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Art and Madness in the Time of Potty Training

I’ve spent the last two years or so writing, telling stories on stage, producing theatre…and (thanks to The Onion) stuff otherwise known as Mom’s Got Her Thing Tonight.

Sometimes my son asks if he can see whatever I’m working on. Usually, the answer is no, because it’s something about sex or cursing at my vagina. So that means, for my kids, the relevant facts are that “Mom’s got her thing,” and that “thing” has made me tired, bitchy, cranky, exhausted, distracted and otherwise totally off my game. That’s not really how I like to think of myself as a parent.

I prefer to plan every day to within an inch of my life. I prefer to be rested. I prefer a clean house, fantastic dinners and my children on a schedule. Because everyone loves a schedule. Well, at least I do. I fucking love a schedule, complete with naps and appropriate bedtimes, and I don’t really understand why everyone doesn’t feel the same as me. (But it’s cool if you don’t. You do you!)

So here’s the problem. When I’ve been up until 2 am, writing, planning, scheduling, rehearsing or not sleeping because who can sleep after a show, I’m kind of a train wreck and nobody wants to be around a train wreck.

I try to plan ahead. Last summer, I looked up all of the things that are entertaining for toddlers and ended up purchasing disturbing amounts of pom poms, stickers and glue. My daughter chose to put the stickers on the entertainment center, eat the glue and stick the pom poms on the cat.

We got her a water table because hello, water play means hours of fun, and it turns out that she would rather take all of the mud from the garden and just coat the water table with it. I know, that’s totally normal and exciting exploration but it’s also a giant fucking mess. And, anyway, she would rather torture the cat. I mean, love the cat. I’m not really sure but it’s probably not evidence of any real sadism. I think.

They seem pretty chill. Photo by flickr user Mardi Grass.

They seem pretty chill. Photo by flickr user Mardi Grass.

I want to be one of those parents who’s a really cool bohemian artist. Like, let’s just see what happens. Play it by ear. Just hang out and listen to music. Who needs a schedule anyway? Natural consequences and shit, amiright? Let it go! But I can’t do it. I am physically incapable of letting anything go. Sorry, Elsa.

I wish there were some way to achieve balance in my life but it doesn’t seem to be happening. I have a hard time letting go of the way I think I should be as a parent, because it’s not like letting go of a dream or a fantasy. It’s kind of the way I actually used to parent. Hey, I still parent that way when I have enough sleep! But this is a new reality with much less sleep and a lot more “Mom’s Got Her Thing Tonight.” So I really need to embrace the new reality.

Here we are, facing yet another “Thing” and I am determined not to feel like I’m experiencing the apocalypse. This summer, I totally swear that I am going to allow for more TV time and imperfect, unscheduled days. Because otherwise I have a strong feeling that I will probably go insane. And it seems better to be imperfect and unscheduled than totally batshit crazy. Right?

featured image by flickr user Nina Matthews.

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Jenny Splitter

Jenny Splitter

Jenny Splitter is a writer, storyteller and over-scheduled mom of two living in Washington, DC. She spends her glamorous days trying to write whatever she can, counting 1-2-3 in a slow yet threatening manner to her children, playing with gluten and working to eradicate dog hair from the planet (or at least her home). Find her on Twitter , Google+ and Facebook

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