5:50 AM: Happy shrieks in the baby monitor. Bea is up. Contemplate letting her talk just.a.little.longer and then realize she could wake up Gracie. Jump out of bed and rush to her room, shushing and pleading as I change her diaper to not wake up her sister.
Bottle, burp, zip Bea back up in her sleep suit, and back in to the crib.
Stumble back to bed. Shut my eyes. Husband’s alarm. Kick, snooze. Eight minutes later, alarm. Kick, snooze. Repeat.
7:30 AM: fall back to sleep
7:45 AM: “I have a giant poop!!!!!”
Find myself awake, halfway across the house, tripping over toys to get to Gracie’s room before said giant poop turns in to anything worse, which it has. Several times.
Trip over Thomas the Tank Engine. Curse Thomas the Tank Engine.
Find Gracie standing naked in her crib holding the offending diaper at arms’ length with a proud smile on her face.
“I made a GIANT poop! Stinky!”
“Do you have poop anywhere else?”, I ask with bated breath.
“No, just diaper. And my bottom. Poop is soooo big. You see poop, mommy?”
Poop disaster averted. Coffee poured, three sips. Offer Gracie cereal bar and cheese.
“Just cheese,” pauses, “AND fruit snack!” Grins at me as if she has discovered a way to get a sugary treat this early in the morning.
8:10 AM: Turn on the Today show, two sips of coffee.
8:11 AM: “Willaaaaaah!!!! [Willis]”
Willis runs through den carrying Toy of the Week with Gracie throwing Toy of Last Week at him. Put coffee down, break up sibling fight.
8:15 AM: Realize I’ve forgotten about Bea, go to her room to find her smiling and cooing. Feel guilty, but thankful that at least there’s one person under 3 in this house who is easy. Pray that her easy-going nature doesn’t mean extensive therapy for Second Child Issues in fifteen years.
8:20 AM: Walk in to the den to find Willis straddling couch and coffee table, drinking my coffee.
8:30 AM: Clean the kitchen counter. There are many things in life that I can’t control, but the cleanliness of my kitchen counter isn’t one of them. I get the kind of high that druggies seek after when I walk into the kitchen and see a clean countertop.
8:45 AM: Realize that I should probably get dressed. Walk in to closet, bypass the cute spandex leggings and athleisure wear, and put on a clean set of pajamas pants and oversized fraternity shirt. #Winning.
Depending on the day, we usually get out of the house in the mornings, because, sanity (and I do get dressed at that point). Monday, Tuesday, and Friday are usually play dates or trips to the pool; Wednesdays are my Wal-Mart/ morning sitter times and Thursdays are Bible study.
9:00 AM: We enter the Black Hole of Getting Readiness. The rough part about this particular black hole is that regardless of how early I get everyone ready to get out the door, we are always 30 minutes late. It’s as if the minute I verbally say “Ok, let’s go!” our home enters into this demonic time vortex where everyone screams and cries and poops and spits up. The amount of disaster is directly proportional to the amount of time I start the getting ready process.
For example, this past Sunday, I had miraculously gotten the girls ready and we were going to leave ON TIME. For the first time all summer. And you know what happens?! My husband has to kill a 6 foot long rat snake in our driveway. By driving over it. And decapitating it with the machete he bought to go with his military ration kit (because, Trump).
I’ve taken to yelling “NOT TODAY, SATAN” as I throw my kids in the church nursery every Sunday.
9:30-11:45 AM: Morning outings, in which I mentally kick myself for even leaving the house and inflicting my children upon the kind people of my little town.
12 Noon: Lunch. Gracie gets a defrosted Uncrustable PB&J and Veggie Straws. I know full well that the price per ounce of the Uncrustables is more than just making my own PB&J, but they have the holy grail of toddler food: novelty. So she eats them. And the Veggie Straws? They have the word Veggie in the name so I don’t feel as guilty feeding them to her.
I eat at the kitchen counter because I don’t want to share my food. I turn into Smeagol from the Lord of the Rings when I eat.
12:00 PM-1:15 PM: PBS has Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train on, so I sit Gracie in front of the TV while I eat my food. If the stars align, I’m able to put Bea down for her afternoon nap around 12:45 and the little angel sleeps for about three hours, bless her heart.
1:15 PM: Nap time. This has happened every day of Gracie’s life, and yet she acts shocked and indignant when I inform her that it’s time to nap. Recently she’s been saying that she doesn’t want to nap “Because I love you,” as if her love for me would move me to tears and tell her she can do whatever she wants. Silly child, that only works on grandparents, and I’m the evil overlord known as your MOTHER.
The only time a toddler is indecisive is when they’re picking out a book to read at nap or bed time. I usually grab the closest one and start reading the abridged version, which thankfully Gracie has no clue I’m doing since she can’t read yet.
If I’ve been good that day, she’ll let me rock her for a few minutes, which is the most physical contact she’ll allow me for the day (she’s basically a cat). Like a captive trying to distract her captor from her impending doom, she’ll try her best to stall by recounting the morning’s activities and insulting me.
“You only read one story. Daddy reads three stories. I like Daddy’s stories”.
1:30-4 PM: Nap Time, aka Glorious Quiet, Time to Get “Me” Stuff Done, i.e. blogging, crafts, Bible study lesson, organization projects.
I usually pass out at 2 and wake up at 4 from a sleep so deep that it takes a few minutes to remember where I am and what my name is.
3:45 PM: I hear giggling and cooing; Bea is up.
4:00 PM: “TIME TO GET UP! TIME TO GET UP! GET GRACIE UP!” Gracie reverts to third person when we don’t respond to her calls, in case there is another toddler somewhere in the house that we’re trying to ignore.
4-5 PM: When the weather was nice (i.e. not 104 in the shade), we usually spent this time outside, trying to wear Gracie out. A walk, kicking the soccer ball, etc. Now, it’s usually the time I send my husband the flare gun, when-are-you-getting-home text.
5 PM: Start dinner. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to cook (or clean, or do anything productive) with young children around, here’s how simulate it: find a recipe in a language you don’t know. Stick one foot in a bear trap. Put on a straight-jacket. Light your hair on fire. Remove one limb per child.
If you drive by my house around this time, you’ll probably see raw chicken breasts thrown across the kitchen, because Gracie needs to use the potty whenever I’m handling raw meat, and salmonella on the kitchen counter is a lot easier to clean up than… well, you know.
5:45-6:15 PM: Eat dinner. Or, rather, adults eat dinner, toddler discusses dinner. Dinner conversations go something like this:
“Mommy a girl?”
“Daddy a boy?”
“Fork a boy or a girl?”
“Eat your pasta”
“I don’t wanna eat pasta!”
“Tough cookies, that’s your dinner. Eat it or go hungry”
“Cookies are a boy or a girl?”
6:15-7:00 PM: Clean kitchen. Run laundry, throw clean laundry on the bed to fold (I tell myself that it’ll make me fold it before I go to bed, but I end up just throwing the whole pile on the floor by the end of the night). Find half-eaten cheese stick on laundry counter from this morning.
7:30 PM: Bea gets bath in kitchen sink, bottle, and bed by 8 pm (the only positive side effect of months spent in the NICU is her ability to put herself to sleep, so she’s super easy at this stage).
7:38 PM: Gracie’s bath time (odd time but for some reason we always start at 7:38). Thankfully this is done by my husband so I tend to make myself scarce until it’s time to dry her off, brush her teeth, and put her pajamas on. Last time my husband was in charge of pajamas she wore a smocked corduroy bubble to bed in January of 2015.
Pass her back to the husband to begin her story time. Various acts required to leave her content, in her room, at night: no less than four stories; one about pigs and houses, one about goldilocks, one about a train, and one about Gracie. At least one cup of water must be consumed, another one left by the bed. Pinkie (blanket) and Sharptooth (T-Rex), and four Minnie’s (Big Minnie, Little Minnie, Pink Minnie, and Baby Minnie) must be within reaching distance. She uses them to enact Greek tragedies prior to falling asleep.
8:30 PM: My golden hour. I have a glass of wine, milk, hot cocoa, or all three. Watch something mind-numbing on TV while I stand next to my bed contemplating the pile of clean clothes; usually by the third commercial break I throw it all on the floor.
10:30 PM: On a good night, I’m usually dead to the world by now. On a bad night, I’ll be up for at least two more hours playing out various disasters for my family, home, and country. Usually kick my husband awake around midnight to ask him if he’s locked the back door. Check on both kids to see if they’re breathing. Think about the cookies in the pantry. Get up and check all three doors even though my husband says he’s locked them. Find the one door he’s left unlocked for the first time in six months and lose all trust in him (to lock the doors) for the next six months.
1:00 AM: Fall asleep
2:30 AM: Bea wakes up.
3:30 AM: Gracie wakes up, asks for story. I tell her no. She asks for a fruit snack.
4:30 AM: Fall asleep after deciding how many generators are needed for the house should another Katrina hit, and how to handle Bea when she gets bullied in school in ten years.
5:50 AM: Happy shrieks in the baby monitor. Bea is up.