I Clipped 8 Toenails and 6 Fingernails Today. They Were All Mine, and It Was in One Sitting, and If You’re a Mom You’ll Understand EXACTLY Why That’s a Miracle.

I clipped 8 toenails and 6 fingernails today. They were all mine, and it was all in one sitting which feels like a miracle because, of course, usually nail clipping looks like trying to find the clippers, and not finding the clippers, and asking if anyone knows where the clippers are.

Nail clipping looks like 5 kids telling me where they last saw the clippers, and me looking in those places, and there being no clippers in any of them.

Nail clipping looks like deciding to hunt more, hunt deeper, hunt better, and hunt longer for the clippers, and adding them to the next shopping list in the meantime, and being waylaid by a kid who’s hungry and wants a piece of toast so I neither find the clipper nor add them to the list.

Nail clipping looks like making the toast, and hearing that one kid stole another kid’s Minecraft diamonds, and me threatening to shut off all the screens, forever if they can’t stop fighting about video games, and getting the toast jam wrong, because “I said Grandma’s jam, MOM,” and I screwed it all up because I used the jam from the grocery store.

Nail clipping looks like eating my kid’s toast with crappy-ass jam, and popping another piece of toast in the toaster, and digging past the mayonnaise jar and the mustard coated in dry, crispy mustard bits, and the four jars of pickles to find Grandma’s jam which is adhered to the glass shelf from the last kid who shoved it deep in the fridge while it was still bleeding jam goo from the lid.

Nail clipping looks like being interrupted mid-toast making because someone is hogging two swings outside, and even though there’s a third swing available, “that is NOT FAIR, Mom.”

Nail clipping looks like standing outside on my back patio staring at the kid who’s created a bed/hammock out of two swings and listening to a monologue about the Importance of Creativity During Childhood and how “at least I’m not inside playing video games all day like your other kids who are lazy,” and “shouldn’t I be rewarded for this?” and “besides, I got here FIRST, AND I left a swing for him,” all of which are good points.

Nail clipping looks like playing Swing Judge and offering to cut the middle swing in half so they can share it because that gambit totally worked for Solomon.

Nail clipping looks like kids moving from sworn enemies to comrades, compatriots, best friends forever, as they plan how best to cut apart a rubber swing that’s reinforced with metal cord.  They toss around words like scissors and hedge trimmers and chainsaw before they settle on blowtorch as the obvious solution.

Nail clipping looks like telling my kids that, not only can they not use a blowtorch, I wasn’t actually giving them permission to cut the swing in half.

Nail clipping looks like listening to “but YOU SAID” and “you PROMISED” and so  much crying.

Nail clipping looks like a hungry, toastless kid finding me hiding in the bathtub an hour later.

Nail clipping looks like me begging him to make his own toast, and him agreeing but looking dejected, and me climbing out of the tub and finding a robe and walking, dripping wet, through my room and down the stairs and down the hall and through the kitchen to make a new piece of toast with Grandma’s jam which is room temperature from resting on the counter.

Nail clipping looks like getting in bed that night – my bed; the on ewith the juddy dog prints and the cracker crumbs from someone ignoring the No Food In My Bed/SEROUSLY/I Mean It/STOP DOING THAT rule – exhausted and catching my tattered toenail on the blanket and remembering I never did clip my nails.

Nail clipping looks like repeating that cycle and others like it, times infinity, in an endless loop until I’m the owner of ripped and ragged claws rather than nails at all, which is, I think, simply one of the definitions of motherhood.

In conclusion, I clipped 8 toenails and 6 fingernails today.  They were all mine, and it was all in one sitting which was a miracle.

Also, I love you momrades and dad-rads who can relate.  I love you, and I love you, and I’m praying for a miracle for you, as well.  May we all know what it is to have (mostly) groomed nails.  I HAVE A DREAM, and I invite you to join me in it.

With love as endless as this cycle,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
17 comments
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  2. […] like a personal accomplishment in the same sense that Beth Woolsey of Five Kids is a Lot of Kids describes being able to clip her nails. I ride back and forth to the Metro every day, but that’s on clunky, heavy Capital Bikeshare […]

  3. Hahahahaha…can SO relate.
    I keep (try to keep…until the husband doesn’t put them back…) a clippers in a bathroom drawer that I can reach from the toilet. Each time I sit down to pee I can clip one fingernail. It’s a nice theory. Of course, for it to work, I ALSO must find time to pee, uninterrupted…

  4. I know you write this as a mum but as a stay home dad holding down two part time jobs and trying to stay on top of the house and look out for my lovely, hard working, high powered wife (underpaid and under appreciated by the NHS) so much of what you write is about my life. My six year old son thinks it’s the height of funny to scream or shout oww every time I cut a toe nail or finger nail. It took me eight days to finish all his nails and I’m going to need to start again soon.

  5. When you said you were “hiding in the bathtub an hour later”, I read that not as you were taking a bath and trying to find time to yourself, but rather that you were literally HIDING in the bathtub, like fully clothed, crouched in the corner of the empty tub, arms covering your head, the shower curtain the only thing keeping the kids from finding you. Sounds like it could have almost been that option..

  6. Ha ha! I can so relate! Today I noticed one nail was ragged, did I do anything about it? Nope, too busy doing all of the things. It will get clipped when all it’s bretheren turn ragged and I start scratching the children and hearing them scream when all I meant to do was grab them and hug them. Maybe..mAYbe then it will get clipped.

  7. I wouldn’t ever be able to trim anyone’s nails if we didn’t have at least one set of clippers in every room, and possibly 4 in my room, and some in each car, maybe even the diaper bag. Same goes for screwdrivers, scissors, pens, tape, string, etc.

  8. I have a theory called Critical Mass….Anything that gets lost regularly, i.e.: scotch tape, scissors, nail clippers, etc. I just buy more whenever I go to the store until there are so many in the house it’s impossible to not be able to find one when I want it.

  9. Dude. For real. I used to think that I couldn’t finish any thoughts due to constant interruption from children. I have since come to realize that I just quit having thoughts at all. Saves so much time.

  10. Today I clipped 6 fingernails and 5 toenails. It took two hours but I felt like I’d really accomplished something! Later my husband heard some choice words when he complained I didn’t put the clippers back… I believe I finally gave up when one kid gave the other a bloody nose. Nail clippers get lost daily here

  11. Oh my gosh, I have to share, because I consider this a WIN!!! Beth, when this happened the other day, I just wanted to share with you, because I knew you’d agree!! My sweet 1 1/2 year old emptied about a quarter of the toilet paper roll all over the bathroom floor. Now this is nothing new for every mom with a toddler. But….as my little one bathed and I sat on the floor watching her (after the tp had sat on the floor all day :), I had what I considered an amazing idea. While keeping one eye on my little one, I crawled on my hands and knees, spit on the floor as I went along, while using the little bits of toilet paper so helpfully strewn about to clean the powder, dust and tiny bits of whatever off of the floor! In the end I had the most clutter free bathroom floor that I’ve had in forever! I felt as though I had redeemed the time here!! No extra anything needed. Just a little spit, and my daughters handy work, and voila, clean floor! p.s. I’m so happy for you and your nails!! My nail experience was not so lucky this weekend :/

  12. I know you will rejoice with me when I share that I TWEEZED MY EYEBROWS TODAY. Both of them. In the same day. It’s like winning a Nobel Prize, but more rare.
    (Granted, I was blowing off my freelance work while I did that, but the Frida Kahlo look was starting to get ridiculous.)

  13. My miracle today was that I got to take a shower with the door locked because no one needed to pee or do anything else in the bathroom. And while I still had one little one yelling “mom! Mommy! Momma” out side the door while I rinsed the soap out of my hair, the door was still locked so I still got to have a shower in privacy.

  14. It looks to me like you need another jar of jam or two. 🙂 And you need someone to put new clippers in your Christmas stocking every year.

  15. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Swing judge- classic. Also- this endless interupting cycle is my life. Thanks for writing it down now I don’t have to journal

  16. I got four fingernails clipped today. But on the plus side I did take a nap because priorities.

  17. My kids mostly chew on their toenails because I won’t let them have the clippers more than once a week. I was worried that they were cutting their nails too short too often and would end up with little nubs instead of toes. Now I worry about pinworms. So that totally didn’t backfire on me.

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