Once upon a time, I only had one child. An easy child, at that. I had all the energy and time in the world to devote to this child. I was the best mom. (Or at least I thought I was!) I put my foot down when needed, I disciplined with care and with love. I never yelled. I never even raised my voice.
But then, one day, a sweet tiny baby girl came along, and my life was flipped upside down.
Transitioning from one kid to two rocked my world. My sweet, easy first child turned into a defiant, willful, difficult 2-year-old, and my adorable new baby hated sleeping. Like, hated it.
Fast forward to a year later. My first child was still testing me every minute of every day. My second child still didn’t like to sleep, and was starting to test her own limits. I was worn out, worn down, and scarcely alive. Each morning I pried my eyes open, willed my heavy body out of bed, and dived face first into mothering, treading along all day, without a break, feeling like I was just barely keeping my head above the water.
One morning, when Graham was 3 and Maddie was 1, I was rushing around, trying to get us all ready to leave the house. I frantically searched for clean socks, slapped together some pb&js , made sure we were all wearing shoes, and shoveled some breakfast into my kids’ mouths.
Graham was actually entertaining himself for once, instead of terrorizing his sister. He had pulled the salad spinner out of the cabinet and was having a blast spinning it round and round, and figuring out how it worked.
As I walked back into the kitchen after retrieving a missing shoe out from under the couch, I saw Maddie toddling into the room, wearing a pair of my dirty underwear around her neck like a scarf. She was so proud of her new accessory, and was preening around like she was Elizabeth Taylor with a feather boa.
I laughed, and then went back to shoving lunch boxes and water bottles into school bags. I pulled on some jeans, threw my dirty hair up into a mom-bun, and we were ready to go!
Of course, we were already running 5 minutes late for school. I grabbed the salad spinner from Graham, and walked towards Maddie to take my dirty underwear off of her neck.
In a split second, BOTH of my children were screaming at the top of their lungs. Graham threw himself down on the floor in a heap and started kicking and banging his fists on the ground in rage. Maddie started wailing like a dying cat and stomping her tiny feet on the floor.
The noise in that moment was at a decibel level that shouldn’t be allowed at 9 in the morning, especially before a mom has had a chance to choke down the other half of her coffee that’s gone cold while she’s been running around all morning.
I looked at Graham. His face was beet red, he was still screaming and crying and flailing about.
I looked at Maddie. Now she was laying on the floor with big crocodile tears streaming down her face.
I threw my head back and looked up at the ceiling, praying to God to give me the energy and the patience to deal with the first of many tantrums to come that day.
Later, as we walked into the preschool, I noticed a few of the other parents and teachers giving me a side-eyed look. I’m sure they were wondering why the heck my 3-year-old was carrying a salad spinner down the hall to his classroom. He was cradling it in his arms like a prized possession, and a huge triumphant smile was stuck on his face.
I just shook my head and rolled my eyes. When we got to his class, his teacher asks, “Graham, what’s that you have there?” I say to her, “It’s a salad spinner. Don’t ask. I had to pick my battles this morning.”
Then it was time to take Maddie into her class. She was still teary-eyed and sniffling, sad that I hadn’t let her take her prized possession (my dirty underwear) to school.
Yes, I’m the mom that let her son take a salad spinner to school. But I’m NOT the mom that let her kid bring her dirty underwear to school.
And still, to this day, my kids are fascinated by the salad spinner. Weirdos.