Maybe it’s the pregnancy; maybe it’s some sort of epiphany about what functional adults do; maybe it’s the look that K gives me when he tells me he’s out of black uniform socks, so could I please do a load of darks, and I say, “don’t you wear tall boots?? Can’t you just wear argyle ones? or ankle ones?” Whatever the reason, I’ve been on a kick recently to try to keep up with crap around here — you know, stupid, normal things like cleaning the bathrooms before they look like our family is trapped in a game of Jumanji or occasionally being able to see the bottom of a laundry basket (this shouldn’t be unreasonable — we have approximately 7 of them). So, I made schedules: outlined routines that I should be able to accomplish each(ish) morning and evening, larger tasks to do during nap time, and — gasp — started meal planning.
In conjunction with this, I’ve also put J on more defined schedule. We also recently moved him into a big-boy bed. It’s been, um, a process. He was doing fine for the first few nights, and then he started doing things like squeezing all the A&D out of a full tube and rubbing it into his sheets in the middle of the night. A few nights last week were especially bad. He went from sleeping 12-14 hours at night with a 2+ hour afternoon nap (please, other parents, don’t hate me…) to only sleeping 5-6 hours at night, with a significant amount of those curled up with a blankie and pillow next to the door, and maybe 45 minutes of a nap. In fact, I came up with a couple new mantras. Wednesday’s was, “he’s not purposely conspiring to break my spirit.” Thursday’s was, “well… maybe he is.” In my desperation for sleep, I thought back to all those times that I had judged parents whose kids don’t sleep, and realized that 1) I was a jerk; and 2) if it’s going to take him 2 hours to fall asleep, we’re gonna start that process a lot earlier.
Armed with a newfound zealousness and a healthy dose of pregnancy hormones, I set out to control some shit. I bought an overpriced planner, complete with overpriced custom inserts from Etsy (that are actually fantastic — they’re printed on 30# paper, and sometimes I find myself stroking them for comfort. I acknowledge that that’s disturbing and something that normal adults don’t do). I created a checklist for each day’s routines and actually checked them off. I started breaking my cardinal rule of “never wake a sleeping baby child,” in favor of actually sleeping at night. And, surprise of all surprises, it actually started making a difference. There were a couple of days that I didn’t do my daily load of laundry because (phone the press!) there wasn’t enough of any pile for a full load. The bed has been made every morning (yes – the one that we sleep in every night). We weren’t ordering pizza at the last-minute because I forgot to get groceries/take chicken out of the freezer/cried every time I saw the pile of dishes in the kitchen.
Which leads me to last night. Night before last, it snowed several inches, which basically means that I don’t leave the house barring a large fire or a craving for a peppermint mocha. Like my schedule said, I got up before J, unloaded the dishwasher, started some laundry, had breakfast, ordered groceries online (that my amazing husband volunteered to pick up on his way home), and made some phone calls. Then, I got J up, and we spent the morning playing on the floor (let’s not talk about the time or 7 I got stuck and he had to help “puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull” me up. Thanks, toddler.), snuggling on the couch watching Curious George, dropping golf balls in the demijohns, and watching the snow fall. Then, during his nap time, I prepped dinner, cleaned the bathroom, did some work on the computer, and checked off boxes in my planner. I was caught up. It was amazing.
Then, I got J up from his nap. Keep in mind — up to this point, all of the boxes were checked. I was doing it. Accomplishing things. Regaining control. Being a functional adult. Hell, I’d even changed my son out of his footie pajamas. Things were happening around here.
Then a few things happened over the course of about 30 minutes: as I was pulling things out of the fridge to start dinner, I got a phone call from K saying that my perfectly timed dinner was going to have to be pushed back a few minutes; he was running late. I had J help me measure/pour the rice into the pot (since it’ll just be a little mess, and it’s good for him to help, right??), and we scooped a massive bloody stink bug out of the damn bag of rice, which proceeded to fly straight into the light fixture and make loud cracking noises every time that winged spawn of Satan (name that movie) smacked into one of the bulbs. I immediately picked up J, went into the next room, and called K on the verge of hysteria: “there was a bug, and you’re gonna have to buy rice, and do you think they sell flame throwers at the grocery store, because I will not be entering the kitchen until it is completely gutted and remodeled.” While I was hyperventilating, J returned to the kitchen because he apparently wasn’t finished helping. He grabbed the disease-riddled bag of rice and attempted to dump it into the pan, but ended up with 90% of it on the floor. I frantically hung up on K, whisked J away from rice that would most certainly give him Ebola, endured panicked toddler pleas of “moooooooo riiiice?!!” and started the roomba. Apparently, though, no matter how desperate the situation, roombas don’t do well with mountains of rice. She mostly flung it across the kitchen, and kept escaping to the dining room despite being on spot clean mode (“Quit going in there!! I told you to stay by the table until it was clean, you overpriced piece of junk!!”). It was at this point that K walked in and I saw with fresh eyes the utter shit show that was our life: a toddler throwing a fit over not being able to push the roomba buttons, grains of rice blanketing the floor, a roomba freaking out about being stuck under the wine rack, a massive insect whacking repeatedly into light bulbs, and a frazzled wife muttering something about “but I checked all the boxes! with color-coded pens!”
Like a knight in shining armor, K immediately swooped in, put J in his room for a few minutes of quiet time, killed the bug, freed the roomba, gushed over how good pre-packaged ravioli sounded for dinner, told me how great the bathroom/straightened up bedroom looked, and poured me a half-glass of wine. He did all this while still wearing his boots, meaning he tracked water all over the house. It’s fine, though, because my daily task for today is mopping.
Moral of the story: I’ve determined over the course of the last 17 hours that there’s no such thing as getting a handle on life with kids. Have I mentioned we’re having another one?? I might set up a paypal account for people to make donations to my therapy/house cleaner/nanny/pizza-ordering fund.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering… J is back to his normal sleeping self, although we’re sticking to the more regimented schedule. K noticed him pulling at his ear a couple of days ago, so we’ve been giving him Tylenol before bed and he’s out within 15 minutes. Last night we didn’t at first, and he didn’t fall asleep until about 20 minutes after finally getting “meh-hinnnn” (medicine). Either he’s got a lingering earache/infection that is causing no other symptoms or we’re raising a kid to be dependent on artificially flavored red syrup. Which reminds me… I need to call his pediatrician and make an appointment, and then write it in color-coded ink in my fancy planner.