Three kids, one dog, one cat, one husband, and no quiet. This is my daily life. Trying to juggle family, work, fun, and a second to myself is not easy. If fact, I’m not convinced it is even possible. Things are hectic and never go according to my plan. I don’t think I even believe in balance at this point in my life.
Children have a way of making us question our own sanity sometimes, and my youngest is quite the test of patience, physical stamina, and a battle of wits. All my kids are challenging in different ways, but my youngest gives us a run for our money we never saw coming. I wouldn’t change a thing if I could, but she is physically and emotionally exhausting. I’m still not sure if it is all her personality, or just simply the fact that she is the third child. All hell broke loose after the third child and we are completely worn out by juggling the ins and outs of daily life with three kids.
Before I had children of my own, I was a big B about other people’s kids. I was Judgey McJudgerson, judging their parenting and judging them for not controlling their kid. A crying child in a restaurant or public place would stress me out to the max and annoy me to no end. I’d think…DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR KID AND MAKE THE SCREAMING STOP! But then…It all changed. Fast forward a few years, and I realized it is just not that easy. I had a kid of my own…then another…and finally, the youngest who has taught me the most.
I am a bit of a control freak, but I have learned a couple of things as I have grown older; you can’t control what happens in life, and you most definitely can’t control a toddler….at least not mine. She is a tiny human being with super-human strength. We refer to her (lovingly of course) as the Hulk. She has been since she was an infant. She can go from precious and sweet to an angry superhuman monster in just seconds. I am no longer strong enough to physically control that beast. She has mastered the genius toddler trick where she either let’s all the tension go out of her body and goes entirely limp, OR she flails about on the ground like a fish out of water. Either way, it is nearly impossible to pick her up. I know this sounds funny, but I have become terrified of her. She physically hurts me time and time again. She bites, scratches, hits, head-butts…in fact, I’m pretty sure she broke my nose with the back of her head. I need full-body protective gear just to be around her…and I am really considering it.
She is the little dictator that controls the Bismark house. You don’t dare mess with that one. She is lucky she is so cute or I would have kicked out a long time ago! Her meltdowns are an awesome thing. By awesome, I mean, you will be in complete awe and possibly very, very afraid…or laughing your ass off. Sometimes the meltdowns are easy to see coming: you’ve said “no” to eating another granola bar, or you’re trying to make her wear pants in the sandbox, or you put her crackers in the wrong color bowl. Other times, the meltdowns arrive without any warning. Super stealthy meltdowns that you won’t coming at all, but leave you chilled to the bone or physically injured when they do. Like the time the time just recently when she was so upset that the paper towel roll was empty. She sobbed uncontrollably because “her napkins” were all gone. Another time she asked me to get her strawberries. So, like an asshole, I did. She looked at me like, “why in the hell did you give me these?” She had an all-out, magnitude 10 fit because she didn’t want the strawberries she just asked for 3 seconds ago. She was flailing about on the floor and kicking her legs as if that would do anything to change the situation. I laughed, of course, because it’s just so absurd, which just made the meltdown even worse. Bad idea… and now her head is spinning around. Then, instead of consoling her, I pull out the video camera…I need to document this crazy! With my first two, I would have been stressed and tried to calm her down and worry she would get a concussion from flopping around on the wood floor. But with her, I just let her go and get it out. There is no stopping the rage of the Hulk.
Toddlers seem to know to know your weaknesses and will exploit them, at any given opportunity. Well, truthfully, all my kids know my weaknesses and will exploit them at any given opportunity. They learn that real quick. They just give you the big-eyed, sweet face and their cuteness whittles away at you untilyour every last defense is down. Then, when you least expect it, they pounce. You feel bad when they cry. You believe them when they lie. They are just so precious. Then before you know it, they have manipulated bed-time from 7:30PM to somewhere around 11:00PM. They come down every five minutes asking for another hug, a glass of water, saying their tummy hurts, or in our case – to show you a silly face she can make by pulling her eyes down and sticking out her tongue. Over and over again this happens, every single night. You intend on feeding them a nice healthy dinner at the table with the whole family, but instead somehow they end up in front of the TV eating jelly beans and uncooked spaghetti for dinner. They know how to get what they want. Tiny manipulators.
Since the hulk was born, everything has seemed to become more complicated and chaotic. In addition to being nearly brain dead and exhausted all of the time, there is always someone who needs something. There is never a moment when everyone in the house is content. In the past, I was so organized and had everything under control. Suddenly, I find myself not being able to think clearly, pay my bills on time, keep up on the household chores, or even remember to get the oil changed in my vehicle (last time it was 10,000 miles over…oops!). I see all these moms who are so put together, planning Pinterest worthy birthday parties, going on trips, going to the beach, having scrapbooks of their kid’s entire lives…whatever it may be. A much as I try to remember these chaotic days are only temporary, and someday I’ll miss them, I’m overwhelmed.
I’ll give you an example of exhaustion. Me picking up my three kids after work. This shit show is quite the sight. First, I get the baby. She usually fights me on leaving the center and I have to chase her around and pick her up to even get out the door. I am holding her in addition to carrying her 10,000 pages of art work, dirty clothes because she got poop on her shorts, and whatever else is to go home with her for the day. We make our way to the car, dropping papers along the way. I carefully have to get her into the car without breaking one of her crackers she grabbed from the snack bucket. If that happens, look out. Once we get to the car, she stiffens her body so I am unable to get her into her car seat. After much frustration and practice, I have developed a technique to help. I lift her into the car seat and put my elbow between her legs so that her body has to bend and stays in the sitting position. Then, I forcefully put her arms through the car seat straps as quickly as I can. If I’m lucky, she eventually gives in and I get her buckled. By the time I get in the car, I am sweating profusely from the physical strain. I blast the cold air from the AC and hope to cool off before I get to the next stop of my triathlon. When we arrive at the next location, I have to unload the baby from her car seat and bring her with me because “apparently” it is not acceptable to leave your toddler alone in the car. It’s yet another fight to get her out of the car because she wants to bring her blanket, stuffed animal, snack, and any other magical toy of the day along with her. So before we even get in, I have my hands full. We make the long walk from the parking lot to the door either through the icy snow or sweltering heat or whatever is in-between. All I can do is hope she doesn’t bolt and try to run to the playground (it’s a 50/50 chance). You might say, just hold her and carry her in. Right. You don’t mess with the Hulk. As soon as I get in and check the kids out on the computer, she bolts yet again… In a flash she runs down the halls searching for her brother and sister. I run after her in my work shoes, trying to avoid slipping and falling on my ass (which has happened, by the way). Once I catch up to her and find the other two, we all head to their lockers and get out all of their stuff for the day; backpacks, art projects, shoes, water bottles, boots, coats, etc. So now I find myself carrying those things in addition to the blanket and fidgeting toddler. We have to walk past a damn water fountain on the way out, so of course she is suddenly dehydrated and needs to get a drink. Hulk wants water, Hulk gets water. So I set it all down and help her so that her mouth doesn’t touch it. “Ain’t no one got time for bronchitis.” I pick up all the treasured items, and tuck her under my arms because she doesn’t want to leave. She is screaming, kicking, scratching, and biting whatever part of my body she can as we parade our freak show out of the building. By this point I am totally pitting out and sweating again and nearly in tears. People just stare at me and judge me…some laugh at me. Then off to the car we go and where I have to buckle her into the car seat AGAIN using my technique. This happens every single day. No joke, I have had sore muscles in my arms from trying to control the beast while caring all the stuff from the day. Then it’s home to make dinner, homework, baths, and bed. Then we do it all again the next day. I won’t go into those fascinating details…I’ll save that for another post.
Exhausted as I am and as much as I complain, I think each of my three children is wonderful. They are all unique and a blessing in their own way. I love being their mom, even when they aren’t acting like blessings. I don’t need a gentle reminder of how precious they are because I really do know. I love them all dearly and wouldn’t change a thing. Well…maybe I’d be physically stronger so I don’t get my ass kicked by the Hulk. Then why am I telling you all this? Because it is funny and therapeutic for me to talk about it and I just want people to know that I can’t do it all. I try my best to make it work, I try to choose my battles, I try to love the people in my life as much as I possibly can, and I try to find the magic in the mess – but mostly, I’m tired and I am still just trying to figure it all out.