on splinters, tonsils, ear tubes, and trust.

Everett-1 "Mommy, I got some-fin in my foot!"

It was five minutes till bedtime, not like I was keeping track. (Okay, let's be honest: I am always keeping track).

His dirty blonde hair was still wet from the bath, and a post-dinner belly protruded from the top of his spaceship pajamas.

"What's in your foot, buddy?" I asked.

I pulled him towards me, and he sat down in my lap as we both examined the foot in question.

"I dunno! Some-fin!"

Upon further investigation under his teepee twinkle lights, I spotted a splinter. No doubt, the result of him playing barefoot at the park a few hours prior.

"Sorry, buddy, you have a splinter in your foot. Mommy's going to have to get that out for you."

He looked at me, wide-eyed, unsure how to respond. I cautiously explained the removal process: that I would have to use tweezers, and that it would pinch a teeny tiny bit, but it wouldn't hurt. He seemed skeptical.

We migrated to my bathroom for tweezers and better light. Panic set in.

"No mommy, I don't want to!" he cried.

I reassured him over and over again that I was going to help him, not hurt him, but as things like this normally go with three year-olds, he was quickly flailing about on the bathroom floor like a fish out of water.

I looked to my husband for reinforcement, and within seconds he was contained in his daddy's arms. I grabbed the affected foot and gave careful instructions, "Everett, mommy is going to take the splinter out. Be very still. This won't hurt, I promise. You have to trust me, okay?"

He looked suspicious. Slightly terrified. The weight of my own words echoed in my mind. Does my own son not trust me? Have I ever given him a reason not to?

Just when I thought I had screwed everything up, counting the number of times I've said, "this won't hurt" or "we'll do that next time", a single tear rolled down his cheek and I watched his body exhale.

He relaxed into my husband's arms, and waited for me.

I squinted, and carefully removed the splinter in one quick motion. He didn't even flinch, my brave boy.

"All done!" I exclaimed proudly.

He smiled as a wave of relief washed over him, a fish falling back into water.

My husband released him to the floor, where he immediately ran his fingers over his foot and looked at me, bewildered.

"It's gone! My foot is all bed-der!!!"

"I told you, buddy. Mommy will always take care of you, okay?"

"Oh," he smiled.

I gave him a kiss on the cheek and that was it, a lesson in trust.

***

Everett is having his tonsils and adenoids removed this morning, as well as tubes put in his ears. We are all up before the sunrise. This is early, even for us.

I've packed his Elmo and blue blanket carefully in his backpack. I bought him a new Lightning McQueen sippy cup so he can stay hydrated in style after the procedure.

I know he needs this. But when I picture the needle, the anesthesia, the cutting, the blood, I can't lie---I get a little lightheaded. I'm not an anxious person by nature. I'm the "relaxed" one in our family. But this morning, I can't help but feel a tiny bit panicked. On the outside, I'm cool and calm and collected, but on the inside, I'm just like Everett staring at the tweezers. Suspicious. Slightly terrified. A fish out of water.

The doctor said he will be fine afterwards. "It's a very basic procedure," he told us. He's probably done this hundreds of times.

So here we are.

This morning I will sit back, and I will try to relax, and I will be brave for my boy like he is brave for me. I'll say a prayer. I will kiss his cheek before they wheel him away, and then I will wait. Wait. Wait.

A lesson in trust.

the hard way.

Lee Brown Photography-1

Photo by Lee Brown Photography

We had spent the entire morning getting ready for the gym. It sounds pathetic to admit that out loud, but I'm seven months into this two-kid gig, and it still takes us all morning to get ready for anything. Three people need to eat, three people need to get dressed, one person needs coffee, one person needs a diaper change, one person can't find his Lightning McQueen, one person needs to nap. By the time we're finally ready, someone has to pee again and it starts all over.

We had two errands to run: the bank and the gym. I had given fair warning, everyone knew what to expect. I'm not sure who was more excited, myself or Everett. He loves the gym daycare just about as much as I love being alone for an hour.

The car was adequately packed. I was wearing my favorite Nike shorts and my bright pink running shoes. My water bottle was full; my iPad was charged.

We were ready.

Everyone fawned over the kids at the bank, as they always do, and I deposited my two checks quickly. I held Carson on one hip while Everett hung out next to my leg. Right as we were leaving, one of the branch managers ran up to us and informed me that a new account I had just opened a few weeks prior required one more signature.

"It will just take a minute!" she promised.

I walked over to her desk with Carson in my arms, while Everett trailed behind us. At this particular bank, there were stuffed bears on each of the six desks. Everett---taking full advantage of my full hands---took it upon himself to grab each bear, carefully assembling them in a pile in the middle of the floor.

I watched this happen out of the corner of my eye while the pretty bank teller with perfect hair asked nonchalantly, "So, how's your 'business' going?"

I'm sure I imagined her condescending tone. I'm sure I imagined her air quotes around the word "business." But I was surrounded by people in suits and suddenly painfully aware of my Nike shorts and pink running shoes, the baby drooling on my shoulder and the toddler creating a mess in their quiet workspace.

"Oh....business is fine. Just fine!" I replied, "EVERETT. STOP THAT. Put those bears back right now."

He looked at me innocently, "Huh?"

"Don't 'huh' me. Put those bears back right now, we're leaving," I demanded.

And then he looked right at my face and uttered one little brave word: "No."

Excusez-moi?

It is worth mentioning that I was the only customer in the bank and all eyes were on me. Everyone was waiting to see how I would handle this awkward situation. I marched over to Everett and the pile of bears, with Carson on my hip. I leaned down and grabbed his face and looked him straight in the eyes.

"Everett Hudson Gadd, you need to pick up those bears right now. We are leaving."

He looked at me again, briefly paused, and defiantly said, "No."

It might also be worth mentioning that I have encountered this scene probably five times since becoming a mom. Everett is generally very well behaved, especially in public. He is respectful and almost always follows instructions, so when things like this do happen, I am slightly dumbfounded. I was just as shocked as the gawking bank tellers, who were still waiting for me to make a move.

I could feel my face turning red as I moved Carson to my other hip and picked up the bears myself, furiously returning them to their desks. I calmly pulled Everett out of the bank by his arm while he cried and continued to make a scene. It was surely the most exciting thing the bank tellers saw that day.

The second we got settled in the car, I knew what I had to do.

"We're NOT going to the gym," I announced dramatically.

Everett wailed. And then he wailed louder. And then he screamed, "I WANNA GO TO THE GYM!!!!"

And then it was really settled.

The whole way home, we talked about The Incident. I explained over and over again that when we don't listen to mommy, we don't get to do fun things. He cried and cried and cried some more. I wanted to cry a little bit too.

We returned home barely twenty minutes after leaving it. Three people into the car, three people out of the car. Two car seats to buckle and unbuckle. All for seven miserable minutes and an embarrassing meltdown at the bank. We prepared all morning for that??!

He was still a mess. Three tantrums and three time-outs later, we landed in the backyard for some fresh air and a fresh perspective. It was over. Done. We all suffered the consequences, but I couldn't help but feel like I had suffered the most. My hour of exercise, my hour to myself, was gone. Poof. This is motherhood, folks.

It would have been easy to go to the gym anyways. It would have been easy to stick the kids in childcare and take my much-desired break. It would have been easy to forget all about The Incident and stick to our original plan, ignoring what had happened.

But sometimes, we mothers have to do the hard thing, the thing that basically punishes all of us. He lost his reward, and as a result, I lost mine too. And while this was such a small thing (a moment of defiance! an hour at the gym!), I couldn't help but foresee a future of discipline laid out in front of me.

I know I'm still new at this, but I believe there are going to be many, many times as a parent that I will be faced with an opportunity to choose the easy thing or the hard thing. Maybe the easy thing is staying at Disneyland, staying at the restaurant, breaking out a candy bribe and hoping for the best. Maybe it's letting them watch TV anyways, use the computer anyways, drive the car anyways. The easy thing is usually the quick fix, the bandaid, the action that buys you more time and sanity, the thing that doesn't punish the parent.

Sometimes you need to do things the easy way. We all have those days, myself included.

But I'm learning that when it comes to discipline and enforcing rules and gaining the respect of your children, sometimes you need to do things the hard way. The long way. Sometimes we have to skip the gym and leave the donut shop without eating our donuts. Sometimes we have to take the car keys away and drive our moody teenagers to school ourselves. And while it is unfortunate for the child who loses a reward or misses out on an opportunity, sometimes we, the parents, have to suffer as a result. I think we need to love our kids more than we love ourselves, and sometimes that looks like letting a teachable moment take precedent over our plans, our hobbies, our own precious time.

I'm trying to keep my eye on the prize. Someday this three year-old will be eight, and then eighteen. I pick my battles daily, and some days there are a lot of them. There is a time to let things go, and there is a time to stick to your guns. There is a time to settle and a time to follow through.

Because the thing is, all of these tiny moments add up. That one time we left the gym, that one time we left the donut shop, that one time I took the TV away, that one time I put Elmo on top of the refrigerator for 24 hours because someone threw him at the ceiling fan, again. These small actions add up to one big lesson: I am the mom and I love you enough to put forth the effort into raising you well. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean.

I can only hope and pray that five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now, doing the hard thing will pay off. I can only hope and pray that someday I will reap the harvest of all this work.

Come to think of it, maybe I already am.

Lee Brown Photography-43

happy birthday, everett!

Everett, I cannot even imagine my life without you. This is the year you learned to share me with your brother, and you did so willingly, sweetly, generously. I continue to be amazed by your ability to adapt, to change, to go with the flow with a smile on your face. You welcomed Carson with open arms and open mouth kisses, and I couldn't be prouder of the kind boy you are growing up to be. You are fiercely independent, wildly energetic, and full of joy, which continues to be your best attribute.

You make every room brighter and every day better. You will always be the one who made me a momma, and that makes you very special.

I love you forever, sweet boy.

when love is a relay.

For Brett. Puerto Vallarta-9

 

We are driving the same drive we have driven hundreds of times, 90+ miles from here to there, mostly freeway, always stop and go traffic through the city of Davis. It is gloomy and cloudy and the skies are every shade of grey, which is not fitting at all, actually.

It is Easter.

Everett starts to whine, and then cry, and in 10 seconds his face turns green and I know exactly what is happening.

"Get off, we need to pull over!" I yell, followed by a more peaceful, "It's okay buddy, you're okay, it's okay, it's okay."

Alas, we are too late, and chunks are flying out of his mouth.

Carson is screaming his head off, as he normally does during stop-and-go traffic. Brett flies across three lanes and we get off on the next exit. Farmland and a single gas station. That'll do.

We pull into a parking spot and it starts to rain (because sometimes life is like a movie).

Brett hops out immediately to tend to Everett and for the first time that day, I realize it is unseasonably cold. The wind howls and rattles the car back and forth, while my husband of seven years wipes vomit off our firstborn.

I un-click my seatbelt and unbuckle Carson, who is still screaming, and, as it turns out, is covered in spit-up himself.

"I don't suppose we have a change of clothes for Ev?" Brett asks.

"I think there's a sweater back there somewhere," I reply.

I console Carson with a two-minute nursing session. Brett stands in the rain, droplets staining his shirt, and changes Everett out of his barf shirt into the spare sweater. Both of them hop into the front seat, across from Carson and I.

And we look at each other and we laugh because there was nothing else to do but laugh. Everett chimes in with a giggle, and Carson smiles. The car rocks ever so slightly with the wave of the wind while raindrops pelt the windshield.

And we sit there, parked at the gas station on Easter Sunday, all four of us huddled in the front seat, limbs crammed together, listening to the rain and trying to ignore the scent of vomit permeating the car.

This is our life.

***

I've been thinking about how my marriage has changed since having our second baby. We are more tired, of course. There is more laundry to do, more dishes, more baths to give, less of us to go around. We are in man-to-man defense mode most of the time.

You take this kid, I'll take that one. You feed this kid, I'll feed that one.

There is no break, no time to sit, no time to relax. We are always doing something: feeding kids, changing kids, bathing kids, cleaning up spit-up, cleaning up pee, cleaning up toys, cleaning up yogurt, you get the idea. It's ironic how much time we spend cleaning, given that our house is a complete disaster on most days.

We split the responsibilities as best we can. We negotiate time away and we negotiate the chores and we try very very hard not to complain.

Do you want to do dishes or bedtime? Do you want to do baths or laundry? Do you want to go grocery shopping or watch the kids?

It's a cycle, and it never stops. We're two ships passing in the night, half asleep with blue-eyed children in our arms. We're learning the ins and outs of our own exhaustion, our own debilitating frustration, our own shortcomings as parents. We're learning to read each other better, to understand the different types of tired, to notice the I-can't-do-this-anymore looks on each other's faces.

Right now, parenting feels like a giant relay race with no end in sight. We're simply running different stretches at different times, but the race never stops. We're taking turns and running till it hurts, until we need a break, until we're running so fast we can't breathe. And then, when we simply can't go any further, when our knees are about to give out, we tag each other.

Tag. You're it. 

And then it's my turn and I'm running and I'm not stopping and I'm pouring the Cheerios and cleaning up the yogurt and breastfeeding and trying not to yell. I'm behind on everything: work, e-mails, gifts, thank you's, meal planning, laundry, 40 pieces of unopened mail. I'm reading books and doing finger puppets and changing diapers and giving time-outs and I'm going going going with sweat dripping down my face, heart pounding out of my chest, and then it is 6:07pm and my knees are about to give out.

Tag. You're it. 

And then he's running and he's not stopping and he's wrestling and playing catch and tickling baby feet and giving baths. He's exhausted from his day, his job, his stress, the overwhelming burden and privilege to provide for a family of four. He's warming bottles and reading more books and doing dishes and he's going going going, fire in his lungs, and then it is 8:24pm and his legs are done.

Tag. You're it. 

And somedays we have barely said anything to each other aside from hi, how was your day, it was fine, how was yours, it was fine, the kids did _____ and it made me laugh and the kids did _____ and it made me angry and I'm so tired, are you tired? When will we not be so tired?

We ignore the piles of mail, the to-do's that aren't done, and opt to collapse on the couch instead. He finds the Netflix binge du jour while I set up my breast pump and we watch TV with the familiar sound of milk filling bottles in the background.

We go to bed too late, as always, he sets the alarm and I turn on the oscillating fan, and our bodies melt into the mattress side by side. We rest, for just a moment, before the next stretch of running, which comes only a few hours later at 3:02am. Every single night at 3:02am I get up and start running, because it's my turn, while he dreams until 6:47am, and then it's his.

Back and forth, round and round, we're on the hamster wheel that never stops. We're learning to love each other in stolen glances, in midnight whispers, in hamstring stretches and water breaks. A lot of the time it feels like we're parenting separately, running separately, resting separately. I never knew co-parenting could feel this isolated, this exhausting, this lonely in our own house. It feels like we're running in two different directions with two different kids, doing two different things, only stopping occasionally to check in with each other: are you okay?

We're seven months in and I still feel like we're in survival mode, like this is harder than it's supposed to be and we never have enough help and how is my baby still not sleeping through the night? I think a lot of people would say that the transition from zero kids to one kid was The Hardest but my truth is the opposite---zero to one was a breeze compared to this. And zero to one was not a breeze. I think about all the families with three young kids, and four young kids, and five young kids, and I'm just dumbfounded. How are they not drowning?

I have to believe that this is a phase, that this too shall pass, that pretty soon things will click into place and parenting two young children won't feel so stressful and chaotic and physically draining. But the truth is: I really miss running together. I miss parenting side by side.

We'll get back there, eventually, I think. I hope.

For now, I just need to keep reminding myself: even though we're not always running at the same time, we're still running the same race, and we're on the same team, chasing the same prize, and damn---there's nobody I'd rather relay with than him.

the second baby.

For Carson. Carson-22

Carson-23Carson-21Carson-24Carson-25

I'm sitting in bed while you lay next to me, blowing bubbles and giggling at yourself. Occasionally I stop typing to make a funny face at you, and you laugh hysterically. You think I am hilarious, and it does wonders for my confidence these days.

You're supposed to be napping.

Your brother is with the babysitter, and this is one of two pockets of time I get with you each week, just the two of us. I think you know when he's not home, and like to protest naps just so you can get more attention from me. You're pretty smart.

You're six months old now, and only weigh 12 pounds. Maybe you're up to 13? I could carry you all day long, it feels like carrying a pillow. Your tiny body fits on my hip, in the crook of my arm, against my chest, in my lap. No matter where I put you, you fit, like an enchanted puzzle piece. I spent my whole pregnancy worrying about how I was going to make room for you. Our life with one kid felt full and busy and consumed, and I wasn't sure where or how you were going to fit into that space.

And I can't explain how you fit now.

You just do.

You are the typical second baby. You go with the flow, you watch everyone else, you wait your turn. You have spent so much time in that rockaRoo, just sitting and watching and waiting your turn. A few times a week, I carry you in from the garage in your carseat, plop you down on the kitchen floor, still strapped in, and make lunch for your brother. You just sit there quietly in your carseat, watching me wash raspberries, chewing on your teething keys like you have all the time in the world. You are almost always fed second, changed second, bathed second. Patience is your virtue.

You're drinking from a bottle now (hallelujah!) and experimenting with solids. I am trying hard to fatten you up, but you remain small and sweet and everyone who meets you says, "He's so tiny!"

You are tiny. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Time moves faster with the second baby, so you can stay as small as you want, okay?

You love baths. When you hear the faucet turn on, you start kicking your legs wildly and smiling at me with those big blue eyes. You know what's coming. As soon as I place your squirmy little body in the bathtub, your face lights up like a Christmas tree. You kick and kick and kick some more, almost as if you're trying to swim. You love the whole process: the soap, the warm water, the cozy towel, the lavender lotion massage. And to think, I was only bathing you twice a month for a while. I'm trying to be better about that now since I know you love it so much.

I'm trying to do a lot of things better, actually. I'm trying not to be so frustrated when you don't nap at the same time as your brother. I'm trying to find ways for us all to survive the witching hour without completely losing our minds. I'm trying to close my laptop more often when I can tell you need attention.

I'm trying to make you feel special, to make you feel known. I'm trying to find space in my day to give you all of me, even if it's just for a few minutes. I really am trying my best, and I hope it's enough for you, sweet boy.

At the end of the day, I want you to know this:

You are loved. You are wanted. You belong here, with us, and there is more than enough room for you.

 

Carson-3 Carson-4 Carson-5 Carson-6 Carson-7 Carson-8

"mommy doesn't go to work."

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetLast Tuesday Brett had the day off, and graciously offered to watch both kids for the morning so I could go to Starbucks and work. I had an essay to write, submissions to read, photos to edit, e-mails to answer. You know the drill. I put on some cropped yoga pants, my favorite sweatshirt, and threw on a hat (because I believe you need to dress for the job you want, and I want the kind of job where you can wear yoga pants). After carefully packing up my bag, I said goodbye to Everett.

"Bye, Ev! Mommy's going to work!"

He looked at me as if my hair had turned blue.

"Mommy doesn't go to work. Daddy goes to work," he informed me.

Come again?

"What did you say?" I asked him, even though his words had been crystal clear.

"Mommy doesn't go to work. Daddy goes to work."

Brett chuckled on the couch. I was not amused.

I crouched down on my knees and grabbed him by the arms, perfectly prepared for such a teachable moment.

"Ev, sometimes mommy goes to work, too, okay? Daddy works, and mommy works. Today, mommy is going to work and daddy is going to stay home with you."

He shook his little head.

"No. Mommy doesn't go to work," he repeated matter of fact-ly.

***

Kids are sponges. We know this. So I guess, in that sense, it should come as no surprise that Everett believes only Brett has a job. After all, every morning we say, "Have a good day at work!" as daddy walks out the door.

Everett knows Brett won't be home until dinnertime. He also knows that I will be home all day---catering to his every need, preparing every snack, helping unbutton and re-button pants a dozen times in the bathroom. He knows that I will probably drive him somewhere fun---to the park, to the art studio, to the train museum. He knows that I will periodically feed Carson and change Carson and dare I say, pay attention to Carson.

But what he doesn't know is that when I'm checking my phone while he eats lunch, I'm responding to an e-mail about a photography gig. He has no clue what I do during naptime, that precious hour and a half where I accomplish a myriad of tasks: writing, editing, e-mail answering, collaboration pitching, online banking, TV watching, occasional laundry folding. He can't possibly know that when we take a walk around the neighborhood, I am brainstorming ideas upon ideas upon ideas for the future of Coffee + Crumbs, the future of my career, the future of our family.

The kid's only two years old. He doesn't have a clue.

At this age, Everett only knows what he observes and what I tell him, which is a beautiful gift and also a huge responsibility. Last Tuesday I had a bit of an epiphany: if I want my kids to understand my work, to know that I do, in fact, actually work, I need to speak up for myself. When I'm leaving the house for a photoshoot, I need to say more than just "Bye, kids!" When I drop Everett off with the babysitter twice a week, I need to say more than, "I'll miss you, buddy!"

After all, how will my kids ever learn to respect this work-at-home juggling act I'm partaking in every single day if they don't even know that I work?

I have a hard enough time explaining my tiny self-made career to adults. I'm always fumbling over words when people arch their eyebrows and ask curiously, "So what do you do?"

I'm better at answering than I once was, but I still get caught off guard sometimes and look at my feet before mumbling something like, "Uh...I'm a writer, sort of, and last year I started a blog about motherhood.....uh, and I also have a photography business."

(Are you embarrassed for me? I'm embarrassed for myself.)

But, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. And apparently I've been missing out on a LOT of opportunities to practice this at home.

So today, I'm starting with one dirty blonde toddler and four little words.

"Mommy's going to work."

sometimes someone needs to cry.

WMHR-1 I am getting really good at doing things with one hand. Just yesterday I was holding Carson with one arm while assisting Everett on the potty while also catching up with a friend on speakerphone.

Being a mom to two kids feels a bit like being an octopus (I would imagine). All my limbs are constantly doing things, holding people, helping pull up pants, cutting cheese slices, velcro-ing shoes. I'm moving, always moving, helping someone with something. My arms move without thought, both fluidly and jerkily, as I try not to drop a sippy cup or even worse, a child.

I'm five months into this gig of being outnumbered, and for a while now, I've been trying to meet All The Needs. I've enforced time outs while breastfeeding and I've assembled lego cars while changing a diaper. I've opened fruit pouches and sang songs and wiped boogers, all while holding a baby. I've done my best to tend to both kids at the same time to avoid one of them crying/whining/fussing/melting into a puddle of pathetic on the floor.

But the thing is, sometimes I have to pee. And sometimes I have to eat a sandwich to keep from getting hangry. And sometimes someone is going to cry. I have two hands and two arms and while I'm using them both a good 95% of the day, sometimes I cannot help everyone all at once.

Sometimes Everett is going to get the banana yogurt because we're all out of strawberry, and he will cry. Sometimes Carson is not going to have his diaper changed right away, and he will cry. Sometimes they don't want to take baths or ride in the car or go down for naps and they will cry, cry, cry. Sometimes a day will be excruciatingly difficult, and, well, I might cry too.

When Brett went back to work after Carson was born, I remember being overwhelmed by the amount of crying. It seemed like someone was always crying, and the house was forcibly loud. You start to tune it out, eventually, but that noise can hurt your ears after a while.

Much like anything else in motherhood, you just have to accept it -- it being the thing that drives you momentarily crazy. You have to ride the wave instead of pushing against it, because the wave is bigger than you and it's always going to win. Even though these kids weigh a combined 42 pounds, on most days, they feel bigger than me. Louder than me. More forceful than me.

My ears aren't necessarily happy about it, but I'm learning to accept the noise. Nobody is going to faint from the wrong flavor yogurt. I'm pretty sure babies don't suffer longterm if they have to occasionally wait ten minutes to nurse.

I guess you could say we're all in touch with our emotions in this house.

If you need to have a good cry, as we all sometimes do, feel free to come on over. Chances are, one of us will probably join you.

line in the sand.

line in the sandEver since Carson was born, I have been caught in a never-ending hurricane. Working from home with one kid was....dare I say....easy? Simple? Uncomplicated? We had a routine, Everett and I---babysitting hours and a babysitting swap and solid naps every day. I was still cramming work into the nooks and crannies of each day, but it was rather manageable. I still had plenty of time to read Elmo books on the couch and walk to the park and bake cookies in the afternoon. And then sweet little Carson came along and knocked me over. I gave myself a three month maternity leave to soak up his tiny fingers and toes, to breastfeed on demand, to take naps in the middle of the day, to shower or not shower. I needed that time to rest and breathe and find my groove as a mother of two.

Once January rolled around, it felt like a fresh start, as the new year always does. I was coming out of the sleep deprived fog a bit and craving some semblance of a routine. I was ready to get back to it---to the place where I could thrive as a mom and a writer and a wife and not feel like I was constantly paddling under water trying to stay afloat.

It became increasingly clear that the lines between motherhood and work were too blurry. I was trying to be a good mom all day, and I was trying to be good at my job all day. I was working while I was mothering and I was mothering while I was working.

Needless to say, that wasn't working. For anyone.

I think the greatest challenge of working from home with two small children is this: there is no line in the sand, no clear boundaries, no separation of church and state. I'm answering e-mails while doing puzzles. I'm jotting down writing topics while I breastfeed. I'm working on editorial calendars while racing hot wheels. My two hands are constantly doing two different things, and it's starting to feel a little insane.

This week marks a big change in our house. I've lined up babysitting for Everett for two whole mornings a week, effective immediately. It feels good, and weird, and there's a tiny bit of guilt but not much, and I feel lighter already.

It all boils down to: I want to be a good mom when I am mothering and I want to be good at my job when I am working. In order for that to happen, I need to stop trying to do both of those things at the same time.

It's not going to be perfect, but this is my tiny attempt at drawing a line in the sand. You have to start somewhere, right?