Overserved.

This past weekend I was overserved. (Let’s forget for a minute that I totally made those margaritas and served myself.) But it was Cinco de Mayo! And I live in Texas now! And we had a party at our house!

Y’aaaaaalllll. NONE of these reasons matter. Next time please remind me that my limit is one margarita. ONE. I am allowed to have beers after that. BUT ONLY ONE MARGARITA.

Apologies for being ALL CAPSY. But being hungover when you are the caretaker of small children is THE WORST. Babysitters of the world–I need you to swoop in and take charge on Seis de Mayo. I promise you will be well compensated. (Hold my beer while I speed dial the babysitter and see what she says when I try to book her a year out.)

As a wise mother told a friend of mine, “You haven’t had a hangover until you’ve had one with kids.” Truth lady. TRUTH.

This all coincides so nicely with our 22 month old deciding that he is officially TWO. By that I mean that in the past week or two, he is all of a sudden pulling full-fledged-throw-my-tiny-body-on-the-floor-and-screaming-the-second-I-am-told-no-or-I-don’t-get-what-I-want-within-the-half-second-that-I-demand-it. Which is really pretty un-fun when you are stone cold sober, and really head-rattlingly awful when you are nursing one of the worst hangovers of your thirties. (Also, kids or no, hangovers get worse as you get older. No one tells you that.)

I never set an alarm. My alarm is a tiny human who wakes up screaming for me every. single. day. Apparently, my husband had made the decision before we went to bed on Friday night that he would be in better shape to get up with the kids the next morning. And bless him for that. While I was snoozing, our kids who get to watch one ten-minute show in the morning, usually Thomas the Train (There’s two, there’s four, there’s six, there’s eight, Shunting trucks and hauling freights!), were given the go ahead to “just turn on another one!” And another. And another. And that is 100% FINE. Sometimes TV means that everyone is happy and quiet for a few minutes when it is sorely needed.

When I woke up and managed to get downstairs and put a coffee cup in my hand, it dawned on me that later that afternoon, we would have approximately ten 4-6 year old boys running through our house. Plus their families. I reached for the Advil. T-ball season was coming to a close and we had offered to host the team for dinner after the game that evening. No big deal! Two parties in less than 24 hours! I got this! (Someone please get my head examined).

We went out to lunch hoping a square meal would make us feel more human. Waitress rolls up with our food, and my not-quite-two-year-old immediately goes off the deep end. Why? Who knows!?! I spend what feels like an eternity walking him around outside in the very hot sun attempting to explain that eggs taste way better when they are warm.

Once Townes settles down, we gulp down our food and ask for the check because we know he could turn on a dime. Home and quick naps for all of us before the T-ball game. Next up, a couple hours out at the fields with the Houston sun beating down, when all I wanted to do was crawl under the bleachers. Then race home for some last minute party prep before the team arrives.

Have you ever imagined Lord of the Flies enacted by 5 year olds? Oh, then you weren’t at my house on Saturday evening, obviously. Semi-feral shirtless boys running around outside, then racing upstairs to ransack Elliott’s toy stash, then back outside, but not before smearing icing on every available surface and leaving a trail of Cheetos in their wake. I played it cool and tried to participate in adult conversations with the parents, their names and details I probably won’t recall as I had one eye on Townes the Terrible Almost Two the entire time.

Here’s the thing: You don’t fantasize about hungover days of yore (i.e. pre-kids). No one WANTS to be hungover. But those days when you felt so terrible, and you had the luxury to just lay on the couch all day, drink your Vitamin Water, watch a few movies, take a snooze–remember those? The luxury of being responsible for only you and your own bad decisions? No longer. There’s no pressing pause on the needs and wants of the tiny folk that now share your space. So pass the painkillers, re-up the coffee, and remind me next time: ONLY ONE MARGARITA.

In Sickness and in Health

I had a revelation the other night. It might not be a revelation to anyone else. Maybe it was the hour (2:30am) or the circumstance (holding a crying toddler, and covered in vomit) that made the significance greater to me, but at any rate, I had a thought that struck me sideways–

That bit in the wedding vows…the part about “in sickness and health,”? That applies to your kids too. Its definitely not something you think about on that rosy day when you don a pretty gown and look deep into the eyes of your one true love as your exchange rings. It kicks in later. Many years later. At 2:30am. When you are covered in vomit.

Our family has been absolutely SLAYED by a stomach bug this week. First my youngest got it. He’s twenty-one months and while he has some vocabulary, the words “Mama, I’m going to puke,” aren’t yet part of it. So, lots of low grade crying punctuated by mercurial outbursts of rage when he clearly felt terrible and wanted something but either didn’t know what it was he wanted, or didn’t know how to ask for it. And then, you know, vomit. With no warning.

It breaks your heart to see these little people in so much distress. You hope you are doing the right thing. You second-guess every decision. We wanted to give Townes all of our attention, he was so miserable, but we suffered guilt from not doing better trying to keep up normal life as best as possible for our older son, Elliott. The constant crying starts to wear on everyone. Bickering ensues. And here is where those vows struck me.

When we said those vows we were thinking about us. Just the two of us. That we would love and support each other through sickness and health. We weren’t thinking of how those vows would grow and stretch to encompass family members (those currently existing, or those to conceive of later), possibly friends. Whether a sick child or an ailing friend or parent, we pledged to stick through it. And break out the sponges and clean up the aftermath.

I know how lucky I am. My husband works in a children’s hospital and has seen children in terrible, chronic circumstances. He has witnessed parents and relationships strained to the point of breaking under incredible stress and sadness and sickness. Our week-long stomach bug is no comparison, but it’s a good reminder of how we buckle down and ride things out together.

I fell ill next. My husband cancelled meetings and ferried our oldest to school in the mornings and Townes and I would lay listless on the couch and watch TV. I’m fairly certain that he has watched more TV in the past week than his older brother had before he turned 3. A fact I am not proud of, but desperate times, y’all. Taking care of a sick child when you hardly have enough strength to make toast is challenging to say the least.

Elliott came down with the dreaded plague last night. Just when I thought we might have skipped over him. At four years old, he has all the vocabulary to tell you just exactly how awful he is feeling, which makes it all the more heartbreaking.

Seven days and counting here. And about seven times that many loads of laundry. I’m here to tell you that you can live on orange Gatorade, and it definitely helps to know my partner in crime knows how to yield Chlorox like a pro.

 

 

 

5 Reasons why I let my kids watch TV

There’s a lot of discussion among moms on screen time.  Countless blogs, articles, research studies and playground talk focuses on the evils of too much TV for kids (and of course now tablets, laptops and cell phones enter the equation too as additional screens).  But I for one don’t buy it when it comes to TV.  I think it’s all about the who/what/where/when/how of the experience.

See, we’re die hard TV lovers in our house.  We have a high capacity multi-room DVR.  The TV in our living room feels like a small theater.  We designed our bedroom closet system to leave room for a wall mounted TV between the closet doors.  We watched a ton of TV before our kids were born, and when we decided to put a built in wall-to-wall cabinet system in the kid’s playroom, we left space for a large wall mount TV there too.

We have a set of operating rules for our TV consumption, so it’s not as if it’s on 24 hours a day.  Here’s how we do it in our house:

  1. TV should only be used as a “babysitter” sparingly.  Firstly, our kids, especially Luca (who is turning two next week) can’t really be left alone in a room.  If Julia (who is 5) is in the room with him, TV can buy us a few minutes at a time to do things like set the table for breakfast, wash dishes, or put the laundry in without having them underfoot and/or whining.  In the morning we have it on for the kids in our room while we get ready for work.  They stay in bed instead of getting underfoot making demands in the short time frame we have in the morning.  It makes life so much easier and eases their transition into the day from their early wake up time.
  2. Don’t watch TV in place of being outside. Our TV consumption goes up a lot in the winter between activities and playdates because it is too cold to go out in the backyard or to the playground.  But when the weather is nice, there’s no reason to be indoors so much staring at a screen.
  3. If we hate a show, the kids don’t watch it.  I’ve heard people complain over the years about everything from Barney to Caillou and resent that their kids love it (we don’t mind Caillou but apparently he really drives some people crazy).  Our strategy is that once we’ve seen a show a few times and know we can’t stand it, we don’t really encourage watching it.  Since we’re with our kids most of the time that they are watching TV, why do we need to suffer through Max & Ruby (I HATE Ruby) when we could watch Sofia the First or Peppa Pig, which I genuinely enjoy and think have good lessons.
  4. Focus on TV that encourages interaction/activity.  Julia loves a weird Australian kids’ show called Hi-5 that she found on Netflix.  There is a lot of singing and dancing on the show, and Julia will often sing and dance with the show instead of watching it from the couch, which I much prefer.  We also put on YouTube sometimes and dance together to videos.
  5. Watch shows that teach them things. Right now  as I type this we’re watching an episode of Sofia the First that is teaching it’s OK for girls to like activities traditionally reserved for boys and vice versa.  This little boy was embarrassed that he liked ice dancing, but Sofia helped him accept it was OK to want to be on the ice dancing team instead of play hockey and encouraged him to tell his dad, who was a little old fashioned. When Julia was little we were all obsessed with these “Classical Baby” DVDs – there was one for art, one for poems, and one for classical music.  I recently took Julia to her cousin Allison’s orchestra concert and she loved it.  I’d like to think it’s because she has a familiarity with classical music from watching those DVDs as a toddler.

Like anything as a parent, the decisions that work for your family don’t work for every family.  I’m ok with my kids watching a few hours of TV a day, as long as they aren’t passive zombies, because selfishly I enjoy watching them too.  Peppa Pig is my jam, I could watch her all day.  But I know people who don’t let their kids watch TV at all or only a teeny tiny bit, so I will end with one of my key Mom Tips: You do you.  For us, that means embracing our love for TV and sharing it with our kids.