What I Would Tell the Disheveled Mom With Her Screaming Kids

cry babyIf this were B.K. or before kids, I would try to avert my eyes and run. Mommy meltdowns and blood curdling screams from tantrumy kids made my skin crawl. It’s one of the reasons why I thought I would never have kids.

Fast-forward three years.

I’m running through Target like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games. Move people! I’ve got a hungry, crying baby. Next up-a flying toddler. My kid dives out of the shopping cart. Without warning. While I’m paying. I’m trying to figure out how to stop him from doing it again when he darts for the evil junk at the checkout aisle. There’s a growing line of people building behind me, a cranky two-year-old and a cashier that wants to strangle me. I had an amazing moment when I realized I’m that mom. I’m the mom with the snot soaked shirt. I’m the mom with suitcase under her eyes that’s yelling at her kids, that’s holding the line, that’s not in control.

I’m all those moms.

So here’s what I would tell you if you ever a) find yourself in this same predicament b) see a mom who is:

Take a deep breath. It’s all okay. You feel judged. You are probably are being judged. But those people don’t know how hard it is. They might be seeing you at your worst. They don’t know the hours you spent trying to calm a teething baby and a scared of the dark toddler. They don’t know how you soothed your son’s fears or kiss his owies away or spend hours trying to find the right recipe that he will actually eat. But none of that matters. The person you should be concerned with is you.

I’m taking a Self-Compassion course with Brene Brown and Kristin Neff. One of the things I learned is to put our hands over our heart or give ourselves a gentle hug. Secondly, tell yourself the following: “You’re struggling. This is hard. Everyone struggles. You’re not alone.”

This is what I would tell you.

You’re doing the best you can in a job impossible to be perfect at. You will have good days when you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job. Your child will look up at you and smile. You’ll feel like you got this parenting thing down. And you will have those horrendous days when the poop literally hits the fan. And that’s okay too. You messed up. Your child’s disappointed, scared or sad. You tried your best. You can try again.

I don’t think anyone leaves childhood unscathed. We’ve all got scars. They will have them too. Our job is to teach them that life isn’t perfect, but love is. Teach them you can love yourself even when you feel like a monster and you will have done an amazing job because we all mess up. We all say the wrong thing. We all hurt each other. The main thing is whether we can say to ourselves at the end of the day, “I loved my hardest. I lived the fullest. And I forgive myself for the moments that I didn’t measure up. I am both beautiful and messy. I love you. I love myself. We are all works in progress.”

Effortless Teepee II

This will be a short post because it took me no more than 5 minutes to put a toddler teepee together. The hard part was entertaining two babies at a hardware store while trying to carry bamboo poles and them back to my car. Thank you nice City Mill salesperson for helping me with the latter.

Basically, I’ve been reading how-to make an easy teepee online and via pinterest. Again, the difficult part was finding time to do it. Luckily, a relative was over again this time to watch the two.

How I did it:

  1. All I did was wrangle together 5 bamboo poles. I was not picky about which ones. In fact, that salesman chose them for me.
  2. I also bought jute rope. Make sure you’re not settling for anything thinner. It’s got to be strong enough to withstand your kids. You know yours. I know mine.
  3. I also got a drop cloth. The cheapest one I could find that was still made out of cotton, not plastic, was a runner. 
  4. Basically, I used one hand to hold five bamboo poles and the other to wrap the jute rope around the entire thing. Then, I weaved the rope around each one in an erratic and not consistent figure eight.
  5. Lastly, I tied each ends of the rope into a knot.
  6. When the teepee was sturdy, I wrapped it in the runner.
  7. The final steps included adding a ribbon at the top, a few toddler pillows and his bear pillow.

I’m surprised how easy it all turned out.

Toddler teepee

Here is the baby before and the toddler after. It went by so fast. I could weep. Not the room transformation, the growing up. Anyone else with me?

Nursery picTeepee toddler room

Go here to read part I of the transformation.


Effortless Teepee Part I

This is not a potty training post. But as a mom of two trying to manage potty training with no sleep, I can understand how it could easily read as that.

This is a post on how I’ve been working on transforming my toddler’s nursery into a big boy’s room with nil time and money. For all you stay at home mommies out there, you know it’s our own riveting Cupcake Wars.

I started out with a moody gray room. But it needed something fun, bright and not so dreary. I’ve been slowly collecting decorations like hanging fish and a whale from Target. I just needed a day to piece it together.

One day miraculously appeared last week when relatives stopped by for an impromptu visit. It gave me just enough time to figure things out.

Here’s the room before my two kids. Can you even imagine life before kids anymore? I can’t.

Gray nursery

This is the nursery before kids exploded into our home.

Nursery pic

I was excited to finally be able to put things on the wall without worrying a baby would stand on the crib mattress and pull these down. I attached fishing wire with thumbtacks, high enough so even toddlers who know how to grab stools can’t reach them, and this big old whale below.

Fish room

This is not a staged photo obviously. This is real life. In addition to the Target wall decor, here’s the 411 on the decor I fell in love with.

  1. Woodland coverlet set I found at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  2. Twin navy bed which we found on Overstock.

Toddler rooms

Something was still missing so I eventually pulled together a teepee with bamboo and jute rope. I’m anxious to post about it, but the laundry needs attention. I promise to delve into it soon. To be continued…

Running On Empty

Running on emptyI grieved. I was afraid. But the most difficult part of all of this was that I was the one who created it.

I was not talking about some writing project. I was talking about a new baby.

My first child sobered me into any fantasies I had about having kids. I tasted pain, heartbreak and fatigue. I knew my dreams would take a backseat. I knew it would be a sacrifice. I didn’t know if I was worthy of doing it again. I didn’t know if I had the energy to be even “good enough.”

I’m often surprised by the amount of things you can get done when you’re running on a few hours asleep. Some days, I feel like someone is gnawing at my brain. All. I. Want. Is. Sleep.

On bad days, I feel resentment bubbling to the surface. In my computer, there are several files that haven’t been touched in weeks. I think about those moments of fear and regret I had when I was pregnant. I still have them.

But I feel something sprouting beneath the surface. I don’t feel like I’m teaching my children. I feel like they are molding me. They are cracking me open in every sigh, tantrum and wide-eyed begging to be seen.

I cannot eat, google or text my way out of the two-year old staring at me screaming to make me see that this is one single moment. Whether good or bad, this one will be gone. And so will the next one. And the next. Will I be able to remember them? Will I be able to savor those sweet chubby toes and those adorable sayings or will they shrink into one long day filled with shouting, ignoring and invalidating statements because I couldn’t let go of the me before them?

Sure, my dreams of publishing a children’s book one day is real. It’s important. But the lessons they have in store for me are paramount. Because if I don’t get it, if I don’t surrender into the love I’ve got now, I know I will regret it. I will spend a lifetime wishing I could redo a childhood that was gone in a blink of an eye. I have only two chances to live childhood. One’s dead and gone. The other is through the eyes of my children.

The Toddler Craft Project That Keeps On Giving

When you’ve got a spirited tot, planning a project that has multiple uses is ideal.

This is important to tuck away for: a) rainy days b) cancelled playdates c) when you’re too tired to do anything.

Thankfully, one of those days when all of the above was happening, I saw a potted plant nearby and thought fast.

Pinning my toddler in his high chair was also a smart idea. For a moment I actually felt like I was winning.

I gave him my terra cotta pot, his paints and a brush, and we were set for about half an hour. That was the first layer. Purple paint is what I hand on hand.

IMG_8007 When that was almost over, I got a second idea. Thank you God!

I remembered I had leftover chalk paint from this project and we painted a second layer. Yes!


And if that wasn’t another half an hour used wisely, this painted pot plant kept giving and giving. After it dried, he still could draw on it with chalk.

FullSizeRender (9)Yes I know I’m overly enthused, but finding one project will multiple tasks that has the ability to sustain a toddler is like hitting the jackpot. Am I right?


Toddler Art You Don’t Mind Displaying

Todderhood is joy. Toddlerhood is indescribably hard. One of the greatest challenges as a stay-at-home mommy is finding activities that involve creative activities that keep them busy and away from their innate desire for destruction. Whenever something catches my eye as a potential to quell boredom and is flattering to boot, I collect. I impulse buy.

This wooden giraffe from Target was inexpensive, cute and worth the purchase. Giraffe Although the leg didn’t hold up (I do have two boys), it proved to be a great emergency activity using up a good hour on a rainy day: Toddler activity giraffe

Cherry on top? Maybe it’s my mommy eyes, but it doesn’t look too bad on my dining room table either.

The Unwanted Things Your Kids Teach You

file0001971678256Being a parent teaches me a lot of things. Sometimes it forces me to learn things I’d rather not learn. Things like how to survive the world with less than a few hours of sleep or how to cook dinner with a crying toddler and un-soothable five-month old or how to be patient when you haven’t slept in three years. Things like that.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with maintaining my health and well-being while my two kids are simultaneously going through growth spurts/separation anxiety/teething.

Everything I read says that sleep is mandatory for your mental and physical health. It helps you lose weight and maintains your sanity. But having kids teaches you that when circumstances are beyond your control, you need to take the reigns on what you can. This means to stop resisting what you don’t want so you don’t miss out on the moment.

I have always struggled with insomnia. But now I have external alarm clocks in the sounds of crying babies that wake me up. Being a mom makes me hyper-alert to everything from the late night jogger to the car down the street. Normally, a lack of sleep turns me into an ugly gremlin. My son has even closed my door once saying, “Oh no! Scary mommy is coming out!” I’ve had to fight my desire to sleep. But I realized that some things like sleep are beyond my control. Is it possible to still find something salvageable in a day even if I don’t get what I think I need?

Of course!

Yesterday during one of the worst days without sleep, my son and I laughed and giggled. While I’m too tired to remember over what, I do know that my ability to let go and surrender gives me the energy to do what I can. Fighting with what is not only depletes me further, but it ruins what still can be a wonderful day.

This does not mean you’ll see me smiling like a fool (unless it’s from delirium) when insomnia hits. But it does mean that my kids have given me yet another reason to be grateful. Yes I may not have slept at all last night. Yes my eye is twitching like crazy from fatigue. Yes I probably won’t have the energy to be supermom today. But every one is well. No one has to go to the ER. And I am here and so are they. In the big, giant scheme of things, this is but one day. I will probably have many well-rested nights when the kids are grown and gone. But I have them now cuddly, crazy and needing their momma.