When I started this blog over five years ago, my life was in quite the different place. I had a one year old, a 2 1/2 year old and a just turned 5 year old. Now... they are 10, 7 and 6. All in elementary school. No more diapers. No more nightly feedings. No more 5-point harness carseats. No more high chairs or baby bjorns. I do have to say, the cuddling has done nothing but increase. But I always thought things would get easier at least for a time- these precious moments of fantastic ages prior to hormones and drama. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it never gets easier. It’s just a different kind of hard. Regardless of what stage you are in, it is just freaking hard. There are always problems; doubts, feelings of failure and constant exhaustion. Sorry to say, but I haven’t slept through the night in 10 years.
What’s funny to me now is I’m entering the stage of being a “seasoned” mom (That does not mean I know what I am doing, it means I don’t panic over forgotten homework or give two craps about what others think about me at this point). I still don’t feel mature enough to be in this stage, but the fact of the matter is that my youngest is now in kindergarten. (Please don’t ask what I do all day or when I’m going back to work--> here is your answer). Having my youngest in kindergarten, I have come to find so many little things that have changed since the first two. Realizations, really. It happened in preschool as well. When your first child starts school, you are ALL about it-- making mommy friends, planning playdates at the park, etc. You figure out who your child is drawn to and hope you connect to their mom in some remote way. I was super fortunate to have made great preschool mommy friends who I still go to lunch with even today. By Liv's pre-K year, her great little group of friends was split up and my sister was the only other mom in the class that I knew. I became THAT mom- the one who made absolutely zero effort at class parties or drop off/pick up. I was the mom who DIDN'T have another baby crawling up my leg while trying to participate in field trips. Having just my youngest child there put me in a different category- the "seasoned" one. I have always been one of the youngest moms of all of my kids' friends (I had Summer at 23, I was a baby myself!) But I have started to look around and notice that I am not necessarily that young mom anymore. Now that Olivia is in kindergarten and I have three children in one school, you would think I'd be a pro. Ha. It isn't so much of being a pro- my effort just isn’t there. Making new REAL friends? Ugh. We better immediately click and have a major thing in common called wine. Being a “seasoned” mom has shown me several things, most of which just make me sound like a terrible human so be forewarned:
Birthday parties. I hate them. Yes, we all have them. They make our children gloriously happy which is obvi worth it... I mean I just threw a (rescheduled due to puking) one the other weekend. You have three types of parents here. 1- The ones you don’t really know and it is their first child so they sit there the whole time with the awkward small talk. 2- The ones who drop their kid and sign the waiver so fast that you may have just dreamt you saw them. 3- Your actual friends who are weird enough to stay and hang out with you (or will go to the nearest bar with you for a quick cocktail during the party). The Number 1’s have the awkward attempts to engage with their child for sheer human interaction and because they feel uncomfortable. I have been a Number 1 countless times. What I have now realized is that, Number 1's- you might think you are being nice by staying for the party, but unless your child is the devil reincarnated and you can keep them in line, just don't do it. I get it though- when else are you going to even meet your children's friends parents? Instead of staying at the party, plan a mommy's drink night out. When people are not around their kids with an adult beverage, it is a whole new world out there. For the record, it’s not like I am anti-new friends... It’s just during a 90 minute party with 20+ kids and gymnastics mats that smell like feet isn’t the most opportune time to become besties. Birthday parties suck and take over your precious weekend, but like I get it. A necessary evil for us all. Another huge annoyance with these is if I have forgotten to order a present from Amazon in enough time. (I have actually started resorting to Amazon gift cards in certain dire situations. Definitely a bonus of them getting a little older).
Carpool line/Bus Stop. Dear Lord, please give me the patience and grace to not hate the entire world during this window of time. Our school in particular made a very cute and specific video literally showing exact instructions of what to do and what not to do during the chaos that is pickup (so nicely accompanied by music that would be better utilized in a soft-core porn video, as stated by a friend accidentally in front of the Vice Principal at Back-to-School night). I realize I am a rule-follower in general in my life, but the blatant failures and straight up disrespect of decent human common courtesy is just appalling. One such complaint is a young woman who casually pulls into a handicap spot, leaves a younger child in the car, and goes over to wait for her student by the door. 1- Handicap spots are there for a reason. I see many sweet old grandparents with the appropriate tag hobbling out of their cars to go pick up their grandchildren. 2- I have a dear friend who is in a wheelchair, and she actually depends on these spots (and the lines around them) to be able to park, assemble her wheelchair and get herself out of her car. The flagrant misuse of these spots irked me so much that I have now downloaded an app to be able to report such offenders. I haven’t used it yet (it is a special level to get out of your car and take all of the pics required to submit the complaint). In a pinch, I can always use one of these amazeballs papers (one of my best purchases of all times):
Carpool line sucks. Straight up. The bus stop is a different kind of evil, yet another scenario in which people don't understand what is appropriate or not appropriate (read: learn to drive and don't be rude blocking us all in). Yet again, I am THAT mom who hides in her car pretending to be on the phone. (Disclaimer: my bus stop is horrid on so many levels, so you can't judge me too hard).
Play dates. Whatever happened to just going outside to play and coming home when it was dark? My kind of play date is one where I barely see my child, no massive messes have occurred and no one is crying or bleeding at the end. The play dates where 1- You have to create activities and entertain them the whole time? Um no. 2- Your child is rude, disrespectful to me or my husband or acts entitled? Negative Ghostwriter. 3- I am breaking up fights constantly? Arghhhh. I guess I have the fortune (or misfortune) of having all girls. They play together, fight together, work it out, and then repeat the process. They are 3 girls within 4 years of each other so their interests aren’t too varied in the girl spectrum. Adding another child to the mix is risky. If they mesh, I have a 4th daughter no prob. If they don't, maybe we can try again when they get a little older. (Disclaimer- I do understand those with different genders and the challenges that may entail, causing the play date pushiness). I am just so much more into the "last minute, text me and if we are free, awesome" type of thing. If it is planned more than a week out, I just can't make those kinds of commitments. I don't even know what we are having for dinner tonight.
Class parties. Here’s another one where you stand around awkwardly watching your child play bingo or do a Valentine's craft barely giving you a glance. Fortunately for me, I have three classes to go to so just as I get to my awkward extreme I will make the excuse to pop into one of my other girls classes. I have been room mom before and the pressure to make these class parties fun for all while parents sit around and watch (please, just help out) is real. And please don't judge the snacks that are served. One year we had a child with peanut, treenut, strawberry, shellfish, wheat and soy allergies. Fortunately the child brought his own food, but we wanted him to still feel apart of at least most of the fun. (I will say, the donut on the string game was the hit of the century and I was quite proud of that party if I do say so myself).
Activities. The logistics of having three different children who enjoy different sports and whatnot is a mental mindscrew. I want them to have all of the opportunities that they want to play or try whatever they want... but the fact of the matter is, I am one human and we can't do it all. I can't be at three places at once. Matt is a superhero in helping me with all of this, and finding carpools is so clutch if you are fortunate enough. My calendar can often be a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the HOURS spent in the car driving them all to and from wherever, bringing the appropriate clothes/equipment, and making sure snacks are had, homework somehow gets done, and a semblance of dinner is made. This isn't so much as a rant but a source of serious anxiety when the calendar starts to look like an origami puzzle that can't be solved. I do miss the days that were swim lessons once a week for 30 minutes... and I know this one is only going to get more complex with age.
I realize all of these things are my own personal silly pet peeves that I try not to let myself be bothered by. Maybe all of these rants come down to the fact that I just don’t love people. That may sound as a shock to you because I can come across as outgoing and socializing most of the time. Matt read this before I posted and was like... um I hope people don't think you are an uber-crazy B who hates the world and never wants to have a playdate or go to a birthday party. I'm not (most of the time), I promise. What I have discovered about myself is that I am technically an extroverted introvert <--link here for some signs you are too (Except for #10- I may get awkward with a compliment but oh who doesn't love them?). I need my alone time to recharge and feel human again. I am queen of the Irish Goodbye (just ghosting without saying anything)-- not to be rude, but because I am just done and don't want to bring anyone else down. I can tell (and Matt most definitely can as well) when I just NEED to be ALONE. And he is adorable and will take the girls out to dinner or something to give me a minute. Although they are 10, 7 and 6, they still need me quite a bit both physically and mentally. But I will tell you one thing- please don’t say, “Oh just wait til they are teenagers” or “Little people, little problems. Big people, big problems.” Just shhhhhh for the moment. Because in my opinion, whatever your current situation is, it is hard. And it was hard for everyone who came before you, no matter what current stage they are in.