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.