Help! I’ve fallen into motherhood and I can’t get up!

In honor of my daughter’s upcoming graduation from elementary school, I thought I’d re-run a blog post that I wrote more than seven years ago, when my babies were actually babies. To those mothers — and fathers — of young children, trust me when I say that the experts are indeed correct. This too shall pass. And it shall pass much too quickly. I won’t tell you to enjoy every moment — because I really wanted to punch people in the throat when they smiled sweetly, and told me to do just that at the very same moment that my toddlers were having tantrums in retail stores about my abject refusal to buy crazy straws and those cruel, cruel Polly Pockets sets. No, I’m not going to do any such thing. I’m just going to tell you that your children will not go to college wearing Pull-Ups, that they will learn to eat things other than foods in the “white” category, that you’re doing a really good job, even when you cry quietly in the closet and think that you’re not, and that they love you, more than anyone they’ve ever known in their little lives, because you are their mommy and daddy. You are their everything. And you are enough.
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Here’s a fun thing to try. It’s hilarious, really. I’m splitting my sides right now over this. I swear I am.

Write down a real-life to-do list. Include everything you do from the moment you wake up until you put your head on the pillow at night.

When you’re done, be sure to make a mental note of forgiving yourself — for every dentist appointment you forget to write down, every snip you make at your own children, husband and dog, every empty tissue box and toilet paper roll that you neglect to include in your child’s backpack, every piece of chocolate that you sneak in a moment of weakness, every school board position you choose not to be nominated for and every committee you choose not to join, every child’s nap time that you squander on web surfing instead of re-organizing the pantry, every promise you unknowingly break, every food group you misrepresent at mealtime (french fries count as vegetables), every minute you fail to spend with your second-born child as much as you did with your first, and every moment when you doubt your ability as a spouse, parent and all-around general human being. Realize that some prisoners of war don’t have this kind of daily schedule. Then go to sleep, for God’s sakes. And do it all over again the next day.

6:05 am hit snooze button on alarm clock
6:14 am hit snooze button again on alarm clock
6:15 am listen to sound of 8 month old waking up from the sound of your alarm going off twice
6:22 am decide that 8 month old is serious about waking up and get out of bed
6:23 am greet 8 month old who is so eager and chipper about this brand new day that you could puke, then relent to sigh and smile nicely as much as one can at 6:23 am without having coffee or a trip to the bathroom
6:25 am attempt to diaper squirming 8 month old
6:26 am discover green poop halfway up back of 8 month old, who is now rolling around carpet since he can no longer be safely contained on changing table
6:27 am kick dog away from licking poop streak on carpet while removing wipes from box (why is it so hard to get those wipes to come apart?)
6:28 am carefully remove t-shirt and pajama top from 8 month old without smearing green poop in hair or ears
6:29 am yell at dog to stop licking 8 month old
6:30 am clean up 8 month old as best as you can
6:32 am carry half-naked 8 month old to kitchen so you can safely throw away all offending items in sealed garbage can without dog sniffing out and devouring in backyard (ewww)
6:33 am trek back upstairs to change child and find dog eating box of clean wipes; yell at dog
6:34 am wake up four year old and greet a second, chipper, eager human being with the biggest smile possible
6:35 am answer request for juice from four year old with popular “in a minute” response
6:37 am after discussing juice, remember that you need to use bathroom and leave four year old and 8 month old to play in infant’s room, safely away from all cords and small game pieces, and within earshot (and partial sight) of bathroom
6:39 am peek into infant’s room and hop in shower because it’s the last chance to shower all day; shower with door open so you can hear four year old shriek when 8 month old pulls her hair
6:44 am get out of shower and dry hair and brush teeth while bent sideways out of bathroom doorway and talking to 8 month old, who is now crying because he suddenly realized that you were not in the room
6:46 am grab clothes from master bedroom while yelling to 8 month old that “mommy’s here” and “it’s ok”
6:55 am get dressed in infant’s room; finish dressing 8 month old and repeat same “in a minute” response to request for juice three times
6:59 am bring both children downstairs to eat breakfast
7:02 am put 8 month old in highchair; forget to strap in properly
7:03 am scatter 8-10 Cheerios on highchair tray for 8 month old
7:04 am turn back on 8 month old with choking hazard of multiple Cheerios easily within his reach; take yogurt out of refrigerator for four year old
7:06 am while putting yogurt in bowl, promise four year old that 8 month old will not finish all Cheerios in large, Costco-sized package and that there is enough for everyone
7:07 am feed Cheerio to 8 month old
7:08 am pour milk for four year old who formerly wanted juice; neglect to give it to four year old because 8 month old is crying for another Cheerio
7:09 am feed Cheerio to 8 month old
7:11 am sprinkle Cheerios on four year old’s yogurt
7:12 am feed Cheerio to 8 month old
7:13 am bring bowl of yogurt to four year old
7:14 am feed Cheerio to 8 month old
7:15 am pour day-old cup of coffee; heat up in microwave
7:17 am fill dog’s bowl with water
7:19 am give four year old cup of milk when she begs, “Mommy! i have nothing to drink!”
7:20 am take two spoonfuls of all-natural chunky peanut butter from jar and call it breakfast (instant lo-carb meal)
7:22 am remember to feed dog
7:24 am feed Cheerio to screaming 8 month old
7:25 am remember that 8 month old needs to eat something more substantial than handful of Cheerios
7:26 am refill four year old’s milk, take out baby yogurt from fridge and leftover baby food fruit from yesterday
7:28 am put together breakfast for 8 month old
7:30 am feed 8 month old
7:34 am open Valentine’s Day bubbles for four year old per her request
7:37 am ask four year old to blow bubbles away from 8 month old so he doesn’t try to eat them and can concentrate on eating his breakfast instead
7:38 am tell four year old to be careful with bubble container
7:40 am bite tongue when four year old spills bubble container on kitchen floor
7:41 am give 8 month old Cheerio so he doesn’t start hollering when you stand up to give four year old a paper towel to clean up “bubble juice”
7:43 finish feeding 8 month old
7:55 clean up 8 month old and highchair
8:00 bring children to family room to watch “Little Einsteins” and attempt not to feel guilty
8:02 sort wash
8:08 start wash
8:10 take out wash from dryer and dump on top of washer
8:16 am check on kids, safely contain 8-month old, and yell “I’m going to the kitchen for a sec” and empty dishwasher
8:22 am load dishwasher; ask four year old how 8 month old is doing
8:26 am put out dry cleaning and scary-looking brown paper bag filled with wire hangers for pick-up
8:32 am run upstairs to grab ballet slippers, hair accessories and outfit for school
8:36 am run back upstairs for socks and shoes which you have forgotten to put on your feet
8:39 am realize that children are no longer watching “Little Einsteins” and that TIVO may have turned on the Cartoon Network, or even worse,”Regis and Kelly”
8:41 am give 8 month old toy to play with; turn off TV
8:42 am put wash in dryer in basement
8:46 am run upstairs to check diaper bag for diapers, wipes, pacifiers, change of clothes, snack for four year old, bottles, powdered formula, bibs, burpcloths, wallet, cellphone, and toys for 8 month old
8:47 am 8 month old is crying because his toy has rolled under the entertainment center; retrieve toy and soothe 8 month old
8:50 am take 8 month old upstairs and leave four year old to play with dollhouse while you make beds, with the 8 month old on top of them; blow mouth farts on 8 month old’s tummy and relish the giggles, but not for long enough
8:57 am remember to medicate dog for separation anxiety (see 9:39 am below)
8:58 am remember to take vitamins, which are right next to dog’s medication
9:00 am swallow vitamins and nearly swallow dog’s medication as well; wonder to self what would happen if you did take dog’s medication
9:02 am put dog’s pill in slice of American cheese
9:05 am feed dog second slice of American cheese since she successfully ate first slice without ingesting pill
9:08 am feed dog third slice of American cheese (really) since she successfully ate second slice without ingesting pill
9:10 am call four year old upstairs to get hair ready for dance class
9:12 am call four year old upstairs to get hair ready for dance class
9:14 am tell four year old to get upstairs NOW for dance class
9:15 am tell four year old to use potty — “but I don’t have to go”
9:17 am get on floor with 8 month old, slobbering cheese-breathed dog, hairbrush, hair detangler, hair accessories, and four year old
9:25 am attempt to part four year old’s hair
9:29 am attempt again to part four year old’s hair
9:30 am put four year old’s hair in pigtails for dance class; wince and apologize each time you comb out a knot
9:39 am crate dog so she won’t have a separation anxiety attack and rip open another bag of whole bean coffee or box of tampons (or both) while you’re out of the house
9:43 am see four year old clutching at her urethra and tell her to use potty so you won’t be helping her wriggle out of leotard halfway through dance class
9:46 am help four year old get back in leotard and tights for dance class
9:49 am remember that you never drank coffee still sitting in microwave; make mental note to buy yourself diet soda from vending machine at dance studio to avoid caffeine headache
9:51 am lug dance bag, diaper bag that refuses to close, 22 pound 8 month old (+ 2 pounds of outerwear), keys and garbage bag to car in driveway
9:52 am open driver’s side door and throw in dance bag and diaper bag
9:53 am open passenger side door and put 8 month old in car seat
9:55 am help four year old into car seat and buckle up
9:56 am trip over garbage bag left by car and put it in garbage can
9:58 am explain evolution to inquisitive four year old while driving SUV through patches of ice and newly-formed potholes (thank you blizzard of ’06)
10:05 am arrive late (again) at Wee Dance class; help four year old off with cowGIRL boots (I’ve been corrected three times already this morning with an adorable stomping foot for emphasis) and into ballet slippers
10:07 am apologize to dance instructor (again) and send four year old into dance class
10:09 am gossip with other mothers at dance studio as to why previous young dance instructor was fired from her post
10:14 am watch four year old from door of dance studio while lifting 8 month old up and down in air to make him laugh

10:19 am become exhausted from five minutes of lifting 8 month old up and down; vow to fit in cardio at some point today
10:20 am find toy for 8 month old to play with
10:22 am pick up toy
10:24 am pick up toy
10:25 am pick up toy
10:26 am pick up toy
10:27 am find new toy for 8 month old to play with
10:28 am pick up toy
10:29 am pick up toy
10:30 am remember that today is “observation day” and that you forgot the video camera
10:32 am ask other mothers if “observation day” is happening today and solicit whether or not other mothers have forgotten their video cameras
10:35 am wonder aloud with other mothers why no one is announcing “observation” time at dance studio and mothers are still standing in waiting area
10:37 am continue to discuss this with other mothers; look at clock nervously hoping that dance studio director will notice
10:39 am continue to discuss this even more loudly with other mothers, hoping that dance studio director will notice
10:40 am leave the difficult job of questioning why observation isn’t happening to pushy mother who alerts dance studio director (who has four children of her own and is constantly on the phone with one of them) that only five minutes are left in the class and that today is “observation day”
10:41 am hurry into dance class with stroller, diaper bag, outerwear and find seat for “observation” day
10:42 am wave excitedly at four year old in adorable red tutu and big smile
10:43 am watch four year old dance her heart out and secretly believe that she has the best attention span in the class
10:54 am realize that dance class will run late today for observation and that there will be less time to make lunch before school starts
10:57 am congratulate four year old on her dancing and hug and kiss profusely
10:58 am help four year old get changed out of leotard and into outfit for school; get corrected yet again that boots are cowGIRL boots
11:00 am navigate stroller and four year old through ice and slush while exiting dance studio
11:02 am put four year old in carseat
11:04 am take 8 month old out of stroller and fold up stroller with one hand while holding 8 month old
11:05 am put stroller in car while holding 8 month old (thank god for Maclarens)
11:06 am put 8 month old in carseat; make mental note that straps need to be adjusted
11:07 am promptly forget about straps on infant’s carseat needing to be adjusted
11:08 am drive home for lunch; feel caffeine headache coming on and wince at the dull, dull pain, because coffee and diet soda were both long forgotten, and four year old is now shrieking at 8 month old brother about the injustices of drooling on her board book
11:18 am arrive home and realize that 8 month old is asleep; wake 8 month old and go in house
11:20 am make peanut butter and banana sandwich for four year old
11:21 am put 8 month old in highchair and put mushed banana remnants on highchair tray for lunch
11:22 am realize that 8 month old needs to eat vegetable or wont go to prestigious four year college; get cooked carrots out of refrigerator
11:50 am give four year old two-minute warning to finish lunch and get ready to go to school
11:55 am tell four year old to use potty and wash hands
11:57 am repeat
11:58 am yell at four year old to get into bathroom NOW and stop making faces at 8 month old
12:00 pm give 8 month old more mushed carrots in hopes of encouraging brain development
12:03 pm yell at four year old to stop dawdling at sink
12:05 pm help four year old put on coat
12:06 pm pick up 8 month old and put in outerwear
12:07 pm grab diaper bag (still open) and head towards door
12:08 pm forget to put on my own coat and put it on
12:09 pm walk to car in driveway and put 8 month old in carseat
12:10 pm tell four year old to get in car seat
12:11 pm repeat to four year old playing in snow to get in car seat
12:12 pm yell at four year old to get in car NOW
12:13 pm ask four year old why her listening ears are not on
12:14 pm ask four year old again why her listening ears are not on — because she’s not listening
12:16 pm answer “no, sweetie” to four year old when she asks, “are you still mad at me, Mom?”
12:17 pm arrive at preschool; unbuckle 8 month old from car seat
12:18 pm help four year old put on backpack; sigh audibly when backpack continues to slide off shiny, sleek LLBean outerwear and feel knife of guilt twist in stomach when four year old says “i’m sorry Mommy, i can’t help it”
12:20 pm walk four year old to preschool classroom
12:21 pm discuss preschool gossip with other mothers while four year old puts coat in cubby
12:22 pm remind four year old to put backpack in cubby
12:23 pm remember that you are supposed to attend preschool board meeting that evening to discuss problems with childcare while parents volunteer in classroom
12:24 pm discuss board meeting agenda with other mother who will be attending
12:29 pm thank other mother for covering for “co-oping” day while four year old had flu last week
12:30 pm kiss and hug four year old goodbye
12:31 pm put 8 month old in car seat and drive home
12:41 pm make bottle for 8 month old and take off jackets
12:42 pm go upstairs to change and feed 8 month old and put down for nap
1:02 pm put 8 month old in crib for nap
1:06 pm go into office with baby monitor since 8 month old is not yet asleep and may protest the nap
1:07 pm check e-mail
1:10 pm call for haircut appointment
1:14 pm call plumber to apologize for check returned to them for “unauthorized signature” — as in, you forgot to sign the check
1:17 pm call prescription provider and navigate through automated system for six minutes until you speak to a live person
1:23 pm find out problem with prescription is that prescription provider never received it; make note to call doctor tomorrow
1:25 pm put in new load of wash
1:28 pm move wash from yesterday that has not yet been folded to chair to fold
1:34 pm peel and slice carrots for dinner; put out all non-perishable items for dinner on counter
1:44 pm re-heat coffee from this morning (well, technically, yesterday)
1:46 pm make bottles for 8 month old
1:50 pm use bathroom; want to fall asleep on toilet
1:54 pm wash hands
1:56 pm eat cheese and crackers for lunch while reading something on website (note how you procrastinate with wash)
2:15 pm receive and respond to e-mail
2:20 pm crate dog (see 9:39 am)
2:25 pm rouse poor 8 month old from nap to pick up four year old — oh, my poor, sleepy baby
2:27 pm assess that 8 month old can do preschool pick up run without being changed
2:29 pm put outerwear on groggy 8 month old, which works to my advantage
2:31 pm put on coat
2:33 pm walk to car; put 8 month old in car seat
2:35 pm pull out of driveway
2:44 pm arrive at preschool for pick-up; get accosted by preschool board members (just kidding) into volunteering for some difficult and never-ending responsibility
2:47 pm greet four year old and talk to teacher and other parents
2:55 pm walk to car in preschool parking lot; put children in car seats
3:05 pm arrive at home and take children, diaper bag, backpack and random craft project gingerly from car
3:07 pm open front door and put down all items except for 8 month old
3:08 pm remove 8 month old’s jacket; trip over four year old’s jacket and cowGIRL boots
3:09 pm go back out door and retrieve mail and amazon box (my little heart leaps)
3:11 pm sort mail with 8 month old on hip
3:15 pm open amazon box and see that new dvds for four year old have arrived
3:17 pm try to show four year old dvd from dance recital
3:19 pm determine that dvd from dance recital is not working and tell four year old that you are very disappointed as well
3:20 pm start beef stew for dinner; put on timer
3:23 pm put dance recital dvd by door to remind yourself that you need to return dvd at next dance class
3:24 pm put on new Laurie Berkner dvd for four year old and decide that it couldn’t hurt 8 month old either
3:26 pm sing along to laurie berkner songs with four year old
3:33 pm use bathroom (quickly, because four year old is insisting that you return to hear rendition of “Moon Moon Moon”
3:36 pm hear rendition of “Moon Moon Moon” and agree that it is fantastic and definitely the best cut off the dvd
3:39 pm read books with sweet, snuggly babies on couch and almost nod off in the midst of Dr. Seuss, until four year old inadvertently hits you in the eye with corner of hardcover book; feel worlds better once four year old kisses your boo-boo
3:49 pm gather all needed items for 8 month old’s bath in the kitchen sink; he’s almost too old and too big but you don’t have much choice
3:51 pm answer phone and decline “valuable opportunity to take part in a marketing survey”
3:53 pm stir beef stew, add carrots and cover
3:56 pm listen for sound of 8 month old babbling — a good sign that he is not choking on anything
3:58 pm put out placemats for dinner
4:00 pm toss junk mail still sitting on kitchen counter
4:05 pm encourage family band efforts with wooden spoons and Gladware; take Advil
4:30 pm turn off stew and add more red wine; what the hell
4:33 pm realize that with all the wash you’ve done today, you still don’t have anything clean to wear to therapy appointment and preschool board meeting tonight
4:34 pm take off clothes and put on old pjs
4:35 pm put 8 month old in crib with toy
4:37 pm grab clothes from hamper in master bedroom and run downstairs to start another load of wash
4:44 pm race upstairs to crying 8 month old
4:46 pm change squirming 8 month old
5:00 pm put 8 month old in highchair for dinner
5:03 pm help four year old spell the names of all 13 preschool classmates while feeding 8 month old
5:25 pm take 8 month old out of highchair; fill sink with water for 8 month old bath
5:26 pm put 8 month old in bathseat in kitchen sink
5:28 pm refill sink when 8 month old dislodges drain stopper for kitchen sink
5:31 pm give 8 month old bath while sounding out words for four year old
5:42 pm take 8 month old out of bath, cover him up in cozy hooded towel and smell his 8 month old baby goodness; relish this for far too short a time
5:45 pm put lotion on 8 month old
5:48 pm attempt to dress squirmy and slippery 8 month old while spelling the names of all 13 preschool classmates again for four year old
6:00 pm clean up kitchen with 8 month old on hip
6:18 pm re-heat stew with 8 month old on hip
6:20 pm answer phone; husband is running a few minutes late
6:25 pm remember to medicate dog again; successfully have dog ingest pill with one slice of American cheese
6:29 pm take wallet, keys, phone out of diaper bag and put on counter
6:32 pm give four year old two choices for dinner and start four year old’s choice: french toast
6:36 pm greet husband
6:37 pm hand 8 month old to husband
6:39 pm finish french toast
6:42 pm ladle out beef stew
6:44 pm eat dinner
7:00 pm laugh with 8 month old as he gleefully laughs at balloon on string
7:04 pm run to get video camera
7:06 pm video 8 month old pulling solemnly on balloon string
7:10 pm put away dinner dishes and clean pots
7:22 pm ask husband to put kids to bed
7:23 pm blog downstairs to blow off some steam
7:32 pm grab mostly dry clothes out of dryer
7:34 pm get dressed
7:40 pm put on makeup
7:45 pm leave for therapy appointment
8:02 pm arrive for therapy appointment
8:03 pm discuss why I’m so frazzled lately
9:10 pm leave therapy appointment
9:11 pm call to see if preschool board meeting is still ongoing
9:12 pm get no answer on contact’s cellphone
9:13 pm drive to preschool board meeting
9:14 pm call husband on way to preschool board meeting and tell him that I will not see him this evening
9:19 pm arrive at preschool board meeting
9:20 pm wait to discuss issue on agenda
10:20 pm discuss issue on agenda
10:22 pm end discussion of issue on agenda
10:49 pm stand when meeting has ended
10:51 pm stand outside in parking lot and gossip with friend at board meeting about other board members
11:05 pm realize how late it is and how tired we are and leave
11:16 pm arrive home and finish blog
11:59 pm feel pathetic about spending 43 minutes on something that no one else sees anyway and post

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