We’ll See

Mean-mom2Every mom has some word, phrase and or statement that their kids loath. Mine right now happens to be “we’ll see.”

When I was a kid I swore I wouldn’t do this. I did not want to “put my kids off” with an indefinite answer to anything. As a mom I would make my kids happy all. the. time.

Then motherhood happens.

It’s not that I don’t want to say yes. Honestly, I want to say yes to everything fun.

“Can we go to the park?” Yes!

“Can we paint today?” Yes!

“Can we play hide-n-seek?” Yes!

“Can we go to nana’s house?” Yes!

“Can we have a bubble bath?” Yes!

“Can we go to the library?” Yes!

“Can we make cookies?” Yes!

“Can we play baseball, football, soccer, handball, four square, monopoly, sneaky snacky squirrel, and battleship today?” Uh…We’ll see.

You see, it’s not that I don’t want to do these things. I honestly do. But there is only so much time in a day and I still have to be the mom and make meals, clean the house, do the laundry etc. Some days I put these things off and just play but some days you do have to get some shit done!

Plus, I’ve learned that with my kids it doesn’t matter how many fun things we did that day, if I said we could do something and it didn’t happen, even if we put that thing off so we could do something more fun, then they will be upset, I’m mean, and the day was horrible.

So, “we’ll see” it is.

And when my kids say, “I’ll never say that to my kids when I grow up!” I’ll smile and say, “We’ll see.”

Spring Break Woes

Last week I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote down a list of all of the fun things we could do for spring break.  Some were local some were day trip ideas.  I had plans for making sure the boys did a little school work, had playdates, spent time at the gym for me and them and that we ate healthy snacks and that we DID NOT spend our time watching TV and playing video games.

Then reality hit.

  • All three of my boys have wicked coughs.  (MMM spent all night on the verge of puking because his coughing was so bad.) Which means:
    • No day trips.
    • No gym.
    • No playdates.

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  • My husband had projects started so he didn’t have time to spend the whole day “day-tripping” to the beach.

You get the idea.  Things did not go as planned.

So, here we are.  All exhausted from illness and sleepless nights.  Watching movies, playing video games and napping are all on the agenda for today. A date night is in the works for this mama and hubby if the nana doesn’t mind these coughing kiddos. (She doesn’t usually mind so fingers crossed it happens!) And hopefully we’ll have some playtime out back while dad-ers works on the fence.

This will not be a spring break for the ages.  There will be no epic road trips, day trips, or galavanting around our fair city but we will survive. We will have time, someday, when the kids are not so small and prone to illness, when we can plan amazing day trips etc.  Those things can and will happen some day.  For now, though, my kids will know my husband I love them fiercely and, for me, that’s all that matters.

Happy April!

Better

Having three kids is hard.  Sometimes it’s in the ways you would expect.  Other times things you never expected sideline you.

As I was putting things away this afternoon (I’m still catching up from the whirlwind that was Christmas/New Years) I glanced at a picture of my oldest that I haven’t looked at in a while.  He is around four and MMM is probably one and a half.  I remember taking the picture.  It was a gift for my husband for father’s day.  I took them in my in-laws backyard.  It was a warm, sunny day and the boys were being really good.  What I don’t remember is how little my oldest was.  I remember him being older, the big brother.

I’ve been thinking about this lately.  My expectations for my oldest are all out of whack.  I keep forgetting that he is still a little boy.  I often expect him to act like a little man, mostly because he is the oldest.  Sometimes I need him to be a big boy. Sometimes it’s fair; sometimes it’s not.

I mostly just wanted to write this down for me to remember.  When I get frustrated with him for not behaving I need to stop and evaluate.  Am I being reasonable?  Are my expectations on par with his age?  Is my reaction equitable considering he is only six?

My mother-in-law jokes that this is why we should have more than one kid.  In a way I agree.  I’ve learned so much from parenting my oldest.  I’ve learned some things about what I should do but I feel like mostly I’ve learned what I shouldn’t be doing.  I’m hoping to be more fair to my oldest.  I don’t want to stop having high expectations for him  but when he falls short I want I need to be more gentle with my sweet little boy.

A Mess

Man, my kitchen is a mess.

I decide I’m going to clean it up, right now.  I grab the clean dishes in sight and put them away.  I gather the dirty dish clothes and walk down the hall to toss it in the dirty clothes bin.  On my way down the hall I notice the shoes carelessly tossed by their rooms.  I bend to pick them up only to find socks.  I grab the shoes  and push open the door.  There is hardly an open spot on the carpet.  Shoes, socks, clothes toys and candy wrappers (a hidden stash of Halloween candy, perhaps?) litter the floor.  I toss the shoes in the closet and flee the scene.

I finally make it to my room, ie: the hamper.  Our “sanctuary,” as they say your bedroom should be, is as bad as the boys’.  Shoes, clothes, pillows and other odds-and-ends blanket our room.  I toss the towels into the bin and flee the room.

“Now, what was I doing again?”

I wander, aimlessly, back down the hall.

“It was really important…what was it?”

By this time I’m back in the kitchen.  I fill the coffee pot and start getting my kids breakfast.  It’s already 7:40.  We’re going to be late.  No time for a hot breakfast today.

Bowls.

Spoons.

Cereal.

Milk.

Eat.  Get dressed.  Make lunch.  Off to school.

I stumble back into the kitchen after drop-off hopping I didn’t forget anything for their busy school day.  I lean on the counter and think,

“Man, my kitchen is a mess!”

(Un)Happy Halloween

Halloween-21My sweet middle child is sick.  Really sick.  It started yesterday with a dry cough but I wrote it off as an anomaly.  Last night things took a turn for the worse.  As always happens when he gets sick, his breathing became labored and the cough increased.  In the early morning hours the hubby got up with him to give him a breathing treatment.  I still had high hopes that when he awoke he’d feel better and be able to attend his preschool Halloween party.

Well, we got up this morning and got ready for school.  All were dressed in there Halloween best and eating breakfast when my middle man (I’ll call him MMM or MM from here on out) started to complain of a belly ache.  Then he started to cry.  With MMM that is the tell-tale sign of impending up-chuck.  I ran for a “barf bowl” (as we call them) and shortly after he emptied his almost-empty belly into the receptacle.

I was dreading telling him that he couldn’t go to class today.  I imagined tears and whining and, well, devastation.  Instead the conversation went like this:

Me:  “Hey, buddy.  You’re sick, sweetie, so you can’t go to school today.

MMM: (sad face)

Me:  “You don’t want your friends to get sick too, right?”

MMM: (tears welling up) “No.”

Me: “Do you want to snuggle and watch movies instead?”

MMM: “Yeah!”

And that was that.  No more tears and not an ounce of disappointment.

So we watched a movie then MM took a three hour nap!  Poor thing.  (He must have slept even worse then I thought he had.)

I often forget how resilient MMM is.  While my boy is often incredibly sensitive he can also “roll with the punches” in a way us adults can find hard to do.  And MMM is pretty great at finding the bright side of whatever comes his way.

So, we’ll make the best of our rainy Halloween day with snuggles and scented candles.  We’ll carve our pumpkins when oldest gets home from school and sweet oldest son already promised to share his loot with MMM.  Our world will keep on rolling and life is still good, even if it didn’t go just as we’d hoped.

Happy Halloween from my family to yours.

STOP and listen

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I’m busy.  Not busier than your average mama of three boys but busy, non the less.  There are two school drop-offs.  There is a still nursing babe who needs a lot of attention as all toddlers do.  There are pick-ups, lunches to be made, clothes to be washed (oh, the dirty clothes), dishes, homework, soccer practice, dinner and on and on.

With all of this running around with my kids I often feel like we are together all. the. time.  The reality, though, is that I may always be physically there but I am frequently not present.

Too often I find myself lost in my own head, worried about what “needs” to happen next and I miss what is happening right now.

Last night, as I lay sleeplessly in bed, my mind drifted to days long past.  I vividly remember riding the school bus home with my mind full of the days happenings.  Sometimes there was elation, sometimes despair (I was a drama-filled kid) but always plenty to think about.

I’ve seen this same, far-off look in my oldest son’s eyes.  I’ve “seen” him processing his day from the back of our minivan.  There are new people, new ideas (good and bad), interactions with peers and teachers, and all the life issues that a elementary school aged kid has to deal with.

When I see that look I want to know.  I want to know what is going on in that head of his.  I want to know who he talked to and what he learned in class.  I want to know what is bothering him, what excites him and who makes him happy.  I want to be there to answer his questions.  I want him to know I am a safe place for him to talk about his feelings, ideas and worries.

To do this I need to STOP and listen.  I need to quiet my mind and let my worries go so I can help him with his.  All too soon he won’t want to talk to me.  He’ll censor our conversations and want to talk-these-things out with friends and peers but this is my chance.  This is my chance to gain his trust, be his safe place and show him that I’ll always be here.

My worries can wait but “babies don’t keep.”

Pressing On

It’s amazing what a little sleep can do for your mind-set and that of your child.  Most of the members of our household were sleep deprived when I wrote my last post.  That and sick which makes everything seem that much worse.  I was desperate, irrational, and exhausted.  Thankfully the son in question has now rested up, as have I, and he seems to be a bit more himself.

It’s amazing how quickly things can deteriorate when you are not well rested.  Things that I could normally shake off seem to be the end of the world as I know it.

The one thing I can be grateful for is that my husband and I never seem to fall into the quagmire at the same time.  We seem to take turns being unreasonable.  That way our children only have one irrational parent at a time. 😉

I guess that’s just the nature of having small children; particularly during the “cold and flu season.”  You tend to live in a perpetual state of sleep-deprivation.  And while some days (or weeks…or months) seem impossibly long and miserable, there are moments of shining light when you know it’s all worth it.  Moments when you are together and happy and you remember that nothing is more important than this: family.  Being a family, being together and loving each other.  That’s what life is about and that’s what I live for.

Motherhood: This is Hard

I started a post this morning about exercise but as my day has worn on it isn’t exercise that’s on my mind.  Right now I am in survival mode.  I’m trying to survive a sick day with angry kids and it’s not going well.

It’s something you do not, no, cannot fully grasp until you are a parent.  You hear, over and over again, that parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do.  You try to imagine what that means.  And then you are there and you think, “Oh.  This is what they meant.”

Today is one of those days.  I’m not sure what to say other than I am drowning.  I was not born with the gift of patience so, over the years, I’ve cultivated, practiced and learned to be patient.  But today it seems that everything I give just isn’t enough.  There has been yelling and scolding.  There have been tears and frustration.  And I don’t know what to do.

One of my boys has been incredibly challenging lately.  He is angry, mean and manipulative.  He is not always this way but he has been for the past few days.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know if there is something wrong or if it is because he feels sick or if he’s sleep deprived or if it something deeper than that.

When your kids go off to school you are no longer in control of their day.  You don’t know if someone is being unkind to them or if they are being unkind to others.  You don’t know if they are struggling with new concepts in class or if the excel.  You can’t control the friends they play with or if they even have friends at all.

I’ve also not had good success in simply asking him.  He is happy to blame others for his bad choices but I still don’t know if that’s where the behavior stems from.

Some days I think maybe I should just pull him out of school and homeschool him but I’m not sure that is the best choice.  He and I often butt heads which makes me “teaching” him incredibly difficult.  I know we could overcome this if we really needed to but, when asked, he says he loves school so I don’t want to take him away from something he loves.

I’m confused and stressed and frustrated and not sure what to do.  I’m hoping tomorrow is a better day and that all my anxiety is for naught but if it’s not I feel like we’ll need to make some changes.

Any thoughts from out in the blog world?

Finding Space for Memories

I have vivid memories of the excitement I felt when my mom got out her holiday decorations.  She had a box for nearly every holiday.  I’d get home from school to see our entry turned into a Valentine vigil/St. Patty’s Day spectacular/Autumn array or cozy Christmas cavern.  We had a lot of memories wrapped up in all of that ambiance.

And here I am.  Mom to three.  I am in control of crafting those memories.  What memories do I want them to have?

Right now I am struggling to find my balance.  I want to have a de-cluttered, organized home.  Some days I want to take all of my holiday bins to the thrift store and be done with it!  I can hardly handle the “stuff” that comes in daily from 1st grade, preschool, the vets, the post office etc.  How am I supposed to manage all of that PLUS all of the holiday “extras.”

On the other hand, I’ve seen the bliss in my boys’ eyes when we turn the house into a spooky halloween haven.  I love creating our own, little traditions with my wee ones.  I loved our “spooky” tours last year around our decked out, little house.  I love watching my boys investigating the pilgrims at Thanksgiving and asking questions about the Nativities at Christmas.

So today I’m getting out our decorations.  Just because extreme minimalism works for one person or family that does not make it right for everyone.  That does not mean it’s the right way for ME and MY FAMILY.  In my balance I believe there is space for my memory laden holiday decorations and the joy they bring.