Thursday, December 6, 2018

Love in the Time of Toddlers

CB walks through the door while I’m negotiating with our crying 3.5 year-old while my nearly 2 year-old clings to my arm and begs for me to pick her “Uppy! Uppy!” He swoops in, picks up the 2 year-old while I sit down to talk to the 3.5 year-old about feelings, words, and how to put your feelings into words while using short sentences that I’ve been told help a child of her age better cope. Meanwhile, I’m unable to properly put into words my own feelings about the moment. I think these are the combined feelings of being overwhelmed, frustrated, and loving towards these little humans we’re trying to raise not to be serial killers or basic a-holes? And so we forge ahead through the whirlwind that is dinner, which has recently been filled with tears all of a sudden? Toddlers are a blessing. We experience the growing stubbornness of these little humans trying to plant their flags in the ground of this family and push the very boundaries we’ve laid out for them. At this very moment in time, the boundaries being that they must sit in their seats and eat food with utensils until dinner is over. Because we’re monsters, obviously.

After those blurry 15 minutes, CB takes them upstairs to brush their teeth and take a bath, one of the most joyous points of our collective day as they giggle and splash and the tears over not wanting macaroni and cheese for dinner – their preferred and favorite meal until…now? – have disappeared from their cheeks and their memories. I try to quickly get over the fact that I made them this microwave-friendly meal instead of something more elaborate that they also wouldn’t eat, and just quietly sit at the table, put my head down, and close my eyes. I just sit there and breathe. Feeling mainly exhausted and pretty frustrated. Did I do that right? Should I have given in? Did I give in too much? I just sit there for about a minute, alone. One glorious minute.

Also, the number of pictures
on my phone that look like this
are embarassingly endless. So,
it's 50/50 whether I'm in possession
of my phone at any given time anyway.
This is the most alone time I typically get all day, including when I pee, and I feel both grateful for the re-boot and guilty that I’m taking it. CB hasn’t gotten his alone time yet and the dishes are just sitting there, dirty and waiting to be cleaned off and put away so I can sweep up the scattered corn on the ground from the tiny hands that are still figuring out utensils and the limits of their parents’ patience. But I just need a minute. My phone buzzes on the counter and I ignore it. I’m sure it’s a work email or friend or family member saying hi, asking how things are going, or telling me about their day. But I can’t. I can’t be a frazzled mom, wife, friend/sister/daughter, and employee,  so I’ll check the phone later. Or I won’t, because I’ll forget that it buzzed and fall asleep before checking it. I’ll deal with that tomorrow. Besides, didn’t I make a pact with myself recently that I wouldn’t be so attached to my phone so I could focus more on the present? And so I’m focusing on my head being on the table and what it feels like just not to move for a second.

Meanwhile, I forgot to say hi to CB. I didn’t give him a hug hello, we didn’t high five, we definitely didn’t get close enough in proximity to each other to give a quick kiss. I’m not even sure we’ve looked at each other’s faces yet tonight? But I’m pretty sure he still has a beard and probably best that he doesn’t get too close to see the dried piece of processed powdered cheese that landed on my face earlier. It’s a look, and one he’s seen hundreds of times before, because I’m a catch. He’s been home 30 minutes and he’s been swooping in to pick up one toddler while I microwave dinner with the other, passing each other and asking various favors as the swirling, somewhat organized chaos of dinner and bath time happens each night. And if I’m being really honest, we probably won’t even look at or talk directly to each other, about each other or our days, for another hour until the last toddler head hits the pillow for the night. Sometimes we try, but it typically ends with one or both of us saying “I can’t hear you. What?” until we just mental high-five in agreement that this shit is bananas and we’ll talk later.

Is that bad? I mean, sometimes we hug hello. Sometimes we kiss hello! But I’d be lying if I said it happened every night….

And this, my friends, is what I call Love in the Time of Toddlers. Sort of like Love in the Time of Cholera, but with less disease that could kill us. I think. And it’s not something I foresee changing anytime soon, which I’m embracing because, contrary to popular belief, I typically live in reality. I embrace the fact that we both work full time jobs and have two kids under the age of 4. I embrace the fact that I’ve been traveling a ton for work, we’ve moved to a house in the midst of it, and this is an exceptionally crazy time in our lives. And I even embrace the fact that CB and I talk regularly about how we’re totally down for some alone time together, pre-kid’s style (remember that?), while also acknowledging that it’s quite possible that one or both of us will fall asleep and so what’s important is that we acknowledge that we’re still thinking about it. We’ve decided.

Oh, also, sidebar: YOU GUYS. I’ve recently realized, because I witnessed it with my own eyes and then took a friend survey of the people nearby, that some women actually wear matching, cute, even sexy PJ’s to bed on the regular? WHAT? I thought we had a deal, female species, that we wanted to be comfy and that we all had to live within these parameters so that we (I) wouldn’t look bad when CB finds out that it’s not every woman as you’ve been telling him for 7 years! And that maybe wearing his over-sized Georgia sweatshirt and whatever sweatpants are the cleanest isn’t what he was hoping for when he longingly looked into my eyes and proposed all those years ago? No, let’s get real, it totally was because that’s what I wore then, too. My marketing was honest and transparent, yo, so his willingness to settle for less is on him. Though, to be fair, I wasn’t consistently covered in powdered cheese or someone else’s sneeze-residue. But he probably could’ve seen that coming if he’d really tried.

And so, Love in the Time of Toddlers is this. It’s all of this and the this I can’t describe. I love it, in all honesty, and wouldn’t change a day of it. Oh! Except that day I got thrown up on within the same 24 hours that I picked up poop off the floor and none of those bodily excrements were mine, unfortunately (fortunately? The line is so blurry now it’s unreal.)  Are you with me? Are you horrified? Should I close down this blog shop asap because I need to focus on how off-the-hinges my life is getting and nobody has had the courage to tell me until now? I need to know, people! Share your stories with me, we’re in this together…(unlike the sweatpants pact you totally broke).