The ‘malaise & ennui’ category

You + Your Toddler (+ North Korea)

August 11th, 2017

Two and a half years in, I continue to subscribe to regular email newsletters from well-wishing baby advice brands. They’ve grown with me, changing their subject lines to reflect where my family is at, addressing me and my toddler now. They remain consistent in one very important way, though: their utterly useless advice.

For my friends who are having babies now, take my advice and don’t take advice.

Baby advice is designed to make you feel like you’re not doing it right. Case in point, this week’s newsletter from Babycenter, which kindly informed me that, when it comes to bedtime routines, and I quote: “The whole event (after the bath) should take 15 to 20 minutes.”

Laughs with eyebrow raised.

I mean, I have twins, so in all fairness, even doubling that time would make sense. But our bedtime routine does not take 30 minutes or even 40. Our bedtime routine takes about 2 hours on a good night, and it’s not a “routine” as much as a cat-herding chaos-fest. After bath, I put on the lavender oil and the soft yogic music and the dim lighting, then proceed to watch my toddlers not get the hint and run around like banshees, literally bouncing off the walls, until they get sick of the mayhem and instead start fighting over who gets to sit in my lap versus who gets to sit in Jon’s.

On a good night, I get them to brush their teeth. On a bad night, they brush the floor, walls, faucet, and babies’ teeth instead. On a good night, we read stories. Most nights, though, they take turns furiously ripping the book their sister chose out of my hand and hurling it across the room until I give up and tell them they’re not ready for books. On a good night, they let me sing a song. Most nights, I try to sing and they scream “MAMA NO SING!!!!!!” I mean, I’m not Pavarotti trained or anything, but who are they to judge?

This is not a plea for advice (see above). I am just expressing my personal experience with toddler bedtimes. On the one hand, it’s bananas and I feel bad at it. On the other hand, I get to spend a lot of QT with my kids in the evening. Which I am so grateful for.

Lately I spend most of my free mental time worrying that we are going to have a nuclear face-off with North Korea thanks to our idiot despot (and no I will not mince words; I loathe the buffoon). Profound sadness and deep fear shoot through me when I think about what might happen.

We all die, and it’s not quick. We don’t die, but it’s The Road. We don’t die, but everyone we love dies. We don’t die, but we all get terrible cancers and my kids become infertile. We don’t die, and there is no blast, but my children live through a childhood of being worried about nuclear annihilation, just like we did in the 80s, when everyone was terrified of… wait for it… Russia.

My toddler newsletters never cover the subject of nuclear annihilation, unfortunately. And it’s probably just as well, because their advice would be summarily useless in the face of real life, which is messy and glorious and frustrating and joyful and simply never what we thought it would turn out to be, thank God.




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