Ever wonder how other parents handle (or try to handle) the day-to-day grind of raising young kids? We were, which is why we started the “How She Does It” series to shed light on how mothers do it–from wake-up to bedtime and everything in between.
I don’t work in the summer the way most moms and dads do. I work on The Big Bang Theory August through April and in between, I do speaking engagements, Texas Instruments events, and other random weird work stuff. But I don’t want to be left out of the “How Do I Do It?” series…
So here’s an average day in the summer with my kids. Uncensored.
6:45 a.m. Fred (almost 5) wakes up first and starts sleepily tickling my arms, honing in with his razor-fine fingernails on every imperfection in my skin, making me yelp and cringe. Miles (almost 8) wakes up to cuddle the other side of me. (They have started sleeping in their own sibling bed this summer, but since they had been with their dad for a week, they requested sleeping with me again and I obliged willingly.)
I manage to corral the tickling into some good solid cuddling and Fred starts asking, “What for breakfast?”
7:30 a.m. I typically don’t make processed breakfasts except on select days, but this being a Friday, I toast up some flax waffles (party!) and settle the boys at the breakfast table. I remind them that I have a “phoner”–that is, a phone interview, for the Gillette HowDoesHeShave.com “Man of Steel” promotion I did. I remind them that mama on a phone call means no shouting, no screaming, and no asking for things for 15 minutes. Miles reminds me, “They always ask more things than they’re supposed to, Mama.” I know, Miles.
8:00 a.m. I watch the boys meander into the room where most of their toys are, about 20 feet from where the phone is. I dial in and they seem to be happily immersed in LEGO. I start the call.
8:08 a.m. Fred prances in with some impossibly meaningless comment about his Lone Ranger LEGO and in my frantically waving him away from me and the phone, I accidentally hang up. I don’t want to shame him, but I declare in a very strange frantic mama voice, “Fred! This is what I meant about my phone call! Now I hung up and I have to try and call back!” He retreats into the other room and I hear the reporter say, “What?” Apparently, I had not hung up all the way and the reporter may or may not have heard my crazy frantic mama voice shaming Fred. I want to die of shame myself (thank you, God, for humbling me yet again) but I shove those feelings down and finish the blessed interview.
8:30 a.m. The call is over. Miles was right and reminds me so. They do always ask more questions than they’re supposed to. I decide to clean the toilets and the bathroom sinks and floors. It’s been way too long. Possibly months. But possibly less. But possibly not less. Anyway. The boys are happy, I actually like cleaning, and I set to work.
9:30 a.m. Two toilets, one tile floor (on hands and knees with a shmatte!) and two sinks later, I decide that since the boys are happy and I own headphones that I am going to vacuum the one room in the house that is not sweepable (since it’s made of stone). I close myself off and blast Tom Petty and I vacuum. Except the vacuum starts spitting dust and grime OUT of the vacuum. I futz with it and curse under my breath at it until I figure out what’s wrong: the bag is full. As in completely full. Now I am covered with dust and sweat and the floor is still not vacuumed. I grab the tiny dustbuster and do a mediocre job and wash up and tell the boys to get dressed.
10:00 a.m. We are out the door to get vacuum cleaner bags. But my car is so dirty because I have been away and I have not washed it so instead we go to the car wash which is two blocks from the place I get vacuum bags. My plan is to drop the car, walk to get vacuum bags with the boys, and get back to tip the guy and leave. This fails for two reasons. First, my sons love nothing more than watching the car get washed and second, as Miles informs me, “Manhattan is a walking city. LA is not.” Alright then.
10:45 a.m. The car is clean. We drive to a new-ish vegan restaurant my boys have never been to before called “Sage.” It features KindKreme vegan ice cream in the restaurant as well. We eat fried artichokes and quinoa corn cakes and they have grilled cheese and quesadillas and I have a tempeh burger and they get ice cream (oatmeal raisin and strawberry) and we head home. I forgot to get vacuum bags.
12:30 p.m. I answer some emails while the boys fight with wooden swords and do more LEGO playing. My lawyer needs something scanned and emailed but my scanner won’t connect to the WiFi (First World problem, I know) so I pile the boys into the car (no shoes needed for Fred, I say) and we drive to the nearest mail place with a fax machine.
2:30 p.m. Back home, I answer more work emails and the boys are playing nicely together but it gets hairy here and there. I give them a slice of chocolate cake we baked for my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary the night before and I don’t feel guilty about it.
3:30 p.m. My friend Denise who shot the photos for my upcoming vegan cookbook calls me from about three miles from my house. She was on her way to give me back all of the produce and freezer and fridge stuff not used up for the photo shoot and she ran out of gas…literally. So she had her two boys with her and a car full of perishables and was waiting for AAA. I did not want to go out again. This was supposed to be my home day! I tell the boys to skip shoes (both of them) and get into the car. We go get the groceries and come back home.
4:15 p.m. I unpack the groceries. The boys want me to play with them. We play “Zingo.” Miles asks me to make shepherd’s pie for dinner. I had been just planning on leftovers honestly, but I see that I have all of the ingredients. So I make shepherd’s pie: mashed potatoes, and then sauteed lentils, carrots, peas, corn, with a little mustard and spices. And also quinoa salad to have for Shabbos. We play “Break The Ice” and I keep cooking. Fred eats quinoa salad right out of the bowl while walking around the house because he loves it so much. The house is a mess already. Who cares?
4:45 p.m. The piano becomes all of a sudden so enticing as dinnertime nears that they request a lesson. Sigh. I can’t say no, right!? I sit with Fred and he achieves his first song flawlessly and gets a sticker and is so excited that he asks to play it again. He does. I am so glad I sat with him for this lesson. Miles also plays, and then he wants to play my bass guitar, which I lay over his lap on the couch. He asks all sorts of questions about it as I finish cooking.
5:00 p.m. FaceTime with Michael. I look like hell and am almost embarrassed to be seen even in the background of FaceTime. I look like I’ve been through the carwash myself and I don’t know that I even care what I look like for Michael on FaceTime but I look so horrendously haggard that I care a little bit. He talks to the boys and I mumble that I will talk to him after Shabbos.
5:15 p.m. We eat shepherd’s pie. They love it. Fred also asks for some more quinoa. Fine. And some grape juice even though we will be in bed before Shabbos even starts. After dinner, Miles takes his dishes to the kitchen and Fred does so reluctantly. We go outside and look at my “fairy garden” and we pull weeds from around the little plants and statues of little fairies I have in one bed of the garden. The sun is starting to lose its power. I am already picturing falling asleep with the boys. It’s been a long day and being outside is a nice way to cap it.
6:15 p.m. Bath. Fred hates having his hair washed but we skipped last night so he whines for a second and then gives in. I soap them both up, they rinse off. Fred hits the back of his head against the tub and the bath is over. He blames Miles, Miles denies it was his fault. I don’t care. Bath is over. I cradle Fred and put ice on his head and Miles gets out and it’s still 80 degrees so they put on underwear and white undershirts. They are very sweet again as sleep begins to move in.
6:45 p.m. We read a “Phineas and Ferb” comic and the boys squeal with delight at how I know how to do Baljeet’s accent without having ever seen the show. We also read Chicken Little for the first time and as we get to the final page where Foxy Loxy eats all of the sweet animals one by one and the picture is a plump happy fox licking his lips, I realize this was a horrible idea. I look at Fred and he starts bawling. Wailing. He ate the animals. Oy. Wrong choice, Mama. I make up a new ending where the animals all live to tell the King the sky is falling and then I read the PJ Library book Before You Were Born. It’s about an angel teaching us all the secrets of the world before we are born and how she touches our lip to make us forget and we have the indentation above our lip to prove it. And I always cry at the last page because it says, “Don’t worry. You have the rest of your life to learn all of those wonderful secrets again.”
7:15 p.m. I wonder if I will be here to see my boys learn every secret I want them to learn. I wonder if I will fully appreciate it. I wonder if I shouted too much today. Or if I failed as a mom; or rather, how many times I failed today. And I think about how much fun it is to explain how stick shift cars work. And how much my boys love how fast my Audi accelerates. And how much we love singing “Sultans of Swing” together. And how much I accomplished: the toilets, the car wash, the cooking. It’s going to be a good Shabbos.
7:30 p.m. I fall asleep with my boys, snuggled between them, regretting that I have ever had any regrets.