Hello, mamas. It’s been a few weeks. And I've missed you!
Ever have one of those months where life just gets away from you? Welcome to my April.
The end of the quarter is always a stressful time: essays to grade, report cards to finalize, kids to chase for missing work. Then add to that a holiday (yay for Easter and all the familial obligations that brings with it) and a big vacation (holy hell, all the last-minute purchases and so much packing!), and April legitimately flew by. So I thought I’d use this post to bring you up to speed on the last three weeks of life in Camp Chaos.
(Sex) Talks With Avery
Three weeks ago, sitting in the school drop-off line at roughly 8:45, my sweet, innocent, eldest asked me the question I’ve been dreading since the day she was born. Sticking both of her index fingers in her little brother’s ears, she leaned over to him and instructed him to sing a chorus of lalalalalala on repeat while she looked me dead in the eye and challenged me with “What’s sex?” If she could have placed her hands on her hips while she pursed her lips, she would have.
I responded matter-of-factly with “It’s how you make a baby,” completing it with an eye roll and obviously tone.
“I know that. I want to know HOW. What goes where? How do you actually make the baby?”
Fuck. I stalled for nearly a day, contemplating how to answer her. As a sex-positive woman, I’ve spent many a sleepless, anxious night wrestling with how I’d communicate this concept to her without A) coming across as a prude B) coming across as promoting it or C) outright lying to her.
I gave her a quick anatomy lesson two days later while I did my makeup in my master bathroom. Focusing on my foundation permitted me to break eye contact. I just couldn’t bring myself to squarely look at her while we had this chat.
Sitting on my bed, I could tell she was mulling it all over. “Now, listen. Sex isn’t something you do with just anyone. It’s an expression of love and a very intimate act and should be saved for someone special.”
“Yeah, like my husband,” she responded.
“Umm… well, yes, some people wait until marriage to have sex. Some people choose not to. The point is, it should be something you do with someone who is really special to you. It’s not something you share with just a crush, or just anyone for that matter.”
“Well, yeah, of course not. I’ll at least wait until I’m engaged, Mom.” I exhaled all the anxiety I’d been holding in. My sweet girl was still in there, yet to have been completely corrupted.
“Yes, you want to wait until you truly love someone. Exactly. And it’s CERTAINLY not something you should be doing at your age, or any time in the near future. Got me?”
“Right. I mean, I’ll probably be like 30. That seems like a good age.”
I’ve never nodded so enthusiastically in my entire life.
Work Life Got Me Like…
As I said earlier, the last week or two of a term is excruciatingly exhausting. There is so much grading to be done, emails to answer, lessons to plan. It’s never-ending. There is no balance and I often refer to it as a Grading Coma. I usually pull at least one, if not two, all-nighters, and can barely function by the time my grades are actually posted.
These last few years of pandemic teaching have had me questioning my field and career choices. And as I near the end of the year 11 of teaching, I am seriously doubting whether or not this work/life balance is sustainable.
As a mom, and especially a single mom, there is always SO much to be done. My to-do list goes on for pages and teaching isn’t the kind of job you can just turn off when you punch out at five o’clock. After spending a full day in the classroom, I leave work only to come home, make dinner, help my own kids with their homework, tend to household chores, run the whole shower routine, tuck the kids into bed, only to plop on the couch and spend what little time and energy I have left before I collapse thinking about the next day’s lessons. Or responding to student and parent emails. Or staring down and cussing out the grading pile that snuck into my bag and followed me home, despite my best efforts to ditch it.
Point is: I’m burnt out and wondering if it’s time for a career change. Feel free to send suggestions my way. Currently wavering between stay at home trophy girlfriend, event coordinator to two tiny dictators, or Danielle Steele’s prodigy.
Vacation, All I Ever Wanted
Our trip to Disney couldn’t have come at a better time. I didn’t realize how much we all needed it. Six days of uninterrupted relaxation, cocktails by the pool, and…. Ha! Yeah, right! I went to Disney, remember? With FOUR children. There was ZERO relaxation.
We were incredibly fortunate to be able to take the four kiddos to Disney World (a first for my two). Thanks to my hard-working man, we were able to do five days of parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) and stayed on-property at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. THOSE KIDS WERE SPOILED ROTTEN. Anything they asked for, they received. We created memories they’ll carry with them into adulthood. And as Anthony says, “You always remember your first trip to Disney.” He’s absolutely right. And I’m so thankful we were able to have this time with them.
BUT HOLY HELL. I am NOT a Disney mom. You will NOT hear me gush about how it’s the most magical place on Earth. I will not drop the equivalent of a third of my salary each year just to ride the rides and have the Disney experience. Nope. Not this mama.
Can we be 1,000% honest with each other here, parents? Our week in Orlando was stressful AF, exhausting, and EXPENSIVE. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t buy into the Disney hype, or am I?
Let’s review the week, shall we?
Luggage: Total of combined 50 pounds overweight, pay equivalent of first-born child’s college tuition in fees courtesy of Spirit Airlines
Flight: smooth and quick
Transfer to Art of Animation Resort: uneventful!
Check in and lug 70-pound suitcase and overstuffed 15 pound laptop bag/purse halfway across property in pants and 80-degrees (sweat profusely and through two shirts)
Arrive at suite (kids fight over who gets to unlock door)
Figure out sleeping arrangements in the room (kids fight over beds)
Anthony & I unpack and find all the swimsuits
Head to the pool
Circle the lawn chairs like sharks in chum-filled water looking for open spots to park it, preferably with views of the kids
COCKTAILS!!!! (Mai Tais and Banana Something or Others were my friends this week)
45 minutes of sunshine with my love before kids complain they’re hungry
Back to room to change before visiting the cafeteria for $9/slice pizza (kids fight over seating arrangements)
Visit resort gift shop and begin the daily “Save your gift card money; there will be more shops” talk
Purchase bagels to take back to room for morning (Yay for attempts to save money!)
Try to get kids (who are riding the adrenaline high) calm
enough to go to sleep
Audible “FUCK!” when I realize I left all their melatonin gummies at home (this would be a nightly recurring FUCK)
Collapse into bed
Attempt silent, celebratory “Yay! We’re on vacation!” sex
C up at 5:45. FML.
Alarm at 6:45 to book Lightning Lane passes.
Ride booked, time for breakfast and showers.
Call front desk for a toaster so we can make the damn bagels.
Still no toaster.
Kids whine and reluctantly eat untoasted bagels when they realize that toaster is a figment of their imagination at this point.
Matching t-shirts decided upon (kids fight about who’s matching whom and which shirts we’re wearing)
Bus to Magic Kingdom (all smiles and excitement!)
Watch as kids’ faces light up at the entrance and seeing the castle for the first time
Watch as panic creeps across their face (all those talks about crowds, getting lost, or being taken start to sink in)
First up: Tomorrowland
Convince Avery (who hates rides) that none of us can go on a ride unless all of us are present because the Magic Bands are linked (yes, I lie to my kids sometimes - deal)
Drag her to Space Mountain
Hold her head steady most of the time as she screams like someone is actually kidnapping her
Spend the rest of the afternoon on “easy” rides so as not to completely traumatize her and bouncing in and out of gift shops
Book a Lightning Lane pass for Splash Mountain for 8:45 p.m.
Convince Avery “it won’t be that bad”
PARENTING FAIL/WIN: You decide. Mid panic attack half-way up the big drop of Splash Mountain, I told Avery she could yell out the worst curse word she knew in an attempt to ease her anxiety.
We now refer to it as Splash Mother-Fucking Mountain
Still no toaster. Second call to the front desk. Likelihood of that toaster showing up is as likely as me winning the lottery. Ain’t fucking happening.
Give up and buy a box of Entemann’s donuts downstairs.
::Cue the Lion King Theme Song:: Animal Kingdom, bishes!!!!
Zippity Doo Da right over to Expedition Everest (major coaster), which has low wait time.
Lie to Avery again (“I swear, it won’t be that bad. Last one I’ll make you go on, OK?”)
Talk her out of a full-blown “I can’t breathe, Mom!”/eyes fluttering closed panic attack/black-out mid-ride
Spend 20 minutes calming her down after
Safari Ride (kids fight over who gets to use the expensive camera)
Mom deemed best photographer of moving objects while we’re in a moving vehicle; wins camera rights back
Kali Rapids: they make dri-fit tops and shorts for kids, but why no dri-fit underwear? Totally would have saved me the five-minute bitch fit my kid threw
Rain Forest Cafe: early dinner. Two appetizers, two cocktails, two kids meals, three entrees. Cost: A month’s rent in some states.
Pandora: COOLEST PART OF THE TRIP!
Avatar Ride: Virtual. 3-D. Whooped and hollered like a little girl. Legit felt like I was flying. Occasionally brought back to reality by my daughter, panicking and needed reassurance and help grounding herself.
Purchased 3 banshees, or ikran, that are remote operated. Coolest toy that will ever grace the floors of their closets. Cost: Price of a small designer dog.
Giving up on the toaster.
Kids are starting to come down from the sugar high and adrenaline rush of the first few days.
Signs of life coming later in the morning and movements resembling sloths more and more.
More complaints of feet hurting.
Everyone gets a shot of Tylenol before we leave.
Hollywood Studios: disappointing.
Star Wars area didn’t disappoint. Super cool, but only Smuggler’s Run was open. Waited an hour and a half for it.
All other rides had 2+ hour waits.
Kids opted to go back to the hotel for quick lunch and to hang by the pool.
Christian has traded in his gratitude and excitement for downright defiance and I momentarily contemplated selling him on the Disney Black Market.
Three pep talks.
Two whole hours by the pool.
Disney Springs: dinner at Splittsville (highly recommend - fantastic food and cheapest meal out yet!), $45 worth of M&Ms at their store, and live music.
Can’t eat another donut, so convince Anthony to opt for bagel sandwiches downstairs
Leave kids alone for 10 minutes to seek out breakfast.
Return to absolute mutiny.
Two more pep talks.
Threats of taking away souvenirs.
Slap on smiley faces and head to the bus for Round 2 of Magic Kingdom.
Space Mountain (even Avery), Mouther-fucking Splash Moutain (even Avery), DOLE WHIPS (I feel like you Disney World fans seriously undersold these)
Attempted to fit all of our clothes and souvenirs BACK into luggage
Send kids to pool & try for quickie vacation sex, somewhat more succesfully (so so tired)
Pool, followed by Magic Kingdom fireworks
WHY ARE PEOPLE SO FREAKIN RUDE?!
Channel my inner Buddha and refrain from throwing elbows, mosh pit style, at all the poor unfortunate souls trying to run us over with their strollers
Earbuds and YouTube music for C who hates the loud booming noises (say prayers of thanks for remembering to pack them)
COTTON CANDY HIGH!!!!!
COTTON CANDY CRASH on the bus ride back.
Animal Kingdom Part Deux
All four kids tapping out
Expedition Everest (for 1/2 of our group)
Festival of the Lion King show (poopy diaper on the 2 year-old in front of me totally killed the vibe of that show)
Avatar again (even Avery): still my favorite ride (and now Avery’s, too)
Back to the hotel for a few final rays of sunshine and one more Banana drink before leaving it all behind for the airport
So, what are my overall takeaways from this week? Here they are in a nutshell.
Disney is expensive AF. And they nickel and dime you on EVERYTHING. (We were HUNTED DOWN for a $6 handling fee charge just because we had a suitcase delivered from Amazon to the front desk).
There is definitely a sense of wonder and magic and I am glad the kids got to experience all of that before they’re too cool to enjoy it.
I have one adrenaline junkie and one anxious little panic attack waiting to happen when it comes to rides.
A week at Disney World is FANTASTIC birth control.
If we go again, I’m bringing a toaster.
If we go again, MUST BUILD IN REST DAYS.
If we go again, I want to stay in a house. Where we can cook meals. And relax. And spread out. And go with other adults who can save me from my children.
Vacation sex isn’t nearly as sexy when your kids are in the next room.
My parenting skills are questionable, at best.
If Anthony and I were able to make it through a week of non-stop sugar highs and crashes, whining, complaining, tit-for-tat fights, overtired children, massive crowds, heat, airline disasters, and are still smiling, well, Hell… I’d say we’re damn near indestructible by the parameters of the parenting world.