Rules are made to be broken – except one

My sister was shopping for picture frames at a thrift store and found one with this anonymously-written poem in it. She kept the frame and gave me the poem. I think these “house rules” are so perfect for my family, especially for Siig. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really heed any of them, except for the last one, which he does wonderfully. So I guess I can forgive the other transgresses.

Home Rules

If you sleep on it, make it up

If you wear it, hang it up

If you drop it, pick it up

If you eat out of it, put it in the sink

If you step on it, wipe it off

If you open it, close it

If you empty it, fill it up

If it rings, answer it

If it howls, feed it

If it cries, love it

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Plunging ahead, falling behind

This baby stuff had me digressing from what seems to normally preoccupy me as a mother – my children’s bathroom habits. As usual, my kids’ toilet tales seem to supply ample fodder for my blog.

The latest incident occurred when I needed it least – as we are running out the door trying to get to school on time. The school district moved the start time up by almost an hour, from 9:15 am last year (which we barely made on time) to 8:25 am this year. My kids are not exactly morning people, then throw a newborn and breastfeeding into the mix, and you can understand my anxiety every morning trying to get us up and dressed and fed and in the car by 8:05 am. Add to that my son, who excels at lagging, and morning time equals a whole lot of cajoling and hurrying and frustration. So imagine my dismay, when, at 8:04 a.m. on Monday, as I am scurrying around trying to get everyone out the door, Kaiden announces he has to poop.

Kaiden is no fast pooper. He can easily be in the bathroom for upwards of half-an-hour trying to squeeze one out.

But what’s a mom to do? I can’t exactly tell him to hold it. So I stop everything and sit on the couch and prepare to wait, nervously glancing at my watch every few minutes. Then, of course, Kaya says she has to pee, but insists on using the upstairs bathroom and waiting until Kaiden is done. I watch her grabbing her crotch and walking around the kitchen with her knees together and bent over like an old lady, but she stubbornly refuses to go downstairs to use the potty.

It’s now 8:10 a.m. School starts in 15 minutes and we are not even in the car.

“Kaiden, are you done yet?” I yell. “Hurry up!”

“No, this is going to be a big one.”

Great. Another man-size poop. I sure as hell hope he wipes good.

8:15 a.m. 8:20 am. Finally, Kaiden walks out of the bathroom. “I’m done. But the toilets clogged.”

Crap. Literally. I tell Kaya, who looks like she is in pain from holding it for so long, that now she most definitely has to go downstairs to use the bathroom. I’m not about to plunge the toilet now, so I tell Kaiden to close the lid and we’ll save it for Daddy to take care of. A little present for when he gets home from work.

Kaya’s comes upstairs wearing different pants. Guess she didn’t make it to the bathroom on time. No surprise there, as Kaya has about the same bladder control as an old lady. I notice her jeans are on backwards, with the zipper in back. “Can we put your jeans on the right way?” I ask.

“No, I like it like this.”

8:25 am. The bell is ringing as we speak.

Fuck it. I throw the kids in the car, backward jeans and clogged toilet and all.

I glance at the baby, who has spit up all over her face and shirt and car seat.

8:30 a.m. and I need a drink. And a good plunger.

My tip for new moms: stupidity

Six weeks into having three kids, and I have been pleasantly surprised that things have been going relatively smoothly. The kids have adjusted well with no jealousy so far (knock on wood), I have been able to get them all out the door by 8 am since school started with not much problem, and all the baby stuff – the crying, the nursing, the consoling – has not phased me much. I guess it takes having three kids to finally find your patience and get the hang of this “raising children” thing. Who would’ve thunk it?

But I have also found the secret to dealing with a baby. Are you ready to be enlightened? To be wowed? Are you on the edge of your seat? Well, hold onto your horses. Here is my key to happiness while having an infant – don’t think about it. Turn off that brain. As the Nike saying goes, ‘just do it.’ If you think too much, it all goes to pot. I guess evolution got it right when it gave new moms ‘baby brain.’ If having a baby increased our IQs, the human race probably would have died out long ago. So, instead, God made us new moms dumb. If by chance your old smarts start to show themselves again, ignore them. Intelligence is no help when it comes to babies.

How did I have this sudden stroke of genius while being in my postpartum stupid phase? One word for you: the car. (OK, so that was two words. See, I am dumb.) The most challenging part of having a baby again, I have found, is getting in and out of the car. You just can’t arrive somewhere and say to the babe, like the other two kiddos: “OK, hop out. Let’s go.” You have to transport the infant. That means getting out the stroller, putting her in the Bjorn, or schlepping that god-damn, 300-pound car seat around. My whole day is dictated by whether I feel like dealing with taking the baby in and out of the car, along with two other kids. Having just gone to the post office and put the baby and car seat and stroller back in the car, I might decide we don’t need to eat dinner tonight because I sure as hell am not going to do that all over again. But then I say to myself, “Self, turn off that brain. Don’t think. Just do it.” So I turn on my autopilot brain, and repeat the in-and-out-of-the-car process all over again.

But the real point of enlightenment came after dropping Kaiden off at school one morning. I had just buckled Kaya back into her car seat and was nursing the baby when Kaya said – what else? – she had to pee. For a moment, my brain thought about how silly I would look walking around the school with a baby attached to my boob and the top of my maternity pants showing even though I’m not pregnant and how I didn’t feel like walking all the way back out the parking lot to the school, but then I told my brain to “shut up” and off we went, baby on the breast and all. And that’s when it hit me: thinking is your enemy.

I relayed this story to a friend of mine who also has three kids and she said wouldn’t it be great if you could hire someone to drive around with you and just sit in your car with your kids while you ran errands? Until that time comes when you find someone to do that (and please, pass on her number to me), you will be much happier, and get way more things done, if you stay stupid. Trust me. I can’t even remember my name, and I am all the better for it.