I still get email pitches in my inbox every day.

Do you want to try a sample pack of our latest diapers?

We make a hypoalergenic vegan baby wash, would you be willing to tell your audience about it?

We just launched the latest quantum transformer jet pack stroller, would you be interested in a few high res images of Selma Blair pushing it at Burning Man?

The only person who needs diapers and a stroller in this house is me. Otherwise, this stuff does not apply anymore, and I am one part grateful to no longer be schlepping a baby around, and one part sad that it’s over.

The accessories that come with grade school kids simply aren’t as fun. It’s basically just shit I’d buy for myself, only now I’m spending the same amount of money and then handing it to someone who has no concept of data consumption or job to replace it when it breaks.

I feel like I’m operating in purgatory right now. Jude is 11, Wyatt is 10, and Gigi is 8.

Not little kids. Not teenagers. Barely tweens. Tween-ish, maybe?

Here’s what I know.

1. I feel like I mostly know who my kids are, and then I wait five minutes, and they show me that I’m wrong about everything.

Jude and Wyatt wear deodorant (we use Keep It Kind. It’s aluminum, paraben and alcohol free, and I also use it under my boobs to keep things less swampy.  You can find it here.) and have leg hair and sometimes have blackheads that they ask me to pop for them. They are tall and lean and their faces are changing from cherubs that asked me to open GoGurts to pre-adult humans who ask me for my Apple ID.

Jude still tells me he loves me all the time and calls me mama and hugs me in public. Like, right there in plain view of everyone, he just drapes his arms around my waist, buries his face into my stomach, and stands there as the whole word happens around us. He has entire conversations with people while hugging me, and I stand there, frozen, afraid to move to fast for fear he’ll let go.

He likes a girl in his class because she’s smart and an amazing soccer player, but has told me on more that one occasion that he thinks he may wait to date until he’s drafted by the NBA. I love that he talks to me. In fact, he sings like a canary every day when he climbs into my car after school.

Other parents text me to ask Jude about their children’s days, and he rattles on about who sat with who at lunch, or who got in trouble during Mass, or who failed the Social Studies test.

He is Gossip Girl.

However, our running joke about Jude is that he has to grow up to be very wealthy, because his ability to care for himself is minimal, at best.

Jude needs personal butler money.

It’s not that we do everything for him, per say. It’s that he has adapted his life to get away with not doing much.

He wore slip-on tennis shoes until he was 10 to avoid learning how to tie his shoes.

He capitalizes on Wyatt’s love of cooking to get him to make food for him. I asked Jude to make a peanut butter sandwich in front of me once, and it was like handing a butter knife to a dolphin.

Jude is clever and lazy and athletic and wonderful.

Wyatt is the middle child. Wyatt is the peacekeeper.

He floats calmly in the oil and water of Jude and Gigi’s relationship.

He’ll spend hours doing art projects with Gigi, and then shoot hoops with Jude until sunset. He manages his time between them better than I am able to juggle the parenting of three children.

Wyatt went from being terrified of school and large groups of kids after some assholes tied him up with a jump rope and punched him in the stomach during recesses at his old school a few years ago, to being the most popular and kind boy in his class.

His playdate dance card is overflowing. He is a phoenix.

The special thing about Wise Guy is that he’s sleeper cell cool. He won’t just tell you that right away, you have to figure it out on your own through a series of attempts at connecting with him. He makes you work for it.

Cuddling? No.

Cuddling on the couch watching Twilight? Yes.

Shawn Mendes? No.

Butthole Surfers? Yes.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid? No.

Hunger Games? Yes.

Wyatt is the kid you end up borrowing money from when you have no cash to get into a soccer game. He hides away cash like a goblin at Gringotts. Jude and Gigi both owe him a substantial amount of money, and he quietly drops hand written invoices on their beds every few months.

When he figures out how interest works we’re all fucked.

Wyatt doesn’t need to talk to me the way Jude deeply needs to. He’s fine being silent and just in the same room with me.

I wish he needed me more.

Gigi relishes in being the youngest. The last. If another were to come, she’d eat it whole and then lecture you about Darwinism.

Gigi wants to be my best friend, and I fight every urge in my bones to not let that happen yet. I have to be her parent a little bit longer, even though I want nothing more than to buy matching best friend necklaces and get matching ankle tattoos.

So in the mean time, I let her go on and on about her day and try to mix in equal parts mom responses and friend responses. She’s really good at french braiding my hair, division and rolling her eyes.

She’s learning Spanish on the computer in my office, and slips into a British accent every time she plays with her American Girl dolls.

Like Wyatt, she’s a hoarder of garbage crafts, and I open the draws of her nightstand to find piles of torn up paper and envelops I’d thought I’d thrown away. I don’t understand this, how can everyone be calm with piles of trash everywhere?

I mean, how do you delicately say, hey your imagination is awesome, but can we also please throw away this giant cardboard box covered in panty liners and broken Pop-Tarts?

A few weeks ago, she had Andy and I sit on the couch and asked us if it’s okay for her to go to the Olympics. Like, you know, if we minded.

All of my insides tightened with happiness! I was made for this, to be this mom, to funnel this competitiveness into something with medals. I can sit on the bench in Olympic stadium with my American flag sweater on and bite my knuckles while my daughter runs toward the vault and flips into the air.

Andy looked at me in that moment and saw the tears in my eyes, and knew that inside my head, I was probably standing for the National Anthem next to Simone Biles’ parents.

“If you get there, we’ll be right there with you.” He smiled, and then agreed to an extra gymnastics class this fall.

My whole life is shuttling children to places to experience more than what I did as a kid.

2. I just thought I’d have my shit together a little bit more as a parent by now.

Growing up, I remember family traditions and some sense of stability. I went to bed at 8pm every night except on Sundays when I stayed up later to watch Avonlea with my mom.

We always went to the same neighborhood across from the cemetary to trick-or-treat on Halloween.

We ate Belgian waffles while watching the Macey’s parade.

We spent Christmas morning next door with my grandparents.

We went to Chi Chi’s for every birthday dinner.

I feel like we offer none of that to our kids. We travel often, we weren’t even home for Halloween for three years in a row. All of my most important photos are on iPhones. Since having Gigi we’ve moved twice, and we’re moving again. I have every intention of making home cooked meals and eating at the dinner table, but the reality is that we eat far too much take-out while piled on the big couch watching last night’s Tonight Show.

Does missing my kids’ last day of school for the last four years because I run an adult summer camp count as a tradition?

Is it terrible that I don’t even have fun kid-made ornaments on our Christmas tree? Shouldn’t I have those by now?

This parenting that Andy and I are doing feels so messy and last minute. I don’t think it looks like the warm sepia slideshow parenting I am remembering from my youth.

Maybe it’s just time fucking with me. Or maybe I’m right and we’re terrible at this.

I guess I have to wait for therapy bills to start rolling in to know for sure.

 

 

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