Sunday, January 13, 2013

Phoning It In

Mommy & Daddy on the Guest List

Ugly Mugg's--the East Nashville hang (for hipsters and moms alike)

I first heard Fraz use the term "phoning it in" when he'd been on out on the road. He was using it to talk about musicians "phoning it in;" that is, not necessarily "trying that hard" when they're on stage. Maybe using a bit of auto pilot combined with muscle memory. Every musician needs to do this from time to time; Tony Rice even  talks about it in his memoir, Still Inside.

It got me to thinking about how we mothers need to phone it in sometimes. Friday night, John and I were invited to a concert by some friends who were performing. We had VIP all access passes and were able to enjoy the show from a private balcony. My friend Cassie was babysitting, and John and I were enjoying a rare evening out together. That night, we got to bed around 1 am.

In the old days, we'd have just slept in on Saturday. No big deal. But Cora's morning alarm clock goes off between 4:30 and 6 am. It's non-negotiable. She wakes up, and she's up. Then Jack is up between 6:30 and 7 am.

How do you take care of two tiny kids on 3 or 4 hours sleep? You have to phone it in.

The most important thing a mother can do is to keep her kids alive. Period. That said, I try to avoid driving very far on days like that. I don't know the stats, but I do know that fatigue is a major cause for car accidents. It makes complete sense. For entertainment, I strapped Cora in the Bjorn and walked with Jack and a neighbor to Ugly Muggs for hot chocolate.

Secondly, I drink way too much coffee. It seems the only way I can get through days like that. Napping is out of the question. The children rarely sleep at the same time, and if they are asleep at the same time, it only lasts about 30 minutes.

And please feel free to judge me, but sometimes on "phone it in" days, I rely on movies a little more than usual. I realize that all children are different; I've been around laid-back 3 year olds. Their mothers smugly tell me that their 3 year old is not allowed to watch movies and TV. I ask them to spend a day with the most high-energy 3 year old possible--even Jack's dentist said it: Wow, you've got your hands full. Isn't my sanity worth something, here? Also, my daughter's life is at stake. What if I need to hop in the shower--do I really need my son to be kicking her on the head while I'm hopelessly watching from the shower?

Another coping mechanism: I have to fight the urge to be lazy about the kids' schedule on "phone it in" days. It's hard to fight the fight and enforce the rules of lunchtime, naptime, bathtime, tooth-brush time, bedtime, etc. Fatigue takes over, and the schedule can become overwhelming. But if I don't stick to the schedule, the kids can go to nap or bed late; this makes the situation even worse. Then you've got over-tired kids and over-tired mommy. That's a recipe for disaster, big-time. So on "phone it in" days, I have to be extra vigilant to strive for an on-time bedtime for the kids, and an early bedtime for me.

Thanks for reading, moms. I know that some of you can relate.

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