my life as a parent, if life were a bunch of facebook status updates

Sometimes my mom thinks she's funny and posts about me on Facebook. When she does, I make this face.
Sometimes my mom thinks she’s funny and posts about me on Facebook. When she does, I make this face.

The baby has discovered she can grind her newly-minted top and bottom teeth together. Please scrape me off the ceiling when she loses interest in this fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-esque habit.

“Mama,” says Ellie, after listening to her sister SCREAM in the car all the way home from Ellsworth, despite being offered a bottle, a binky, and a clean diaper, “babies don’t know what they want.” Wiser words have never been spoken, kid.

Ellie is throwing a ball and encouraging Gwen to go get it. Yes you read that right–she’s trying to play fetch with her baby sister. I am witnessing the source of some lucky future therapist’s paycheck.

A letter to my youngest: Umm, kid? I know you want to keep up with your sister, but this whole cruising thing is a bit much. You’re EIGHT MONTHS OLD. Please feel free to slow it down. Short of putting you in a padded room for the next month, I’m not sure what to do with you, so please stop bumping your head on everything. Love, Mama.

Life with a three-year-old in a semi-crowded restaurant: “Excuse me! Sorry. Thank you. Excuse me… thank you! Sorry, excuse me, thank you… Ellie! Oops, sorry, excuse me, thank you!” Repeat.

Second-guessing our decision to watch The Daily Show while the kids are awake. Normally it’s pretty tame, but tonight one of Jon Stewart’s punchlines included the word “penis” and now Ellie is chanting, “penis, penis, I love the penis! This is my penis!” Oh, dear.

Clothes shopping with a three-year-old means a loud, running commentary on the entire dressing room experience. “Mama, why are you trying on THAT new bra? Mama? Why doesn’t your shirt fit? Mama, you’re squishy!!!! Squishy SQUISHY BELLY! Ahahahahahaha! Oh Mama, those pants are beeYOUtifull!!!!!” I hope the rest of the store enjoyed the show.

Evening’s highlights: Ellie stomping through Gov’s after we’ve been to the restroom saying (in an uncomfortably loud voice, of course) “Measure your pleasure!” (NO idea where she got that from, but it sounds like a condom commercial.) Then we get home and she starts randomly taking off her clothes. Tim asks what she’s doing and she replies, “I haven’t the faintest idea!” Kid is crazy.

In which my kids get the best of me, as always

By the time I returned from Vegas, Gwen had begun pulling herself up. One month later and the standing is a regular thing, along with creeping alongside the couch (leaving a lovely trail of drool on the cushions behind–apparently she keeps her sense of balance in her tongue.) I can’t say I’m ready for this. She only started crawling for real 2-3 weeks ago, but apparently she’s taking AP courses in mobility. Also, she’s learned to feed herself finger foods, clap, give kisses, and wave hello, all in the span of the last week and a half. If she keeps up at this developmental pace, she’ll be starting college in about, oh, three years. Two if she really applies herself in toddler school… but those quadratic equations are a bitch when you don’t know how to properly hold a crayon. 😛

getaway driver
Gwen taking Driver’s Ed. Careful parellel parking, kiddo.

Now I not only have to keep Ellie from unintentionally giving her sister a concussion, I have to keep Gwen from giving herself a concussion. Double your pleasure, if by “pleasure” you mean “number of small heart attacks.”

Gwen is also teething, and I don’t remember teething being this… nerve-wracking. Maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory for a reason, but Ellie cut all her teeth in the span of about six months, so it was wham, bang, done. No muss, no fuss. In contrast, Gwen’s chompers are taking their pleasant time. Apparently she’s going to draw this out as long as painfully possible and suck down every last ounce of my patience in the process.

Speaking of patience or a lack thereof, let’s talk about Ellie.

A rare snuggly moment
A rare moment of peace

I have mixed feelings about three as an age in general. I realize my experience in this arena is limited, and those of you who are familiar with teenagers are looking at me with “Oh, honey, you have no idea” eyes. Ellie may have an attitude, but at least she doesn’t have car keys, a credit card, and a hulking boyfriend named Todd, right? I still have some illusion of control here.

Ellie, oh my sweet Ellie. I know a big part of my struggle comes down to a difference in personality. She is so fiery, and I am not. I don’t know how to handle all her passion and angst. That’s not to say I’m not angsty, but I’m not outwardly angsty. Keep that shit to yourself, please!

But Miss Three does not know how to keep her shit to herself. Miss Three wants us to know about everything–every single thought in her adorable blonde head. All. Of. It. All the drama, all the time, like a Lifetime movie marathon on constant repeat.

And the noise! “Mama? Mama?!? MAMA! Hey Mama! MAMA!!!!” By the time I go to bed, every last nerve is fried and overstimulated to the point where I can’t sleep. I’m physically buzzing in an effort to keep up with my kids. Like a junkie who gets high on silence and desperately needs a fix.

Mostly, I can’t believe they’re growing so fast. Every time I look at Ellie climb the rope ladder to get to the big kids’ slide, Mama!, and every time I look at Gwen’s chubby legs taking tentative steps alongside the furniture, I am reminded of how much has changed in the last three years. I’m frustrated because I can’t hold onto it. The kids are always slipping out of my grasp, literally and figuratively. They want to move, they want to go, and I won’t hold them back, but part of me wants my babies to stay innocent and sweet and chubby and attitude-free. So much change in such a short period of time is overwhelming. Such is parenthood, I suppose.

this is the part where i torture you with more photos of my kids

Because this is my blog and, well, I just can. 🙂

Sisterly loveBig smilesMama's eyesPout

If you have to ask why there are so many more photos of Gwen than Ellie on Flickr these days, then you’re probably not parent to a hyperactive three-year-old. Most photos of Ellie are nothing more than a blur, because she gives me all of half a second to take a photo, stopping only briefly to yell “CHEESE!” before finding something infinitely more interesting than mama and her camera phone.

Gwen, on the other hand, is mostly stationary… at least for the time being. I don’t expect that to last for long, as she’s discovered rolling over allows her to get from point A to point Toy, albeit more slowly than she’d like.

ellie turns three; we rejoice (and break out the mop)

Yesterday, my darling girl turned three. Three. I need to let that sink in for a moment.

Theoretically we’ve survived the “terrible twos,” although I suspect three has its fair share of surprises in store. As the Iron Will of Ellie gets stronger, our political maneuverings get more intense. We’re still in negotiations over hair-brushing, “dinner” is a nightly trial (grapes and cheese qualify as a complete meal, didn’t you know?) and we’re considering changing her middle name to Bossypants.

Elspeth Bossypants Moore. She’s named after me.

Don’t get me wrong; there are upsides to three, too. Highlights include the ability to entertain herself for longer stretches, a few more inches’ slack on the proverbial parental leash and the pleasure of spending our time with one of the most funny, spirited, articulate kids I’ve ever met. Not that I’m biased or anything.

The big bonus: In recent days, Ellie has decided the potty is no longer for suckers.

Happy birthday to us!

The caveat: Potty-training does not happen overnight (at least, not in this house) and this is just the beginning of what I’m fairly certain will be a long, messy road. I’m getting pretty friendly with the mop and the washing machine. But hey, whatever it takes to have only one kid in diapers! It’s a big step in the right direction.

Happy birthday, Ellie. May your days be filled with laughter, love, joy… and the occasional puddle.

who let me have children, anyway?

I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.

Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.

Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)

Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.

So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading “who let me have children, anyway?”