Mama Drops the F-bomb

Today has been one of those days.  One of those days.

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The day began pretty typically for a Saturday with the Hub leaving for work at 6:00am, kissing me gently on the forehead as I barely have the strength to move, both arms trapped under sleeping boys.  As he walks out, I lay, trying to remember when and how they ended up pinning me to the mattress.  I have no clue.  I move.  Eyelids snap open.  Coffee.  Heading into the kitchen, I am struck by the most debilitating pain in my foot.  Crumbling to the floor, clutching my foot with tears starting to sting my barely awakened eyes.  A Lego.  A mother-humping Lego.  And it’s still stuck in my foot.  Right in the sweet spot between the ball and the pad.  I can barely contain it but I am thinking it.  Really thinking it.  Fuck.  It’s not out loud.  But it’s more oozing from the pores in my forehead.  I am sweating obscenities.

I manage to recover.  With no help or concern from the little beasts gobbling granola bars and fruit cups from the couch, little eyes glued to glowing screen like they’re in some kind of trance.  I survey the house.  The living room is pretty bad.  The sink is piled with dishes.  I efficiently, almost smugly, loaded the dishwasher the night before last (yes, you read that right) only to find that we were out of detergent.  And then I forgot to get it yesterday.  So now, this morning, not only is the dishwasher full of dirty dishes, but all the dishes from yesterday are piled in the sink.  Sweet.

Looking over to the playroom, I am filled with anxiety and dread.  That has to be cleaned.  You see, we are in the beginning stages of selling our house and have people coming to look at it tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  And they are such a sweet young couple… The sight of that playroom may affect them so profoundly that they may never again be able to stomach the idea of bringing children into the world.  But more importantly, they probably wouldn’t buy our house.  I sit.  Staring- glaring in at the mass of plastic, knowing that I will have to find a spot for each and every piece of shit in there.

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Fuck.  Again, not out loud but in my soul, I am breathing this curse in deeply and spitting it out from far in the back of my throat.  Silently.  And with a smile.  Because that’s what we Mamas do, right?  We hold shit together.  For everyone.  With a smile.  Because if we can’t, everything falls apart.  Everything falls apart.  No pressure.

Mooch has a birthday party today and we have yet to choose the perfect gift so we are off to pick out something ridiculously pink, frilly and girly.  Just have to pick out clothes for everyone.  Walking into my bedroom, the fury of my looming task in the playroom returns in full force.  Standing in the doorway, looking down at the heaps of laundry I must also deal with.  But later.  I dig in, searching out shirts and pants and underwear, and socks.  God, I hate looking for socks.  Hunching over, trying desperately to find the match to a dinosaur sock, I am so engrossed in my quest that I don’t even hear the smallest child sneaking up and pouncing on my back, catching me off guard, sending me face first into an over-turned laundry basket.  Fuck.  This time, it’s mostly in my head but the Fffffff slips a little.  Hi Mama!  Got you!  And he runs off.  The quest is over.  Mooch will not be wearing matching socks today.  I walk out of the room, but not before I take one long look back…  Knowing I will have to tackle this later.

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Mooch is pissed about his mis-matched socks.  Zook won’t wear his coat.  Cub is bitching at me for something but I can’t even hear him over Zook’s angry wails.  We manage to make it into the car.  Zook continues with the sobs- now because he wants to take his seat belt off.  I stop to pick them up bagels.  Silence as they chow in the backseat.  The toy store is uneventful except leaving- which is always stressful.  Always.  And ends with me yelling that I am leaving as at least two kids run screaming, partially believing that I may actually be gone.  I am beat.  But we have a gift that looks like something a fairy barfed up so I think we are in good shape for this party.  Mooch steps in cream cheese.  And now it’s all over the car.  My wallet falls to the ground into a mud puddle.  Along with the card for the gift.  Cub stands, looking at my wallet, acting like a sponge, soaking up the murky water.  Pick it up, I am saying to him.  But he’s just standing there.  I’m not putting my hand in that… I vaguely hear him say as I am wiping cream cheese off virtually every surface with upholstery.  Scooping my water-logged wallet up, I glare at Cub.  I get in and just as I swing my arm down, I feel a bump.  Hear a splash.  Looking down, I see that someone has left a full bottle of milk on the center console.  Without the cap.

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Fuck.  This time it’s out loud.  Instant shame.  Did I just do that?  Was that out loud?  Did they hear that?  I desperately scan the rear view mirror.  Yup.  They totally heard that.  No one says anything.  Nothing.  Deep breaths.  I put the cap back on the milk. Put my seat belt on, after about ten deep breaths.  I pull out of the parking lot.  I know I should say something but I am just not quite sure what that should be so I just drive.  Finally, I just blurt out, I am sorry.  That was a really bad word.  Mama was really angry and frustrated but it’s still not okay for me to say bad words.  Quiet.  And then giggles.  Breathe Mama.

It was a day.  A bad day.  One of those days.  But now it’s over.  Now, they are up in their beds. They know their Mama isn’t perfect but they know she tries her hardest every day.  The playroom is clean.  The dishes are done.  And the laundry, well that’s still up there.  But tomorrow is another day.

Peace, Mamas.

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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

My little Mooch has turned into a bit of a fibber.  I know it sounds naive but I am shocked he’s turned to lying.  My oldest, Cub, has never been a liar- almost to a fault, if that’s possible.  So I was quite shocked last week when I popped in to his kindergarten class and the teacher approached me asking if we were “all packed”…  For what?  For your trip- and are you really going to swim with sharks?  That’s so exciting!  Ahh… No.  And what the hell are you talking about?

At first, it just started with little things, like what someone had said.  But today it was down right lying.

Mooch: Today on the bus, a big kid got on the bus and said Little kids have to sit in the front! and pointed at me.

Me: Really?  Who was he?  What did you say?

Mooch: Well, I told him to Zip it.

Me: Wow. What did he do?

Mooch: He walked away.  Oh and you don’t have to ask Cub about it because he was there…

Me: What do you mean by that…?  If I ask him about it, would he tell me the story the same way?

Mooch: Um.  No…  He actually didn’t hear anything.

Me: So he didn’t hear this but he was sitting in the same seat as you?

Mooch: Right.

Me: Riiiight.

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What the hell kid?  He’s such a little fibber!  I know kids fib because they are insecure and looking for praise, acceptance and admiration.  Right now, this poor bug is trying so hard to fit in with his friends.  It’s hard to see him so insecure right now.  He’s always been my kiddo who was so sure of himself, easily befriending anyone who showed interest.  I still remember the love note I wrote to him on the eve of his kindergarten registration… It’s happening… And it’s heartbreaking to see his self-esteem plummet.

We talked up kindergarten so much.  He was so excited.  You’ll make so many friends!  You’re going to have so much fun!  Kindergarten is going to be a blast…  In hindsight, maybe we talked it up too much.  (Damn hindsight!  Where were you a couple of months ago?!)  I think he’s feeling let down.  And I think I caused it.  We wanted him to be so excited about kindergarten that we talked it up constantly.  We didn’t leave out the parts about how something new can make us nervous, or that it will take some time to get used to a new school with a new teacher and new friends.  We did say those things too but I think we played up the fun factor and he was really excited… Only to be disappointed.  Kindergarten is hard work.  It’s not easy to make new friends.  It’s tough to listen and focus for hours on end.  It’s a challenge to remember where your backpack/lunch bag/coat/ homework folder are supposed to go.  It’s hard to belong.

The fibbing is a symptom of a much larger ailment brewing.  Insecurity is ugly.  And right now this virus is coursing through his veins.  Telling his class about going on a vacation to swim with sharks made him feel special.  Made him feel cool.  Maybe made the other kids like him… Is it sick that I want to go with him and sit with him when he’s lonely?  Hold his hand when he’s scared, hug him when he’s been hurt?  The thought of him needing these things from me and not being there to provide them, is about the worse feeling imaginable in all of Mamahood.  I want to be there every second to say the right thing and make sure he’s always okay.  I know it’s irrational.  I know there are some Mamas who would say that we both need to suck it up.  But I don’t care how bat-shit-crazy it sounds.  I wish I could be by his side in case he needs me.

I need to trust that I have done my job well.  And that’s hard- especially when I lay in bed, feeling like I have failed in some capacity about fifty percent of the time.  How do I know I am doing the right thing?  Parenting is such a tough job.  And I am so scared that I am fucking up these perfect little souls.  Like I am unintentionally ruining them.  I need to trust that I have done my job well.  And I need not own my poor Mooch’s feelings of insecurity but empower him to be the amazing little human he was born to be.

Tonight, I overheard him tell his brother that he wished he was a fast runner like another kid.  I took the opportunity to say the following:

If you want to run faster, challenge yourself to run faster- but only if that’s what you truly want.  People are best at the things they love.  If you love to run, you will be fast.  And if you love to draw, you will be a wonderful artist.  Please don’t try to be anyone other than who you are.  Because you are such a gift.  And others will like you for you.  

Silence.  Breathing in the moment and thinking that I may have filled his little heart with hope and love, I watched him.

Mama, Graham said that some ladies have a lot of hair in their pits and some don’t.  Can I see yours?  My pits?  You want to see my pits?  Yup.

Seriously.  I give up.

Peace, Mamas.

Coming Up for Air

Holy shit that was fast.  In a nanosecond, summer passed us by.  It’s been a while.  My last post was about indulging myself in what was supposed to be my kids’ summer vacation.  Once I abandoned being a self-absorbed lamo, I threw myself into playing with my three little dudes.  We beached it a few times, went to the library a bunch and hung out in the yard, ran in the grass and fell into bed with dirty feet.  And we went to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory for a tour.  Which taught me a few nuggets of parenting genius- which of course, I intend to share here.

I hadn’t done many things with all three kiddos solo- other than work on my (semi) stay-at-home mom tan, while Pintersting as the kids dug holes at the beach- so I decided we needed a trip- somewhere to acquaint them with the culture of our state (Vermont), somewhere they could learn about local agriculture and industry, somewhere educational… Yup, we went to the Ben and Jerry’s Factory.  To learn about ice cream!  I was quite proud of myself as I drove to Waterbury (about a 35 minute commute from home), nearly smug as I pulled into the parking lot, pumping myself up.  See, Mama!  You can do this on your own!  Everyone is happy and ready for a relaxed day of ice cream and fun.  Ha.  Sure they are.  After parking, I gleefully walk to the trunk to get out the stroller- essential piece of equipment for a solo Mama of three at in ice cream factory…  Trunk’s empty.  What the fuck.  Reminder: send husband a hate text.  Now what.  Well, I guess Zook is going to have to walk.  Sure.  That will be simple.  A two-year-old is totally going to hold my hand and walk calmly and quietly as we tour an ice cream factory, right?  Riiiight.  Parenting Nugget #1: Always bring the fucking stroller.

Unloading everyone from the car, I pass out cheerful reminders like party favors.  Let’s try to be really good listeners today!  Mama needs your help to be calm!  We all need to work together and follow directions!  Hopefully they are not listening well enough to hear the panic bubbling in my throat…  This was going to be a long morning.  And why the hell do I not have the stroller?!  Okay Zook, hold Mama’s hand…  Nope.  Me run now!  Shit.

Up the 47 stairs from the parking lot.  Inside and into line to buy the tickets.  Thirty minutes until our tour begins… What are we going to do to kill some time.  Cub spots a spin art station.  The kids run over, to drop paint from a bottle onto a spinning sheet of paper.  Now I have to point out here that although the kids loved this, whoever in their right mind thought that a horde of children crowding around a spin art table was a good idea, clearly did not have children.  “Okay, just one drop of each color!”, the cheerful (annoyingly cheerful) 16 year old girl says to the boys as they rush the spinning paper.  Oh yeah, they are totally going to listen to you, honey.  Good one.  Zook takes a death grip on the bottle and squeezes like he’s trying to force out the last bit of ketchup.  Except the bottle is full and now there’s paint everywhere.  Everywhere.  Sweating, I pry the (now nearly empty) paint bottle from his paint-covered hands.  And now he’s screaming.  There’s paint everywhere.  Calm down, pull it together.  Clean up.  Who wants to pose in front of the giant ice cream truck?  Parenting Nugget #2: Don’t ever let a two year old do spin art.

Okay so spin art sucked up about 12 minutes- including clean up, which was really rather impressive.  Now what.  The boys spot a playground.  Perfect.  Just as they descend on the slides and climbing walls, I feel it.  The trickle.  A week early.  I have on mint green capris.  Fuck.  Boys!  We have to go back to the car for a minute.  Moans.  Whining.  All the “but we just got here”, “we want to stay” start a’flowing.  I forgot something and we need to go back to the car. Now.  Grumbling.  Of course Zook wants to walk.  All the way back to the car.  Oh dear god… This is bad.  In an effort to maintain my calm facade and struggling not to start screaming- or running- I try to formulate my plan of attack.  Do I dare leave them outside the stall in the bathroom?  Do I bring them in?  No.  There will be questions… Questions are bad.  The car.  I have to make it work in the car.  Good god, I have to make it work in the car!

I’ll spare you the details but my critical, curious (and a little annoying) 8 year old pretty much bitched me out the whole time while Zook literally devoured half a tube of chapstick and Mooch asked about 40,000 times how many more minutes until our tour- which by this time, I had completely forgotten about because so far, this fun trip to the ice cream factory has consisted of no stroller, spin art and my fucking period.  Where’s the bar.  Mama needs a drink.  Parenting Nugget #3: Don’t get your period at the ice cream factory.  (What?  TMI, you say?  Well, the name of this blog is Mama Gets Real.  And this is about as real as it gets.)

Long story long, we made it to the tour in the nick of time.  It was pretty boring.  But there was ice cream at the end and no one had a melt down.  As we drove out of the parking lot, Cub asked if we could do this every weekend, Mooch asked if we could have ice cream for dinner and Zook was passed out before we hit the interstate.  And my mint capris were totally fine.  Just when I think things are falling apart, they come together.  I forced myself to remain positive and my little ducklings followed suit.  Our summer wrapped up nicely.  My heart feels so full when I think about our last days of summer.  Completely elated that I had this time with them- which while stressful, warmed my soul.  Parenting Nugget #4: Enjoy these summer moments… Because the shit hits the fan when school starts again.

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Peace, Mamas!

Back on the Wagon… Again

My name is Sarah Russell.  I am a yell-aholic.  I have been yell-free for eight days.

So here we are.  Day Eight.  Many, many events have taken place in the past month or so.  Mainly summer vacation hit me like a ton of bricks.  The first couple weeks were quite euphoric.  I was craving the lax of no school, no obligations, no pressure… Until that’s just what I got.  Sure, the relaxed nature of our days is easier in some ways but I am not sure the pros have outweighed the cons because something happens when you don’t have to answer to school, sports practices, preschool pick-up and bus schedules: You get lazy.  And I am not just talking about lazy like Oh I’m just going to lay around— no, no.  Lazy like, I’m going to take a little break from parenting.  Lazy like, I’m going to ignore the bickering for just a little bit too long.  Lazy like, I’m going to say sure to that (store bought) cookie because you can get it for yourself and I don’t have to get up from Pinteresting to cut you up a goddamn piece of fruit.  You want to watch TV for an extra hour?  Sure.  You want to play video games past the 20 minute limit?  Go for it.  Your brother kicked you because you– oh nevermind.  Get another cookie.

And as I am sure you can imagine, the cart plummeted off the cliff at the intersection of lazy parenting and children gone wild.  Ugh.  Something had to change.  I was unhappy.  I felt like shit.  The summer was passing us by and I was like an indifferent, stinky high school student on summer vacation.  And then it hit me.  This isn’t my summer vacation.  It’s theirs.   What was my problem?  I was so looking forward to slacking off and then I realized I was wasting their vacation by being self-absorbed and lame.  Mama Fail.

So we went on a trip and spent a week at the ocean.  It was amazing.  On our last day, we had a very stressful travel itinerary and I knew that to keep us from living in a constant state of chaos while one humiliating meltdown blends into another, it was gong to take everything I had in me– which was not a whole hell of a lot considering the steady BAC I was able to maintain for six straight days (impressive, I know).  The night before, I panicked and fell back on the No Yell Challenge.  It was the only tool in my cloudy, liquor-saturated box.  I needed the No Yell Challenge.  And I needed to get Husband on board.  We needed to work as a team- not as ring leaders of t this dysfunctional circus we had operated for  the last couple months.

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Despite the whining, crying and annoying complaining of the next 24 hours, I managed to remain in control.  I did not lose my temper.  And when I was close, Husband became quite adept at identifying the bulging vein in my forehead and stepped in as needed.  We even high-fived each other.  Twice.  As I sat, crammed in between a sweet child and a fat, crabby Canadian (both snoring with drool hanging from their lips), I realized that I can do this.  And I owe it to these amazing little humans I brought into this world to be better.  Better at playing with them.  Better at listening to them.  Better at  guiding them.  

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So here we are.  Day Eight.  I’m doing it.  I have not yelled.  I have taken deep breaths.  I work so hard every day to be patient, kind and attentive.  It’s tough, I won’t lie.  But I feel so much better at the end of the day.  Instead of the guilt-stricken recap, I wrack my mind thinking of little things I can do to make them smile the next day.  And then I do them.   I have left tasks unfinished to read to them.  I have forgone errands to take them to the beach.  I have put my phone down to play with them.  Relishing the feelings which swell as they grab for my hand, turn to smile at me or as I catch them pretending.  This is their summer vacation.  My summer vacation is over.  Or maybe it’s just now beginning.

Peace, Mamas.

Some Love for the Husbands

I swore I wouldn’t do it but here is a post about my husband.  We had a rough weekend.  Mainly Mother’s Day kind of sucked.  But I’m glad it sucked because since, things have gotten a whole lot better.  In my last post, you may have read a bit about the terror/love that is my youngest, Zook.  He exhausts an exorbitant amount of my energy lately with his tantrums, crying and all-around-pain-in-the- assness (yes, assness is totally a word).  The self-control I have to exert is so great that I haven’t had a ton of energy left over for anything else.  Including my husband.

Growing apart is strange.  It’s such a slow process yet, when you look back, it seems like you can’t really tell quite when things got to be this way.  And to be clear, I am not really sure I’d say that we grew apart I’d just say that we became a little distant.  I of course, so consumed with the insanity of dealing with my little monster, was clueless.

So we had a fight.  On Mother’s Day.  One of those fights that starts out over something so minute that you can’t really even put your finger on it but you wish it never happened because then the snowball starts to roll… It gets bigger… It seems to be rolling so quickly and become so dense that it’s nearly impossible to stop.  You know where I’m going with this, right?  My sweet, loving sensitive husband fessed up to his feelings and I felt horrible.

I thought that we just didn’t have time for each other right now and in a few years when this crazy amusement ride slows a bit, we would be able to talk again, spend time together again.  What we both learned was something you always hear from other people, you admit that it’s true but always think you’re doing enough: Relationships take work.  Living together, being permanent roommates, isn’t bad- it’s just not as much fun.  We need to create opportunities to spend time together, talk together and be a couple.  I knew this was important but I don’t think until this weekend, I realized just how essential it really is to being happy.

I already feel the shift.  We are working together, looking forward to spending time together, making plans for alone time.  We are sneaking smiles to each other midst the morning shuffle, flirting with each other.  It’s been two days and already, I feel we are back on track.  So as gradual as the shift to the dark side can be, this rerouting toward the light has taken place nearly instantly.  This man is truly my best friend and everything that I can’t be sometimes.  He knows me.  He knows what I need from him.  I know what he needs from me.  We needed the argument this weekend.

So not only do I feel better about us, I feel better about parenting together too.  Tonight, I was upstairs dealing with the kids, trying to get them to bed, no one was listening, one child was already asleep and if someone woke him up…  Just as I was about to beat some bitches up, hubby came up.  He touched me on my shoulder.  I got this.  You can go down.  In. Love.

We have changed.  We are growing together.  There is no one else I want to work this crazy gig with.

And we are having a Mother’s Day Do-Over next weekend.   Peace Mamas.

Sunday Reset

Sunday is the day of reflection on the past week.  What worked, what needs tweaking and what was a total failure.

What worked:

Talking things through, approaching things from a resolve-oriented approach, trying to get my children to talk to each other instead of me about what is bothering them, spending more time reading to them, getting more outside time.

What needs tweaking:

My approach to getting them to talk to each other needs to be more involved (suck).  I need to take more time to help them work through things until they get the hang of it.  I was just telling them to talk to each other about the issue but they ended up going in the room yelling and things went to hell from there.  Also requiring tweaking is roping my husband into all this.  Dad loses temper = Mama loses temper.  We need to be better about this- honey, I know you are reading this… right?

Total Failure:

Ignoring the behavior I don’t want to deal with because I am too exhausted to deal with it.  I have got to summon the strength after working a 10 hour day to come home and parent effectively instead of being permissive.  My struggle to have energy translates into their struggle to get my attention.  So many times, I looked at my children over the last week and thought Just leave me alone for two fucking minutes.  Not in a mean way (of course, you can hear me saying this in the sweetest voice, oozing with kindness and love… right?  Right…?) but in a totally exhausted, beaten down, surrender-type of way.  Mama is tired.  Mama needs a break.  Mama needs to suck down this glass of wine to get through the rest of this homework.  And why the hell are they teaching you math like this?!  Maybe Mama needs some meth… Nah.  Mama needs to dig deep.

And dig deep we shall.  My goal for this week is to reset.  When I am feeling the exhaustion set in and the mean, tired Mama come out, I will dig deep to demand from myself, motivation and patience.  My kids deserve better than what I have been giving them.  They are children and sometimes I am fully aware that I expect them to understand far too much.  I ask them to overlook far too many of my shortcomings.  This Mama is feeling a bit defeated but from desperation comes hope and new energy.  I’m going to dig deep.  And it’s going to be a good week.

Peace Mamas.

Mama Fail.

Well, it happened.  It came early in the morning of Day Three.  I yelled.  I yelled bad.  And maybe it wouldn’t have seemed as bad if I hadn’t raised my voice in 61 hours. But here’s the worst part: It kinda felt good.  To let it out.  To let loose.  But then it felt bad.  Really bad.  

The incident was over a boot.  There was an itch inside that boot that couldn’t be reached without removing said boot along with the sock.  Moments before we needed to walk out the door.  Mama already had her coat on and coffee in hand.  Mama was hot.  Long story long: The boot needed help coming off which forced Mama to put down the 27 million bags on her arm, the two pairs of snow pants, nap mat, cell phone and coffee.  Following the scratching of the itch, Mama picks up the 27 million bags again, snow pants, nap mat, cell phone and coffee.  But there’s a new problem.  Child “can’t” replace the boot and the sock is “sticky”.  Child needs help.  I yell.  You don’d need help!  You can do it by yourself!  You need to put that boot on your foot.  We are going to be late!  I am going to be late!  (Again, totally about me.)  I storm out the door, throw the 27 million bags in the car and spilled my damn coffee.  Fuck.  I take a breath.  Okay.  Going back into the house, now, I am sure I’ll find the sock nicely smoothed out, the boot back on and a smiling child waiting for me to whisk him off to school.  Ha.  Dummy. There was more yelling but it was coming from him now.  My yelling of course provided him with ammo and permission to let me have it.  I got bitched out by a four year old.  And then I smoothed his sock.  I replaced his boot and whisked him off to school.  

Why the hell did I not help him to begin with if I knew I was going to do it in the end?  He couldn’t get the boot off to begin with.  He asked for help and I yelled at him.  He yelled at me and then I helped him.  Then it occurs to me: See, honey!  I taught you that yelling gets you what you want!  If you yell, people do the things you want them to do!  Mama Fail.

So what did I do?  I apologized the shit out of our car ride to school.  I explained in ways (far too advanced for him) why yelling is wrong.  Why I was sorry and why I’m going to try not to let it happen again.  As we pull into the parking lot, I look back at him.  I’m really sorry buddy.  “Mama?”  Yes?  “Did you pack me the pizza bunny crackers for lunch?”  And there you have it.  Resilient parents have resilient children.  

Here’s to getting back on the horse!