Friday, January 29, 2010

My Fairy Helpers

We have fairies living amongst us in our house. They play with Madeline. They leave her little notes and trinkets. They play hide and seek with a special magic stone that we have been finding in the oddest places over the last three years (we haven’t seen it in a while though because the fairies have a short term memory issue and cannot remember their last clever hiding spot). They protect her (with the help of the family dog) from ghosts, goblins and strangers at night when she is in bed, and on occasion, they bring little reminders of Grandma down from heaven.
And sometimes, they work for me. Like the “Tidy fairies” who pick up toys that sloppy little kids leave lying around.
“Don’t worry honey, I’m sure they will bring your DS back when they think you are ready to be more responsible with it.”
The other day, my brother took his kids and my two oldest to the store and told them they could each pick out one thing. Madeline picked a bag of those nasty little conversation hearts (lumps of sugar) that you give to your friends of Valentine’s Day. It was a big bag filled with twenty or so little individual bags. On the front of the big bag were the words “classroom size”. This, however was not enough to convince her that the bag is intended to be shared with her classmate for her Valentine’s day party. She genuinely intended toeat the whole bag all by herself;
“I DO NOT have to share these if I don’t want to! And when I get home I’m going to hide them in my ‘Madeline hides stuff’ spot.”
The next morning while I was doing laundry I found the “Madeline hides stuff spot” behind her hamper.
Very shortly after she got home from school she ran into her room to get her stash, and quickly came stomping back out;
“MOMMY! Where is my candy?”
“What candy?”
“The candy I hid in my “Madeline hides stuff spot”!
“Uh-oh. I bet I know what happened. I bet the “greedy fairies” came and snatched it because you said you wouldn’t share.”
I’m a little taken aback at her over-reaction. For a moment I reconsider as I really don’t want her to hate fairies. But there’s no going back;
“I’m sure they would bring them back if you could convince them that you have decided to share them with your friends, and maybe even your brother.”
A while later (a pretty long while as she really had to think long and hard about it), she came back and told me that she told the fairies she was ready to share and was now just waiting for them to bring back her candy, which they did.
You know what they say about raising kids, it takes a village…of fairies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Fetching Milestone

As a parent, there is one milestone in particular that I really looked forward to with each child, the day they learned to fetch. It’s the beginning of a whole new life sprinkled with a moment or two to sit down during the day.

I started very early with my first two. The moment they were independently mobile I was trying my luck asking them to get something for me. It was worth a shot to ask my seven month old babies to crawl over and get himself a new diaper.

But there is a catch. Just because they may have learned the skill of going to get something all by themselves doesn’t mean they will actually do it for you. At first it’s all about them. They are excited to discover something new that they can do and will eagerly oblige. But it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and suddenly they realize that they are just doing “work” that Mommy is supposed to be doing because Mommy does everything. And labeling it “help” and trying to explain that concept to a five year old is really no help at all.

And then there is bribery (admit it). I know bribery is not the ideal route, but I have convinced myself that if I use it, it will at least get them into the habit of helping; I’m training them, if you will. (Now that I see this logic written in front of me it’s screaming “backfire”).

And thank goodness for humor, like when I ask Madeline to get her shoes and coat on because the bus is coming and she comes back moments later barreling through the kitchen on roller skates…with no coat. Or when I ask Leo to go get me a pair of jammies from his room and he comes back, very proudly, with his Handy Manny wrench. “Here Mommy, I got you this”, as if he knew better than I did what I really needed.

I struggle with hypocrisy here too. It’s hard to explain to my six year old why I ask her to pick up some of her two year old brother’s messes. She won’t accept the fact that trying to get him to do certain things is really just more work for me. I have to pick my battles.

She gets her revenge however. Like when Leo came back with that wrench instead of his pajamas. She thought it was hysterical. I gave up and asked her to PLEASE go get them for me;

“He’ll get them Mommy, just ask him again.”

“You just want to see what he brings back next don’t you?”

“Yeah I really do” she giggles.

I have to admit, I’m curious too. But in the end, Mommy would get the pajamas, because Mommy does everything, (and because pajamas=bedtime).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The other night Darren said he didn’t care if the house was a little messy for a bit. I think he noticed that despite my very good and sincere efforts, I cannot keep up with the mess these days. He must have forgotten what happened when he told me that he didn’t really mind if my legs were a little hairy sometimes.

It’s so kind of him to notice that I try, and impossible for him to not realize that I’m losing the battle. And I wish I could just say f#$% it and let it go, but if it is this disastrous now, I can’t imagine what it this place would look like if I didn’t spend every waking moment trying to maintain some order. I swear, no matter what else I may be doing, I am always picking something up, wiping something off, putting something back…always. And yet, there is ALWAYS more.

It’s hard to not feel like I’m coming up short. As a stay-at-home mom, I certainly consider it one of my responsibilities to keep the house in order. But, as some sort of sick joke, it appears that it is everyone else’s job in this house to be the biggest slob they can possibly be.

The other day, just moments after a “please pick up for yourself” plea, Madeline asked me where her Spongebob bag was. I sent her down the hall to her brother’s room where she found the bag, and then walked back down the hall emptying all of the contents of the bag in a trail-like fashion thru the whole house.

It’s the nature of the beast (kids); if I don’t need it right now, I’ll just drop it where I stand and move on. And then I will demand that Mommy know where it is the next time I want it.

“Mommy where are my roller skates?”

“I put them away.”

“Away where?”

“Where they belong.”

“Well how am I supposed to know where that is?”

She’s got me there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Disclaimer: He’s my boyfriend

I still prefer the term boyfriend. It sheds a “young love” aura on our relationship that keeps us genuinely in love. I despise the term “significant other”. It casts shadows on relationships that make you see that significant person in a new, dim light.

But “boyfriend” does not seem to imply to most people that we have been committed to each other for seven years and that he is indeed the father of my children, all 3 of them. Nor does it suggest that we all live together in one beautiful, love filled home. Instead, it evokes many questions. I’ve answered those questions for many years now. I won’t be doing it again here.

Instead, I simply wish to clarify that the poor man who has the occasional “pissed of girlfriend/lunatic mother of his children” rant posted on the world–wide- web in his honor is my boyfriend, my parental teammate, my love.

He works very hard to provide us with a beautiful life. He is kind and generous, and not because I require and demand so much to be happy and if I’m not happy he’s not going to be happy, but because he loves me.

Sometimes we both forget how hard the other one is working to keep our life in balance. Sometimes I secretly curse him because he gets to leave the house everyday to go to work. Sometimes he secretly curses me for getting to stay home with our children all day. Most of the time, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sometimes, we both feel unappreciated. Most of the time, we can’t find the words to tell the other how very thankful we are for everything they do.

Sometimes, we both feel overworked. Most of the time, he inspires me to try harder, and I inspire him to stop and smell the roses.

Sometimes I annoy him with my aloofness, like when I forget to pay a bill or he asks me when I last checked my oil and I say “I’ve never checked my oil. Am I supposed to check my oil?” Most of the time he considers it part of my charm (I hope).

Sometimes he infuriates me with his ability to tune out or children, like when Leo has been asking (whining)for a bowl of cereal nonstop for 15 minutes and he is standing in the kitchen but does not seem to hear the question (whining) that I can hear all the way upstairs. Most of the time I am just jealous that I don’t have that power.

He is my boyfriend; the perfectly imperfect patriarch of our perfectly imperfect clan, my fourth muse.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Excerpts from a Saturday morning.

It all began before I had even opened my eyes.
“Mommy can I please have some cereal, mommy?” '
He may have the sweetest little voice in the whole wide world, but to begin the day with the first of a million requests (500 of which were for this bowl of cereal) complete with two of the million plus “mommies” I would hear throughout the day was a bad sign.

Do you have any idea how much you love me?”
This line accompanied the always sweet kiss goodbye from my love who was off to the gym. At the time it was both sweet and cute enough to almost make up for my rude awakening, but still not enough to drag me out of bed.

“Go ask Daddy. He’s in the kitchen. Hurry before he leaves.”
I just needed five more minutes in bed.

“Daddy can I have some cereal.”
“I can’t. I gotta go. I’m late”.
Apparently the treadmill does not like it when you’re 8 seconds late for a workout.

I had to get up NOW, and on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BED!

I got the cereal while simultaneously trying to make my coffee and curse my boyfriend and his now obnoxious and infuriating comment this morning. All of this was serenaded by the self inflating whoopee cushion Santa brought (strike three for daddy this morning).

“Mommy, can we go in the hot tub?”
“Sure, after breakfast”.
Breakfast over. Clothes off.
“You didn’t eat your cereal, the cereal your life clearly depended on five minutes ago."
“We want to go in the hot tub”
I want to throw the bowls of cereal across the room but I can’t even conjure up lunatic mommy before my first cup of coffee. She requires a lot of energy to sufficiently snap.

“Mommy, can we go in the hot tub, mommy…mommy…mommy….hot tub…hot tub…hot tub.”

“Yes, after my coffee” I tell my naked, impatient children.
In the meantime…

“Maddie you smell like your butt.”

“Leo, touch your butt to my butt.”

“Mommy, there are four more months til warm weather… and I did four air biscuits this morning.”


And finally, or what I had meant to be final, “I’m not Mommy right now, I’m just a lady in a hot tub.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I resolve to make a better effort at being the cool, calm and collected mother I swore I was going to be before I had kids.
I resolve to spend less time screaming at my kids in frustration and more time communicating with them with patience.
I resolve to worry less about the toys scattered all over the house, and to sit down and play with them, and my children more.
I resolve to understand that my six year old, despite being a very capable little girl, is only six (and just like her mother), and all of my psychotic ranting and raving about lost mittens and shoes, a messy bedroom or a feisty little attitude is not going to change that, thank God.
I resolve to stop scolding my six year old for something and then laughing at my adorable two year old when he does the same thing.
I resolve to stop going to Target just because it's too cold to play outside and I cannot play farm and tractors all morning again for the eighth day in a row and I need to get of us out of the house before we all drive each other crazy.
I resolve to suck it up and go play outside more, even when it's a little cold out.
I resolve to spend less time wishing my children were perfect little angels, and more time enjoying the child in them.
I resolve to spend more time with the child in me.
I resolve to stop wondering why my children do the things they do, and to remember that I once did the same infuriating things.
I resolve to woman-up to the responsibility of helping my children become the genuinely good people they are meant to be.
I resolve to finish what I start, and to teach my children to do the same.
I resolve to write more; to stop using motherhood as my excuse for being creatively lazy and to rediscover my three greatest muses.
I resolve to cook more, maybe.
And in honor of my mother, I resolve to get organized (I just wish she were here to give me my annual day planner/organizer for Christmas this year, the one we both knew I was never going to use). I resolve to make us both proud.
I resolve to go easier on myself when, despite my best efforts, some things are left unresolved.
I resolve to be a better mom.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tale of a recovering potty mouth

“Oh shit, in need more sprinkle cheese”. It’s funny to hear a two year old utter his first curse word, and couple that with the words sprinkle cheese and it’s downright adorable. But why is it so shocking? “Where did he pick that up?” I say, trying to skirt responsibility. It strikes me that it could be from his primary care giver; the woman who prides herself on being a stay-at-home mom in an effort take on the challenge of teaching and molding her children to be good people, the woman who thought she was a reformed curser but is merely a recovering truck driver mouth who will never be fully healed and obviously still has the occasional slip ups.
But why is it that these tiny little words are the only ones echoed by these tiny little people? How is it that in the midst of a lengthy rant, it is only the “f bomb” that makes an impact (so that’s where that term comes from)? And how am I supposed to explain to my six year old daughter why the word “poop” is infuriating and NOT FUNNY but hearing her little brother say “fuck” cracks me up? She doesn’t mimic me anymore either. Instead, when she hears me curse she gives a punishing “MOMMYYYYY”. “Oh, I’m sorry honey.” Yeah, I’m sorry I just got caught and scolded by my kid.
I remember when I discovered the joy of cursing. One day my best childhood friend and I were frolicking through the woods around our neighborhood and decided it was “shit day”. We threw the forbidden word into every sentence we spoke, confident that there were no adults to reprimand us in our happy place. It was very liberating.
Another time, I was at school where my father was my fourth grade teacher. At recess, my friend shouted “shit!” during and intense kickball game. Instantly, and out of nowhere, we heard my dad’s voice crash down onto our playground (along with, as I remember it, a crash of thunder and a bolt of lightning on that lovely spring day). She was sent inside to mull over her mistake, my father’s version of which was purely uttering the word, and our version of which was uttering the word anywhere other than the middle of the forest where no adult had ever been sighted. At the end of the day, my dad would call her mom and tell her what had transpired. She was grounded, and I was thanking my lucky stars that our teacher, my father, had not had to call my mother, his wife.
Now if I could only learn to control myself around my children as I did around my parents; never curse when you know they will catch you! Save it for when you are all alone. Oh, I just realized the snag in my plan. I haven’t been all alone in six years and three kids. That’s a long time and a lot of temptation for a recovering addict.