, that’s A LOT. The question of what am I doing wrong always in the back of my mind. Wondering, while witnessing a toy throwing, booger smearing, foot stomping epic tantrum; why can’t my life just be normal. This. This one is the ultimate gut punch, the one that keeps me up at night and wakes me earlier than the kids ever can. Always in a one sided competition with the TV shows, the Pinterest posts, and my skewed perceptions of how I see other moms in public. With their sweet tone of voice and their well behaved children, I am left feeling like a failure because I just scolded my own for whining about getting out of the cart-no, the answer is still no-and smashing the bread in retaliation to my answer. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t my life be normal?

Back at my baby shower a few years ago, one of the “games” was to write down a piece of well intentioned advice for the new (naïve) mom-to-be. I read through some funny ones, serious ones, advice on keeping the marriage spark alive, and then there were a few that at the time didn’t seem “for me” per se, so I tossed them in the pile with the rest. I won’t pretend to remember verbatim of what it said, but I do remember the message that I realize now was so profound and held so much meaning. It was simply telling me to be prepared for my everyday to change. That everything I thought was normal before baby will no longer will be. I will have a new normal. But the truth is that at the time, I thought I knew, I thought I had it all figured out already, my experience was going to be different. Ha. I thought I could plan out everyday from the woodland creatures awakening me with a sweet song at sunrise up until the kids tucking themselves into bed at a reasonable hour every night not to be heard from for the next twelve hours. My house and parenting game was going to run as smooth as the smeared butter on the refrigerator door. I imagined my darling children practically licking the plate of food I made from scratch while begging for seconds with a gleaming, appreciative smile. A part of me embarrassingly thought the biggest change in my life would be that I would sleep a little less, change some diapers for five years, and pay a few more dollars for our annual Repiscak Pack vacation that of course wouldn’t involve tantrums, or puke, or anything other than happy tears and grateful children. While some of these are true-minus the vacations-so much more has changed.

I had an idea that having kids would change things, I mean come on, I may have surrendered a few brain cells to Daniel Tiger but I still have some left. Any big life event has the potential and ability to change your usual life routine in some shape or form. But motherhood has literally turned my whole world upside down, inside out, and spit me out right along with the shitty diapers and day(s) old under the couch apples and sippy cup of milk. The past few days have definitely been ones for the books. I’ve been emotionally, physically, and mentally broken down and overwhelmed by the day to day grind. The chaos, the fighting, and the ridiculous sleeping changes going on here have been at times too much to face head on. So, instead I choose sanity and bury my head in a bowl of ice cream much like an ostrich, except this ostrich is covered with Cheetos stains and boogers. Lots of boogers. Pregnant and fighting a cold, my patience meter is about as empty as my eyes and soul are during a Mickey Mouse marathon. I just can’t. The never ending laundry, the piled up dishes, and all the crumbs–my god the crumbs–how do these many crumbs find their way in and on every crevice possible? Anyone?

What is defined as normal anymore once you become a parent? It’s a hard and bitter pill to swallow at times but, the reality is that these knock down, drag out, seemingly endless days are the new normal. I challenge myself, and you, to cut ourselves some slack and instead of asking what we are doing wrong, think of all we are getting right. Sure, we yell, and cry out of frustration, and curse the devil appropriately named, Lego. But I know even after all of that, at the end of a long day, my kids hug and tell me I’m their best friend, despite everything that I feel was less than OK that day. I challenge myself, and you, to instead of asking and waiting for “normal” to set in, we stop fighting to measure up to this undefined, unrealistic bar of what normal is. The sleepless nights, refusal of any edible food except candy, the stubbornness, snot, potty training, and tugging of your pant legs with every step: this is the new normal. Normal is all of these everyday things, good and bad. One day-even though we can’t see past the fog this season of motherhood brings us-one day I hear we’ll miss all of these abnormally normal things.

Now excuse me while I use the bathroom with a toddler sitting on my lap while the other pokes my belly button. Normal, right? You got it!

Third Pregnancy Versus the First.

Let me just start off with saying that I feel totally blessed and thankful that conceiving children has been an easy road for us; seriously, how lucky am I that all my husband has to do is be within 100 yards of me while thinking those naughty baby making thoughts and oh look, a positive pregnancy test. This baby #3 is a total surprise to us. ‘But Kelly, you do know how babies are made, right?’ Of course I do, all it takes is a few (OK I’ll give him more credit than that) minutes of alone time while the kids are somewhere upstairs and BOOM,  we’re now outnumbered. After having housed and fed my first two for 9 months–and I suppose I have to for the next 18 years, too–this third pregnancy is completely different already. Let me count the ways.

1) Nobody really gives a shit–let me clarify. They give all the shits in the world that there is a brand new itty bitty baby that they can smell and squeeze and coo at on the one or two occasions they visit, but that’s about where it ends. And before you start feeling guilty that you haven’t or won’t come to visit more often than that- don’t. I can already imagine what having two toddlers and a newborn at home is going to look like and quite frankly, unless you have to live here, no one should have to see that. But more importantly, remember that everytime the doorbell rings, I will have to tuck my boobs away, or worse, put on a bra depending how long we’ve known eachother, and believe me, no new milk-maid mother wants to do all that. So again, don’t beat yourself up too much, it really is me, not you this time. And if you are chomping at the bit to extend some type of congratulations for the new arrival, please refer to the next paragraph.

2)  I miss alcohol. Am I an alcoholic? Not even close. Am I a SAHM with two crazy ass kids that don’t have an off button an almost never sit the fuck down? Nailed it. First pregnancy I didnt care in the slightest that I was the one slamming shirley temples in the corner at the parties while creepily rubbing and whispering to my belly, “it’s me and you against the world.” The second pregnancy was very similar to the first in that I didn’t really miss the occasional drink. Although, having a two year old while incubating another did cause me to side eye the Coors Light from time to time. This third pregnancy has been a bit rough. Having a sassy three year old combined with a busy body one year old has led to a few [too many] times where my husband has had to pry a bottle of grandpas cough syrup from my death grip. Calm down, I didn’t actually drink anything, although I did put up a damn good fight, apparently pregnancy elevates you to some kind of Hulk status. Since it is frowned upon to actually open that bottle for another 160 days (but whose counting…me..I am) I have taken the liberty of putting some after-baby requests in; I ask that in lieu of flowers or even saying “congratulations” to please just have ice cold drinks on deck. Thanks in advance.

3) Those parenting books that I read back to front, highlighted, and took detailed notes in once upon a time are now in my daughter’s room being used for pretend school sessions with stuffed animals and her little brother as students. Don’t get me wrong, are those books super informative and helpful especially to a first time mom? Absolutely. After that, you pretty much get the gist. And you quickly realize that those books basically leave you totally unprepared for the actual parenting part; Unless I missed the chapters on how to get shit smears out of brand new carpets and the best way of dealing with epic meltdowns in aisle 8.

4) The great nursery debate. With baby #1, I planned, pinned, planned, and pinned some more–wanting the absolute perfect nursery to bring our baby girl home to. I would sit in the room smiling, hugging and smelling all the little onesies, just imagining what it would be like when she was finally here. It was ready well in advance to her due date. Baby #2 didn’t get his own special nursery partly because we didn’t have an extra bedroom at the time, but mostly because I was tired and Pinterest kept freezing on me. So to try and take attention away from the big stickered “Ella” that was above his crib, I made doubly sure to wash the crib sheets and put a blue teddy bear on the dresser-BOOM, that’s veteran mom shit right there! Oh, and if you’re wondering where big sister was since little brother was in her room, this was in the midst of her I’ll only sleep on the living room couch phase. Baby #3 I’m honestly not sure where he/she is going to go. All I know is that we do have enough bedrooms this time around so I could take the liberty of creating an extra special pinterested up totally awesome nursery–but, that requires energy I don’t have and time I can’t seem to find-unless it’s for a nap. I can almost always make time for a nap.

5) When I went to the hospital to deliver our first child, the only thing we had to worry about on the homefront was to make sure the doors were locked and my hair straightener was turned off (huge complex of mine. Huge.) With baby #2, my cousin and aunt were either kind or crazy enough to take Ella for two days while we had our son. While discussing who, what, when, and where the hell the other two kids are going to go when this one decides to come, we quickly realized the only real solution is for my husband to just go home at night to be with them, that is, if some brave soul is willing to take them during the day. Now, if he would have suggested leaving to go home at night after I just squeezed out a watermelon headed human the first time, I would have certainly killed him dead on the spot. But, this time around, all I can do is nod my head in exhausted agreement. Why? Because no one wants to watch these crazy heathens anyway (hell, I don’t even want to some days) and the idea that I can maybe get a little bit of peace in the hospital before entering the shit show appropriately titled ‘having three kids’ sounds kinda like a mini vacay.

Parenting through the storm.

“The hardest part of parenting isn’t picking schools or getting an overtired toddler to take a nap: it’s raising children while healing yourself.”-Bunmi Laditan

I have finally found the words that I’ve been searching for that express how I feel majority of my days. Wiping butts, refilling sippy cups, and building Lego towers have become a part of my everyday: It’s routine at this point in the game. Once you’re able to figure out all that stuff; the bottles, diapers, poop and pee schedules, what day of the week they eat what food, etc., the days are supposed to go just a bit smoother, right?
I was watching an episode of Teen Mom OG this morning (yes, I was) watching Catelynn open up about her anxiety and depression brought me to tears. I know, I know, “who cries during Teen Mom?” Usually it’s not me, but today it was. Maybe because I felt like it was me on that screen minus all the cameras following my every move and the paycheck that comes with it. Maybe because I am in the thick of this battle myself, that I see the pain and struggle emitting from her face so clearly. She expressed to her therapist a line that really struck a nerve with me, it was something along the lines of, ‘I don’t want my daughter to become like me.’ 
This exact thought goes through my head on a daily, almost hourly basis. At times, simultaneously raging while feeling like the shittiest mother in the world. This fear is bigger than my struggle, but unfortunately, my struggle is stronger than this fear: and I rage. I lose control of myself over things that don’t really matter at the end of the day. I curse myself after the fact, but by then, have I already ruined them? In a rational mind, no, probably not. Kids are resilient, or so I like to believe. But in my irrational mind, yes, I have doomed them for eternity. These feelings and thoughts have the exceptional ability to come together and put a choke hold on you. Make you think things that may not be true, make you believe something is bigger than it actually is. Trying to comfort, teach, and raise children is in itself a difficult, emotional rollercoaster. Trying to do all that while desperately clinging to a string of your own out of control emotions yourself seems, almost impossible. 
Almost. 

Up until this moment, only my very close family and friends have known my true struggle. I was ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed of feeling like this. Was. Silently struggling with depression and/or anxiety only magnifies the already mountainous thoughts your mind has the power to make up. Sometimes just talking to someone can bring you back onto solid ground when you’re hanging on by the tips of your worn out fingers. I don’t want my daughter, or any of my kids for that matter, to become like me; I want them to be better, healthier, and unashamed of their flaws in this “perfect” world. And as they grow older, I hope they don’t only remember how much their mother yelled, but that they never forget how much they were loved. If their mind goes blank, which most kids’ minds do when it comes to that sorta thing (I know it took me to have kids of my own before gratitude was given to my mom) I’ll be right next to them reminding them anyway. I want them to know that especially on the days I knew I had nothing to give, I still gave them my all. I will continue to wake up each morning with a positive attitude and a clean slate. Some days the slate will be completely smudged with boogers and oatmeal by 7am, but the beauty of this parenting slate is that it washes clean with each new day. It’s resilient just like I hope and pray my kids are, just like I know I can be, if not today, someday. And you can, too. Keep parenting through the storm, there will always be sunshine through the clouds.

Parenting without a village.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

Well, it also takes a shit ton of wine, strong coffee, expensive wrinkle cream, comfy pants, and a whole lotta Jesus. And for those days when you can’t even, I suggest headphones. All in all, this whole “village” concept: it’s a sweet sentiment, right? All fairytale-esque with a little bit of Kumbaya on the side. A nice thought yes, but one that isn’t a reality for most. As a mom to young ones whose everyday basic needs are hinged on you and only you, day after day, wine after whine. Not being able to step away to collect your thoughts and put a bra on is a total test of patience and your love as a mother.

For the most part, I’ve gotten the hang of my SAHM gig and enjoy the adventures that come along with it. But, there are days when everything feels like it’s crumbling down around me and I just want to tap out. Days when the kids have unraveled all the toilet paper rolls, nosed through the trash can like a dog, and scratched the table with a rock. Why? Just. Why? Like, why is that an option? Through my tears and curse words, I begin to think about those who have an endless amount of loved ones on speed dial, chomping at the bit to watch the kids: if only for an hour. Those who can call a “village meeting” when times are tough and a mental breakdown is blowing into town. Those who have to basically make a schedule of who will be watching the kids, and when, because the list of volunteers is too long to manage without a pen and paper. I have no idea how any of this feels and I deeply envy those of you that do. And if you haven’t realized it yet I’m here to tell you, you have something most parents would give their left arm for. Don’t ever take it for granted, you’d be a fool. This village talk is the stuff of my daydreams because I don’t really have one, and you know what? It fucking sucks. It’s draining: mentally, physically, and emotionally. And it’s isolating.

I’m not talking about the once in a blue moon for a couple hours type of village. No. That’s about two towns over, one block west of ‘Where Are Your Pants’ Avenue. I knew that having kids would automatically make me in charge of them, like forever. There is no ghoul to run to when they need a PB&J or their ass wiped. I get that. Don’t rub it in. I guess the “pre-kid” part of me didn’t put much weight on the fact that we didn’t have a strong support network around us from the beginning. Everyone is all super excited when you announce a baby will be popping out of your vagina in about 9 months but then what? Where is everyone when you truly need a break? Like when you’re crying on the bathroom floor at 2AM from lack of sleep. When you just want to get out alone to roam the aisles of a store without yelling at someone to stop touching shit. Or you just want to grab some ice cream without sharing.

Our combined family consists of out of state dwellers, fulltime workers, chronic health issues, and some that have no kids but are just as busy as I am. I think it’s important to add that we do have a handful of people whom we trust with our children and who do make it possible, when they can, for Noel and I to go out alone. I am grateful for those times: you know who you are. You the real MVP’s. These are truly cherished events. In fact, if you ever catch me outside the house without one of my kids or anything related to them–you’ll probably think I’m on some kind of illegal substance. And I say, if fist pumping and cackling to the car while the kids cry at the door for you is illegal–then color me GUILTY! Bye, Felicias!

The little help we do get is great and much appreciated. Believe me, I take whatever scraps are thrown my way nowadays. But on those bad days. Those ‘I can’t do it anymore today’ days. The days when you want to grab a bite to eat without a highchair and kids menu. The days when all you want to do is collapse on the couch and take a nap. Days like those are when I wish we had just a few more villagers to put on speed dial. A few more helping hands, a few more encouraging words, a few more shoulders to cry on. That’s all. Just a few.

Parenting without a village can be both lonely and rewarding. Let’s continue to take on this world one kid hanging from our hip at a time. Let’s hold our heads up even when all they want to do is fall. And to the parents who are running on nothing but yesterdays underwear and this mornings coffee -with little to no help- I feel you. I hear you. I am you. And you are the shit.

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No, I’m not gonna enjoy every single moment.

Please, just stop. The last thing I want to hear when my 3 and 1 yo are having a contest to see who can break the most glass with their screams in the check out line of Target is some ass hat, albeit a well intentioned ass hat, telling me to “enjoy it, they grow up so fast.” Does it, Lady? Does it really go by so fast? Because right now, in this exact moment, time ain’t fucking moving and neither is this line!” Man, that would be so therapeutic to say, wouldn’t it?  Or if I’m venting to a loved one about how bad of a day I’m having, and rambling about all the mischievous things the kids managed to do before 8am. Please, just don’t. Basically telling me to smile while being flung with poop, standing barefoot on scattered Legos at the intersection of ‘What The F&*k and Stop Doing That’ is a smack right across my tired, oatmeal splattered face.

There are plenty of things I enjoy and wish would stop with time. I love seeing Ella recite her ABC’s over and over, watching her dance to any and every song she hears, seeing Liam aimlessly run around the house with the biggest smile on his face just because. I love it the most when Ella comes up and hugs me for no reason other than she truly loves me. The list of joys is longer than one can imagine. There are also plenty of things I don’t so much enjoy and things that leave me wishing the time away. I don’t enjoy the public tantrums because we went down Aisle 6 when apparently, Ella said Aisle 9. I don’t much like when I cook food (on the rare occasion) and both kids throw it to the dog instead. I’m not too fond of the constant battle of teeth brushing, hand washing, and trying to explain that we can’t fast forward through every commercial. The fake whining to see if I’ll give in this time, and Ella’s new found hobby of peeing outside like a dog. Why? Just why? I also don’t enjoy the constant waking up in the middle of the night by at least one, if not both kids. Just go to sleep. Why is that a hard concept, people?

I’m a 30 yo full time SAHM of 2 kids under three, married to a fireman whose schedule is crazier than I am: I know a thing or two about this ride I’m on. I’m aware that one day I’ll reminisce and wish I could have these days back. I know all of this. I shed tears over this. So please, don’t remind me by reciting Pinterest quotes in my direction while I’m in the middle of a full on bathroom break down. I have my own guilt when the long, chaotic day is over and the kids are finally quiet.

I propose that instead of telling a flustered, down on her luck parent to essentially “quit your bitching and just enjoy the moment” we respond with, “it’s okay, I’ve been there too, and it sucks sometimes.” We as parents are blessed with endless amounts of love to give to our children. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the patience category. I know you tell me how “fast time goes” with good intentions. I deep down truly believe that. But as a fellow mother, you know how important a crying session is to get your battery recharged. So before you tell me the cliché line that all parents seem to say to each other: don’t. Let me bask in my pity party and bitch about how slow this day has been going and how opposite of enjoyable it is.

I don’t know about you, but I go to sleep most nights and tell myself over and over again that I will be better. Tomorrow is a new day … and then Liam wakes up every 30 minutes, and Ella begins the day at 5am by climbing the desk and rifling through all my important papers. It’s mornings such as this that I find myself saying, “well, looks like I’ll have to try this ‘do better’ shit tomorrow.”

This whole being a parent thing is incredible, selfless, rewarding, and full of love. But some days, you know, those not so enjoyable days: it’s messy, exhausting, thankless, and will leave your spirit broken. There will be days you wish would never end, moments you wish could freeze in time. There will be days that you find yourself staring at the clock, wiping away tears as you countdown until bedtime. Days you are so in love with your kids that your chest will almost burst. There will be days where your head won’t stop pounding from the lack of sleep and the two man Tupperware Band. There will be days when you love every single thing about this season of life. There will be days when you aren’t enjoying a damn thing. And you know what?

It’s okay, I’ve been there too, and it sucks sometimes.