Most of you know I’ve been spending much of my free time these last few weeks, zoning out and watching all seven seasons of Mad Men on Netflix. Besides intensifying a craving for cigarettes that I never knew I had, this show has offered me so many, many things: an appreciation for the fact that I do not have to “set” my hair every night; a tremendous gratitude that seatbelts are now “a thing” and a deep-rooted admiration for my husband, who does not keep a seedy pied-à-terre in the city.
It has also offered me quite a number of parenting insights. One of these such insights came during one of the show’s final episodes, during which a middle-aged mother offers some parenting empathy to her daughter, now a mother herself.
“It’s hard. It’s all hard. You fall into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, but you have no idea what you did.”
Amen sister friend.
So today, in tribute to my dear friends at Sterling Cooper & Partners, I’ve decided to keep track. To keep track of it all. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. And not judge me too harshly when you’re through.
6am – Oliver crawls in bed with us and I drift in and out during two episodes of Disney’s Octonauts. This might be my least favorite show in the history of kid shows. We can usually gently persuade him to choose another option (Stella and Sam is one of my favorites) but I’m not at my most persuasive just after sunrise, so I acquiesce and allow the little guy 40 minutes of uninterrupted cartoon heaven. As the credits roll, Archie starts calling from his crib. “mama… mama… MAMA… MAMA!!!
7am – I dole out breakfast and start mulling around ideas for the day. It’s so sunny, should we play in our super swanky Walmart kiddie pool? Should we try and set up a playdate? Should we go to the library? Exhausted from the prospects, ultimately, I decide to head out to the playground. But not before negotiating which costume Oliver is allowed to wear, packing up water, snacks, sunscreen, books, my phone, more wipes, a picnic blanket and the kitchen sink.
8am – As we’re heading down to the car, I remember there is a dead rabbit in the driveway. A gift from our friendly feline companion, Paul. Lucky me, all that remains of the fallen bunny is it’s fly-ridden head. I put Archie in the car and tell Oliver to wait on the steps. I then perform a frame-for-frame reenactment of the Peter Griffin frog-out-the-window bit, but instead of a frog and a shoebox, it was a rabbit head and a rolled up laminated “road trip” bingo game I made for the boys. I finally manage to get the rabbit head into some longish grass in our yard and tell Oliver the coast is clear. He bounds towards the car, pausing for just a moment to bend down towards the leftover, smooshed rabbit bits and tell the flies “Sorry we had to move your snack!”
9am – Playground follies. I’m sweating like a whore in church and the boys are running in exact opposite directions. We swing. We climb on stuff. We go down slides. And then, because God has sent a herald of angels down to earth to bless us, we picnic in front of a construction site featuring a working bulldozer moving dirt.
“Who wants a grilled cheese?”
“I do NOT want a grilled cheese!”
“Well, what do you want? We aren’t having PB&J because we did that for breakfast.”
“How about toast with jelly?”
“No, that’s not a lunch. You can have a grilled cheese and pretzels with hummus or I can make pasta with sauce. Those are your choices.”
“I don’t want that!”
“Well, I’m sorry; I am not a restaurant.”
“Can I have pretzels with hummus, a yogurt and a banana?”
“Sure. I’m going to make Archie’s grilled cheese and then I’ll put that together.”
“Here you go Archie!”
“Mom, that smells really good! Can I have a grilled cheese?”
12p – Archie’s nap time. Books, songs and a kiss goodnight. Oliver’s nap time. Book, songs and a kiss goodnight. NOW IT’S TIME TO PARTY!!! I fix myself some fruit punch in a giant mason jar, because that’s the kind of Appalachian hillbilly I am, and head to my room to work on this very blog and watch Netflix. Hell, I may even close my eye for 6-7 minutes.
2p – We’re up! Time for swimming lessons. Remember to pack up the water, snacks, sunscreen, books, my phone, more diapers, goggles, a towel, dry clothes and the kitchen sink. We drive to the community center and because I promised earlier in the week, we pick out a snack from the vending machine – a treat for after the lesson. After a quick stop at the potty, Oliver runs ahead to push the elevator button. “‘G’ for Going to swim lessons!” he shouts!
3p – Oliver is in the water and oooooh we’ve come a long way baby. He is jumping in! He is swimming under water! He is willingly touching his feet to the bottom of the pool! I can tell he is still a little nervous, but every time he pops out of the water he’s got this little “I’m doing it!” grin on his face and I am just beaming. One more potty stop and we’re back on our way up in the elevator. “‘M’ for ‘My what a good swim lesson!”
4p – We stop at Kroger on the way home to grab a few sundries. We sneak a few free samples and Oliver helps me pick out a box of $3 hair dye because that’s a thing that I do now. Oliver helps by pushing Archie’s stroller and helping me scan groceries in the self-service line and remembering that he needs to go to the potty again. Archie helps by eating half the food before we’ve purchased it and throwing his leftovers on the floor.
5p – I make Brian help me dye my hair, because that’s exactly what he wants to do at the end of a long work week and we watch the France v. Germany Fifa Women’s Semi-final game as I let chemicals seep into my meninges.
6p – We meet up with friends at Tailgate, a little brewery five minutes up the road from our house. They have paninis and picnic tables and games and lots of open space in which our children can roam. Archie will only eat his grilled cheese if he can do so while pushing a giant empty Duplos bin and in the end–because if he’s happy I can sit still while I eat my sandwich–I call it a win. Ollie plays with some other children and I can tell by his apple-red cheeks and sweaty hairline that he’s having a phenomenal time. Archie follows along a few steps behind and makes eyes at all the grownups, so they know just how cute he is.
8p – We’ve pushed the kids to the limit and they’re ready to call it a night. I leave my horchata milk stout and adult conversation unfinished and gather our things to make the trek home.
8:30p – Archie gives me cuddles and we read and sing songs until he asks for his “Bah” (his bed) and snuggles up with his lovie to go to sleep. I fill Archie’s humidifier while Brian tucks in Oliver and when all the chores are finally complete, we climb into bed next to each other and he sleepily asks me about our day.
“What did you guys do?”
“Oh not much. Just the playground and swim lessons.”