Monday, June 18, 2018

Well I guess this is growing up.

Guys, it is Monday night. And I need some friggin HELP. Because as it turns out, something terrible has happened. And that thing is that my infant child is now like, some adult human woman and I have no idea how to handle it.

We started noticing the changes this year. Her skinny little legs are now COVERED in thick blonde hair. She thinks differently than she did. She talks differently than she did. And oh yeah, apparently, she has a boyfriend. But the thing that really threw me for an absolute loop (feel free to judge my parental priorities now) was her new meltdowns. See, my normally hardworking, motivated, sweet-hearted little girl has become surly, ignores everything I say, and randomly bursting into tears bad enough to legitimately freak me the heck out.


::Awkwardly pats daughter's head::
There, there. Please stop screaming. Everything is okay, probably. Also, I really hope this isn't happening because you have been recently possessed by the devil.

But as it turns out, she is possessed by the Devil. For Devil, thy name is Puberty.

When the insanity began earlier this year, I decided to start making a note on my Iphone calendar because that is where I keep all the things in my life. Any time I had a HOLY COW WHAT DEMON HAS TAKEN OVER YOUR LIFE experience with my eldest child, I made a note in my calendar.

Saturday was one of those days. Which felt super uncool.  I mean, it was Saturday, and I took the kids bathing suit shopping. It was a 100% Nice Day. Except of course that it had more tears than I could count. Plus gallons of grumpy feelings. Plus, she thought all the bathing suits were terrible and was incapable of choosing one. So I took it all in. Then I made a note.

But unlike previous terrible days, I took it a step farther. I looked back, and marked the duration of time between the notes.

The answer? 24-25 days. Like. Clockwork.

So we had a talk. Because after all madness, it turns out this wasn't my child reverting to horrible toddler tantrum stage. Instead my child was experiencing a new influx of hormones and emotions that she's never had before. Her body is changing. Her hormones are raging. And it makes her cry and scream a lot.

Gosh how quickly it happens. We've been parents for a blink of an eye. More specifically, that blink has lasted 8 years, 8 months. And during that time, we've seen:

this barely toddling Toddler....    
become this Bonafide Big Kid.




This upside down 3 year old...
Become this still upside down tumbling fanatic.










And somehow this sweet almost 1 year old...    
               Became this sweet almost 4th grader.

Sunrise, sunset my friends. This is hard and it goes fast and I really can't grasp the fact that my tiny screaming infant baby is now becoming an actual human person. Of course, we all know it's going to happen, but then all of a sudden, IT ACTUALLY HAPPENS. And the actual happening is so much different than the knowing about the happening. And it still feels like a surprise. Because I look around my life and what do I see now? No more diapers in my house. No more sleepless nights. No more bottles. No more walking little ones around the house to keep the  cries at bay. No more strollers. No more swaddles. No more diaper bags. No more pacifiers. No more babies.

I'm not complaining. I promise I'm not. Because for one, babies are an insane drain on the human body and I'm pretty sure I barely survived the 3 I brought into this world. Plus, there's so, so much more exciting stuff to come.

I guess what I'm saying is that, I just wish it wouldn't insist on coming quite so fast. 




Monday, June 11, 2018

The Theme was Spiders.

I'm pretty sure I shared some stuff about my son's birthday this year but if you missed it, the theme was Spiders. Not SpiderMan, mind you. Just Spiders. I mean, why not? Because apparently being 6 means being obsessed with things that other people find vile. And spiders have become The Thing for the six year old dude in this house.
The Theme. Was Spiders.
Last Saturday morning, Little Dude walks up to me with a book he received at said birthday, and asks if I'll read him a story. But of course he doesn't mean story, because Little Dude is not actually a fan of fiction books*, it was in actuality a kids book on Spider Facts. Wait that sounds cool. That sounds like a thing, like: HASHTAG SPIDER FACTS! Sweet. Let's get that started.

THETHEMEWASSPIDERS.
Anyhoozit, we spend all morning reading about HASHTAG SPIDER FACTS and the concept is broached** that a person can own a spider as a pet, and that was the exact moment when my son's brain exploded. So I had him go ask his father because hashtag solid parenting (HASHTAG SPIDER FACTS) and his father said "maybe" which in father language means obviously yes except I don't want to do any work for this or discuss it more than we already have. There it was, he had his answer. A solid "maybe" out of both parents. Pushovers. This one was going to be a cinch.

Now, as the mother of 4 children, I consider it a very important part of life to turn everything into a Valuable Life Lesson. Also? I like to test my kids' resolve. Also? I like to put things off until probably they forget and then we don't have to do it. So I came up with a plan. And that plan was called, "If you want it, work for it, Sucker." Initially, this plan caused my son to cry large sad quiet tears, because after some time he realized that this plan also meant No Spider Today, and even No Spider Tomorrow and all of that was devastating to his tiny 6 year old spider loving spirit.

But he's still just six and so he rallied, and we worked out the details. At the time of The Deal, he had a net worth of 16 smackerinos. At that point in my life (so young, so naive) I had very little concept of the cost of a spider, so I told him he probably had to earn like, a hundred dollars. Now since then I have learned the actual cost of a spider is somewhere between $1000, if you want a spider that is brightly colored and exotic and ordered off the internet, or free, assuming you're willing to spider-hunt in the mountains for an old man tarantula looking for a date. None of this sounded great, considering Little Dude's budget and my personal distaste for creepy old men, so I decided to take a middle route, and drive him around to some local pet shops to price out their arachnids.

Fun fact: HASHTAG SPIDER FACT: if you go to a pet store and ask about a spider, they will tell you not to touch it. They will tell you that maybe it won't bite you but also MAYBE IT WILL BITE YOU and the bite will swell up all big and nasty like a Widow bite and that you'll probably die*** and then they will immediately try to convince you to buy a scorpion instead. Which, I'm sorry... WHAT? I mean, people are scared of spiders because, I guess, too many feet, too many eyes plus fangs, yeah? But good lord, look at the fracking death machine that is a scorpion. Once when I was taking a late night stroll with then-boyfriend-now-husband we walked up on a crawdaddy on the side walk with his claws extended up at us trying very hard to look like a badass scorpion ninja and that little fool almost caused me to give up on life and end it all. Point is: scorpions are terrifying. Crawdaddies are liars. And also, just don't buy a scorpion, you psychopath monster.

What we found in the end was that the cheapest local spider sellers will sell their spiders for the low low price of $25. And because I took pity on the child when the first dealer told us $100, I'd already promised to buy the terrarium. So there it was, he had his official deal:

$16 net worth.
$9 left to earn.
$0.25 per chore (outside of normal stuff like make your bed and clean your room).
One Month to complete your mission.

And he was off.

See I'd calculated that he might do 2 chores a day, and earn about 3 bucks a week. I figured at that rate he could reach his goal in 3-4 weeks.

But now, we are on Day 10 of this activity.
And he's already made it to 25 bucks.
So there ya go. That was that.

In fairness, in the mind of a 6 year old, getting a spider less than 2 weeks after you decided your whole world revolves around the idea of owning a spider isn't exactly instant gratification. He has used all of his free time to sweep floors and wash dishes and clean bathrooms. He has thought of nothing else for 10 straight days. He has yearned. He has suffered. He has set a goal before himself and he has worked toward that goal with laser focus.

I'll be honest, it very helped that last Thursday, we got to visit the home of a friend of a friend who is the personal owner of 25 individual tarantulas along with a vast array of other small 4 legged friends. During this visit, Child Who Most Wanted a Spider and Child Who Least Wanted a Spider both decided to hold a spider. And oddly, lived to tell the tale. This spider is a Dwarf Chilean Fire something or other and God help me. I think this spider is adorable.

Side note: we have to talk more about this whole idea of kids and chores, because WOW that is one of those things that feels like an awesome idea until you try it and then lose your mind because not even Job had patience for this because in truth the kids are BANANAS bad at chores and then you die. But we'll get to that later.

For now, it is late. And apparently, I need to go prepare my house for spiders. So think about that while you drift off to sleep. Nighty night, creeped out friends!

*If you don't love fiction books, or at least if the idea of loving fiction books doesn't make you smile, then you haven't seen They Came Together. My heart hurts for you.
**Don't worry about it, doesn't matter how, doesn't matter why, doesn't matter which stupid mom said, "do you think you'd ever like to own a tarantula" and inceptioned the whole idea right into his mind. Sometimes you can just let it be.
***It's a lie. Clearer minded, more knowledgable humans will indicate that a tarantula bite feels roughly equivalent to a bee sting, which is A Bad Day, but not The Bad Day. We've all now adjusted our feelings to the possibility of a bee sting.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Callin' it Quits!


A couple weeks ago I overheard my kids talking in the van.

"We're going to Chuck E Cheese soon!"
... wait what?
"That's right, we are because Kaden's gonna graduate from Kindergarten this year!"
... wait WHAT?
"And every time someone graduates from kindergarten, we get to Chuck E Cheese!"
WAIT WHAT?!?

So fun story, TECHNICALLY yes, I forgot what grade my son was (hashtag homeschool problems) but that's not the focus here. Cuz the focus here is not my personal shortcomings. We'll save that for next week or something. Today's focus is actually on what an amazing mom I am, and what a special magical beautiful childhood I am bestowing upon my lucky little offsprings. Because that's the thing: I've just been a super amazing mom. That's all. We should really just end it there.

But as it turns out...

CHILDREN REMEMBER EVERYTHING.

I mean sure, they fake like they forget how you asked them to make their beds or put their shoes away or brush their teeth, but don't believe it. Don't believe it for a minute. Those boogerheads forget. Nothing.

So we officially finished our school year Friday before last, and guys let me tell you I was not prepared. I'm really not sure how this happened, life has been busy of course, and I've had my eyes on the prize: Monday morning, May 14th- the day I could wake up and NOT worry about educating my kids*. So yeah I had my eyes fixed on the prize, and as it turns out the kids had their eyes fixed on this totally different prize. And that prize was all the super magical special things I had provided when the oldest 2 hit this particular, totally arbitrary milestone.

Pro Tip: If you have more than 2 kids, do not do anything special for your kids. Ever. 
Because you'll forget to do it by Kid 3, but Kid 3 will never never forget and will definitely resent you for it and immediately add it to their memoirs of early childhood trauma.

So because I am at least 1% afraid that Kid 3 will add me to some sort of sadness journal and cry about how I flaked on his Kindergarten, I hustled. I made sure the kids found their back-to-school outfits (this took hours you are welcome children), and Husband and I found a few free hours early on Saturday so we could swing a trip to Chuck E. Cheese.

Then Saturday morning, the day after our last day of school mind you, I dug through storage, pulled out my old graduation gown, and got to ironing. I realized that I'd spent hours photoshopping official-ish looking kindergarten diplomas for my first two kids, and so I jumped on the internet to find the quickest possible rip-off solution to the problem. Done. Nailed it.
 Turns out kid 3 didn't graduate with honors. I didn't actually realize this till now. Oops.

Which is just about the exact moment where I remembered the gift.

Oh Crap. The gift.

So as it turns out, we suddenly, spontaneously, remembered that we bought the girls gifts when they graduated kindergarten. Special purchased bits of happiness to celebrate their grand achieviement of completing coloring and nose picking school. Which doesn't feel that important.... except that again: Children remember EVERYTHING.

And sure enough, a few minutes later, Kid 3 walks up to me. Again, it's Saturday morning, while I'm ironing and printing and trying to get everything done so we can get to Chuck E Cheese before Husband needs to get to work in the evening.

Kid 3 walks up and says, "so... do I maybe get some kind of present today?"

And what do I tell him? I mean I have no gift. In fact this whole idea hadn't even occurred to me till about 6 minutes prior to the conversation I was suddenly in.

"YES," I tell him. "YES you get a gift. In fact, you get something really special. Now it's not wrapped, but it's a very special, very grown up boy present. Is that okay with you?"**

And ya know what? He said yes. He was excited. So what we did was this: we told him to pick the store. Then we told him that since now he was a BIG boy, he was going to get to pick out his own BIG boy outfit. Something fun for summer. And ya know what? He actually loved it. 

I'm gonna be honest, I was frazzled. Frazzled and caught off guard and I felt like  crap because I'd planned far ahead of time and planned a magical event for the girls, and then had a middle of the night panic attack for the boy. But despite my crazy, this child was celebrated. And his day was special. We spent time together as a family and somehow, he didn't notice my failure.

Oh yeah, and the best part? I've only got 1 more kid to go.

*Yes obviously education happens everywhere and learning is life and blah blah chill. The kids are currently on Day 8 of their summer curriculum. Boom. High five.

**Bluffing. It's called bluffing.

Monday, May 21, 2018

They're baaaaaaack...

Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. That's what it was.  51 hours of glorious childlessness. And now, it is so. So. Over.

First off, yes, I love my children. And YES I love being a mom. Let's just call that the baseline, so I can have my freak out morning and then just move on without calling CPS.

When you have a glorious 51 hours of no kids in the house, you forget some things.

1) Noise. You forget about noise. I don't know how I forgot about noise, perhaps it was 2 amazing fairytale mornings of NOT waking up to a kid crawling on top of you, or banging himself against the wall, or fighting with another kid, or smashing his piggy bank onto the ground repeatedly to get the last 2 pennies out*.

And that's just the morning. That's just before the coffee. The kids are noisy always. They're noisy when they're happy and they're noisy when they're mad. They're noisy doing chores. They're noisy when they play. They're noisy when they rest, and when they eat, and they are noisy always. And in response to the noise I feel my back tightening up and my heart rate increase because it feels chaotic and chaos causes anxiety. And somehow in 51 hours, I forgot about it all.

Oh yeah, so what did this Super Smart Mama go do to combat the problem? Well get a piano, that's what! A piano, and lessons, so that we can make more noise on purpose. I deserve an award.

2) MESS. It's hard to imagine that I forgot about mess, and truly I didn't ENTIRELY forget about mess. I mean how could I? If nothing else I've been talking about it constantly. And now that school is out, I've been trying harder to handle it, which basically means my house is still a raging mess, but I'm more accutely aware of how quickly it BECOMES a raging mess.

But for 51 hours, my husband and I were home together, we barely cleaned anything. And yet... the house just was clean. Because we also didn't actively try to destroy everything we saw. The kids were home 5 minutes, I swear no longer than 5 minutes, and their were shoes scattered everywhere and a suitcase blocking the hallway and toys in the kitchen and both kids bedrooms were completely destroyed. Their were brownie crumbs all over the table and the floor, and a few miscalaneous items they'd found on a counter, grabbed, and then just, threw on the ground. I mean, I understand kids are messy, but this kind of destruction in that amount of time was legitimately breathtaking. I brought home. I went to the restroom. I came out of the restroom and the house was ground zero. Sometimes you just don't see the tornado coming, I guess.

3) How I become the scary dictator. In those 51 hours, I rested. I laughed. I ate too much food and enjoyed some movies and games and remembered the me that is primarily silly and fun and way the heck more carefree than I've been in some time. But in the past few hours, between the 4 children, we've had half a dozen tantrums. All 4 have lied, all 4 have walked away when I asked them to do something, all 4 have fought and screamed and made each other cry.

And carefree Ashley died that day.

Some days I look in the mirror and see the grumpy, strict, dictator human that I've become and I think... when did this happen exactly? When did you start spending all day giving instructions and then giving warnings and then giving punishments and then explaining why that behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and then doling out more instructions and more warnings and more consequences and spankings and time outs and extra chores and...

Wow. I slow down and think, is this what parenting is supposed to be? And while I'm sure that a million people could tell me it's wrong... I think that a good part of parenting is supposed to be like this. Because kids need to learn that ignoring authority is not acceptable. That disrespectful selfish and rude behavior is not acceptable. That choosing what they want over the well being of others is not acceptable. That lying is so very not acceptable. That screaming and hitting and fighting are just not acceptable.

Kids don't come out "good". They come out cute and squishy and small, but not good. They're naturally selfish. They're sinful and broken from the get go, and it's our actual primary job to guide them through that. And that means instructions. It means warnings. It means constant explanation about HOW WE ACT and WHAT WE SHOULD CHOOSE INSTEAD. And it means predictable, reliable consequences when they choose not to heed the instructions and the warnings.

Of course I prefer to be the fun silly mom who runs around with the kids on the beach, plays games all day and loves tickle fights. That part of parenting is super fun. But like with so many other things, you need to do the work to get the fun. you can't just do the fun stuff and skip the hard stuff. Because if I'm not willing to raise and train them, then I haven't really earned the fun stuff. Gotta eat your vegetables before you get dessert. I mean come on, that's Momming 101.

And now for one thing I didn't forget during our 51 hours of freedom- This dude right here. This person who is THE BEST. I love my kids, for sure. But I love my husband. They are my responsibility, my purpose, my very blessed charge. And I would die for them. But he is my partner. He loves me back. The children will never and should never be burdened with the responsibility of my emotional well being. My relationship with my kids is a one way street. They need me, and I do for them. And some day, they'll move out, have families of their own, and they'll love other people more than they love me. Because that's how it's supposed to be. But with this man, it's mutual. We're in it together. We're in it for keeps. 12 years, my friend. Way to keep being awesome.

Oh and one more thing:

"I WISH YOU WOULD JUST DIE ALREADY!!" 

These are words I just heard screamed in my house right now. Because parenting is fun.



*At least 3 of those things happened by 6:30am today. That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Because Motherhood, that's why.

So fun fact, today was Mother's Day. I feel like most of you already knew that. If some of you did NOT know that then HEY. CALL YOUR MOM. She deserves that at least. I mean, she gave birth to you, wiped your butt, and has worried about you every moment since. Good grief.

In this day and age, you're not allowed to start talking about Mother's Day without acknowledging that it brings complicated feelings for a lot of people, but I think the same could probably be said for Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day, and most Mondays, so I'm skipping it. No trigger warnings here. Also? Stop being triggered so easily, bro. This blog is basically always stupid, and no one needs to feel that sad about stupid stuff.

Okay, so it's Mother's Day and #TriggerWarningNotTriggerWarning mine has been like, a bananas good day. Now, due to a 1 car situation my family finds itself in, I knew we'd be headed to church crazy early and I was not looking forward to that. But INSTEAD of wait times and exhaustion, what it meant was that I got to go out to breakfast with my kids and my own mother and it was fun and fattening and very wonderful. And then I got to visit with great friends at a wonderful church service, and bring home lunch and take a nap and then had a long and amazing and 100% uninterrupted bath which is basically the unicorn of experiences in this house. Fabulous, is what I'm saying. Restful and sweet and FABULOUS.

So fershur, Mother's Day can be awesome. But there's this funny thing though, wherein it turns out Mother's Day is just this day in your real life. And also, real life has kids in it. And kids are unpredictable little suckers. Some years, having kids has meant that my Mother's Day involved fabulous presents. Other years, it involved no sleep and catching vomit in your hands before it hit the carpet*. Some years its been full of people and events, and other years I sat home alone with my kids, too sick or tired or spent even to make it to church.

The thing is though, it's all motherhood. It's all an appropriate representation of what real parenting actually is. Sometimes it's utterly sleepless and arguments with your spouse over who got up last time. Sometimes it's a loud and crazy meal at a restaurant, and leaving an extra big tip because... sorry guys. I'm really sorry. Or it's a messy house and playing board games on the floor. Or it's This Is Your Last Warnings I Swear To Pete You Better Stop That Right Now and spankings and chore lists and tears.

You can see. The list got long. Not an accident.
And now my house is clean.
Now, this particular Mother's Day was super fabulous, as I've said. Well mostly fabulous. Again. Kids. My daughters had garbage attitudes and refused to listen to relatively simple instructions like "don't stand on top of the air conditioning unit", and "stop screaming and punching people all of the time please". And while a less thoughtful observer might scream NOOOO!!! My children are ruining my Mother's Day!!!! I am a strong believer that:
1- It is impossible to ruin Mother's Day because Mother's Day is totally made up and only exists if the tiny terrible humans exist in the first place** 
and 
2-it's time to make some fracking LEMONADE.

As I explained to the daughters: I would have preferred to have children with good attitudes who listen to their parents today, but barring that, I will at least have a very clean house. So I made them a list. And every time I heard them screaming at each other or saw them playing in their room instead of doing what they were asked, I added things to the list.

In the end, my boys were sweet and doting and showered me with affection and presents that were 100% toys and books they found in their room wrapped in supplies they found in a gift-wrapping box under my bed. And my daughters cleaned my house.

So there you have it. Happy Mother's Day to me. And Happy Mother's Day to any of you who also needed this hardcore parenting win. You. Are. SoSoVERY. Welcome.

*This is my straight up hard core parenting street cred. It's like the mom equivalent of getting jumped in. It's how I know I am in fact amazing.

**Or there's this rumor about clapping your hands and shouting I DO BELIEVE IN MOTHERS but I haven't tested it yet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Take the Crazy to the Curb. And other suggestions toward survival.


Turns out this Sunday is Mother's Day, and in honor of that, I thought I would write about something SUPER important: Me, and a bunch of stuff about me and stuff.

So remember last summer when I a little bit broke the internet? See, I mentioned how I disliked the whole "family dinner" thing, and that with 4 kids under the age of 10 it just felt messy and loud and complain-y and as it turns out, I find that I'm highly triggered by my family.* Anyway, I said this and then lots of people told me that I am what is wrong with America so I tried to be a better person but then just decided I was bad at being a better person, and maybe I was okay with being bad for America and here we are.

Anyway, all this to say, I've found this extra bonus way that I'm bad for America. No wait. At least 2 ways. Maybe 7. Just be safe and get your vitriol all stocked up, because Momma's got some things to share.
Hello there baseboard and
smudgy smudgy bit of wall.
It's been a while.
The thing is, I have a really hard time with the house cleaning. If you are a person who has visited my house at any point, you are not at all shocked. A while back I saw this woman ask in a Facebook group  if once a month was a sufficient frequency to clean her baseboards and I was like maaaaaan this is a way bigger problem than baseboards. In fact, what is your actual life when your big problems involve the frequency of dust accumulation 2 inches above the floor. It makes me think maybe she and I are not the same species.

Although a part of me thought, my carpet is stained, we are nearly literally drowning in toys and books and papers, and the dust is ALWAYS winning, but what if I like, just focused all my attention on the baseboards. Like, sure you walk in the house and you're first impression is like, wow this place is super disgusting, but then I'm like 'naw dude, cuz check out these freakin baseboards'. And then your mind will be blown because you were so wrong about me. So, so wrong about me. Spread the news. Tell your friends. Take that America. You owe me an apology.

First off, don't get me wrong. To say that my house is filthy would be ACCURATE, but to say that it is because we never clean would be grossly INACCURATE. We clean all the time. I personally vacuum about twice a week and sweep the kitchen every day. Husband does laundry every single time I go to work, and between the two of us, we do one to two loads of dishes per day. We also make sure things are picked up every couple hours or so, so that the toys and objects don't get overwhelming. The thing is, I have 4 dirt tornados spinning constantly through my house, and there is no such thing as "keeping things tidy". So bite me, Poppins. Unless you're going to unleash your magic around this place, no one wants your sanctimonious "cleaning is a bit of fun" bull-cocky. Just go fly off on your umbrella and leave this to the experts.

Anyway, I am learning that part of the reason I despise deeper cleaning is that my children are so so amazingly good at immediately undoing all my fine work. Take for example, this week. Sunday afternoon I decided I was very over the mess in the house, got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed ALL the jelly smudges off the floor and all the dripped I-don't-even-wanna-know-what off the kitchen cabinets. I scoured toilets and showers and the microwave and even went after some of those crazy baseboard things kids these days seem so hot over. I went nuts. And I got it looking nice. I was proud. Proud, and like, relaxed. I felt this crazy sense of total Zen that can only come when you finally feel like your house may be a viable place for humans to live. It was good I tell ya.

Then I got home from work last night, to the following discoveries:

  •  A cup of water, sitting upside down on the counter.
  • The butter dish sitting on the dining room table, open, the butter ripped to shreds by what was very obviously child-fingers*
  • Cereal on the floor.
  • Cereal on the counter.
  • Cereal in the handle of the trash can lid. 
  • Honey on the counter, dripping down the cabinets.
  • Honey on the floor.
  • So much unidentifiable food on the floor and in every corner that I would need a team of scientists to help me understand what I was looking at. Of course I would never allow a team of scientists into my house because a combination of intense shame and the fact that I love and respect science and I wouldn't want to break it.
  • You call it wasteful. I call it self care.
    Either way, they pick it up on Thursdays.
  • One of my few remaining nice dish towels I own, scrunched up and sitting on the stove, covered in red paint.

Now I don't know if you can relate to this but, like, RAGE. Crunching bits of Lucky charms through your toes while you try to get a cup of coffee in the morning can, in fact, only be followed by rage. All the effort I put into this. The fact that I sacrificed my rare afternoon off to make this house more livable only to have it IMMEDIATELY destroyed by the tiny monsters that I love with all my heart, well, that can make you forget for a minute that you love those tiny monsters. And you start to think that maybe you were all better off with the jelly on the floor in the first place.

Oh Trash Can. You beautiful,
filthy little minx you.
But I found a solution, I think. I found a way that even my crazy self can achieve peace and happiness once again. And that thing is the humble trash can. The trash can: the dirtiest, cleanest part of your life, if you choose to make it so. As I had my kids sweeping and scouring the results of what must have been a craaaaazy rager, I walked through the house, calmly collecting everything I could find to deliver to said trash can. That bag of old kids clothes I was supposed to clean and sort and fold and donate? TRASH CAN. The old partially ripped stuffed animals and half completed crafts the girls determined would be sweet sellable items at our next garage sale, if we in fact ever get around to having another garage sale? TRASH CAN. The 4 pairs of jeans lying on a pile in my room that have developed holes and aren't professional or really wearable anymore? TRASH CAN. Papers in the trash. Old crafts in the trash can. Half used finger paint tubs, broken pencils, old mail and math worksheets: all of it in the trash can.

See the thing is, I knoooow I should be storing things or donating things or being just generally less dump crazy here, but this is where I am. I think I'll call it my Landfill Stage. It's somewhere between young and cool but not yet exactly middle age. It's where you don't have a house big enough for people and storage and things, and is filled to the brim with tiny crumb-producers, and either the landfill is in a designated spot the town chose a hundred years ago, or its in your kitchen. This isn't about choices. This is about survival.


*You can't keep calling me a bad person. It's not that I don't like them. It's that I'm TRIGGERED. Like a gun. And remember: Guns don't kill people, Mothers kill people. When you keep spilling on their floors and whining about the dinner they made you.

** Little miss age seven claimed she couldn't find a butter knife, despite the fact that the silverware drawer has a nice packed tray of at least 10 clean butter knives, so she used her finger instead. Because why not, Jake? It's Chinatown.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

THE HORROR! OH THE HORROR!

So there is this thing about me which I find makes me difficult to relate to in my pushing-middle-aged* suburban homeschool Christian mom circles. And that is the fact that I love, LOVE me some horror films.

Okay, take a minute and have your feelings here, call me a terrible devil person if you find that necessary. But if you can get past that and want to open up some real conversation, I will staunchly defend horror as a genre and explain to you how
1 - fear is not sinful emotion
2- the tv show Friends is SERIOUSLY DEFINITELY a more culturally destructive product than almost any horror film,
and
3- many horror films are in fact deeply moral, and I'd even go so far as to say deeply religious, so na-na-na-boo-boo there you go.

The first horror movie I ever saw was Nightmare on Elm Street in the seventh grade. I followed that up by pretending very hard that Freddy Krueger did NOT haunt my dreams for weeks afterward, so that once I inevitably recovered, I would again be allowed to watch more horror films. The WORST movie I ever saw was probably the Langoliers, unless it was Hostel**, or Halloween: Resurrection, or maybe The Leprechaun.***

The best horror film I have ever watched.... Now that's a little bit more difficult to say, but Hitchcock deserves his credit, Psycho rocks the house, and The Exorcist is a standard bearer, and then there's some real modern horror classics, like The Ring, The Conjuring, Sinister, and the metafiction gems that are Scream and Cabin in the Woods.

Alrighty, so there it is. I like me some scary movies. But that doesn't mean I like all scary things. For example, I do not like German Shepherds. Or swarming insects. Or psychotically aggressive drivers. Or my children.

This is the poster to a movie that exists.
Now children have always been known as some of the scariest beings on the face of the planet. There is a real life reason why the horror genre is filled with them. According to movies, kids can see things adults can't see, hear things adults can't hear, they love making friends with dead things, and in the end, they're probably all going to kill their parents.

Now I'm gonna take a big step back and a little to the left for a second and acknowledge that when I suggested that I was afraid of my kids, you may have thought this was an adoption thing, or an attachment disorder thing. We've all heard the combination of true and fabricated stories where adopted children go on to, say, burn down their houses with family members still inside. Now I so definitely do not want to make light of what some families go through, Reactive Attachment Disorder can be a terrifying and painful thing. Its just not the scary thing in my house. RAD here looks like moments of faked affection followed by frequent lying, occasional tantrums, and the habitual hoarding of both rocks and trash. Which is not scary. It is annoying, but it is not scary.

No I'm not talking about adoption here, I'm talking about my biological kids, the ones who rip-tore their ways into this world from whence of my own bloodied and abused nethers. Henceforth and whereby.****

Point of this: when kids show up in this world, it is not a beautiful black and white Gaussian miracle scene from heaven like in those professionally done birth photos that keep popping up all over the internets. It is screaming and sweaty and bloody and naked and raw and sometimes there is poop. Exactly like a horror movie.

So maybe it shouldn't be surprising that after they show up, children continue to be terrifying. I have been a mom for 8 1/2 years, which means that waking up to the sound of blood curdling screams  or the sudden sight of a tiny human staring down at me while I sleep have been regular parts of my life for nearly a decade. Real life is far more like horror movies and far less like a sitcom than I had expected it to be. For example, in The Exorcist, when little Linda Blair peed herself, it was a sign that she was beginning to be possessed by the devil. Here, we change our pants and call that a Tuesday.

And just when the screaming and the peeing starts to slow down, naturally the children learn to interact with the ghost that is technology, and you get to open your computer to images like this:
This is not okay. This is not okay.

But sometimes the kids push past the point of Acceptable Horror. A couple nights ago, we went to bed only to find that our 4 year old had secretly relocated himself from his bed into ours. Which has happened before, but I never love finding evidence that the little demon child is creeping into our room while we think he is safely sleeping.  So Shane picks him up and I walk ahead to turn on the kid's bedroom light. But just before I have a chance, the child opens his eyes, and hisses up at his father
"IIIII seeeee yoooooou..."
Then he laughed.

On an unrelated note:
For sale: One nearly-new preschool aged child. 
*Possibly haunted, priced to move!


*I'm not sure if this is true yet and it 100% hurts my feelings to say, but I think at some point I have to acknowledge that I'm not quite as spry and cool and youthful as I used to be so I dunno pushing-middle-aged sounds like it's cool because I'm probably going to live to like, infinity anyway, so middle age does not exist. Hashtag winning at logic.

**I think this movie is an on fire pile of dog feces that is adequately referred to as its subgenre Torture Porn. It is garbage. Skip it. Watch the rest though. Bad horror seldom disappoints.

*** There's this rumor somewhere that at some point, The Leprechaun goes to The Hood and that sounds really very special also, but sadly I haven't yet had the pleasure.

****If you thought I was going to write a horror post about children without mentioning how those little psychos blood-bathed their way into this world then you are crazy my friends. You are just crazy.
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