Why Parents of Young Kids Look Hungover, in One Amazing Diagram

So… this explains why I’m SO FRICKEN EXHAUSTED ALL THE TIME:

You see that graphic? That’s the tracked movement of a child around a room in SEVEN MINUTES. Olive is 17 months and I swear she is even faster and more distractible than the disturbing 18 month one in the top center of the image. Imagine that along with that jaggedy line is a thicker one of a parent or caregiver, shadowing the child’s every move. Some kids are fine to play by themselves, but my intense little one requires constant interaction. HOW WILL I EVER MAKE IT TO THE 4 YEAR ONE?! That looks totally doable.
Okay. Sorry about all the caps. But my job of raising Olive is requiring every last ounce of my energy so I’m kind of screamo about it. Case in point is our morning routine. Olive wakes up at the crack of dawn chatting and thrashing around in our bed (if we didn’t bring her to bed when she cries at 5am she’d be wide awake even earlier), and Joel and I navigate who is going to get up with her, and who gets 5-10 extra minutes of relative quiet in the bed. Then after breakfast and washing up and dressing, we have a little dance party (lately it’s been all vinyl jams, to begin her music education right) and then head out to unleash her energy on the city. She eskews her stroller, and if I force her into it she’d just fall asleep in it, because she gets up way too early so she’s tired! But if she sleeps in the morning, all I’ll get from her is a one hour nap and she’ll be a mess all late afternoon. So the trick is to keep her awake and engaged until noon.
This is fine in the early morning, when we are heading out to either playgroup or the library, but afterwards, when we need to walk back, it’s usually a disaster. Homegirl CANNOT walk in a straight line, and refuses to hold my hand and let me help her. So, we stop at every gate for her to shake it like a monkey, wander into every store to charm the shopkeepers, and pick up all sort of gross city stuff she has no business touching. I deal with all of this as patiently as possible — I’m allowing her to explore her world, and the city streets are her habitat. So, I humor her while she traipses along, but it is trying.
Today I thought I’d be smart and take the bus back, and had actually planned everything around this, going a little farther down Valencia than usual, banking on that bus ride home once we were both tuckered. However, the Mission bus has inexplicably moved 2 blocks away, and she was so tired she was falling down in the street. So, I carried her the 6 blocks home, which felt like wriggly lead in my arms.   Gratefully, once we gets home it’s nap time, and even though the fact that she usually needs to be held for most of her nap means I get no time to myself, it also forces me to lay down with her and rest from the long, fun, but challenging morning.
Anyway, all of this running after a kid who only seems to gain speed has made my Lenten promise of giving up sweets sort of irrelevant (although I have kept up with the other one, of not being short with my husband, give or take a few moments of snark). I followed my refusal of sugary desserts faithfully for the whole first week, which is actually pretty good for me! It felt good to practice restraint and let that lead me to prayer. However, since then I have been… totally knackered, and in need of every little indulgence I can give myself to look forward to, and keep me going when I’m summoning my “oms” from morning yoga to give me patience with my tiny terrific tornado. After all, life is short. Who wants to live a single day without having dessert?

3 thoughts on “Why Parents of Young Kids Look Hungover, in One Amazing Diagram

  1. I swear that the half-years are the hardest phases. 2 was fine, but 2 1/2? Crazytown. So, you are doing fine for where she is right now. Except, Miss Olive and I need to have a talk about the “hold me while I nap” thing. Naptime is YOUR time. It’s sacred bliss of eating with two hands and peeing in silence and paying bills and finally brushing your teeth. So, Miss O, snuggle with a stuffed animal or something so that Mommy can have a moment in her own body? Thanks, little one. XoXo, Auntie Molly

  2. I think it is okay to take on something rather than giving up something. You have taken on raising a beautiful child and that is enough sacrifice right now. It does get better. I finally had to try and be tough about bedtime because with three children it just wasn’t possible to let everyone sleep when they wanted and wake up when they wanted. By 8 pm I had had it and did not have an ounce more of anything to give. So it meant all three had to be in their bed and quiet and older kids got to read and younger boys had to have lights out. It didn’t always work but at least they got the picture. And this was the time of Woodstock and kids wandering around at all hours. I am not judging—more power to anyone who can take care of a child all day and then all night too. I tried to get all three of them to stay in their beds until 7 am. Again they could read but quietly. It didn’t always work but they had so many books and toys that they could probably have made it a week or two without leaving their rooms if I just threw some food in to them.
    I joke but I know how very hard it is. And Olive is the cutest little girl and smart too. And musical. I have no answers but I do hope you work out a way you can sleep. I just remember bargaining with God about my getting more sleep and I would go out on city streets and feed the poor—after two or three nights of real sleep. Oh what a full time job. I love you and Joel and Olive and I have no solution. One more memory—coming home from Central Park on a sultry, going to rain, hot New York City afternoon with my two older kids tired and cranky and the baby needing to nurse. So when we made it to our apartment I had to sit down with the baby and the other two were sent to their rooms–again I tried to make their rooms fun places and not time out places. We didn’t have TV but I would have put them in front of it while I sorted everything out.
    I wish I could babysit for a day and a night but can’t do that right now. Is there anyone who could stay with Olive? Just a suggestion. Much love and thanks for helping me go down memory lane.

  3. Touche! Thanks for that diagram. Now I don’t feel like a total wimpy, loser parent, when I think back to Sully’s younger days, and I’m enjoying that Sadie isn’t a full fledged walker yet (although she walked halfway across the living room tonight with no help!).

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