A few nights ago, I had a phone conversation with my bestie in a darkened parking lot and it went something like this:
Me: “Would you believe I’m sitting in a parking lot killing time between activities while Fruit Loop #2 eats a reheated dinner from two nights ago in the back seat?”
Her: “PFFT. I don’t even want to tell you what I shoved down my kid’s gullet before ballet and what I’m about to go and do about dinner for the other two.”
Me: “Does chips and salsa for dinner cover all the food groups? Because that’s what I had at about 4 pm and to get my calcium today, I have a bowl of ice cream in my future at about 9 tonight”
Her, after a bit of silence: “Do you realize we’ve totally become THOSE moms? The ones we swore we’d never be?”
I’ve officially become THAT mom. The one who serves dinner to her kid in the back of a Honda CRV.
For the record, I used to have control (read: obsess) over dinner times, bedtime, toy containment, laundry and putting the crayons back in the box in color order every night. Oh, and puzzles, too. Puzzles were always put back together at the end of the day. Nothing is more annoying that not having the last piece to complete Dora’s Backpack, I tell you….
When Fruit Loop #1 came along, I was all about a neat and tidy nursery, clothes that matched for every occasion and holiday and every Fisher Price toy piece going back into the plastic container from hell where it belonged at the end of the day. In my defense (albeit weak, I’ll admit), the chaos that a newborn brought to my life was almost more than I could handle and it helped me cope to keep my surroundings in order. My former, “I was a productive grown up for 28 years before you got here and my living room was always the way I wanted it” self needed to prove that a new fruit loop hadn’t changed who I was. It felt like a small victory at the end of the day when I cleaned up and hid the evidence of complete and utter chaos in a small toy chest in our family room.
Bedtime was another area where I was unyielding: Sleep was a dictatorship in this house, not a democracy. I was the Benevolent Dictator and if you were a small Fruit Loop in this house and you were interested in Democracy, you could head on over to the crib next door. I read every single book I could get my hands on about getting your kid to sleep through the night and I followed the advice to a tee. My former “I have watched Prime Time TV for the last 18 years with zero difficulty” self needed to prove that a new fruit loop hadn’t inhibited my ability to catch American Idol and LOST on the nights they actually aired.
That first year, it was exhausting to live that way but doable and I’ll tell you why: because he couldn’t speak, walk, crawl or do much of anything other than sit in the receptacle in which he was placed. I could move faster than him, I was smarter than him with regards to redirection and his radius of destruction was limited to the areas I corralled him in: Pack and Play, Exersaucer, Stroller, High Chair, Crib. Containment was key, people. My bestie and I would smirk to each other that we had this parenting thing under control, yo. We’d snark about the moms with toddlers and school aged kids who complained they couldn’t get their houses in order and how dinner was in the back of a minivan. That would NEVER be us. Because we had CONTROL.
Boy, were we ever misinformed. And stupid. But don’t hate us: we have joined the ranks of THOSE moms. We are card carrying members of the Dinner In The Minivan Club. New moms are totally making fun of us right this very minute.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The events over the years that lead to dinner in the back of the CRV happened slowly, silently and insidiously in our house. That newborn became a toddler who could walk and dump storage cubes of toys in staggering proportions. That toddler, being the only grandchild at the time, amassed a Thomas the Tank Engine collection that would rival Amtrak’s fleet of trains. That toddler developed an OPINION on what went to bed with him, in the car with him and to the kitchen table with him. That toddler developed TANTRUMS so epic that it was just easier to plop him into bed at the end of the day and step over the Lego minefield on the way to that glass of wine. “I’ll deal with it in the morning” became my tag line.
And then, Fruit Loop #2 came. And everything that Fruit Loop #1 owned was given to us. In pink. And purple. And the stuffed animals Please let’s don’t talk about the collection of synthetic fiber filled, dust catching, germ infested, “Oh, I love this one so much that I have to take it into every public space I enter”, stuffed animals. And, of course, then SHE started having tantrums. So, at the end of the day, I was stepping over Legos, Thomas Trains, Duplo blocks, plastic kitchen food, wooden blocks, crayons and dress up clothes while shoving board books off my couch in order to sit on it with my glass of wine only to realize the only shows in my DVR cue were Yo Gabba Gabba and Fricking Caillou.
Again, the mighty fell hard. HARD.
“Dealing with it in the morning” became closing the door to the play room. Closing the door to the play room became, over time, closing the door to the play room, their bedrooms, their back packs, the laundry room, their school desks, their lockers, their dresser drawers, their closets, the “to go upstairs” pile on the stairs, the floor of my car and their bathroom. We have a lot of closed doors around here, come to think of it….and I’m going on record: I’ve lost control and my days as a Keeper of a Masterfully Well Kept House are mostly over. I still hold out hope that someday, I might return to the glory days but I understand the teenage years will all but wipe that pipe dream from the slate.
And, when you factor in school, activities, sports, birthday parties, projects and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, the mess is only going to get worse Frankly, I may not see the floor of Fruit Loop #2’s bedroom until the day she leaves for college. College. When she MOVES OUT. And makes a mess somewhere else. At her house. And not mine. My house will be neat again and dinner will not be served occasionally in the back of the CRV when the Fruit Loops move out of here.
Messes in every room of the house mean that every room of my house is lived in. And loved in. And laughed in. And yelled “Holy cow, were you raised in a barn? Would you PLEASE clean this up???” in. Messes mean a family lives here and we accept each other’s faults, right down to the broken, unwrapped pile of mismatched crayons currently laying on the floor of Fruit Loop #2’s bedroom. All that said, though, doesn’t mean that I love the sopping wet towel I discovered on Fruit Loop #1’s dresser this morning….I’ve changed but old habits die hard, people.
I will miss the mess when they are gone tomorrow. Even if it makes me twitch to look at the chaos today.
|Then….when I had control.|
|Now? Clearly, not so much….|