jannica merrit

humor. honesty. sometimes both.


Working Mom



As usual, time has gotten away from me and a holiday is fast approaching.  I was going to dress up as Supergirl for Halloween; mostly because I have the costume and there’s a television show about her.  Then it hit me…why not dress up as myself?


I manage two little lives, taking care of all their needs and many of their wants.  I give boo boo healing kisses.  I run our home, which needs a ton of work, but is still standing.  I work full-time, plus some each week.  I drive long distances so my kids will be with people I trust while I am supporting us.  I keep my title of “Mom” by earning it with sweat and diaper-changing equity.  I don’t go out “adulting” often because I prefer to spend my time with my babies.  I even keep our many pets fed and watered, if not played with often enough.  Surely I qualify?

But before I put on my cape and start strutting around proudly, my doubts creep in.  I think of the times I am short tempered; and I feel bad.  The times I expect my four-year-old to do things above his age and yell when he doesn’t do them.  Sure, most of the time, I don’t yell and am calm, but sometimes I do and I cringe inside afterwards.  The preschooler who somedays challenges me on everything, and argues his way of thinking, even when clearly wrong.  “Mommy, red light means go.”

My amazingly active toddler who some are already trying to label as ADHD.  She is on top of every available climbing surface, and her definition of what is an acceptable climbing surface is so much broader and braver than mine.  With her brother as her spokesperson (“Sister wants ice cream!”), and her own language that she would prefer we learn, over her learning common English or sign language.

These are the best of times, and the tiredest of times.  There was a novel about that by Charles Dickens wife, I believe.  I wouldn’t trade a minute of raising my kids, getting to see them learn and grow and develop, because even at my most exasperated, they are my heart and soul.

Super tired Mom.  I think that is more appropriate.  Is there a costume for that?  And does the cape come with a pillow and someone to watch my kids so I can take a nap?

An Ode To Peeing Alone

One bright sunny afternoon when the birds are happily chirping outside my open window and it is not too hot, nor too cold, I am with my children playing in the living room.  I look at the tiny humans who have filled my life and living room with blocks, balls, stuffed animals, a Thomas the Train Take and Play, a small nonfunctional (but realistic sounding) Little Chef kitchen, both a Pillow Racer and a Buzz Lightyear ride-on toy, and so much more.  They are playing with each other in that special way they have, communicating sometimes without words, laughing when they aren’t beating each other up with a ferocity a UFC fighter would respect.  Our dogs are playing out back and our cats appear to all be sleeping on their cat tree.  An idyllic, if slightly messy, day of parenthood.

My slightly vague ‘fifth-episode-of-Bubble-Guppies-in-a-row-don’t-hit-your-sister-with-that-toy-firetruck’ mind, gets the signal from my sacral nerve that it is time to empty my bladder.  I look slightly nervously at my children, who seemed occupied by their game of my oldest child sort of gently pushing his sister repeatedly into and away from the wall as she sits atop her Buzz Lightyear toy.  Neither are looking at me.  A tiniest germ of hope fills my mind.  Could I really pull this off?  It would be an historic moment, if I could make it work…

Thinking of the possibility, I dare to begin to dream…the idea starting small and slowly building steam in my mind.

Could I actually leave the room unnoticed and make it all the way to the bathroom and…

(drumroll in my mind)

Pee alone?

I don’t let myself become too attached, for the crushing fear of disappointment.  But, like climbing Mount Everest, if you don’t take the first stride, you will never taste the victory of success!  I take a tentative step, and then another.  No loud cries urging me to “wait!” are announced, nor do I see a little eagerly crawling diaper-clad body…

To have a bodily function without a quiz of, “What are you doing?” followed by the ever popular, “What’s that?” is the stuff of my life pre-children. I honestly don’t know how long it’s been.

I make it all the way to the bathroom doorway, one careful step after another.  I pause, looking around, wanting to savor the moment, but not for so long I blow my chance, metaphorically leaving my Golden Ticket in the pocket of pants I sent to the dry cleaners.

I savor the thought of peeing alone, and without explanation of which particular bodily function I am undertaking at that particular moment.  The moment is upon me.  I pull down my yoga pants, anticipation settling in…


And here lie the shattered remnants of my dream, lost in the immortal words, “Mommy’s making pee pee.”  Maybe next year…

My Children Have A Death Wish

I don’t understand it. They don’t seem like depressed or overly angry children (except when I prematurely turn off Voltron on Amazon Prime).  Really, they don’t.  They aren’t thrilled when Mommy gets distracted and dinner is late, or they really didn’t want to stop playing to use the potty or get a diaper change…but they don’t seem like children who would wish to end it all.

So, I can’t understand the literal attraction to basically anything that could kill or maim them.

Knives and scissors.  The sharper and more lethal, the better.  The source is unimportant. Kitchen, desk, pocket of careless visitor…it doesn’t matter as long as whatever they find is sharp enough to gut a large fish in under ten seconds.

High places.  This is all relative to how tall the child is; the key is that it must be an unreasonable height for someone of their size and age.  For my preschooler, it’s got to be at least higher than Mommy’s head.  For my toddler, one to two times her height is preferable.  Extra enjoyment if the thing is rickety; as in the second to the top shelf of the cat lounging tree which is meant to hold a cat up to twenty pounds, and not a thirty-three pound child, which sways back and forth like a palm frond in a hurricane when he confidently stands atop it.  The toddler is happy to perch on an end table with a lamp surrounded by unforgiving tile floor.

Running in traffic.  Parking lots or the average residential neighborhood alike are the perfect opportunity for attempting to get away from their mother’s manacle-grasp, so he can run freely and without looking into the very same area that cars and trucks regularly drive.

Any vitamin not in a child proof container.  I don’t know how that one slipped by me, but sitting on my kitchen counter a few days ago is my preschooler holding a bottle of B vitamins that somehow did not have a child proof lid (which I thought they were all supposed to have!), about to conduct a scientific experiment on taking high levels of B vitamins.

Seat belts.  My preschooler has found if he pushes hard enough, he can put the chest clip in his lap, freeing his arms and defeating most of the purpose of securing him in a car seat.  This is a fun exercise in independence and control for him; an exercise in fear and what if’s for me.

It’s not a game I understand; though they have shown me the rules.  The gauntlet has been thrown down; and it is my battle to win in protecting my children from their current worst enemy—themselves.

Unexpected Battles of Parenthood

There were a lot of things I expected I would have battles with my kids over; most of them have not been as bad as I expected. But then there are the unexpected battles of parenthood.  The ones that hit you over the head when you least expect it.

Speaking of which, being hit over the head literally, by my then-toddler with his corn popper toy.  Made of a solid unforgiving plastic.  Perfect for lining up the target (i.e. my head) and giving it a good wallop. Struck so hard I saw stars, my son looked quizzically at me after launching his successful attack, wondering why Mommy was moaning.

A huge battle is the remote control.  I never thought I would be battling a 3 year old for a remote control.  And especially not so passionately. My idea that the device was the bastion of adults until at least the teen years now seems completely naïve.   Along that line, the constant arguments over which streaming service carries his momentarily favorite cartoon.  “Nooooooo, not Amazon!  Mom, it’s Netflix!  Power Rangers is on Netflix!”

One we may never agree on is which color is really yellow.  I know my yellow.  Really, kid, I have been around so much longer than you and I do know my yellow when I see it, even when you are thoroughly convinced the crayon called Summer Ocean is yellow; it still is not and you are wrong.

The fierceness of the personal hygiene battles has surprised me; where teeth brushing is experienced as a form of child abuse akin to waterboarding and hair brushing is viewed as an attempt to maim. The screams, hands to the head and mouth, and evasive maneuvers begin long before brush touches teeth or scalp.

I expected my children to fight. I did. But as a grown “only child”, I never expected the sudden random sibling violence that erupts for no apparent reason.  Sudden kicks worthy of an Olympic level soccer player from my preschooler to my unsuspecting toddler, knocking her off couches and beds are his norm.

Who knew my water bottle would draw children to it like grape juice to white carpeting?  I dream of sitting down with an ice cold bottle of water and reaching for it twenty minutes later and having it still be where I left it.  It’s akin to a winning Powerball ticket, I realize, but there you have it.

While these are some of the unexpected ones, there are some I expected that haven’t come, at least not yet.  I am certain there are many more to come, and I will be surprised by most, if not all, of them.

Low Expectations: The Key to a Happy Life


I am about to give you some free, yet infinitely valuable advice.  I am going to share my secret on living a happy, successful, and fulfilled life:

Low expectations.

That’s right. Low expectations.  Setting the bar too high is just a recipe for disappointment and failure.  Set that bar LOW!  If you aren’t meeting your goals, don’t worry, don’t fuss; lower that bar!

This is especially helpful in parenting small children.  It is probably even more helpful with teenagers, but I am not there yet, and I don’t advise you to wait nine years to find out how I will do it when you can lower the bar and enjoy your life today!

Here are some examples from my life where a low bar has led to contentment and happiness:

I took my two small children, aged one and four, to Waffle House by myself.  That’s right, by myself.  Now some would have looked at my daughter, with grits in her hair and scrambled egg smeared across her face, onesie, and feet, and not been happy.  Some would have observed my son, “drinking” from the syrup-sticky sugar dispenser, and I thought I didn’t have it all under control.  Some might have thought that my daughter’s screams (her word for “feed me immediately please Mommy”) were cries for a deeper sort of help.  Some might have seen the overturned glass dripping water and ice cubes on the floor and felt I was somehow in over my head.  But, I know my children and I set the bar low.  We all got something to eat and Waffle House was still standing when we were finished means a complete success!

Cleaning my house is another area lowered expectations have served me well.  Now some would see my house and shudder at the post-Apocalyptic state; it might depress them or even make them franticly call Merry Maids. Toys are covering every conceivable surface, and the floor underneath piled high with half a pound of sand from the backyard sandbox with a plastic shovel standing upright like a Veteran’s Memorial.  The number of plastic, child-friendly plates and lidless sippy cups on the floor could fill a dishwasher—or my empty cupboards. But am I unhappy? Heck, no!  I can step over things like an Olympic pro.  I can look the other way and PRETEND we are that house from HGTV.

And lastly, I will briefly mention head counts: another invaluable parenting tool.  Having the same number of kids alive at the end of the day as you started with is awesome!  If they are the same kids as you started out with; even better!  If not, well, you tried. Bonus points go to the Mom whose morning to evening pet stats stay the same. High five!

Go on!  Lower those expectations and live a happy life!

This Morning

I woke you from your baby dreams too early this morning.  Your warm breath was soft upon my skin as you sleepily opened your mouth to drink.  Early mornings are one of the few times you focus and still nurse, in your growing quest to learn and conquer your world.  Your warm breath was soft upon my skin as you sleepily opened your mouth to drink.  I held you tight against my chest as you drank and just barely stayed awake.  Your sweet eyes closed as your ever-growing, sturdy body curled into me.  I was distracted by the softness of your cheek from my vigilance with the clock, not wanting to care, but needing to.  All too soon, our time was over, and you awoke as I stood and you held tightly to my nipple.  I wanted to cry.  You want your Mommy.  Your Mommy wants you.  But your Mommy has to go to work to support us.  I can’t explain that, as I pulled you off me, five minutes later than I “should” have.  My heart broke as I gave you to another, to hurry off to work.  Knowing you will be loved and cared for helps but doesn’t break my heart any less for watching you reach for me and knowing I have to leave you.  Leaving you rips me up, from the inside out, when all I want is to stay in bed, snuggled against you, offering you my milk as you choose and holding you while you sleep.

At work I count the hours until I can hold you again, dreading the thought of you sleeping when I pick you up, wanting you to rest, but still craving your smile and your soft baby giggle and smooth new skin.  I can envision robbing banks for more time with you; but getting caught would mean more time away from you.  You are my beating heart, living outside my chest.  Each new milestone we celebrate makes me even prouder of you than the day I first gazed into your indignant eyes, screaming at being pulled from my womb.

My world is happy and complete when you are in my arms, or sitting on my hip, staring bravely out at the world.  I love you.  I will take care of you and support us; no matter how hard it is.

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