Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Let me start by saying:  this post is both a love letter and a WhineFest...

Today I hitched a ride on the FAILBOAT.

Today I have learned the not-so-pretty truth that I am not very awesome when I try to do this Mama thing completely alone. Today I learned I simply don't have the ability to be a B.A.M. (that's "bad-ass mom" according to my November Mamas...) like I always assumed I would-- at least not when I'm doing it on my own.
Today I have learned how much I actually rely on my husband, my beloved, my Joe, to help me be the mom I aspire to be. 

I mean, of COURSE I know he is a HUGE help. Of COURSE I know that he's my teammate. But... it took him leaving us for 48 hours for me to really see what I am WITH him, and what I become without him. 

Today, Joe left at 4:00am to fly out to his sweet grandmother's funeral. It was the best possible reason for him to go. It was so important for him to be there. She was an incredible woman, and I am so grateful he is there to celebrate her remarkable life and legacy.

Sending him away for this was a no-brainer, and I truly thought, "It's only 48 hours. We're gonna be FINE over here! FINE!" I mean... I guess I'm pretty self-assured in life. I am usually pretty good at the things I try... (Truth is, if I know I'll be bad at something, like, say, water-skiing, I don't even try. Keeps the failing at a minimum!) And I've felt some Mama Mojo seeping back in as Lucy's temperament has settled a bit. I have begun to think, "Hey! I can DO this Mom-of-Two thing! Watch out, world! I'm BACK!" So, when the time came to send Joe off, I was all, "See ya, hon! Have fun! We're FINE!"...

The beginning of the end. Something about coming off of a long, late-night holiday (getting OUT of the 4th of July festivities proved the most tedious, and we didn't fall into bed until 12:30am), and then entering a full day with the knowledge that there'd be no relief pitcher coming at 5:30pm to give me a break... It just set the tone for the day today. So it became really hard to find our way out of pajamas. It became easy to let the TV do a lot of the babysitting. We were just TIRED, and there wasn't going to be a break really... so we dug into the day in Survival Mode. But even Survival Mode, which I've done before and made it work, kinda fell apart. 

There was just so much frustration in my every attempt... in the changing of diapers... in the making of lunch. In the trying to keep Lucy asleep. In the "playtimes". I felt... stuck. Tired. Unable to make anything work well. I already blogged about the cookie attempt--- the one time I thought I had my crap together enough to do something FUN and EXTRA... And they burned. Totally burned. 

And it's not like the first 10 hours of the day USUALLY have Joe around. They don't! He's at work every day, for Pete's sake. But something about the knowing he wasn't coming home just made the whole day harder. Even EATING fell apart more than usual. Wanna know what I managed to eat today, without his cute lunch he has been making me daily? 

Breakfast: Reese Puff cereal/milk
Snack: (this was the most decent meal) cheese stick, beef stick, strawberries, graham cracker
Lunch: cold noodles, burned chocolate chip cookies, milk
Dinner:  ???? Nothing yet...

Seriously. Bad news.

Naptimes came, and there was some peace... Noah went down great, Lucy slept in her crib for a 30-minute stretch, I rested, too... And even when Noah woke, Lucy slept on, and he and I had some lovely play time that DIDN'T feel forced or frustrating. We watched squirrels and talked about what we saw out my bedroom window and just hung out together...

But that was the eye of the storm, turns out. Because then Lucy woke up. SCREAMING. Had to eat rightnow/rightnow/rightnow!!!! And back on went the cartoons... It was about 6:00pm, and the end of my goodwill was beginning. Joe would've been home by now on a normal day. 

And then Noah started bossing me around about his diaper: He had pooped in his diaper, but there was MORE poop, so change my diaper NOW! Change it NOW! Emergency!!

And though it was getting late, and I was a bit worn down, I still had a bit of calm left from that eye of the storm earlier, so I thought (oh, foolish woman), "He has MORE poop? PERFECT chance to practice some potty training! Perfect!"

Somehow, I even got him EXCITED to try. Don't ask me how--- that's always been half the battle, the pre-trying motivation. But somehow I got him pumped to come upstairs, take off his stinky diaper, and sit on the potty to try some more. I had all the right excited faces and voices to show him, all the old bribes we'd talked about got re-introduced... we were on a roll. Lucy even chilled out on the carpet and cooed while I worked with Noah. 

But... within minutes, his enthusiasm faded. He was done. I was frustrated, but I let it go, and let him get his "I Tried" sticker. But he was walking with his legs squished together. A Potty Dance if ever I saw one. And I asked him, "Do you have to go pee pee?" And he said, "Yes! So I need a diaper right now!"

NO WAY, kid. NOT if your pee is THAT close to the exit. NO WAY. So BACK to the potty we went, and he was definitely NOT into it anymore, but come on!! He WAS THISCLOSE to peeing, so he HAD to cave in and do it in the potty, right?

35 minutes later, 35 minutes of trying EVERYTHING to get him to pee, including running faucets, putting his hand in warm water (haha! Like the old camp trick!! It was worth a shot, right?!?!?) that was a big NO. This kid has a urethera of STEEL. And my nerves were shot. I was so ANGRY. I kept it inside, reminding myself that any negative feedback from me would just delay this game longer, and I fake-cheerfully chirped, "Okay! Well at least you tried! Let's get your diaper on!" When really I was swearing/cursing/thinking murderous thoughts/crying inside... SO ANGRY. 

And by this time, Lucy's goodwill was gone, and she was beginning a tirade. 

We went back downstairs to finish his cartoon so I could cool down and try to get Lucy sleeping. His cartoon ended and suddenly I realized it was EIGHT O'CLOCK. How, how how had we gotten to EIGHT o CLOCK? Noah's bedtime! And I hadn't even PONDERED dinner. By this time, Lucy's sleep attempt was clearly failing. Noah was DONE with the day, and I had to find a way to feed him.  We three headed into the kitchen and the total counterful of dishes slapped me existentially in the face. Lucy was in my arms, requiring both hands to keep her happy of course (one arm holding her, the other holding the binkie in her mouth) and she was still crying around the binkie. Noah was getting annoying in his 3-year-old way, putting toys underfoot, pestering me about mindless things, asking for junk food for dinner... and it all just collapsed. I plopped Lucy in her carseat with the binkie held in place with a swaddle blanket. She cried and cried. I kicked Noah's toys/boxes/crap out of my path. Stormed into the kitchen and hastily swiped some peanut butter and honey on bread, opened a pack of fruit snacks, broke up some fresh broccoli, and opened a yogurt tube... plopped his "dinner" on the table and cut him off when he whined he wanted to play more-- barked that it was dinner time and made him sit and eat.

Then I stormed back into the kitchen and began banging dishes around, emptying the dishwasher and feeling pissy and bad and like a failure... And my jeans cuff caught on the the bottom rack of the dishwasher and pulled the whole thing out and I kicked a plastic bowl across the kitchen floor and swore a little...And loading the dishwasher back up, I dumped water all over the floor when I loaded a pan that wasn't totally empty. Gross. I got the dishes managed, and got Noah to finish his dinner, and finally got Lucy to stop screaming (oh yes, she cried this entire time)... On the edge of a complete breakdown, I got them both upstairs and got Noah's shower turned on. Got him undressed. Got him into the shower. Then got Lucy calmed a bit and changed into pajamas. Went back into the bathroom to see I had not pulled the shower curtain closed and the whole floor was flooded with water. Of course. AWESOME. WHERE THE HELL IS JOE??? HE usually does bathtime!!! Waaaa!!!!
I slopped some towels onto the floor, got Noah out of the tub, all while holding a Lucy-on-the-edge-of-crying... brushed Noah's teeth (did a HORRIBLE job), and got him in pjs while I set Lucy down to cry again. Got her back up in my arms, led Noah to his room, and calmed Lucy enough to be able to read Noah a book and sing him some songs... say prayers...And by now, Lucy had worn her poor self down so much she was crashing into sleep in my arms. And all I wanted to to was GET OUT OF NOAH'S ROOM AND BAWL.

And I'm not super proud of the ME I had deteriorated into. In fact, it was an ugly ugly truth coming out: I cannot handle two kids with the grace I always thought I would be able to. At least, not alone. 

I am not serene. I am not "roll with it"... I am not dexterous and multi-talented. At least, as a MOM, I am not these things. and it breaks my heart. I hate seeing how easily I fall into the "cope" and "survive" mode... How easily I get frustrated and just count down until I get a break. And that is the WhineFest. 
The love letter is this--

When Joe is here, I am far closer. Not there. Not perfectly calm and capable. But better. When Joe is here, I can take steps back and re-center and dive back in for more. But until today, it's been easy to mostly only notice the way a husband adds to the mayhem--- always leaving food to harden on the dirty dishes and never seeing the aftermath when unloading the dishwasher... leaving me to REWASH the crappy dishes myself... Among other typical spousal nuisances-- (see the way this dish fiasco has scarred me today? I can't get off of it!)... But the pure truth is--- 

I need him. Specifically, he makes me a better mom. 

And I HATE that I am on a one way trip on the FAILBOAT without him, but I LOVE that together, we end up doing a pretty great job. I love that he balances me out. That my strengths enhance his weaknesses, and his strengths cover my weaknesses. I love that he forgives me for being a touch dowdy after a particularly long day of parenting. I love that he sees my dark corners and still loves me. 

I love the way he comes home from work and cannot WAIT to dive into home life and kid time... That he immediately gives me a break, and is so willing.

I love that he has undertaken his Food Project, helping ALL of us eat better and more frugally as of late. 

I love his hugs. His compliments about what I do manage to get done in a day. 

Ya know? I love HIM. And I miss him.

And I am NOT excited about tomorrow. 


There ya go. There ain't no B.A.M. here. I am deeply in awe of:
1. mamas with hubbies who travel, who have days and days without him to help
2. single mamas who almost NEVER get a break
3. mamas with more than two kids who still juggle it all successfully
4. my own mama
5. and my hubby, for helping me not completely fail. 



  1. In now way do I think you failed maybe in your own head but this is being a true honest hardworking mom.
    I too am deeply in awe of all the same things you are, others always do seem truely amazing but I think we all have our moments/days good and bad. Makes us love our sweet husbands more and more and feel so lucky that they are there for us and their kids.
    I remember the first time my husband had to go out of town (and he is so good about making sacrifices and doing quick trips as to not leave us for too long- but is still sucks) with two kids and yeah one BF and one potty training ah those crazy frustrating times. It is amazing how suddenly they can have a urethera of steel at those times and other times be a running faucet. In the end for us jelly beans and underwear worked for us but I wouldn't recomend it today :)

    Good luck today it will go better it has too the dishwasher is now empty right ;)

  2. Love this post Emily. And just as with Noah's potty training, if you're trying, you are not at all on the way to the "Fail Boat". We get better every day but we all still have "those days".
    I find your post interesting on another level though. Where did we get the idea that we were supposed to be BAMs? I think moms today are part of a great experiment that has never been tried. We were made to raise children within a family with a husband and other relatives around--especially older female relatives with lots of experience and wisdom--and perspective. Women with, "you think that's bad?" type stories that make us laugh and think--hmm...maybe I'm doing better than I think I am. These days, it seems like we're all on our own islands trying to do it ourselves.
    So, be encouraged. You are doing important work not just for your kids but for yourself as motherhood smoothes some of those rough edges we all have. And know you're in it with the best of them--like me :) Sending prayers your way and lots of pats on the back to Joe.

  3. Oh. Wow. Hmmmm. I was a single mom once and it was miserable. Sometimes when things are all peachy and graceful I like to joke about how being a single mom was easier in some ways b/c you don't have to share in any of the decison making. Ha! What a joke. My husband was gone on a one night business trip last week and it was like a Lord of the Flies free for all over here. The whole thing fell apart and I don't even have any newborns in the house anymore! Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Ok, did the house burn down? Nope. Did you lock yourself out of the house? Nope. Did you leave one or both of your children somewhere and forget them? Nope. Everyone is still alive, relatively clean and semi-fed. SUCCESS!!!
    Seriously, I struggle every time Ryan goes out of town. I am a much better mother when he is around and this is OKAY. It is more than okay, actually, it is great. I wouldn't want to do this without him. I chose to do this with him.
    Those moms we know who do this alone or semi-alone are to be commended but my guess is that their first day, their first week, their first month alone looked a lot like this. And sometimes their days still do look a lot like this. If you had to, you could adjust to handling two kids by yourself every day, but you don't. You have Joe and that is awesome.
    So, my dear, give yourself a break. Today may be better but it might not be. But at the end of the day, today will be over and tomorrow is a new day. Next month will be easier than last month. Next year will be different than this year. These are the trenches and I am glad you have a good partner in the trenches. I know I am thankful for mine, too.
    PS The burned cookies....cruel. That super-sucks!

  5. I will write more later, but know that you are NOT ALONE...not a failure in any way, shape or form, except failing your own expectations for yourself. I think that as mommies we all expect that other moms are pulled together and don't have days like you just described, but when Scott travels, you could have described my days to a T...and frankly, they are in daycare during the day!!!!!! Sooooooooo, my dear, lower your expectations for yourself and KNOW that every other mommy in the world (even if they never admit it to you or others!) is like that more often than they will admit to anyone, especially themselves.

    That, and single parents are MY HEROES!!!!!!

    Oh yeah, and two kids at the ages ours are at...EXHAUSTING! And some days...they make me crazy go nuts!

  6. Gotta tell you, I would have kicked the wall and sworn over the potty thing right in Callum's face instead of controlling myself until I could kick a bowl alone in the kitchen. At least you didn't do that! :)

    Our men really do make us better! That is why God designed families with a dual parent setup.

  7. Amen to Anna et al. I NEVER attempt bath time if Chris is gone. For real. Not even if my kids were in the sick waiting room at the doctor all morning and came home to roll around in the dirt between lunch and dinner. No baths when I'm flying solo!

    So, truly, my hat is off to you for even attempting the normal schedule. And guess what else? The first day is always the worst! If Joe traveled all the time, you'd work it out to be a manageable beast. But day 1? Don't be so hard on yourself.


    I have a friend who goes to stay with her mom if her husband is going to be gone more than 24 hours. She absolutely refuses to attempt single parenting because she knows her own limitations. DO NOT be ashamed of knowing your own limitations! And then pandering to them!

    If you'd looked harder, you'd have seen me sipping a MaiBad (haha I crack myself up) on the deck of the Failboat with ya. I woke my kids up at the butt crack of dawn, threw them in the car with dry Cheerios in Ziplocs, and then marooned them all day and night with my MIL. And I forgot to pack diapers for Liberty.

    *woot woot* Alllll aboard!

  8. Emily, It was a joy to meet you in person today. It is posts like this one that keep me coming back to your blog. We all have days like you did yesterday and I can easily say you handled it with more grace than inwould have! I am glad that today was a better day, as momma's of little children we need those better days! Love, Maureen

  9. I told you I'd find you and stalk you! And WOW, let me say, what a post I stumbled across! If you need to know any one single thing right now, it is this...YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I am a mom of 1...just one and the first year of that kids life was spent either at home or close to it because I didn't dare take her away from her "routine" or from the help of my sweet hubby. We TRY...all of us moms do and I think our kids know it. So when Dustin has to leave for a week at a time on business (and his new job has done this to me several times so far) we all know the house is gonna be what it's gonna be when he gets home. And he might have clean laundry...more likely not. But my daughter relishes in the fact that she gets to spend this one on one time with me (even though its completely exhausting, and even more so to moms of multiple kids). She looks forward to "mommy-daughter week" campout in my bed after we both fall asleep watching Mythbusters (light on and all), to do the 'quick clean' ten minutes before daddy is due home and things like that. I think that is one thing we need to learn, especially as lds women is we aren't our pioneer counterparts who could push out ten kids while walking the plains pulling a handcart and still cook dinner...that getting through a day without screaming or hitting our children CAN be called successful, and, most importantly we are choice daughters of God who whether we think so or not, DO make a difference every day in the lives of our families. Be proud have done more than survived your time alone, you've flourished and you don't even know it yet.

  10. so have been there, lady. what is it about knowing their coming home in the evening, that just makes everything better?

    having a second baby when the husband was just about to take finals in his first year of law school? yeah, not my brightest idea. one day soon, you will totally laugh about this day, i promise! the important thing is both your kids survived, right? and i'm so glad you have a great husband that is normally there to tag-team / pinch hit / etc for ya.

    hope today went a bit smoother!

  11. I love you.

    It seems like the day was a COMPLETE fail, but you still inspire me. The wonderful mom you ARE awakens within me a desire to someday be a mother myself. And you know what? Knowing that you aren't always super mom and have meltdown days will HELP me in the future. Maybe I will have my own meltdown day and I'll have my big sis to help me through it and say "I have BEEN there." Especially because by THEN I am sure you WILL be super mom.

  12. Did you end up driving yourself and the kids into a lake? Did you walk away when the day got tough? Did everyone survive? Yes? Then you are a B.A.M. in my book. You made it through a day that anyone in your shoes would find difficult...AND you have the guts to own it. You admit that you aren't perfect and just think of all of those moms out there who, prior to reading your post, thought they were the only one. You have lifted them up with your story. You have used your not so glorious moments to encourage others. Amazing!

  13. Thank you for being so honest and admitting that it's hard to be at home with two very young kids by youself. In our typical 48 period, I'm alone with the kids for 44 hours. I think I'm failing every day, so in an odd way your "failboat" day is very encouraging. If someone [Emily] who is a great mom thinks this is hard, maybe not everything is actually wrong with me and it actually IS hard.
    Love you guys, and glad Joe is home now.

  14. I just found this blog and maybe I found this blog at the wrong time...nfw (no flipping way)!

    What I just read happens to almost every parent when the status quo changes. And that's NOT to say "me" failed today. It means life is about readjusting, changes, going forward and maybe standing and juggling a bit, yes, life is all about envolving this an ongoing project called life. We don't realize how much we can be better than me. Emily, you are very hard on yourself. Smile!!

  15. Both my girls are older and can take care of themselves. I so related from earlier times when they were small. I can tell you that even now...although they are older...and my husband is gone overnight....things still go wrong. I still don't understand why things break down, or strange things happen...and I sit and wish he were here!! I can guarantee you things do get easier when they get older!! I appreciate your honesty!!!

  16. I have no idea if you remember me or not, I am a Drysdale-Shannon to be precise. You shot Mike and I's wedding almost 6 years ago now. Anyway, I LOVE your blog and your open honesty. I found it today-through one of your siblings-and this particular post couldn't have been better timing. Thank you for sharing the "real life" and just so you aren't the only one who feels this way or has days like this! (Mine are far too often to mention!;)


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