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Toddler Parent Responsibilities

In the interest of helping myself recognize what things I do as the parent of a toddler, I’m making a list. I’m just thinking through a typical day and every task that occurs on that day, plus every task that has to happen to make sure that task can happen. I don’t do all of these things – W. does a lot of them. But somebody has to do them.

Here goes.

  1. Changing diapers.
  2. Purchasing diapering supplies: diapers, wipes, diaper cream, diaper pail, trash bags.
  3. Researching diapering supplies.
  4. Toilet training.
  5. Purchasing toilet training supplies: toddler potty/toilet seat.
  6. Researching toilet training processes.
  7. Dressing.
  8. Purchasing clothing and shoes.
  9. Researching clothing and shoes: sizes, fabric types, cuts. (Ask a toddler parent about snaps vs. no snaps, overalls or no, and you’ll see what I mean.)
  10. Feeding.
  11. Preparing food.
  12. Purchasing food.
  13. Meal planning.
  14. Researching nutrition.
  15. Playing at home.
  16. Purchasing books and toys.
  17. Researching books and toys.
  18. Playing out in the world.
  19. Identifying potential activities.
  20. Researching potential activities.
  21. Purchasing supplies for activities: sunscreen, bug spray, specialized clothing.
  22. Packing supplies for activities.
  23. Transportation.
  24. Purchasing transportation supplies: primarily a car seat.
  25. Researching car seats.
  26. Entertaining.
  27. Learning new songs.
  28. Vetting media.
  29. Soothing.
  30. Discipline.
  31. Researching soothing and discipline methods.
  32. Bathing.
  33. Purchasing supplies for bathing: soap, shampoo, toys, brushes, combs, cotton pads, cotton swabs.
  34. Researching supplies for bathing.
  35. Getting ready for bed.
  36. Dental care.
  37. Purchasing supplies for dental care: toothbrush, toothpaste.
  38. Researching supplies for dental care.
  39. Taking to the doctor.

All of these have to happen. And in addition to all of these, there’s usually a decision layer associated with each one: which food to eat, which clothes to wear (based on the weather or activity of the day), whether that fever merits a call to the doctor. There are several tasks that could be grouped, obviously: purchasing and researching different types of supplies happens again and again.

And most of these happen every day.

On radically reduced sleep.

Alongside all the normal responsibilities that come with being an adult.

And I wonder why I’m tired all the time.

Kids. They’re a lot of work. But they’re worth it.

Alternatives to “What do you do?” and “What are you going to do with that?”

It’s not that careers aren’t an important part of our identity, they just aren’t the only part.

When I took my first improv class a little over four years ago, I was careful on the first night of class to ask other people, “How do you spend your time besides coming to improv class?” I phrased it this way because I didn’t just want to know what people got paid to do; I wanted to know how they chose to spend their time.

The most common question I get about my doctoral program after “How long until you’re done?” is “What are you going to do with a PhD in information and library science?” I think a more interesting question is “What do you want to get out of a PhD in information and library science?” Because honestly, who knows what I’ll do? Independent of what I might like to do (and teasing that out is a whole process itself), obviously I’ll be at the mercy of market forces.

But if you ask me what I want to get out of it, I have a great answer:

I want to spend some time in a situation where my number one professional priority is acquainting myself with the evidence about what works in libraries. I want to understand qualitative research methods better. (This was really my #1 desire and I think I’ve done a really good job of working on this.) I want the opportunity to think deeply about what effective library services for youth look like and how they can facilitate exploring passions.

Isn’t that more interesting than “I mean, maybe teach future librarians? Or just be a better librarian myself?” I think so.

If you want to get to know people better than just these surface questions without getting too awkward and personal, here are some questions you might try:

  • What’s fun for you right now?
  • What kind of expert are you?
  • What do you want to learn/try next?
  • What kind of people are you hoping to meet?

They’re good questions to ask yourself, too.

Now: June 2018

Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve got going on right now. And by “going on,” I mean a level of intensity ranging from “thinking about maybe doing it” to “seriously working on it.” (Categories come from the Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life exercise.)




  • Reducing grocery spending via using my Soda Stream, freezing leftovers, and eating out of the pantry/fridge/freezer


  • Revising culturally sustaining pedagogy online curriculum module and writing other modules for Project READY.
  • Reading the archives of YALSA’s The Hub ya lit blog and trying the books mentioned there


  • Working on the Makerspaces section of my comprehensive literature review

Health, Home Cooking, Physical Activity

  • Focusing on water: drinking it, bathing in it, swimming in it

Home Environment

  • Putting together a list of tasks for the handyman

Relationships, Social Life, Joy

  • Reaching out when I feel isolated
This friend was sitting on my front porch welcome mat when I left for the chiropractor this morning. I was running a bit late but I had to take a picture. The Luna Moth is one of my personal symbolic animals.

This morning I had a dream that my house (which was, of course, the house I lived in as a teenager and not my current house) was falling apart – paint coming off the walls all over, the wall between a closet and a bathroom falling down (a wall that doesn’t exist – a closet that doesn’t exist) – the only room that was in tact was the family room, with its ridiculous/amazing striped scarlet pimpernel wallpaper (actual wallpaper still in the house) – and the bedroom, closet, and bathroom were full of moths. I was very anxious about all the moths until I saw a Luna moth placidly perched on a closet-bathroom wall and thought, “OH, that’s a SYMBOL, this is a DREAM, I don’t actually need to figure out how to describe what’s wrong with this house to a real contractor for repair” and felt an immense sense of relief.

So after all that, to find one right in my path this morning felt extra magical.

A blog post about everything.

This might get a little stream-of-consciousness. Consider yourself warned.

I went to a play today. It was Wakey Wakey, the last performance of the last show at Manbites Dog Theater‘s physical performance space. I’ve always been sort of Manbites-adjacent; I remember when they had a space in a different part of town than they do now. I have been friends with or worked with many other people involved with them. The art they have made over the years sits in this beautiful space – a sort of off-Broadway space – that is not beholden to the commercial, but is art explicitly intended to inspire conversation, as opposed to the let’s-put-on-a-show vibe of many theatre projects (including all the ones I’ve ever produced). Being in that space – reading the program – and most especially smelling that small theatre smell of painted scenery – made me feel keenly how this is a piece of my life that I have let go – certainly since having my son, but in some sense extending even farther back – to when I began college almost 19 years ago.

And yet the theatre is in me.

Wakey Wakey is a good show for making you think about the parts of you that are with you and in you that maybe you’ve been neglecting.

I started to think about Sarah Ruhl, and her book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. I haven’t read it. I want to. I want to read everything Austin Kleon recommends on art and motherhood.

Last week I had a frightening dizzy spell. It started as I was going to sleep Tuesday night. I thought, “Probably I’m just tired. It’ll get better overnight.” It did not. Wednesday morning I was genuinely afraid to go downstairs. W. was out of town, so it was just me and toddler M. We walked across the hall into my home office. I popped him in front of the TV with some Daniel Tiger and ate some candy I had on hand. At the end of the Daniel Tiger episode, I felt better enough to venture downstairs. I called in the grandmas, and my mom came over so that I could engage in enough self-care to try and get better. I thought maybe I was having hypoglycemia, because I’d only eaten a scone and cheese for dinner. Then I remembered that my hormones were acting all wonky in a way that maybe was leading to anemia. I thought maybe the intense nursing that M. has desired for the past couple weeks was leaving me dehydrated. Over the course of the day, through the careful application of food, water, and caffeine, I got mostly better. Thursday I wasn’t dizzy anymore but I was exhausted. Friday and yesterday (Saturday), I was basically a lump for most of the day.

I interpreted this episode as my body telling me that it was time to contract. Time to replenish. My mom said to me, “Please don’t let yourself get more depleted,” and I thought, “Yes, that’s the word.”

I was the opposite of replete. I felt like a jack o’lantern after the emptying and before the carving and lighting up. I felt scraped out. I genuinely felt as though my life force had left my body in very physical ways.

Today I started to feel better. I’m beginning to get a handle on it.


I unsubscribed from all my newsletters with It’ll be easy to add back the ones I miss.

I unsubscribed from all of my RSS feeds.

I unsubscribed from all of my podcasts except The Hilarious World of Depression and Self-Service.

I lay in bed reading novels and playing mobile games.

I decided to let the Self-Service podcast be my guide. And it led me to water. Literally. An early episode is called “Stay Hydrated, BB,” and I decided to let go of the idea of calling things in for the next year of my life except water. I’m calling in water: for drinking, for swimming in. For making magic.

I was listening to Cinderly’s Mermaid Podcast months ago (I definitely want to pick this one back up!) and in one episode the host visits the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaid camp. One of the experienced mermaids tells her, “The water is a teacher.”

I have held that thought in my mind ever since.

Water changes its shape to fill the vessel it is in. Water can be solid, liquid, or gas. Water can carry things. Water can erode things. Water water water water.


I wasn’t kidding when I called this a blog post about everything and threatened stream-of-consciousness, y’all.

Being a mother feels like being a piece of kintsugi. It shatters you and puts you back together. You are shinier and more beautiful than before. You are disconnected from yourself, but all the pieces of you are still there. It’s easy in the early days to think they’re gone, but they’re not.


Some months ago I told W. that I felt like I needed a side-hustle because my research assistantship doesn’t bring in a lot of money, but that I simultaneously was struggling to do what I have to do now so I couldn’t really take on more.

“You’re a full-time mom and a full-time grad student,” he told me. “I would encourage you to consider one of those to be your side hustle.”

It was only this week that I realized mom is the primary gig and grad student is the side-hustle.

I’m feeling pretty silly right about now.

I kind of want to read Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle and see if I can apply anything from it to how I organize my schoolwork. I told myself that I can buy it once I finish turning my concept map for the current chunk of my comps lit review into an outline.


It’s important to recognize that when you are caring for loved ones, even minimally, it’s going to impact what you can do elsewhere. It’s important to give ourselves grace and permission both to take a break from caring for others in order to care for ourselves, and to accept that the rest of life will move slowly when care is our number one priority.


Back in April, I did a lot of massaging of my online identity to make it fit a job I was applying for. I did want that job, and I do want to be the person who would get that job… but I didn’t want that job right now, not really, and I didn’t get the job, so that worked out well. (It’s the kind of job that isn’t available very often, in that it’s one particular position in one very specific organization, so I decided to go for it even though I wasn’t really in the place where I was ready for it, because I don’t know how long it’ll be before another chance comes along.)

Anyway, the massaging I did of my online identity has left me feeling a little dissatisfied, a little inauthentic, so I will probably be doing some reconfiguring of my bio everywhere, and my pictures and everything, to feel more like myself again.


I’ve recently started to allow myself to call myself a writer.

I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable calling myself an artist?


How are you doing?

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Perpetual Mood:Kitty Pryde - The dust is your life going on.