Tag Archives: parental exhaustion

Toddler Life, Chapter 121: Mornings Mean Nothing


A toddler’s life is nothing but phases. A biting phase. A throwing things phase. A take-your-pants-off-and-ride-the-cats-around-the-house phase. Some phases are over in a few days, others drag out for weeks. But rest assured, if the little ones are waist-high or lower, they’re in a phase.

The newest phase is one that needs to be over immediately if not sooner, though I fear it’s one of those marked end date indeterminate. This is the morning means nothing phase, AKA the sprout is his own alarm clock phase, AKA abandon all sleep ye who enter here phase.

Parental sleep deprivation is no joke. To be honest, my wife and I have been somewhat lucky in this department. Big brother started sleeping through the night around 6 months, and little sis at about 8. They still have their moments — the cutting of teeth in an infant is enough to make grown daddies and mommies cry — but for the most part they sleep okay. This is in sharp contrast to a co-worker of mine who wakes up eight or nine times PER NIGHT with her rugrat. Look, it may be a tiny human, and it may need your utmost care and attention, but eight or nine wakeups per night is not really even in the range of the Geneva conventions. You could break Navy SEALS with that kind of treatment.

But the morning means nothing phase is a new animal. Because with your run-of-the-mill midnight baby wakeup call, you get to go back to sleep. It may be fitful sleep, and it may take you a while, but you get to drop off again. In the morning means nothing phase, your only hope is to go to sleep as soon as possible after the child goes down, because the kid is going to wake up, for good and with no hope of going back to sleep, whenever he damn well feels like it. 5 AM? Bet on it. 4? The sprout laughs at 4.  3:30? Challenge accepted.

It’s bad enough that we’re coming out of our summer coma, still drunk on the heady fumes that sleeping until 6:30 brings. School schedule has us waking up by 5:30 on a regular day, so those last few minutes of sleep are critical. But the sprout cares not for those crucial final minutes.

File:Trento-Mercatino dei Gaudenti-alarm clocks.jpg© Matteo Ianeselli / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

The devil on his shoulder nudges him awake at eye-twitch o’clock, and he crashes around his room for a while. (With big brother, there is no such thing as quiet play.) He builds and knocks over towers of blocks. He topples toddler chairs. He hurls stuffed animals about like a twister in a trailer park. Then he’s out into the hallway, where he turns on every light along the way, because he’s terrified of the dark like a vampire flees from the light. Then, because he can only be unsupervised for so long without somebody telling him NOT to do whatever he’s doing before his tiny brain melts down, he comes knocking on our door.

But not so much knocking as tentatively peeking his head inside, like a cat burglar working up his nerve. Let me not omit the fact that he can’t properly open a door yet, so he rattles the knob for a good ten seconds first. He ducks in, then ducks out, then ducks in, and ducks out again, then:

“Daddy?”

We try to ignore him, because that’s sure to work. When it comes to picking up hints, he’s about as sensitive as an elbow wrapped in a steel sleeve. He tries again.

“Mommy? Daddy? I’m ready to be awake.”

I slide one eye open, the lid fluttering like a garage door off its track. The clock reads 3:45. “Buddy, go back to sleep.”

The whining begins. He’s saying words, but I can’t hear them, because the pitch, pace and warble of his tiny voice has short-circuited every brain function outside of the purely survival-oriented lobes. I gruffly snarl at him to just get into bed with us.

I know as I say it that this is the wrong move, because the three-year-old does not make for a pleasant bedmate. He doesn’t so much toss and turn as thrash and burn, rolling over and over like a Tasmanian devil off its axis, beating his head against the pillow and kicking viciously at my kidneys.

Somehow I endure this for an entire fifteen minutes, pretending that I will be able to get back to sleep with the munchkin drumming out Chopsticks on my spine. Then my wife, who was sleeping on the opposite side of the boy and I (me in between them), has had enough and yanks him over to her side of the bed. His bag of tricks continues and we both sit there, steaming in our inability to even catch a whiff of further sleep. But it’s thirty minutes before the alarm goes off, and we are NOT getting up yet.

Ten minutes more is all I can stand, so out into the hall we stumble, him bounding along with infuriating energy, me stubbing my drowsy toes on every toy he strewed across the carpet. Along the way, he bumps a baby toy that begins chirping out a truly lunatic calliope version of the Wheels on the Bus at a volume which, to be conservative, is fargoing ridiculous. Meanwhile, our dumbest cat has launched himself at the dumb, sleep-addled dog — three times his size — and wrapped it in a clawed kitty headlock, and the two tussle, stumble and crash into the baby’s door.

So now the baby’s awake, too.

I trudge into her room and pull her out of the crib — she reeks of poop, because why wouldn’t she — haul her downstairs with big brother squawking like a tone-deaf crow about how he wants cupcakes, he wants to watch Grover, he wants to go to the playground later, he wants chocolate milk. All I want to do is get her changed and put on some cartoons so that I can lie down on the couch and at least close my eyes for five minutes before my actual alarm goes off.

This is the second day in four days that he’s done this.

The morning means nothing. Clocks are obsolete. The day starts when the sprout wakes up, and woe betide any foolish enough to suppose otherwise.

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Search Term Bingo


If you run a website, or even a modest blarg like this one, at some point you will ask yourself the question: “who is reading this?” and maybe, “why are they reading this?” and possibly, further, “shouldn’t they be doing something productive, like culling wombats from their backyards, instead?”

WordPress, in its wisdom, hides a lot of search results — apparently google searches automatically hide the search terms that leads its users to wordpress sites, so I’ve heard (correct me if I’m wrong) — so most of the searches that lead people to my blog are redacted. However, there are some gems in there, and reading through them never fails to make me laugh. In particular, I get a lot of enema-related searches, due in no small part I’m sure to the post I made last year about giving my son an enema. (It remains one of the most frequently visited on this site, despite also being one of the shortest, and contains, sadly for visitors no doubt, very little information about the actual giving of the actual enema.) But not all of the searches are tied up in poop. Here are some of the best ones this year, so far, and I have tried to theorize about what they mean.

“he hadn’t pooped in five days” — quotes were included, not by me. Okay, so searches about enemas notwithstanding, searches even tangentially tied to poop can still land you here. Maybe I need to examine my lifestyle.

how to write a charasmatic [sic] valedictorian speech — I don’t write about it much any more, but I am still a high school English teacher, and I did write some (I feel) helpful posts about speeches. I am pretty sure I spelled all my words correctly. Charasma seems like one of those things you don’t want to exude so much as perhaps see your doctor about.

my wife is an overachiever / homemade wife overachiever — I’ve written now and then about my wife and how she’s better than me in practically every way. I am not sure what a homemade wife is, but I can only assume that the searcher has built an artificial wife out of toaster parts, and is pretty proud of himself for doing so.

occams parenting — I am pretty sure this is not a thing, but if it is, I don’t know if I want to be associated with it. Razors and children don’t usually play well together, and I do not endorse this product.

arsenal never give up — In addition to being a high school teacher, I am also the coach of a high school soccer team, and mentions of that have crept in here from time to time. I can only assume that this is somehow related to the Arsenal football team (that’s proper football, not American football), although I must recognize that it may also be about maintaining and not relinquishing your own personal arsenal of automatic, lethal, and totally necessary weapons for “home defense”. Because America.

poopy toddler story — I won’t lie, I tag all my relevant posts with “toddler poop stories” so I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. Still, the fact that somebody is out there searching for such things is firmly in the neighborhood of troubling.

parental exhaustion — yup. You have come to the right place.

jenker what does in mean — Language are no meaning. Jenker in cat. Cat only cat.

freelance exorcist — the searcher, who I can only assume has a very real problem and is looking for a very real solution without all the red tape of dealing with procuring a legitimate (lol) exorcist from the legitimate Catholic church, was probably disappointed to be directed to my blog full of drivel about toddler poop and dubious writing advice. Still, that’s more views for me.

mum and daughter strengthen bonding by pooping together — *heavy sigh* I guess the family that poops together…

Maybe it’s time to accept reality and re-write my blarg’s tagline: “your internet destination for poop: figurative, literal, and copious.”


Infrequent Air Bubbles


I am so tired. I’m poking my head up through the fog of exhaustion just to send a little signal that I’m okay. Or maybe that I’m not. But I’m still here. And some of the waves may be washing over my head, and maybe there’s a bit of water in my lungs, but I’m still floating, if just below the surface.

I’m a big proponent of the concept that we all have the exact same twenty-four hours in the day, and it’s just a question of what you apply those hours to. I also think I’ve been pretty good about carving out pieces of that time for my various exploits. This week, though, time has got my number.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and I think I need to invent a time machine. I only need to take a few courses in temporal engineering and discover dark matter and invent some new laws of physics. Luckily, I have a rocket scientist reading this very blog, so I have some good backup in that arena. Stay tuned. Or to be more correct, you will have already seen the fruits of my inventions by the time this post may have been written.

Then again, discretion is the better part of valor, and as much as I feel I need to press on and keep working until the work is done, maybe it wouldn’t be a horrible thing to consider a little break. However — and this is one of the things I’m maybe a little bit crazy about — I’m terrified that if I stop pushing forward, all the momentum will bleed out like a punctured waterbed.

On the one hand, part of my brain is telling me that the circumstances I’m claiming are getting the better of me are no better or worse or more demanding than at any other time over the last 8 months of this adventure I’ve been on. On the other, I feel as if the klaxons are sounding and the deckhands are scrambling for the lifeboats as the other part of my brain tells me that no, really I’m trying to do too much. The core temperature is increasing. Bubbles are rising to the surface, fewer and less frequent.

The end of the first edit is so close. Even if I’m artificially claiming that closeness, it needs to be close. I’ve been going back and forth with it so much that like bread left too long in the oven, it’s crusting over and turning black around the edges. I feel like I felt toward the end of the first draft: I’m getting sick of the work and I need a break from it. But the only way out is through, and the quicker I finish, the quicker it’s done.

On the other other hand, it’s possible that all this is simply normal mild parental exhaustion exacerbated by the fact that our 8-month old handed my wife and me a surprise sleep-deprivation treatment last night. It’s possible, in that vein, that I’m just loopy and moderately delirious and is that pink stuff oozing out of the vent? THAT’S PINK STUFF OOZING OUT OF THE VENT OMG IT’S GHOSTBUSTERS 2 COMMAND ME LORD VIGO

Manufactured, imagined, or actual, I think it’s fair to say there’s some stress settling in on my brain parts. I need to finish this edit.


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