The little things.

It’s the little things.

The dishwasher broke yesterday. On a scale from 1 to Are you there God?, It’s me, Bethany, this was a solid, “Was I a time-share salesman in a previous life?”

My husband came downstairs and found a pool of water at the base of the machine. Inside, a tower of dirty dishes. On the road to our house, a car full of guests.

In the shower on the floor in the fetal position? Me.

And, in this moment, while I was feeling low, the baby felt my pain. We’re connected like that. So, she crapped on the shower floor. Because, “Mom, I love you. It’s going to be ok.”

It’s the little things.

Finding the Zen in the exasperating. Finding the fun in, what the fuck? That’s what parenting is supposed to be all about, right? Because, if you can’t enjoy it all, then, you must not appreciate any of it. That’s what I’m told and re-told to believe.

That is the message pumped through the airways; loudly promoting the misconception that you must find grace and balance and enjoyment in all moments. This is then coupled with our want to disregard the troubles of others by the comparison of our own. It’s easy to climb aboard that train. All aboard. Next stop, Sanctimony. Population? Numbers aren’t important. We’re just always super happy to be here. And, more grateful too.

After realizing that a lot of families don’t have dishwashers and then internally reading myself the riot act about how lucky I am to have running water and dishes to eat off of, I then realized that it’s reasonable to be upset that my dishwasher is broken and that my three year old looks me square in the eyes while peeing on our kitchen floor and that laundry is blocking my path to emotional freedom. It’s alright to acknowledge our relatively little disappointments. It’s ok to sometimes sweat the small stuff.

Perspective is a great thing. But, sometimes, discontentment over the little things is what keeps small stressors from ballooning . Many an explosion was the result of one stick of dynamite that became two and then three and then, fifteen.

Once, in a grocery store with my screaming newborn and my fiery 2 year old, things went botched drug deal bad. After the 2 year old’s stealth removal of all of the magazines from the racks as I unloaded our cart, one-armed, the other limb holding my newborn’s unsteady head to my chest, she then managed to grab my wallet and throw the entire contents in the air, clearly channeling Mary Tyler Moore. Basking in the rain of my AAA card, Health Care ID cards and dimes,  my possessed toddler then knocked over an end display of candy. I have to hand it to her, she was on fire. Not since Prince’s revival tour in the early 2000s has there been such a show.

On my left, the young cashier was struck mute. Behind me, a young gentleman loaded his contents off of the conveyor belt, back into his cart and switched lanes. To my right, a lovely woman offered public offender #1 a sticker. At the register, I cried.

“Have a nice day?” the cashier squeaked out after I had finally corrected the damage and pushed my cart away.

I was mortified. On the way out, I was hit with the do-gooder Holy Grail of, “It goes by so fast. One day you will miss even this.”

And, I while I said, “Thank you.”, I thought, “How much would you offer for the short blonde with the asparagus sticker?”

It’s the little things and sometimes, the little things aren’t magic nuggets of gratitude disguised as poop on your shower floor. Sometimes, embracing the displeasure makes the sweet all the sweeter.

Until my next ounce of sweet, I’m going to let my eyebrows furrow a moment over the bitter. I’m going to nod while you tell me to enjoy every moment and then, completely ignore you. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bleach my shower floor.

 

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Comments

  1. As the mother of a college freshman (HOW did that happen?) let me also chime in that it does, in fact, “get better,” BUT while you are in the trenches? It can suck. It can suck a whole lot. And you know what? You are allowed to acknowledge that it sucks; because it does.

    And even though it will “get better” you will still remember those moments from many, many years ago and still cringe – so that part? It never gets better.

  2. I totally get it. HATE it when people pull out the, “…but they are such BLESSINGS. It goes by so fast. Appreciate it”. Yuck, people. That doesn’t help at all when your day is going awful. It is not possible to love every moment. Does anyone love when their kids are sick and they are cleaning vomit off the floor or up all night with the baby? Of course not. We remember the smiles, when they could finally hug back, first words, the games, the fun and love. Teaching them to be civilized little humans, well that stuff is hard.

    • Very hard and, not loving the trying parts does not mean you don’t love being a parent. The only time I apply the ALL or NOTHING philosophy is if we are talking about a tray of brownies.

  3. The comments from strangers can really be the icing on the shit cake when your kid is going wild in public, can’t they? I hope writing it down now will commit that to memory so we don’t turn into those people once our kids are old and grown.

  4. Oh I so get this, I beat myself up all the time for not loving every. single. minute. But it just can’t be done, sooner or later we will explode or implode so we don’t have to clean up our own mess. Love you so much I would wash your dishes and bleach your floor.

    • But, I love YOU so much that I would never allow you to bleach my floor. I will, however, share my wine with you. That’s my emotional equivalent of bleaching a friend’s floor.

  5. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to say “thank you” to the person who said that after THAT episode! OMG! I might have walked over and kicked her straight in the taco.
    Take your time fetal crying in the shower with poop, I will have you a glass of wine waiting when you are done, love. 🙂 <3 Devan

    • “Straight in the taco.” *giggles uncontrollably*

      Devan, after I’m done crying in my poop filled shower, I’m going to come to your house. I’ll bleach my feet first. Promise.

  6. Oh Bethany, I loved this post. I think this is so spot-on, and I am right there with you, furrowing my eyebrows. I must have missed some memo early on about how poop and flailing credit cards were fun. Can we please go meet for a drink, NOW? Those older kids can totally handle all the bleaching needs, right?

    • Thank you, Meredith. That means so much . Of course, shortly after this post the house was hit with a stomach bug which, I’m not sure is Karma or just further proof of this post’s point. Either way, brows still furrowed and wishing Calgon was more than just a bath powder. Maybe, a horse…that could actually take me away. Preferably to a bar, where we would meet for a drink.

  7. Love, loved, LOVED the Mary Tyler Moore line. Brilliant and laugh out loud! I remember just trying to get in and out of the store with my toddler twins not creating their own personal refuge camp in aisle 8. Everyone felt the need to stop and tell me all their own twin stories “I always wanted twins.” “My second cousin was a twin.” and my personal favorite “My kids are 16 months apart so it’s almost like having twins.” Um, no, it’s not. Come talk to me when they yank two screaming babies out of you within two minutes of each other. Then, of course, there was the “They grow up so fast” crowd. Well, you know what, I wanted them to grow up fast. I was tired. I was stinky. I was depressed because I felt like a crappy mom. Thank God they DO grow up fast. They are nine now, and I LOVE NINE! Nine is much better than two. Sorry. It just is. Anyway, after my ranting, what i really wanted to say is that you are spot on about perspective. My husband was deployed overseas when our kids were 2 1/2 and deciding to poop nightly in the tub during their baths, but between my tears and curses and prayers I was able to realize 1.) I had running water. 2.) My children were not growing up in a war zone and 3.) There was a bottle of wine in the frig waiting for me once I got them to bed. 4.) There was bleach in the closet for the tub.

    • Thank you, Priscilla. Some comments are so fun to read. I read yours with a lovely glass of red wine in hand. Thank you for getting this post and kudos for surviving until NINE!. Nine is FINE. xo

  8. I do not wish away my wee ones. I love them. I’ve very, very aware that they will all grow up and abandon me and I don’t approve. But I WILL punch the next motherfucker who tells me to enjoy it while it lasts. I will punch her with my foot.

  9. that madness doesn’t live fun does it?! sometimes all that is left is finding the funny. I once had a similar experience with my wee one; it got so bad the store manager came over, he sent people over to help, and some one said something to me about controlling my kid, I apologized because she was OVER THE TOP –the woman would not let up, she kept badgering me and then called my kid a brat –I was like oh hell no –I told her to get the fuck away from me before I put my foot up her ass –by the time I got to my car I had big tears, a nice woman and her husband caught up with me in the parking lot and hugged me. I crack up about it now –ya know –sorta. 🙂

    • OH HELL NO! (to the woman who called your kid a brat). Isn’t it funny, in your weakest of moments, you will often be surrounded by the best and worst of humanity. The people in the parking lot who hugged you (redemption!) versus the woman with a 100 year old Oak tree up her ass. (A human hemorrhoid). I chuckled reading this because a) you survived and b) we are not alone.

  10. HAHAHA!! This is sooo true… I have seriously wanted to kick people in the head for that.. Especially after being up for 3 nights with a colicky, constipated newborn… And the freaking doctors keep saying there is nothing wrong he will poop eventually!!! He is over a year old now (and no longer colicky or constipated.. THANK GOD!!!) and i still can’t see that as being a good time in his life for either of us! However, it does remind me that if i ever even so much as mutter anything about wanting another child someone seriously needs to kick me in the head!

    • I think, in general, the newborn period is foggy in order to perpetuate the species. After four, I will never forget. And, that is why there is a closed sign hanging over my vagina.

  11. Thank you for this.

    • Thank YOU for reading and for getting me and for making me feel like I’m not sitting alone on the bleachers. xo

  12. Bethany I began writing you an epoch comment in agreement with everything you said, and then figured I should make it into a blog post instead.
    Basically it comes down to parenting small children is very, VERY hard. And the people that make those comments to you when your children are trying your patience to their very limit, those people are obviously somewhat blind, a little deaf, and probably in the early stages of dementia where they don’t see what is in front of them. If they weren’t they would instead say, “You poor thing! I’ll have the store manager deliver your groceries home, and I’ll watch your kids for the next 2 hours while you go get a pedicure at the spa next door.”
    That is how things should work.
    Hang in there my friend. Feel free to also scream (into a pillow), cry, and fell frustrated as the situation calls for it. You are not alone.

  13. A lot of people are willing to tell us how to feel, but not actually help. When my kids were toddlers, it would have taken so little effort for someone to do something to help. Instead, people seemed more content to sit around and comment on my mental status (extended family included).

    • That is a very good point. I have heard it takes a village, but, most villages just point and tell you what you could have been doing “better” instead of holding a door or helping you pick up magazines off of the check-out floor. Agreed.

  14. I’m sure you finished this post with a good message, but I honestly couldn’t continue past the paragraph which described your trip to the grocery store. I haven’t laughed that hard in a very, very long time. That would actually make a fantastic scene in a movie. Great message, I’m sure, but holy crap…that story will get me through the rest of the day.

    • That 2 year old is now 3 and is terrifying and hilarious and drives me to keep a well stocked wine rack. I almost hope that scene was captured on video and used for future cashier training modules.

  15. How anyone can tell you to “enjoy” times like you had in the grocery store is beyond me. I have raised 2 kids and have the last teen at home. There were times when I cried, yelled, swore, threw things and slammed things. It wasn’t often – just enough to let my kids know that I was human and that sometimes losing it is necessary. And it was THOSE times that made the triumphs truly great. Treating every shit storm like it’s the next best thing is like handing out trophies just for showing up. Loved the post!!

  16. Preach, sister. If I didn’t allow myself to experience the crap – I mean really, honestly experience it, and I mean it’s sometimes literally crap) then I wouldn’t be so knocked over by the moments of sweetness, like when my 11yo thanks me for holding his hand. Suck it, haters. Or is it refuse-to-haters?

  17. Ohhhh, girl! I lived a year without a dishwasher. Sucked beyond measure. But those days are even suckier. And you are well within your rights to lament the crap and go fetal in the shower. Thanks for this. I loved it!

  18. Jonathan says:

    Wonderful post. “drug deal gone bad” — was there a lot, lo, these many years ago. Please forgive the part of me that wants to say, “Oh yeah? Just wait till they are teenagers, especially if they are girls,” because that is sometimes a way of comforting ourselves, not so different than sweating the small stuff and allowing yourself to feel fury at a broken dishwasher (rats chewed through the hose of ours). As Elona says up there, parenting is the hardest thing we do. Period. Especially in our long-lasting, extended-adolescence, grooming-for-success Western world. It makes one almost wish for the days when children were expected be apprentices and learn a trade at 8. Parenting is also entirely an act of faith, once you get beyond meeting basic needs and affection; it is a very long game in which you wait decades to see, you hope, the fruits of your work blossom. Meanwhile, yet another book or expert comes along to tell you everything you did wrong when they were X years old and that you cannot undo. If I’d been in line behind you at that checkout counter, I hope I would have had the grace and empathy to have helped you pick everything up and share a common, knowing laugh.

  19. We’ve all been there. I had a similar experience at Target once, and another mom toting a perfectly behaved toddler approached me in the parking lot afterward. I was afraid she was going to be all “sanctimommy” on me and tell me that letting tiny humans behave like that in public is bad form. Instead she goes, “what just happened back there? That’s usually me and my kid. You did great. Now you should go home and drink – you deserve it.” It was 10 am. After I thanked her profusely for her kind words, I followed her advice. 🙂

  20. Kat Cunha says:

    For the first 3 years of my son’s life (he’s 5 now), I was filled with the dreaded mommy-guilt. I HATED dealing with the temper tantrums and whining, but my mother and step-mom both found it hysterically funny, and they both constantly fed me the, “You’re gonna miss this!” line. It was only when I finally listened to them, talking about how my brothers and I were such monsters when we were little, that I realized something- they are completely full of it! They don’t miss it! They miss Christmas mornings and goodnight kisses. They don’t miss a toddler who smeared a whole tub of A&D ointment all over himself and his bedroom, they don’t miss hissy-fits and incessant whining. That realization was a weight lifted off of my shoulders. Now? I’m free to acknowledge that not everything about being a parent is fun, sometimes it really sucks, and admitting that doesn’t mean that I’m a bad mother, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my son, or that I should start saving money right now for all the therapy sessions he’ll need because Mommy didn’t have a Stepford Wife smile on her face every-single-minute-of-every-single-day. Yes, there are still those well-meaning people who, when they see Mommy in the store, on the verge of losing her schmidt, will come up and tell me that I’m going to miss this someday, but now? Now, I know don’t feel like I have to believe what they say.

    On that note, I need to go find out why the boy has been in the bathroom for so long….

  21. Maria Schoolcraft says:

    Thank you for this, Bethany. I feel I now have an excuse to roundhouse kick anyone who tells me (1) they’re little angels (when dear 17month old daughter just wouldn’t quit with her totally out of the blue hissy fit in the grocery, and (2) i should discipline her early, let her know who’s boss.

  22. Frammitz says:

    I do delight in my children. But sometimes they are exhausting. And sometimes they pour bags of flour all over the house. And sometimes they throw up all over you. It would be awful if it weren’t for the love. The love is what makes it funny! Saying you should be in a constant swoon over your kids is like saying you shouldn’t complain about your mother in laws because you’re lucky not to be single.

  23. OMG hilarious. My kids are the same breed of monster. So, I’m storing up all of these precious, grocery store embarrassment moments and I fully intend to unleash them when I’m 80 and my kids take ME to the grocery store.

    Ah, the circle of life.

  24. I have some FB peeps who are always posting those inspirational parenting images/digital mantras. I can almost hear the clicky desperation, “One more badge and I’ll be happy! One more and I will love every minute of this parenting thing!”

  25. DANG, that girl is a keeper! i need a girl like that so bad, but I settle for a prescription of anit-depressants. It’s not the same I tell ya. Accept the helper and don’t feel the least bit ashamed. Remember that celebrities don’t even get up in the middle of the night with newborns, “baby nurses” do all that shit.

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