Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Moment to Remember During a Week to Forget

As a mom there are moments you want to cherish and savor and never forget. There are times I want to bottle up a smell, a smile, a laugh, a hug, or a simple glance from one of my kids that's makes me feel complete. However, there are also moments (or weeks in this case) that you want to completely wipe away from your memory; never to look back, remember, or imagine again. My children's first week of dayschool was one of these times that I pray amnesia will set in and I'll be able to forget all about it for eternity.

When you are a mom to three young children, you learn not to create expectations, because what you want, desire, and plan for will not happen the way you wish. I've trained myself to put expectations aside so disappointed can't set in later; except for the first week of dayschool, that is. I mean, the kids would be in school afterall so they couldn't ruin it...or so I thought...and thats when dreaming of the first week of preschool began.

I dreamt of dropping them off and coming home to a quiet house for 3 or 4 hours twice a week and actually being able to concentrate on my thoughts. Visions of paying bills with no interruptions, doing laundry at record speeds, cleaning..maybe even deep cleaning circled my head. Meal planing, shopping lists, clipping coupons, organizing closets, files, and drawers would all get done. The photos cramming space on my computer would get organized on a external drive and 1500+ photos on my iPhone could finally come off. Oh, and not only would I finally get to write in my blog, but I'd be able to read blogs too! My sewing machine would come out of the closet and get dusted off, and I would plan to just sit on the couch in front of the Today Show with a cup of coffee and do nothing.

The dreaming didn't stop there. I dreamt about all the errands I could aimlessly run without being rushed by screaming-hungry-tired-fighting children. I'd get to the mall to return some clothes I've had for months and would browse shops for the most currant styles and try things on. The makeup counter has been teasing me to come by to get caught up on the latest trends. After months of looking like a ratty, messy mom I'd finally get my hair cut and colored and a mani and pedi would be essential. Lunch with my girlfriends from the design community would be scheduled on a sunny day and we'd sit outside and laugh and gossip about the industry I left less than two years ago and it would feel like yesterday.

My dreams were shattered. Do I even need to tell you that the kids found a way to ruin it? It really started the week before school. My husband was out of town for 5 days. And while we all manage well when he is not here and have a system down to science, his travel weeks are not only hard on him, but always leave the rest of us extra tired. The following week after he returns is like a hang-over. Everyone's a little extra needy and grumpy and going through daddy withdrawal. So the first day of school landed on a week that Paul had just gotten back in town and everyone still had a daddy hangover from the week before. They didn't want to get out of bed! Breakfast was made, clothes and lunchboxes were laid out ready to go. But kids were still asleep.

Not wanting them to feel rushed on their "first day". I softly woke them up. Over and over and over. I let them take their time getting dressed and eating and of course I had to spend time taking some photo's of their "first day". I got them to school late and then I rushed out of there to try to get a few necessary things done so maybe I could have some "me time" left at the end of it all. A quick and fast trip to the grocery store since we had no food in the house needed to be done first. Knowing my time was short before I had to pick them up I practically ran through the isles. I'm sure I had zombie hair, crazy eyes and sweaty wouldn't you know, I ran into one of my kids classmates mothers, "oh, Jenny, how are you? Aren't you just loving your free time?" As I looked at her refreshing smile, perfectly groomed hair and freshly applied make up I wanted to vomit. She was "browsing" in the clothing section of Target explaining how she just got her hair done and then aimlessly walked through the mall before she got to Target; all the while I was worried my milk was going to go warm if I didn't get home to put the groceries up before I had to get the kids. I replied, "Well, it doesn't feel so free yet, but hopefully that will change." When she didn't get the answer she thought she would I realized she didn't want to dig any further and have me ruin her "free time". So I didn't ruin it for her and I didn't spit on her or pull her hair either like I wanted to. Instead I rushed to the check out line just to rush home to get the groceries put up before I rushed back out to go pick the kids up. Unfortunately reality didn't allow any "me time".

The kids were crazy every day I picked them up. Extra hyper, extra hungry and just bad. They were bad, bad, bad. I'm sure they were over stimulated and exhausted, but it translated to bad behavior which is unusual for them. Once everyone was finally in bed for naps, after an hour and a half of being bad, they slept just 30 minutes and woke up cranky, tired, and with ugly attitudes. I hardly recognized my own kids!

Maybe I would've handled them better if I actually had some "me time" during the 4 hours they were in school, the first few weeks. There were just too many necessary responsibilities to take care of. Basically, everything I'd been putting off since the twins were born a year and a half ago needed to get done and it wasn't the things I had been day dreaming of; Just necessary responsibilities to keep our lives moving forward. The next day of school I spent and hour and a half at the post office getting Paul and I's passports renewed. This was after an hour at home filing out paperwork and finding the necessary information for them. The next day of school I spent an hour and a half at the vet getting our 12 year old dog updated on his shots that were overdue, and running senior bloodwork on him now that he's an old dog. There was paperwork and files that needed copying for our HOA on our house in Nashville, 6 loads of laundry that needed folding and put away, toys and clothes that needed hanging and tagging for an upcoming consignment sale.

To make the first week of school even more stressful, my generally easy going, supportive, loving husband decided to jump down my throat about all the kids toys being left out everywhere. He was right and I can't say I blame him. The house was a wreck! But I think he may have had unrealistic expectations for me that first week also. I had no energy left after running necessary, unfun errands all day and then tending to fighting, biting, screaming kids all evening. I didn't want to pick up their toys. I wanted to hide in the closet with a bottle of rum and cry. Not to mention he was gone the whole week prior and 3 days that week. After he yelled and screamed about the house being a mess he scolded me like a child saying if any toys were left out he was going to throw them away. I don't think I was really upset until that point. I understood he was stressed and there were circumstances outside our household influencing his choice of words. But I let him know it would be a lot easier for me to keep the house clean if there were no toys around so he could have at it and throw them all away! And naturally, I pinned it back on the kids and a hard week. Apparently he was in the mood for a really good fight, so he didn't stop there. He let me know how messy I was before kids and that my threshold for messes is higher than his. This may or may not have been when I chose to bring out my big guns. My guns aren't really that big when arguing with my husband. I'm not as mean, or witty or quick with words and come backs as he is. I typically resort to slamming a door or throwing something. And man, does it feel good to slam a door when I'm angry! But I knew that wouldn't work for this argument. Especially since we were outside and the only thing I'd have to throw would be a toddler. So I referred to him as a name that was not his name. But in fact was a family members name that I knew would push some buttons. Especially since this specific family member may have some unreachable expectations for my husband when it comes to cleanliness and tidyness.

It's been a while since we've had a good argument like that so really it was overdue. And when we've gone too long without an argument, they tend to be bigger and uglier. But because of the argument I have kept the house spotless, laundry done, dinner ready, kitchen clean and children bathed and ready for bed all before he gets home from work. I've been working overtime from the deepest darkest part of hatred in my heart. It's really black in there...but it makes for a really spotless house.

I'm sure after a little time with Jesus and some apologies, it won't be long before he and I have a change of heart. I'm not sure who will apologize first, but the longer he goes without saying sorry first, the bigger I expect the apology to be; flowers, chocolates, a big trip....or maybe all three.

I almost wanted to give up then, pull the kids out of school for good. Get them back on their normal routine at home where they eat and sleep and behave. I could forget ever having time to myself and forget ever taking them to preschool! But I'm no quitter. It will be several weeks or even months before I can get some of these not-so-fun responsibilities completed and get in a groove and start to feel relaxed while the kids are in enjoying themselves in school. When there finally is time for me is probably right when baby #4 will be born...Oh yeah, did I mention baby #4 is on his way projected to arrive in late January?

In the meantime we will all keep on trekking until we adjust and adjust again. The twins just completed their second week of day-school in the one year olds class, and Lucia has 2 weeks down in the 3's class. She's in a young 3's class which makes her seem quite old compared to the other kids, but since I pulled her out of school last year due to an overwhelming class size and incompetent teacher, I think this will be good for her. It is new beginnings for everyone, including me.

I wanted to forget about all the above since there are moments, even weeks we want to pretend never happened! However, in the midst of the hard times, there always seems to be a treasure. A precious piece of life we would be ashamed if we ever forgot. Moments that make us cherish ourselves as moms, that make even the worst of the worst all worth it. My heart has glowed with pride each day I've picked the kids up. It is so beyond fun and exciting to walk by Lucia's classroom and see all the kids sitting on the mat listening to the teacher read a story. As soon as her eyes meet mine she jumps up as if she has fireworks under her butt screaming "mommy" and runs to the door to hug my legs. As I sign her out her teacher and classmates all say, "bye Lucia", and she replies "bye" back without looking at them because by this time she is frantically looking for whatever artwork they did that day to show me. It's pure joy to see how proud she is of her work and how she wants to share that pride with me.
Talking a mile a minute about the artwork I get her bag and lunchbox and head to get the babies. But every day, she wants to hold her lunch herself and tell me what she ate.

As we make our way to the twins classroom, we can see Lochmans hands holding onto the baby gate and his head sticking out watching all the moms and kids intently looking for me among them. And when he sees us, he explodes with tears, screams of joy and uncontrollably laughter. His fists are now clenched and his feet start stomping up and down until I reach for him and pick him up. He holds my neck tight and continues to scream with excitement and tears flow down his cheeks.

Then there is my sweet Olivia who has watched all the chaos from her overly loud and dramatic brother. As she walks to the door with a glow in her eyes and a sweet shy smile, she motions to her teacher to get her backpack and once that has been gotten down for her, she still refuses to come to the door until her teacher has put it on. With her backpack on and her lunchbox in hand she trollops to the door ready to hold my hand and walk to the car, all the while projecting a glow of confidence and assurance, yet barely making a noise. The four of us walk to the car hand in hand.

Their little personalities shine in my heart. They are so different and so perfect.

Now three weeks in and we are finally ready for the preschool year to start. While its just two short days a week, there is so much to benefit from. I will clean my house, pick up toys, and stay organized out of love for my husband and children instead of out of hatred (especially since I did receive a big apology with a sweet note of appreciation, and a box of chocolates from my husband!). I will accomplish all the necessary responsibilities and gain a little me time and I will watch my young children flourish as they gain independence.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'll Have the Mother's Day Special, With a Side of Diamonds

Paul and I married on November 13, 2004. We had a lovely courtship and a dreamy wedding. Our first year of marriage was sort of a whirlwind. We lived in seperate cities for three months. We moved to a new city where we didn't know anyone; my childhood friend passed away; Paul's grandmother passed away; Paul tore his ACL and was in and out of therapy all year. We bought a new car. We sold a car. We sold a house and bought a house. Paul traveled two weeks out of every month. It just seemed like a lot was happening and before we knew it our first anniversary was approaching. What do you get your spouse as a gift for your one year anniversary? Honestly, I had no idea. But Paul did. He handed me a little black box. I opened it and inside was a beautiful diamond cross necklace.

I've never had nice jewelry. I had a boyfriend buy me diamond earrings one time. But they were so small I was afraid the diamond was going to go through my ear hole to never be seen again. So I always wore my costume diamond jewelry. Big, bling and cheap. I opened my little black box on our first year anniversary and I was in love. I was in love with my husband and all we had gone through in a short year and I was in love with this beautiful diamond necklace. I had no idea it's value or financial worth. I just knew it was really beautiful and special to me. I knew it represented us. I knew it represented what was important to us. I put it on and I didn't take it off for a long time. I showered in it and I slept in it. My hair tangled in the chain one night and then I decided to start taking it off to shower and sleep. Days passed by and I'd forget to put it on. And as the years went by I began to only wear my beautiful cross on special occasions. I'd wear it to church. I'd wear it out to dinner. And most importantly I wore it when I gave birth to Lucia, our first child.

I had intentions of wearing it at the birth of any children we might have after as well. But, unfortunately, around the time Lucia was 7 months we had a babysitter who stole from me. It was right around this time that I never saw my diamond cross necklace again. It wasn't much longer I became pregnant with the twins and I already began to wonder what I was going to wear around my neck during their birth? What could I have on that would symbolize my relationship with Paul? Family? Unity? Christ? Love? I knew I couldn't wear my wedding rings during labor. The thoughts came and went over the course of nine months and before I knew it the babies were ready to be born. I searched my jewelry boxes and stashes everywhere. I found a thin gold chain with a small gold heart outlined with pink stones that was my grandmothers and it looked delicate. It wasn't a diamond cross, but it was beautiful and it was my grandmothers. I put it on and we left for the hospital.

The twins are now one years old and Lucia is now three. Time travels. Time moves. Time happens fast. Here we are as a family of five. Paul and I will be celebrating our 8th year anniversary this November. It's amazing what time does. Paul travels to Mexico about a week or so every month and last week he spent 4 nights there. While he was waiting for his next flight home, he called me to see if I'd arrange for our babysitter to come and watch the kids over the weekend so we could spend some time together with just us. He also mentioned it was mother's day on Sunday and maybe she could come then. She was spending mothers day with her mother so she was only available that day. Paul got home at 1pm and Emily showed up at 2:30. The two of us headed out the door. We sat in the car. "Now what?" "Where should we go?" "What should we do?"  Sometimes when we leave the kids behind we are absolutely clueless what to do with ourselves. I suggested we go to the outdoor mall and Paul agreed that was a good idea because they have a sunglass hut there and he wanted to get me a pair of RayBan's for Mother's Day. I can't say I was thrilled at the idea of expensive sunglasses since I usually lose them, break them, or the kids grab at them, play with them and wear them. But I was along for the ride. I didn't want to spend money for Mother's Day and had no expectations for a gift.

We first sat and had a nice dinner (yes, it was 3:30) but when you only have so many hours away from your children and you have to be home to put them to bed you do things like eat dinner and have drinks at 3:30. Dinner at 3:30 is actually great because it's usually happy hour! Which is was! After a few cocktails and appetizers our dinner was only $30 at PFChangs! As we ate dinner we discussed our priorities moving forward with our family and our finances was at the forefront of our conversations. We were both in agreement that the first thing is to get the last bit of our HELOC loan paid off on our first house. Then, once that is paid, a bike fund needed to be started for Paul since his bike is 10 years old. It is constantly breaking and he is riding it a lot. Third on the list is a new car fund since he has well over 100K miles on his 2004 Audi. And finally a downpayment saved up for a new house.  

We paid our $30 tab and Paul couldn't help but call me a cheap date. We walked around, browsed in some of the stores and ended up walking into a jewelry store as he said he just wanted to look around. We browsed and he asked me what I thought of a few diamond crosses. He said he had been looking at replacing the one I lossed. But that they all cost about $400. I absolutely was not interested in spending $400 on a gift! As much as I loved my diamond cross and missed it, there was just no reason to spend that kind of money now when we had 3 children and other goals ahead of us. I quickly walked us out of there and we made our next stop into Sunglasshut. We lasted about 3 minutes in there before we both realized that was a dumb idea.

As we continued to walk, Paul guided me into another jewelry shop. I told him I knew a great place to buy a diamond cross and it wasn't a jewerly store, but instead I suggested TJMaxx. He rolled his eyes. So we went inside and looked around. Everything was beautiful but nothing was in budget for what I was willing to spend. Everything the salesman showed us I said no to after looking at the price tags. We were walking towards the exit and Paul said, "What about this one" as he pointed through the glass. I looked in and I said, "Wow, that's really pretty. Not really my style or anything I'd ever pick out for myself, but it's really pretty." before I finished commenting the salesman had already pulled it out and handed it to me. I held it up to my neck and looked in the mirror. My eyes got big becuase it was in fact beautiful. I turned to face Paul so he could see it up against my neck and I could see a glimmer in his eyes. He turned to the salesman and immediately said, "We'll take it!" I shouted, "no we won't!" We don't even know how much it was. Paul and I argued back and forth; him convincing me I was worth it and me telling him that we just finished discussing our priorities and he needed a new bike and I didn't need a new necklace. He responded by telling me that I was his priority. The necklace was more than double the cost of all the others we had looked at in there and for some reason that made Paul want to buy it for me even more. It had a greater value and to him...I was worth that greater value. I thought I was going to cry. Anyone who knows me knows that I DON'T CRY. I was so hot. I was mad at him for buying it. I was mad that now we have to pay for it. I was mad because I was mad. I tried to tell him how grateful I was and that I didn't mean to seem ungrateful, but it's just a lot of money. We put it around my neck, signed the receipt and walked out. Paul spent the next 30 minutes telling me how important I was to him and then convinced me the necklace wasn't really mine, but was mine to pass down to our children one day. That is was really for them. He knew what he needed to say to make me feel better about it. It is stunning! It is beautiful! It is breathtaking. I am in awe. I feel blessed. I feel valued. We aren't planning on any more children at this point, but I know what will be around my neck if we do.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our Lullaby: I'll Do What It Takes

I'll rock you a thousand rocks
I'll kiss you a thousand kisses
I'll sing you a thousand songs
If that's what it takes to get you to sleep
You are my precious child
You are my precious one 
I will cherish you
Because that's what it takes to get you to sleep.
I'll squeeze you a thousand squeezes
I'll sooth you a thousand sooths
I'll pat you a thousand pats
If that's what it takes to get you to sleep.
You are my precious child
You are my precious one
 I will cherish you
Because that's what it takes to get you to sleep.
I'll love you a thousand loves
I'll hug you a thousand hugs
I'll yawn you a thousand yawns
If that's what it takesto get you to sleep
You are my precious child
You are my precious one
I will cherish you
Because that's what it tkes to get you to sleep

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bad Parenting or Tough Love?

Dear Lucia,

You are such a wonderful daughter. At 2 years old it is hard to punish you because you really don't do anything wrong. You typically get in trouble because of your independence. You want to do things your way and often times nothing is wrong with your way, it is just not the way I would do things, or your father for that matter. I remember you getting in trouble recently because your dad wanted you to put on your jacket before going outside and you refused. He was holding your white jacket and you wanted to wear your black got sent to your room to sit on your stool in time out. Which honestly, was a little hard for me, because the more I thought about it, you really didn't do anything wrong. You are two and  half years old and you are learning to make your own decisions, you are learning to communicate effectively what your wants and needs are, and you are learning to pay consequences for your actions when they are not good decisions. At the young age of 2 this is all a learning process...not just for you, but for all of us.

As your parents we are learning we cannot force you to do things we want you to do. For example we cannot force you to go potty. You are one hundred percent potty trained (in your own way). Not the way I would like for you to be, but in the way you want to be.  No matter how hard we try, we cannot make you use the toilet to poop. You refuse to even sit on the potty and you would rather hold your poop for days if we try to force you to use the toilet. Instead when you need to go, you ask for a pull-up, you poop, and then you put your panties back on. You wear panties at night and and all day and never have a single accident since you will only pee on the toilet.  You simply want to do things your way. We cannot force you to eat either when you don't want to. You choose what you will eat, within reason, and when you will eat. Even if we force you to stay at the table until you eat something, you would just end up sleeping there. And at school, you have a mind of your own. You have been in the 2's class 7 months now and for 7 months you have refused to talk to your teachers. You are very headstrong, my dear child. I'm not sure if you are shy or you don't like your teachers, or you simply do not wish to respond to them when they talk to you. Whatever it is, you refuse to talk to them. You however, will talk all day long to the other kids and you will play like crazy. You are obedient to everything the teachers ask you to do and don't cry or cause any trouble. You just refuse to talk to them. And no one can force you to do otherwise. You are two years old with a mind of your own.

If you are not aware of it yet, you are very independent. And I love this about you. My mother (your Nonna) will tell you that I did not gain my independence until much later in my life. My mother will also tell you that I made you independent. I'm not sure this is true. Because if it is, did I also make you caring, generous, sensitive, loving, nurturing, sweet, and all the other attributes you have? No one can force you to be these things either, but these are blessings that God has given you. This is how He made you, not me. Yes, I may have let you reach into the basket of toys 100 times watching the basket tip over on you until you finally learned how to hold the basket with one hand and reach in for a toy with the other hand. I never helped you and I praised you when you figured out how to accomplish this. I've allowed you to make many of your own decisions from a very young age and in that you may have displayed independence you already had.

As it stands now and for the rest of your life you are in charge of you and no matter how hard I want to change that or do something about it, I can't. I can influence you, care for you, provide for you, love you, but in the end you are in charge of you and you are in charge of your choices and consequences.

Most days we go out of the house for some kind of adventure, if not the bookstore, the mall, the playground, the marry-go-round horses, we at least leave the house to take you to day school. When we arrive home and I attempt to get you out of your car seat, you will ask me to get the babies out first. This never seemed like too much trouble, so I let you have your way. I would unhook the baby's infant car seat buckets from the car and set both babies on the driveway in their infant seats. Then I would come to your side of the car, you would see the babies were out and you'd let me get you out of the car. You would walk while I carried the babies in their infant car seats inside the house so that we would all go in together.

The babies are now 10 months old and too big to carry around in their infant car seats. So lately, I've been getting them both out at the same time and carrying one baby in each arm, preventing me from being able to get you out last. A few times you were tired and I didn't feel like arguing so I got both babies out, locked the car doors, carried them into the playroom, went back outside, unlocked the car doors and got you out. Then, about 3 days in a row I carried you out kicking and screaming threatening to put you in time out, then got the babies, grabbed your hand while you sobbed and cried and we all walk in together. I decided enough was enough and I told you if you did not come out of the car first like the nice sweet girl that you are, then you could stay in the car all day. I specifically asked you several times, "If you do not come out of the car now you will stay in the car all day. Is this what you want?" "Yes mommy." Then I reinforced my point, "Lucia, if you don't come out first then you will stay here all day. Do you want to stay in the car until it gets dark outside? Do you want to stay in the car until dinner time when daddy gets home?" Your response had such absoluteness to it, "Yes! I don't want to get out."
With that, I closed the car door, went and got the babies out of the car. I locked the car doors and as I stepped into the garage I didn't even look back. I then closed the garage door...and this I believe is when it all sank in and panic took you over. I put the babies in the play room and gave them a snack to eat. I walked out the front door of the house and around to the side of the house where I saw you sitting in the car. I hadn't even left you in there 5 minutes. When I opened the car door you had tears streaming down your face and you were whimpering. "Momma, I frowed (throwed) up". Sure enough I looked down at your shirt and your seat belt and there were a few chewed up pieces of oranges. Nothing major.  I picked you up, hugged you, told you I loved you and that I never wanted to leave you in the car alone. I asked if from now on you would get out of the car first so I could then get the babies and we could all walk into the house together. With tears still showing in your eyes and slowly making their way down your cheeks, you whispered, "yes, momma, we can walk together."

That was a week ago. Not one day has gone by since then that you haven't let me get you out of the car first.

Did I cross a parental line trying to allow you to make your own choices and pay your own consequences? Or did I simply model good parenting to teach you to be a little more independent through some tough love? I guess you will be the only judge to that.

I love you and cherish you,
Your mom