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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Alternate Dimension of the SAHM

It's 8 a.m., and I'm telling my girls that they can switch jackets after lunch if they hate the ones they're wearing so much. I'm arguing with them over who changed out of their nighties first yesterday and whose turn it is to go first today. I'm explaining to them that the toilet flushes at the same speed for both of them.

It's 10 a.m., and I'm trying not to lose my mind over the fact that at 3 and a half, these girls refuse to feed themselves. One of them is sitting in front of the television with a full cup of yogurt just going to waste. The other has painted the couch in the stuff. I contemplate yelling at them and calling them names. But I don't.

It's 10:30 a.m., and I'm trying to explain to them that they can't have candy because they didn't eat their yogurt. I'm wasting too many words. I'm getting met with frustration, antics and yelling. Doesn't matter. No candy.

It's 12 p.m., and we try again with oatmeal. There's no television this time because their reason for not eating their yogurt was that they were trying to watch the video and they couldn't eat and watch at the same time. This does not go over well. The oatmeal joins the yogurt on the couch. Some of it goes down their shirts for good measure. I mull over allowing it to stay in there all day as natural consequence, plus, isn't oatmeal good for the skin? I wash it off and hand-feed them half of the cereal that's left.

It's 1 p.m., and I go back and forth with them about who picks out the stories today. Everything is so intensely important. Then I reason with them about who puts their diaper on first, going back to who put their clothes on first this morning.

It's 3 p.m., and I give them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's the only thing they'll eat without a fight. I try to referee as they fight over who gets which chair.

It's 4 p.m., and I'm trying to dry a stuffed bear with a dish towel because one of them has cried on the animal in a fit of rage and is now utterly surprised that it's wet and uncomfortable.

It's 5 p.m., the girls are irate that I will not put a video on for them. I put on songs instead. They've had enough TV today. They cry for 45 minutes. I think maybe they're right, I mean, they really don't want to listen to music. I wait. Five minutes later they've decided they won't win this one and they're dancing their fool heads off.

It's 6:30 p.m., and they're arguing with me about the virtues of eating ice cream before dinner. I take them far too seriously, but in the end I decide that they're mistaken. Ice cream before dinner is a bad idea. This decision doesn't help the atmosphere in the house.

It's 7:30 p.m., and they should be starving. They eat all their broccoli. They say their chicken fingers are too hard to eat. My husband believes them. I do not. They've got all their teeth, and I've seen the marks those teeth can leave on their sister's skin when they're mad. They are three. They can bite off a piece of chicken finger.

It's 8 p.m., and they finally get their ice cream, even though they didn't eat all their dinner. They're lucky they have such a kind daddy.


My life is a circus. Having two three-year olds as my only companions skews my view of how life works. They're so convincing, and now that they can hold conversations that actually mean something, I forget that their logic hasn't caught up with their mouths.

I treat them as if they know what they are talking about. As if they give the right weight to the right priorities. Suddenly the kind of shoes they're wearing really is as important as the errand we're running. My emphasis meter is all messed up. I don't even know what's real anymore. And they never knew.

I have to take a step back and remember that as fervently as they feel about any given detail at any given time, they actually don't really mean it. They don't know what they want. They're making it up as they go along. And since they have no reference point, they just assign arbitrary importance to any random thing.

And I'll believe them. Unless I catch myself.

Parenting is hard.


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