Last Night

Fae started a habit of waking up at 1am. At first we indulged it because new house and new stuff and waking up not knowing where you are is the worst. At first you always indulge it. But then you start wondering what the hell is actually going on, why is my 14 month old waking up at all, please go back to sleep for the love of god.

So now we just ignore her. She puts herself back down in a few minutes, but it’s been more than a week of ignoring her and still she wakes up and cries. I hear her, I check the time. Anything before 430 and I’m not moving. I mentally pat myself on the head that everything is fine and she’ll be fine and then I go back to sleep.

Now when the babies cry out in the night I have a hard time figuring out if its Gabriel or Fae. Is it words? Or babbly? Is it a baby whine or is it the long drawn out “maaaaamaaaaaaaaaaaaa” that I’m hearing? Is it Gabe? It’s Gabe. We always go in with Gabe. I poke Kamel to wake up.

“It’s Gabe.”

“Is it?”

“I think so.”

We both pause.

“…maybe he went back to sleep?”

We wait. Nope. There it is. Kamel rumbles out of bed. I lay still and listen. Mumbles, whines, footsteps.

“He says he asked for you.”

Damnit. 

I rumble out of bed after Kamel. We both stand in Gabe’s room. He is half a sleep and doesn’t know what he actually needs or wants. We stand there, doing nothing, just being next to him, listening to his breath. When I hear that he is asleep I count to 90, then I whisper to Kamel that I’m going to go first and he should stay in case the creaky floor outside Gabe’s door wakes him up. I say it in less words between lips that are barely moving.

I mentally pat myself on the back for remembering where to step to avoid making much noise. Like I live here or something.

I crawl back under the covers, but the sheets are already cold. We haven’t turned the heat on yet but the nights have been dipping down into the 40s.

I lay still and listen.

I hear Kamel try and leave but he steps in the wrong spots and the floors creak and Gabe is startled awake. I hear whining and then footsteps.

“Hi mama,” Gabe says.

I pull the covers back so he can snuggle in between us.

“Snuggle me,” he says.

I wrap my arm around his tiny body. So small in our adult world of giant torsos. Gabe is at least 60% legs and one of my arms can wrap all the way around him at least a time and a half. Maybe more.

Gabe is good at sharing the bed as long as he doesn’t go horizontal. He falls asleep fast and I still have plenty of room on my side. But my sleep from that point on is full of bad dreams. Full of planning for future stuff I’m not looking forward to. Full of tossing and turning and hoping I don’t wake him up.

At 4:30 Fae wakes up for reals. Kamel goes and gets her and I run downstairs to make her a bottle and grab the blanket off the couch so Kamel can feed her upstairs, out of our bed, and still be warm. After her bottle she goes back into her crib, but hates it. She eventually puts herself down and I have to wake her up at almost 7am. Gabe is up at 6, but he is so happy. He is so sweet. He flips on the light to our bedroom and I hide under the covers.

“Oh, sorry, mama! I’m hungry, let’s go.”

I’m never rested, but it’s so good anyway.

Episode 27: 2,400 Square Feet

We are back in podcast land!!!

I don’t have a ton to say about this one. We break down the move experience and the hustle that happened right at the very end. We also discuss how the transition has been on us. Hint: Hard on me. But you knew that.

Sometimes it is really hard to admit that something you think you should be stoked about, something everyone expects you to be excited about is just… hard.

Friday

This is the last of the week of random daily posts. But it was a good exercise to get this blog up and running again and it reminded me that HEY, WRITING – that is something I do and enjoy!

A quick update: Gabe has an ear infection in one ear. He also has… ring worm. Which is not actually as bad as it sounds, but is one of those things where I had been working on this little patch of “eczema” with some hydro-cortisone cream and lotion for like…. a really long time. And it wasn’t that. And here I am, MOTHER OF THE YEAR AWARD. Where are my banners and trophies?

Other things not skin fungus related…

I have a bunch of stuff I want for this blog. Like, I want to bring weekending back. I want to do a real life home tour video of the new place, with boxes and incomplete rooms and all! And then I want to do nice reveals of rooms as we complete them. Over the next million years because not only do we not have enough free hands, we spent all of our money on paint and fixing unimpressive stuff… oh and the mortgage (and daycare, and winter coats for the kids, and I did buy some Vans…).

Other things coming up for the family: Kamel and I are going on two back-to-back trips without the kids in October. They are both for weddings! One in Minnesota, for the lovely Margaret and Jeff, and one in Mexico City for Kamel’s cousin, Carlos and his future wife Paola. I have a lot of trepidation leaving both the kids and flying away from them for the first time ever. At least one of us has always been there. But not this time! Trepidation and relief! I will no longer be preoccupied with feeding and napping and pooping schedules for anyone except ME. One pooping schedule to rule them all.

I also have high hopes that the podcast will run continuously until mid-December at the least. Future topics include: An update from us on moving and how that has been a different experience for kamel vs me (slash our FEEEEELINGS about it), a listener question about maybe not wanting babies, an updated budget chat that will hopefully be more on track with how I thought were doing things (But then turned out that we were a complicated hodge podge of accounts), and much much more. If you have questions OR have an idea for something to discuss and banter about, please email birlpodcast@gmail.com.

More on Monday.

Thursday

1.) My day started off at 5am, cuddling Fae.

2.) Everyone was showered and dressed by 6:30, when we had to wake up Gabriel.

3.) Why do toddlers become a screaming pile of irrational bullshit right before you need to leave the house?

4.) Why do they look at you 5 minutes later after you’ve wrestled everyone into the car and are sweating like, “why are you pulling out your hair, mama? Want a yogurt snack?”

5.) We bought a treadmill and it arrived today. In a box.

6.) The delivery man did not knock or ring my doorbell. He left it out front and snuck away.

7.) I cannot lift the box to bring it inside. Kamel has a hernia, he cannot lift the box either. Thankfully, this means that thieves probably can’t lift the box. Otherwise, why would they need a treadmill? This feels like some kind of ironic torture.

8.) Yesterday at bedtime Gabe said his ear hurt, which is pretty random since we were just looking at the moon.

9.) Maybe the reason my child is a mess is because he has a secret ear infection. He also has a cold. This could be a real possibility, making me mother of the year for the 3rd year in a row.

10.) On top of the fact that I am drowning in work, I now need to take my kid to the doctor (and my other kid bc she can’t drive) during rush hour. It’s going to be great!

Wednesday

I did promote that this week we would be fully back with print and podcast! But – as my post headings infer, we’re getting through this big move and transition and schedule change and and and – one day at a time. So here we are. No podcast. I had plans, but they didn’t make it to fruition. Soon though, soon.

Wednesday is about Gabriel.

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The older kids get, the more your heart breaks for them, because being human is hard and cruel and they still don’t know it and you never want them to. But they sense it. They get whispers of it. And it is confusing.

Gabriel is goofy and loving. He is imaginative and earnest. He is careful and nervous. He loves his sister. He is annoyed by his sister. He watches over her and teaches her things and plays with her and wants to get away from her and wants her to stop playing with his toys. He shares with her, he comforts her, he shows her things. He includes her.

“Fae. Faaaaeeeeee. Look Fae! Look at this! See?”

Gabriel is also annoying. He whines. He demands. He throws tantrums. He is defiant. He is stubborn. He is crazy in the way toddlers are crazy. If something doesn’t happen the way he expects, he is difficult. He repeats an act 5 times until he is satisfied that you have seen him do it the way he wants you to see him do it.

He sings his own made up songs that are narrating his life. He dances. He shows me his dances 700 times a day. He sings along to songs in the car.

He requests snuggles. With blankets. Before he gets up in the morning he asks, “Can I snuggle with mama in mama’s bed?” But lately it’s changed. “Can I snuggle with mama in our bed?” Yes. Always. Every day.

He doesn’t like to be rushed in the mornings. This reality is hard for everyone to deal with. He gets upset if we have to do something RIGHT NOW. He will freeze and do nothing if you get mad at him. It is not an effective way to handle Gabriel. Flexibility, softness above sternness, listening, patience – these are the things that Gabriel needs, these are the things Gabriel has taught me.

The transition to a new home and a new school has been a lot for him and he is doing so well. He is also being extra difficult. Extra frustrating, extra annoying. But also, my heart breaks for him. He has no control. He just wants a little control, but he has none. Everything is new, the rules have all changed, his little brain is grasping at straws.

At Gabriel’s old school he was very much loved. People there had known him since he was 10 months old. So when annoying little boy things start to develop (As they do in every child. We can’t all stay sweet sweet 18 month olds forever), I know that they had already been charmed by him. This new school, that is not the case. They get a Gabriel that is trying to figure out what they are saying to him (Spanish immersion), while navigating new friends, a new classroom layout, and new expectations. He also has a cold and a cough that is keeping him from napping. I see all the things these new teachers could see: He refuses to eat most of his lunch, he doesn’t nap well, he is whiny and difficult, he doesn’t feel like doing the art projects and instead decides to sit quietly and cut up the paper, when you’re giving him a direction sometimes he interrupts you and does a silly dance and then asks you to watch him doing the silly dance 5 times.

I see all of the good and all of the bad and I hold my breath on his behalf that he is liked and loved and finds friends and is happy. But even if he was the most trouble and the most annoying, which he is not, but even if he was an absolute terror, I would still feel complete heartbreak if people didn’t like him.

When I feel the urge to apologize for his inconvenience (and don’t) the words that are swirling in my head are this: You have to know and understand how much I love him. Please be kind to him, because I love him. Please be gentle with him, because I love him.

It sounds so… simple and shallow. But it is so deep. His hurt is my hurt. His discomfort is mine. Except I feel it a million times more in my attempt to absorb the impact.

Tuesday

I don’t have Trump supporters on my facebook feed or in my real life. THAT I KNOW OF… secret Trump people, step forward now! (Just kidding, you can privately vote for whichever ass hole you’d like, but just know you’re wrong.) But! Some of my friends have friends who are apparently fans of the big T, the Don, etc. And I was super snarky in someone else’s comment thread about Donald Trump as a viable candidate. Since he is a racist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, nationalist, TERRIBLE PERSON.

The Trump supporter pulled the “I’m in the military and I’ll continue fighting for your ability to have free speech” bullshit on me. It’s totally a self-congratulatory, false way to say that being in the military makes you a better American than anyone else. I think military service members should be supported, they should have proper healthcare, they should have jobs when they are discharged, they should not end up poor and disenfranchised. No one should. But I also do not believe that the current military strategy has anything at all to do with my freedom of speech. Anyway….

My friend did not appreciate me starting fires on her lawn. Fair enough. She removed the post and then today had a big status about why can’t people from opposite sides of the aisle just get along. Why does disagreeing on political policy lead to personal attacks?

And here is where I am an angry, radical, cynical bitch. And I give 0 fucks about it.

If you love Trump then we are not friends.

This is not a fight at Thanksgiving. This is not  how one of us is a tree hugging hippy and the other is a fiscal conservative. This is not even pro-life vs pro-choice. This is about supporting a person whose vision for this country restricts the rights of certain religions, who supports racist policy, who is anti women, anti anyone who isn’t rooting him on. (And he is secretly, not so secretly, anti those people too.)

It’s ok to stand up and say no. I will not allow the bullying. I will not sit by and say, “oh well that’s just his opinion.” I will not hold hands and say it’s all alright and we’re one big melting pot. No! It is not ok to support a hateful, bullying leader. If that’s who you want representing you to the world, if that is who you are cheering for and not embarrassed or horrified by? Then my response is NO. And my response yesterday was bitchier than just a “No.” It definitely put someone who is already on the defensive, totally on the super defensive of facebook jeering. I don’t feel bad about it.

There is no perfect candidate. People are human. We make mistakes, we change our minds, we make bad choices, we learn, we hopefully grow. And I am angry and embarrassed and horrified. I am disappointed and scared. What does it say about this country that we could possibly elect a dismissive, rude, selfish, demagogue as our leader?

There are a lot of people who believe stereotypes are to blame for their own misfortune. There are a lot of people with a lot of angry, finger-pointing thoughts and feelings. There are a lot of people who want to stand behind a person like Trump because he seems to want to fight for them when it looks like no one else is. I am sorry those people feel that their best hope lies with him. I want to prove them wrong.

But we’re still not friends. I’ll continue to protect your right to make stupid choices out of anger or desperation or whatever but continuing to vote for the people who want to expand social freedoms and see our society with a global vision. But hopefully in the near future, everyone who felt so in need of a Trump presidency will find out things turned out ok in the other direction. I hope it is not a situation of regret when he takes office.

Monday

We have completely changed our morning routine and I really thought it was maybe killing me. Every morning we would leave the house in a TORNADO OF PANIC. That cannot not be in all caps. The TORNADO OF PANIC included the entire neighborhood waking up to the shrill sounds of my voice at 7:15 telling Gabrile to “Get into the car! We do not have time for this!” and “Kamel, are you coming?? What are you doing in there?” It included Lauren the Aggressive Driver trying to race to daycare drop off in time to race to Kamel shuttle drop off and then race back home in time to not be late for my work day. I am generally not a road rage person, but the TORNADO OF PANIC demands a certain amount of swearing and audible sighs and rhetorical questions like, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!” before 7:45am.

Leaving the house every day feeling like my heart and head were going to simultaneously explode (and NOT with confetti) because of stress is not a sustainable life choice. What the hell had I done? This new scheduled SUCKED for me. My day is now chauffeur, project manager/editor/juggling word smith [insert circus music], and stereotypical frazzled mom of two.

Guess who was rolling into daycare in sweats with bed head? ME. Guess who had previously judged moms who roll into school/daycare in sweats with bed head? ME ME ME. And now I know, you guys. NOW I FUCKING KNOW. The reason they roll in in sweats and bed head? It’s because they are sacrificing any amount of quiet morning moments where they can put on, oh I don’t know – PANTS so that everyone else is dressed appropriately. Those are martyr sweatpants, bitches. Except no, not even. Not even martyrdom. Just like, we all have to be out the door at a certain time and unless we all want to wake up at 4am, guess my pants putting on time is forfeit on the rough days. So far they have all been rough days.

Except today was ok. I put on jeans and a pseudo-fashionable sweater over my pajama tank top. And maybe I didn’t actually have a bra on, but hey! PANTS. And I was shocked to find the PANIC TORNADO missed my house this morning. I did not feel immense pressure and anxiety as I drove through residential-land. I did not swear or feel the urge to mow down other drivers. I actually chatted to Kamel about something other then, “Are we going to make it? How much time? Well if I turn here does that shave off a minute?” It was a good morning.

Did you hear that? We had a good morning! Everyone arrived on time and I was home with tea in hand and I had 5 minutes to write this post. Wins, gotta count em all.

Returning Soon! But First a Status Update

The podcast and the blog have fallen silent because I am in a deep dark transition hole.

You guys. Moving has been so hard. And the move itself was probably the easiest move Kamel and I have ever had together. We are pros at this packing thing. The movers arrived and we had the entire apartment cleaned out and all of our belongings (except for the pans under the stove, whoops, and the wall mirror behind our bedroom door – extra whoops) in 12 hours. And everything was ok. I was ready to get out of there, all I wanted was to get into our house and start settling in and setting up. The kids were with my parents overnight and we were focused and pumped for unpacking, rebuilding furniture, finding our life again.

And it was all good, I felt progress, we were humming along. Until I didn’t feel that way anymore.

Once the kids got home I realized just how big this space is. And this sounds initially like “my tiara is just too shiny!” but, that’s not it. You have to understand that my family has been spending it’s entire existence in a space that is the same size as our current den. There were never any stairs, there was only 1 exit, if I shut all of the doors to the bedrooms and the bathroom I was never more than three wide strides away from my bolting kids or a fallen toddler. We cooked, we ate, we played, we snuggled all in the same space. And now we have a 2,000 square foot house. With an upstairs, two living rooms and three exit points. The kids got home and the family SCATTERED. How do you cook dinner and keep the 3.5 year old from running out the front door? When he can open locks and open doors and we don’t have enough baby proofing – you can’t. How do you manage their transitional feels while also needing to find pajamas and where are the paper towels? And do you remember where we packed the baby shoes?

It’s herding cats and narrowly avoiding 3 alarm fires and feeling like I’m drowning drowning drowning 95% of the time. All while working. All while supervising light construction and maintenance. All while trying to do laundry and find my bras and oh shit the kids have no clean pants for school. I am generally very orderly. I know where everything is and everything has a system. Except here. Not yet. There are no systems, only surviving. Only 50 million trips up and down the stairs. Only hour long bedtimes to get Gabe down. Only dinners frantically made with the 2 pans I can find and thank god for yogurt snacks. Thank god we’re 5 minutes from a target.

As Kamel and I manage the daily things, the working and the feeding and the dressing, we are also trying to manage our kids’ transition. We started them at a new daycare that is Spanish immersion and I know its hard for Gabe. He is exhausted. So many things he is figuring out and learning. And I worry about them so much. He says he misses his friends. He names them. I feel so guilty. Is this the right thing for them? It cut down their time in the car from 45 minutes to 7. It gives us an even better chance of creating bilingual kids – a major goal of ours. But I still worry. Is he sad? He was at the same daycare since he was 10 months. Is this what he needs? I trust that it is, but I worry anyway.

All the while Kamel and I are not giving any attention to our own transitioning. This is hard. We have new routines on top of a new house on top of the dysfunction of having everything you own scattered about in boxes. I am so tired. I am never not tired. I am painting on my lunch break. I am dropping the kids off and picking them up. Running out the door late because a work call ran long. Our bedroom is a mind-field of half unpacked boxes and piles of clothes.

It will get better. We’ll get things unpacked and find our way. But in the mean time I am scattered and sad and tired and I have no more output. This is the year of running on empty. Somehow I’m still doing all the things, though my enthusiasm wains and my attention span is minimal. I forget plans and schedules, to do lists and tasks I genuinely intended to complete. This can’t keep up. When and how does the recharging happen? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Podcast Update

A little update on podcast life as we attempt to get our life back in order with a big move next Monday! Coming up: we have more listener questions answered, another budget breakdown, and a discussion (because so many people asked) about how we actually managed to get things in order to buy a house without a windfall + chat on our loan type, etc.

Kamel and I are a never-ending flood of relationship chatter, but we also greatly appreciate questions or comments from listeners. It helps us focus the direction of the podcast and inspires refreshed insight. So while we are on this short and unexpected break, do take a minute (if you have thoughts) and shoot me an email at birlpodcast@gmail.com. Also if you have a minute while browsing the internets, please do leave us a review on itunes and/or just give us a rating. It really helps us grow the audience which directly impacts the quality of content. You can find us on itunes by searching “I’m Better In Real Life Podcast”.

Thanks everyone! And see you on the other side of this frenzied break.

Episode 26: The Shower Debate

Sometimes I begin a podcast thinking we’ll have something poignant to say and then it devolves into arguments over having time to make eggs for breakfast and taking long showers. This is one of those times

As a follow up – this morning Kamel got up at 530 and got showered and dressed before the kids got up. I also got up at 530 and prepped a bottle for Fae in case she woke up before 6 and I wouldn’t have to scramble. The kids chilled in their room until a little after 6:00. It was a great morning where everyone got to eat breakfast. Success!