Tag Archives: all joy no fun

Rollercoaster of Love (& Anger & Guilt & Exhaustion)

“So, how was your day?”

Has there ever been a more loaded question?

Yes. But for my purposes here, I need you to ignore that.

Because I get asked this on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple times during that daily basis. And it stumps me every single time.

How was my day? How was my whole, entire, day? Well, nothing is currently on fire. That’s how my day was.

Asking a parent how their day was is a futile exercise. Because no matter what they say— Good. Bad. Fantastic! I’m currently drinking rum mixed with Kool-Aid and expired Nyquil–the only true, honest answer is “I don’t know.”

Every day with children is one giant rollercoaster ride. All super highs and wicked lows. A roller coaster that is equal parts fun and horrifying. And is always breaking down. And needing to pee. Again. With bony elbows and knees coming out of nowhere to hit you when you least expect it.


It starts from the minute you hear those first rustlings coming from the baby monitor at some ungodly hour—click, click, click—and goes all day long—wheeeeeee! Oh god, I’m going to die!—until you put them down at night for the third, and final, and I MEAN IT, time that night.

He peed in the potty!



He pooped in the corner!


He’s napping in his bed!


She finally fell asleep in her crib! …aaaaaaaand she’s screaming again.



He actually ate his lunch!


Oh. No, wait. That’s avocado on the ceiling, isn’t it?

God damn it

He listened to me when I calmly explained why we don’t bite people.

*smug smile*

He just bit me again.


She’s feeding herself!


Oh god, she’s choking to death.

crap crap crap crap please don’t die crap crap crap

They’re both on my lap, peacefully listening to me read them a book!

Sigh! Life is perfect.

She just pulled his hair and he slapped her leg and everyone is crying and screaming and the dog is barking.

I’m in a hell of my own making.

They’re both quietly playing in the corner by themselves!

Pffft…and people say parenting is hard.

He pooped in the corner again? And got it on his shoes? And then dragged the poop all over the house? And his sister is now playing in it?

*sound of whiskey being poured*

Happiness. Frustration. Joy. Anger. Sadness. Bewilderment. Contentment. More anger. Guilt. More happiness but swiftly turning into anger because SO HELP ME, IF YOU DON’T PUT THAT DOWN, I WILL END YOU.

And those emotions were all felt in the past 30 seconds just while I was trying to type this sentence.

Is it any wonder we parents are braindead at the end of the day?


But there’s a reason people will stand in line for three hours at an amusement park for a single rollercoaster ride. It lets us know, in the most intense of terms, that we are alive.

Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling myself as I stop my son’s third bloody nose of the day because he won’t stop sticking his goddamn finger up there.


It’s all fun & games until somebody poops

For all the crap you have to put up with as a parent (and I mean that as literally as possible), the compensation of watching your baby grow into a person right before your eyes almost makes it worth it.

(Any other time I would say “makes it completely worth it and then some” but I just got done cleaning World War III from my baby’s butt and I’m still a little bitter and shell-shocked).

games 1

Butt seriously (see what I did there?), there is no feeling quite like realizing that little bundle of cells that made you puke up everything you ate since 1987 is now a fully formed human; one with a sense of humor and a sense of curiosity, one with ideas and feelings, one with preferences and opinions (although granted, my human has had opinions from Day One…hell, we use to argue when he was still in the womb).

games 2 games 3

And now that Riker is one-year-old, his personhood is out in full force. Take for example, the fact that he now not only wants to play games, but is inventing games. My little human! Who only a short time ago looked like a young (old?) Benjamin Button and couldn’t comprehend anything of the world beyond my boob!

(Although, in his defense, my boobs are amazing).

All day long now, we play his games. Some are simple. Take the game “Pretend To Throw Up Tiny Toy Chair,” which is pretty straight forward. He shoves a tiny toy chair in my mouth and I pretend to throw it up. He giggles, retrieves the tiny toy chair and we play Round Two. Which is the same as Round One. Which is the same as Round 109.

And it will go to Round 109. Oh yes, it will.

This game is similar to the one he invented with his Daddy, which is “Stop The Strange Noise Coming From Daddy’s Mouth.” However, this one is a bit more sophisticated. Sitting on the floor in the living room, Daddy will make a noise that sounds like a hamster drowning and being electrocuted at the same time. Riker giggles and then shoves the closest small toy available into Daddy’s mouth to stop the noise. Daddy then spits out the toy (extra points for long distances) and makes the noise again. Riker fetches the toy and the entire process repeats. Mommy serves as referee for this game.

Which she does from the kitchen.

While chugging wine straight out of the bottle.

games 4

And, of course, “Taxi Driver.” This is a game where Mommy or Daddy (or Grandma or the babysitter or a not too terribly smelling hobo) picks him up and walks him around the house while he directs the adult where to go using finger-pointing and crystal clear directions such as “Gworp!”. The goal, as far as I can figure, is for him to touch every single thing we own that is above 2.5 feet high.

Other games, however, are more advanced.

His favorite is “Ball On Couch.” This is apparently a strategy game where the goal is for us to get his big rubber yellow ball onto the couch in one VERY specific location. Once we get the ball in that location, he takes it and throws it back onto the floor where it rolls away. We then argue over who has to get the ball (Me: “You go get it.” Him: “BAH!” followed by finger pointed at me). Once I retrieve the ball, I hand it to him and he works diligently on putting it back on the couch. Judging by how much he cries when the ball is not in the right position on the couch, you lose points anytime the ball is not in the northwest corner just left of the red stripped pillow.

There is “Kitchen Set Bulldozer,” which is really more of a single player game. This involves him pushing his gigantic toy kitchen set around the house while on his knees. My role in this is more of facilitator, responsible for moving obstacles (such as my leg) out of his way and redirecting his path when annoying things such as a wall or small-to-medium-sized animals get in his way.

Then there is “Traffic Jam.” Which, if I’m being honest, I have absolutely no idea how to play. All I know is that he hands me every single toy car he owns (which is a lot considering he is a male American baby and as such, my house just spontaneously produces little cars in response to his presence and scatters them around in every room) and then looks up at me expectantly. So I go vroom-vroom with them. I make them crash into each other. I drive them over his head and down his back. I even put them in a long line and just let them sit there idling but not knowing why they’re just sitting there idling so as to give him realistic expectations of what driving a car is really like. But I am obviously playing wrong because he keeps looking at me with a disappointed face and handing me back the cars with strict instructions to “Bah! Drrrr! Pfffft!”.

Luckily, my son is very patient with my incompetence and even though he is by far the more skilled player in all these games, he lets me sometimes win out of the goodness of his heart.

Or, at least, I think he sometimes lets me win. I mean, what else could “Derpaduh!” mean other than “I concede victory to you!”?

Why don’t parents talk about the joys of parenting?

Remember when I was pregnant?

If you were anywhere within a thousand mile radius of formerly pregnant me you likely do. It’s hard to forget a real-life Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting city and terrorizing the innocent town folk while loudly complaining about her swollen ankles.


Fortunately for me, those miserable 10-months (yeah, ten months, it’s actually ten months…not nine, TEN) are now all just a faded blur of eating cheeseburgers in bed while sobbing. That’s one of the major perks about having kids. Your brain is so busy forming new neural pathways, like which is the best way to extract a raisin out of a tiny nostril, that it pushes all the bad memories of how you got said kid right out of your brain.

This is how siblings are created.

That said, however, there is one thing I can never forget about pregnancy no matter how many memories are abolished by creative problem-solving the best way to get a toddler down from the top of an unsecured bookcase. And that is all the horrible parenting tales I heard from other people. Most of them unprompted. 

“You think you’re miserable now? Just wait until he’s born and you never get to sleep again.”

“Well, if you think newborns are bad, just wait until he starts crawling.”

“The worst part is when they turn two. That’s when they turn into demons. Highly mobile demons.”

“You’ll want to kill yourself when they hit puberty. And them. Mostly them.”

“Basically, children ruin your life. Oh, but, I mean, it’s worth it.”

Almost every day I was pregnant with my oldest I was bombarded by these remarks. It got to the point that I started having panic attacks that the next 18 years of my life would be sheer hell. Which, of course, when I tearfully told other parents this, they responded with, “Eighteen years? Pffffft. Parenting only gets worse once they become adults. Your life is ruined until you die. And even then, as a ghost, your kids will ruin your afterlife.”

I never understood this cruel need to inform pregnant women of every bad thing that has ever happened ever in the history of parenting.

That is, until my own two little swamp demons were born and I found myself telling other pregnant first-timers all the worst things that had happened since my babies took their first breath. Which is ridiculous because I love being a mom. I can honestly say this is the happiest I’ve ever been. And yet, there I heard myself, loudly proclaiming how breastfeeding feels like taking a honey badger with a cheese grater for a mouth to your bosom every three hours (I mean, it’s true, that’s exactly what it feels like, but why did I feel I had to share that with an already terrified and miserable woman?).

So, why don’t parents talk about the joys of parenting? Why do we choose only to share the worst aspects of family life?

For a long time, I couldn’t figure this out. But then I started trying to write about it, trying to write about all the good things that come with bringing a life into this world. And to my surprise, I found I couldn’t. Turns out, I can easily describe to you the sights, sounds and smell (especially the smell) of every diaper blowout I’ve had to clean up. But the first time I sang my crying baby to sleep? Describing that is damn near impossible.

Oh sure, I can describe to you the circumstances, the facts of the matter. He was 2-months-old. He’d been crying for an hour. Nothing I did could get him to stop. Not bouncy-bounce time. Not the flying Superman baby game. Not even my last resort option of “Hey, look, a boob! Please eat again and shut up!”

Worst of all, Daddy wouldn’t be home for another hour.

Out of sheer desperation and because it works in every single movie that has a baby in it, I started singing to him. “Close To You” by The Carpenters, to be exact. Not because I had a particular fondness for that song but because it was the only song I knew all the words to that did not include curse words.

Over and over I sang that song, pacing back and forth the length of our house. He screamed. I sang. He screamed louder. That loud, piercing scream only young babies can do that stab you directly in the brain. Forever and ever and ever and round and round and round until I couldn’t remember a time when we weren’t singing and screaming and walking in a loop. 

And then it happened. Slowly at first, almost imperceptibly. The pauses between cries grew ever so slightly. The volume lowered at a snail’s pace.

And on I sang.

Eventually, I dared to look down at him, mid-chorus, his head resting on my shoulder. Eyes wide open, just staring at me singing. The cries had stopped. Just the occasional sniffling.

So I kept singing. And he kept staring. And I kept staring. Two more trips through “Close To You.” Until his lids got heavy. And then heavier. And finally, mid-“that is why all the girls in town,” he fell asleep.

And yet, I kept singing. One more time, the whole song through. Because I wanted to remember what this felt like. And that’s where my descriptive powers come to an end. Because I can’t tell you what it felt like. Not really. I love words. I’ve built my entire life around words. And yet none of them, alone or clustered together in a sentence, can accurately portray the love I felt in that moment. The meaningfulness I felt. And the power. The sheer power I felt. My voice had comforted another human being. And not just any human being. A tiny, fragile, scared, angry, confused human being that I loved more than I ever knew was possible. 

It’s the closest I’ve ever come to having a superpower.

But all of those are just words. It still doesn’t describe the bigness of that moment.

The best I can do is just matter-of-factly tell you that as I finally got to sit down with my peacefully sleeping baby resting in my arms, I went to rub my tired eyes and realized I was crying.