The Daily Fight

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There are two adults, two children, and two dogs in my bed. Only a corner of the comforter is covering me, and it’s poking me in the face. I awkwardly twist my sheet-cocooned body to see what time it is. 6:18. Might as well get up.

But I look over at the sleeping twins sprawled out between my husband and me, and I just want to stare at them. They’re never this still and I can’t stop looking at them. When did they become such long-legged kids? When their eyes are closed, I can see their baby faces in there, just like they used to look, all bundled into their swaddling burrito-blankets. God, I just love them so much.

And then they wake up.

And it begins.

The daily fight.

They fight me on something having to do with getting dressed almost every day. Today, someone wants to put her pajamas in the dirty clothes hamper but I want to keep them out to wear again tonight.

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She cries. She screams at me. I have to put her in time-out while she’s stark naked. I feel like a terrible mother.

The twins push the 2-year-old the second she walks into their room and she cries. I try to comfort her and discipline them at the same time and they won’t say they’re sorry and one of them runs away and slips on the hardwood floor and bangs her head and now she’s crying too.

Everyone is sad, or mad, or naked, and I’ve only been awake for 20 minutes. I feel like a terrible mother.

Now it’s after breakfast and they’ve started whining about watching TV. But today is nice and I just want to get them outside to play. I’m trying to clean up the kitchen and I say “no” to TV. One kid yells, “Well then I will sit on the couch and wait for Daniel Tiger FOREVER!!!”

I threaten time-out and never watching TV again, but the twins have suddenly started to fight with each other so they don’t hear me. They’re fighting about whether Olaf or Kristoff is the 2-year-old’s favorite Frozen character, and when the 2-year-old says, “I love Sven!” they yell “No you DON’T!” at her and she cries.

They are unkind to each other and disrespectful to me. I feel like a terrible mother.

They fight me on going outside. On coming inside. At lunchtime, at naptime, and of course, at dinnertime.

Why does everything have to be such a fight? Why can’t I just accomplish one task, smoothly, from start to finish?

I hate conflict. It makes me feel squirmy and anxious. Before I had kids, I avoided it as much as possible. But now, as a parent, I don’t have a choice. I refuse to be the kind of mom who can’t say “no” to her kids. So I’m faced with constant conflict.

It is wearing me the fuck down.

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The bedtime fight, at the end of a long, tiring day, is usually the worst. They don’t want to go upstairs. They don’t want to be the one to go pee first. They want different pajamas and to run with a toothbrush and to read the longest book we own back to me after I’ve finished reading it. Twice. Because twins.

And yet, at ten o’clock at night, when they should be sleeping but they’re still awake and they ask if they can sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed, I say yes. It may not be comfortable, or conducive to romance, but the truth is that I love it. They will not be little forever, and they won’t want to snuggle with us forever.

The fight is exhausting, but when I offer half of my pillow to my little girl and she tells me she loves me, there is nothing left to fight about.   I know it will start all over again tomorrow. My body hurts just thinking about it. Right now though, the house is quiet. The girls are quiet.   They smell like strawberry shampoo and I love them so much.

I feel like a good mother.

At least until they wake up.

Related post: At Least 70% Of Being A Parent Sucks

10 Comebacks to “Well Meaning” Questions About Potty Training

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Potty training! If you’re yearning for a way to turn your life into an inescapable urine soaked hell, get back on that potty training wagon! (Yes I bet there’s at least one previous potty training failure in your history. How do I know? Because…. um…. no reason.)

Here are some retorts to the well meaning friends, family members, and goddamn strangers on the street that think it is their place to ever-so-gently ask you questions about potty training…

1. My son was trained at 17 months. Really? I was busy teaching my kid Spanish and Mandarin then. And the didgeridoo.

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2. Have you tried no diaper? Have you tried to get feces out of upholstery?

3. When she’s ready, she’s ready. You’re right. And, when she can barter it for a bike and an XBox, she’s ready too.

4. Have you tried a sticker chart? Yes, every time I don’t have a nervous breakdown before noon, I get to pick my favorite princess.

5. Have you heard of elimination communication? Too bad you didn’t try when she was younger. Totally! When my husband gets an oil change for our DeLorean, I’ll just zip back to the moment of her birth and do it all differently.

6. Have you tried M&M’s? Have you seen my ass?

7. Preschool will help with it. Awesome! If you don’t mind my asking, how much extra do you pay for the teachers to come by and clean up pee from your hardwood floor?

8. She’ll just copy her older sister. So funny! That only seems to work for learning the F word.

9. Using Pullups helped my son. He thought it was like underwear. If your kid doesn’t equate a Pullup with a diaper, you must immediately contact Mensa.

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10. It will get better! When you bring over a sponge, some carpet cleaner, and some vodka, it certainly will.

So, when you have your lovely, well meaning, bizarrely potty-training invested relatives over for Thanksgiving, be sure to have these comebacks memorized.

Also, FYI, the smell of a freshly baked pumpkin pie almost covers up the stench of excrement.  So shove that storebought one in the oven and turn it to 350. You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving!

Related post: A Parent’s Prayer for Potty Training in the Digital Age

11 Things I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving

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Our family hosts Thanksgiving at our home each year. In addition to saying a prayer before the Thanksgiving meal, one of our family traditions is to go around the room and say what we are thankful for. Since this tradition takes place right before one of the hugest meals of the year and everyone is somehow incredibly and suddenly ravenous even after snacking on cheese and crackers, veggies and crab dip all afternoon, one of the big trends everyone is thankful for seems to be food. Other typical things people are thankful for year in and year out include good health, family, a roof over our heads, freedom, living in the United States, our livelihood and our children. All wonderful things to be thankful for, no doubt. But here are 11 other things I’m really, truly thankful for…

1. I am thankful for children who sleep in ‘til 8 am at least. Even more than that, I give props to children who not only sleep in ‘til 8 am, but who, when they do wake up, go directly to the family room, turn on the TV coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, pour themselves a glass of chocolate milk and do not wonder where the hell I am until at least 9 am. So grateful.

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2. I am thankful that we are NOT a family who participates in any kind of Turkey Trot or 5k run on Thanksgiving. I think it’s awesome that people actually want to jog, run and be generally active on this holiday that is basically all about eating and turkey comas. I wanted to sign up for a local Turkey Trot last year. Then I sat back down on the couch.

3. I am thankful for wine. The big bottles.

4. I am thankful for family members who come to our Thanksgiving holiday and play football, wii, xbox, Uno, board games or otherwise entertain our children while I prepare and assemble a huge meal for everyone. These folks could be teaching my children how to start fires or shoot off rockets in our backyard for all I care. As long as the kids are far away from me while I am lifting a fifty pound turkey out of a four hundred thousand degree oven, in my book, these people rock.

5. I am thankful for getting through the holiday without my kids fighting with each other. (Ha!) This rarely happens.

6. In a similar vein, I am thankful for getting through the holiday without any grownups fighting with each other. (Double ha!)

7. I am pretty much thankful for any day that I do not have to wear a bathing suit, especially when large quantities of food are being consumed. Fourth of July sucks in comparison.

8. Did I mention wine?

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9. I am thankful for people who, as soon as the Thanksgiving meal is over, clear every single plate, utensil and glass from the tables and set up an army-style cleanup crew in my kitchen. These people are machines, and when all visible pieces of dirty dishware have been washed, dried and put away, I feel like hugging them and twirling them around the family room in appreciation.

10. I am thankful that we don’t host any other holidays at our house.

11. Oh yeah, and for leftovers.

Related post: 9 Things Moms Are Not Thankful For 

It’s Not That Hard: 10 Surefire Ways to Make Mom Happy

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I’m a pretty relaxed mom. I don’t expect too much from my kids other than the standard mind your manners and be respectful kind of stuff, and I let them do just about anything they want short of bloodshed and amputating each others’ limbs. As any mom knows, if your toddler is happy—you’re happy—but kids don’t seem to understand that the happy road goes both ways. Our days would go a whole lot smoother if they would put forth some effort into making me happy.

I was kind enough to put together a list for them and I don’t think I’m asking too much, am I? 10 ways to make mom happy…

1. Sleep in past 5AM. You kids have no idea how much happier I can be if you let me sleep until at least 6. And much like wine, the later you let me sleep, the better I get. Wine is that bottle you see me eyeballing starting around two in the afternoon.

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2. Eat your dinner. Fine, you don’t have to eat it. Just take a bite. ONE BITE. You don’t know if it’s yucky if you haven’t taken at least one bite. Daintily touching your tongue to it or smelling it or poking it with your finger does not count. One bite. Preferably with a fork but I know that’s a lofty goal.

3. Stop eating crayons. And stickers and chalk and Play-Doh and dirt. I know it won’t cause any long-term physical damage to you, but I’ve been scarred for life by changing so many Technicolor diapers.

4. Take a nap without a fight. You don’t even have to sleep. I’ll make you a deal: If you’re just quiet for an hour, I won’t turn on the video monitor to discover you’ve removed your diaper and are now painting your crib with poop.

5. Don’t throw a fit in the grocery store. It’s bad enough that the employees only ever see you in your pajamas regardless of what time it is, and they probably think you don’t own any “real” clothes, so please don’t do anything to draw attention to yourself.

6. Don’t put things up your nose. I know you think it’s funny when you sneeze five million times until the piece of pine cone comes shooting out and hits me in the face, but one of these days I won’t be able to retrieve who knows what from your nostril and we’ll have to go to the ER. Not only will that be embarrassing for me, but it will also cut into the money set aside for your birthday. Think about it.

7. Stop licking people. It’s gross and just plain weird.

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8. Be thankful for the cup I gave you. I know you want the blue cup, but whenever I give you the blue cup, you decide you want the red cup that your sister has, and I’m done playing musical sippy cups. It’s a cup—not a life partner.

9. Let me wash your blanket just once. I know it’s your best friend and that it goes everywhere you go, but it’s not meant to be an all-terrain, all-weather soother which doubles as a hat, cape, wings, escape ladder, or torture device. It’s dirty and you’ll survive an hour without it.

10. Give me a hug when I ask for one. You’re growing up way too fast and I want to savor your unyielding affection for as long as I can. You can even have ice cream for breakfast if you throw in a kiss.

Related post: 28 Reasons Kids Are Awesome

Dear Exhausted Mothers of the World

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Dear Exhausted Mothers of the World:

I lay awake with an unsettled feeling. I searched my mind going over my day, picturing names and faces until I settled on one of my kid’s tucked in bed upstairs.

Yes, that’s the one. She’s keeping me up tonight.

I thought about the tough day, the words we’d flung at each other and I prayed for her. And I prayed for me.

The night before I started thinking about how expensive college is going to be and stayed up an extra hour pondering it.

Two nights earlier, I didn’t rest well because of a tension headache from overthinking all I needed to get done.

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The week before that is was the flu, strain A, that put a feverish second grader on a pallet wheezing through the night and I slept with one eye open.

I keep a notepad next to my bed and it’s always got something on it in the morning. Some worry, some reminder, some whispered prayer, something to do.

This morning’s said, “Call ortho. Tell son to stop eating chips.”

Every season of parenting is different and the same. We never move past the worry, the wonder, the what-the-heck-am-I-doing-wrong thoughts, or the bone-tired weary responsibility of raising these little people.

We work hard.

We love harder.

We look ahead at the weeks To Do List of grocery shopping and cleaning and baking and thawing that turkey followed by weeks of Christmas shopping and tree decorating and merry making and we are tired. And not just the sleepy kind (although yes, what a day in bed wouldn’t fix).

Exhausted.

Bone-weary, worn out.

Can you feel it? The noise, the never-ending piles of laundry, dishes and demands.

And some days I think we just need permission to leave the worry and the doubts, the fear and the unknown. To walk away. To turn it off. To say no. To take time for ourselves. To lay down the burden.

Here it is.

Here’s the permission to rest, to be quiet, to reflect. To be.

We can kill ourselves trying to create a perfect holiday season or rest in the fact that perfection is overrated.

This week as we prepare for company and cooking, family and friends, let’s put ourselves on the list.

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We know all about giving, don’t we?

We give our kids the last cookie we were saving for ourselves.

We give them our hoodie off our own back because they are cold at the park. We shiver through.

We give to our children first. Because that’s what we do.

Giving thanks might just sound like another thing on our list. Someone else who needs something from us.

This week, take a moment to put your feet up. Trade your worry and doubt for peace and rest.

Remind yourself you’re a good mom.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Related post: The Thanklessness of Motherhood