Maysen’s Last Day of Being Three…Sigh. And, Regret.

I just realized that I only posted to my blog one time…ONE TIME!!!…in an entire year, and it was only long enough to sit down and be interrupted. I am so disappointed in my bloggy self, because somehow she has disappeared. I think about posting all the time, but something always comes up. Maysen needs attention. Avery needs attention. Ronny needs attention. The house needs attention. Dinner needs to be made. Noses need to be wiped. Facebook needs to be checked. Dinner needs to be planned. Maysen needs to go to dance. Maysen needs to be picked up from school. DVR needs to be caught up with. Etc., etc., etc. It doesn’t help that my computer’s been on its last leg for the last year, either.

Here are a few very randomly selected photos from the last year, in no particular order, just so that there’s a little visual memory here. Maybe once I can get organized I can do a better job with photos. 

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But none of those things will be part of my way of remembering the day-to-day moments of our lives. I just read through the post from an entire year ago. I seriously can not believe that so much time has passed. Our lives have been so busy, and so much has happened, but not only have I not written here on my blog, I also haven’t kept up with my journals or photo albums. All of my memories are stored on my very, very full and unreliable hard drive. 

We’ve been through a lot this year. We moved a couple of times, Ronny changed jobs a couple of times, yadda yadda yadda. No need for a recap of the big stuff. What really matters is the little stuff. 

So Maysen will be turning 4 tomorrow. As I look back over the last year, I relize that she has grown SO…MUCH. She’s still the same girl she was a year ago today…feisty, tenacious, strong-willed, intelligent, hilarious. But she’s all of that stuff amplified. Her intensity has grown immensely. Her tantrums are through the roof, but so are her little snuggles and her contagious giggles. She is definitely a diva…er… I mean, a princess. She’s absolutely obsessed with the princesses, and insists on being called by princess names instead of Maysen. For a long time she was just Rapunzel, but she also goes by Una (a mermaid) and Anna (I have no idea where that came from). 

Of all of her developments this year, by far the best to see has been her role as big sister. Yes, she does pick on little Avery, a.k.a. “Choo-Choo,” a little more than she should, but she is also protective of her as well. Maysen helps her learn to speak, and she plays with her all the time. They’re very competitive, though. When it comes to sharing, they struggle, big time. Their fights can be extreme and intense, usually ending in all three of us screaming and crying. They hit and pull hair; Avery likes to bite.

Avery is Daddy’s little girl, for sure. Maysen was never the cuddly little lover that Avery has become. Maysen’s desire for independence has always overruled any desire for snuggling. Avery, though, jumps at any opportunity to hug or kiss or rest her head on a shoulder, especially Daddy’s. She has made his heart explode with love in a way that I’ve never seen.

 

So, I’ll say it again as I’ve said before. I just can’t capture it all like I wish I could. There are so many memories that I want to write about so that they don’t disappear forever. I’m so disappointed in myself for not keeping up here. What can I do to manage my time better? The obvious timesucks are facebook and DVR. But those are my guilty little pleasures. I don’t spend that much time there. And it’s just tough when the kids are here, because they ALWAYS need attention, and the rare (like right now) times that they play independently (Avery) and are in school (Maysen), I’m usually cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry, or…gasp… taking a shower.  Once the kids go to bed, I finally spend a little time with my husband. There’s just not a whole lot of me time anymore, especially now that Maysen doesn’t take naps. (Oh, how I miss her naps!)

I guess I could post randomly from my phone and just not worry about having a full post. That’s where all of my pictures are, after all. I don’t think anyone reads it anyways…and if you do, well, sorry I haven’t given you anything for a year. The truth is, I had much, much more time when I had a full-time job, because no one needed me as much as they do now. 

So, I have to set a goal for myself so that a year from now, when Maysen turns 5, I’m not staring at my blog in disbelief, wondering how a whole year could have passed with no posts. Maybe I’ll actually get to capture Avery’s second birthday, since I managed to miss her first. But new beginnings are all about forgiveness, right? So I just have to let my time management deficiencies slide and move on, once again. 

Here’s to committing more time to myself for blogging. 

 

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Aside

I’ll skip the rah-rah about how long it’s been and just forgive myself and move on. Avery’s 8 1/2 months old already and friggin’ adorable. I still can’t figure out what color her eyes are. Pretty much brown, but they’ve got hints of green and grey every now and then. 

Damn, she just woke up. I swear, I think I get five minutes to myself to jot down a few little things about my amazing girls, then one of them wakes up from her nap. Oh well, it was miraculous to get them both napping at the same time, even if it was just for a few minutes. 

Three Years Later

Today is February 13th, a very special day in Ronny’s and my life together. Three years ago today, Maysen made her debut into our world. Who knew then what an amazing, spirited little individual she would be, or just how sappy her mother would become about the passing of (nearly) every day.

As I rocked her to sleep last night, the last night of her being two, I marvelled at how she no longer fits cozily into my lap. Our snuggles are just a little more awkward now that she’s a kid and no longer a little baby. She says the most amazing things to me, every day.

Earlier in the day, she caught me looking at her with a nostalgic sadness on my face and asked me:

“Mommy, what’s wrong? Why are you sad?”

“I’m sad because you’re growing up so quickly. I want you to be my baby forever.”

“But I want to grow up big. I’ll be sad if I don’t get to be a grown-up.”

“Yes, I would be sad, too. But it’s okay for mommies to feel a little sad sometimes when they see how fast their babies grow. It’s a happy sadness.”

“Oh. Well I love you so much.”

“I love you, too, sweetie. More than you’ll ever know.”

“I love you my whole life”

“I love you more than my life, too.”

After such a sweet little conversation, she, of course, turns back into her terrible two-year-old self and wreaks havoc on the house and my sanity. But I can still enjoy those little snippets of time.

And now, she’s three. Just like that. I still can’t even believe I had her in the first place. I still can’t believe that I’m somebody’s mother. TWO somebodies’ mother. It’s amazing how our lives take these turns when we’re not really looking. And how these turns become something amazing.

This morning, after I wished her a happy birthday, we talked about what it means to be three. Now, she’s a big girl, and big girls leave their babies at home.

1. No more bringing Coco and Coco’s Mommy out of the house. (Simply because I’m tired of searching the house while she screams about them.)

2. Now she’s big enough to be my big helper and help me take care of Avery.

3. Now she’s big enough to pick up after herself. Now she can pick up the crayons and toys when I ask rather than throwing a fit and sending us both to tears.

She accepted these new responsibilities gladly, almost with a sense of pride. And for the first time in at least 18 months, we walked out of the house without Coco and without a fight. She didn’t even mention her little lovey.

Yesterday we were able to spend the day as a family, celebrating Maysen’s last day of being two. We hopped in the car and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito where we had a fantastic lunch.

our family

Maysen was so well-behaved that we took her for ice cream. Of course she wanted her favorite: pink ice cream with sprinkles.

ice cream

We played in a little park by a fountain as we ate, and May had a blast. Making wishes, running around with her daddy, spitting out the sprinkles as it turned out that she really didn’t like them. I held Avery in the Ergo as I watched Maysen in complete fascination and admiration. She ran around, giggling, doing her wiggle butt, playing her favorite game, “you can’t get me,” with her daddy, and of course talking like she’s an adult. I sat there, inhaling the soft scent of Avery’s head, playing with her tiny fingers and toes, and suddenly I felt all weepy. Maysen’s days as a baby are totally gone. She’s only going to get bigger, and I just have to accept that, even though she’ll always be my baby, she’s not a baby anymore. Soon she’ll be a gawky six-year-old.

So of course, then I start thinking about how I need to relish every last minute of Avery’s babyhood, because I’ll blink my eyes and then she’ll be three, too. What will she be like?

my monkey

I absolutely HATE that I have such a terrible memory. I want to remember these moments so I can savor them for the rest of my life. I want to remember the sensation of Avery’s downy hair against my lips. I want to remember the same experience with Maysen, but I can’t. I know it happened, but the sensation is gone from my consciousness. That’s why I constantly chase my kids around with a camera in their face. Sure, I’m trying to get the cute photos, but I’m also trying to secure the memories, because I know that soon they’ll be gone.

Anyways, we drove back to the beautiful view of the bridge in the Marin Headlands, and then drove down the 1 toward Half Moon Bay, stopping along the way to enjoy the ocean view.

Us girls

Mom had told me earlier that a guy had dragged a crummy old piano out to the cliffs and had been playing classical music during the sunset. It sounded like the perfect way to wrap up Maysen’s last day as a two-year-old. We drove down to find “the pinano man”, and when we arrived, there was a whole throng of people already enjoying the music.PianoMan

This sunset music by the pinano man is EXACTLY the kind of thing that I think makes the world go ’round. Maybe I attributed too much to a quirky experience, but I saw this as the most amazing, beautiful experience. Yes, the piano was out of tune, but how often do you get to watch an old guy give an impromptu piano concert on the cliffs? How often do you get to hear a live piano tango as you watch the sun go down?

blowing a kiss to the sunMaysen blew a kiss to the sun as it dipped beneath the Pacific, and I, internally, blew a kiss to my baby, doing my best to accept that her babyhood was gone.

As I lay in bed this morning, nursing Avery around 6:00am, Maysen quietly padded into the room in her “tricky zipper” jammies, snuggled under the blankets with me, wrapped her arm around my body, then gently touched my cheek and said, “I want to see your face, Mommy.” I turned to look at her, kissed her forehead, and enjoyed a beautiful moment snuggling with my two sleepy angels.

Until Avery pulled Maysen’s hair and all hell broke loose.

Happy Birthday, Meenie. I love you.

And for a reminder, here’s Maysen’s birth story:

End of Year Reflections

Christmas is over and we’re wrapping up 2012. As with every year, it’s a time for reflection, and a time to decide what we want to change for next year.  It’s a time to create some resolutions, and to find a plan to stick to them.

If you’re one of my few loyal readers, you’ll know that I’m always griping about not having enough time to do what I want to do. I so admire my bloggy peers who can write more than once a month…even, (gasp!) daily. My favorite blogger just had a second child a few weeks ago and still manages to blog every single day. So what am I doing wrong? Is it because I can only write during the girls’ sleeping hours because M jumps in my lap and pounds on the keyboard every time I boot up the laptop? Well, with my unruly toddler and attention-seeking infant, almost everything I need to do must be done during sleeping hours. And it’s not very often that both girls nap at the same time. And it’s not very often that I still have even a smidgen of energy at the end of the day when I finally get them both down to sleep. That time is usually reserved for a glass of wine and a heavy sigh as I slump into the couch exhausted to watch TV with the hubbs. So, the point is this: One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to take the time to write more. How, exactly, that’s going to happen I haven’t quite figured out yet. But I’ll try.

And I don’t just want to write on this blog. I also have an idea for a novel that I’d like to fiddle around with. I also want to write in my personal journal. I also want to write in the journals that I have for each of the girls. I also want to get the baby books up to date. I also have a bunch of thank you cards to write. Maybe I’ll start there.

So I recently finished reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin. I picked up the book on Amazon after I saw it in People magazine or something. On my life-long quest for feeling okay, if not completely happy, I’ve tried to figure out some strategies for lifting my low-grade, blaaaaahhh mood, so I found the title and the cheerful book cover intriguing. It turns out that it’s an awesome book, and the author also has a blog. I’m kindof tossing around the idea of starting my own happiness project, based on hers. But, do I want to do it alone? Do I want to invite Hubbs to join me? Do I want to try to scrape together a few girlfriends who might want to jump on the bandwagon? I don’t know, but that’s on my mind.

I also want to take the time to focus more on my yoga “career.” It seems to be the only thing that I really like to do, and I’d like to do more of it. I’m not taking good enough care of myself, and I think it’s showing in my everyday life.

I also want to explore my doula career, but I guess I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that I’m just not in a place in my life where it’s realistic. I just can’t be on call and able to drop everything to attend a birth. Not without childcare. Harumph.

If only we lived in the same town as family, or in a town where childcare were somewhat affordable. It’s hard to indulge in a couple of hours for a yoga class when it’s going to cost over $40 for a babysitter, or to plan to attend a birth which could be very long, when you have nothing to do with your little ones.

Anyways, on another entirely different topic, we just got back from a two-week trip to Cleveland for A’s baptism and Christmas with R’s family. Let’s just say I’m so glad to be home. Two weeks is a very, very long time. It was my first Christmas I’ve ever spent away from my own family, and I’m 35 years old. That’s nuts, I know, but this was really a great experience because it showed me just how much I love spending the holidays with my own parents and brother. You know all those romantic comedies where the girl goes home for Christmas with the husband/boyfriend/whatever’s family only to find that it’s pure chaos and she’s in the middle of constant family drama? Yeah, it was like that. Only there were also four to seven screaming children adding to the fun, depending on the day. I’ve never really liked the holiday season because I think it brings a lot of undue stress. I really only like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because that’s when I get to relax in my jammies and spend quality time with my family. This year, if one brother wasn’t fighting with another, the other brother was fighting with his mother, or one kid had an ear infection and cried all day and all night, no one could find an acceptable sleeping arrangement, and it was 27 degrees and snowing outside so we were all in the house together, tension mounting minute by minute. And the worst part was that I was the only one who managed to stay out of the drama, and I was the only one who really couldn’t tell everyone to just chill the F out so we could all enjoy our time together. Normally, I’m the Christmas Scrooge who mopes around all through the season, but this time I was the one (ineffectively) trying to get everyone else to cheer up. And that’s not easy. So I was SO glad to get home to my own bed, in my own house, with my own little family.

It gave me such perspective about my own family, my own traditions, and how fortunate I am to have a loving, mellow family who doesn’t thrive on confrontation. It also showed me just how magical my own parents managed to make Christmas for my brother and me throughout our childhoods. Santa Clause and Christmas morning weren’t such a big deal this year at my in-laws’ house. Not gonna lie, I was disappointed that no one cared about Santa coming, or the kids running downstairs in their jammies to discover that Santa had come. It’s true they’re a little young, but that doesn’t matter to me. Going forward, I’m going to make sure Santa happens, even if I’m the only one who does anything about it.

Even with all of the drama, though, we managed to have a great time. A’s baptism was awesome because everyone was there. Even my brother came out for it because he’s the godfather. I took a gazillion photos of course, so here are a few just to show some highlights. Sometimes you just have to look at all the smiles in the photos to remember all of the good parts and joyful times that we shared. Only a Scrooge would let the drama of pointless confrontation cloud over the amazing family time we really did have.

To Catch a Moment in Time

Do you ever feel like time is just flying by way too quickly? Avery is already nearly four months old. Maysen is coming up on three years. And aparently Christina Aguilera hit the scene with Genie in a Bottle thirteen years ago. I only know this because I just heard it on the TV in the background.

There’s the quote that says something like “the days are long but the years are short”. It’s SO true. And, while I’m loving the moments in my girls’ lives, I also feel a little sad. I have a really lousy memory, so I’m always trying to take pictures of the little moments in our lives that make me happy to be a mommy. Of course I try to get photos of the happy moments as well. But I also try to capture the more challenging moments…like the temper tantrums in public restrooms, or the moment when, at a friend’s party, Maysen comes to me with black paint smeared around her mouth, chin and nose and says she’s been playing lipstick.

I guess I don’t really know where I’m going with this except that part of the reason I take so many pictures and keep this blog is that my memory is junk and I want to remember all of the little snippets of time that I love so much. This is why I get so upset that I don’t make the time to post more often. It’s not so that I might avoid leaving my readers in suspense…I don’t have a whole lot of readers. My hope is that some day my own children will be my readers. Or, at least, some day when my own children are driving me up the wall making me wonder why I ever had kids in the first place, I’ll have somewhere to turn for answers.

Sometimes I ask my mom about what I was like at my girls’ ages. Was I as strong-willed, entertaining, frustrating and charming? Did I make those funny expressions? Did I say anything particularly interesting? Did I have a favorite stuffed animal? Did I say things like “chocko bock” “Yook!” and “pssspssspss I love you”?

She doesn’t really remember the mundanities of every day life. And considering how I can hardly remember what I did yesterday, I’m willing to bet the farm that I’m not going to remember all of the things I want to either. I already look at Avery’s face and know that she looks totally different than Maysen looked at her age. But what did Maysen look like exactly? Somehow, it’s not totally ingrained in my head. Somehow I can’t draw that image into my imagination. If it weren’t for the photos that I take, print, and eventually put into an album, those visual images would be all but lost. And that sucks big time.

It’s terribly sad. And of course I can never get a photograph that will capture the exact image that I would like to have etched in my mind for all of eternity. There are just little visual flashes that I hope that I may always draw upon on days when big ol’ monster depression bares his fangs.

For example, breastfeeding is absolutely chock full of beautiful visual images. Aural and tactile ones as well, but it’s the visual ones I really need to remember.

The moment when Avery hums and gulps and slurps and rolls her eyes back in her head, unabashedly loving her milk and her mommy’s breasts, the moment she feels satisfied, and droopy-eyed lets her mouth go slack, then the moment she comes back to consciousness and looks up at me, and then the moment she recognizes me and grins…no, GRINS wide, gums and tongue all exposed. Eyelashes fluttering, fingers gripping hard, toes curling, legs still in that relaxed fetal position.

Or what about when Maysen, clothed in her green flannel button-up Thomas the Tank Engine jammies scoops cheerios into her mouth, holding the spoon all wrong, dribbling milk all along the table, down her chin, down her belly, and looks up at me, smiling, blue eyes peeking through the tangled curls hanging over her face, and says, “I made a foopy!”, laughing, spitting out milk as she cracks herself up?

But can I really get a good picture of that? Not without a third-party photographer. The problem is this. Ronny has a perfect memory. He doesn’t understand my deep need to take pictures of our life. He teases me for taking so many photos. We went to the beach the other day and I must have taken 900 pictures on my iphone. Not 900 that I will keep. Of that there will be maybe 4 good photos. That’s the problem with trying to capture the joy, fascination, innocence, excitement, enthrallment and engagement of a toddler. She wants nothing to do with the 35 year old mommy chasing her with her phone saying, “Maysen, look at mommy! Smile! Just look at my camera one time and you can have a cookie! I’ll PAY you if you just LOOK at my camera…you don’t even have to smile!”

So most of my photos aren’t beautiful. (It would help if I knew how to use my camera…that I’ve had nearly three years.) Most of them focus on the back of my kid’s head. But I figure, what the heck. If I can capture the moment…not in a good, prizeworthy photograph, but just in a way that I will remember it 27 years from now when my own daughter asks what she was like as a child. And yes, I say 27 because I don’t want to wait to become a grandma as long as I made my own mom wait.

My biggest fear used to be that of going insane and losing control of my own mind. Now, that fear has gotten bigger. Now I also fear forgetting all of the beautiful moments that make up my life.

So, that being said, I’m inserting a photo slideshow. It’s not necessarily made of the most beautiful photos. They’re certainly not professional. But it’s just some of the moments that I really, really will miss when, some day, my girls ask me what they were like at this age and I really can’t remember. I’ll know in my head and heart that they’re there, but I have I feeling I won’t be able to draw them to my consciousness. I want these images to stick in my mind, in my accessible memory.

A Humble Moment of Pure Bliss

 

I’ve been trying to upload a whole bunch of photos so that I could update without blathering on for a year, but I think the techi gods are against me as they’re  messing up all of my plans and not letting me do what I’m trying to do. So we’re just going to have to move on.

I’ve had some really beautiful, happy moments lately. Yesterday, when I was rocking Avery, trying, trying, trying to get her to doze off so that I had twenty minutes to myself while both girls napped, I realized I was stressing out about it. Why wouldn’t she just friggin’ go to sleep already? I was nursing and shushing and rocking and bouncing and trying to force feed her the binky. But she just looked up at me from my breast, blinking her lashes, and grinning playfully at me when I teased her with my nipple. That’s when some words from a former co-worker popped into my head, “you’re wishing your life away.”

It dawned on me that that was exactly what I was doing. Even if it was only 20 minutes that I was looking for, I was willing to trade this moment with my baby for silence and solitude. My priorities were off at that moment. What was I thinking? I have the rest of my life to fold the laundry, but how long will I have this precious little creature whose only desire is to get attention from me? To drink from my breast? To be cuddled and kissed and rocked by no one other than me?

I felt like an asshole. So I gave up my desire for solitude and goo-goo-ga-ga’d at her. I kissed her nose and zerberted her cheeks. I talked to her in my best baby talk voice. Her whole face lit up as she grinned her gummy grin and made that little hummy squeaky sound she makes when she’s utterly tickled.

We rocked and played, just the two of us, as Maysen took her nap. The only sound in the room was the rythmical squeaking and cracking of the rocker, and the sweet, soft voice of my baby girl. Then slowly, quietly, came the slurping, the sucking and smacking of a nursing baby, then the soft swallowing and even softer hum of satisfaction that comes only when her eyes get heavy, when the lashes flutter closed and the eyes roll around uncontrolled. It’s only then that the satisfied baby spits out the nipple with a final hum and sigh as she lets her body collapse into a milk-drunk, drowsy sleep.

And that’s the moment of silent bliss where I feel such joy that a tear actually rolls off of my cheek and onto Avery’s down-covered head. The ultimate bullseye for a kiss.

This is the moment that I would have missed had I not become present. This is the moment that I tried to rush and wish away. Instead, this became a precious moment that I hope to never forget, a moment for which I am throroughly, humbly grateful, a moment of grace in which I actually consider the power of providence.

 

If only we could decide when to call it a day.

I’ve been saying “no” an awful lot lately.

I wish there was a way to stop the day as a parent so that the memory of the day would be from the high point, not the low point. We had such an awesome day today. I woke up to the sound of Avery’s milk-thirsty smacking lips and fumbling, flailing hands. The moment I removed my fuzzy pink eye pillow to let in the day, she grinned her gummy little grin and batted her beautiful lashes at me in a subtle gesture of pure delight. We cuddled and nursed for a while until Ronny and Maysie came in, then the four of us snuggled and played until it was time to get up and fix breakfast.

After Daddy went to work, we girls just hung around the house, playing in our jammies for a few hours, then when it came to lunch time we went for a walk to the Whole Foods down the street to pick up something to eat. Both of the girls and I met Daddy for a little picnic at the playground next to Whole Foods. Hubbs and I ate sushi and salad while May played on the playground and A cooed and smiled at us from the stroller. Sunny and about 70 degrees, the weather was perfect. Maysen giggled and squealed as she ran around in the grassy field chasing Mommy’s “you can’t get me’s” with her crazy curls bouncing every direction out of control. We even had a nice walk home. No screaming, no crying, no complaining or struggling to get out of the stroller. Nap time even came easy, and I was able to do some serious cleaning while listening to music. I even scrubbed the marker off of the glass doors, the crayon/paint/food mess from the play table, and vacuumed the carpet in the sun room. But Little Bit didn’t ever actually go to sleep.

I usually tell her that she doesn’t really have to sleep during nap time, that she just has to play quietly in bed for a while. It’s a tactic to get her to let me shut the door without constantly running errands like getting Coco, getting choco-bok, getting a pillow and blanket or just five more minutes of rocking. Half the time it works and she plays until she falls asleep. About 45% of the time she just plays or reads or sings until I tell her she can come out to play. But today was one of the last 5% where it ends in disaster.

I heard her calling me for a good 10 minutes or so, but I really thought she just wanted to get up and antagonize me play. I had fallen for the trick just 20 minutes earlier where she screamed “mommy mommy mommy” until I finally came, and then she just said, “it’s time to get up now.” So, when I heard her calling again I figured it was a girl-who-cried-wolf scenario. But there’s a subtle, yet undeniable, shift in the call that tells me when something’s really going on.

I heard the shift.

When I opened her bedroom door I could see immediately that we weren’t going to make it to the bathroom in time. And after a bathroom emergency, there’s no nap time to speak of.

Our day just went downhill from there. She ran straight to the freshly sparkling sun room and pulled out toy after toy. No problem, except that when it came time to pick up the blocks, our play time turned into a huge power struggle that went from me telling her it was time to pick up the blocks, to me bribing her to pick up the blocks, to me putting the blocks in jail, to her screaming at the top of her lungs, to her breaking into jail to get the blocks, to me swatting her butt, to me putting her into time out, to me getting her out of time out only to see puffy red eyes, snotty nose and heartbreaking catch-breath sniffles.

And she actually had the nerve to say that she didn’t know why she was in time out. She said she didn’t understand why mommy was mad. I was pissed, but sometimes I have to remind myself that this is a 2 1/2 year old I’m dealing with. She may talk like a third grader, but she hasn’t even gone to preschool yet. I overestimate her ability to process all of this. But then again, I also underestimate her ability to drive me up the frigging wall.

Any time we have time out I wrap it up with a good hugging and rocking while we talk about what happened and why she had gone to time out. But this time both kiddos were screaming, one in the carrier on my back, the other tugging at my hand and asking to watch her shows. I succumbed to the TV while I tried to cool off, get the baby to stop crying, empty the dishwasher, and make dinner.

Then she refused to eat. Then she refused to answer me when I asked her questions. Then she refused to look at me when I was talking to her. Then she peed on the couch. Then, when I turned the TV off, she refused to stop screaming. Then Daddy said flippantly, “only one more hour” and Mommy replied, “no, now.” So Daddy took her to bed when Mommy gave him the look…an hour early. (I’m sure every mom has the look, right? The look of being up to her neck in exasperation, right at her breaking point, on the verge of losing her patience/cool/mind/shit?)

As I fed the baby I listened to May’s yelling and screaming from behind her bedroom door, I listened to Daddy counting to three to get her to comply to his demands of changing into jammies and reading stories before bed, I listened to my own guilt and fears and disappointment at being the mommy who just can’t handle her toddler. The mommy who wishes she could just disappear sometimes.

It was a miserable end to the day. I don’t like hearing my baby so upset. I don’t like hearing her daddy yell at her, and I don’t like being the one yelling either. Most of all I hate that I have spanked her so much lately. I don’t ever want to spank her, and if I do, I want it to be an absolute last resort. But lately she’s been wearing me down to the point that, every now and then, it becomes a reflex when I’m feeling absolutely helpless and flustered. It seems that toward the end of the day all I’m saying is “No, no no!…I’m going to count to three! One…two…two and a half… and You’re asking for a time out!”

And yes, I do actually count all the way to three. I learned as an adolescent that if you don’t, the threat is useless. Now Maysen knows I’ll get to three, so two and a half usually suffices. Today, though, it didn’t. Today I got all the way to three, hence the time out.

So I really wish I could have ended my day as mommy right when I put the girls down for naps. Everything was perfect up until then. Right when my two angels closed their eyes…