Ok?….fuck you…..

Apparently, it is much more difficult to be three years old than it was to be two.

When Baby Hobbit turned three, her undeniable charm became obscured by angry determination.  It is not pretty.

Over the summer, none of the Hobbits wanted to hear her scream and cry, and they certainly didn’t want to witness her tantrums.

It worked out perfectly for the Hobbits to cater to her whims because I didn’t want to hear her cry, either.

With summer over, Mediocre Mommy and Baby Hobbit are home alone…all day.  I had imagined a victory dance, celebrating seven hours of relative peace and quiet.

My days are ruled by a tiny tyrant.

She wants every damn thing her way.  No, Baby Hobbit, you cannot have another snack. But I very want a snack.

I very want to play outside alone.  I very want to rule the world.  I very want what I want, and I very want it now.

I have taken a stand, and so has she.

Hubby is standing strong too.  This morning, he told her no, and then walked down the stairs.  Just as he turned toward her shrieks, a stuffed animal narrowly missed his head.

It took several tries for her to find something satisfying to throw.  She hurled a stuffed animal and a security blanket before finally being satisfied with the heft of a heavy, plastic, princess shoe.

Less than an hour later, there was another screaming confrontation as we headed into church.  In the aftermath, during a sweet and snuggly moment in my lap, Hubby leaned over and whispered to her, “we will break you.”

We have been here before, of course.  Probably, five times with five different Hobbits, but I honestly don’t remember.  I am sure that each of the Hobbits have had their own special stage of asshole-ness.

Baby Hobbit is also working to perfect some sort of twisted Jedi mind trick.  By tacking on the words “ok” at the end of every demand, she believes that her wishes should instantly be fulfilled.

“I’m going to pour my own juice….ok?”  or, “I’m going to do this my way, ok?” or, “I am going to completely ignore what you told me, ok?”

In Baby Hobbit’s world, the phrase OK is just another way of saying “fuck you.”

“I’m going to pour my own juice, so fuck you.”

“I’m going to do this my own way, so fuck you.”

“I am going to completely ignore you, so fuck you.”

“I am going to own the world, so fuck you.”

Well, fuck you, Baby Hobbit.  Game on.  We will break you, ok?

Adrenaline junkie….

In typical boy fashion, Hobbit #3 leaned into his buddy’s shoulder, gave him a shove, and said, “Dude.  I went to Great America.”

I held my breath, and waited to see what he would say next.  He received the appropriate respect from his buddy, but what did not happen?

He did not elaborate any further.

He did not mention that he hated every single ride that wasn’t in the baby area.  He left out the parts where he shook like a leaf, his face pale, in every single line and then cried like a baby before he even got off every ride.  If he was able to keep it together until the end of the ride, he began to sob immediately after he got off.

Waiting in every line, he told us what a mistake we had made by not buying the pass that lets you skip lines.  “Too bad we didn’t get that fast pass.”  Really, Buddy?  You wanted to torture yourself sooner each time?

After every roller coaster, he decided what the reason was that he hated it…..first, it was because he rode with dad instead of mom.  That sounds reasonable.  Clearly, moms do everything better than dads.

English: The Invertigo Roller Coaster @ Califo...

So then he rode with mediocre mommy….with exactly the same result.

Then he decided to try a ride that didn’t have such big drops….same.

Maybe a wooden roller coaster….nope.

Every, single time, we told him that he didn’t have to ride.  And every, single time he decided to try it anyway.

As soon as the ride began to move, he would say….”this wasn’t such a good idea….I don’t think I like this….”  And by the time the ride was over, he was pale and crying.

His last attempt of the day was an indoor roller coaster. Dark.  Not too many big drops.  Lots of quick turns.

And that was when he finally broke.

He sobbed all the way off the ride….alligator tears rolling down his face.  Game over.

Just before leaving, there was one more ride to conquer….the carousel.  A gentle goodbye to our fun day.

We made our way to the top level of the carousel, and each Hobbit chose their horse.  Hobbit #3 ended up about 2 horses in front of us.

Before the tinny music even began, I noticed his death grip on the shiny, golden pole.  Hubby said, “Buddy?  You ok?”

Boy Hobbit turned, with a pale face, and white knuckles…..”I’m not so sure about this….”

We couldn’t help but laugh.  And then, when he turned back around, we spent the entire ride taking selfies and laughing at our poor boy.

Believe it or not, he was traumatized by the carousel.  The ride that babies sit on the minute they learn neck control destroyed our poor Hobbit.

I’m pretty sure we will not be taking that kid back to an amusement park any time soon….although he did mention the fast pass again in the car….



The Mommy army….

For the mom in crisis…..

We sat near you at the restaurant last night, and I am thinking of you this morning.  I wonder how you are doing and how your daughter is today.

I had expected to have a night out with mediocre mommy friends….laughing a little too loud, drinking a little too much.

And then, from a table near us, you shouted your daughter’s name and asked someone to call an ambulance.

We had no idea what was happening, and we stayed at our table, not wanting to crowd you.  But you needed a mommy army….and we were there.

I came down next to you to help with your daughter.  You kept telling us that you are a nurse, but I know that the fear is different when your child is in trouble.

We placed your little girl’s head in your lap, so that she didn’t scrape her face on the concrete as she was gripped by a seizure.  We turned her head to the side, as she vomited into towels that someone handed to me.  I asked you questions to relay to the emergency operator.

One of my mediocre mommy friends kept handing clean towels, damp towels, and napkins over my shoulder.  I glanced over my shoulder and saw her comforting your husband….what a helpless feeling for him….his little girl in trouble and nothing he could do to help.

Behind her, I saw the last member of our mediocre mommy army with her arms around your son.  She was talking into his ear, and keeping him calm while strangers tended to his sister.

I met your eyes and asked if you were ok.  You gave exactly the answer I expected you to, but then you tried to thank me.  I said simply, “That’s what mommies do.  We take care of each other.”

You were calling your daughter’s name, nearly begging her to come back to you.  When the seizure finally released its grip, you told her to look into your eyes.  She said she couldn’t see you, and I felt the panic in your body.

Your girl began to cry, to shriek, in fear.  I murmured soft words to her…..”your mommy is right here with you….just close your eyes and put your head on mommy….I know that was really scary…..it’s no fun to be sick….you’re going to be ok…..mommy and daddy already called the doctor…..they are going to come and check you and take you to the hospital to make sure you don’t get sick again.”

Your panic was evident in your voice, and so I encouraged you to talk softly into your girl’s ear, to help her focus on you.  You responded immediately, and your precious girl began to relax into your arms.

The ambulance arrived, and we carefully lifted your baby to her feet.  She was so weak, and you held the weight of her body against you.  The emergency technicians brought over a gurney, and we gently settled your girl.

She continued to vomit, and clean towels kept being placed into my hands.  And then damp towels to wipe her face.

I could hear Mediocre Friend telling your son how exciting it was going to be for his sister to ride in an ambulance…telling him that he and Daddy were going to drive behind the ambulance in your car.

Dad fumbled with his wallet, wanting to pay for your meal.  Someone made him put it away, and told him the Mediocre Mommies would take care of it.  He had tears in his eyes.

You walked with your girl to the ambulance, without a glance behind or a thank you.  It didn’t matter.  We knew.  We all knew.

That’s what mommies do….mediocre or not….we take care of other mommies.  When something happens to one of our children, there will be an army of mommies to help us.  That’s just what we do.

My Mediocre Friends are mediocre mothers, at best.

But when a fellow mommy is in trouble….we are anything but mediocre.

We are fucking awesome.

We are a Mommy Army, leaving no mommy behind.

If we are near when you fall….if you are mediocre like us….or even if you are a better mother than we are….we will never leave you behind or turn away from your distress.

You are a mommy, and that makes you one of us.

The army is behind you….and we are an army filled with more than a few good women.

Welcome to puberty….

Puberty was a turning point in my relationship with my own mother.

Maybe it was “the talk,” where she took me out for pizza, and told me, in about 20 seconds….”a husband puts his penis in his wife’s vagina, and she likes it.


Or when my first period came, while I was home babysitting my younger siblings.  She congratulated me on becoming a woman.  Seriously?  I’m bleeding and cramping, and this is a time for congratulations?  Welcome to the rest of your life….it’s going to suck on a regular basis.

Going back even a little further, there was the time when I asked her what a blow-job was.  She explained, and then continued to say, as if she were thinking out loud, “I don’t know why it’s called a blow-job, though.  It’s really more of a suck-job.”

I am pretty sure this is when my young life began to go downhill….rapidly.

I had my “monthly curse,” and my mother offered to buy me a pillow with embroidery that read, “Good girls go to Heaven.  Bad girls go everywhere.”

Commence sexual repression.

I became a “bad girl” who tried to stop herself before I “went everywhere.”

When my own Hobbits began to approach puberty, I envisioned us walking hand-in-hand through fields of wildflowers (cue music), while we lovingly discussed approaching changes in their bodies and desires.

We would have open and honest dialogue, leading to well-adjusted, sexually strong women.  They would know that in order to receive pleasure they first had to know what gave them pleasure.

Hobbit #1 approached puberty, and I gently began to break down her barriers….eliminating any possibility of embarrassment.  And just as quickly, she began to throw down stone walls, with layers of mortar!  No way was she going to let me in!

There are definitely not any fields of wildflowers or gently blowing breezes, but we have found a way.  It’s down and dirty.

I start by saying, “I need to talk to you….(pause)….about puberty.”

She takes a deep breath, squares her shoulders, and steels herself.  “OK.”

I fire off a quick succession of questions, usually getting no more than one-word answers….”is there anything happening here?  there?  changes in this? or that?”

We both agree that we have had a good talk, and continue on our separate ways.

It works, and I don’t think I have ruined her, yet.  It may not be the experience that I had envisioned, but it is her way and her style.

With Hobbit #2 close on her heels, I am pretty sure that she will be dragging me by my ankles through the flowers, while my head nearly explodes from her incessant chatter and questions.

Hopefully, somehow, I will still raise well-adjusted daughters.



The magic house….

Before we moved into this house, we jokingly called it the “magic” house.

The house magically fell into our laps when we weren’t looking and didn’t know we wanted a new house…..it magically met our long-term goals for renovation of our current house….

I had magical dreams for the house.  Since our bedroom would be on a different floor than the Hobbits, no one would ever come to our bed in the middle of the night.  With a designated playroom, toys would never be left lying around the house for us to trip over.  The laundry chute would keep the Hobbits’ bedrooms neat and tidy.

That was when my mediocre sister asked if we were moving into a magic house.  Well, yeah, I actually kind of thought so.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Hobbits still wander to my room at all hours of the night….they only visit the playroom to make ungodly messes and then drag their toys all over the house….laundry piles up everywhere because, apparently, 10 steps is just too far to walk to the laundry chute.

We have discovered a different kind of magic in the house, though.

We had envisioned a home where our Hobbits’ friends lounged by the swimming pool in the summer, and played on the pool table in the winter….a place where awkward pre-teens and gangly teenagers would sprawl on the couches and the floor, playing games and watching movies.

What we didn’t see coming was that our friends would do the same.

We hosted a big party this past Saturday.  We cleaned the house, shopped for food, even ordered a small keg of beer.  Friends and family came, swam in the pool, and brought food to share.  There were even fireworks after dark.

The next morning, relaxing with our coffee, friends from out of state texted that they were headed to a nearby beach.  Did we want to join them?  A dozen texts and an hour later, they arrived at our house to swim and eat party leftovers.

Nine kids played in the pool for hours, with barely a cross word.  Parents lounged and swam and played with the kids.  The food was good.  The beer was cold.  The conversation was fun.  We kept the kids up past their bedtime for the second night in a row, and we didn’t regret one minute.

When the house was quiet, the diswasher humming, and the Hobbits snoring, Hubby walked me through the house.  “I want to show you something,” he said.

We started by the front door, walked through the living room, through the kitchen, onto the screened porch and then to the deck.  We watched the sun going down next to the pool.

Hubby said this….

This is why we have this house, and this is what we do for people.  We give them a place to relax and leave their stress behind for a little while.  It’s not much, but it’s what we can do.

He’s right.  Life is difficult.  Parenting is hard.  Work sucks.

We all have too much to do and not enough time.  We deserve a break.  Our kids deserve a break.

We all need a little time to leave behind the stress of meetings and projects….organized sports….school projects…haircuts….and doctor visits.  It’s fun to watch our kids, relaxed and enjoying their friends…..and to join them, splashing in the pool.  Because there is never enough time for play.

We have appointments and deadlines, schedules and chores.  But we rarely find the time to relax and take a break.  So, once in a while, the magic house becomes that place…..where the rules relax, the kids behave, and we forget our stress for just a little while.

Sometimes, we swim until the sun goes down.  Sometimes, the kids watch movies while the grown-ups play dice or dominoes.  Sometimes, there are football games and ping-pong tournaments.

We hope the Hobbits learn that your family is not only the people who share your DNA…..your family is made of the people that love you….the people who make you want to drop everything to be with them….to celebrate weddings and baptisms with them….to cry with them through sickness and heartbreak.

The friends who come to our home are not always the friends that we see regularly, but they are all the kind of friends who open the refrigerator for a sippy cup of milk, kick off their shoes, put their feet on the coffee table, and enjoy the magic house.

They are our family.

I have a photograph….

We took a big risk.  Hobbit #2 was invited to spend a few days at her friend’s house in the southern part of our state.  None of the Hobbits have ever been away from home for more than one night….and she seemed a particularly risky choice.

After the challenges she faced in the spring (read about it here), I didn’t want to let her go.  What if she had a melt-down?  What if she had a crisis?  What if I had to drive hours to go rescue her?  We were just beginning to breathe a little easier, and I was afraid this visit could set us so far back.

There was another part of me, though, that wanted her to go.  I wanted her to be able to have fun.  She had worked so hard, and been through so much, that I wanted her to be able to celebrate her victories.  I wanted her to just be a kid and have fun.

Her therapist asked me if I felt comfortable letting her go.  Of course not….but I’m not sure I will ever feel completely comfortable letting her go anywhere.

There is the part of me that remembers what it was like to see her in crisis….and I don’t ever want to go there again.  She seems fragile to me, and I don’t want to take a chance that she will break.  But she is brave, and she deserves to experience all that life has to offer her.

We decided to let her go.  I gave her the news at the therapist’s office, after privately talking through some of my reservations.

She was giddy, and bouncy, and excited, and couldn’t stop talking.  We told her that she had been through some really rough stuff in the past few months….she had worked really hard….and it was time for her to get back to the business of having fun and being a kid.

As she beamed, and chatted, and squirmed in her seat, her therapist caught my eye.  I may have caught the faintest glimmer of a tear in her eye.

She said, “Hobbit, I wish I had a photograph of you right now that we could compare to a photograph of you, on that same couch, just three months ago.”

I got choked up as I thought of the incredibly difficult journey we have all been on.  I could imagine those photographs clearly.

Three months ago, she was defeated.  She was scared.  She was broken.  She curled into herself and looked at the floor.  She clung to a stuffed animal as if it were a lifeline, and wrapped her arms around her body.  She was tortured by people we could not see, voices we could not hear, and things she could not understand.

This day, her head was held high.  The stuffed animal she had once clutched so desperately, lay carelessly across her lap.  She bounced in her seat.  She made eye contact.  She smiled.  Her shoulders were back, and her energy was infectious.  She grinned and giggled.

I laughed with tears in my eyes.  I, too, would love to have a photograph of those two little girls, side by side.  The same little girl….once tortured, now triumphant.

The fact is, though, I do not need a photograph.  I carry those images in my heart, and I will never, ever forget.

My girl is brave and strong.  She will face challenges throughout her life.  She will always have needs that are different from the other Hobbits.  She will one day leave my home, forever, to manage her needs on her own.  I will probably not feel confident for her then, either.

But I will still carry this photograph in my heart.  The one that reminds me that my Hobbit is a fighter, and she is oh, so strong.

The day she got home from her adventure, I was sick.  I apologized for not having a special dinner and making it a special night for her.

“Why should it be special?” she asked.  “I’m just home.”

Yes, my dear Hobbit, you are “just home,” and that is exactly why it is special.  You are just home….no fuss, no drama….you are just home.

Making memories….

We were on family vacation last weeek.  Nothing fancy…..a tiny little cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan…..eight of us packed into 500 square feet.  Eating, sleeping, playing together…..close together.

Two little duplex cottages behind a family home….four families….fourteen rugrats….and a new baby on the way.  (Thank god, it’s not ours!  It’s much easier for me to be happy about a new baby when it belongs to someone else.)

Sand everywhere…..in the bedsheets….on the floor of the shower….in the Hobbits’ hair….in the food.

Happy children in the freezing-cold water….learning to paddleboard….taking rides on the sailboat….playing games in the little courtyard…..digging in the sand behind the cottages.  Burying each other on the beach….floating in giant innner tubes.

Angry children fighting over glow sticks….begging for bonfires….wailing in time-out….”Go away, momma!”…..and begging for snacks and more snacks.

Some of our children are typically annoying in their appropriate developmental stage….the tween who rolls her eyes….the boy who tries to escape his chores….the trio of little girls who argue over toys and crayons.  Others face special challenges….dietary restrictions….help walking in the sand….meds, meds, and more meds….angry outbursts and tears long into the night….

Eight parents who alternate between diligently counting 14 heads on the sand…..and sipping glasses of wine by the fire at night, when the children are finally asleep.

We are all very, very close…..it’s not hard to know what is going on in someone else’s cottage….and if you don’t know, you just ask someone….or press your face against the screen door to look inside!

It is a tiny village of its own….built by one woman who hoped for exactly this…..to build lifetime memories for her own children, while playing a small part in allowing other families to build their own memories.

It is not a vacation for everyone….Mickey is not there (well, except for every article of clothing the Baby Hobbit owns)….there are no roller coasters….we are almost completely “unplugged.”

But if it is the vacation for your family, there is nothing else that can compare.

Seven full days of working together as a family team.  Seven full days of children honing their social skills and learning to work out their problems….taking turns, negotiating for “favorite” toys.  Seven full days of connecting with your spouse over morning coffee (me) or an early-morning run (not me).

Seven full days of parents putting aside work and responsibility and appointments and doctors and therapy.  Seven full days of laughing and lamenting about adventures in parenthood….the ultimate exercise in humility.

This was our ninth year on this same vacation….we have come to the point where I know exactly which shelf in the small pantry is reserved for cereal, and which shelf is for the snacks.

This year, the baby Hobbit turned three on our vacation.  In the weeks leading up to vacation, she couldn’t stop talking about her “birthday on the beach.”  We celebrated as we have every year with all the families and cupcakes for everyone.

Baby Hobbit was the star of the show for me on this vacation.  It was amazing to watch her forming some of her very first memories of our family vacation.

She called our cottage “mommy’s beach house,” and she slept in a big bed with her siblings for the very first time.  We brought the pack-and-play, but we folded it up after a couple of days, when she decided she wanted to sleep with the “kids.”

On the first beach day, she wanted to show us her “tricks”….which meant running into the water with her arms spread wide, and then running back, dripping and shivering.

Over and over and over again, she repeated the phrase, “I’m so happy!

When we went out for ice cream, she chose “pink” as her flavor and ate it with a giant smile on her face.

When vacation was finally over, and we got back home, she cried as we pulled into the driveway because we were at the “wrong house.”  She took a nap and woke up, saying that she wanted to go back to “mommy’s beach house.”

Hobbit #4 cried because she already misses the beach so much.

All of the Hobbits have started planning for next year.

Disneyworld may claim to be the “happiest place on earth” but I am pretty sure we made magic of our own this week.

Tattoo shops and gay bars….

Since breaking from who I perceived that I should be, I have found freedom.  And I have also found my “people.”

The first place that I recognized my people was in the tattoo shop.  I walked in for the first time, intimidated and unsure of myself.  I met my artist, and began to talk about what I wanted for my very first tattoo.

The artist asked me lots of questions and made comments like, “it’s your body” and “whatever you want.”

And then he transformed my vision into something amazing….that became a part of my body and a part of my story.

No one thought it was strange that a 40-year-old mother of 6 was getting her first tattoo.  In fact, it was completely no big deal.  My place in life was part of my story, but it did not define me.

I was hooked.

I loved watching my vision come to life….first, in artwork, and then, on my body.  I loved the permanent reminders of my journey in life.  I loved that my tattoos had meaning that was mine to share….or not.  They were breathtakingly beautiful, and they reminded me to be beautiful and strong.

I loved that they hurt.  This was pain that reflected my journey.  I sat like a rock during a tattoo session, and I relished the strength that I had.  I felt like a rock star.  I wanted to sit longer….so I tattooed my entire back….in 5-hour sessions.

I felt immediately at home in the tattoo shop.

You are 40 years old?….getting your first tattoo?….a mother of 6?….having a mid-life crisis?  Cool.  Have a seat and tell me what you would like to see on your body.

The intimidated middle-aged mother sat with the giggly young girls and the barrel-chested tattooed men…..all getting inked, and nobody was made to feel uncomfortable.

I  love getting tattooed….and I don’t plan to stop.

I found my people once again when the Hubby and I stumbled upon a gay bar on vacation.  We knew it was a gay bar….we didn’t know it was a meat-market.

Once we got past the initial in-your-face, checking-you-out, what’s-your-story vibe, we had a lot of fun.  There were male strippers, being tipped by men and women alike.  There were angry lesbians, pretty lesbians, and too-drunk-to-know-where-they-were lesbians.  There were tough guys, pretty guys, straight men, straight women, couples, and singles.

Drag queens, cross-dressers, and a few straight couples.  There were young and old.  Hot and not-so-much.

The drinks were good.  The bartenders were friendly.  The music was loud.  And everybody was having a good time….including us.

Unlike the local bar we went to for my birthday, with the group of 40-ish women….who were trying too hard with their clothes and make-up and giving their “bitch-face” to every woman who came in the bar.

Hey, ladies, relax.  Nobody cares about you nearly as much as you think they do.

A day at the tattoo shop or a night at the gay bar is almost as therapeutic for me as a day at the spa.  A time to breathe deeply, relax, and be completely comfortable.

My people have always been there.  I only just discovered that I am one of them.

Taking back my power….

I grew up in a cult….(you can read about it here).  I have been rejected by those in the cult…..and I am not the least bit saddened by that.

However, there are ambivalent feelings that I have been rejected by my very own family.

The break in my family relationship was my decision…..a gradual distance that became years of non-communication.  I was saddened and relieved that no one seemed to mind the distance.

In recent months, we have tried to establish a peaceful existence for the sake of the Hobbits.

The family came for a short visit.  Normally, that is a reason for the grandaddy of all panic attacks…..Xanax, please!

I was not worried about the visit.  I had not one shred of anxiety…..no sense of panic….no need for a list of “safe topics.”  I worried because I wasn’t worried.  Perhaps I was mistakenly letting my guard down, only to be shocked when the visit turned ugly.

You probably know about the struggles we have had with our anxiety-ridden Hobbit….(or you can read some of it here.)  It has been the most difficult time we have faced as parents.

When I asked myself about my cool demeanor in the face of a visit from the cult, I realized just what was the root of my calm.

In the aftermath of crisis, I knew there was no challenge the small-minded could bring to derail me.  There was no judgment they could bring that would be worse than the storm we had weathered.  Bring it, bitches….you have nothing I cannot handle!

It feels like an ugly thing to admit, but I am going to tell you anyway….I was arrogant.

The small-minded had their chance to raise their children.  They raised us, but they did not help us.  Every single one of us is a hot mess in some way.  Some of us are much more damaged than others.  We asked for help.  We acted out.  We tried to confide in them.

When they were faced with their children’s struggles, they chose to ignore us, pray for us, seek counsel from the cult leadership or, worse yet, place the blame squarely on our shoulders.

I have chosen a different way for my Hobbits.  I don’t have the answers.  I don’t know how to help my Hobbits through all of their challenges.  But I will find the people that do know how to help them.

I will not ignore their turmoil…..and I will never, ever blame them when they are weak or even victims of their own minds.

I am a better parent in twelve years than the small-minded ever were.

I never fit in their world….why would I want them to approve of mine?

There are no guarantees that my Hobbits will grow to be successful adults.  It turns out that some of life seems to be determined by the spin of a  giant roulette wheel.

But I will be damned if my Hobbits will go down without a fight….

The small-minded have no power over me, unless I grant it to them.  And for this one visit, I refused to allow them the power.

I embraced my own strength and power.  It was amazing to truly walk away from the baggage of judgment.

I continue to grow.  I hope I continue to be strong….for my Hobbits….and for myself.


One down….

I can be so forgetful…..in the last two days, I have lost both my cell phone and my driver’s license….to later find them, mocking me, in the most logical of places.  But there is something really important that I forgot for quite a while…..

I really like my Hubby!  He happens to be a pretty cool dude….with endearing and crazy-annoying habits.  I have remembered that I used to like to hang out with him.

We used to enjoy drinks and dinner, going to the movies, laughing at ourselves, and talking on our pillows until late into the night.  We would wake up exhausted and hung over…..and we couldn’t wait to do it again.

Now that I have remembered this, we have a big problem, though….the Hobbits are cramping my style!

I do not appreciate being jolted from my bed with a demand for “JUICE!” or cartoons or a diaper change.

I want to recover from my over-indulgence with extra hours of sleep, a platter of scrambled eggs, and a mid-morning nap.

But there is a solution that I only recently discovered.  You can leave your rugrats!

You don’t have to wake up early after a long night….you can nap whenever you want….and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

How did I not know this sooner?!?  Oh, right, I was too busy being angry and hating my Hubby…..or trying to be the perfect mother…..or wishing I could run away from my life.

I have discovered that I can run away from my life, at least for a little bit.

If I can get into the right headspace and leave my world behind, I am ready to face the Hobbits when I return.

I can forget for a little while that I am a mother….I can remember who my husband was when we were young and had fewer responsibilities…and I can remember that what I want is just as important as it once was.

Guess what?  You can do it, too.  You can walk away for just a little while and do whatever you want.  Maybe it will be an overnight….maybe a quiet trip to the mall….maybe a zumba class….or even drinks with your girlfriends.

You really will be a better parent because you took a break.

You will not be as angry when you have had too little sleep, and you can find the energy to continue peaceful negotiations with your pint-sized terrorists….in spite of their outrageous demands and primitive communication skills.

Hubby and I ran away this week.  Just a quick escape.  We asked a friend to watch over the Hobbits.

This friend is a well-educated, young, single man who is staying with us for a few weeks while he is in between places.  He is a polite, considerate, and helpful houseguest.  So conscientious, in fact, that we knew the perfect way he could “help.”

 Me:  Hey, buddy, wanna watch over the Hobbits while we disappear?  All you have to do is feed them dinner (carry-out pizza) and put them into bed for one night.  After that one night, I have a mom friend who will take over for you.  That would be great, right?

Friend:  Of course, I would be happy to do that for you.  You both mean so much to me, and I appreciate the hospitality you are extending.  It’s the least I could do!  Have fun, and don’t worry about a thing!  <big hugs>

We had fun….and we didn’t worry about a thing.  Mostly because we really didn’t care!

Every one of the Hobbits was alive when we returned…..that was truly my only expectation.  I like to set the bar really low.

However, the friend may never fully recover.  I think he may require some type of trauma therapy….

He was stunned, exhausted, and generally bested at every turn.  He had minor victories, but, all in all, I call this one a win for the Hobbits!

He experienced negotiations, tenacity, and mental gymnastics that rivaled his experiences in law school.  Hobbits do not follow courtroom procedure or file formal complaints…..they make the rules as they go….and change them whenever they want.

Their rules of engagement involve ear-piercing shrieks, stomping feet, and mental breakdown similar to Chinese water torture.

You can only resist for a certain time before you begin to consider slamming your head against a wall or stabbing your eyeball with a fork.

Somehow, the friend missed the little detail that Hobbits wake up early (even though he is living here)…..and they begin to argue and fight soon after.  He only got six hours of sleep, and don’t we mommas know that seems like a luxury, rather than a reason to be irritated and angry all day….

He was a broken version of himself.  He told funny stories of his experiences, but the laughter was a thin veil over his battered spirit.

He has reconsidered the entire vision of his future…..an only child now seems like an optimal plan!

Now, when Baby Hobbit shrieks, he cringes right along with us…..knowing a war is about to ensue.  He is napping on the couch in the middle of the day and out the door before the Hobbits wake up in the morning like someone lit a fire under him.

He has lost the sparkle in his eye and the spring in his step.

From the outside, the energy and chaos of a big family can seem exciting and warm.  From in here, it is game on at every moment.

There is always a tomorrow to prepare for…..always plans to be made….always a crisis to be averted.

Don’t worry about our friend, though…..I may have saved him from blindly walking down a path of madness like I did.  One down…..many, many more starry-eyed procreators to go….