The Beauty of the Rain

Rain on the deckIt’s raining.  It has rained all day, and I am more at peace today than I have been in weeks.  My work schedule is limited this summer, so in theory I’ve had time on my hands, except that I haven’t.  While I’m not at work, I’ve been cramming the days full with everything that I can because I know that summer is ending soon and next school year will begin.  My kids won’t be my own anymore.

Don’t get me wrong.  In some ways, I cannot wait to put them on the bus.

This is the soundtrack of my summer: No. Don’t.  Stop it.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Cut it out.  No screaming.

It’s on continuous loop.

But all that aside?  I enjoy their company.  And the school year is just so hard.   Getting home to put dinner on the table and sit the three of them down for homework is exhausting.  Soul crushing, really.  Trying to manage the bickering and cries of “I’m bored!” feels tame compared to the arguing and crying that occurs at homework time.

For now, there are still a few weeks left of summer.  Each day the sun shines, I feel compelled to wring all I can out of it, to soak up this time with my children before they outgrow me.  I imagined it relaxed and carefree.  It isn’t.  It’s frantic at best.  But not today.

Today there is no sun.  Just the quiet of the rain, and my family, relaxed and happy in pajamas at 4pm.


January Registration- This Cannot Be Happening

January RegistrationA few days ago, I received an envelope in the mail… the one I’ve dreaded.  It was an envelope from the Registrar; the one that says “January Registration.”

I remember the first time I received this envelope.  It was January of 2012 when the registration forms for Buddy and Goose arrived.  I met that envelope with a mixture of excitement and worry.

Kindergarten will be so great for them!  They will learn so much! I hope they’re ready.  Of course they are! I hope they can make friends.  They’ll be fine! And so on until the day came that they climbed the steps of the bus for the very first time.

But this envelope is for Bear… and the emotions that go with it are more complex.  This is my youngest.  My baby.  The last.  I took the mail from the mailbox, saw the envelope, sat in my car and cried.  He is my baby, but he is also my partner in crime, my best friend.

When the Buddy and Goose started school, it was me and Bear.  For the first time, I have regular periods of time with one child… alone.  My attention is not divided by 3.  We have adventures.  We go to cafes that I wouldn’t dare bring 3 kids into.  I joke that he’s the best boyfriend that I’ve ever had, and it’s true. When we go to the diner and he’s impatient waiting for food, I tell him that while we wait we should talk because that’s what grown ups do.  When I ask what he’d like to talk about, he grins and says, “You, momma.  Let’s talk about you.”

When I’m shopping and manage to pick out a few things for myself, he insists that I try them on before we leave. “We have to go to the dressing room, momma.  I’ll hold the hangers.”  And he does.  And he doesn’t complain.  Ever.

On Christmas, the kids were all given Kindle Fires.  When I was setting them up the night before, I noticed that one didn’t seem quite right, but I wasn’t sure.  Confession:  I made a conscious choice to give the wonky one to Bear, because I knew that if it was defective, he’d be able to handle it without a meltdown.  It was broken.  I told him a replacement would come on Saturday.  He didn’t bat an eyelash.  When Saturday came and I was notified that the package wouldn’t arrive until Monday, again, no problem.  When UPS arrived Monday with his Kindle, he was SO EXCITED, but by a cruel twist of fate… it was also broken.  Disappointed but not a tear, he asked if I could order him a new one.  I said I would.  He moved on.  If it had been Buddy’s Kindle that needed  replacing twice, you might have heard him screaming clear across the globe.  If it had been Goose’s, there might have been weeping, or at minimum sulking. Bear accepts change and disappointment with an ease I wish I had.  He teaches me daily that an unexpected change of plans is an opportunity and not a crisis.

I’m going to need to channel his inner-calm come September, and I will because I have to, but it will still feel like a breakup.

In case of booger emergency…

A box of Scotties tissues

A box of Scotties tissues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goose and Bear suffer from seasonal allergies, as so many people do.  They are non-stop itching their noses and sneezing.  We go through a ludicrous amount of tissues.  I am equal parts “Cover that sneeze! With your elbow not your hand!” and “Bless you.”

You would think that this mother of 3, who has survived cold season many times and has 2 kids with allergies, would be prepared for spontaneous mucus expulsion.  You would think that, because she always has a complete change of clothes or two for each child in the Swagger Wagon, and an emergency potty, and enough snacks on board to keep the family fed for a week if we were ever to become stranded.  You would think that something as simple as a pocket full of tissues would be a piece of cake.

Then why, oh why, do I find myself digging through my giant 40 pound purse for a tissue, napkin or anything that passes as a tissue in the face of a child sporting a snot web from nose to chin (or worse- nose to chest- ick.)  Why can’t I bring myself to use a sleeve?  Why can’t I just remember to keep tissues handy?  Why have I resorted (on more than one occasion, sadly) to using a panty-liner as a tissue?

And what must passers-by think??

Just kidding… I don’t care.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day evokes images of mom being served breakfast in bed, surrounded by flowers and homemade gifts from her children.  And that is fantastic, but that is not the reality for most moms.  The reality (based on my informal poll of moms that I know) is more of a mixed bag: gifts (homemade or store-bought), meals (breakfast in bed, at a diner, dinner out), some other family activity, and hopefully a respite from laundry and all the other mundane things that occupy so much of our time.

Personally, and I know that I’m in the minority, but I enjoy spending part of the day by myself (this year, I’m kicking it off with a 5k run).  I feel like this is where I’m supposed to write wistfully about how I spend my alone time reflecting on the virtues of motherhood and how very fortunate I am to have my beautiful family.  Except that isn’t what happens.  I do love my family.  I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to have them, but I don’t spend that time counting my blessings.  Moments of solitude are so precious and few, that I spend whatever time I have that day soaking it up.  I usually go to a movie.  No, not some blockbuster that I’ve been waiting for weeks to see.  I go and see whatever happens to be starting at the time I arrive.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  In fact, if it’s an unpopular movie that will yield a nearly empty theater, that’s even better.  Then I spend that hour and a half letting my brain shut down.  I don’t have to talk.  I don’t have to listen (unless I want to).  I don’t have to wipe anyone’s bottom.  I decompress as fully as is possible.

Then, when whatever window of time has passed, I take a deep breath and go home.  I hug my kids, kiss their round faces, and smell their sweet heads (or if they are more funky than sweet, perhaps throw them in the tub).  I set about the business of loving them, and feeding them, and caring for them, only with a little more patience and a lot more gratitude.

Career Prospects of an Under Acheiver

I realized today that I have no marketable skills.

I was updating my résumé, as I  do every 5-10 years (I know I’m supposed to review it every year, but really… who does that?), and I didn’t have any idea what to put on it.  So I thought about my strongest qualities, and started constructing a list to see what could be worked into a résumé.

  • Sarcasm (Who, me?)
  • Cynicism (Well, you know that won’t last.)
  • Professional meddling (And I would have gotten away with it, too!  If it hadn’t been for that professional meddler!)
  • Starting (I am an amazing starter.  If you need something started, call me!  Just don’t expect me to finish it.  Ever.  I haven’t finished a single thing since my children were born, unless bottles of wine and pints of ice cream count.)
  • Video game proficiency (Is there a market for 30-something, mommy, beta testers?  Sims FreePlay, all over it.  Nothing better than tending the hunger, sleep and hygiene needs of virtual people.)
  • Uninhibited truth-telling and complete lack of tact (My husband calls these “conditions” that I have, like diseases.  I call them “virtues”.)

These are not resume material, obviously.  I moved on to accomplishments.  Do I have any achievements that are resume worthy?

  • Birthed 3 children (Not very marketable, as I have no intention of repeating the performance.)
  • Laundry (Ongoing…. and hardly accomplished, as I’m always waist deep in it and never sort by color or whatever.)
  • Quirky cupcake construction (You know, cupcakes shaped like aliens and robots are gratifying to look at, ok to eat, and a veritable time suck to create.)
  • 3-4x a week showers (This is an accomplishment.  I’m up from once a week when my offspring were younger. Go me.)
  • Kindergarten homework x2 (It was an all-nighter, but I nailed it!)
  • All living things in my care still thriving

Well, the last one is something; although I don’t know that it belongs under “Professional Experience”…. maybe it’s better suited for “Objective”.

If you are in the market for a person with my hardly unique skill-set, please contact me for an interview.

Kindergarten isn’t for wimps.

Since our last talk, Buddy and Goose have started kindergarten.  They are almost done with Kindergarten.  I’m going to have 2 first graders in a few short months.  First Graders.  I’m only barely muddling through kindergarten.  How will I ever manage 1st Grade?  I’m not exaggerating for effect, either.  Kindergarten is hard… on parents.  The kids have adjusted beautifully.  They love school.  For me, it is exhausting.

Let me tell you a few things about Kindergarten for those who haven’t been through it.

Kindergarten is 5 days a week.  That’s not a typo.  5 days a week.  Monday through Friday, I have to empty their backpacks of work sheets, art projects, homework packets, handouts, fundraisers, flyers, PTA bulletins, snack bags and more.  I thought that the pile of stuff that comes home with them from preschool/daycare (2 days a week) was overwhelming.  That was peanuts compared to this mess.  We’ve had to up-size our recycle bin.  At least the preschool stuff was all work the kids had done at school.  I didn’t have to do anything with it except decide if I should store it in their Keepsake Boxes or whisk it into the recycle bin stealthily concealed between pages of the community news.  The kindergarten paper deluge is a mixture of stuff  that I sort into keep, recycle, and return to school piles.  The return to school pile is often the largest and most time-consuming.

These kids are 5.  Their homework requires a ton of effort on my part and theirs.  They aren’t disciplined enough to do it without supervision.  Sometimes it doesn’t get done.  And when that happens, it is always my fault and not theirs, as in, mommy decided that a bath or dinner or toenail clipping or something trumped homework on that day.  We manage.

Then there is the endless barrage of forms: fundraisers, field trips, portraits, extra-curricular activities, yearbooks (Yearbooks?  In Kindergarten?) etc.  Each form requires me to fill it out… twice.  One for each child.

Are you keeping up so far?  Great!  I’m not done.

I also have to keep track of the “specials”.

Is today computer lab or phys ed?  You can’t wear those shoes today; you need sneakers.  It’s library today, so make sure your books are in your backpack or you can’t take out a new one.  Keep it all straight or your kid will be the one sitting out in gym because she’s wearing Mary Janes instead of sneakers… not that I know from experience or anything.

For all the effort that I have to put into it… I’m really in awe of their teacher.  She has 2.5 hours to cover a massive amount of material with 5 year olds.  I’ve been classroom “helper” a few times, and my brain is scrambled when I leave there.  That she can manage to teach all day long (one group in the morning and another in the afternoon) without losing her mind is nothing short of a miracle.

Am I whining?  Yup.  I am.  And if you think I’m whining now, just wait until September.  The whining has just begun.

There is an up-side to this kindergarten routine, though.  My kids are reading.  I can’t think of anything more wonderful than that.  They are learning and experiencing other great stuff too (including getting to see baby chicks hatch from eggs), but the reading and writing part makes me giddy.

Another benefit?  I get to have time alone with Bear now and then and I treasure it, because one day, he will be getting on the bus too and it will be his backpack that I’ll be complaining about.  Just like that, the “baby days” will be gone and all of my kids will be “school age”… and I will cry… and drink wine… and try to remember… while keeping up with the next exciting phase of parenthood.

What would you say?

I was going through drafts of many blog posts that have never seen the light of day when I came across this one from nearly a year ago and decided that it’s reasonable to post it anyway… Enjoy.

There are phrases I have used since becoming a parent that I never thought I’d hear myself say. Phrases that, out of context of the original situation, make little sense except to other parents.

The first time I became aware of this phenomenon was during potty training of my twins. Toddlers are extremely possessive of their excrement.

“We do not flush other people’s poo. If you want to flush the toilet, you have to make your own.”

Now that they are a little bit older, when I find myself speechless or stammering, Buddy or Goose will often fill in with gems of their own. For example, Bear (almost 2yo) is obsessed with his toothbrush… and penises. I cannot think of any normal circumstance in which those two things should be combined. But in this house, anything can happen.

During a recent round of potty, wash, brush and bed X3, I caught sight of Bear with his toothbrush extended over the toilet bowl where Buddy was still in the “potty” phase of our routine (Stand up style. Sorry, is that TMI?). But before I could say, “We do not rinse our toothbrushes in urine… ever!” Buddy reprimanded him with a stern, “Toothpaste does not come out of my butt, Bear!”

Ah… well said, my friend.