Extra, Extra

The clocks “turned back” last night – which is something I really hate. Okay, so it’ll be nice to be able to run in the morning without needing a flashlight, and it’s cool that the girls won’t have to wait for the bus in total darkness – but in a month, it’ll be dark again – because, you know, seasons… and sunset at 4:30pm is pure nonsense. Time change = dumb.

Still… for a few days until we’ve fully adjusted to the new time, we’ll all awaken a little early – which will be super helpful, given that the girls’ wake-up time is much earlier than they’d like it to be. And today? I actually have time to write this post because of the extra hour. SWEET FANCY MOSES.

During this spare hour, I’ve also had time to peruse Facebook (something I do sparingly these days), and I’ve noticed many of my friends with young children lamenting the fact that this “extra” hour is really an hour of torture – because their offspring do not get the time change memo, nor can they, like, get themselves up and dressed and fed without parental supervision. So not only are their ‘rents up super early, they have to entertain their children for an additional 60 “bonus” minutes.

I know that I’ve written about this before, but it’s important so I want to reiterate it: for all you parents out there whose kiddos’ bodily clocks get them up at an ungodly time for the first few days of “falling back” — HANG IN THERE.

It gets better.

I’ve been there, I swear. I vividly remember meticulously putting the girls to bed 15 minutes earlier every day for a week prior to the time change, hoping to reset their bodily clocks, because I knew damned well they were accustomed to a VERY SPECIFIC amount of sleep and waking at a VERY SPECIFIC time.

“Extra” hour, my ass.

So, yes. I remember.
But today? Today, my 11 and 13 year-olds, who normally have to awaken at 6 a.m. and pry themselves out of bed to be at the bus stop before 7:00am (and whose bodies desperately need more sleep because of growing and whatever), slept in until I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHEN, because they were sleeping and quiet. I, on the other hand, woke up at 6:10am (which felt like 7:10 aka heaven) and had HOURS TO MYSELF to run and breathe and walk the dogs. (And check Facebook.)
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This has nothing to do with anything because I don’t have End of Daylight Savings photos, but anyway. 

The time change debacle was one of those annoying things about parenthood that seemed like it would never end, as though we’d always be stuck in those trenches. But then? Amazingly? It did.

Likewise with other areas of parenting. You know how, when your kids were young and no one else was available to watch them, you needed to weigh the pros and cons of every single out-of-the house activity based on how emotionally exhausting it would be to drag your kids with you? How your 6 year-old could’ve been in the middle of dropping a deuce and you’d practically have pulled them off the throne because your 10 year-old needed to get to dance practice? Or how you’d have to take your 4 year-old with you to the dentist and prayed they wouldn’t find the sample drawer? Or how a dinner with friends could be cancelled after you’d put on your heels because the sitter was having car trouble and you had no one else to watch the baby?

Well, one day, your cherubs will likely be able to stay home. Alone. Without maiming one another or burning the house to the ground (fingers crossed). And, suddenly, worlds will open up that you didn’t even know existed – worlds where you can grocery shop all by yourself. DREAM BIG, Y’ALL.

Okay, truth be told, by the time they’re able to stay home alone, they’re likely into myriad other activities that take place well into the evening – often at opposite ends of town – and you’ll have to clone yourself or find carpool magic mamas to get your offspring where they need to be. And while they’re home alone, they might forget to feed the dogs or accidentally leave the garage doors open. So it’s not perfect.

What I’m saying is: parenthood goes through stages – and many of the difficult ones do, mercifully, come to an end. The worrying stage? The self-doubt stage? The stage where you wonder how the humans you created or raised can be so different from you? Alas, those seem permanent.

But, at some point, your not-so-littles will probably be able to stay home alone. And go trick-or-treating without a chaperone. And attend movies and wander the mall and walk from practice into town without adult accompaniment. They’ll be able to make dinner, do their laundry, prep their lunches, and contact their teachers. (I’m not saying they will do these things, HAHAHA, but they’ll be able to*.)

And, someday, the clocks will fall back and they’ll just keep sleeping.
Yes, my girls now spend 90% of their time in the rooms and are ridiculously tall and there are days when I’m lucky to understand the grunts that pass for “conversation”… But the time change DOES GET BETTER.
You will get that extra hour back, for real.

Unless you have pets who also don’t get the End Of Daylight Savings memo.
Then, all bets are off.

(*I do understand that these statements are written from the perspective of a parent of neurotypical children – that, for some families, these “milestones” may never occur… Thanks for understanding this, too, and knowing that there are no absolutes, and that there’s awesomeness in all kinds of families.) 

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Throwback Thursday: Never lose hope!

You know the saying: when you’re a parent, the days go by slowly but the years go by fast.  This was never more true for me than the girls were really little – say, under five years old. I would look back on each passing year absolutely astonished that so much time had passed and they were so much older… but in the thick of things, some of those days really did drag on agonizingly slowly.

I fully understood why some animals eat their young.

It was just… hard. Everything had the potential for turning into a disaster. Meltdowns could occur at any moment. It took thirteen hours to get out of the house to run to the grocery store and an additional forty-three minutes to buckle them into their carseats. I know there are lots of parents who looooved those early years, but for me? They were awesome. They were hilarious. But they were really effing hard.

Mercifully, as the years changed and the girls got older, a lot of things became easier. When kids are young, you never, ever have a moment to yourself, not even – nay, especially even – if you’re in the bathroom.6 of 52What is this ‘privacy’ thing you speak of?

Admittedly, I still receive very little privacy and I am a ninja when it comes to multitasking while on the toilet, but it’s gotten better. Annie and Ella can entertain themselves. They are capable of reaching higher and making their own sandwiches and changing the channel on the remote, so I actually can have a few minutes of peace. Granted, it’s not like I’m using that time to read or practice yoga, but having a little breathing room is a godsend.

When your kids are young, there are moments – lots and lots and lots of them – when you need to be right there beside them. They are simply incapable of managing on their own, whether it’s in a swing (that day when they learn how to pump is the day you win the lottery, my friend) or at the sink.ridingsolo  ridingsolo2 (1)
I’m pretty sure there was a rule that all children under a certain age had to be accompanied on the carousel, but even if there hadn’t been, you don’t want your kid to be the one who falls off and makes the ride come to a screeching halt, so there you are.  Beside them. Spinning. Around… and around… and around…

You look longingly at the parents who can send their children to the playground by themselves and you practically break down and cry at the thought of not having to join them in the bouncy house.
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Ahhhh, wading pools… Adorable inflatable death traps.

But then, little by little, they become more capable. You can step back as they navigate the  dress-up exhibit at the museum. Birthday parties become drop-off parties (thank you, sweet baby Jesus). You gingerly test their ability to use the restrooms by themselves in public places. And then finally, you can send them into the pool – the real one, not the inflatable pool of death – without even putting on your own bathing suit (oh happy day!). Do you believe in miracles? YES.

When your kiddos are young, they’re messy, so their clothes need changing constantly. Even as they become slightly less messy, they still want to change their clothes all the time – well, mine did, anyway. Three outfits a day, minimum, and that doesn’t include dress-up. It is maddening and creates laundry piles the size of small countries, so it is truly wondrous that day when they…

… no, scratch that. My girls are still changing their clothes all the freaking time. If yours eventually stopped, please tell me when so I can mark it on the calendar and pre-order a celebratory bottle of champagne.
115eveningdressupJuuuust your typical daywear…

And the food – oh, the food! This may come as a shock, after watching Animal Planet and all that and seeing how many wild creatures come out of the womb (or egg or whatever) with fully functioning mouths and stuff, but human children are not capable of feeding themselves. They can drink just fine (most of the time), but alas, milk does not just fall from the sky into their waiting mouths, so you need to nurse or formula-feed them. Which comes with the bottle washing! The sore nipples! The holding of the bottle at exactly the right angle so your little cherub doesn’t choke or swallow air… until that glorious moment when she is able to grasp that bottle herself. Independence!!

Then, you eagerly set out to start them on solids – how exciting! – which is fabulous and new and such a treat… for the first six months. Eventually, doing The Airplane with the spoon becomes just a wee bit tiresome, and cutting food into itty bitty morsels becomes grounds for insanity. But I can tell you with certainty that it does not last forever. One day, your darlings will be able to eat like grown-up people – they’ll even cut their own meat! – and you can say goodbye to sippy cups and skinned grapes forever.
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Annie held her sippy cup sideways until she stopped using it. I didn’t like the cups, but her akimbo hold was pretty damn cute.

Shall we discuss getting small children dressed? Let’s just say it would probably be easier to squeeze a goat into a wetsuit than it is to get a wriggling child into his onesie. Babies, of course, cannot help at all (have you ever gone back and dressed an infant once your own children have grown beyond infant-hood and you just sit there waiting for the wee one to slip his arm through the sleeve the way your 13-month old does but all he does is lie there, thrashing about, and it finally dawns on you that he is actually incapable of putting his own arm through the sleeve? Is that just me?), but it is not necessarily better when your toddler learns to dress himself because it takes FOR.EVER. and he will need to do it HIS. WAY. which often does not resemble your way even in the slightest.
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Ella (3) is “helping” me dress Annie (1) before going into the snow. The amount of time spent getting ready definitely exceeded the amount of time we spent outside.

As your toddlers become pre-schoolers and, eventually, grade-schoolers, the dressing thing becomes way less physically demanding. (Note that it does not necessarily become easier.) They can put on their own clothes! They can zip their own coats! They can tie their own shoes! There will still be clothing battles and tears and meltdowns, and it might still take you thirteen hours to get out the door, but at least you can be sitting in the car waiting instead of trying to thread a belt through toddler-sized belt loops.

And then, perhaps more than all of the other things that can make those early days creep by so slowly, there is the sleeping. SLEEPING WAS MY BIGGEST ENEMY. If they woke up too soon, it could spell disaster. If they fell asleep too soon – say, in the car on the way home – it could spell disaster. If we slept anywhere other than home, it could spell disaster.

(I noted in my previous post that Nick and I were militant about sleeping, especially with Ella. That was partly because we were first-time parents and didn’t know any better, but it was also because Ella was a notoriously specific sleeper. If we put her to bed between 7:00 and 7:15, she would sleep through the night until 7 a.m. the following morning. If we put her to bed at 7:30 (or later) – just fifteen minutes more! – she would awaken at FIVE A.M. every single time. So, we had a curfew – because of our fifteen month old. It was super fun. Have I mentioned that sleeping was my biggest enemy?)

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They look adorable, but don’t be fooled. 

Our biggest nightmare was when the clocks turned forward or back because, as parents of young ones know, children do not use the clock to determine when to get out of bed. No, they just wake up when their bodies tell them to, regardless of whether it is an hour earlier or later or even three o’clock in the morning, and then they get you up. When those clocks fall back in November and people talk about an “extra hour” of sleep, you want to punch them square in the nose because you know that it will mean an extra hour of being awake… and then an extra torturous hour at bedtime when your children are exhausted (because their bodies tell them it’s an hour later than it is) but you don’t want to put them to bed quite yet because you know that if you do, they’ll continue to awaken at an ungodly hour the following morning.

Basically, “falling back” can suck it.

Well, y’all, I was afraid to mention it earlier because I thought I would jinx it, but it’s been five days in a row and I’m confident enough to say: THE END OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS WAS JUST FINE THIS YEAR!! I have no idea what time Ella and Annie awakened on Sunday morning because we told them that when they got up, they needed to play quietly and not bother us… and they did. I actually awoke before my alarm to find the girls chilling out in their rooms. HALLE-FREAKIN’-LUJAH.

And then – and then! They became tired that night earlier than normal, so they went to bed earlier than normal (which meant Nick and I had more time to ourselves that night)… but they did not awaken super-early on Monday morning. No! They awoke only slightly early, which meant they had extra time to get ready for school (amen), and then they went to bed a wee bit early that night, too. By Tuesday? Fully adjusted.

AND SO, my friends with young children. Don’t lose hope. Eventually, your littles will dress themselves. They’ll brush their own teeth (but don’t count on nicely brushed hair). They’ll make their own beds (when you nag them). And, one very, very fine day, they will even take “falling back” in stride and that mythical “extra hour” you cherished in college will become part of your life once more. Keep the faith!!

As for your children still being cute when they’re older and maybe still being one another’s best friends? Yep. That happens, too.
Most days.

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