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Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

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motherhood

In my 50s with a far-from-empty nest

Being a mother of five-year-old twin boys at 53 is a whole nother level of tired. Like 4th-circle-of-eternal-boulder-pushing-with-Sisyphus-riding-piggy-back tired.

Some days I just don’t know where I’m going to get the energy.

The boys’ constant demand for attention is so… demanding. The endless bickering, boundless messes, bottomless hunger… it all saps my energy.

While they themselves are unending bands of the stuff, bouncing and careening over any and all semblance of peace and order. And legos and play doh. And happy meal toys and wrappers. And the last remaining vestiges of nerves that make up my life.

I wonder… can I steal some of that energy? Harness it for the stamina I need to entertain these green goblins of go-gettedness for the next fourteen hours? The next fifteen years? Because I seem to have zero reserves of go-gettedness left. Zilch.

I don’t recall being anywhere near this kind of tired when my girls where little. But then again, I wasn’t anywhere near this kind of age when my girls were little. I was a young mom to young kids. Now I’m a — well, let’s just say an older mom to young kids.

Which makes my life way more than a wee-bit more exhausting. I would swear I’m anemic, but they’ve tested me for that.

Mercy. Most days I beg for mercy. And mercifully, most days, there’s the swimming pool.

Swimming is their favorite right now. They love to splash in the coolness, to feel the ripples across their shoulders, to dive beneath the surface and hear their warbling words come out in whomps that burst in bubbles above their drifting curls.

So I take them to the pool. For them — and for me. It gives them play. And it gives me peace.

It’s the easiest part of my day right now. Demands diminish in the calm, soft ripples of silver and blue. The boys splash and play like sweet little sprites, and I’m granted a sweet disconnect from the harshness of my real — and really hard — world. Until…

My goggles are slipping! I’m hungry! My noodle is missing! There’s a frog in the pool! Parker won’t talk to me! Tate broke my head! I’m hungry!!!

The whines cut the calm like a chainsaw, severing it into the bloody little jagged pieces of pandemonium that is my life.

And it dawns on me. I’m not anemic. I’m exsanguinated. There’s nothing left to bleed.

I saw a story the other day from the Wall Street Journal celebrating a slew of women in their fifties, empty-nesters with newfound freedom to fly the coop and reinvent themselves.

One woman picked up and moved to the crater of a volcano. Another biked across the United States in a peace sign pattern. A third went snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. None though, said, “Hey, I’ll raise a second set of kids.” None.

Many women I know commented on the article, saying they’d had their children early, and now they were living their best lives.

Well… I had my children early. And I had my children late. My nest is ragged and worn, with a whole lotta years left to go.

Perhaps there’s a reason God made sure most women don’t have babies after 40, much less 48.

And now, in my summer of 53, with school about to begin again, and Sisyphus and his boulder on my back, and my 5 year old twins in my nest, and me on my own for the next six months while my husband resumes his football duties — I refuse to believe I can’t still reinvent myself. In my fifties. With a far-from-empty nest.

I will work even harder to make this writing dream of mine come true.

I will continue to carve out words from the smallest slivers of time. I will keep stringing stolen seconds into sentences. I will keep climbing the steep and thorny path of progress while keeping my nestlings as content as two five-year-old boys can possibly be. Which isn’t very. And not often.

But I will not give in. Because inside the exhaustion of it all, there is also inspiration. And there is also breathtaking beauty.

This morning, my little goblins came creeping into my bedroom at Seven-Zero-Zero, as my oldest son says. (They are NOT allowed to leave their rooms until that six-five-nine has flipped. And they waste nary a second once it has.)

For a minute, I SO wanted to bark at them to go back where they came from and just let mama sleep.

But then, they are where they came from… curled up on my body like fiddlehead ferns, tentacles tracing my cheek, lips kissing my eyelids, chattering away like baby birds about their daddy and the swimming pool and the desperate need to water the garden before it rains. We have to GET UP… NOW. And how could I be mad at that?

They are where they came from, and they are where they belong. For this season. And for always.

And yes, there’s a reason God made sure most women don’t have babies at fifty. But you know what? I’m not most women.

I can raise these boys with the grace and the grit they deserve. With the same grace and grit I raised my girls with. I will. They deserve no less.

And I can also write my memoirs and my musings and murder my little darlings (it’s a writing metaphor, please do not be alarmed…) with the grace and the grit that I deserve, too. I can and I will.

Because I’m not most women.

I had my children early, and I had my children late. My family is beautiful and messy and more-than-I-can-handle most Mondays and a whole lot of other days, too. But still… I am absolutely living my best life AND reinventing myself, too.

And while I’m not swimming with turtles off a Darwinian desert isle, it is still survival of the fittest in all its glory. It’s all fight AND all flight. And while most days I feel I’ve been exsanguinated, I’m not dead yet.

Have Mercy!

A Tired Teacher-Mom’s 8 Little Luxuries Essential to Summer Survival

Summertime is hard on this Teacher-Mom. All those social media pics of exuberant educators wearing their “Tag, Parents! You’re It!” t-shirts… yeah, they can BITE ME.

Because I’m a teacher AND a mother of five-year-old twins. So I’m ALWAYS it. Always. I leave the frying pan in May and submerge myself in the fire during June and July.

And I’m more than a little burned out.

While other teachers rest, recover, and recharge, I referee. Those twins of mine, they fight. Like every second of every waking hour. (Ok, slight exaggeration. They fight like every alternating second of every waking hour. The remaining seconds, they carpet bomb our living space.)

So while other educators are out there sipping their umbrella drinks with their toes in the water, having assemblies in the sand, I have a list of my own little luxuries I can turn to at home. With kids. Angry, destructive, torrential tornado kids.

#1: wearing a soft, fuzzy robe and sipping coffee out of a hand-turned pottery mug. Sure, the robe’s coffee-stained and the coffee’s cold and the people at the Dollar General give me funny looks when I run in for Uncrustables and wine, but still… it’s the little things.

Or #2: watching hummingbirds at my back deck as they flit around their feeder — and then promptly buzz the “F” off because the nectar is moldy and neglected. Because I ain’t got time to take care of birds AND twin boys. Who (did I mention) fight all the everlovinglivelongmotherflusteredday?

Which means I don’t get to read those awesome British mysteries I ordered from Amazon — my #3 — because ain’t nobody got time for that shit. Even if it is some high-quality, imported, upper-crust, manor house, tea cozy shit. So scratch that.

But I do make time for #4: deadheading my marigolds. Because who can resist that satisfying little POP they make? Like snapping the Achilles’ tendon on that simpering, know-it-all parent who sent you email after condescending email all school year long. It’s that sort of satisfying. So I definitely make time for that. It’s therapy.

And I always make time for #5: Parker’s passionate kisses, complete with exaggerated MUAH! at the end. He loves to latch onto my neck and swing his 52-pound body like a 52-pound wrecking ball, shattering my lumbar region in the process, but never failing to restore my joy.

And you know what DOESN’T spark joy in me right now? Cleaning my house. My twin tornadoes completely upend it in seconds anyway — the seconds they aren’t fighting. So instead, I present #6: Nap Time.

That whole newborn baby advice to “nap when they nap,” I’ve done it religiously every weekend and summer since they were born. It’s a trend that never goes out of fashion. It gives me peace of mind, which is far better than the piece of my mind I would give everybody else if I didn’t. And let’s face it, there’s just not a lot of those endangered pieces left to go around.

Sleep always brings me joy. Particularly when the boys sleep — which they didn’t really do for the first sixteen months of their lives.

Which leads me to #7: Tate’s bedtime, when we dance as he sings along to the Jewel lullabies he’s heard since he was six days old and straight out of the NICU. Hearing him warble his bubbly, half-yodel Jewel-tones while gazing lovingly into my eyes … I can ALWAYS make time for that.

And then, finally #8: my own bedtime, complete with a glass of red wine (or two), a bucket of theatre popcorn purchased that afternoon by my ever-accommodating husband (Did you know you can buy popcorn without buying a ticket???), and Dateline. Because after the sun (and sons) go down, I embody my newest favorite meme:

“Lady in the street, netflix, snacks and murder documentaries in the sheets.”

It ain’t a lie. And it keeps me alive. And semi-sane.

All of these little luxuries keep me alive and semi-sane.

This Girl Was Made for Defeating Cancer

It’s her destiny. From the third grade on, she knew she wanted to be a doctor. From the third year of medical school, she knew she wanted to be a surgeon. From the third year of residency, she knew she wanted to be a surgical oncologist.

Three years ago, Caitlin had some boots made. Special boots. Parkland Hospital and UTSouthwestern have a tradition. Third year surgery residents have boots made in San Angelo during a month-long rotation there. Then, during chief year, the surgeons have a group pic made on the helipad, all wearing their boots. That pic will happen this year, Caitlin’s official chief year.

Today, though, even bigger things happen. Today, my girl finds out where these boots will take her.

Today, her destiny unfurls in an email. Today, the place where her surgical skills will be honed to near perfection is finally known. Today, cancerous tumors in the bellies of thousands will find themselves inexorably drawn to the precise, take-no-prisoners edge of my daughter’s scalpel.

Today, cancer loses and Caitlin wins.

Three years ago, these chief boots were made for walking straight into the hallowed operating rooms of the greatest surgical oncology training hospital in the world.

MD Anderson, here she comes!!!

Tom Brady and Her Baby GOATs

I’m sitting on a couch in my basement watching my boys play. One almost-five-year-old son scrambles across the pool table, flinging balls into pockets with his bare hands and making crashing noises. His twin brother croons “Havana na-na-na” into a karaoke mic while pounding a keyboard and perfecting his KidzBop choreography.

Disney’s Ferdinand is playing on the big screen in the background.

I remember the picture book from my childhood, but this is the first time I’ve seen the movie. Ferdinand — a calf seemingly destined for bullfighting. His dad is a fighter. His peers, his friends, even his enemies — all fighters.

But Ferdinand? He doesn’t have a smidgeon of fight in him. Nope, he loves flowers and dancing and all things NOT bullfighting.

I can’t help but think of our twin boys. They were born into football. Their dad played and now coaches football. Their mom loves football. They are the genetic product of a football family. Football pretty much drives our lives.

One son wants to grow up and be a football player. He loves rough and tumble and tackle and touchdown.

And one son wants to grow up and be a one-man boy band. He loves singing and dancing and all things NOT football.

They are exact opposites, my twin boys, despite being sprinkled with the same genetic spices and baked up in the same uterus at the exact same time.

And this ain’t my first rodeo… or bullfight or stage production, or whatever metaphor we’re working with here. I have adult daughters. And they are, likewise, complete opposites.

One grew up to be a surgeon, and one grew up to be a mama. The surgeon, she wanted to be an astronaut at five years old. And the mama, well she wanted to be a mama.

So Lord knows childhood dreams can change at the drop of a hat — or helmet or mic or whatever. Or dreams can remain the same.

Me? I wanted to be a mystery writer as a kid. I wanted to be the next Agatha Christie. I wanted people to die with the scent of almonds on their breath and secrets clutched within their cold fists and storied bloodlines.

Instead, I grew up to be an English teacher and a blogger, the scent of peanut butter on my breath, and while nobody’s died yet, I do clutch a red pen in my cold fist and bleed all over student story lines.

So yes, things could change. Or they could remain the same.

But whichever direction my boys and their dreams go, I will be there to support them. I will be there to believe in them. And to tell them they can be and do whatever they believe they can be and do. Just like I did with my girls.

And I will hang out in their corners encouraging, supporting, and cheering them on. Just like I did — and still do — my girls.

I like to believe I’m a lot like Lupe, the calming goat in Ferdinand:the awkward, rough-around-the-edges, bearded, female life coach of the title character.

I’m definitely in my kids’ corners like Lupe was in Ferdinand’s corner. They’re my kids after all… and technically speaking, kids are baby goats. (Heck, one of my kids even has a beard. At. Five. Years. Old.)

And since Lupe’s my spirit animal… right down to my lack of orthodontia and fondness for bed-bug rhymes at tuck-in (although I don’t have a beard, thank God), I guess that makes me a goat.

But since I’m the age where most mothers have already retired to an empty nest, I guess that makes me not just ANY goat, but THE GOAT.

I am the Tom Brady of motherhood.

I even have my own little personal deflate-gate — lumpy rucksacks that breastfed four babies for a grand total of four years and now appear the worse for wear…


Confessions of a Christmas Junkie, 2018

I love gingerbread. And hot buttered rum. And the Elf on the Shelf. And the Nutcracker ballet. And Christmas lights. And Christmas ornaments. And A Christmas Story. And THE Christmas Story. And… did I mention gingerbread?

I am a holiday junkie. I mean, I absolutely crave all things Christmas. Alas, I married a man who does not. He does crave egg nog — so there’s that. But I think that’s it for his tolerance of the season. He tolerates me, too — although he does roll his eyes at all my holiday hoopla. In his defense, I may have been known to overdo it just a tad. Clark W. Griswold and Martha Stewart are my inspirations.

The Christmas jonesing kicks into full gear on Thanksgiving night. That’s when I throw off all pretense of self-control and set my Christmas carol playlist on shuffle, where I keep it running loud and proud straight through New Year’s Eve. Carrie Underwood’s “O Holy Night” gets me all teary-eyed. Josh Groban’s “Ave Maria” makes me weep outright. But then, I run the entire emotional gamut. I get downright giddy over Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and Julie Andrew’s “My Favorite Things,” too.

And speaking of MY favorite things, Christmas cards in the mailbox and my personalized, hand-knit stocking hanging on a peg on the fireplace are at the top of that list. As is gingerbread straight out of the oven. I know I’m repeating myself, but if I’m not mistaken, gingerbread was one of the precious gifts of the magi. There was gold, gingerbread and myrrh. Look it up 🙂 So it’s a seasonal necessity. (And a couple years back, my sister introduced me to a Williams Sonoma mix that is the absolute definition of comfort and joy. We feed each other’s addictions.)

So yes, I love gingerbread and Christmas carols, but I think my favorite Christmas accoutrements are the ornaments. I’ve collected them for years and years and years. People who know me know I take my ornament selection VERY seriously. I will search half a year to track down the perfect one for each special person in my life.

I’m an ornament snob, too, so that makes ornament purchasing even stickier. The medium doesn’t matter so much; the ornaments can be absolutely anything from anywhere. I’ve found designer blown glass Betty Boops, Pottery Barn bottle brush squirrels, and Australian handcrafted felt angels. My criteria is ambiguous and esoteric. I just know when I know. And sometimes it takes months and months of Etsy surfing and brick and mortar navigating to find each family member’s certain special something. That’s where my Martha Stewart OCD kicks in. I admit I have a problem. That’s the first step, right? Only I don’t want to be cured.

I love the freakishly sentimental feelings that Christmas stirs in me. I know I can be over-the-top in a way that can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. Especially for someone who is used to quiet, single day, perfunctory family dinners and gift card exchanges. But me, I thrive on the chaos of the season – the gazillion get togethers, the flurry of family obligations, the weeks’ worth of baking and wassailing and all-around merry making. I become a paradoxically highly-charged, gooey lump of blubbering happiness.

Because my absolute favorite thing about the holidays as a mother is being with my babies. All four of them.  And this year, as in the past few years since the girls have been full-grown and on their own, that can be tricky. And it can require some creative calendaring, and come-hell-or-highwater maneuvering, to make it happen.

This Christmas, thankfully, there are no epic road trips scheduled. This year my crew of kiddos gets to be together — at least for one day — on Christmas Eve. Plus, my baby sis is coming into town.

Unfortunately, there are many whom we won’t see this season… Mike’s folks and JoJo’s family and all sorts of aunts and uncles and cousins and friends, but I will see all my babies and we’ll all be together, and for that I am eternally grateful. And it makes for a very merry me.

Tonight, we’re kicking this season off with a shindig of eggnog and cocoa, red wine and amaretto, and crazy-fun kith and kin. Tomorrow, will be calmer… with Mike lighting a fire so we can all settle in to watch The Polar Express.

And just before Josh Groban beings to sing “Believe”– when the unseen narrators says my favorite lines — I am guaranteed to get all sorts of misty-eyed. The line that speaks to the driving force beneath my unbridled Christmas cravings and addictions… 

“Seeing is believing… but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

Things like love.

Like the eye-rolling, eggnog-fueled love of a man who doesn’t get my holiday love affair, but still gets me. Who will drive to the ends of the earth – or at least the ends of the Southeast – to make my mama’s heart happy at Christmas time. Or at any time.

Like the fierce, full love of a mama for her babies. All of them. The ones full grown and on their own, and the ones still underfoot in footed pajamas.  A love that will always find a way – come hell or high water (have you SEEN how much it’s rained this year??? – to get to her offspring at Christmas time. Or any time.

And like the passionate love of a God who sent his only begotten son as a gift to the entire world at Christmas time. And all the time.

Yep. I am a Christmas Junkie. And I’m not giving it up anytime soon.

I’m Done Trying

I’m so far from perfect it’s scary. I do so many things so wrong. So many. All the time. But I try. I try so hard.

And you know what? Life doesn’t care. It doesn’t care if I try hard. It doesn’t.

It doesn’t care if I work impossibly hard on lesson plans and engaging students and smiling through frustration and praising through pain. It doesn’t care.

And it doesn’t care if I cough through a fortnight of dinnertimes and bath times and bedtimes and more, all while feeling like something a Hurricane dragged home. It doesn’t care.

And it doesn’t care if I try to plan for every possible scenario and every possible outcome, trying my utmost to please those I love most in the world. It doesn’t.

And it doesn’t care if I pen emotional blogs from my soul’s tender soft spot, crossing every heartstring and dotting every tear. It doesn’t.

Life doesn’t care if I work so hard and so fast my world spins out of control… and my coffee gets spilled and my eggs gets broken and my suede boots get rained on and my debit card gets lost and my signals get crossed and my calm gets shattered and my nerves get frazzled and my sanity goes missing.

Life doesn’t care if I work my axis plum off. It. Just. Doesn’t.

Life doesn’t give a damn if I try my absolute hardest because my try’s just not good enough. And my exhausted’s not good enough. And my sick and tired’s not good enough. But then, my well and wonderful’s not good enough either.

Nothing is ever good enough. So I’ve decided I will quit trying. Because life doesn’t give a damn anyway.

But I do.

And since Yoda says there is no try, only do… I will do. I will do my best every single day. And if I do that, I will feel secure, knowing there was nothing more I could have done.

I will simply do my best.

 

Struggling Is Not Failing: New Life and the Worries Born With It

I love seeing new things – things I’ve never seen before.

A few years back, I saw my first fox. She was making her way across the neighborhood green space under cover of darkness, but the streetlights revealed her unmistakable fiery fur and trotting stride. She was beautiful.

I was in awe.

And then yesterday, I saw my first great-nephew. He was lying sweetly in a nest of swaddling blankets, tiny paper finger and toenails topping long, fragile fingers and long, slender feet. He is beautiful.

And I am in awe.

He came early. Seven weeks early. And his mama suffered. She was put on hospital bed rest and then filled with the fumes of a hazy, magnesium hell to battle the preeclampsia ravaging her body.

It was not fun. Nor was it effective. He “broke” her belly (as my sons say) via C-section the very next day. At 33 weeks.

But he is 33 weeks of pure perfection. Surprisingly alert, his eyes dance inside a noggin tiny enough to fit in a teacup, his elfin features glow beneath a widow’s peak of dark, twiggy hair.

This newborn child is beautiful. And so is his newborn mother.

She is pure perfection. Her eyes smile through the pain of incision, through the fog of postpartum, her freckled features deceptively serene beneath her halo of glossy, dark hair.

Because she is the perfect newborn mother — full of self-doubt, full of concern, full of fear.

She worries about milk supply and let down. She worries about milestones to be met and schedules to be set. She worries about bonding time and spending time with her twiggy little nestling when she’s discharged and he’s left behind in the NICU.

She worries about nurturing him and guiding him and loving him well enough to one day set him loose in this big, scary world with all the tools and confidence he needs to flourish.

She has so many worries. But those worries make her the perfect mother. Because that’s what good mothers do. They worry. And I would worry if she weren’t.

Really good mothers strive to always do the right things — the best things — for their little ones, no matter how big they get. No matter how old.

But good mothers never do ALL the right things; they never do ALL the best things.  Because mothers – even the really good ones like my niece – they’re only human. So they struggle.

But just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you are failing.

I saw that on a meme just yesterday and it spoke volumes to me as a mother, as a wife, as a writer, as a teacher.

Because just like my niece, I am struggling.

Because another new thing I saw this week was a brand new classroom — in a brand new school system. And it has left me full of self-doubt and fear and concern. I am full of worries.

I worry about school supplies and letting people down. I worry about the schedule to be set and the milestones to be met. I worry about bonding time with my students and spending time with my twins.

I worry about nurturing them and guiding them and loving them all well enough to one day let them loose in this big, scary world with  all the tools and confidence they need to flourish.

I want to do all the right things, all the best things. And I know I won’t do all the right things all the time. I won’t always do the best things. I have so many worries. But hopefully those worries make me a good teacher.

I struggled a lot last week. My niece struggled a lot last week. But we both have to remember that struggling doesn’t mean we are failing. Humans struggle — we’ve been doing it since the Garden of Eden. We trip. We fall. We get back up again. We persevere. We triumph. We excel.

It’s all about the perseverance. And Grace.

Because thanks to the grace of God, if our intentions are pure, and our efforts are hard, and our passions are strong, we will not fail. Struggle, yes. Fail, no. We can do this hard thing.

So Lauren, you and me — and all the mothers and teachers and humans out there — we can all do this hard thing. By the grace of God.

I am in awe.

 

 

 

Big Boy Bed Blues: The Crisscross-Applesauce Crossroads

This mama right here finally put these boys right here in Big Boy Beds.

 

They are only four years and four months old. I feel like we’re ahead of the curve… in some alternate universe. Then again, maybe not.

But don’t judge.

Keeping our twins in cribs this long has been self-preservation. There are two of them, after all, and they didn’t sleep – not truly, madly, deeply SLEEP for anything longer than two hour snatches — until 16 months.

So once they started, there was absolutely positively no way we were switching things up anytime soon. But now I guess, we’re past anytime soon. And now, I guess, it’s time.

But they are temperamental, routine-oriented little buggers. Well one is. Parker is easy-peasy — at least when it comes to his big boy bed. (As is evidenced below…)

IMG_9810

But Tatebug… not so much.

As is evidenced by the fact that he was having NONE OF IT when it came time to crawl between the sheets of his new, big boy bed. As in, NONE OF IT.

As in, he wanted his other bed back.

That’s what he said.

Over and over and over again, while sitting crisscross-applesauce half-way in and half-way out his teepee. (Which is ironic, really, because he’s never half-way about anything. He knows exactly what he wants at all times.)

And this boy wanted NONE OF IT. (As is evidenced below…)

tatebug

Instead, he wanted his beloved star-splattered crib sheet back. The sheet he’d had since infancy. The one where he’d trace those silver and gold and navy and red stars with his pudgy fingers while singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at eighteen months after waking from a full night’s sleep and feeling great because… WHO KNEW a body needed sustained periods of sleep?!? Valuable lessons were learned atop those stars. And he wanted them back!

This new bed has new stars (we had predicted this outrage and tried our best to circumvent it, but we couldn’t find the same colors…) and he was having NONE OF IT.

And he wanted his “soft pillows all around” (bumper pads, people — bumper pads), he wanted those back — the ones that helped cushion his flailing, sleep-tossed body from one wood-slatted side of his crib to the other. And now what was in their place – a wall! Are you kidding? That wall isn’t soft. And where are the sweet-and-sour greasy smudges from all the salty cry-it-out tears and sweaty corkscrew curls, and tiny, slobbering teething fingers?

This bed has none of that. And he was having NONE OF IT.

And he wanted “THAT BALL BLANKET OFF!” (A tasteful and pricey quilt purchased at Pottery Barn Kids when the boys were nine months old for an incredible steal). He wanted it OFF.

tatebed

Helpful parenting tip here folks… don’t buy your kids their toddler bedding while they’re still babies, no matter how high the discount and how hard the desire. You don’t know what your kids will prefer once they develop a personalities of their own… and they will develop their own personalities. Their own Big personalities. Huge, even. And this boy… he does NOT like all those balls and bats and helmets and pendants. He likes princesses. And mermaids. And princess mermaids.

And this new bed has balls on it. And he was having NONE OF IT.

He did want his mermaid tail.

And his six Disney princesses.

And his two magic wands.

And his toddler-sized Elsa.

And his plush puppy named Spider.

And his plush spider named… I honestly have no idea.

And we accommodated as much as parentally possible. We slid all those princesses and the giant plastic Elsa doll and every other random demand from our pint-sized dictator between his sheets. And then we tried to slide him in there too.

But he wanted NONE OF IT.

So we resorted to bribery.

First, we proffered pink and red starbursts left over from the boys’ fourth birthday party in March — cavities be damned. But they were pink and red petrified bricks, so he wanted NONE OF IT.

And then we proceeded to promise a Target trip in the morning. (Target has recently surpassed elevators as my youngest son’s current fixation. There is a glittering Disney princess parade on aisle fifteen.)

The word “Target” is his new mantra – it sustains him from morning to night. For me, it is a continuous whining Drip. Drip. Drip. — effectively waterboarding this mama’s sanity straight into a shattered abyss.

But I was willing to sacrifice momentary mental health for a good night’s sleep.

But he was having NONE OF IT.

So then we tried the allure of Elsa sheets on the internet… or her snowflakes on the ceiling…  or any damn thing he desired… if he would just climb into his mother fucking big boy bed.

But what he really wanted was NONE OF IT.

So finally, we physically put him in the fricking bed with the fricking balls and the fricking sixfold Disney princesses and told him to STAY THERE. And if he didn’t he risked Santa’s naughty list, and his cherished Target trips, and Grandma and Grandpa’s good graces.

And after an hour, he finally whimpered himself to sleep…

…only to awaken three hours later crying for his mama.

So his mama caved. And crawled in bed with him. And Elsa. And his bevy of tiara-clad Barbie dolls. And a puppy named spider and a spider named… who knows? And a couple of hard, plastic wands.

And I slept in the crack between mattress and wall and woke up with a crick in my neck — and a new, sweaty smudge on the wall because the boy wouldn’t let me turn on his ceiling fan. He wanted NONE OF IT.

And we’ll try it all over again tonight.

So wish me luck. And preserved sanity. Because this afternoon we head to Target after nap-time — if he sleeps for two hours with no one else in his bed. Well, no one else but Ariel and Anna and Elsa and Aurora and Mulan and Belle.

And I’m sure a new girl will join him tonight once our quest through Aisle Fifteen is done.

Fashion Blogger, meet Frazzled Mama

Perusing my newest Southern Living, I am reminded of the fact that I am truly no fashion icon. Not saying that SL is a homebody’s version of Vogue – but it’s kinda my homebody’s version of Vogue.

I don’t subscribe to fashion magazines. I don’t follow fashion blogs or Insta-celebrities. Occasionally I overhear fashion advice from my students.

Yesterday, they were talking about slouchy separates. I was all in. Slouchy is my second language – spoken every single weekend till Monday at sunrise.

At least, I was all in until I heard someone say — “Just pair ‘em with a scarf and block heels” – and then I was all out.

My version of slouchy separates includes an old pair of sweats and an oversized tee. Block heels? More like bare feet. And the only scarf I’ll do is of the verb-variety — over a huge plate of pancakes and bacon. My twins are my only accessories and I wear them everywhere. That’s why weekends are my days to decompress – not impress.

I come from a long line of well-dressed women. They are immaculate. All day. Every day. My baby sis does black tie as a career choice; my second-born sister wears heels for a quick trip to the refrigerator; and my mom only recently purchased her first pair of sneakers. Kid you not.

I love them. I admire them. I could never be them.

They are fashion goddesses. Me? If I were a goddess, I would be Antipodes. As in, the exact opposite of them. 😉

Now, I do know how to put myself together when occasion calls for it. I’ve rented the runway once or twice. And I’m all about the messy bun. And I even do my brows and toes, although not at a salon. I do them the old-fashioned way – which I guess is far from fashion-forward. But it’s frugal.

And living on two teachers’ salaries, I need to be frugal, not on fleek. All my extra cash goes toward clothing our twin boys. They need new digs every coupla months — and even with Kohl’s cash, that’s a whole lotta pennies. So waxing and pedis are pretty much outa my fashion budget.

But what started me on this whole rant is my Southern Living magazine. It arrived in the mail yesterday. SL has been modernizing itself as of late and now includes a page or two on fashion bloggers from the South and their glamour go-to’s. The one this time around is a petite little blonde with dangly blue earrings from Georgia. She’s a teacher and blogger, so naturally I took notice.

But those dangly-blue earrings make me immediately suspect she’s nothing like me. There’s no way in dangly-blue-earring hell she’s a mother. If she is, she’s into body mutilation because those earrings are an invitation to pull. I would end up with ear lobes like serpents’ tongues.

And then there’s the white eyelet dress and wedged platform espadrilles she’s sporting. What mom in her right mind wears white eyelet and platform wedges? That’s just disaster at the design stage. There’s nothing but grape juice stains and high ankle sprains in her future. And she has compiled this ensemble for rambling ‘round the big city of Atlanta.

Me? I do weekend rambles around my ranch floorplan looking for lost laundry, not little holes-in-the-wall (although we have those too). Or, if I’m really feeling frisky, we head out to the local Target. That’s our family’s version of a big city jaunt. Nope. No way she’s a mother.

But the finishing-touch is the crossbody fringed yellow bag worn like a Miss Universe pageant sash. The actual bag is barely the size of her left ass cheek. And I’m not talking a three-pregnancy-with-one-being-twins-sized ass cheek — the kind that can clutch that lemon yellow crossbody bag in its Dunlap and hide it like a marshmallow Easter egg — I’m talking an unnaturally small, could-probably-still-buy-her-panties-in-a-Carter’s-toddler-girl-3-pack sized ass cheek.

That bag – and her behind – are way too little to be worried about fitting a travel bag of wet wipes and supplies of goldfish and gummy fruit chews and drink boxes and bribe-toys for her kids, plus a mama-size bottle a Motrin for herself in that bag. No way, no how.

That bag is my undoing. And not simply for its size, which is infinitesimal, but for the cost, which is astronomical. At least on my teacher’s salary.

$98??? For a handbag?

And I know that’s nothing in the grand scheme of handbag economics. Turn a couple of Southern Living pages and there’s a slew of Dooney & Bourke satchels for nigh-on $400. What the rucksack? I have NEVER understood paying a massive chunk of your hard-earned living wage on a pocketbook.

But this teacher and blogger, she’s game. But then, she obviously doesn’t have to spend her salary on a new set of preschooler trappings (times two) every change of seasons. Or maybe she does… Maybe she is a mama. And maybe that mama manages to pay for her kids’ seasonal closet overhaul with something other than teacher pay.

Maybe her blog helps her live and dress this way. Maybe her blog is her cash cow. Maybe she’s making so much moolah off sponsors she can afford to replace eyelet dresses and ankle bones after a single showing. Or maybe she’s even got a nanny. So high ankle sprains and grape stains aren’t even on her radar because her kids aren’t either.

Maybe I’m doing it all wrong.

Maybe I should start a fashion blog. I’m sure there’s a market out there for moms who love slouchy separates and handbags from Goodwill.  Surely people out there want to know how to pair leggings with a messy bun and vintage bathrobe. (And by vintage, I mean threadbare from the era of twin toddlers — still underway — where distressed and aged is all the rage.)

So if you’re into utilitarian style… and “chunky” describes your midrift, not your cableknit… and you have toddlers instead of handbags hanging crosswise off your chest… and your earrings have been retired to the dark recesses of your closet and memory, I’m your gal.

Follow me.

Sponsor me.

Help me.

Now pardon me…  while I take a weekend ramble ‘round the Target toy aisle in my twin accessories.

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