The messy truth about motherhood
Moms, let's get real. I mean, really real. Life is messy. Kids are messy. Our schedules are messy.
If I have to read one more "day in the life" article from a mom with perfect hair and makeup and a non-yogurt-stained outfit who shares how she finds the time to work out, make three meals from scratch, clean the house, put in eight hours of work time, and miraculously still fit into pants with a zipper, I'm going to burn the house down.
I defy you to find me one mom who can do all of the above by herself for three days in a row. So why do some moms insist on keeping this perfectionist myth alive? I would try to answer that question, but my brain is too distracted by the Daniel Tiger episode I threw on to entertain my 20-month-old so I could type this.
I would like to invite you into my mess. Welcome. Maybe by showing you mine, you will feel a little better about yours. Maybe you'll even show me your mess. Maybe we can wallow in our mutual messes together and stop pretending that life is as pretty as our Instagram filters. In any event, let's drop the pretense and get real.
Here's what my day looked like yesterday:
6 a.m.: My first alarm goes off. I wake up and hear nothing. Bliss. I hit snooze.
6:15 a.m.: Just as I am deciding whether or not to hit snooze again, I hear it: my 1-year-old whimpering from her crib. It's not an out-and-out cry, but more of an "I'm ready to get up now, dummy, and I could start screaming at any moment" sort of protest. I decide to risk it and pop out of bed to wash my face and do a 10-minute workout video specifically designed to repair the abs that have been ripped open by two pregnancies.
6:35 a.m.: Mid-video, the protests get louder. Have I mentioned that I'm the only adult in the house? My husband travels for work Tuesdays through Thursdays, so the only person who can silence that particular living alarm is me.
6:45 a.m.: I use every ounce of willpower to not enter my daughters' bedroom until 7 a.m. (because that's the hour I want to be wake-up time), but no combination of app-controlled sound machines and nightlights seems to do the trick. My 3-year-old hears the baby's siren song and is now screaming, "MOMMYYYYY. I WAAAAANT YOOOOOUUUU." She currently sleeps in a regular sized bed but never gets out of bed by herself. I don't know how or why that works, but for right now, I absolutely love it.
7 a.m.: This is usually the time when I throw on Nick Jr. and zone out while the 3-year-old sits next to me with a cup of milk I have secretly laced with probiotics and the 1-year-old sits on my lap with a bottle. I can sort of stare in the general direction of the screen while trying to remember exactly how much of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills I got through last night before I fell dead asleep on the couch.
But not today.
For the first time in the history of forever, neither girl is interested in television. The 3-year-old hasn't pooped in three days, so she wants to sit on the potty while I hold her hand. In the meantime, the only time the baby stops screaming is when I hold her while standing up. I throw the old iPad at the 3-year-old so I can get the baby something to stop her screaming. Nick Jr. isn't working on the iPad so I set up Paw Patrol on YouTube. I grab a teething biscuit, shove it in the 1-year-old's mouth, and run her back to the bathroom and whisk my daughter off the potty.
7:45 a.m.: The 3-year-old doesn't want to watch any of the usual morning TV shows — the only thing she wants to watch is something called Super Buddies. I have NO idea what this is. "Mommy, try Netfix," she says. I am both horrified that she knows what Netflix is, and delighted that she's so smart.
8 a.m.: I pack her lunch, shove both girls into clean clothes, and put the baby in a carrier. The 3-year-old, who is perfectly capable of walking around the corner of our apartment building to daycare, insists on riding in the stroller because otherwise the wind would blow her away.
Side note: You may have noticed that I didn't mention getting dressed myself. That's because I didn't. I'm still wearing my pajamas.
8:45 a.m.: I feed the baby, put her down for her morning nap, and hurriedly rush around our tiny, two-bedroom apartment to shove enough toys into corners to convince the babysitter that we're not the complete slobs she suspects us to be (even though we are).
9:15 a.m.: I spend exactly two minutes putting on clothes. I do not shower or brush my hair.
10 a.m.: The babysitter arrives. HOORAY! I have freedom, blessed freedom, until 5 p.m. After a morning like today, I am thrilled to sit down with a hot cup of coffee and work furiously without ever once hearing: "MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!"
5 p.m.: I return home, tired from staring at a computer screen but just refreshed enough to rejoice with the babysitter that the 3-year-old pooped after she came home from daycare and calm enough to cope with the fact that the 1-year-old barely napped and will likely be a bedtime disaster.
5:30 p.m.: Just as I am getting ready for "dinner" (dinner = grapes, oatmeal, and Babybel cheese tonight, for some reason), the 3-year-old poops — again.
5:32 p.m.: I suddenly feel giddy and high-step around the house singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" over and over while holding the baby.
5:38 p.m.: The 3-year-old literally poops her pants. Cool.
5:45 p.m.: The 1-year-old eats some of her dinner. The 3-year-old eats the cheese only.
5:50 p.m.: Both of my children have been on bath strike for a while, and every day I try to muster the energy to shove them both in the tub. Today, I bring the 1-year-old into the bathroom first and point at the tub. She shakes her head. I consider forcing her into the tub and then immediately think, "Welp, that seems like a strong no. No baths tonight!"
6:15 p.m.: My husband has the unfortunate luck of attempting to FaceTime literally two seconds after I put on a nighttime give-Mommy-a-second-to-breathe-before-the-bedtime-battle TV show. The girls, who love him dearly, won't stop screaming at me to put the TV back on. I know my husband is disappointed that he doesn't get the reception he wanted … however, I can't help but daydream about his giant, empty, silent hotel room that doesn't have any toys on the floor and immediately stop feeling sorry for him.
6:30 p.m.: I put the overtired 1-year-old to bed. She's such a sweetheart that she goes to bed silently. But she's not sleeping. She's biding her time.
7:14 p.m.: One minute before her bedtime routine, the 3-year-old says she's hungry. Of course she is. She eats the stone-cold oatmeal that has been sitting on the table for over an hour and asks for a second helping. I sigh, knowing what this means for bedtime, but give in because all my willpower has left the building.
7:50 p.m.: One pajamas change, one barely-helpful tooth brushing, and two trips to the potty later, we enter the girls' bedroom, where the 1-year-old stands straight up in her crib to greet us. I bring her into the 3-year-old's bed and tell them both a story that I make up on the spot. I ask for suggestions from the audience, which is one of the few things I remember from the beginner improv class I took through Upright Citizen's Brigade. I get: dinosaurs, raisins, backpack, flashlight. So I made up a story about raisin-eating dinosaurs who are discovered by kids with backpacks and flashlights.
8 p.m.: I walk out of the bedroom, leaving both girls wide awake. I turn on the Real Housewives of New York.
Now I have about two hours of "me" time, which includes: picking up toys, disposing of uneaten dinner food, emptying backpacks, running the dishwasher, and eating my own dinner of microwave popcorn and red wine. Maybe I'll even shower (finally!). Or maybe I'll just lay down and let Bravo lull me to sleep.