I Wish I Hadn’t Wished It Away

Disclaimer: The following post is fiction… Mostly. Our kids are three and one. I wrote this to remind myself that even though there are challenging moments with my little ones, time is tricky and goes more quickly than I ever thought possible. I plan to reread this on those days I find myself wishing it away.

Today, my toddler threw a car tantrum so epic that it took everything in my power to remain focused on the road. She woke up the baby, who’d been napping a mere fifteen minutes, eliciting a cacophony of cries and screams from the back seat. I wish there was a sound-proof partition in my car. I wish time would just go faster.

I look in the rear view mirror and two middle schoolers are sitting where my babies once did. They look so grown up, yet their features are familiar. The little round faces I’d grown so accustomed to have been replaced by thinner ones with higher foreheads and sharper cheekbones. Leftover peanut butter and strawberry juice are no longer lingering in the corners of their mouths. I drop them off at soccer practice, and remember how we used to laugh as they toddled after the long-deflated colorful play-ball in our backyard. I wonder aloud if it’s still buried in the garage somewhere (and ask myself why food never failed to appear on their baby faces even though I always wiped them after lunch.) How did they get so big so fast?

We put off nighttime potty training with our oldest because she’s always been a poor sleeper, but we finally started recently. Last night, I asked her to please be quiet so we didn’t wake up her baby sister. She continued to speak in toddler-whisper – the language of the loud – and the baby began to cry. I wish I was on a tropical island, sleeping peacefully in a luxurious hotel bed. I wish this phase would just end.

I wake up and look into their rooms. They aren’t in their beds yet. My heart jumps into my throat as I look at the clock. 10:30. Their curfew is eleven, and we’ve been asleep since nine-fifteen. Over-forty party animals. I lie in bed and wait patiently for the sound of tiptoeing feet padding down the hardwood hallway. As the clock turns to 10:55, I worry and I think back to when they were little. Keys jingle and I settle. In that moment, I can remember exactly how their tiny voices sounded calling out for momma. How are all those years already gone?

Our youngest had a bad dream and wants me to sleep in her bed. I agree reluctantly, knowing that her sharp elbows and knees will be digging into me while I try to rest. I nuzzle against her warm body, and hum an old Peter Gabriel tune that I used to sing to her while I was pregnant. I can no longer cradle her like I did when she was tiny, but she still fits in my arms. Her breathing steadies and slows. I linger for a while to make sure she’s asleep, and then crawl back into my own bed, exhausted. I’m too tired to function. I wish the nightly nightmares would stop. I wish this phase would just go faster.

My oldest texts me to let me know that practice is running long and they won’t be home in time for dinner. My husband and I eat together alongside two empty places at the table. I put some leftovers in two Tupperware containers and set them on the counter for when the girls get home. While searching for a blue plastic cover, I stumble upon a long-forgotten faded pink water bottle adorned with Disney princesses. A lump forms in my throat and I suddenly miss the mealtime chaos that left me frazzled and frustrated years before. Why did I ever wish the time away? 

I’m trying to pull dinner together, and two tiny, tired and hungry humans are whining and hanging on my legs. My efforts keep getting derailed by requests for goldfish crackers, milk, and blueberries. I turn on the television to try and keep them occupied for fifteen minutes while I cook, but the baby keeps climbing to the top of the furniture and the preschooler is yelling that she cannot hear her show because our neighbor is mowing the lawn. I wish they’d just let me cook. I wish they’d just stop needing me so much.

My husband and I enjoy leisurely evenings and dinners for two, relaxing strolls through the neighborhood, and uninterrupted conversation. I talk with my daughters over the phone frequently, but I haven’t seen them in weeks. One is studying abroad for a semester and the other has an apartment in a big city four hours away. I feel proud about all they’ve accomplished, and boundless joy because they’re happy. But my heart aches occasionally for their youth and my own – whenever I hear Peter Gabriel on the radio, look upon empty beds in their old rooms, flip through family photo albums, or find an old toy or long-lost childhood treasure unexpectedly while cleaning.

I smile, tear up, and wish I hadn’t wished it away…Because now I’d give anything to go back for just a day or two.

Our house is quiet and calm. Our babies have grown up. We’ve raised two wonderful people. And in fleeting moments daily, I miss the noisy chaos, the boundless cuddles, and the nighttime wake ups. I wonder where the years went. I suspect I will for the rest of my life.

Project Update: Let’s Paint the Town (Or The Living Room)

It has happened at long last! The paint project we began in our house three months ago is finally complete. I’m pretty sure turtles have made thousand-mile journeys in less time than it took us coat the walls in our living room and hallway with the perfect shade of yellow, but that’s not the point. The point is that it’s finished(!!)… And the color looks just as amazing as I’d hoped when we took the plunge and purchased two gallons from our local paint store in March.

Since my last update on this project was months ago, here’s a quick recap:

Nearly every wall in our house was painted white when we moved in. It vaguely resembled a hospital; cold and colorless. I wanted to paint the living room yellow to warm up the space, but yellow is a difficult color to get right. Choose a shade that’s too bright, and you end up with migraine-inducing walls reminiscent of highlighters and 1980s Lisa Frank notebooks. Too dull, and your walls can look dirty.

Since we have enough trouble keeping things clean around here on day-to-day basis with two kids and a dog and wearing sunglasses inside isn’t my idea of a positive fashion statement, we settled on a more subtle shade of yellow: Benjamin Moore’s Mushroom Cap. It’s not too beige, but not a color that screams from the walls, “I’M YELLOW!”

Bonuses: it is warm, pretty, and it looks wonderful in full sunshine and on overcast days.

Not a good look for the living room walls.

If you stare at these puppies too long, you’ll go blind.

Here are a few pics of the end results. Please be merciful about my limited (::ahem:: HORRIBLE) photography skills.

Benjamin Moore mushroom cap living room

I’m so happy with this color. It’s warm, subtle, and pretty.

BM Mushroom cap living room

The dog wanted in on my paint project photo shoot.

BM Mushroom cap hallway

The 1970s called, they want their light fixture back.

March 16, 2015

*Warning: The following is a uncensored look into my brain during paint projects. Hint: I’m obsessed. If you came here for parenting stuff, please check back on Wednesday.*

We’re painting again, which means I’m on the verge of an existential crisis over color samples. Overly dramatic? Of course! True? Partially. Maybe it’s because I’m a textbook Type-A, but painting is one of those projects that spurs obsession. It’s truly ridiculous, yet I simply cannot help myself. I spend hours perusing swatches in various stores, I waste money on tiny pots of color that I will never use, I seek out those silly simulators online that let you virtually paint rooms (even though I’m fully aware the colors appear different on my laptop screen,) I ask friends for input on different shades via social media. Paint even invades my subconscious. I’m currently dreaming in muted, buttery yellow.

We decided to paint the living room yellow because I wanted to warm up the space, but also because I love a challenge. This color is especially tricky because (as I quickly discovered upon purchasing seven different samples) it appears much brighter on the walls than it does on those tiny bits of card stock. Since I don’t enjoy being assaulted by neon hues reminiscent of the early 1990s whenever I walk into my living room, this particular paint project has been, shall we say, involved.

I’m not proud to admit that I’ve spent upwards of sixteen hours on Google image search peering into other people’s yellow living rooms to see how different hues look in the midday sunshine and dwindling light of dusk. I’m aware that’s totally creepy, but I like to keep it real for you guys. Sorry (not sorry) if I looked at your yellow living room like an online stalker. I promise I won’t show up at your house or anything, as my crazy paint lady behavior does have its boundaries.

After much obsessing, I finally chose a color (Benjamin Moore Mushroom cap – see below) and we’ve begun the painting process. We started edging after dinner last week, carefully cutting in with our brushes along the baseboard. Am I the only strange person that finds edging paint to be relaxing? We’ve painted so many rooms that we don’t even bother taping along the woodwork and ceiling anymore. It’s tedious, which is my nice way of saying it sucks, and the lines rarely come out clean anyway. (Unsolicited painting advice: if you’re planning a paint project, just buy good brushes that are designed for edging and be careful. You’ll be fine without tape. Make sure you go to an actual paint store because they’ll have a better selection.)

benjamin moore mushroom cap

Here’s the color we picked. It’s called Benjamin Moore Mushroom cap, and it’s actually yellow when you put it on the wall. It looks like a creamy beige here on my laptop screen.

One coat is up on the walls. We’ll be applying another when we can find the time to do it with a 11-month-old and a 3-year-old. I’ll post some pics of our living room when we’re all done with the project, but here’s a quick glimpse at the color in some random person’s house so you can get a better idea of how it will look… Because I know you’re all on pins and needles at your respective computers wondering about the muted yellow paint color in our living room. It’s the probably most exciting thing to ever happen on the Internet, but you’ll just have to wait for pictures.

Craftsman Living Room by Seattle Home Builders Ventana Construction LLC

Mushroom cap is a soft, buttery yellow, which is exactly what I wanted for our space. The color isn’t migraine-inducing, and you don’t need to wear sunglasses when you sit on our couch. You can, though, if that’s your thing. No judgement here.

Parenthood: You’ve Turned Me Into An Idiot

dinosaur chicken nuggets

I stole these and ate them.

I’ve done a few dumb things in my lifetime; like that time I paid a strip mall tattoo artist to script the word ‘hope’ across my left hip. It seemed like a wonderful idea when I was nineteen. Two kids and a decade-and-a-half later, and it looks as if somebody scrubbed that little tattoo with a useless pencil eraser, wrung it out to dry, and then ran it over with a tiny steamroller. It’s faded and stretched and most days I wish it would disappear.

Apart from a few other relatively minor offenses, I had a pretty good head on my shoulders for my first thirty years of life…That is, until I had babies of my own. I’m not sure if it was “mommy brain” or sleep deprivation that took the wheel after the birth of my oldest daughter, but I am certain of one thing. The total number of stupid things I’ve done in the past four years far exceeds the total from the three decades prior. Here are five recent examples of times where my brain has departed for vacation, leaving my body behind. (Please note: I had to limit myself to five because otherwise this post would take two days to read.)

1. I forgot to buckle my daughter into her car seat (don’t call CPS.)
This one still makes my stomach turn whenever I think about it. I took my kids shoe shopping because the oldest grows out of sneakers every month. Since my kids are typically decent little humans in public, I figured it would be an uneventful trip. Au contraire, dear readers. My oldest had a near-meltdown in Payless because I wouldn’t let her choose the brilliant strobe-light Disney princess sneakers which were two-sizes too small. My youngest was throwing shoes and eating tissue paper while I wrangled my three-year-old into a pair that wouldn’t pinch her feet or induce seizures. The cashier was swearing at me in silence.

We eventually made it to the car and I buckled the baby in while my oldest yelled repeatedly that she wanted to wear her new shoes. I climbed into the front seat, gave her the shoebox and drove ten miles down the road without a second thought. When we reached our destination, she screamed that she wasn’t buckled in, and I nearly vomited on the steering wheel. For the next week, she told everyone we encountered that “Mommy made a bad mistake,” despite the fact that I begged her not to let on because I felt like the most horrible parent ever.

2. I stole chicken nuggets from Target (don’t call the cops.)
The full account of this particular parenting fail can be found here. In summary, I accidentally stole chicken nuggets from my favorite store. They were dinosaur-shaped and delicious.

3. I’ve left my keys on the roof of my car and driven away (five times.)
“Why the BLEEP is that dude honking at me and yelling?!?” I live in a state where this behavior is typically a sign that you’ve done something egregious (like driving 1.5 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. We are a patient and understanding people here in Massachusetts.) My first reaction: throw my hands up in a grand gesture of exasperation and yell into the rear view mirror. Nevermind the fact that the guy (or guys, as I’ve committed this offense multiple times) was actually trying to tell me that my house keys were on my car roof as I was flying down the highway/driving down our main road/sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a suburban street.

4. I left my two-year-old alone with my phone (she called the cops.)
One Sunday morning at 7AM, I made the mistake of taking a bathroom break while my two-year-old sat peacefully in front of an episode of Doc McStuffins. The Doc may have been in, but my brain was out to lunch because I left my phone beside her on the couch. Three minutes later, I returned to a terrifying scene: my daughter holding my mobile, swiping and tapping incessantly. She managed to call 911 and four people in the time it took me to go pee and wash my hands. Thankfully, emergency services never showed up at our house.

5. I burned a hard boiled egg.
This happened. I’m not proud and I’m terrible in the kitchen. Lesson: don’t leave an egg in a pan of water over an open flame for an hour.

These are just a handful of examples. I’ve got an entire arsenal in my brain filled with moments of recent stupidity. On the bright side, parenthood has also made me smarter in a number of ways, but that’s a different post for a different day. Do you have any parenting fails or “mommy brain” moments to share? You know you want to get them off your chest!

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