One of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, has described being a parent to four children this way:
“Imagine you are drowning … and then someone hands you a baby.”
I don’t have four children, though I’m quite sure Monster counts as at least two. Either way, there are days that I feel like I am drowning.
I am someone who tends to take on a lot of things at once, and I typically get in way over my head. I also have not yet learned to let go of little things (I feel like I am less of a person if my kitchen isn’t clean).
However, I am proud to say that I have developed a few coping mechanisms. No, I’m not talking about wine. I’m talking about practical ways parents can survive the madness (OK, yes, wine is practical and keeps me sane, but really, this isn’t about alcohol).
When I feel like I am drowning, there are several things I reach for to save me:
1. To-Do Lists
Prioritizing a to-do list is probably the only way anything ever gets done. Whether I make these in my head or send them via text message to myself (true story), I have to make a list and then check things off as they are done. I feel like I have been productive, even if the only thing I check off is “Google ‘normal frequency of dirty diapers.’”
I have to scream sometimes. Like, audibly yell. It doesn’t have to be violent, but at some point when I am drowning, I just need to scream at the top of my lungs. Since I am constantly covered with either one or both children, this isn’t always easy.
Being the clever mommy that I am, I sometimes sing very loudly as an alternative. My current favorite is “Wrecking Ball” by the family-friendly Miley Cyrus. That sweet Disney princess can do no wrong. That reminds me: “Figure out why people are bad-mouthing Miley” is on my to-do list.
Every day around 2 or 3, Monster goes into train mode. “Train mode” does not mean he plays with trains. “Train mode” is when he grabs the iPad or a phone or anything with YouTube access and watches Thomas the Train videos. No, not the popular show that professionals write and produce.
My son finds videos that random, untrained kids make that feature the exact same wooden railway trains that are in our playroom. Basically, someone sets up a camera and tapes a kid playing with trains and narrating the story. Totally low-budget, and my son is obsessed with them.
This would be fine except that EVERY TIME he watches them, he then SCREAMS to play with the trains on the video. I say to him, “You have those trains 5 feet away from you. Look!” “NO! I NEED THAT ONE!” as he jabs the screen with his little finger. We suffer through this pretty much every day, and the only solution is distractions.
Every day when train mode hits, I have to find a distraction. A time out, going outside, painting pumpkins, jumping on the bed … whatever will keep him from following me around the house with the iPad, demanding I take him to the store to buy him the trains HE ALREADY HAS while I am trying to check off the items on my to-do list and sing along with sweet, innocent Miley.
I make it to the end of every day in one piece, thanks to my coping mechanisms. And wine. A big, tall goblet of red wine.