Mother’s Little Helper

I woke up feeling feisty this morning, daring even, despite nearly a week of severely fragmented sleep, dealing with a toddler made psychotic with teething pain.

I merrily announce that we’ll be having blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Samantha is ecstatic, ready to be my helper.  We’ll have a mother-daughter bonding experience.

My blueberry muffins are a recipe of my own creation, a high protein super food national magazines should feature on their covers.  It is tailored exactly to the tastes of my children, down to their preferred textures and colors.  It is optimized for maximum child nutrition.  It creates only half a sink of dirty dishes.   It doesn’t take long to make.

It doesn’t take long, that is, until the delays begin to slowly rack up.  A spill here.  A tussle there.  An ingredient lost.  The children are getting hungrier and hungrier.  Their behavior is increasingly chaotic and irrational.  With the increased noise and movement, my brain is getting fuzzier and fuzzier.  Each step in the baking process is taking longer and longer.

By the time I’m spooning the batter into the muffin cups, the kitchen is a surreal scene.  Simon is angrily shouting “BUT I TOLD YOU!” about something to do with the muffin cups.  Samantha is walking in tight little circles, repeating, “What’s my next job?  What’s my next job?  What can I do next, Mama?  What now, Mama?”  The toddler is wrapped tightly around my leg.  He is pressing his face against my jeans over and over again, then looking up at me and cackling.  My lack of reaction is making him try harder and harder, until I finally figure out that he is attempting, with increasing success, to bite me.

I am the only adult in the house.

I understand how Valium became known as “mother’s little helper.”


Guest Post: Blessed Are the Children

From Clara, a friend of mine, and blessed mother of two blessed little children.

Typically, my kids are totally fine in church. But my in-law’s church in Western NY is a “mission” church and is probably the size of a living room.

The Sunday after Christmas, we went to church with my in-law’s. My father-in-law is in training to be a deacon and he officiates with the priest, so he was up front. We sat in a pew with my mother-in-law, and between my husband, me, Vincent on my lap and Gianna plus her coloring stuff and the diaper backpack on the floor, we were kind of smushed in there.

The priest is going to be 99 years old this year. He is an amazing guy, and has lived a heck of a life – he’s even published a book. He has complimented me for babywearing and breastfeeding in the past. He is, as of recently, getting a little confused and loops his sermons sometimes, and sometimes loses himself in a tangent, but for now, it’s church as usual.

Due to all of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day crazy, plus the ~400 mile car trip, Gianna was full of all of the lovely 3.5 year old behaviors, and Vincent was clingy and nursing like a newborn each time a new situation presented itself. No sooner had we arrived, than I had to change his diaper. The back area (containing the bathroom) is just beyond the lectern, where the priest stands. So up I went, swished past the priest, avoided the candles, and entered the back. The priest interrupted his sermon to fondly look at my retreating back and remarked, “Oh, she must be going into the back for instruction with Dorothy (his wife, who does Sunday School with the small kids); that’s wonderful. You are never too old for instruction.” His gaze then fell on Gianna, who was talking to herself in Veggie Tales voices while drawing Veggie characters. He asked what her name was, and somehow between my husband and mother-in-law, they relayed that it was Gianna. He wanted to call her Giovanna, and was confused when they told him it was not that. He sighed and then remarked that it was strange that “they had changed the spelling of Giovanna…”

My father-in-law got the priest back on track with the sermon, I returned and Vincent immediately wanted to nurse again. While he was nursing, Gianna started getting very involved in her Veggies, making them shriek at each other. I reminded her to be quiet. She told me to “Shush,” and then gave me the 3.5 sassy look. I asked if she needed a break in the back, she said no. Vincent, meanwhile, ripped at my shirt and yanked on my hair and kicked really hard, kicking into Gianna. After many redirections of Gianna and wrangling Vincent’s kicky legs, as well as me trying to delatch him, I finally convinced him to sit up. Around that time, the priest began to wax poetic about *something* having to do with babies, and Vincent LOUDLY filled his pants. My mother-in-law started to snicker. The priest inserted something in his sermon, and the only part I heard was, “… if John and Clara are fruitful in bringing more beautiful children into the world…” as at that moment, Gianna chose to dramatically turn around and shush the priest loudly.

I grabbed her hand, hiked the poopiest baby on planet Earth onto my hip, grabbed the diaper bag, and propelled all of us past the candles, past the priest, and into the back area. I changed the baby, and decided that a little breastmilk poop in his pants was just going to have to be there until we got home, then made Gianna go potty (her sassiness quotient increases with the amount of pee in her bladder) and finally got us all back into our pew. I fill her in on the necessity of NOT telling the priest to “Shush,” got her jazzed about using her BRAND NEW MARKERS!!! YAYY!!! and we get back into the seats.

My father-in-law said some prayers, and Vincent screeched in chorus. Gianna decided to rest her head on Vincent’s legs, and Vincent happily yanked on her hair. Gianna screeched, I disentangled her and redirected her to her markers. Times two. The third time she smilingly aimed her head into Vincent’s hands, I lost it and whispered that if she put her head into his hands ONEMORETIME, I’m going to pull her hair myself. It was that moment in parenting where sanity finally disappears, and leaves irrational crazy in its wake.

My husband stared forward for about five seconds, and then dissolved. He cannot stop laughing at the absurdity of it all, and every time he tries, it’s worse when he starts back up again. I also burst out laughing, and it was an agonizing last five or ten minutes trying to get through the end of church. Which, naturally included Vincent filling his pants one last time.


Silence and peace.  Samantha and Seth are eating.  Simon is in the shower.

I am standing over the sink, eating lunch, staring out the window into a beautifully sunny day, pondering the mysteries of life in this tiny slice of mental space.

Seth moves from stuffing his belly to deconstructing his lunch, crumbling his biscuit into the floor, and rubbing the slice of turkey in it on his chest.

Simon appears in the kitchen door, water sluicing down his stark naked little self.

He grins at me, as the water mixes with Seth’s crumbs.  “I left foot prints.”



As I turn the faucet on, Simon appears at my elbow.

“What are you doing?”

I answer cheerfully, “I’m getting a glass of water, because I’m thirsty.  What are you doing?”

He blurts out, cutting off the end of my question, “Why?”

I stare at him, unsure of the answer he wants to hear.

He stares back at me, then gives me a maniacal laugh, and runs off.

I am no longer so certain that his daily, inexorable  siege against my sanity is as innocently unintentional as I had thought.

Ready! Or not.

We’re getting ready for a walk.  We have to run through a pre-walk checklist, like a pilot’s pre-flight checklist.  All three children are present, conscious and accounted for?  Check.  All three children have on shirts?  Hmm.  One moment.  I’m digging up play shirts from drawers when Simon comes bounding in, and lands on the bed behind me, jumping gleefully.  “I’m ready!  I’m ready!”

I know he’s not ready.  He hates getting ready, and we’ve only been getting ready for about ten seconds.  So I turn around, just to see what “ready” is in Simon’s book.

He’s stark naked, except for his shoes.  Dear boy.  He found his shoes and put them on!  He is jumping up and down, up and down, in his shoes, stark naked, on the bed, watching himself in the dresser mirror.

Wrestling shoes off sheets, and shirts on torsos.  The sacred work of raising children is utterly mundane.

“Get down tonight!”

Disco NightsIt’s Friday night, and getting late.

The children are playing quietly, so I am enjoying a stolen break, catching up on my internet world.  As mamas of littles know, small children play by the “You move, you lose it!” rule, so I hadn’t moved.  Finally, I have to admit that I need to pee more than I need quiet or the internet.

Predictably, as soon as I stand up, the baby notices his deep and desperate need for his momma.  I swing him up to my hip, where he rides like an old hand in the saddle, and continue on my way to the bathroom.

I find there that the four-year old, scared of the noise, has left a deposit that still needs flushing.  With the sound of running water, I am suddenly aware that I have sat too long, that the baby continues to gain weight,  that his leg against my abdomen is pressing harder than I have ever noticed before, and that gravity is still fully in effect.

Now I am frantically looking for a spot to drop the baby where he can’t knock himself out if he throws himself backward in baby anger, and simultaneously trying to pull my jeans open and down without damaging anything or uncrossing my legs too early.

A snippet of a song comes to my head, “Just do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight!”

It’s Friday night, and getting late.