"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


A Letter to My Children Concerning Their Artwork

Dear Children,

I love you. You know that. In fact one of you, and I won’t name names, is already over that game I play where I say, “Hey, I have to tell you a secret,” and then you come over and I whisper “I love you so much” in your ear. You can deny it, but your eye roll says it all. Regardless, I will continue to tell you how much I love you a gazillion times a day. This will never get old to me. Never. And one day, if you have kids, you will do the same. I can promise you that.

But I digress. Back to the topic. We need to have a serious chat about something. I love you. (See, there I go again.) And that means all of you. Including everything you create with those perfect (although usually extremely dirty) little hands of yours. But you all really need to slow your roll on the amount of artwork you create. And I use the term artwork loosely to include your drawings and paintings, any craft projects you make, those pages you’ve ripped out of activity books to color and adorn with stickers, the random Post-Its and scraps of paper I find all over the house with cryptic writing and various symbols drawn on them, and anything covered in doodles. Oh, and those pieces of paper that look completely blank at first glance but really have a few teeny tiny lines or dots or squigglies on them so that they cannot be used in the printer. Hopefully you get the point.

But why, you ask? Well, because we just don’t have the refrigerator space, or wall space, or cork board space, or desk space, or floor space, or shelf space, or closet space, or drawer space, or filing cabinet space, or car space, or purse space, or diaper bag space, or under-the-bed space, or under-the-couch space…to showcase every blessed piece of your artwork.

Plus, and I know this is going to sound very harsh, but it’s true–not every single thing you draw is a keeper. I refer you back to those papers with two barely visible markings on them. Or the colorful, glittery scraps not even you care to keep track of (and that I’m constantly getting stuck to the bottom of my feet). And while I’m sharing secrets, your drawings the other day didn’t accidentally fall into the trash can. (Read “recycle bin” if that makes you feel better.) Mommy put them there. On purpose. (Although apparently I didn’t bury them deep enough.) Because Mommy and Daddy’s most-used filing cabinet is, I’m sorry to say, our trash can.

Now, don’t wrinkle your noses up at me. You’re going to thank me one day for this. Honest to God. How do I know? Well, first, I can promise that you won’t want to be strapped with the mortgage payments we’d be ready to hand over for the house(s) we’d need to buy for the sole purposes of storing all of your art.

And second, when you’re older, you will have no idea what to do with the 83 gazillion boxes of old artwork that we’d be pushing on you the second you have your own place. How do I know this? Well, when I was little, Gramma kept pretty much everything I made and saved it all in boxes. And when I got older she’d plea with me to take all of the stuff she had saved because it was taking up too much room. You know why it was taking up too much room? Because there was too-damned-much stuff in there, that’s why. Sure, I’ll admit that it was kinda fun going through things and seeing how extremely talented I was from a very young age. (Ahem.) But after that, I had no idea what to do with the boxes and boxes of discolored papers that smelled like they had been sitting in a basement for 20+ years.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of your art pieces are forever keepers. Like this one…

I LOVE this drawing of our family. (Notice that I'm holding the baby on my chest.)

I LOVE this drawing of our family. (Notice that I’m holding the baby on my chest.)

But hows about we make a pact moving forward for all the rest? I know it upsets you to think about me throwing away all of your hard work. So, I promise I won’t throw things away willy nilly anymore (because I have to admit, I did feel a little bad when you found that stuff in the trash). If there are things you want to keep, we can. We can use the old standby refrigerator display method, or we can hop on Pinterest to find some creative display ideas. Like this, or this, or even this.

We can do a weekly rotation (although if I’m being realistic, let’s say monthly; ok, fine, twice a year), and then we can re-evaluate. If you still want to save something once its display time has elapsed, let’s save it in a photo. I can take pictures and we can save them on my computer or on a CD or thumb drive. Or heck, even on our “cloud.” Then we can throw away/recycle the actual art. This has the twofold benefit of 1) saving space (in our house, anyway, oh and in yours in the future) and 2) keeping a record of your art that doesn’t yellow or take on that musty basement smell over time.

Then, if you want to get crafty and creative with the pictures down the road, do it! It’ll mean you’ve activated some lazy recessive gene of mine that until this point in my life has remained pretty dormant.

What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Looking forward to all of your future masterpieces. Just don’t expect me to save them all.



35 Reasons My Kids Won’t Eat What You’ve Made

Hey, don’t take it personally if my kids won’t eat something you’ve made for them. Really, it’s not you, it’s them. And after 5 years, I’ve begun to crack the code on why my kids sometimes don’t eat their food. Here’s what I’ve learned so far . . .

won't eat

  1. It looks funny
  2. It smells funny
  3. It feels funny
  4. It tastes funny
  5. It’s too mushy
  6. It’s too hard
  7. It’s too hot
  8. It’s too cold
  9. It’s too spicy
  10. There’s too much
  11. There’s not enough
  12. There’s green stuff in it
  13. There’s brown stuff in it
  14. There’s orange stuff in it
  15. There’s yellow stuff in it
  16. There’s red stuff in it
  17. They ate it yesterday
  18. They’ve never had it before
  19. Their friends don’t like it
  20. There’s no ketchup to go with it
  21. It’s not covered in chocolate
  22. They can’t pronounce it
  23. They’re full
  24. They have belly aches
  25. Their mouths hurt
  26. Their throats hurt
  27. Their hands are broken
  28. They don’t like the utensils
  29. The dog won’t eat it
  30. The cat won’t eat it
  31. They want something else
  32. It “accidentally” dropped on the ground
  33. They’re saving it for later
  34. It’s on their plate and not yours
  35. The dessert you’ve promised them if they eat it all is not adequate


Multiple Personality Parenting

Each of my kids has a different mom. Sort of. No we didn’t adopt. No we didn’t use surrogates. I definitely grew and birthed all three of them. Believe me, I remember. But I have a mommy confession: I parent each of my kids differently. I suppose you could call it multiple personality parenting. But I like to call it doing what’s best for my kids. Each one of them. Individually.

Before having kids, I knew exactly the type of parent I wanted to be. My hubby and I talked through everything. I was going to breastfeed. We weren’t going to use binkies. We weren’t going to introduce tv for the first two years. We’d make all of our own baby food. We wouldn’t eat fast food. We weren’t going to co-sleep. We weren’t going to use spanking as a form of discipline. In other words, we had it all worked out. We were so pleased with the kick-ass parents we were going to be.

And then we actually had a kid.

And you know what? Aside from a few circumstances beyond our control (our first was born 11 weeks early and couldn’t breastfeed, for example), we were pretty much able to be those kick-ass parents we dreamed of being. Belle was such an easy baby. She slept well wherever–in her crib, the swing, the pack ‘n play. She ate well. She naturally fell into a sleeping and feeding schedule very early on. She travelled well. She hardly ever fussed. Looking back, it’s no wonder we were able to be those ideal parents we had set out to be. We didn’t have any resistance, and Belle’s personality meshed so well with how we wanted to parent.

And so we had a second kid.

And boy did this throw a monkey wrench into things. Enter Saurus. I am not exaggerating when I say that he was the complete opposite of his sister in every single way as a baby. He was the king of fussy babies. He didn’t sleep well. He cried all the time. We could never seem to get him on a consistent sleeping or feeding schedule. And god forbid we try to take him out of town. Or out to a restaurant for that matter. Any time we’d start to make progress with him, something would happen to land us right back where we started.

I was in shock. I was depressed. I was confused. I felt like a failure. And I was left analyzing every parenting philosophy that my husband and I swore to abide by and that worked with our first child. I felt like I was a first time mom all over again. I had done all of this before. What the hell was the problem? What was I doing wrong?

I started getting angry. And frustrated. I blamed my child. What was wrong with this kid? Why couldn’t he just sleep like his sister? Why couldn’t he eat like his sister? Why couldn’t he be easy-going like his sister? Why was he making it so hard for me to parent him like I did with his sister?

Because he wasn’t his sister. BECAUSE HE WASN’T HIS SISTER!! This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. What the hell was I doing? Why was I trying to parent my children the same exact way when they clearly had very different needs?

This was another “aww hell” moment for me. I realized that the perfect, kick-ass parent I was able to be with Belle was because that was the type of parent she needed. Saurus, on the other hand, needed me to be an entirely different parent. In many ways, the type of parent I had never intended on being. Where Belle was content to be put to bed awake and drift herself off to sleep without a peep, Saurus needed to be rocked, and swayed, and cuddled until he fell into a deep sleep and could finally be put into bed. Where Belle could sit in her swing and be content for 30 minutes to watch her little birdies fly ’round and ’round, Saurus couldn’t stand to be in one place for more than 5 minutes at a time. Where Belle was independent, Saurus was clingy and needy.

This was a difficult realization for me. One that was not apparent in the baby books I read or in the advice I was given from family and friends. Sure, the “do what’s best for you and your kids” mantra was thrown around a lot–heck, I’ve even shared that advice with people–but the missing piece for me was that this mantra applies to each child. Individually.  “Do what’s best for this kid. But also do what’s best for that kid.”

And then we had a third kid. And although at 8 months he’s just now coming into is own, we’ll be parenting him the same way as we parent our older two. By whatever methods work best for him.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids are not running around willy nilly doing whatever the hell they want. We have rules and we have consequences for breaking the rules. We have expectations for our kids to behave in certain ways in certain circumstances, and we have consequences when this doesn’t happen. But our approaches for fostering these behaviors are not the same for each of our kids.

With Belle, for example, the mere mention that she might have to go to timeout is usually enough to get her behavior in check. With Saurus, we usually need to not only put him in timeout but also take away a toy or privilege before he understands we mean business. With Belle, a hug and a quick kiss is usually all it takes to help her feel better when she is upset. With Saurus, we often have to hold him in a tight embrace until he is calm.

And we’ll do whatever works best for the baby. Once we have some more time under our belts and learn what this is.

What about consistency? What about being fair? How can you possibly parent your children so differently? Well, we’re consistent when something works. And then when it doesn’t, we find something else that does. Our consistency is always doing what is best for our children. And this seems pretty fair to me.

I’m learning that as my kids get older, my parenting needs to evolve every day, every second for each of my kids. Sometimes what’s best for one kid is best for all. But sometimes it isn’t. And sometimes what’s best for one kid on one day, isn’t what’s best for that kid on another day. And that’s ok. At least for me. Because I know that “I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.” Each one of them.


Thanks to Leslie over at The Bearded Iris (http://www.thebeardediris.com) for letting me quote her here. When I saw this image on her page it really resonated with me and boiled down everything I wanted to say in one sentence. I just knew it would fit perfectly here.


46 Reasons My Mom or Dad Might Be Freaking Out

If you have kids and you’ve been on the Internet at all in the past few months, you’ve no doubt read Jason Good’s “46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out.” If you haven’t, what the heck are you waiting for? Go there, now. Then come right back here. Pretty please with a cherry on top.

Hysterical, eh?! And absolutely spot on.

After reading this, I thought it would be funny to do a similar list, only told from a preschooler’s perspective. (Don’t worry, I ran the idea past Jason, and he was cool with it.) Many of these I have experienced first hand; others I’m not fessing up to personally, we’ll just call them educated guesses. I know I can’t do the original justice, but here you go:

46 Reasons My Mom or Dad Might Be Freaking Out

  1. I’m continually spazzing out because of something on Mr. Good’s list.
  2. I’m eating my boogers. And my sister’s.
  3. I ate an entire box of Raisinets while mommy was in the shower.
  4. I have explosive diarrhea and it’s getting on everything.
  5. I keep touching my explosive diarrhea.
  6. I’ve spilled my milk for the sixth time today. And it’s not even lunchtime yet.
  7. I’m chewing some gum I found stuck to the chair at the Walgreen’s pharmacy.
  8. I’ve started modeling my behavior after Caillou.
  9. I took off all of my clothes 30 seconds before we were supposed to leave for day care.
  10. I ate the last samoa Girl Scout cookie.
  11. I took a permanent marker to the couch.
  12. I won’t stop blowing a whistle.
  13. I dunked daddy’s phone in a big glass of iced tea.
  14. I ran out into the parking lot chasing a leaf.
  15. I puked all over the dog.
  16. I accidentally called 911 from mommy’s cell phone. Again.
  17. I flooded the bathroom while giving my dinosaurs a bath.
  18. I spilled nail polish on the beige carpet.
  19. I’m drinking milk from a sippy cup we lost 4 days ago.
  20. I’m playing in the cat’s litter box.
  21. I trapped my brother in the dryer and now he’s stuck in there.
  22. I smeared peanut butter and jelly all over the tv screen.
  23. I fed my 8-month-old brother some rocks.
  24. I locked my mommy out of the house.
  25. I’m not sure if that’s chocolate or poop I just smeared on my sister’s shirt.
  26. I kept pushing buttons and erased a month’s worth of stuff on the DVR.
  27. I ate one of those packets I found in a shoe box.
  28. I keep sneaking sips of water from the bird bath.
  29. I put my finger in the cat’s butt.
  30. I left the freezer door open and no one noticed for a few hours.
  31. I ripped the pages out of mommy’s first edition of Where the Wild Things Are. 
  32. I keep shouting “penis” as we walk through the grocery store.
  33. I like to put coins in the car air vents.
  34. I pulled all of the stuffing out of one of the couch cushions.
  35. I shoved 3 peas up my nose and one in my ear.
  36. I deleted daddy’s Clash of Clans account.
  37. I threw my shoe out of the car window.
  38. I kicked my dad in the nuts.
  39. I snuck a diaper into the washing machine.
  40. I keep trying to use a plastic bag as my superhero mask.
  41. I stepped on the CD that had all of the pictures from our vacation on it.
  42. I pulled off all of the tops from the Keurig k-cups.
  43. I thought my mommy’s hemorrhoid cream was an acceptable alternative to toothpaste.
  44. I smashed all of my goldfish into my car seat and then dumped my apple juice on top.
  45. I keep teasing my sister and making her scream. Because I can.
  46. I found some funny looking toys in mommy and daddy’s bedroom.

So, what’s on your list? 🙂


Even More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids

1) Happy Friday. Thank goodness, right? 2) You’ve made it to the final post in my “Things You Know But Don’t Really Know” series. So far we’ve discussed how kids are gross and dirty and how they are hoarders and moochers and don’t sleep when you want them to. This will be the most information-packed post, so I’m just going to get down to brass tacks.

#6: Kids Are Needy

So. Very. Needy. I mean let’s be honest. A newborn can’t do shit. (Actually, that’s one of the things newborns can do quite well, but you know what I mean.) They need to be fed, burped, changed, bathed, rolled over, rolled back, rocked to sleep, picked up, put down, bounced, swaddled, swayed, shushed. Parents with newborns are like zombies for a reason. But we know this. Everyone warns new parents that the first few months will be hell.

But where was the warning that this neediness actually intensifies as your kids get older? You’re not just fulfilling basic human needs anymore; you’ve become a means to an end. “Mommy, can you get me crackers?” “Daddy, I need my pink shirt with the purple polka dots.” “Mommy, where is that doll I was playing with the other day?” “Where’s  my binky?” “Daddy, can you put a show on for us? Yeah that one. Oh no, not this one. The other one. Oh wait, the first one. Actually, where’s the one about the kid doing that thing with the other kid?” “Mommy, I’m thirsty, I need a drink!” “Come wipe my butt.” “I wanna push the button!” “I need a Band-Aid!” “Mommy, we want a different show.” “Daddy, Mommy said to get us a snack.” “Where’s my blanket?” “Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?” “Mammmmaaaaaaaaa!”

Yup, that about sums up the first 5 minutes the kids are awake each day. But the kicker with all of this neediness is the timing. It is a simple fact that your kids will never need anything while you are already up or even when you ask them point-blank if they need anything. Nope. They’ll suddenly need you right when you sit down to eat, or relax, or poop. Or the second you get in the shower or are otherwise in the middle of doing anything else but tending to them. When your kids are little, you can simply forget about being able to poop alone or take a relaxing shower while they are awake.

#7: Kids Are (Too) Honest

How’s that? Don’t we want to raise honest kids? you ask. Oh absolutely. Yes, we want our kids to fess up when they hit a sibling, or tell a lie, or eat the last of the ever-loving Girl Scout cookies that you won’t be able to get again for another year.

But until kids develop that internal filter that (most) adults have and learn that some things shouldn’t be said out loud, you’re going to be getting a whole lotta honesty you may not want. Some hypothetical (ahem) things you might hear include

  • Your belly is squishy
  • Your legs are hairy
  • Your breath smells yucky
  • Your hair is greasy
  • Your legs are jiggly
  • You have a boogie in your nose
  • You stink
  • Your boobies are so big (“Big” is such a relative term, eh?)

Well, if you would leave me the frick alone for 20 effing minutes I might be able to do something about all that! (Oh, who am I kidding, you’ll probably need at least half a day to get all that shit under control. But alas, I refer you back to #6, so the likelihood that you’ll actually have even 5 minutes alone to do ANYTHING is slim to none.)

And don’t think your kids save all of this honesty just for you. You can be sure they will tell you just how hairy or stinky or big your waiter is one day when you are out to lunch. You will pretend you don’t hear anything. Your kid will repeat him- or herself louder and louder each time until you are forced to acknowledge the statement. You will start giving your kid “the look.” Your kid will not understand this look and think you haven’t heard what he or she is saying. Your kid will say it even louder. You will shush your kid. Your kid will get upset and repeat him- or herself again, this time while wailing. The waiter will have heard all of this.

#8: Kids Break Stuff

It’s inevitable. Your kids are going to break things. This is why you don’t buy kids expensive crap. $1 toys are easier to replace than rare antique collectibles. Even someone who knows nothing about kids will know this.

But kids don’t just break their stuff. There is no magic spell that excludes your stuff from being destroyed as well. Cell phones will be dropped in the toilet, eye glasses will be stepped on, couches will get colored on with permanent markers, lights will be left on in the car draining your battery, computer charging cords will get wrapped around the office chair and wound up so tightly from all the spinning that they’ll fray and eventually sever. And I don’t know any family with a complete set of dishes or glasses. Most of the destruction will be accidental, mind you, but that won’t make the replacements–should you decide to actually replace or repair your damaged goods–any cheaper.

#9: Kids Hurt Themselves. A Lot.

I knew kids got occasional booboos, but I had no idea just how often my kids would hurt themselves. It begins when they can start moving on their own and doesn’t seem to end. They roll into things, fall off things, trip over things, walk into things, choke on things, step on things. Kids are freaking clumsy. Or they often don’t know any better. And don’t get me started on all of the things they will do, intentionally and not, to hurt each other.

Thankfully, although you can absolutely count on your kids getting hurt, most of these injuries will be ones that can be fixed with kisses and a few (or 63) Band-Aids.

#10: Your Kids Are Worth All of It

You have no idea just how much you can love another person until you have kids. It is the fiercest, most intense love you can ever imagine. You will do everything in your power to protect your kids and see that they never come to harm because you helped to create this fragile life. You are responsible for this fragile life. You will understand what it means to be selfless. You will sacrifice for your child. You will do the best you can for your child. You would give your life for your child.

You will understand that even though all of the other things are true, having someone to love and be loved unconditionally makes it all worth it.


A Couple More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids

I’m happy to hear that my first post has resonated with so many of you. I hope you have shared it with anyone you may know having their first kid. Or even with other parents who may want to join us in solidarity. Lord knows I could use a few more friends telling me that my kids are not the only little wild things out there!

Now, to pick up where I left off. Here are some more things you know but don’t really know until you have kids:

#3: Kids Are Hoarders

Taking over the hearth, check.

Taking over the hearth, check.

You have kids, you’re gonna have toys. Everyone knows that. What I wasn’t prepared for as a parent was having my entire house practically turn into a toy store. A toy store that exploded. And then had all the toys copulate and give birth to newer and newer generations of toys. Much like the crumbs from the first post, this stuff can’t be contained. You’ll have toys everywhere. Kids’ room, check. Living room, check. Dining room, check. Your room, check. Kitchen, check. Bathroom, check. Stuffed in any drawer your kids can find because they’re good hiding places, check.

Even if you don’t buy your kids too many toys, you can bet your family and friends will. (And usually the kind that play loud, annoying music or can be used to make a lot of noise. But, that’s another topic completely. Love you family!) Not to mention all of the craptastic “toys” they’ll get from those kids meals you swore you’d never feed them. The ones that always seem to break 18.25 seconds into playing with them. The ones your kids go ballistic over if, heaven forbid, they find them in the trash.

We used to have a dining table in here. Can you spot our china cabinet?

We used to have a dining table in here. Can you spot our china cabinet?

And the more kids you have, the more bins and baskets and buckets and shelving units to hold said bins and baskets and buckets you’ll be buying to shove their toys in to. (Thank you, Ikea!) At first you’ll probably have some type of sorting system for the toys. You’ll want all of the plastic food to stay with the play kitchen, the gazillion trains and cars to stay together, and all of Barbie’s effing little shoes and accessories in one place so that when your kid is looking for things you know where to find them, hopefully avoiding an epic meltdown. (“Mooooooooom-mmy, where is my blue car?! I need my blue car! Not that blue car, the other blue car!” WTF?)

But eventually you’ll give up and just start throwing things in whatever container has even a smidge of free space. “You will fit in there!” Don’t feel bad about this. Just surrender; your sanity will thank you, and it’ll be so much easier in the long run. Plus, once you let go, you’ll find you’ll have more time to worry about other pressing issues. Like why the hell your one eye keeps twitching like that.

#4: Kids Are Moochers

When it comes to eating, kids typically fall into two categories — 1) those that eat anything and everything, and 2) those that eat hardly anything. If you have more than one kid, you may even get lucky and have both! Or your kid may fall into one category one month, day, or second and fall into the second category another. (Actually, you can pretty much count on this.) This makes for fun meal planning, I can assure you. *eyes rolling*

Regardless of which camp they fall into, all bets are off when they see you with food. They are going to want to cozy up to you and “share” whatever it is that you are eating. “Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite? Can I have a bite? Just one teeny bite?” For the love of Pete! And it won’t even matter what it is that you are eating. “Begetables, mmmmm, I lub begetables!” “Fish, I lub fish!” “Spicy, mmmmm, I lub spicy.”

If you actually want to eat your meal in its entirety, you have two options. Option 1: If you know your kid likes the food you’re trying to enjoy, DO NOT GIVE IN. I mean it, do not give him or her even just one tiny bite. As much as they say they understand that they will only get one bite and that’s going to be it, they’re lying. Always. Option 2: If you know your kid does not like the food you’re trying to enjoy, do the opposite of what I recommend in Option 1–give him or her a heaping forkful to nosh on. When your kid realizes what you’re eating is just absolutely disgusting, he or she will likely spit it out, right back on your plate, no doubt, and then go find something else to do. Until he or she forgets and comes back begging for more approximately 5 seconds later.

Sadly, this was not staged.

So I guess you’re just better off going with Option 1 in all cases. Unless you want to avoid this scenario entirely and you hide out in the kitchen (or bedroom or bathroom even) so that you can scarf down your meal in peace!

And while I’ve focused on food here, please know that your kids’ mooching knows no bounds. You should probably plan to stock up on chapstick and deodorant and pens, too.

Ok, now I know the title of this post, “A Couple More Things…” implies I would only be talking about two things, but I decided to include one more here so that the last post does not qualify for the longest post in blogging history. Phew, there, it’s out in the open, and now the editor in me feels much better. Onward and upward . . .

#5: Kids Don’t Sleep

When you want them to, that is. Everyone knows that new parents usually get very little sleep until their baby is sleeping through the night. (Those bags and dark circles under your eyes never completely go away, by the way.) What I’m talking about here are deviations from your kids “normal” sleep schedule once you think you have found a groove. Like when your kid usually naps in the morning from 10-12, has been for oh, say, the last 6 weeks, and then the day you actually have something planned while your kid is asleep (maybe a conference call for work or, more likely, your own nap) or something planned out of the house after your kid sleeps (say a doctor’s appointment or play date), your kid says, “F you, morning nap!”

You wanted to go where? Zzzzzzzzzzz.

You wanted to go where? Zzzzzzzzzzz.

This results in you either 1) having to cancel what you had planned to do when your kid was supposed to be asleep but is now awake and probably incredibly whiney and clingy or 2) having to cancel what you had planned for after your kid was supposed to be asleep because 1 minute prior to you having to walk out the door you’ll find your kid, coat and shoes on, slumped over on the couch, drooling, and fast asleep. And sorry if you had something planned both before and after the nap was supposed to take place. Your day is screwed.

It’s the same for morning wake up time. You can absolutely count on your kids sleeping in on the mornings you have to be somewhere at a certain time and then being up at the crack of dawn the mornings you could have actually slept in. It always happens this way. Until it doesn’t. And then you’ll have no idea when the hell you’re actually going to get any sleep because you have no idea when the hell your kids are going to sleep. They like to keep us on our toes like that.

I will tell you a secret, though: The one thing that absolutely doesn’t change with kids, the one constant, the one thing you can always, without a doubt predict . . . your kids will be unpredictable. Predictably unpredictable.

Ok folks, that’s it for now. But check back later in the week for the final post in my “Things You Know But Don’t Really Know” series. I’ll be tackling why you’ll never be able to poop or shower alone again (well, at least while the kids are little) among other things.

Until then . . .


A Couple of Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids

I used to get annoyed when people told me, “Oh, you have no idea about having kids until you have them.” Sure I did. Who doesn’t know that although kids are cute, they are also a lot of work? That’s why you get a dog to practice before having a kid. Like, duh.

Now that I have three kids, it’s my turn to pass on this knowledge to people I know having their first kid. YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT HAVING KIDS UNTIL YOU HAVE KIDS! Sorry for shouting, but it’s true. So so so so so so very true.

Not that anyone asked, but if I were going to give advice to first-time parents, I wouldn’t just state the obvious about their life changing forever. That’s not helpful. Kids are a lot of work, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead, I’d sit them down in comfy chairs, hand them a beer or glass of wine, and break it down for them all realistic-style.

And so I present to you, “A Couple of Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids.”

(Author’s note: This post will be followed by “A Couple More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids” and “Even More Things You Know but Don’t Really Know Until You Have Kids,” because let’s face it, there’s a lot to cover, and I could go on and on and on. Promise me, though, that if you read this post you read the second two so that I don’t come off as some sort of a-hole.)

Ok, let’s get to it. And fair warning: I curse a little in this one.

#1: Kids Are Gross

I think most people without kids understand this in theory–kids poop and pee and puke–but in practice . . . when you’re the parent, YOU are the one cleaning up all of this (literal) shit. And not just when dealing with diapers and potty training and the occasional tummy bug. Those are a given. But like when your kid decides to take a dump on the floor. At the mall. (Or, unfortunately for a friend of mine, in her hand, at the grocery store.) Or when your kid decides she’s big enough to pee alone in the stall at Target but forgets to take off her pants. Or when your kid works himself into such a tantrum that he barfs up everything he has managed to consume from what seems like the past 2 days.

These, my friends, will not be isolated incidents. Especially when your kids are little. These shenanigans will happen often, if not daily. If your kid has a proclivity for such behavior, you may even be dealing with this stuff a few different times a day. That adds up to a shit-ton of shit. And since you’re the one cleaning up all of this, you can bet your britches that some of this crap will end up on you too. If you’re lucky, you’ll get just a little on your hand. Although gross, easily fixed with some good hand hygiene. If you’re unlucky, well, let’s just say you better hope you realize where the smell that’s been following you all day is coming from before someone else does.

And while we’re on the topic of kids doing gross things, I’d like to put this fact out there: Kids eat their boogers. I think people like to think only other people’s kids do this, but that’s not true. Every kid will at some point in time eat boogers. You just want to hope it’s only their boogers they’re eating. Your kid may try it just once, or it may develop into a habit that lasts for a while. But it will happen. Same goes for ABC gum they find stuck to the underside of a movie theater seat, or a cold half-eaten fry they find on the floor of McDonald’s because, you know, they were still hungry. Dear god, I wish I were making this stuff up.

#2: Kids Are Dirty

I only had a vague notion about kids and dirt before having my own. I used to babysit a lot, so I knew about the messy face and hands after eating, and even about the crumbs they left all over the table and floor. What I did not know what that this dirt cannot be confined. It doesn’t matter how often you wipe them down after eating or how often you vacuum in the wake of a meal. You will find crumbs in bed (yours, theirs), crumbs in the carpet, crumbs in the cracks of the couch, crumbs in their cracks. You will ask yourself, “How in the world did crumbs get into the freaking tube of toothpaste?!” Like actually into the tube. Kids are just crafty like that.

The crumbs will even multiply and migrate out into your car. Their car seats (who am I kidding, your entire car) will forever be encrusted with ground-up goldfish bits, rogue Cheerios, and broken pretzel sticks. Don’t be too quick to clean out your car, though. This may prove useful on a long car trip when you’ve forgotten snacks. “Oh, sorry kids, just dig around in the cracks of your seat, I’m sure you’ll find something to tide you over.”

In addition to the crumbs you’ll find everywhere, EVERYTHING in your house, including the kids, will be sticky. Toys, books, DVD cases, toilet flusher thingies, faucets, door handles (especially the one on the refrigerator), TV remotes, cabinets, tabletops, countertops, your cell phone, the cat. You’ll need to keep plenty of Windex on hand to wipe their fingerprints off the mirrors and the TV screen. You’ll also need a lot of towels to clean up all of the drinks they’ll spill. At. Every. Single. Meal. Oh, and find a good laundry detergent. Preferably one that can handle the different kinds of stains you’ll be trying to remove from your pants every time you sit in something new and find your ass stuck to the couch.

And with that pearl of wisdom, I will wrap it up. Not your ass, the post. For now, anyway. Be on the lookout for the second part of this “Things You Know But Don’t Know” series. It may or may not discuss hoarding and mooching. Until then . . .


What’s the Best Way to Parent, Anyway?

About 5 years ago, Super and I were out at the mall. It was one of our first trips out of the house with Belle since she was born. I remember not really wanting to go out, but we needed a present for someone and decided it would be good to get some “fresh” air. About 30 minutes into our trip, Belle started screaming her head off because she was hungry. So I hunkered down on an out-of-the-way bench and sent Super off in search of whatever it was we were there for. Not 5 minutes into feeding Belle I was approached by an older woman. I thought she was looking for a place to sit down, so I awkwardly grabbed my huge-ass diaper bag and attempted to scootch to the end of the bench. When she was still standing after I had clearly made enough room for her, I looked at her and gave her a little smile to officially acknowledge her presence. She looked at me like I had just done something really offensive and then said, “You know, breastfeeding is really best for your baby.”

“WHAT THE HELL, LADY?!!” I shouted, “HOW DARE YOU COME UP AND TELL ME HOW TO FEED MY OWN CHILD!!” Oh, you bet I really did shout that, but in my head. I was left so stunned that I didn’t have a chance to actually respond to the woman before she walked away, judgment dripping from her entire being.

What this woman didn’t know was that Belle was born 11 weeks premature–Belle couldn’t breastfeed (or bottlefeed for that matter) when she was born, she had no suck/swallow coordination, so she had to be fed via a feeding tube. This woman didn’t know that it was in fact breast milk in the bottle I was using, and that I had been pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock for the past 12 weeks, the first 6 of which Belle was in the NICU, so that my daughter would have all of the benefits of breast milk. This woman didn’t know that I DESPERATELY wanted to breastfeed Belle, but that even when she was able, she would oftentimes stop breathing or her heart rate would drop dangerously low. This woman didn’t know about all the tears I had shed because I felt like a failure of a mom. This woman didn’t know just have deep her judgmental knife cut into my heart.

Maybe had she known all of this she wouldn’t have said anything. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter. I could have had formula in the bottle I was giving Belle (and after I could no longer pump, that’s indeed what she had) and that would have been ok too. You know why? Spoiler alert: Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. What works for me may not work for someone else. And what works for one of my kids may not work for another. Parenting is all about learning how to best provide for your kids. With extra emphasis on the “learning” part. And no one should feel that they have to apologize for how they raise their kids.

If I were to run into this lady again now, 2 more kids in, you know what I’d tell her?

Guess what Mrs. Judgmental, the baby you saw me feeding with the bottle, well that was breast milk, but we did switch her to formula completely at 14 weeks, and she’s doing just fine, thank you very much. She’s one of the smartest 5-year-olds I know. Oh, and yeah, my second child wanted nothing to do with breastfeeding from the beginning, so he started on just formula around 4 weeks. He’s doing great too, by the way. Oh, and my third baby, well he took very well to breastfeeding and, like his brother and sister, is doing just great.

2I’d go on to tell her that all my kids get vaccinated; the boys are circumcised; I work at home but also send the kids out a few times a week to preschool and daycare; the kids sometimes end up sleeping in our bed; our 3-year-old still uses a binky at night; the kids don’t always eat the same thing for dinner and we don’t always make them eat their vegetables; we allow the kids to watch tv; we allow the kids to eat McDonald’s, drink juice, and chew gum–occasionally; we do not spank the kids; we hold them and cuddle them a lot…

This lady would probably have a sour puss by now with all of the parenting no-nos she’d likely consider us to be committing. But I wouldn’t care. I didn’t ask for her opinion.

The point is, there is no right or wrong way to parent. You may or may not do things like your family members or your friends or the random people considered to be “experts” in parenting who clog the interwebs with articles about good vs. bad parenting styles.  The only thing that matters is that you do what works best for your kids and your family, and no one should shame you into doing any different.

Listen to advice (and know that sometimes it will come unsolicited). Try new approaches if certain things aren’t going smoothly. Inform yourself on important issues. Read up on parenting articles that offer guidance, not criticism. But at the end of the day, listen to your heart. Isn’t that ultimately the best way to parent?