We had a really busy weekend, full of wonderful people and good times and amazing food. I’m exhausted. It’s Monday morning and it’s raining and my house is full of children because FALL BREAK! And man, did we ever need fall break, and this is going to be a great couple of weeks, but none of that changes the fact that this morning my eye is twitching and no amount of caffeine has yet been enough to convince me to be productive in any way.
Instead, I find myself wondering what would happen if I just…didn’t. What if I just got back in bed and went to sleep and let the kids roam free for the day? What do you think? Odds on their survival? I’m sure they would find food for themselves and all still be alive at the end of the day. I mean, I’m mostly sure. I’m definitely sure that it would be an interesting story. Technically, if something I did produced an interesting story, then that would be me being productive, right?
My justification knows no bounds.
In any case, this morning has been reminding me of the many (MANY) mornings that I felt like this when my kids were toddlers. Back in those days, my brain more or less always had this mushy quality. Those were the days when I always went to bed with dishes in the sink because there was no strength left after dinner and bedtime to even look at them. Those were the days when I invented rocket ship games that let me sit on my bed while the kids went on “missions” because I had to nurse the baby and also because if I walked around the house I would trip on toys and be too tired to bend over and pick them up. Those were the days when I forgot what it felt like to feel rested and productive and intelligent and clean.
It was one of those despairing days that I turned that fuzzy-headed feeling into a story of its own. Somehow, that story became my kids’ favorite, and I told it over and over to them for weeks. It is a monument to the fact that you can turn absolutely anything into a story if you’re
desperate interesting enough.
This morning, in an attempt to encourage all you moms of littles as I relive that hazy feeling for a day, I bring you MUSH MOMMY.
Once upon a time there was a mommy who loved to tell stories to her children, Molly, Matt, and Maggie. Every morning when they woke up, the children would say, “Please may we have a story?” Then their mommy would tell them a story while they ate their breakfast. She would tell them stories while they were doing their work, tell them stories while they were walking to school, and tell them a brand new story each night as she tucked them into bed. The last thing they would hear before falling asleep was, “And they lived happily ever after.”
That falling asleep was where all the trouble began. It started with Molly, who was eight. Molly decided she was too old to go to bed at the same time as her baby brother and sister. So she asked for extra stories, and when that didn’t work, she asked for a drink of water, and when that didn’t work, she asked for some toys to play with in bed, and when that didn’t work, she cried. With all this asking and crying, it was much later than normal when Mommy was finally able to get Molly to sleep. Then is was Maggie’s turn. Maggie had fallen asleep with no trouble at all, like the sweet little baby that she was. But just when everyone else had begun to dream their happiest dreams, Baby Maggie woke up. And she cried. And she cried, and cried, and cried. It was a very long time before Mommy could get her to go back to dreamland. By that time, Mommy was very, very tired, and she sighed happily as she crawled back into bed. Just then, Matt woke up. He didn’t mean to stay awake. He just missed his Mommy. So he got up and went to her bed and curled up against her. He was a very sweet and snuggly boy…all except for his elbow. His elbow was very sharp and pokey, and it was determined to have as much space as it needed to stick out. Mostly the place where it decided to stick was in the Mommy’s back. After a while of being poked by elbow, Mommy got up and carried sleeping Matt back to his own bed. Then, just as she settled back into her pillows with a smile….it was morning, and Molly and Matt and Maggie were waking up and asking for a story with their breakfast.
The first morning after a night like that, Mommy felt like her head was a little mushy, but she shook herself and drank some coffee and made up a new story. The second morning, Mommy knew her head was quite mushy, so she shook herself and drank some coffee, but she still couldn’t think of a new story, so she told everyone Molly’s favorite fairy tale. The third morning, Mommy’s head was nothing but mush. She drank her coffee, but it just seeped right out of her mushy head. She tried to remember Matt’s favorite story, but her mushy head could not do it. Matt had to tell the story himself. The fourth morning, not only was Mommy’s head mushy, now her arms and hands had turned to mush, too. Molly had to make breakfast for everyone, and she tried to think of a story, but Maggie cried because her breakfast was too hot and Matt complained that Molly’s story wasn’t exciting enough. The fifth morning came, and now Mommy had turned entirely to mush. She tried to get out of bed, but her mushy legs couldn’t stand up. Molly, Matt, and Maggie didn’t know what to do. They tried to make her sit up, but she was too mushy. The tried to roll her out of the bed, but she just glooped right over the edge and landed in a pile of mush on the floor. Molly called the doctor, who rushed right over.
“Yes,” said the doctor, “this is the worst case of Mommy Mush I’ve ever seen. It’s a good thing you called me when you did. Tell me, now, has she been getting any sleep at night?”
Molly, Matt, and Maggie just looked at the floor.
“That’s what I thought,” said the doctor. “Well, fortunately, Mommy Mush is curable, but it’s going to take some very fast music and then A LOT of sleep. “
So Molly went on put on their very loudest dance music, and they all watched anxiously as Mush Mommy slowly turned back into their real Mommy. Only when she was able to smile a very, very weak smile did the doctor lift her off the floor and back into her bed. Then he turned off the light, and they all tiptoed out of the room and let her sleep.
It was a very long day for those children without any Mommy to tell them stories, but Matt and Molly tried to take turns telling all the stories they could remember. And that night when it was time to go to bed, Molly went straight to sleep without any complaining. In the night, Maggie woke up and wanted to cry, but then she thought of Mush Mommy and grabbed her blankie and went back to sleep. A little later Matt woke up and wanted to curl up by Mommy again, but instead he cuddled down in his blankets and dreamed of having his Mommy back to normal again.
In the morning, Mommy was all better. She got up and made breakfast with no signs of mushy hands. At breakfast, she told them the best story ever. And of course, they lived happily ever after, sleeping all night long every night.
If only it could be so easy in real life, right? Good luck, Mush Mommies everywhere. May your coffee be strong and your children be patient (or at least easily pacified by TV).
It gets better. (There are still days, but it gets so much better.)