Monday, August 29, 2011

Warm, Fuzzy Feelings

Bug has been sick.  Not “oh no let’s call the doctor and get medicine” sick, just “the weather changes too much” sick.  Allergies, snot, drainage, and coughing.  He decided a few days ago that being sick = not sleeping as well.  So we’ve been up at night while he plays instead of sleeping.  He’s been clingy.  He’s been whiney.  Oh my goodness he’s been whiney.  The kid never fusses.  But he has the last 3 days.  And on Sunday I couldn’t put him in the nursery at church.  I know he’s not sick sick.  He’s just yucky allergy sick.  But still, he’s green snot sick.  So I kept him in church with me. 

Where I sat there was a couple in front of me that I had spoken to before.  Funny story on a side track – the first time I met this couple they offered to take me to lunch.  I was alone, and Bug was teeny bitty.  I told them that, while I appreciate the offer, I had four kids and I’m sure they would be overwhelmed.  The lady was shocked, asked me how old I was (31, I told her), and then was even more shocked when I showed her the family picture (including a husband) on my smart phone.  I think she thought I was a teen mother (wow, I must look amazing!?!?).  They are such Sweetie Pies.

Anyhoo … they were sitting in front of me.  We’ve spoken a few more times since then, and darned if I can remember their names.  But we talked this past Sunday and I had Bug.  Mrs. Sweetie Pie asked if she could hold Bug.  Sure.  It’s not like they’d be going anywhere, and we’d talked several times and it’s church.  She cuddled Bug and he snuggled back, since he’s a sweet boy who loves everyone.  After a few minutes Mr. Sweetie Pie took him. And held him through two songs.  As I watched them coo and smile over Bug I realized something.

Sometimes people want to hold a baby not to help you, but because it helps them.  Babies (usually) love unabashedly.  They don’t care that you aren’t perfect.  They don’t see the baggage you’re carrying.  All they know is you’re pretty cool, fun to grab, and smile a lot.  The couple that held Bug on Sunday just kept loving on him and smiling.  He brought them a moment of joy that I couldn’t provide them as an adult.  For a moment they could dote on someone who wouldn’t get mad, irritated, or judge them at all.  Babies and puppies make us feel better.  We can look at the future in them.  We see the potential of kindness and acceptance.  Babies don’t see color of skin.  They don’t see age.   They just see someone who should protect them.  And that, sadly, is a fault too, sometimes.  But this time it wasn’t.  And as we sang praise songs and I watched Bug try to take Mr. Sweetie Pie’s glasses off and watched the man remove his glasses and laugh as his wife patted Bug’s back I realized two things.  It was okay that I didn’t know them too well.  I shared my love and my joy with them.  And I got a break.  Did I mention that he’s been a clingy, whiney, nonsleeping baby the last few days? Yeah, I was selfish and saw it as a break. J  

Monday, August 22, 2011

My train of thought is scary ...

I am known for my train of thought.  Or lack there of.  You mention mustard?  I've got something to say about s'mores.  Because mustard >> hot dogs >> camping >> camp fire >> s'mores. Sometimes I sit down at night and there are so many ideas in my head that I can’t even think.  They chase me all day long.  Like a wolf running through the forest.  Or a vampire?  A great big sparkly vampire?  No.  No sir.  Because vampires burn up into ash in the sun, everyone knows that.  Anyone who believes otherwise is a delusional teenager or a woman who wishes she was. So there.  I said that.  In MY post on MY blog.  I think sparkly vampires are dumb and the best acting Robert Pattinson did was at the very end of the fourth movie of Harry Potter.  He’s gross. And doesn’t fit the character in the book at all.  Incidentally, you know they were considering Henry Cavill for that part?  Yeah, that would have been better.  Because he doesn’t suck.  And now we get to see him as Superman.  A nice, not effeminate girly-girl Superman either.  Robert Pattinson goes right up there with Hayden Christiansen in my book of “well, we know people will pay bookoos of bucks to see this no matter what we do, so let’s just use this guy” actors.  The other two hobbits fall in that category for me too.  You know who I’m talking about.  Not Frodo and not Charlie (and if you don’t know why he’s Charlie, that’s just depressing and sad and you should be ashamed).  So does Abby Cadabby, but I’m fairly certain my obsession with the “rightness in the world of children’s television” is a certifiable one, and can be reserved for another post (Dora … why are you out ALONE in a jungle with a talking monkey, and why OH WHY do you trust that map that keeps sending you into the alligator infested waters?!?  YOU’RE FIVE!!)

But anyways …

This past week my dear friends had their first child.  A son.  I’m calling him Wookie Jr.  And he’s cute.  And not all babies are cute (sorry moms of ugly babies).  Some babies come out and even after that first swelling “what the hell happened to my head?” phase is over, they still look weird.  Bug looked like an old man forever.  Because he was born too soon.  He had no fat and just old man wrinkles.  But not Wookie Jr.  He looked awesome.  And still does.  Fortunately, I see a lot of his mom in him.  She’s beautiful.  Anyhoo … I’ve had a blast the last week helping her adjust to her “what the hell just happened to my life?” phase.  Not the “What to expect now that you have a newborn” frills and fluff stuff.  The “Oh yeah, this sucks and no one will tell you how bad it sucks” stuff.  Like how giving birth makes getting hit by a train seem like a pleasant idea.   How the very idea of ever wanting to procreate again seems like it ranks with sitting in a tub full of scissors.  How your body will redefine “amount of sleep needed” over night and all those mornings after parties you went to in college don’t even compare to the exhaustion level you now have.   How your insides feel like they might just fall out at any minute.  How your boobs no longer belong to you, and no longer belong to your husband.  And after awhile all you really want to do is scream and say “MOOOO!” because well, you’ve become nothing more than a machine that can produce milk and clean poop.  (Rosie the Robot couldn’t do THAT, I bet).  First kids are hard.  There’s no manual, no “how tos” (although my pediatrician gave us this clever “baby manual” when Monkey Man was born … for fevers and eating and when to call the doctors and the like.  So clever of them) Clark Kent and I had no idea what to do with Peanut when we brought her home.  We put her in the middle of the floor and stared at her, in her cute pink blanket in her car seat.  For almost an hour.  So, I’m glad I can be there for Wookie Jr. and his mom. And his dad.  Although, even with all the bottle feeding help he’s giving, there’s not much I can tell him.  Other than grab your butt and hold on tight, because this ride is fast, hard, and is gone in a blink of an eye.  (Or so those with older kids keep telling me.  Like that nice old man at the snack bar at Target who just patted me on the shoulder and said “You sure are a brave girl” and walked off laughing).  It’s a ride that I’ll take over and over though.  Despite the downward spirals it seems to take now and again.  I know I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.   Some nights I ponder that in a nice loving way.  Other nights I just repeat it 50 times like a good mommy.   But in the end, when I close out my day, check on sleeping angels (because they are angels when they sleep, right?) and remember how fast times flies, I know that the kids are my sanity, not just my sanity checkers.  They are my saving grace.  I may end the day covered in spit up, sweeping the kitchen for the fourth time because of some dog-food-bowl-kicking temper tantrum (that was tonight), sighing and wondering if I’m even cut out for this (I know, after 9 years, you’d think I’d know that), and wondering how I am still breathing.  I’ll take my cup of coffee (you’d be surprised how relaxing that is) and peruse my facebooks, and breathe the first breath of quiet air.  And remind myself that I can do it, and that being a mom rocks.  No other job on earth is as rewarding, though trying, as the one called “Mommy”.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Blink Away

I’ve found that when your day seems to go at 100mph, the wall you hit when you finally stop for the night hurts 10 times worse.  Since school started I’ve been going zero to 500 every morning.  From the moment that Bug wakes up (which is at 6:15am every single morning, thank-you-very-much) until I sit down at night to “relax”.  It’s go, go, go, go.  Get up out of bed; fight the dogs to get the door open, the alarm off and the back door unlocked to let them out.  And since Mr. Incredible comes to lock my doors at night after I’ve already locked them, they are suddenly impossible to open and I’ve got a wiggly Bug and 3 yipping, I-really-need-to-pee dogs at my feet.  Once that feat is accomplished it’s time to wake the monsters darling sweet children of mine.  Monkey Man usually gets up on his own and is happy as long as his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers™ fix is satiated.  Bean always jumps up out of bed.  One day she’s going to hit the ceiling, I just know it.  It’s always as if some giant gong has gone off as soon as I turn the handle on her door.  (Giant gong, now that would be funny.  I should look into getting one of those).  She literally screams “AHHH!” and jumps up off the mattress.  But that, while incredibly funny, is nothing compared to going into the dragon’s lair.   Waking Peanut up is like poking a hungry lion.  Or a raging bull.  Or a mad rhino.  You get the idea.  Now, Clark Kent just marches up there, grabs Peanut, throws her over his shoulder and brings her downstairs.  Kicking and screaming all the way.  I try a different approach.  I ask her to get up.  Nicely.  I try singing my obnoxious morning song (my mom sang it to me).  I try rubbing her back, hugging her.  You know. All those great motherly sweet things that June Cleaver and Carol Brady did.  No way.  None of it works.  She is just a bear.  A really, really grouchy bear.  And it’s every single time too.  Always a treat.  And before I’ve had my coffee.  I love that.  Why don’t we all try that tomorrow?  Act like a grouchy bear.  It can be “Act Like a Grouchy Bear Day”.  Sounds fun. 

Anyway, after all that goes down, and the fight to get dressed goes on, I go about the morning.  Assure everyone has gone to the bathroom, dressed, had their teeth and hair brushed, and the boys are fed.  Monkey Man and Bug eat breakfast at home.  Peanut and Bean get a nice, hot, free breakfast at school.  Saves me time, they enjoy it, and it’s free.  Did I mention it’s free? Yeah, free.  I like that.  After dressing and grooming is making lunches.  And shoes.  Shoes are always a fight here because, honestly, they have too many choices.  And then of course as we are getting ready to walk out the door I realize I am not fit for the public.  We walk, up to the school.  So, needless to say, I am never dressed for that.  So I throw on something less … embarrassing … pajama-y … old?  Anyway, and we’re out the door. 

We walk to school, get home, do the chores, play, have lunch, nap time (more cleaning for me.  Although I’m of the mind that we should all have nap time.  The whole country.  Latin countries do it.  Some European countries do it.  We should do it.  Shut everything down for an hour or two in the afternoon and just relax.  Sleep.  Whatever that isn’t work.).  Then it’s back to school, pick the girls up, and back home for homework.  Which is torture for everyone.  No one wants to do homework.  No child ever wants to.  Well, some children do.  There are a few who love it.  But Peanut and Bean are not those children. Those children live in a fantasy story that isn’t my life.  So we fight through homework, get ready for whatever extracurricular we have that night, and then dinner, baths, and bed. Then I sit down.  And deflate.  I sink into the couch and can’t move.  Hence the giant space between my posts.  Last thing I ever think about most nights is “ooh, look how my day went, let me write it all down.”  But I should.  I feel better.  And I can pretend that everyone really, really cares about the mundaneness of my day.  Because I know you do.  You sit there and think “how on earth does that crazy lady do it?”  and “why the heck does anyone have 4 kids anyway?”  and “does she ever eat?” or “wow, she’s absolutely bonkers, I feel much better about my life.”  So, as I hit the brakes and sit down for the day, recap on everything I didn’t accomplish that I should and listen to the hum of the dishwasher, I think that 100mph isn’t such a horrible speed.  And one day, when I’m sitting alone waiting for my grandkids to call, it will seem like the 100mph days were only a blink ago.  And as the country song says, don’t blink.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My glitter wand

I’m either on or off.  I accomplish tons or nothing.  Today I accomplished tons.  I am attempting to prepare for the first week of school.  The first week of school is like a dance recital.  All summer we’ve done nothing.  Then last week we started looking at the calendar.  Planning doctor’s appointments now requires a war plan.  Every day is a strategically planned wreck.  We have to get up for school, get dressed for school, drop the girls off at school, and then do a little PTA stuff.  What is PTA stuff?  Making sure the first couple days go smoothly for everyone we can.  It’s something I’ve practiced for 4 years now.  I’ve got the snazzy costume, the smile, and the “I know how this goes” attitude.  And the “don’t worry, it's okay” attitude.  But what I’m best at is not answering questions by answering them.  Oh yeah.  The good ol’ southern art of BS. Bull snot.  You know what I’m talking about.  The answering things without actually answering them because really, what is the point?  To reassure a frustrated parent that things will be fine, their child is taken care of, and the first week is always like this (no matter if their hair is on fire and their child is screaming like a banshee).  To help a teacher find that other list that they needed because this list isn’t the right one and who is that kid anyway?  To help an office staff member by bringing them a treat because God forbid they step away from the phone for five seconds.  Yes, yes they really want to answer every question you have, including the one where you called to ask if your child really (really?) needs 20 pencils.  Or whether we actually have school this week since it’s so hot.  Or that you want to speak to whoever is in charge because the car rider line was too long.  They love it. 

And that’s why we are there.  The PTA.  To help.  To ease stress.  And as a mom, I must ease my kid’s stress too.  That’s Act 2 of the dance recital.  It’s a different costume.  It’s the one with the extra glitter wand.  The wand that helps my Peanut walk into a classroom with enough confidence to find a desk and know that despite the lack of familiar faces, the year can be fun.  The wand that helps Bean know that she’s ready for first grade and it’s going to be magically fun even though it’s not her favorite teacher.  And it helps me too.  My glitter wand makes everything okay leaving my kids with a new teacher.  Leaving them amongst what will be friends, but is just a whole bunch of new faces.  Knowing that at the end of the day I’ll be right there waiting for them to come out the doors and hopefully smile and tell me that this is going to a be a great year. 

And it will be.  And we’ll survive the dance.  Tonight I relax after preparing stuff for the first week’s lunches, organizing school supplies and “Welcome Back” gifts for teachers.  All that’s left is a couple nights’ sleep and to don my “super hero mom” uniform that allows me to go through all of it without crying.  ‘Cause that’s what Mom’s do.  (And to be honest, I’ll have my best bud beside me too, which always helps.  Even super heroes needs friends.)  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Returning to home base

We survived vacation!  And approximately 9 million loads of laundry later, we’re about back to normal around here.  As normal as we can get with the crazy life of four kids that we have.  There were so many amazing things that we did on our trip. 

Our first adventure was sitting on the interstate just 45 miles from our half-way stop.  We stopped for gas, fed Bug, and got back on the interstate.  Just 65 miles or so to go before stopping for the night.  Just a little bit longer until dinner, the hotel, and relaxation.  Fast forward a few miles.  It was 6:12pm (yeah, I know exactly what time it was.  What?  You’d never pay attention to that.  You would be glad you had when you read the rest of this fabulousness).  Suddenly we stopped.  Dead stand still.  On the interstate.  Can’t be good.  And thankfully we’re sitting next to a trucker.  He is awesome and tells us what’s going on.  There’s been a fatality wreck just 2 miles ahead of us, and it’s “going to be a while”.  I was so sad.  Poor person/persons.  Tragedy on the road is always so sad, because I always think it could have easily been me.  But we didn’t dwell on that.  Clark Kent started looking for local news, traffic maps, etc. on my very, very smart phone.  And we sat.  Through two movies for the kids.  Through juice boxes and snacks and Goldfish ™ and coloring.  In the heat.  For 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Finally we started moving.  There was an exit they were moving people down as a detour.  Right before we got there, they started letting traffic on the interstate again.  I panicked.  I hoped everything was cleaned up, God rest the person’s soul.  And of course, we got past the exit, past the point of no return, and they stopped us again.  For another 45 minutes.  So 3 ½ hours of FUN on the interstate.  See?  You wanted to know what time it was too.  So you could appreciate us pulling into the hotel at 9:30, not 6:40.  Dragging 4 tired children to IHOP for a mediocre dinner at 10:00pm.  Dragging said tired children up to the hotel room, amidst crying, and putting them to bed.  Lying down for 10 minutes before someone needed something, or someone was touching someone.  Long night.  Adventure.  Excitement.  But all in all, we were so proud of Peanut, Bean, and Monkey Man.  They were troopers. 

The rest of our trip was typical.  Family reunion with people we don’t know.  200+ of them.  Learning more about a family that is so fascinating I can’t even imagine it was awesome.  We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo (which is a truly amazing zoo if you ever are in that neck of the woods).  Swimming, hair cuts, an Apple Farm, Chuck E Cheese and cousins of every age.  Great amazingness.  And then the two day trip home, which thankfully was dead-stop-on-the-interstate free.  What could be next?  School starts next week.  So this week was recovery from a trip, figuring out uniform fittings for next week, and helping at school.  I’m on the PTA.  We rock.  We just do.  We help everyone; we give kids popcorn, and wear snazzy t-shirts.  That sums up awesome if I ever could do it.   And next week is a whole new adventure.  Its fourth grade for Peanut, first grade for Bean.  I think I shall have to grow up soon.  My kids seem to be doing it at light speed.