A renowned psychologist once identified the baby/toddler years as the “Emergency of Parenthood.” I first heard that statement when I was in the thick of it with an 8, 6, 4 and newborn and it resonated. The sleepless nights coping with a baby, the constant supervision of a reckless toddler, compounded with the pure mindlessness of being a stay-at-home mom, completely isolated from the buzzing world around me, left one to conclude that my life was a fire drill.
I was in Trader Joes, hauling all four kids through the aisles, desperately trying to get some milk and eggs; suddenly the straw broke the camel’s back. “You have your hands full,” some unwitting person smiled at me.
“No f-ing sh-t,” I replied only to be met with her shocked expression that I was swearing in front of these innocent youngsters.
You see, that was what I heard every time I stepped out my front door -- five or six times a day. This particular day, Charlie was sick and had thrown up on me. The aroma of his barf still rising from my hair while Teddy pulled on my pants trying to get my attention trying to tell me he was not feeling so hot. If I had bothered to listen (instead of cussing out the shopper) he probably would have made it to the bathroom instead of projectile vomiting on the aisle floor. I can still hear the loudspeaker ("Clean up on aisle 4.") and picture the poor woman racing away from the disaster scene.
Emergency indeed. That night I went home and started my blog, You Have Your Hands Full, handsfullsb.com. It just felt better to write it out instead of assaulting some innocent bystander at the grocery store. And write I did, for the last five years. Sometimes I was desperate and needed an outlet, other times I just wanted to chronicle something that happened that was funny. (So when the desperation inevitably hit again I could go back and laugh.)
My blog turned into the Sentinel column a couple years back. After a long hiatus brought on by becoming a parent, my name was in newsprint again writing about, what else? Parenting.
My emergency stage is now past. I can sit at a cocktail party as my pack runs about, or read poolside with out worrying about a drowning. We are stable (more or less).. I tend to shop at Trader Joes when they are in school (sorry folks, no longer am I the freakshow with four kids).
To Jackson’s relief, I will not write about the ups and downs of his growing up as a teenager in the local paper anymore. The life and trials of the Peters’ family is coming to an end. We just moved to Connecticut when school got out. A new chapter for Alpha, which means a new chapter for his 1950’s wife.
For all of those who reached out to me, at the gym, on State Street, even in the grocery store, THANK YOU enormously. As I wrote my column, I sat in my chaotic house, with dinner cooking and kids screaming, unaware that my own thoughts and feelings as a harried parent were shared. In the moment, I was isolated and cut off. Often times, it is a lonely choice to stay at home. So every time I got a hug or heard “I read your column” from someone, it made me realize that I am not alone. There is an amazing community out there that has laughed and cried with me.
It has been a blast to write my inner most feelings. Thanks to The Sentinel for reminding me that before I was a 1950s housewife, I was a writer. And thank you Santa Barbara for reading me.