How to Lift Your Spirits, Kind Of

Well, to start right in the middle, my mood’s improving (in case you wondered). I have no discernible reason why, other than I did sleep this weekend and sleep is a really good, smart thing (research bears this out). I went to silly, hot and stinky Bikram Yoga class yesterday and left feeling happier (I am now officially dubbing this voodoo yoga).

For the fast weekend update: the girl* isn’t such a believer in sleep these days. She seems to have ditched diapers and naps almost wholesale thus far (she requests diapers for certain messy business; she swears up and down she doesn’t need them to sleep in, although she relents or we get the diaper on her once she’s asleep). She hasn’t napped all week and does not stick to her crib or her room; she’s “not tired” or “scared” or “wants to play in the playroom” or “hungry.” New ground rules must apply—or the mama will lose work time and her cool all at once (as ascertained Friday, that is not pretty).

Well, obviously, as any parent of a toddler worth his or her salt would tell you the up side of less sleep in the daytime is getting the kid to bed earlier. Caveat at my house: this isn’t so easy to do. But we are committed and I’m going to do my part. Last night, I gave her an early bath and helped her get into her clothing for the morning (‘cause that’s how we roll) and her papa put her to bed. A little later the eight year-old returned from his pal Kate’s house and watched a movie upstairs (Sleeper—picked out by his mama, confident he’d get enough of the humor and entirely miss the totally inappropriate parts). The papa walked in to call it bedtime for the boy and found him sitting there beside the little in-bed-supposedly-for-well-over-an-hour girl. Feel free to sigh here. Or to laugh; we did both (in a kind of we’re so screwed way).

For me, the moment of the weekend with her was this: after a tantrum over hair brushing on Saturday evening and another over wearing the diaper to bed (with our reassuring her: Adelaide wears a diaper to bed; Jonah wears a diaper to bed; Isadora wears a diaper to bed…so not working), I finally said to her that if she were to put the diaper on she could fall asleep on my bed next to me (don’t even go there, I know what it means; this is my fourth kid, after all, and I am a fundamentally mushy parent). Anyway, we lay in the dark and somehow I dug into my well of inner compassion (which I thought had dried up entirely by then) and said to her, being a big girl is really tiring. She uttered two words with a somberness I cannot convey here but trust me: “Potty training.” Break my heart, kid. We just let it be hard for a moment. I reinforced that there’s no rush and that she’s doing such hard work, and that I’m really proud of her. With that, she fell asleep.

I fell asleep less than an hour later, snuggled up beside her.

If there was an ongoing argument over the weekend (and let’s just say there was) it was about sleep and the teenager. I won’t elaborate. For today and tomorrow, the dear husband is dealing with the school-by-seven-thirty detail. Then, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair calls and we’ll see what goes.

In that nagging mother way, I want my older kids to do stuff like sleep, clean up a little more than regularly occurs and not yell at me. While I imagine this shouldn’t count as setting the bar too high, who knows? I know this: I’m not feeling so effective or good about my interactions (emphasis on me) and am going to sit with that in hopes I find some new approach that works.

I can barely speak for the eight year-old’s weekend; he was off with friends a bunch. The word cheery, applied. Thank goodness.


For lack of a better idea (plus necessity) I’m planning to muddle through this week (more than half of it solo parenting, grumble, book fairs, grumble). In fact, once in it, I should be all right (the waiting is the hardest part?).

I am, somehow, trying to be easier upon myself (failing, but trying). I figure if I can be gentle with myself I’m more likely to retain patience for the rest of the people. Call this my back-to-basics approach.


Although I haven’t been writing much about this, I am pleased to report that the National Network of Abortion Funds’ Bowl-a-Thon reached its halfway point over the weekend (how do I know? Twitter!). Amongst the best parts of engaging in the Twitterverse is keeping up on developments in regards to abortion rights (short answer: the news isn’t good). If you are interested, you can follow me there; I’m a big retweeter of reproductive justice items. You can also help this virtual bowler reach her goal and help the National Network of Abortion Funds reach theirs. Access is the only way this right remains a right. That’s the bottom line.

Oh, and the other fun thing about the Twitterverse? I ended up in an exchange with Roseanne Cash. Seriously, that stoked my sense of inner coolness this weekend, because she’s one of my most favorites of favorites. That, and an exchange with another writer about Mo Willems’ Kuh-nuffle Bunny and our toddlers’ love of saying the word SNURP, which is, undoubtedly, a lot of fun to say. You can also follow the Pigeon on Twitter. It’s a wacky little outpost, Twitter.

*These photos are of Saskia’s friend-filled Saturday. Despite the exhaustion and moments of leakage, we really had a lot of fun.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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