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Toddlers and Tricycles

When my son was a newborn, I was pretty much terrified to leave the house. Venturing into the world meant having to attempt diaper changing in public restrooms or trying to breastfeed a screaming baby in the middle of the mall without flashing a boob in front of a crowd of people. After two and a half years, I have finally mastered carting a kid around the world, but at the time, I wasn’t ready. So most days in the very beginning, we hung around the house.

Being home alone during my maternity leave quickly became monotonous, especially in the winter time when we couldn’t get outside very often. As soon as the weather changed, I was pumped to take my son for walks around the neighborhood in his stroller. Going for a walk was the perfect way for me to get out of the house without actually going anywhere too overwhelming. Plus, I felt the need to put that travel system stroller to good use considering it cost us almost as much as our monthly car payments combined.

Oh, how I miss those days. Sleepy baby in the stroller. Love it.

Oh, how I miss those days. Sleepy baby in the stroller.      Love it.

Morning walks with my son became part of our daily routine. Not only did it feel good to be outside, but I was happy to chat with just about any other adult that I might run into on those daily strolls. After many long hours in the house during the middle of winter, talking only to a newborn while my husband was at work, I could have chatted with mailman for days just for the sake of some adult interaction.

A year later, when my son was about 12 months old, I still loved taking him for walks. However, at that time, the purpose of strapping him into a stroller and taking a walk around the neighborhood was solely to take a break from chasing the kid all over the house. I had no idea how much shit a baby that age could actually get in to. I was spending the majority of my time trying to prevent him from crawling up the stairs, putting anything and everything in his mouth, and splashing in the dog’s water bowl – so getting out of the house for a walk was a life saver.

And then flash forward one more year – two years old. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to convince this kid to get anywhere NEAR a stroller. It’s like it finally dawned on him one day that he could actually boycott being strapped it to any kind of baby container. No more umbrella stroller, no more jogging stroller, he’s even tired of sitting in the wagon. I had to say goodbye to hundreds of dollars worth of strolling equipment. If we were going on a walk, he was going to WALK.

And then, he learned to pedal his bike.

Oh God, the bike. Where do I begin? I love the fact that he learned to ride his bike and there are some advantages to letting him ride over pushing him in the stroller. First of all, he almost always fell asleep in the stroller, so letting him bike is a good way to avoid too much snoozing while we were walking. Plus, pedaling a bike for several blocks throughout the neighborhood is an awesome way to burn off the unnatural amount of energy that a toddler possesses.

On the flip side, following my son around while he rides his bike has a few downfalls. First of all, this kid can ride. FAST. Picture me in my PJs, carrying my coffee mug, unwashed, unruly hair blowing in the wind as I chase my two year old up and down the street at 8:00am, screaming at him to stop when he gets to the street before crossing. It’s not a pretty sight. Sometimes he rides that damn bike so quickly down the driveway that his pedals spin too fast for him to keep his feet on them, which typically doesn’t end well. Needless to say, we bought the kid a helmet.

Sweet ass helmet, if you ask me.

Sweet ass helmet, if you ask me.

And then, other days, I swear to god, it takes him two hours to ride around the block. It’s like I have to drag his ass every inch of our trip, begging him to move faster. On these days, he likes to stop at every single tree, touch the trunk, and talk about the bark. He has to inspect every blade of grass as we pass by. We stop at EVERY damn fire hydrant and have the exact same conversation that we had yesterday (and the day before, and the day before that) about how firefighters use them to put out fires in houses. Then, he stops to pick up 4000 pine cones, acorns, and rocks and spends at least 15 minutes trying to figure out how to fit all that shit in the trunk of his bike. One day, he had such a fit that he couldn’t get all of his stuff in his trunk that he ended up filling his pockets AND mine with all kinds of acorns and other random junk he came across as we walked. And god forbid if I get rid of any of this crap when we get home. It’s all neatly stored in a pile on his dresser in his bedroom – like a little acorn/pinecone trophy collection.

Stopping to inspect something. Just another day in the life of a toddler.

Stopping to inspect something. Just another day in the life of a toddler.

And then, there are days when he rides half way around the block and decides he wants to walk and I end up chasing him AND carrying the bike. I can see you shaking your head. You’ve done this too, I bet.

Needless to say, taking a walk is not the leisurely activity it once was like when he was a newborn. However, letting him ride around for two hours on his bike typically tires the hell out of his little legs – which means a nice, long nap time. For us both. I’ll take it.

So to all you new mommies out there, enjoy your relaxing walks while you can. And if you’re in the market, feel free to come browse the collection of gently used strollers that are now collecting dust in my basement. And FYI – any used stroller purchase comes free with a collection of pine cones and acorns.

Leaves, acorns, and a birthday invitation. The literal version of "junk in the trunk."

Leaves, acorns, and a birthday invitation. The literal version of “junk in the trunk.”

My Brief Blogging Break

So over the past two months, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little MIA from the blogosphere. I’m sure many of you were really concerned that I finally fell over the edge of the mommy mountain and decided to give up blogging AND parenting all together due to the out of control chaos involved in raising children. Or maybe you just assumed I’d finally checked myself into rehab due to the over-excessive, toddler-induced wine drinking that takes place around here on a regular basis. Don’t get your granny panties in a bunch. I appreciate your deep concern, but no need to worry. I haven’t thrown my child to the wolves. I’m not stuck in a permanent pinot grigio hangover. I’ve just been pretty damn busy, and I’m sure you can all relate in some way or another. So let me catch you up to date.

I know I’ve bored you to death with the topic of kids and careers in the past. I’ll try not to get to long and drawn out about it again at the moment. But, let me just say, kids + careers = chaos. I’m going to try to make this long story short. I’m a certified teacher by trade and I worked in the field of early childhood education prior to having my son. After he was born, I made the decision to stay at home for a year and then attempt to transition into a position in the school districts. In case you aren’t from New York State, I will fill you in on a little secret. Getting a teaching job in this area has pretty much the same odds as winning the lottery, getting struck by lightning, or getting pregnant with quintuplets naturally. It’s damn near impossible. So in September, I started working as a substitute teacher and then eventually took a full time teacher aide position in hopes to get my foot in the door.

Well, I got my foot in the door all right and then had the door slammed several times (leaving me with a figurative sore foot and a disheartened outlook). In the past two months, I’ve gone on six job interviews for various positions and haven’t yet secured a full time teaching position for September. As of right now, I’ll be returning as an aide in the fall. Which is totally fine, of course, but I was hoping for my own classroom.

Now besides the fact that I clearly believe that I am the most amazing, dedicated teacher on the planet, I also believe I deserve a position solely based on the amount of work that goes into trying to search for a job while raising a child (and working full-time). Just attempting to use my laptop to complete job applications with a child in the house is challenge. If you are a parent, you get what I’m saying here. My toddler actually believes that every electronic device in this house belongs to him and serves no other purpose than the play Thomas the Tank Engine videos on YouTube. So trying to convince him to give me a few minutes to write a cover letter hasn’t gone over very well. To be honest, I have no fucking idea what I’ve even applied for because I’m trying to move so quickly while working on the computer, attempting to finish an application before a computer coup d’é·tat organized by the toddler occurs.

Then, of course, there is the actual interview. Printing resumes, creating folders, coordinating a babysitter. It’s exhausting to think about. And trying to get out of the house on time in a freshly pressed suit without being attacked by greasy fingers and dog hair is pretty much like a mission straight out of the motherhood matrix.

Considering the amount of effort it takes to get an interview scheduled and actually get there in a presentable manner, I should be handed a position just based on the fact that I showed up.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. And with all of the effort I’ve been putting into finding a teaching job, I was forced to take a little time away from my website. But here I am, back at it. I’ve decided not to let the job search get me down and to continue to work on the things I enjoy – like blogging and drinking wine. Oh, and parenting, of course.

So stay tuned. Lots of tales about the tireless toddler are on their way.