Ahhhh, Summer. Isn’t it great? Sunshine and warm weather for dayyyyysss. Daylight until 10pm. As a parent of littles, these are some of the times and extra special memories (we hope) they’ll treasure forever.
PLOT TWIST! Summer parenting ain’t easy.
My three littles got out of school a month ago. They don’t go back for another six weeks. And it’s not like they’re bored. Together, their dad and I orchestrated an intricate 12-week summer break – they’re with him a couple days each week, at an in-home daycare or summer camps the other days and weekends are jam-packed with family fun.
But right now, we’re on the damn struggle bus. Like, chaotic, beep beep, save-me-now struggle bus.
The Birthday Surprise
Per the schedule, Justin had the kids the first part of last week. His 40th birthday was Wednesday. Late Tuesday he texted me: One of the kids poured water in my U-Verse box, my ADT box and my WiFi box.
At this stage in the game, it could have been any one of them.
The 7-year-old likes to take things apart and see how they work. Literally, his favorite TV show is How it’s Made. I can envision him pouring water into an electronic device juuuuuust to see what might happen.
The 6-year-old is sweet but clumsy AF. I can see him carrying a cup, tripping over his own feet and accidentally sloshing water somewhere it definitely didn’t belong.
The 4-year-old is hell on wheels. She doesn’t give a shit about consequences and tells us “No” as if it’s a viable option when asked to clean her room or get dressed for the day. Glad to see she inherited some of my best traits.
The next morning, everyone spent some time in Daddy Interrogation.
Then the culprit came forward with the most hilarious confession I've ever heard.
That's an expensive birthday!
It was super cute last summer when I woke up at 5 or 6 in the morning to find Lyla asleep on the couch with the TV blaring – old man style. She was obviously waking up in the middle of the night and turning on Disney Junior.
But that “phase” didn’t go away.
Twelve months later, she continues to struggle with going to bed and staying asleep at night. When we’ve tried cutting naps, she either begs to take one or falls asleep anyway because of her nocturnal partying. When we nap her longer than 45 minutes, she’s literally up until 10:30 at night and dead tired again the next day.
We can’t win.
And a sleep deprived 4-year-old is like a rabid raccoon. Irrational. Emotional. Hangry. Aggressive. Sick. She’s had fevers or a cold at least twice a month since January. We’ve done lab work and been to our doc several times only to be told it’s another virus that needs to run its course.
My colleagues have to be rolling their eyes in disbelief when I say I have to leave work for a “sick kid” AGAIN.
I just want my child to sleep. So I’ve turned to motivational bribery. I told her if she stays in bed every night through the end of the month, I’ll sign her up for dance class.
So far… it’s not working.
Here’s a 90-minute snapshot of the day after the Fourth of July.
“Mommy! Sawyer called me an asshole!” Hudson exclaimed, as he raced down the stairs and into the kitchen where I was making dinner.
“What happened?” I calmly asked.
“He called me a dummy!” Sawyer screamed from the top of the stairs.
Cue me with a straight face, trying not to laugh. Or smile.
I played referee then made them hug it out and eat. To further diffuse the situation, I suggested everyone jump in the bathtub with some new spray foam soap stuff. It worked.
Thank you, Jesus.
But as I got Lyla out and dried her off, I spotted something odd at the bottom of the toilet. Yep, someone tossed my earrings in the loo. I plunged my hand into the water and grabbed them, thankful they hadn’t been flushed.
From there, two kiddos put on jammies, Sawyer pimped out in a bathrobe and we watched a movie together on the couch. Halfway through his popcorn, Sawyer shouted, “Mommy! My tooth!”
Hugh Hefner lost his second tooth eating popcorn. This was definitely worth a celebration, considering he swallowed his first tooth with a chicken nugget earlier this year.
You guys, these kids don’t slow down! And they’re together 24/7. I can appreciate why they think the other kid is an asshole. But also – where in the hell did they learn that word and how to use it in context?
I also understand the holiday crazy – up until midnight for fireworks and then fun at the zoo and pool the next day. But it’s not like we’re ignoring the kids and demanding they fend for themselves. We also try to balance in some playing without constant mommy/daddy interaction… which leads to water in the electronics and other incidents like the baby powder I found all over my nightstand and in my bed last week.
Earlier this summer, I came home from the gym to a sweet as can be babysitter who took a deep breath and told me the kids, "just weren't great' for her. Damn. If a babysitter is saying your kids were bad, that means they were HORRIBLE.
In the midst of the summer crazy, I’ve also noticed seemingly sudden (and small) signs of maturity in my kids
Hudson prefers to read by himself at night, in his own bed, as opposed to reading in my bed with his little brother and sister.
All three of them love to help with small chores around the house such as folding laundry, taking out the trash, watering flowers and emptying the dishwasher.
Also, they’re suddenly obsessed with money… transferring their birthday stashes back and forth between my house and their dad’s in zip lock baggies. I busted Sawyer carrying a wad of his own cash into Wal-Mart last week, on the off chance he could buy something for himself. He also insisted on paying his own admission to the public pool last weekend, because it was “only two dollars.” Plus, they’ve asked how much I paid for my house and out-of-the-blue volunteered how much daddy paid for his new boat. Oops.
The boys can write now and are into making lists of what they want to do – it’s freaking adorable.
And there’s something about Lyla’s sweet confession that helps remind me about the importance of my job as her mom. It’s not my job to judge my kids or scream at them or constantly ride their asses about whatever chore they haven’t done, even though I've asked eight million times. But it is my responsibility to hold them accountable and teach them right from wrong. It is my job to love them fiercely. It is my privilege to help them grow into compassionate, loving humans.. ESPECIALLY when they behave like rabid raccoons.
Also, send vodka. I need it.
Triathlons aren’t funny. Triathlon training is no joke either. Well… it wasn’t supposed to be. But you guys, I’m such an impulsive weirdo that when a friend texted me last September asking if I would do a Half Ironman with her, I said yes before I even knew how far it was. Who does that?
A mere 24 hours later, I decided to ask my other friend, Google, what I’d agreed to do.
And that’s how it went down.
I joined a gym with a pool in October. Then in December I thought I should start looking at bikes. Grab your popcorn because that, my friends, is where the comedy show begins.
Before I tell you about that fateful December day, you should know the only bike I’ve owned as an adult is a $100 mountain bike from Wal-Mart. I drive a “mom car” and I ride a “mom bike”… complete with a sexy baby trailer on the back to haul my little girl and her baby dolls around the neighborhood.
So when I walked into the local bike shop for my fitting appointment with a super sweet dude named Eric, I really had no freaking clue what I was doing.
Eric was very professional and helpful. When I told him I’d “never had a racing bike” or done a triathlon but was signed up for the Steelhead 70.3 the following June, his eyes momentarily got a little big. OK, way big.
“That’s pretty ambitious,” Eric cautiously replied. “But we’ll get you all set up and then the training is up to you. If you train for it, you can do it.”
“Great, thanks,” I said, smiling.
“Soooo bike shorts,” Eric replied. “You’ll need those. But you’ve probably never…”
“Noooope,” I laughed.
Eric walked me over to an array of black spandex shorts. With the straightest look on his face and the most professional tone in his voice, Eric proceeded to show me the gel-filled insides of the padded shorts and talk about the importance of protecting my LADY BITS.
I swear to God he said those exact words. Lady Bits. And then he mentioned my PERINEUM.
I felt like a pubescent teenage boy as I coughed through a snicker in order to prevent full-on laughter.
Eric took his job seriously. He went on to explain how said Lady Bits could actually go numb during a ride if I didn’t have the proper seat or proper fit on my bike.
What in the actual…
He then had me straddle a little contraption and asked me to pull the bar up to my PELVIC FLOOR to get a proper height measurement.
Immaturity at an all-time high.
I was half listening to Eric as he explained how he was using my measurements to set up the special bike that would get my perfect fit. The other half of me was texting Cindy the play-by-play of my gynecological visit to the bike shop.
If he says clitoris, I will die, I thought to myself.
He didn’t. We found a new bike in the shop that met my specs (I wasn’t picky because, again, I had no flipping clue what I was doing). Eric hooked me up with clip-in pedals and special shoes and I was on my way with a giant dent in my wallet. I left the bike at the shop because he needed to install a few things on it and because it was December and I live in Northern Indiana. No need to have that thing taking up space in my garage until spring.
This is about the same time in our great triathlon adventure when Cindy started texting me with her “finds.”
I didn’t even have a bike or a solid training plan and this woman was buying wet suits, biking shorts, biking skirts, classes at Orange Theory, a cell phone holder for her bike and a whole bunch of other triathlon-related shit. I laughed every time she sent me a new text with a new purchase.
I finally got my bike home from the shop in April – a day after my first half marathon of the season and a week after spring break. I’d bought a pair of bike shorts from Eric (per his advice) and thought I was all set to go.
Kid-free and without plans Good Friday, I set out for my first 20-mile ride. That was way out of my comfort zone, by the way, because it entailed clipping into my pedals and riding this super light bike that felt like it could blow over if a gust of wind hit me the wrong way. I pulled on my new spandex and promptly decided the gel padding made it look like I was wearing a diaper.
No biggie, I thought. My booty will be on the bike seat. No one will ever notice.
And that was a fantastic plan. Until I got a flat tire less than 10 minutes into my ride.
There I was, on a busy four-lane highway with my brand new bike, my brand new bike shoes that clip-clop like a horse when I walk, my brand new bike diaper shorts and a (brand new) flat freaking tire. I could try calling friends for help or putting a plea on Facebook, but then I realized I was only about a mile from the bike shop and it was still open. So I started the clippity clop mile walk to the shop, rolling my bike beside me.
I like to refer to it as the diaper-butt walk of shame.
Of course, when I arrived at the shop, my helpful friend Eric was there and very gently asked what my tire pressure was when I left my house.
“Why would I need to know that?” I laughed.
“Ummm because you should check your tire pressure before every ride,” Eric replied, amused, but not smiling.
The learning curve continued. I felt like I should tell him at least my lady bits didn’t hurt!
Eric also showed me how to change the flat – at one point asking, “Did you see what I did there?” when he noticed my face buried in a text message, as I gave Cindy the walk of shame play-by-play.
“Shoot, sorry. Can you please show me again?”
He was very patient, telling me I really needed a spare kit with me at all times and allowing me to put it on an account at the store since I didn’t have any cash or cards with me.
I left that night and enjoyed my 20 miles, laughing about the shorts and the fact that Eric and everyone else at the bike shop must think I’m a gigantic idiot
Then it was May. Two months until the big race and less than two weeks until my first triathlon ever - a sprint distance (500 yd lake swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run). In the meantime, I’d been following a training plan that had me in the pool two to three times per week. But I knew I had to get out in open water sooner than later.
So Cindy and I got a little mom-wild one chilly Friday evening, squeezing into our new wet suits and doing the damn thing. And we survived. Until we thought the mayfly guy might murder us.
We approached the shoreline at the end of our swim and saw an older gentleman staring at a tree near Cindy’s car.
“Excuse me,” I said, opening the car door to grab my phone. “Do you mind taking our picture, please?”
“Of course not,” the man smiled.
He snapped a few of us standing in the water then went back to the tree. Cindy and I shot each other a puzzled look and shrugged.
As we started to strip our wet suits, he told us he was disappointed.
“You see,” he said. “It’s prime mayfly season and so far I’ve seen none. I’m waiting for the hatch – it should happen any day now. I thought for sure today would be the day.”
Cindy and I looked at each other again, our eyes widening a bit with stifled laughter and a bit of, Oh shit, what’s our safe word to get the eff out of here if things get super weird?
The man went on to explain how thousands of mayflies hatch from the bottom of the lake in mid-May and you can see fish jump for them as the bugs come up out of the water and fly away at dusk.
Keep in mind, we’d just swam 20 minutes in that cold ass lake. At dusk. In May. It was that moment we both wondered exactly how many we'd swallowed during our inaugural dip.
“I want to show you what one of these looks like,” he continued, pawing through the tree branches as we quickly toweled off and pulled on clothes over our bathing suits. “It’s truly fascinating. They have two adult life cycles, but mayflies only live 24 hours and they have to reproduce in that time. Can you even imagine? 24 hours of wild sex and then you die. That’s quite a life!”
By this point, I was quietly but violently shaking with laughter. I also noticed a weird bug clinging to the collar of the man’s shirt. It looked an awful lot like the insect he was describing.
Cindy, on the other hand, was on high stranger danger alert. She quickly gathered her stuff and threw it in the car, glancing nervously at mayfly guy and then back at me.
As we simultaneously opened the driver and passenger doors to book it, we heard him yell, “Found one!”
We humored him, took a quick peek and got out of there. He was probably harmless, but how in the hell does a triathlon training swim turn into THAT!?
Suddenly, it was June. The month of our half Ironman. Shit. That’s a 1.2 mile swim in Lake Michigan, a 56 mile bike on a busy highway and a 13.1 run with very little shade. I'd learned any endurance sport that takes several hours to complete requires proper nutrition. That means keeping up with electrolytes, calories and protein. Many triathletes choose to take in a majority of their nutrition on the bike since that’s the longest part of the race and they’re sitting down.
But clipping into pedals, following traffic laws, doing nutrition and sipping water all while staying upright on a bike isn’t easy! I knew I needed practice.
One Saturday morning, I set out for a 50-mile ride, grabbing a random protein bar from my pantry. Remember, this was purely experimental so I could practice eating on the bike. I shoved the bar into my sports bra with my cell phone, which was playing music, and set out on my way.
By mile 25, I was on a flat, two-lane road somewhere between Elkhart and the Indiana-Michigan state line. I took out the bar and unwrapped a gooey, chocolatey mess.
All good, I’ve got this. Gotta roll with the punches and troubleshoot when necessary.
I took a small bite, licked my fingers and focused on staying on the road. Suddenly, a pack of about 8 middle-aged male bikers pulled out from a side road and were riding directly in front of me.
It all happened really fast.
Do I turn off my music so I can talk to them?
Should I ask to ride with them?
What if they ask me to join?
What’s the flipping etiquette here?
Oh shit, chocolate…
I shoved the partially unwrapped, melted protein bar back down my sports bra, took out my phone and hit pause.
I looked down and saw chocolate smeared all over my chest and hands and I knew it was on my face too. I tried to swipe my mouth with the back of my sweaty hand, then accidentally set my chocolate fingers on my handlebars.
Well this is embarrassing,
The dudes never even acknowledged me. I was literally right behind them, had been moving faster than them, had to slow down for them and they couldn’t even say hello. What was I going to do? Scream “Hiii! Good morning! WHO LIKES CHOCOLATE?” from the back of the pack? Ah, no.
I heard one of them yell, “Right!” to signal a right turn to the group.
That immediately meant my chocolate cleavage and I were going left.
I suppose if I look back laughing, those newbie triathlon training moments couldn’t have been that bad. Right? Plus, having someone to text who was also in the throes of training helped remind me I’m human.
Then there’s that little 70.3 mile Half Ironman thing we finished last weekend.
I’d send Eric a thank-you note from my Lady Bits, but that’s probably not appropriate.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...