The kids are all very far behind in speaking, from what every other mother tells me their two-year-old is saying. But the kids are picking up new words quickly. At least one per day. We are at the difficult stage where they try to say a lot of things, and I have no idea what it is they want to convey, and we all get frustrated. One will say, for example, “Baw, baw, baw,” and I can’t figure out for the life of me what it means in that particular context.
Cooking and I are not good friends. But I’ve tried to not ruin my children’s enjoyment of cooking (or eating, considering the many failures I’ve tried to make them eat). I knew they had the potential to make a party of cooking one day when they were two. They had a Betty Crocker mini-set of kitchen appliances which kept them concocting dishes long before it was safe for them to use real appliances. It included a toaster that really popped fake toast, a blender that when you pressed the button whizzed around whatever little toy you could fit into the pitcher, and a hand mixer that spun the beaters back and forth with every push of the sprocket-driven button. I knew they were ready to have their first cooking lesson when I came back into the bathroom one day when we were potty training and they had the hand mixer in the little bowls of the potty chairs and were whipping up what they’d put in there. (And it wasn’t water from the faucet.)
Our first cooking lesson: You don’t cook in the bathroom. And certainly not with what you find in the potty.
We moms (and mums) sometimes have bad days when we know we just screwed up royally and surely added another six months to our children's future and inevitable therapy sessions. I call them "Bad Mumdays."
Dear Diary: January 1994
When I put out a line of bottles for the kids, they crawl or scoot (depending on their skill at mobility) over to the line and pick out their color of bottle. Sometimes, Charlie likes to distribute them. (He can get around the easiest. Pierce and Spencer are still just doing commando crawling on their bellies.) Charlie always takes the correct bottle to the corresponding baby. I love to watch him make sure everyone gets a bottle. He seems very pleased to be able to take care of everyone.
Tomorrow I’m scheduled for a hysterectomy. Today, trying to prepare for being out of commission for a while, I cleaned the house. Sent the kids outside. Scrubbed and mopped and glowed the kitchen floor, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. Molly came in and needed to poop. I told her to use my bathroom because I hadn’t cleaned it yet and I was still cleaning the kids’ bathroom. After a bit, she called to me in a nervous voice, “Mom?”
The kids each had their own color and I LOVED to find sets of things in their colors. I became obsessed with colors! One day when they were about three years old, I was checking out at the grocery store and my eye caught a multipack of something with deep red, crayon green, solid blue, and brilliant sunshine. Endorphins released. My heart sped up. There was something in all four colors! And it was small and with the “impulse buy” items, so probably not too expensive.
One day when the kids were two, we were having a terrible day. I was cranky, they were cranky. I was feeling trapped and alone, overwhelmed, down. It was snowing and the barometer was dropping. And so was my disposition. I'd had about all I could tolerate. My patience was pushed near the point that I would stop being able to cope. So I did something I rarely did. I called someone to ask them to come and help me so I wouldn't lose it. I dialed up our good friend Linda, who had helped me with the kids since they were babies. I told her things felt bad, desperate, and I asked if she could come and help me. Unfortunately, she had a prior commitment and couldn’t come, but she said she would pray for me. I hung up the phone thinking, Great. That was my only idea. Now what am I going to do?
A few months ago one of my sons told me about a new show that I might like. I couldn’t remember why exactly he thought I’d like it, but one detail I recalled was that there were several timelines to the story that showed how previous generation impacted newer ones. I ordered the first season from the library and forgot about it. The queue was pretty long. In the meantime, I started watching two other series on Hulu. When the library informed me that a set of DVDs I’d ordered had became available for pickup, I couldn’t remember what they were. But I wanted to give them a try, since someone had apparently told me I’d like the show (I couldn’t remember anymore who’d recommended it).
When I decided it was time to start potty training, the kids were two weeks shy of their second birthday. I was tired of changing diapers. I was tired of paying for diapers. I wanted to be free. So I made a plan. We got up one day at the crack of dawn. Actually, it hadn't even cracked yet. It was pitch black outside. I wanted to make sure everyone's pants were still dry. I knew each and every one of them possessed the capacity to stay dry all night. They’d each done it, just not consistently or all four at the same time. After a long night, they’d hang out during those early morning hours (and on into the Sesame Street hour) when I was too tired to drag my exhausted body out of bed and tend to them right away, and their status from dry-all-night converted to oops-I-need-a-diaper-change. So to avoid any accidents, about three hours before Big Bird even woke up, that fateful morning I dragged out of their miniature beds four sleep-confused toddlers, marched them into the kitchen, told them to down about three gallons each of apple juice, then led them into the bathroom. We had four potty chairs. We had books. We had sippy cups. We had a jar filled to the brim with M&Ms. We were set.
I’ll give you a copy of my next book FREE if you’ll join my Launch Team. That simply means: read my novella (about 70 pages) and post a review on Amazon on March 16-17. (A synopsis is below. It’s a historical time travel, the prequel to Chloe’s Guardian.)
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