Thursday, June 9, 2011

Turns Out That I Actually Need All Three of My Kids

I was given a marvelous gift this afternoon, the opportunity to miss one of my children.  Alex's sister and her FOUR children from Houston are visiting his other sister and her three kids here in Austin for the week.  Today we had a cousin birthday party for Stella and then I agreed to let Aiden spend the night at his Aunt's house. 

Aiden was very excited and Cole was very disappointed that he wasn't allowed to stay because I am so mean.  I think it's important to stay a little mean though, never let them get too comfortable or they will just expect things.

I'm kidding...I'm just REALLY nice to everyone else because I just didn't feel like Cole and all his night time screaming would be fun for either of my sister in laws or the eight other kids they have sleeping there.  Seriously, eight....this family can reproduce.  We have plans to take over most of South. 

Since summer began a few weeks ago I have been struggling to find our new groove.  I feel like we are spending endless hours waiting for Stella to wake up from a nap, and then rushing in a panic to get to whatever activity or errand we are attempting to squeeze in before she has to sleep again.  It makes plans difficult and accomplishing things next to impossible.

I've felt trapped these past few weeks by the chaos of our life. I feel without a schedule, but totally overwhelmed by the prospect of scheduling anything.  I simply want to clean my house, cook dinner, workout, do the laundry and write while my children play peacefully and blissfully in the background. Surprisingly, this has not been happening and it is honestly stressing me out.  No one is interested in my peace, here or away from the house. 

My dog is the only one that helps me relax, why don't my kids care about me?

(That question was a joke Mom, I understand that they are "just kids." I really do.  Sort-of.)

It's sort of ridiculous because I've had three kids for a year now.  I know how things go.  I've been attempting meal planning and grocery shopping with them, settling insane disputes, instructing them on the most basic of things like "you shouldn't ever drink Clorox," as well as fulfilling the dinner-bedtime routine solo for a while now. 

Things are not smooth, plans are just general ideas and I need to calm the hell down! 

(I need a t-shirt for this amazing mantra I just wrote.  I'm a genius.  A big cranky genius.)

Everything sends me from peaceful to angry, which is not a good thing with three kids 5 and under. I want us to enjoy this summer. I want to play more with the kids, relax with them and soak up all this time together that will be ending as Aiden heads off to kindergarten soon. 

I want all of us to have fun, even if we are running an errand or taking a trip to the gym.  Maybe I should start whistling?   I want to encourage rather than bitch about the clothes on the floor or the way they leave EVERY light on in the house. I want us to enjoy dinners together rather than my mad panic to feed them so I can just get them to go to sleep so I can have a few moments to sit and breathe or write out all the crazy in my head, because oh so much resides there and I must get it out. 

I want to find some freakin joy.  Where's my joy?

I'm trying.  I really am.  I often feel annoyed when someone tells me that I should enjoy my kids while they are young.  I feel defensive of my frustrations of how painfully difficult my kids make it to enjoy them sometimes.  I feel as though all my daily challenges are being demeaned and dismissed by people that have had the opportunity to poop by themselves for a while...and it's hard to take advice on how I should feel from people with that type of luxury.

I understand what they are saying though.  I know that as much as I despise having someone tell me that it goes too fast, some day I will in fact weep with longing for their chubby arms to cling to me and for their need and wanting of me to be real and urgent.  I know I'll feel like things are ending that I didn't even know I still wanted to continue when I say goodbye to Aiden in August and watch him walk off to the beginning of his time in school....and that I'll probably be in a puddle of misery for weeks after I do the same with my last baby in 5 short years.

I know the days are long, but the years are short, and I want to grasp and hold on, I really, really do...but geez oh man it is so brutal here sometimes that I can't even remember that I'm supposed to be cherishing these days because the anger and frustration mount up fast and heavy.

(Now, before I get a ton of emails telling me how I should adjust and change my life or my mind, this isn't how I feel every day.  This is not my normal. I appreciate being able to stay home, I do.  I think there are highs and lows of being here and doing this, but I never would chose to not do it.  We are currently in a readjustment period though and I am feeling the pain.)

Today though, Aiden was gone. I have been having a very difficult time with he and Cole fighting so often, but once he wasn't here it was all sorts of lonely for Cole.  Cole spent the afternoon clinging to me and asking me to play all sorts of things with him.  It was nice to spend some time alone with him while Stella slept for a while, but I also needed a break after a few hours. 

I do not enjoy playing Star Wars.  I believe it sucks.  Cole did not believe that people in the galaxy wanted to eat my eggplant Parmesan and was horrified that I was trying to stop playing so I could cook!

If you have more than one child, you understand the phenomenon of suddenly being without one, how it can feel like the most easy and freeing thing on Earth.  Whether you go from 2 to 1 or 3 to 2, it feels like a load off normally. 

Well, it felt like that on some level, but I mostly discovered that I desperately missed Aiden at bedtime.  I really missed watching him play with his brother and sister and make them so happy.  I was only one kid down but it felt like our family was totally out of whack.

I'm sure he had a good time, so I am very happy he went for that reason...but also because I think it's helping me a little with all my summer anxiety.  I have a renewed determination to relax and try to enjoy all of them.  If we don't get to the gym or we don't ever get to schedule that play date, so be it, I am vowing to chill the fuck out. 

Right now we have a tough timeline for our days.  It won't always be like this so we'll work it out while we are in this time of our lives.  We have trips and excursions planned and once those begin, time will fly and I won't have need or want for a routine that involves me being able to schedule anything more than a nap or an extra glass of wine.

I am going to relish in the fact that we have a street of children that my boys love and parents that I genuinely want to spend time with.  I will do what works for us and anything that feels forced or like something I just can't take will be abandoned without the guilt of who I am disappointing or what image I am not fulfilling. I will savor every leisurely, though perhaps late dinner prepared from my loot of Farmer's Market veggies.  I will not stress over an early wake up or late bedtime, but change the plans accordingly and roll with it. I must roll with it.  I really want to roll with it.

I tried to start this yesterday with a much extended trip to the outlet mall.  Things weren't easy and relaxing, but instead of stressing about Stella being late for her nap and barking "No!" the moment Aiden and Cole remembered ice cream was sold at that mall, I gave her an extra box of raisins and told the boys we could definitely go get some ice cream.  Who cares that we just had chocolate milk?  It's dairy day! 

She discovered that her biggest brother has ice cream and is willing to share, but not fast enough.

I want to spend more time enjoying this...

Giggling with this...

Being amazed by this...

I really want to try to do more driveway bubble/light saber time with these two...

Though I could totally handle a little less of this...

Or this...

But, I am going to try to dig deep for patience when these situations arise and chuck it all up to fun in the sun, like when the sun burns you and you are in pain for several days before you can resume normal life. 

Bear with me, I can't just leap to the constant joy thing, it's too unnatural.

I am genuinely going to give this relaxing thing some effort this summer though.  I need it, my kids need it and I think we'll all be a lot more happy if I can do it.  Fear not though, my sarcasm will abound and my frustration will no doubt be even more desperate to show up in these posts. 

We'll see how long I can last.

If moments like this keep coming up, I think I'll do pretty well. 


Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Sounds truly sucky. Wish I had a magic bullet. I’d shoot you right between the eyes and all YOUR problems would be over. Course, how I convince OO that Stella Really Really belongs here still remains to be seen.

Every day is Dairy Day in LyndaLand.

Or is that Diary Day since I signed up for 750 Words a day.

Hearing, validating, empathizing, sending hugs and clean towels.

Momfever said...

There's nothing like missing somebody to make you remember how much you love them. This always reminds me of a song: 'How can I miss you if you won't go away'. I often think about this song during summer vacation...

Prudently Painted Vintage said...

I know what you mean. When my daughter sleeps over places my son really misses her. He will ask for her over and over and then the same first thing when he wakes up the next day. I also agree with one of the comments saying "how can I miss you if you never leave"

By the way my daughter still has the profound need to have conversations with me while I'm going to the bathrOom. She is 11. Don't have false hopes. They never stop doing this :)

Army of Moms said...

I so know how you feel. Here is one of my tricks for having a fun summer with a napping child. GO to the park right BEFORE nap time. Get them all happy, little one falls asleep on the picnic blanket from exhaustion, the others play and you get to "rest" with the little one on the blanket. Bring an umbrella or a pop up cover for you. I escaped to the beach this way too when it was too hot.

Also get a movie to watch and start it just before nap time. Little one falls asleep big ones are quiet and you can relax just a little.

As for the "missing" child...I only have two so it gets REALLY quiet when one is gone.

Oh and I instituted "quiet time" in my house from 4-dinner. They could read books watch tv but quiet. Then I got to make dinner and rest a tiny bit each day. It also made the afternoon naps last longer.

Hope it helps.

Sue said...

Great post! The transition from this school year to summer has been more difficult for some reason. I'm feeling very disorganized. I totally get it, with Aiden gone for the night things are seemingly out of whack. But if you need a fill in sibling Sydney is almost the right age for the job! hahaha! Then I can go from a mom of a single child to single!!! Woo-hoo! Don't tell the husband! Kidding!!!