Today is my 36th birthday, which means that I'm officially closer to forty now than thirty. I swear I woke up with a new wrinkle, but I also woke up with a pimple which is clearly my body's way of reminding me that I'm still practically a teenager! Right? ... Right?
I can't complain about getting older, though - because as they say, "it's a privilege denied to many" and I absolutely refuse to take that for granted. Would I like to look twenty again? HELL YES. I miss my taut, unlined skin and my firm, un-stretchmarked body and my pre-baby boobs and ... what was I saying? Oh yes. Even though I'd like to look twenty, I would never want to be that age again. Because while I may not have the physical assets I had at that age (emphasis on "ass"ets), I have traded them for something much more important, much more personally valuable: a knowledge of who I am.
We are like puzzles, and we're given a piece or two each year, each one further completing the big picture. Aging is looking at a photograph of yourself that comes into sharper focus as time goes on, so that you notice more and more details. When I was twenty, I didn't realize that I still had so much changing to do. The gift of getting older is being able to see those changes and acknowledge that they're still happening, and to embrace them, knowing that I'm turning out okay.
The self-assurance that comes with age is better than smooth skin or lustrous hair. (Because when you're young enough to have those things in spades, you don't appreciate them anyway.)
I'm gonna rock 36. Aging like a fine wine over here.
My kids went back to school on Wednesday. Not that I was happy about that or anything.
... I mean, "thrilled" is probably the word I'm looking for.
Seriously, I love the shit out of them, but I was on the verge of dropping them off a few weeks ago with a backpack full of food and clothing and being like, "Okay kids, just wait here. School will be opening in ... a little bit." And then burning out so fast I left skid marks on the pavement.
It's just that those last few weeks before school starts are like the last few weeks of pregnancy. You're like, "THIS HAS BEEN JUST FANTASTIC BUT FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN WE PLEASE BE DONE WITH IT NOW?"
I do miss them during the day, I have to admit. And their first day back at school, the silence in this house - despite the fact that my four-year-old is still home for now - was almost overwhelming. So much that I was actually relieved (for probably the first and only time in my life) to hear his usual call of, "Hey Mom, can you wipe my butt?"
While I love the laid-back timeline of summer (read: I basically let my kids eat and sleep whenever they want to because I'm lazy like that), I kind of enjoy getting back into an actual routine, even though it's more difficult to keep up with. So overall, I'm glad they've gone back.
But even three days in, there are things that I'm suddenly remembering suck so hard. I mean, you tend to forget about that stuff over the summer because it seems so far away. Then school starts and the crappy parts about it come crashing down like, "Happy fall! And by 'fall' we mean what you're going to do when we slap you back into that School Year Reality." Crappy parts like ...
Waking them up in the morning. Dear Lord. Give me strength. (Or make it acceptable to get drunk before 8 am - whatever works.) There is just something inside every mother that screams nooooo! when it comes to waking peacefully sleeping children. And then when you do wake them it's like this:
Yet on weekends when they could actually sleep in, they're all:
And then after that there's ...
Getting them ready and out the door on time. When their friends show up at the door in the summertime wanting them to play, they're ready in less time than it takes me to yell, "Shut the door, the air conditioner is on!" (Although this may be because they leave the house in strange ensembles such as a plaid shirt and Pokemon-print shorts and a pair of Crocs.) But on school mornings it's as slow as a retirement home around here.
Keeping the laundry done. One thing about sending them to school is that you've got to send them in something that looks at least halfway decent, or at least not like you rummaged it out of a dumpster somewhere. I don't know about your kids, but mine only have a handful of respectable-looking wardrobe items between them, which means I have to do a nightly load of laundry to keep on top of those things, lest they be forced to wear the aforementioned Pokemon shorts.
Keeping up with their crap. With four kids, my poor brain is already on overload (and let's be honest, it didn't even function all that well before the kids). But now I have to remember and manage who needs a daily snack. Whose planner or folder I need to sign. Who turned in what permission slip. Whose lunch money balance is low. Who has a test and when. Whose class is having a competition to collect boxtops. Who is supposed to wear red and gray for "school spirit day." The dates of early dismissals and parent teacher conferences and canned food drives and birthday parties and - BOOM! Sorry, that was my head exploding.
HOMEWORK. Oh. Mah. Gah. I can count on one hand the number of times my kids have done their homework willingly and without complaint. The other times - so like 98% of evenings - it's like I asked them to eat a frozen turd. I have to stand there like I don't have a bazillion other things to do and make sure they stay on task, and then if they've half-assed an answer I'll make them write it again (I KNOW, MEANEST MOM EVER). But the worst is when they bring something home that they need help with and you literally have zero idea how to do it. For me, that's always math. I am so terrible at math that "terrible" isn't even a sufficient word. Nothing makes me feel more brilliant (snort) than staring at an upper-level elementary math problem and feeling my eyes glaze over.
The evening routine. It's pretty much like the morning routine, except that instead of trying to pry them out of the bed, I'm trying to coax them into it at a reasonable time. Which means that everything else - homework, dinner, bath, teeth brushing, etc. - has to fit into a certain schedule in order to be done before it's time for bed. I feel like I need to run around with a cattle prod or at least a well-trained sheepdog. Because it's like spilling a bowl of marbles onto a concrete floor and trying to get them all to roll into the same place at once.
The sickness. I know it's inevitable and I dread the day one of my kids comes down with a fever. Or a sore throat. Or the worst of all: THE STOMACH VIRUS. They haven't been sick at all for the entire summer - not so much as a sniffle between the four of them. But now that they're sharing germs with all the other kids in town, I guarantee it's not long before someone carries home some sort of nasty bug - and then generously shares it with the rest of the household. Ugh.
So yeah, I'm glad the kids have returned to school, but - just as there were things about summer that I could have lived without - there are things I don't exactly cherish getting back into. I just have to keep reminding myself of the good parts: like the fact that my kids can actually ride a bus in our new town (Hallelujah!) so that I don't have to get myself ready in the mornings too.
Because seriously, if I had to put a bra on in the midst of all the morning craziness it might be the one thing that sends me completely over the edge.
Now that my kids are growing up, it's harder for me to blog about them. Primarily because - while they don't care what I wrote about their toddlerhood shenanigans - they don't want the world to know what their older selves are up to (spoiler alert: mostly video games). I can't imagine why they wouldn't want their mother to publicly spill the beans about their every adolescent issue, but they don't seem too keen on the idea. Bunch of blog-derailing spoilsports, is what they are.*
*Side note: is anyone else totally thankful that social media didn't exist when we were kids? Because OH MY GOD THAT WOULD BE SO EMBARRASSING.
Fortunately, I still have one left - one newly-minted four-year-old - who doesn't give a flying fig what I say about him. And so I'm going to say this:
I am so. So. SOOOOO TIRED OF WIPING HIS BUTT.
As we all know, getting your kid officially potty-trained is far from the end of your toilet troubles. It's not like you're off the hook as soon as they can make it to the bathroom. So, while Corbin has been potty trained for over a year now, he still has trouble in one key area: namely, getting himself clean.
When a kid wipes, it isn't a neat process. They smeeeeeeear. Then it ends up everywhere - their fingers, the toilet seat, the backs of their legs, and whatever they happen to touch. Before you know it your bathroom looks like a turd massacre. It's poopocalypse up in there. And, oh, your crapper is now clogged because they use approximately 3/4 of a roll of toilet paper (while making an even bigger mess. Oh, the irony!).
So yeah. I wipe my kid's butt until he gains the fine motor skills or whatever skills are required to not make a freaking disastrous mess while doing it.
If he pooped once a day like a normal person, it wouldn't bother me so much. But here's the issue we're running into: the kid refuses to poop more than one little rabbit-turd at a time. Do you know how many little turds make up one giant poop? Like, twenty. Consequently, he's in the bathroom a bazillion times a day. And I hear the question that haunts my dreams: "MOM, CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?"
I have tried patiently explaining it to him. "Hey buddy, can you sit there a little bit longer? Because if there's one piece of poop, that means there are more waiting to get out."
And he'll sit. And he'll sit. And the poop will dry onto his butt and require a chisel and a belt sander to remove. And still he'll say, "Nope! No more poop!"
... Yet ten minutes later: "MOM! CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?"
Y'all? It's driving me certifiably crazy. We are going through toilet paper like we're eating it (and it's actually not Cameron this time). I've purchased enough flushable wet wipes to pave a damp, squishy, fresh-scented path from here to Australia.
No matter how important a task I'm doing, I can almost guarantee that it'll be interrupted by the request from the bathroom. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a phase ... but the question is, how many more times can I drop everything and buff his booty-hole before I GO OFF THE DEEP END?! You may be witness to my descent into total madness.
Hopefully it will at least make for some good blog posts.