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I'm Doing My Freaking Best

One of the wisest men I know once wrote me a note that read: 

"I suspect you, like me, have a confident exterior, but are plauged with inner doubts, like an impostor.. improvising every day, afraid the "real experts" are going to find you out.  The thruth is - we are ALL improvising.  Embrace improvisation.  Usually "experts" have maxed out and have very little capacity for improvisation.  If I could choose - consciously - I would choose improvisation" 

The above paragraph was part of a much longer letter of sorts that was written to me when I made the choice to move to Cleveland with my husband and son to start the next season of our life as a family of three. I understood the letter to be about my professional life and my ability to improvise in my job. While I had always been cool and confident in my work on the surface, just beneath I was constantly kicking and trying to keep myself above water, often looking around a room of people 10, 15, even 20 years my elder and wondering "what am I doing here? if someone figures out that I am really only 12 years old, I'm going to fired on the spot!" I didn't realize how much these words carried over into every other role in my life. 

I went back to work when my son was 5 weeks old (try and hold your judgement Pinterest mom cowgirls). I did it because I wanted to.  I love my job and thankfully, I had some flexibility for the first month or so to bring my son to the office with me. There I was, in my office with a newborn baby on my lap and I felt powerful. I would think to myself, "I'm doing it! Everyone probably thought I couldn't do it and look at me.. I'm working and momming." 

Conrad under my desk at 5 weeks old. Yeah, that was too soon. 

When my son was 7 or 8 weeks old, a sweet lady named Gigi came into our lives and she became his primary caregiver while I was working full time. When my son was about 7 months old the inevitable mom-guilt hit me hard in the face.  I would cry on my way to work almost every day over the idea that someone else was raising my son.  The reality was that I only saw him for an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.  Three hours a day. 15 hours a week was the only amount of time I was with my baby. 

When my husband was offered an opportunity to work in Cleveland, the idea of being able to stay home with my son was like seeing a leprechaun riding a unicorn in broad daylight.  I imagined how awesome it would be. Images filled my head of my son and I sitting on the floor in my immaculately clean and perfectly decorated house while I read a million books to him and how I'd join seventeen mommy groups and go on play dates every morning and then sometimes another playdate after his nap (yeah, two play dates in one day. what?) with all these other moms I'd meet at *nowhere* and how he'd be the smartest and most well developed child because I'd take him to the art museum four times a week.  In my spare time, I was probably going to start doing Tae-Bo (cause that's still around...) and take up a hip-hop dance class and then maybe learn Japanese or something.  The possibilities were endless, really. I imagined all of these things because I had NO idea what it was like to really be a mom that stayed home with her kid.  Remember, I was only with him 3 hours a day at the time. 

Leprechaun riding a Unicorn.  Anything better than that? No.  

We moved to Cleveland and Jason went to work.  

My boss and I decided that I should keep working for him remotely which I am certain is the only reason I haven't had an honest-to-god nervous breakdown.  Having that outside connection with the familiar has kept my feet on the ground. About four days into my stay-at-home-mom gig, I realized that I really have no idea what I'm doing.  I started having thoughts about how this was the absolute wrong choice for my son.  I didn't really know how to make meals for him, I didn't even really know his schedule.  How much should he be sleeping during the day?  30 minutes?  11 hours?  How do I know?  How do I NOT know this stuff?  

Do I let him watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse AND Jake and the Neverland Pirates back to back or will someone call social services on me?  It was a great trifecta of moving to a place where I have no one, my son turning into a toddler and me going from being with him 3 waking hours a day to ALL waking hours each day.  I think to myself at least once a day,  "Holy cow, my mom did this.  With no television or Ipads.  She did this with FOUR of us, two of which were only 11 months apart and our house was clean and we had food all the time..  My mother must actually be like, married to Jesus or something".  Cheers to you, Joyce Smith.  You are a SUPERHERO. 

My mom with my two oldest brothers... and she had her hair did

Today I put my precious baby down for his nap, which I have now figured out happens from 10:30am until almost 1pm which is awesome.  I can work, take phone calls without fear of random screams, clean my house... Oh, and my house is NOTHING like it was in my fantasy, by the way.  It typically looks like someone peeled back the roof and blew in those fat multi-color legos with a firehouse. I swear there is not a place you can look inside my house (or car) and not see one of those fat legos laying around (you know the ones.. the ones they probably can't choke on..  that your mother or mother in law or well meaning friend bought you... that came in a giant container that your kid insists on dumping out every single day and and putting them in places like the fridge or the toilet just to surprise you? I hate those them with a pure, pure hate).  
Welcome to lego hell, ya'll. 

We've lived here since November and it looks like we moved in last week.  Who has time to decorate when your kid just pulled your dogs tail while he was trying to eat causing him to growl and send your child into an inconsolable frenzy that only an episode of "Yo Gabba Gabba" can fix and he wants you to sit by him and watch it.  

Sidenote: I am convinced that the people who create these kids shows are tripping on acid the entire time.  Half the time I wonder if I'm tripping on acid when I watch it.  (Inside my head: "I am pretty sure we don't have any acid laying around that I just accidentally dropped, right? That's what you do with acid, right? Drop it? Who knows? Oh, drug lingo. I don't know you.  Geez, what IS this show about?! This is worse than Baby Einstein from when he was a newborn! I thought THOSE people got high and wrote kids show, but these Yo Gabba Gabba people aren't screwing around.. they should drug test them").  

I am abruptly snapped back into reality because the show is over and Conrad is in his fave drop-it-like-its-hot spot in the corner and he's giving me that look that says "you do NOT want to come over herrrrrrrrre right now".  Then I smell it.  Sweet Lord. This is my life.   

When Conrad woke up from his nap I went up to change his diaper and oh crap, no diapers.  Not one diaper in this entire house or in my bag or in my car.  How does this sort of thing happen?  Who didn't tell me we were running low on diapers?! I look around for someone to blame, but I'm the only other person here besides naked, no-diaper Conrad.  Dangit.  

I am equal parts not proud / extremely proud of what happened next.  I tucked my pajama pants into my boots, put on a hat and sunglasses and a large coat. Put a pair of tight fitting soft cotton pants on my sons bare bottom.  Put several... let's call them..  feminine napkins,  pads,  sanitary products, maxi pads,  (there really isn't an acceptable non-gross word for these.. its all terrible).  So I put these items (a few of them) on the exterior of the cotton pants and pulled up another pair of big sweatpants over these "products" and loaded him into the car to drive to the edge of my neighborhood to the drugstore where I paid like $400 dollars for 10 diapers, but let's face it - we may have never made it to the grocery store and I cannot throw away another car seat, folks.  My biggest fear was that I'd get in an accident where I would sustain an injury and they'd have to take me to the hospital and my son, while unharmed would have to, at some point be changed by a stranger who would discover what was underneath his sweatpants and they'd surely call 241-KIDS after they'd peeled those puppies off and put a proper diaper on the poor kid. 

As I changed my son (on the kitchen table) when we got home, I said "thanks for hanging in there with me, buddy... momma is just doing her freakin best."  I think he understood. 

The rest of the day I recited these words over in my head... "we are all just improvising.. we are all just improvising".. and spent the afternoon watching Yo Gabba Gabba with my son who will never know this even happened.  He's gonna be fine.  

I just needed 15 minutes to clean the kitchen... so this happened. 
I wanted to watch the inauguration... so this happened. 

We will have fun.  Always. #teamriveiro

Disclaimer: I am not complaining.  I am in love with my son and after three months of this crazy business I have decided that I will never have it any other way.  No one will ever care for him like I do.  No, I don't make my own laundry soap or have spare time to pin and repin cookie recipes like some supermoms I know and love but dangit, we have fun and we will always be having fun up in this crazy house. and yes, I'll have another sometime soon and then these stories will get even worse. 

Disclaimer #2:  I did a quick facebook poll for moms to inbox me if they'd had a similar experience.  7 moms wrote to me and they'd ALL done the same thing.  I'm not a freak. If someone calls 241-KIDS on me... I'm taking all of you down with me. 


  1. I truly love your imagination but yes, real life is oh so different when you are a SAHM. You are absolutely right, we are all doing our best even though for a while you won't get to eat your food or drink your coffee hot, or go to the bathroom by yourself. One day Conrad will sing your praises as his Superhero mom, which you are! I will have to tell you one (yes their have been multiple) of our poopy, no diaper mess stories sometime over Hot coffee. (Probably when we are 80) love you. ps. your dad looks like a kid and the one on your moms lap looks like C-rad.

  2. oh boy. So there are other moms out there like me?? So good to know! :) All I can say that's a tad helpful is this: it does get better. Last night while we were at a friends house with their rambunctious bundle of energy nearly two year old boy, who was running around screaming, kicking toys, hitting the dog, taking down Evy...I looked over to my 6 year old ADHD kid who was sitting calmly and playing with toys, watching a movie and helping the other two remain calm. It really does get better, I promise!! Every time Jake looks deep into my eyes and kisses me for no reason, I know he gets it. He gets that I gave up a lot to be here with him and that my crazy manic behavior was worth every second of our togetherness. So I promise it does get better. And Conrad will always thank you for it!! Good job Mommy! You rock! xoxo

  3. Thank you so much, ladies. Doesn't it feel good to be real about this? We're all doing it and none of us are experts. Being truthful with each other and the comfort we'll get from knowing we aren't "the only ones" will save us :)

  4. Hilarious and brilliant! I love your blog :)

    I read this last night and then had a HARD morning this am...but was able to laugh at myself as I sat on the floor in my destroyed kitchen (in my pj's) trying to juggle my two kids.

    Recently I forgot to bring a change of clothes for my potty-training-but-not-quite-there-yet three year old when we were out. She had one of the worst diarrhea poops ever. It was all over her clothes. I had to take her shopping for new clothes with her naked. I got tons of glares and stares and it was AMAZ. haha :) I can relate to your stories Hannah - and btw you are a great mom :)

  5. Thank Emily. The more stories like this I hear - the better I feel :) I appreciate the kind words!


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