Where are my work-at-home moms at? And my office-going moms who’ve had to work from home on a random day? And my stay-at-home moms who’ve had to do something important while the kids were using you as a jungle gym?
Oh, there you are. Because that’s every mom ever.
All I have to say is: Holy crap. These are the moments that you realize that being a mom really is the hardest job in the world and that you might be an actual superhero if you accomplish even a quarter of the tasks at hand. They’re also the moments that you consider selling your kids.
So, this was me last week. I had gotten a great little freelance gig, and it had a crazy-quick turnaround—as in, 24 hours with an afternoon revise. The 24 hours wasn’t a problem since I always work after the kids are asleep, but I knew that the afternoon revise could be tricky. My daughter’s nap would be over by then, and my son would be home from preschool.
Plus, in the late afternoon, you never know what you might get: Would they be totally engrossed in an activity and stay mercifully quiet? Would they be cranky and whiny? Would they destroy the house with the force of 10,000 wrecking balls?
Well…it started out OK. The kids were happily playing with their toys, but then they started to get antsy. Time for the babysitter: Elmo and friends. Don’t judge. Desperate times and all that, people. If I could just focus, I wouldn’t need the virtual babysitting for long. And hey, I learned how to count from 1–10 in Spanish from the Count when I was a kid, so it’s not all bad, right? Right.
The toddler was transfixed, as she always is when Sesame Street is on. Five minutes in, though, my son piped up: “Mom, can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
“A sandwich? You just had a snack. And you ate lunch at school.”
“But I’m hungry!”
OK, one PB&J coming right up for my growing boy who has never heard of a growth plateau in his 5 and a half years on this planet. (Seriously, the kid is the size of an 8-year-old.)
He started chowing down, and I got back to work. Shortly after, I heard the telltale sounds of the kids jumping on the couch. I didn’t love it, but again, I knew it would keep them busy. I looked over to make sure that everyone was being relatively safe, and then I realized that the toddler’s diaper was off.
“Baby, why did you take off your diaper?!”
“I go potty! Poo-poo potty!”
Thankfully, she hadn’t gone potty right there on the couch, so I scooped her up and plopped her on her mini potty in the bathroom.
“Book! Book? Read book?”
It was the potty book. I couldn’t say no, because, you know, potty training, so we read the book. Quickly but enthusiastically. Aaaaand…nada. Despite protests, I got her off the potty and back into a diaper.
Sesame Street was now over. Crap. Mickey and the Roadster Racers, you’re up.
Quiet for six full minutes.
Then: “Mom, did you know that there are volcanoes in Hawaii and they have lava?”
“Yes. And I can’t wait to talk to you all about it just as soon as Mommy finishes this project.”
“Did you know that before it’s lava, it’s really, really hot magna?”
“Honey, as soon Mommy finishes this, I’ll be all yours. I promise.”
Another five minutes and then: “Mom, are you all mine yet?”
A stab to the heart. I felt like the worst, most neglectful mother in the world. “Almost, baby. Almost.”
Quiet. Perfect. I got into a groove. I was almost done, until…
“Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!”
It was the toddler, asking for an ice pop. The kids had gotten really into them lately, and I had a stash in the freezer. Some were colorful, sugar-free pops; others were kid-sized yogurt containers with popsicle sticks frozen into them that I’d talked about on a fun Inside Edition segment recently.
“After dinner, OK?”
Sigh. I didn’t have the time or the energy to argue. And, of course, the preschooler got one, too, because you can’t give something so coveted to just one child unless you want a major meltdown from the other.
“Just eat it at the table, guys. Not on the couch.”
They sat at the table. I tried to block everything else out. When I looked up again, the toddler was on the couch…but she was happily and carefully eating her pop. I just needed to buy myself a few more minutes.
I refocused. I was in the home stretch. One more skim and I could send it off. Suddenly, though, something felt off. Maybe it was Mommy ESP or maybe it was just a little too quiet, so I looked up again. That’s when I saw my toddler very seriously and very intently grinding her cherry pop into the couch cushions.
“STOP!!! No, baby, no! Pick up the pop! Pick up the pop!”
She looked at me like I had lost my mind—which, granted, I think I had at that moment.
OK, pop removed from sticky, red hands—is there any better visual of being caught in the act?—hands and face cleaned, couch spot-cleaned as quickly and as best as I could.
And then, a desperate plea: “Guys, PLEASE. Mommy just needs to finish this! Five minutes, I promise. Just don’t do anything for the next five minutes!”
OK, deep breath. Head down. If I didn’t hear screams, if I didn’t hear actual destruction, I wasn’t picking my head up again until I hit send. Five minutes later, I finally did that.
Success! See? All I needed was five minutes. Well, an hour and five minutes. But who’s counting?
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