Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Children at on crossing...BEWARE OF CHILDREN!

I often wonder just how crazy I look to my neighbors when I dare to take all four kids outside to "play". Last week, I finally got Madeline riding a two wheeler. I've tried the previous two summers, but I was (WAS!) always pregnant and a pregnant woman running behind and holding up a teetering child on a bike is not effective...and just plain ridiculous. But something clicked the other day, and now she is a two wheelin' bike rider.

And now Leo MUST be a two wheelin' bike rider too. So I ventured out just before nap time with all of them, including a tired and cranky, but stubborn and insistent 4 year old who would half-assed attempt to coast down the hill trying to strike a balance, but no way in hell was he dragging that "dumb bike" back up the hill to try again. But he WAS going to DO IT AGAIN(!) so would I "PLEASE JUST BRING THE DUMB BIKE BACK UP THE HILL!" for him? With that kind of enthusiasm and those good manners, of course i will.

And while I'm carrying his bike, I'll continue to intercept the out of control 22 month old on the battery powered, 5 mile an hour tractor as he is sort of getting the hang of it and screaming at me to BACK OFF so he can do it himself (loosely translated), even as he keeps driving off into the forest and then screaming in frustration until I rescue him. And then I will go peel Madeline off the pavement and break up the fight between her and her bike which she now "HATES!" and she "HATES BIKE RIDING TOO! IT'S HORRIBLE!" and she will "NEVER DO IT AGAIN!" because she is "THE WORST BIKE RIDER EVER!" And as I pour on the "ya gotta get back on the bike, honey. Falling is a part of learning. But you gotta get back on!" inspirational speech, I can hear the FORD F-150 slowly coming down our quiet, dead end, family friendly street. And by the time I turn around, the truck and my toddler on a toy tractor are now playing chicken in the middle of the road. Fortunately, my stone faced, unflinching kid is winning, or at least my neighbor has been kind enough to stop his vehicle, give me a patient wave, wait for me to drop the two bikes I'm towing, dust of my daughter, scan the road for Leo who is sitting in our driveway and being NO HELP AT ALL, and a baby in a stroller (who has been no where near the the road and resting contentedly under a shady tree with a rattle and a smile, but just in case she too lost control of her vehicle...), and drag toddler and tractor to safety.

I realize this entire experience sounds a bit out of control and riddled with anxiety, but it was great fun. And rest assured, anyone who turns down my street while we are in the middle of it could not possibly miss my family and our convoy of vehicles, bicycles and strollers up ahead. In fact, it is quite possible that my kind neighbor began to yield when he surely heard the whining and bike bashing and felt the the earth shaking stubborn, frustrated foot stomping from miles away.

Anyway, my whole hearted, exhaustive efforts earned me a bike rider last week, an eager to learn soon-to-be bike rider and an almost two year old who held his own in a conversation today, in which he told me "no", he did not need a diaper because he "didn't poop" and insisted his room "doesn't stink", so "come on!"

They are all growing up, and it is all worth it! I think lil' baby Ginger's face, in the midst of all this cautious chaos, summed it up perfectly...a silent smirk and laughing eyes..."my family is crazy...and I love it...and I love them."

Friday, August 12, 2011

my cup runneth over

It's not easy to give every ounce of love that a mother's heart can hold to five people every single day. And I don't want to divide it up and dole out shares. I want each of my babies and the love of my life to have it all; to be smothered and drenched in my love and adoration for them. It's one of my greatest daily love my family enough.

In spite of the fact they spend a lot of time annoying the hell out of me (I can look past that thanks to a little gem called "unconditional love". I think that most children would be in big trouble without this. I'll be the first to confess that I would have been utterly un-lovable without unconditional love.) I love these wonderful, rotten, precious little monsters more than I can even handle sometimes. And while I am sure they know this, I also know that they can't possibly really know.

I love them so much that I have nightmares and sleepless nights at the thought of all the terrible things that could happen to them.

I love them so much, that twenty minutes after someone has given me a reprieve from them as I have dreamt about all day long, I miss them and worry about them and want them back and I consider never letting them leave the house again for fear of one of those terrible things happening to them.

I love them so much that I want them to have everything in the whole wide world that they want. I love them enough to NOT give them everything they want.

I love them enough to want to spend every single second with them, making them laugh and smile and enjoy life. And that is EXHAUSTING.

I have almost come to terms with the simple fact that I just can't do it. It cannot be all about them and never about me. I almost don't feel guilty going to dinner with friends and leaving my family to fend for themselves without me, poor things. Almost. But I need to laugh with the girls and at the girls and at myself once in a while.

I almost consider not going for a run the moment Darren walks in the door, costing me those few, precious moment I have with my love at the end of the day. But it's crucial to my mental health to take a few evenings a week to run AWAY from this house for 2 miles before I finally start to miss all the little monsters and loop around to go back home. And no matter how taxing my little (big) family has been that day, I ALWAYS loop back around and go home.

I am only one person. Granted, I'm a mother of four, so I'm kind of super-human, but still...even as a super human, I struggle. But it's ok if I'm not smothering them with my love every single moment of the day, it really is. And truth be told, they can be rotten and sometimes they don't deserve to be smothered in my love.

But when they do...

I really try to seize the moments. I have come to know the pure joy of the simple pleasures in life, thanks to my little monsters...I mean muses.
Last night it was a heart to heart with my beautiful, smart little seven year old. It was the first one that I do believe she genuinely listened to and contributed to and...took to heart. She wants to be good and kind, even when others aren't. She thinks it can be hard sometimes, to be GOOD and KIND (it can), but it's what she wants. She is "REALLY gonna try". I can see her good, kind soul in her eyes.

A few days ago, I went out for an escape, I mean a run. The kids had been especially evil that day and I couldn't wait to ditch them when Darren got home. I also had to stop next door at my mother in laws to feed her animals because she was away. I thought to myself:

"Perfect, I'll swim at her house after I run, ALL BY MYSELF in PEACE and QUIET. Because if I go home to swim, those little psychic, swarming vultures will surely spot me the moment I get back and insist on swimming with me and invading my alone time. "

Two minutes later, I caved...I mean, I changed my mind, and decided maybe Leo would like to swim with me. Yes, Leo would like that. I went home, jumped in the pool (without telling a soul that I had returned) and right on cue, came my little Leo. He stood at the glass door with his hand on the knob thinking once (not twice) about disturbing me, and came out with a little grin on his face, knowing that I had missed him while I was gone and was ready for him to torment me and love me again. We swam and splashed and jumped and cannon-balled and laughed, just the two of us. Perfect.

I've been taking Lennox on long bike rides with me. I have always loved doing this with my kids. But there is something extra special about whisking away child number 3 and taking him out for a solo adventure. People always think that #3 becomes the forgotten one. I could never let that happen to little Lennox...well, there was that one time...but never again.

He sits in a little baby seat right in front of me, between my arms, so it's like I'm giving him a hug the entire time we're riding. He usually eats a juicy peach while we ride and the sticky peach juice pours down my leg, and he hums Twinkle Twinkle the entire time, only pausing to use his few words, pointing out any truck, tractor, choo-choo, dog and a few others that I can't make out at all although he seems certain of. He loves it, I love it, he loves me, I love him. It's magical.

It's the simple, intimate times; the ones that catch me off guard at exactly the right moment, the ones that remind me how special and awesome each one of them is in their own special and awesome way; the moments when I can just stare at one of them, frozen in a love trance, and they'll say "I know, I know, you love me." The moments that I will never take for granted, because no matter how many I am blessed with (and I am very blessed), it will never be enough.

Simple pleasures. My cup runneth over.