1.02.2017

a new leash on life



2016 ended the way it began: hellishly. I think it was determined to kill me off while it still had the chance. I woke up NYE to Gracie uncharacteristically screaming in her crib while James showered because he had to work a full day. The screaming and crying continued all day, because teething is wreaking havoc on our lives, and also because she's been in full toddler mode lately. I asked her if she was hungry for dinner the other night, and before I knew it she was on the floor kicking and screaming and yelling "NO!" It is beyond me how a child with my DNA could have that sort of reaction to the offer of food, but the poor girl was having a rough week. Not to mention, the cat pooped all over the floor, my glasses broke, I sliced my finger open, knocked a bin of ornaments over while taking the tree down and broke them, spilled yogurt all over my laptop, and so on. And that was just before lunch. Gracie wasn't the only one crying on Saturday.

This wouldn't have been as much of a disaster if I hadn't just had a string of similar days.

As sad as I was to leave Iowa, I was really looking forward to coming home and putting the Christmas decorations away, cleaning, doing a little redecorating, and organizing Gracie's toys. I was craving cleanliness and a breath of fresh air. I had grand plans and plenty of Christmas candy to fuel me on. We went to Walmart on Wednesday to buy diapers, and I decided to check out the Christmas clearance. Every year I tell myself I'm going to stock up on wrapping paper when it's dirt cheap, but for some reason it never happens. This year, I was determined to be proactive since I used up most of my wrapping paper stash. I bought 5 rolls for a grand total of $3. I also found a candle on clearance that smelled of sugared maple leaves (is that a thing?) and evergreen. Despite the strange name, it smelled heavenly. I put it in my cart.

If only I had known.

It was a cheap candle, but it rang up at full price, even though it was supposed to be 50% off. If Gracie hadn't been on the verge of a lunchtime meltdown, I would've talked to someone about it, but it smelled so good I didn't care. When we got home, I opened the trunk to pull the wrapping paper out. Instead, the candle went crashing down on the asphalt and rolled through the parking lot, leaving a trail of glass shards. I picked it up, brought it inside, and figured it was still usable. I set it on a plate to catch any stray wax, and I lit it that evening.

I went to blow it out, and it did something no other candle of mine has ever done. As I blew on it, a giant pool of hot wax sprayed all over the white wall, the furniture, and the floor. Everything in sight was covered in dark green wax. I spent the rest of the evening scraping up wax with a spatula and put that demonic candle where it belonged: the trash can.

On Friday, I ran into Target with a list of things I needed. I decided I would treat myself to a coffee, and I waited 20 minutes for the rude barista to make my latte. Gracie was over the cart by the time I got my coffee and wanted to walk. I let her walk and hold my hand, awkwardly trying to push the cart with one hand while trying not to knock over my coffee haphazardly held in place by a white tabletop Christmas tree marked down to $2 (glory). She gave up on walking after three minutes and wanted to be held. I held her until I could hold her no longer, and that's when all hell broke loose.

I suddenly became THAT mom at Target with the tantruming toddler. The mom people write flowery articles about and open letters to. That was me. She went ramrod straight every time I tried to put her in the cart. My arms were aching and I couldn't hold her any longer. She refused to walk. She threw herself on the floor screaming and flailing. She had never been this unruly in public before. It happens to every mom, but this was the first time for me My face was burning and I was drenched in nervous sweat. I hauled her to the checkout counter to buy that Christmas tree and nothing that was on my list of needs. She was momentarily appeased by the sticker the cashier gave her, but when I went to put her coat on, it started all over again. I found myself near the doors, trying to force a coat on my wailing daughter, and since my emotions were already on thin ice, I gave in and burst into tears too. An older mom walked up to me and told me to hang in there and that she was on my team. I felt like I was living one of those articles on the internet, and it made me cry even harder because it sucked, but also because I really loved that woman for encouraging me when I needed it most.

We walked out to the car, past the giant red Target balls, to which Gracie screamed "blue balls! blue balls!" The tantrums started again when I wouldn't let her climb on them. The last thing we needed was more germs, especially after the girl in the Starbucks line looked like she had chicken pox. On the way to the car, I realized I couldn't find the keys. I searched for 10 minutes in the whipping 20 degree wind with tears rolling down my face while trying to keep Gracie from walking into the street. I finally found them in the pocket of the coat I had been too distracted to put on. Once we got home, I spilled what was left of my coffee in the parking lot.

I swore right then and there to never leave the house with her again.

But back to New Year's Eve. There had been a small glimmer of hope that James might get off work early. Not only did he not get off early, but he called me 15 minutes after he got off to tell me that he was stranded with a flat tire. Not only did he have a flat tire, but it was raining, and his jack broke.

We rescued him, and once Gracie was in bed, we drowned our bad day sorrows in tortilla roll ups, hot artichoke dip, homemade chex mix, chocolate chip cookies, a roaring fire, and How I Met Your Mother. It was perfect. After too many NYEs gone wrong in high school and college, I vowed to forever stay home in my pajamas and eat good food instead of going to a party. So far, I have yet to be disappointed.

The only downside was when I went to take my 2016 calendar off the wall. It wound up falling and scraping my nose. Last year literally and figuratively attacked me.

New Years Day was warm and glorious. After calling roadside assistance to help with the flat tire, we took our toddler who refused to nap to the mall to continue our tradition of browsing the sales. We got iced coffees, bought a pair of llama socks, and Gracie had the time of her life toddling all over the place, her little Pooh Bear swinging in her hand. She finally realized how much freedom she has now that she can walk, and she didn't want to be held, sit in the stroller, or hold our hands. She has a new lease on life, my friends, and she cannot and will not be stopped. My three miles on the treadmill that morning were no match against chasing her through a huge, crowded mall. The hours of walking and lack of nap caught up with her, and our trip to Target suddenly seemed so easy and silly. It was bad, it was so bad. James was with me, so at least I was able to laugh instead of cry as we ran to the car as fast as we could with everyone in a 5 mile radius staring at us. It's one of those stories she'll be hearing about the rest of her life, just like my mom still tells me about my public tantrums.

New year, new phase of life.

So far, 2017 has been lightyears better than 2016, tantrums and all. I feel so liberated. Nothing changed, but no longer being under the yoke of 2016 feels incredible, and we had a good day as a family after a string of very hard ones. I hope that's indicative of the year to come. I love watching Gracie thrive and flourish into a little girl. But if this day was any indication, we're both going to need a lot of naps.

And maybe a toddler leash. They used to horrify me, but you guys, I get it now. 

Toddlers are a lot like that candle smelling of sugared maple leaves--they're cute and charming at first, but if not properly contained, they leave trails of destruction.

21 comments:

  1. Every time you post about the crazy shit that happens to you, I simultaneously laugh and cringe because I feel like I'm right there with you!! Here's to a better 2017 (with a couple crazy stories for entertainment sake...)

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    1. Haha, thank you! I love a crazy story, but I could use a small break from them 😜

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  2. Oh no. I hope 2017 brings major positive changes to your luck!! :) Last night I was making us peanut butter banana smoothies, so I had the blender filled with bananas, milk, PB, ice, all the fixins. And then I knocked it off the counter and it went EVERY. WHERE. Floors. Counters. Cabinets. My clothes. It was horrible. I was so upset because of that one mishap, but compared to your string of unfortunate events, I guess I should be thankful that's all that happened! I hope you have a smooth, problem free week this week!

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  3. Oooooooh, man. Your Target story kills me. Like, I'm imagining myself next to you holding your bags and soothing you and shooting dirty looks in your defense at people gawking. That sounds like it was ROUGH. I think 2016 just made you a stronger, invincible person. 2017 better watch itself because you're not taking any sh*t this year!

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  4. Please for the love of all that is good and holy, can 2017 be better? I feel like a lot of people are being sassy about those who think 2016 was bad because there was also so much good...and yes, there was. It gave me Jack and that's the best. But it was also the WORST year ever and 100% tried to kill me so I feel like we're in that same single mom survival boat over here.

    screw your broken candle and demonic calendar and spilt coffee and SCREW YOU 2016.

    CHEERS TO YOU FOR SURVIVING, FRIEND.

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  5. You are so great! You're doing a good job-I have so much admiration for you persevering in all of the crazy! I always used to shudder at those toddler leashes too, but they do make sense! One time while in NYC, my then-toddler sister got lost in the crowds and almost made it out of the church door. If a security guard hadn't snagged her, who knows what would have happened? A toddler leash would have been perfect in that scenario.

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  6. I was THAT mom in Target the other day too. Paisley was displeased with the snack I offered her and it was the only one I had with me. I broke out in a cold sweat as I felt stranger's eyes burning a hole into me as she screamed. I was so quick to get out of there, I accidentally stole some foundation. I was too embarrassed to go back in, so now I just feel guilty every time I put on my makeup.

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  7. While I can relate to the joys of a fresh start and putting the Christmas decor away I think that was your first mistake. The second, of course, being ever leaving the house. Christmas was punishing you for your eagerness. I, on the other hand, was planning on taking it down next weekend. I suspect is going to be up until Valentine's Day now.

    That mom solidarity almost brought years to my eyes. Beautiful and terrible all at once. Isn't it nice how our kids can bring out the worst in us and best in strangers while being little hellions?

    Leash that child and put the madness behind you. You can only go up. And at least you're not sick!

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  8. Oh my goodness. I'm with the commenter above- simultaneous laughter and horror!
    I remember that stage well- the anti-cart. It's practically soul-killing. I say it as though we are far removed but I still have to bribe my three year old to ride in the cart with stickers. You know, for those trips that would take you 10 minutes on your own, but 45 minutes with them?
    I think anyone who is opposed to the toddler leash has never had a child dart into a busy parking lot. We never bought one (thankfully that was an isolated incident), but given the choice between an odd look and my kid's safety, no contest.

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  9. Ohh, I love that you share these momma moments with the world. I need them all in a book collection at some point ok? :) I already am scared of the day where T has tantrums and public freakouts because I know it will happen. Props to you for surviving them, and for being brave enough to go out again! ;)

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  10. While my experience wasn't quite as terrible as yours, I can totally relate. R is CRAZY these days when I take her shopping. She has decided sitting in the cart is beneath her and she wants me to HOLD her, so I'm holding 24 pounds with one arm while pushing a cart full of canned goods with the other. I finally opened a bag of pretzels to try and keep her occupied and she left a trail of them from the pasta to the checkout counter and then ripped the entire bag down the side. When I got home Jordan said, "Why would you buy an open bag of pretzels?" BECAUSE I'M AN IDIOT THANKS. Is that a real question?

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  11. Oh my word! I read your posts and feel so bad for you and crack up at the same time. I hope that's okay.

    I feel bad for parents when their kids go wild. I'm sure that's awful and very difficult to deal with. I think toddler leashes are the worst inventions ever but that's coming from someone who doesn't have kids. I've always thought, "will I want one of those when we have kids?" ha ah! I'll have to see how that one goes.

    I hope your 2017 goes much better!

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  12. Wow. Not sure any comment of mine can adequately address this post. My only thought is that Satan himself obviously planted that candle there to try you, so good move on throwing it out. I would hang some garlic or something in the doorway just in case it tries to come back.

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  13. That candle had your number from the get go. I think you still won in the end though.

    Also, I've never been against the child leash. As long as they aren't being misused, I think every toddler should be in one. haha And at times I wish I had one for Landon.

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  14. My mom caught this hilarious video of me speed walking in an outdoor mall holding a wailing and flailing Presley after I physically removed her from a life-sized chess board in a play area. I'll have to share it on IG, because I know every other mom will be like, "YUP. I feel you, lady." Full-out meltdown. All I could do was look back at my mom, smile, and keep trucking ahead! My mom couldn't contain herself.

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  15. ALSO, if you ever spill candle wax on furniture again, the best thing to do is lay a paper bag over it and then use an iron to "pull" the wax up. Keep laying another "dry" part of the bag on it and ironing. Not that I know from experience or anything... :)

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  16. I was totally there with you at Target over the weekend! My son had a freaking meltdown and tried to climb out of the seatbelt. The nice employees of Target gave him stickers. Ha!

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    1. I'm so sorry it happened to you too, but it's always nice to know I'm not the only one!

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  17. Aw, I'm so sorry! I wish I could have been there in Target with you. I would have loved to hold/console Gracie while you tried to get stuff done. Moms should always go out in pairs. I'm always so awkward with trying to multitask/go with the flow in situations like that, I probably would have been the one to throw a tantrum in the middle of Target if I were in your shoes lol.
    Hope your week has gotten better, love!

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    1. Also, car trouble is the absolute worst! It takes so much time and money. It's one of the most inconvenient things EVER! So I'm sorry you had all of this in the same week.

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    2. I WISH YOU COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TOO. We've pretty much had a similar experience every time we've gone out lately, but I'm getting slightly better at handling it. I think. I hope :)

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