Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Universal Laws of Privacy

I am never alone in my house. Well, to be truthful, I actually am alone in my house right now. It's like a solar eclipse. I'm afraid to relish it for too long for fear I'll go blind or something. But, as mothers, there is an unwritten rule that unless you have 1) conspired with another mom; 2) been willfully extorted by a 14-year old babysitter who has "agreed" to barely supervise your children while actually raiding your refrigerator, texting and watching pirated HBO on your TV; or 3) been granted the ability to rotate your own head a full 360 degrees, thereby causing a mass exodus from your house before it self-immolates, you. are. never. alone. in your own house. Why is this phenomenon? Because, contrary to what you believe either about your magnetic personality or that your rear end has its own gravitational pull, you brought those small people into your house, and they're gonna make sure you remember that: 

1. The Sucking Black Hole Vortex Effect: It does not matter where you go or what you do, someone, one of those people you created, will follow you everywhere. You might as well try to hack off your own shadow. And, even if you do manage to escape the parameters of this Familial Force Field, just think of it as an invisible fence for your dog. Within a second or two, your kids will get the zap that you're away, and that means you could be having fun or doing something cool like playing Angry Birds or jumping on the bed or maybe you're just trying to go poo alone for the first time in a decade and by Maude that is not going to happen.

2. The Population/Purpose Inverse: Oddly enough, the more people there are in a house, the greater chance for privacy. If your kids have friends, you can guarantee yourself maybe four full minutes of folding laundry before some crisis unfolds. If it's just the family, you're down to two-and-a-half. Two other people, ninety seconds, max. And, if you happen to be in the unfortunate situation where there's just you and that one special, special friend who gets to be in the house alone with you, just give up now. The same holds true for the degree of purpose your privacy entails...folding laundry? You might as well do it naked in Times Square - no one is going to be around for that. But find the sudden and urgent need to get rid of a particularly stubborn booger or pull a wedgie out of your...suddenly there's eleventeen people around asking why your grabbing your own butt and have a finger up your nose.


3. The Law of Diminishing Proportions: Stand in the middle of your driveway and chances are, you'll be there alone for a while. The living room, what with the stuffy furniture and the stabby things by the fireplace, yeah, maybe one kid goes in there. The kitchen? Oh, you've entered the realm of Non-Privacy now. And the smaller you get, the more people you can count on trying to ram their little bodies into your increasingly smaller square footage. In my house, we have the One Ass Kitchen. It's incredibly small and narrow, if  you open both the oven and the refrigerator at the same time you can create your own weather system. But I am never alone in that room. Go down to the laundry room and it's worse, and my bathroom? Forget it. I haven't been alone in there in 11 years.

4. The Husband Paradox: Maybe it's that they really are lonely when they go to work. Maybe they just store up all those random thoughts just for you. My husband...my dear sweet clueless husband...thinks that, on those rare times when the children are gone, that I need the company. And he'll bring me random things he's found, like last year's catalog and a couple of movie stubs and should we still save them? And sit on the ottoman at my feet and maybe he'll even try to talk over that exact moment when Briscoe and Curtis are making all the connections that will lead them to the bad guy and then I'll have to hit pause, and then I think to myself that Lenny must really get tired of being paused just as he's got that thought all figured out. 

And then he'll say things, hopeful things, like "I think I'm going to go to the gym, then get the stuff from Home Depot and have lunch with Dave..." and you -- being stupid -- think how awesome that will be. For him, of course. Awesome for him. And nineteen minutes after he leaves he returns home with an ice pack and a limp and says something about pulling a hamstring and he'll just hang out here with you this afternoon, and oh hey can you bring him some lunch and massage his back? And you're left standing at the front door, perplexedly looking at the car going, "...but you said...you said you were going to be gone..."

5. The Continuum Theory: At one point I was single, and lived in a super tiny townhouse apartment with the dishwasher in the bathroom and the neighbor's Norman Bates-y cat, who traveled through the house via the air conditioning vents and let me tell you there are far things weirder than seeing overly large green eyes peering out through a grate in the ceiling at 2am...point is, I. lived. alone. Then one day I got married, moved into a cute little house, and added a kid. That house eventually got traded for a bigger and better one -- and another kid --and then an even bigger and better one to go with the last kid. Now I've got five people living here, and my house is never empty. And, then it dawned on me that by time the IHPs all venture off to college, McLovin will retire and then *he'll* be in my house all day.

And that's when I realize I miss that f**king cat.


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

43 comments:

  1. I keep trying to enforce the MY SPACE rule about my bedroom And yet, most days are spent discovering children bouncing around on my bed and finding all sorts of surprises (everything from toys to dirty diapers) left IN. MY. ROOM. after they go to bed. We were playing outside this afternoon, dear toddler, how on earth did you not only manage to wiggle out of your diaper without me knowing about it, but also do so in my closet?? Oh right, it was probably when I was busy fishing your sister's my little pony out of MY toilet....

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  2. i miss going poo alone :(

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  3. Oh, yesyesyesyesYESSER.

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  4. People poo alone?

    My favorite? Not only can the Future Circus People NOT stay out of my bedroom, but they must critique it as well. "Mommy, your room is messy!" Yeah, who do you think cleans the entire rest of the house and never gets to her own bedroom?

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  5. Oh my God, hacking off my shadow? This is exactly how I feel on a daily basis.
    I try to be nice - I really do - but by my 12th or 13th hour of them? Every time they come near me I mutter/beg "Please get OFF me"...which makes them laugh maniacally and try to climb my legs.

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  6. The absolute most awesome thing about you two is that you understand. You get it! You described my house as if you live here. Except that my husband actually runs his errands. Alone. While I stay here with the kids. Not alone.

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  7. Did anyone else ever expect their Little Miss 4 yr old to know more about their monthly cycle than their husband? I'll trade the right to pooing alone just for the chance to have "that time of the month" in the toilet all by myself. I mean REALLY! Am I the only one??? I'm just waiting for the day when she announces to some random stranger that Oh, Mummy's bleeding again.

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  8. My husband took a picture of me when my daughter was only a few weeks old. I had fallen asleep in a chair with my feet up while holding my only a couple week old daughter. Also in my lap was our cat and draped over my feet on the foot stool was our Jack Russle/border collie.

    Before I made him delete it (because honestly who wants to know what they look like two weeks post partum?) he told me that he wanted to print that picture and call it "mom"

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  9. I just make it easier for the 2 year olds by announcing I'm going to the bathroom so we can all go together instead of them screaming at the door. Oh and I haven't been alone in 19 years :( with 17 more to go at the least, lol.

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  10. I was trying to explain this to a friend who is "tired of sitting home alone" on a Friday night. What I wouldn't give. You described it brilliantly.

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  11. wow. you are my hero. you have put words to my thoughts---hang on, have to get a toothpick for the three year old--- like i was saying, ---sorry...the 8 year old is talking--- ...anyway, great job-- oh, now it's the 10 and 12 year olds--- well, you know what i'm trying to say... :D

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  12. I've often considered installing a few deadbolt locks on the INSIDE of my bathroom door. I may get the balls do to it one day.

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  13. All true! And sad. Evvverrrry ferkin time I finally sit down on the couch in the evenings (after working all day, shuttling kids to practices, cooking supper, cleaning supper, doing 3 loads of laundry and bathing everyone) every single breathing being climbs on me within 30 seconds of sitting down. Not just my onions but the cat AND the giant dog. My boobs gets elbowed and head-butted, I can't see the tv, my leg goes to sleep and forget checking my phone. AND ALL THE WHILE Husband is sitting opposite me. Alone. Bastard.

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  14. OMG....totally nailed it today girls. My husband actually followed me into the bathroom the other day.....I think I understand now why monkeys throw poo at zoo visitors....total lack of privacy!

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  15. I must tell you a secret to at least FOUR minutes alone, sipping a diet coke.

    Take kids out to dinner with husband. Kids act up at end of dinner. Sigh. Tell husband that YOU'LL wait around for the check and pay it and will grab the leftovers.

    Act sad to have to be the one to pay.

    He gathers up kids and brings them to the car.

    THEN: sit back and sip your soda. Smile. Munch on leftover fries from kids' plates. Eat pickle left on husband's plate.

    Pick up the check in a leisurely way. Check to make sure it was correct. Sip again. Sigh, and smile.
    Slowly figure out the tip. Do the math. Sip. Sign precisely and with good handwriting.

    Slowly gather up leftovers into containers. Lean back for one last moment in the booth. Relax. Then? Finally? Take a breath and rejoin the fray in the minivan.
    And don't forget to complain about how LONG it took the waitress to return your credit card.

    --kate in MI

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  16. Oh I'm crying here!!! LMAO And it's only so damn hilarious because it is absolutely TRUE! My husband came into this when I already had 3 kids (we now have 4) and he totally didn't get that if I lock the door to the bathroom they will just sit out there screaming at me anyway. So why bother, I'm not getting a minute's worth of peace anyhow. Then we had baby 4 and baby 4 started walking... now he knows why I stopped bothering, #4 stands at the door and screams if he closes the door. I have no idea what it means to be alone anymore. I don't think I'd even know what to do with myself.

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  17. I also can't STAND the conversations they try to start while you're taking a poo. I mean, c'mon. Poo-versation? Ick.

    Is it possible that there are some electromagnets in our knees that get activated at the birth of a child?

    And WHY do they think it's a sign of affection to LEAVE THINGS ON ME? Like a tissue. Or a pollypocket shoe. Or maybe a wrapper? I feel like a damned Swiffer.
    --kate in MI

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  18. The Husband Paradox. This was great. But my husband always seems to think as soon as the kids are gone, I immediately want to have sex. "No I don't want to give you a BJ,HJ, or anything that ends with J. Because that means that I will have to be working. And I don't want to be working. And if I'm going to be working then there was no reason for the kids to leave in the first place. They could have just stayed home and I could have continued with my normal routine of what do you want now". And then it usually moves to "Are you hungry? Do you want to get something to eat?" Now I'm thinking "No I don't want anything to eat. I don't want to have sex of any kind. And that thing you keep doing with your mouth. You know. Where the words keep coming out. STOP IT! I just want to sit here in a catatonic state and watch uninterrupted TV."

    Love you guys!

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  19. The other day I took the munches to Mom's and went home to fog the house and realized it was the first time I had been -alone- in my house in over 5 years, and I was only alone because I was killing bugs. It takes a frakking PESTILENCE to get some quiet time.

    motherhood...

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  20. Aaahaha! Seriously! I love/feel ya on the comment about the 4 year old knowing your cycle. I used to be worried about my daughter (now going on 8y/o) seeing that but now I'm more worried about my own emotional scars because of it. My husband also falls in the bathroom stalker category. If I'm in there doing my business sometimes he'll talk to me through the door: "What are youuuuuuuu doin'? Goin' poooo?" and when I come out, he's always there. Just standing there like he has nothing better to do. I also LOATHE when people watch me put my makeup on, and both he and my daughter will just stand around in the doorway watching me until I slam the door in their faces in a huff.

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  21. I once had to open a carton of applesauce that my 4 yo had brought me while I was standing in the shower. It was either that or listen to her and her brother banging on the door until I gave in and let them in the bathroom.

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  22. And this is why,when on those rare occasions kids are at grandmas and hubby out of town, all I want to do is stay home ALONE and bask in the quiet....

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  23. The zoo animals in my home somehow find it necessary to bring home more animals..Not only do I have to chase after the monkeys I created but I also find myself chasing out birds, cats, dogs and the oh so famous lizards.

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  24. This was a hilarious post but the comments are just as funny!

    I was going potty, with the door open 'cause why bother closing it, and my 4 yo dd disappeared down the stairs. I was thrilled that I would actually get to wipe alone when she reappeared...with a tampon...because she thought I needed one. Ugh!

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  25. Living alone for a couple of years was probably the best thing I ever did for myself. Granted, it was during college, so obviously it was a crazy fun time, but still - I lived alone and survived. (And miss it terribly at times.) I swear my head spins whenever girlfriends tell me they've never lived alone. Whuck? Living alone for a period of time is the best gift you'll ever give yourself.

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  26. Oh my, hilarious! And the comments as well... goodness, the husbands really are the worst in not understanding though, Anonymous hit the nail on the head about anything ending in J being a Job. Fark off. Let me watch trash TV and let my brain go to mush, I really do not want to discuss politics/the news either, I really cannot add any more opinions or thoughts to my brain!

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  27. I must have had mutant alien children..I could go to the bathroom alone! But wow they made up for it in every other way possible..to this day neither will own up to who put the peanut butter all over the linen closet ceiling, or WHY they put it there..that smell never goes away!! even after you paint!

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  28. my daily commute to and from work (the office- not the job at home lol) totals 2.5 hours per day. everyone at the office looks at me with the saddest pity face becuase i drive so far on a daily basis.... honestly, i enjoy every freaking minute and sometimes more if there's a traffic jam. Because I know from the time I get up at the ars crack of dawn till I leave for the office 1 of 4 of the kids (if not more some days) and dear hubby is attached to me like static cling. becuase it's always- where's this, why's this, or what's this (pointless questions to ask of me before my 4 cups of a.m. coffee) and when I get home from work, add to that equation all 4 kids, a husband and 2 dogs... and any neighborhood kid who's decided that what i'm having for dinner is better then what their momma is fixin' (even if i don't know what the heck we are having atm) and all of them act like they haven't seen me since the US has had a honest politician in government (yeah, like in forever!) so, i relish my drives to and from work and not once will i complain about traffic or high gas prices.... because that is my me-time.

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  29. You know, I can't entirely blame my children. Seriously, I can't. My favorite incident involved my children blissfully watching a movie downstairs while I showered - which was interrupted 3 times with phone calls from people who had found a lost poodle with my phone number on its license (we don't have a dog), and then the police, also looking for the dog's owner. It is *impossible* to win the coveted Solitary Shower Reward once you've given birth; the entire universe conspires against you!

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  30. OMG, this article and the comments are the best. I'm a new mom, but I feel you already. My hubby and I both have jobs that allow us to work from home, so our little angel stays with us. Amazing how it's always my duty to watch her during meal time and while he spends 30 minutes poo'ing and reading his manazines. Also amazing how after the baby is fed, bathed, and asleep, dinner is made and cleaned up, I finish any additional work I needed to do, laundry, etc. (while he is doing NOTHING)and sit down to watch tv, within 2.5 seconds - he needs his back scratched. Grrr.

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  31. WHERE. IS. THE. REMOTE?

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  32. Ok, first of all, I have never understood but now I know. The gravitational pull of my ass. My 6yo son is caught in the pull every. damn. second. He simply can NOT be more than an arm's length from my butt. Patting it. Whacking it. Resting his head on it. Running full speed into it. Poking it to watch the wiggles. Oh it's loads of fun. Now I know why. Is there any thing at all that breaks the pull?

    Second, I may just have to try throwing a little of my own poo and see if that clears out the bathroom. But wait. Then I'd have to clean it up. Crap. heh.

    Third, Kate in MI, I do that very same thing. "Ok, honey, if you'll take them to the van I'll wait for binky the idiot to bring our check and make sure she got it right." (Then of course I leave a bigger tip cause really, she's not an idiot. She's probably got monkeys of her own and here she is at her job having to listen to my monkeys howling. Poor thing.) You'd think the husband would figure out that it almost never takes 10-15 minutes to bring the check and make change. But ah, it's an awesome time.

    And again, Kate in MI, you're right. I am a damn swiffer too. "Princess snappy pants. I know you think I can do everything at one time but if you'll look closely, you'll see that I have 6 grocery bags in each hand, I'm trying to unlock the back door, the dog is trying to trip me and your brother is prairie dogging and has got to go potty right NOW. There is no possible way I can open the stupid orb you got out of the bubble gum machine that is super glued shut until I at least put ONE thing down. Yes, I still love you."

    And finally, goodness. The whole husband thinking that the minute I get the kids gone I want to hop into bed? Even yesser. Leave me the fark alone, I'm sure there's an NCIS or Law and Order marathon on somewhere and I am absolutely going to dissolve into nothing if I don't get to sit for 10 minutes and not touch or be touched by any one, any thing, or any animal.

    On the helpful side, Febreeze has an April fresh Downy flavor and the Barefoot Moscato is awesome. I'm going to spend the rest of my night with my face in the couch and a straw in my bottle. Good night!

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  33. When I was a kid, I remember that we could run through the house screaming out for mummy, like an axe murderer was chasing us. My mum never ever answered us when she was in the bathroom. That's how we knew where she was :) Now i understand why!

    But now....she has grandkids. And they follow her in no matter what.

    Call it evolution. Call it karma. I'm just glad to get that 5 mins to myself while she goes to the bathroom...I can hang out in the kitchen sipping my cuppa.

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  34. OMG, I just SOBBED I was laughing so hard. Every birthday/ Christmas/ mother's day when he asks me what I want, I say "I'd like you to take the monsters away and leave me in peace." And he assumes I'm kidding. Last week I drove home from work, parked in my own garage, closed the door, and took a nap in my car. And he came out and WOKE ME UP to ask what I was doing!! My new MO is to lie about going into work early, then drive to a random parking lot and take a nap/check email/read.

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  35. We have a tiny house and I don't even bother to close the bathroom door. (I can't even count the times I've answered an *urgent* question and then said the phrase "I'm pooping go away!") I have to TRY to remember to close it when we have company or go to other houses. Luckily, both are infrequent.

    I was the fifth of 5 so by the time I came around my mom had gotten the privacy beaten out of her. I never even expected it as a mom, I think it made the transition slightly easier. Either that or I am so sleep deprived that I just can't seem to care.

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  36. Holy crap, how I love this.
    PennyBroome said:
    "Princess snappy pants. I know you think I can do everything at one time but if you'll look closely, you'll see that I have 6 grocery bags in each hand, I'm trying to unlock the back door, the dog is trying to trip me and your brother is prairie dogging and has got to go potty right NOW. There is no possible way I can open the stupid orb you got out of the bubble gum machine that is super glued shut until I at least put ONE thing down. Yes, I still love you."

    This EXACT THING happened to me yesterday! Girl was trying to get my attention to help her put on a necklace while Boy was trying to LOOK CLOSELY at the doorknob while I tried to see to unlock it WHILE dangling 8 grocery bags from my abnormally strong forearms AND cradle a gallon of milk, WHILE, once the door opened, the dogs tried to escape. All the while, my husband was casually going in the side door, while carrying nothing. Followed by nobody.

    Furk.

    --kate in MI

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  37. PennyBroome! PrarieDogging?!! I nearly died after I read that.

    Whuck is the deal with husbands? Mine is the same way when the kids are gone - he thinks I want to be all frisky. Um, even noer. Leave me alone.

    And how is it my DH can be on his computer for hours on end and not notice the tornadoes in the living room? They don't pester him at all. But when I try to check my email for 30 seconds they are either fighting and/or pestering the mess out of me.

    And how is it they don't follow him into the bathroom? My 2 year old wants to sit in my lap while I poo... and the 4 year old is bringing cranes and trucks in and pulling toys out of the bathtub.

    It's not fair. He sits and works in his nice quiet office (with his coffee from Caribou or breakfast) and I'm stuck in the zoo trying to check facebook because otherwise I wouldn't have any contact with adults at all.

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  38. K, so I thought I'd reverse psychology the shorties and told my 2nd youngest (2) that since she wouldn't leave mommy alone to go poop she was going to have to wipe my bottom when I was done. Well, dern if she didn't lunge at me with a wad of toilet paper giggling joyously that she was gonna be "the mommy". I seriously was screaming and kicking trying to get them all off me (she called reinforcements in - 3 and 6). Murtherfurkin reverse psychology my ass - literally! I'll never do that again!!!! Now I just go in w 3 extra magazines and now I'm prepared to entertain while I poo. :/

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  39. Ahhahahaha, thanks for the laugh. I'm already counting the days till school starts again, so my 12 year old with Aspergers will stop trying to talk to me about vintage video game systems and "Mythbusters" and "Dirty Jobs," and my 9 year old will be with her social circle for hours each day (instead of interrupting me every 5 minutes the instant I sit down to watch something on the computer - somehow the headphones and fixed attention to the computer screen don't indicate to my kids that I'm trying to focus on something entertaining, and that I might not appreciate being interrupted 25 times in half an hour. . . .). Ahem. However, I do get some peace while doing chores, because the kids would rather not be drafted to help. Somehow it's just not the same as being blessedly, blissfully alone for an hour.

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  40. Oh my goodness, this made me bust out laughing!

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  41. My DH is the same about want to have "mommy and daddy time?" and not underderstanding my whuck expression. No, no, no. I want time where the only noise is what I choose to be included in my environment. He will take our two lovely howler monkeys to help me out thankfully, and give mommy alone time. (which is one reason he is still alive since he is in the AF and has been to Qatar 2x, Korea, now Australia/back and forth to Afghanistan, and Colorodo in a few months, and that's only this year.) However he then comes home and procedes to ask me "what did you do while we were gone?" Excuse me? Whuck? What do you think I did? NOTHING!!!!! I played games on the computer. I have to admit that I am conditioning him somewhat to what my expectations are after 7 1/2 years. However I'm not sure who's harder to train. My 10 year old stubborn granny black lab that I adopted last year who had been with one family and apparently not taught certain boundaries or my 35 year old husband with the mental challenge of being a 14 year old. Throw in 2 howler monkeys, a full time career in healthcare, the stress of trying to motivate people who are sick to get up and try in the nursing home setting, fibromyalgia and difficulty sleeping because of pain and you get why my anxiety level is extremely high right now and I want to have a panic attack. Top it off with the empty liquor cabinet and payday isn't until Thursday. That is, my, day.

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  42. OMG funny. Our bathroom door doesn't even shut at the moment (and for some reason our land lord can't be bothered to fix it??!?) I've been a single mom for most of the last 4 years, and I finally figured out how to get alone time... mommy time out. With ear buds. Birdy girl goes to her room with her toys (and the door that's too stuck for her to open) and I go to mine. That is until my DF get's home from being out of town for three days... sigh. I just want to read my book! And the Barefoot Moscado? Asweome!

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  43. @Sam – I have a picture of me holding my newborn son on my right shoulder, and my then-17-month-old daughter on my left shoulder. And we are all asleep in the recliner. hahaaa

    As for using the potty alone, I never bother to fully close the door to the powder room anymore as boy-child gets pi$$ed if “locked out” from Mommy. Siiiiighhhhh

    My “me time” is usually 10 minutes or so after I get out of the shower and before I wake girl-child up. Usually. Sometimes either boy-child or girl-child (or BOTH) Spidey-sense that Mommy is resting/checking her email/checking Facebook/whatever without them – and they wake. Early. Oh well – I am not about to get up at 5am just for a few precious moments of peace.

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