There are a lot of nights that I crawl into bed, exhausted. I tell the husband how I am so tired from such a crazy day. He asks, innocently enough, What did you do?
Then I think. I think, and think. Then I think some more. Because as a stay at home mom, every single day is filled with so much, but putting it into words is near impossible. I just couldn't come up with anything that seemed to warrant my exhaustion.
What exactly DID I do all day?
To make this easier to understand, I've put together a rough example of my day. Granted, it's only one of many different days. Some days are better, some days are worse. Things change around quite a bit, but it is a good example of one of those days. What has become my "normal", what makes me think I can't possibly go another day, and what makes me think I never want it to end.
6:00a: My wake up call - "Mommy! Mooooommmmmyyyyyyy!
6:02a: Roll over, pray: "Dear Lord please make him go back to sleep, just 30 more minutes!"
6:04a: Realize as his cry is getting more urgent by the second that this prayer will not be answered my way today.
6:05a: Go into the boys room and as stealthily as possible get the baby (18 months) up while not waking the boy (3 years). Boy rolls over. Success.
6:06a: Take the baby downstairs, change his diaper. He wants to watch a show. Barely holding my eyes open, I play his favorite: Mickey Mouse. I lay down on the couch, he snuggles in next to me (heaven).
6:30a: I wake up to little hands slapping my cheek and a little face in mine saying, "Bo Go! Bo Go!" his other favorite show. I sleepily oblige (don't judge) and try to get back to sleep only to hear little feet coming down the stairs. The boy. No more sleep for me.
6:32a: The boy comes around the corner from the stairs, walking like a penguin. He's wet again. No, not wet. Soaked. I ask him, even though I know the answer, "Are you wet?" He nods, "I SOAK!" I kick myself (again) for buying those curs-ed night time pull ups instead of the usual night time diapers. All to try to save 5 bucks. 5 bucks. Seven wet wake-ups later and I would gladly hand over the extra $5 just so I can stop changing and washing bed sheets.
7:00a: The girl (4 years) wakes up. After changing the bed sheets, washing and changing the boy, I turn on his favorite show, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and start shuffling around getting juice cups ready, making coffee, emptying the dishwasher, checking email, etc.
8:00a: Breakfast. Get everyone dressed. Get myself dressed and if I'm really lucky, a shower. We are out of essentials: milk, bread, eggs, etc. so I decide we'll make a "quick trip" to the grocery store down the road. We also have a few books that need to go back to the library.
8:45a: Send the girl upstairs to get dressed.
8:59a: Get the baby off the kitchen table.
9:00a: Girl comes downstairs. Send her back upstairs saying I know she really wants to wear that pretty sundress but it's the dead of winter and she'll freeze. Lots of whining. I insert my mommy voice. Long sleeves. Pants. Now. She goes back upstairs.
9:10a: After a 5 minute argument with the 4 year old I finally get her to sit in front of me so I can brush her hair. It goes pretty good as she only whines and complains 9 out of the 10 minutes it takes to tame her curly locks that go down past her bottom.
9:12a: Get the baby's hands out of the toilet (whew! clean water this time). Wash his hands. Shut the door.
9:15a: Finish fixing girl's hair. Tell myself again that I will start brushing her hair every day. I think it had been 3 days this time. It was in a braid so that's okay, right?
9:20a: Get everyone's shoes on. Can't find one of the boy's shoes. Send him to look in his room. Get everyone's coats on. The girl doesn't want to wear that coat.
9:25a: The boy comes back down from his room, empty-handed. I follow him back up. He's right. Shoe is MIA. I look in the girl's room. I try not to turn an ankle as I weave in among the toys, clothes, and papers strewn on every possible surface. No shoe.
9:30a: Back downstairs, I gather hats, check the diaper bag for diapers, wipes, wallet, and phone. Tell all the kids to start looking for the boy's shoe. I go into the kitchen to look. No shoe. Realize I forgot to switch the laundry from last night.
9:32a: Lift the washer lid. Nope. It wasn't from last night. This was the load I put in over 24 hours ago. I sigh. I start the washer, add soap, and begin cycling through the washed, mildew-smelling load.
9:40a: I go back out to see how the boy and the girl are doing with looking for the shoe. The tv is on and they are both sitting on the couch, clad with coats hats, and the boy with his one shoe, engrossed in the show. I turn the tv off and with a little exasperation raise my voice, "AUGH! WHERE IS THAT SHOE?" The baby walks over to the side table drawer, opens it, and pulls out that darn shoe. He holds it up with a big smile, "SHOE!"
9:45a: Everyone is ready and we are headed out the door in less than 2 hours from when we started getting ready. I'm feeling successful.
9:46a: We open the door and are blinded by the very bright, very hot sun. Forgot to check the weather again. I grab all hats off heads, throw them behind me into the house, then close and lock the door. I tell the two older ones to get into their seats and do their best to buckle up. While getting the baby into his seat he drops his binky. I tell the girl to get in her seat. I'm trying to keep the baby still, clicking the million clasps on his seat while trying to pacify the other two who are fighting over a toy they just found. Baby is not happy. I tell the boy to sit down in his seat, not stand on top of it.
9:55a: Finally get the baby buckled and now I can't find the darn binky. Baby wails are getting louder. I tell the girl to get in her seat. The girl and boy are still upset by each other's attempt to claim ownership of the toy. I finally spot the binky, shoved into a corner, just out of reach. I tell the girl to get the binky. She tells me she can't. Because she's in her seat. I step up into the van, reaching up and over the baby's seat as far as I can possibly reach. Almost have it. The baby is now screaming in my ear, completely put out by the fact that I have not retrieved his binky yet AND I'm practically smothering him to get to it. I pop it in his mouth. Blessed silence. I look up. The girl is now out of her seat, saying she doesn't want her coat on.
9:58a: I move around to the other side of the van to buckle the boy. I reach in for the buckle. His pants are wet. I forgot to change him. I take a moment to decide: Get everyone back inside to change the boy, or do it right here?
10:00a: From the floor of the van, the boy whines that the air is cold on his bum. I tell him he's lucky it's warmer today and this won't take long. The baby starts crying. I tell the girl to get back in her seat, that the baby really does not like it when she pinches his face like that. I pull the boy back up to put him in his seat again. I take the old, hard chicken nugget that he found on the floor out of his hand and throw it out of the van. He tells me his pants are wet. I tell him they will dry.
10:10a: I climb into the driver's seat, everyone is finally buckled in. I look at the clock and think that there may still be a chance to get back in time to do school so we don't have to do it after nap time. The girl asks if we can play at the library when we get there. Forgot the library books.
10:14a: I throw the bag of books into the van as I climb back into the driver's seat.
10:25a: Finally at the store, the boy and girl are excited to get a "car cart" and promptly begin fighting over which side they each get to sit on.
11:00a: Ready to check out. I am proud of myself that it's taken less than 30 minutes to grab the 5 things we came for. Then the girl tells me in her outside voice that she has to poo poo. That it can't wait because she's been trying to squeeze it and she really has to go. I push us all to the side of the store, unbuckle and unload the baby from the cart, grab the diaper bag with my wallet and we all make our way into the bathroom.
11:05a: The girl does her thing while I attempt to keep the boy from running back out of the bathroom and keep the baby from laying down on the dirty floor.
11:15a: The girl is finally done and needs help in the stall. There is barely enough room for me to go in and help her. I set the baby down right outside the stall and lean in to help the girl. I tell him not to move.
11:16a: Done with the girl. I see the baby is still standing right where I put him. The boy, however, has split. I stick my head out of the bathroom door and quietly berate him for leaving, tell him to stop getting soaked in the water fountain, and to get back in the bathroom or he'll be in big trouble. The boy flashes me his to-die-for dimples and I can see him weighing his options.
11:22a: The boy makes a good choice and runs himself back into the bathroom. I'm thankful for this since thinking up a punishment would take more brain power and I can tell I'm running low.
11:30a: We are finally making our way to the check out (again). We get in line. I start unloading the cart and the boy and girl start at it again. Apparently the boy leaned over the invisible line down the middle and the girl pushed back. I tell them to stop. The baby throws his binky on the floor. I make a mental note not to leave it and continue unloading the cart. The girl tells me the baby dropped his binky. Then she hits the boy.
11:35a: I tell the girl to come stand by me until we're done. She screams at me that she doesn't want to and she's not going to do anything I say. I stop unloading, go retrieve her from the cart, tell her she lost tv for the day and if she moves from this spot she'll lose it tomorrow too. I look back at the cashier and she's looking at me impatiently. I apologize and run my card through the slot. She hands me the receipt with my card. To get out of the next customer's way and keep the line moving, I then try to simultaneously push the cart, lead the girl, put my card away, and make sure I'm not leaving any groceries behind.
11:45a: We make it back out to the van in one piece. As I'm walking up to the van I notice a car behind me, waiting patiently for my spot. I look at the car, look back at my cart of groceries and the three kids, and smile. Hope they're patient.
11:59a: The groceries are loaded, the kids are buckled in, and we are headed back home. The girl and boy are disappointed we didn't make it to the library. It's already nap time and we haven't had lunch yet. I tell them we will go tomorrow.
12:10p: We get home and I decide I will just get the kids in the house and get their lunch and then I can come back out to unload the groceries when they are down for naps. We get inside and I start to make three, very healthy lunches. Peanut butter and jelly. Again. They love it, and it's easy. Win, win.
12:13p: The cat starts banging on the basement door, wanting to be let up. I think I will get him when I'm done with the sandwiches.
12:14p: Three peanut butter and jellies later, the boy and the girl come to the table arguing about who is going to get the blue plate. I tell the girl she had it last time so it's the boy's turn. And besides, she likes pink too. More whining.
12:15p: I ask the girl where the baby is. She doesn't know. I ask the boy where the baby is. He says he's up in the girl's room. I go upstairs and find the baby in the girl's room, happily taking all the caps off her markers. I replace all the caps, retrieve the baby and go downstairs.
12:18p: More banging on the basement door, so loud you would think a full grown person was behind it. I'll let him up as soon as I put the baby in his seat.
12:19p: I buckle the baby into his chair. The boy immediately leans over to yell in his face. I tell him to stop. He spills his milk all over the table.
12:26p: The milk is cleaned up. Even louder banging. I go let the cat upstairs. I sit down at the computer to try to catch my breath while the kids eat. I click on my email. The girl wants more milk. I get up and get her milk, get the boy milk, and pick up the baby's cup from the floor.
12:29p: I sit down, I click on Facebook. The boy says he's done eating.
12:30p: I get up to clean the boy up. Meanwhile the girl and baby finish eating as well. Clean them up too. Wipe down the table.
12:35p: I tell the kids to stop running around in circles and yelling at the top of their lungs because it's nap time. The girl doesn't want to nap. I tell her she doesn't have to sleep but she needs to do quiet time in her room, just like she does every single day. An argument ensues.
12:40p: I finally get the girl to start upstairs. The baby comes to me and says, "ginky". He has four binkys and we can never find even one when it's time to go to bed. We scour the house for the second time, this time searching for the binky.
12:50p: I am upstairs looking in the boy's room when I hear the girl yell from downstairs, "FOUND IT!" She retrieved the binky from the very chair in which the baby ate lunch. I wash all the peanut butter off the binky, give it to the baby and we are all en route up the stairs to nap time. Blessed, blessed nap time.
1:30p: I've eaten my lunch, answered some emails, perused a little Facebook, and the girl is down the stairs asking if her quiet time is over. I tell her it is. She begins setting up all her art supplies at the table.
3:30p: The boy wakes up. He and the girl watch a show. The baby wakes up. Here we go.
4:00p: I realize we never did school this morning. I call the boy and girl to the table and we start our activities.
4:10p: I hear a horrible clicking, grinding sound. I look up and see the baby in front of the dvd player. I save the dvd, pull the baby away from the player, and go back to schooling.
4:15p: The kids are doing well at our letter review. Our lights start going on and off. Get the baby down from the stool that he pushed across the kitchen so he could play with the lights. Put the stool away.
4:30p: We move our review games into the living room. We have papers spread out on the floor with letters. The baby grabs a letter and takes off across the room, a big smile on his face.
5:00p: We have finished school for the day and I just remembered I forgot to figure out what to do for dinner. Food. The groceries in the van.
5:15p: After getting the groceries inside from our trip to the store 7 hours earlier, I'm glad it's still chilly out so the milk is still cold.
5:30p: The kids are playing nicely upstairs for once so I take the opportunity to fold the two, overflowing baskets of clean laundry and put it away.
6:00p: The husband starts making dinner and I am beyond thankful that he doesn't mind doing this.
6:30p: Dinner is almost ready. The kids are back downstairs and while I'm putting clothes away the kids' messy rooms bring me to my breaking point. "EVERYBODY UPSTAIRS!" I put the kids to work picking up their rooms. They are less than enthusiastic and require constant prodding. I keep telling myself that making them do this will one day pay off.
7:00p: Rooms are clean. Laundry put away. Dinner is ready. We all sit down at the table together. This is my favorite time of day. The boy prays. We all dig in.
7:15p: It's loud. It's crazy. I'm tired of repeating, "Take a bite" over and over. It's also fun. And entertaining.
7:30p: We have finished eating. The kids are playing with the husband in the living room while I clean up the kitchen.
7:35p: The girl comes into the kitchen asking for a snack, she's hungry. I tell her she just finished dinner 5 minutes ago. Go play.
7:45p: The kitchen is picked up. I remember I was going to do baths tonight. I look at the clock. Bedtime is in 15 minutes. What's another day; they aren't that dirty.
8:45p: After a whirlwind of pjs, diaper changing, teeth brushing, kisses, stories and one last drink, the kids are in their beds and I'm wondering where the day went. I can't wonder long. I only have an hour and a half or so before I need to be done for the night so I can chill out with the husband.
9:50p: I finished up a cake pop order and prepped some shipping boxes for the next morning. I jot down some notes for the next day and I am ready to call it quits. I didn't finish everything, but like most days, I have to tell myself that it's okay.
10:00p: I sit down with the husband. We watch a show or two and then head to bed. I tell the husband how exhausted I am, that I feel like I didn't stop all day, that I feel like I just ran a marathon. He asks, "What did you do?" I look at him, and pause.
"We went to the store."