Monday, April 19, 2010

I don't know how you do it

I dearly love my cousin and his family, but I’ll confess – there were a couple times this weekend when I considered sticking my head in the oven.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with their two toddlers (ages 1 and 3). It’s just that Pythagoras and I have not been around small children…well, ever. We don’t know many people with kids, and we agreed very early in our marriage that we didn’t wish to procreate.

(As a side-note, ladies, if you’re looking for a thoughtful birthday gift for your husband, a vasectomy is not the right choice. Post-surgery, however, a pack of frozen peas will be met with great enthusiasm).
Ozzy with a look that means "gotta go."

Having two extra adults, two toddlers, and a teenager in the house for the weekend gave me a deeper admiration for the authors out there who do what they do with one or more children in the house. Agents, too, for that matter – or really any professional who juggles parenthood with a career that requires creativity.

My fabulous agency sistah Kiersten White frequently blogs about her wee ones, and our agent Michelle Wolfson often takes to Twitter to share tidbits about her own 1-year-old and 4-year-old.

After this weekend, all I can say is DEAR GOD, PEOPLE, HOW DO YOU DO IT?

The noises, the smells, the screaming, the messes, the blare of cartoons, the regimented nap schedules – and that’s just the adults.
Bindi and Matt snuggle prior to a wrestling
match that will require a referee

Seriously, I don’t know how authors with small kids can handle it. I sure as hell couldn’t, and I’m deeply grateful I’ll never have to.

Don’t get me wrong, my four-legged brood can be distracting. There’s Ozzy the slightly-incontinent old man dog whose hourly bathroom breaks can cut into my writing time. There’s Bindi the 1-year-old Australian Kelpie (i.e. herding dog on crack) who will spontaneously combust if I don’t get up and walk her. Even the cats make demands on my writing time, with Matt the Cat preferring to nap on my lap, and Blue Cat preferring to nap with his head on the power-strip (a situation that results in frequent, unexpected restarts).
Blue Cat naps on my power-strip.

But that’s nothing compared with what you parents of small children deal with. For that I raise a toast in your honor.

With a very, very strong drink.


kristina said...

Giggle, giggle, snort, snort.

Um, I'll take that drink now. Seriously, you have alluded to the exact reason why my third child gets to watch tv in amounts the first child would NEVER have been allowed.

My kids are actually way better behaved than most kiddos, but there are times when I really wish they came with universal remotes - the kind with mute buttons.

You, my dear, are amazing. :)

Rhonda said...

I'm right there with you. My sister has 6 kids all ages 7 and under. We were over there this weekend for a family BBQ and a great time was had by all but I found that every conversation was peppered with "don't", "get down from there" and "for heaven's sake, stop messing with your sister's hair!".

At one point I was so frustrated trying to keep them from A. killing themselves or B. killing each other that I actually told them that if they broke a limb I wasn't going to take them to the ER. I was just going to duct tape and superglue them back together.

Yes, Auntie Rhonda had lost all her marbles at that point and I realized that my baby sister, the kisser of owies, the referee of arugments, the cleaner of spills and the wiper of hinies, must secretly be superwoman because that's the only possible explanation for her ability to keep her cool and continue to care for her family without completely losing her mind.

I love my neices and my nephews but I have to say, I also love going home to my quiet home! :)

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I will admit it. Writing with small children is a novel experience (pun intended.) It takes a lot of flexibility and patience. Not knowing anything different however, I wouldn't trade it.

Unknown said...

There are moments of absolute insanity in my house, that's for sure! But now that my two kids are getting older (12 and 8), I have greater control over the noise level in the house.... Who am I kidding? Actually, I write when they're in school and all hell breaks loose when the bus brings them home!

Your pets are too cute!

Linda G. said...

LOL! Heck, I'm wondering why you even need to drink if you don't have kids. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you, Tawna. I don't have any children and having two cats and a dog...I don't know how others do it. Oh I love my nephews to distraction and frequently spent as much time caring for them as their mom, but at least I knew there was an end to their visit in sight. Parents don't have that option, poor things. They just keep on keepin' on.

Squeaky said...

vasectomies (and subsequent Ministry Of Silly Walks) FTW!!!

Candyland said...

I only have one, but she feels like twenty some days. It's a balance thing, which I haven't yet mastered. Some days I get close, but ultimately one or the other (her or the computer) gets more time most days.


kristina, did you say THIRD child? Holy cow, you have your hands full. I bow to you.

Rhonda, I like your threat! And I suspect it wasn't an idle one.

Kayeleen, I think that's the biggest reason we could definitely never reconsider our decision not to have kids. After more than 12 kid-free years together, we're way too spoiled by our routine and our established lifestyle that we wouldn't want to change anything up.

Nicole, I was wondering about that (whether they're easier when they're older). I suspect my cousin's youngsters are at the most difficult age where they're straddling the terrible-twos!

Linda G, it's the mere thought of the vasectomy failing that drives me to drink.

danicaavet, it's that ability to keep on keepin' on that totally floors me. I know I don't have it in me, so I admire those who do.

Squeaky, husband wasn't allowed to spend much time doing the silly walk. Had the surgery on a Friday and needed to report for ski coaching duty on Monday.

Candyland, just don't confuse the kid with the computer and try to plug your USB drive into her nostril.

Thanks for reading, guys!

Christi Goddard said...

Awesome investments for any parent: cattle prod and airsoft gun. Best behaved kids ever.

Okay, I'm kidding.

Sort of.

Jade Winters said...

This is the reason I stopped writing for so long. Now my kids are 17, 15, 14, 11, 10 and 6 so it's much easier to get things done. They have an understanding (or at least partly) of the words "Mom is working right now." The lock on the door helps too.

But I'll take that drink. It's been a bad Monday with no writing so far, and it's not over yet.

Oh, and what about vasectomies for Father's Day? That's what I got for my boyfriend almost 6 years ago.

Deborah Small said...

*g* I have four children, and plenty of experience writing "around" them. Nap time was my favorite time for years, until they stopped napping. Now it's after work and whenever no immediate trauma (blood or bone) requires my attention. I've learned to Tune Out. As my hubby tells the children: "If mom's writing, and the house catches fire, don't bother trying to get her attention. Just wheel her, and her chair, out the door."


Marisa Birns said...

Oooh. There are drinks?

Lani Woodland said...

I have two kids. They are both in school now and so I'm able to write during those hours. There wasn't time when they were younger. Heck, with my photography business, on top of writing, I barely have time as it is. It is much easier than it used to be though. But having four extra people in your house must have been hard! You get used to the little ones around. Unless you're like my friend who had two sets of twins in four years!! She's still adjusting.

Jude said...


Delia Moran said...

I have four kids ranging in age from 10 to 3, plus a new kitten, a neurotic dog, and a husband that is completely absorbed in the television until I sit down to write. That's when I get the 411 on his day.

The kids all have an early bed time. That's when the writing gets done. I'm tired in the morning when I have to get the older kids off to school and the younger ones are pulling at me and I've stayed up half the night because I was in the zone, but that's how it goes. I just keep thinking about that day three years from now when I will kiss all my children, put them on the bus, and be alone for SIX WHOLE HOURS. It will be a glorious day.


Christi, I will have to remember this for the next time we have wee ones visiting!

Jade, holy crap! I can't believe you have so many kids. I bow to you. And I think your boyfriend should be thanking you for the vasectomy. It was a very thoughtful gift.

Lani, I'm amazed by women who can juggle motherhood, day-jobs, and writing careers. I know I couldn't do it!

Judith, thank you! I'm rather fond of them, and if I leave them in the backyard all day, no one calls Children's Services on me.

Delia, I'm exhausted just reading your comment! I raise an extra big toast to you :)

Thanks for reading, guys!

Anonymous said...

All those sweet things you mentioned about your pets? That's how and why parents do it :)


Xuxana, I'm trying to remember anything sweet I said about my pets. You mean the incontinence? Or turning off my computer while I'm working? :)

I do get what you mean though. Just like I know I was born with a lot more fondness for animals than people, I know most people have a lot more affection for little ones than I do. That balance is what makes the world go 'round!


Cynthia Reese said...

Actually, I got more writing done when The Kiddo was pre-school age than when she hit public school. Dadburn standardized tests and homework!

Laura Fenske said...
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Laura Fenske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Cynthia, I am in awe of your schedule with all the homework prep and assorted school projects! I hope Kate gives you a good Mother's Day gift this year!

Laura, bring it, beyotch! Wait, never mind. I might be able to take you in a fight, but I'm pretty sure the boys could kick my ass.