Thursday, December 22, 2011

you're right.  that didn't sound like a genuine holiday greeting.
being jolly and enthusiastic is not hard-wired in to my blood.
i have to work at that. . .or fake it most days.:)
i'm trying.  it's hard for me, though.
balancing out the beauty and excitement of this season amongst the barn animals 
that live in my house, 
is tricky.
because they do things like this.
"what?  it's just an acorn in the toilet.  yeah, a little weird, but so what?  i've seen worse."

yeah, let me just tell you, before this shot was taken, it was floating under charlie's dimply little behind, amongst some friends.  charlie yelled to me to come help wipe his butt and this is what i saw.  i screamed.  "CHARLIEEEEEEEEEEE."  thinking for SURE he ate this.  he didn't.  he just grabbed it from my beautifully decorated staircase and tossed it in there.  merry christmas.
so i spared you the 'original' image.  but you get the picture.  . .this is my house during the holidays.
never a dull moment.
never a moment without a bump or a bruise,
ALWAYS someone whining, complaining, demanding, crying, talking, asking 35 million questions i don't have the answer to.
and i TRY, TRY, TRY to dig up more patience each day, stop and listen, get down on my knees to hug a little body, kiss an owey (no idea how to spell that,) respond wholeheartedly with the most educated answer i can come up with. . .but some days. . .
just shut up, already.
and the holidays are no different.
sometimes i'm looking for that switch that turns everyone off for a minute so i can hear myself think.
it's never ending and sometimes SO hard to stay centered in what this season means,
amongst the chaos.  some days i do it with the greatest of ease.
most days, not.
trying to bake cookies is a great example of that.
a fun, holiday festivity that SHOULD be enjoyable and memorable.
i get organized, i set everything up before hand, the kids are excited to bake and create,
i want to capture sweet moments with my children that don't involve anger and frustration.  but that rarely happens.
jack is the only one that cares and gets in to it.
grace just sat there dipping her fingers in flour (thinking it would taste good, like sugar,)
and sneaking little balls of raw dough in to her mouth.  which initiated my shouts of,
she doesn't care.
charlie just wants to make messes and build stuff.  and would rather wait for the finished product when he can stuff his face.  he's smart.
somehow, he manages to STILL be covered in flour, despite having little to do with the baking.
whatevs.  i can deal with messes.  those are a dime a dozen.
but it's the CONSTANT bickering.  "i want that one!  i want it!  he took it from me! that's MMMMIIIINNNNNNNEEEEEE!!!!!!"
that sends me over the edge.  their inability to just sit nicely and focus on what's in front of them.  but they can't.  they're kids. 
and i'm sure it's my partly my fault, a weak link in my parenting.
but it doesn't change the fact that they're jerks most of the time and PER USUAL,
i need to work on my approach with them.  and my reactions.
i just kept breathing.  biting my lip.  reminding myself in my mind, that they'll be gone,
ALL of this will be gone.  THEY'LL be gone, before we know it.  out of the house, college, married maybe.  traveling.  no longer having a use for old mom.  and i'll kill for these days.
so i come back.  to the moment.  no matter how painful.:)
jack did his thing. 
enjoying it.  trying his best not to pummel grace with red hots, who's been asking for it.
charlie decorated the best he could.
wow.  that looks delish.
and did a great job eating, of course.
and the results,
well they were perfect as perfect could be.  there were headless reindeer.
santas douched in glitter.
despite the darling decor, cookie-baking and holiday festivities,
it's still business as usual.  and then some.  despite good intentions,
over-stretched imaginations on our part, as parents, to be fun
get cool gifts for our kids who, well, really only deserve a quarter of what we buy them,
but we too, can easily get caught up in the excitement and want to spoil them, 
they're still kids.  and only kids once.
but they're a lot of work.
the have a knack for sucking the life out of what could be really awesome moments.
they're unappreciative and disrespectful and unaware of how much we DO for THEM.
there's still 7am hockey that brian and i get in to some SERIOUS negotiations over.
who will sacrifice their morning, swapping a cozy comforter for an ICE cold hockey rink.
bah humbug.
no one wants to do that.  freeze their a** off in the wee hours of the morning.
while other civilized families are waking up slowly, sitting to french toast breakfasts as a family,
still cozy in their jammies.  not this season.  not for us.
but again, AS ALWAYS, there's still much to see, from the lamp light of our cozy kitchen.

 a full moon at breakfast, even if it's an hour late.
EMBRACE the children we are raising.  no matter HOW difficult it is to do, some days.
{found grace a new coat.  HAD to get it.  so her.  and me.  not the outfit i was hoping she'd wear it with. . .still covered in flour from cookie baking too, but, hey.  i don't argue over clothing anymore.}
but i DO still get stuck.  often.
in a weird and inconsistent, inauthentic place.
i LOVE the character of olympia dukakis in steel magnolia's, one of my favorite movies and ultimate chick flix of all times.
but her character says, 
"as somebody always said, if you can't say anything nice about anybody, come sit by me."
i love that.  partly because it's true.  partly because she says it with such grace and elegance, and makes it sound ok to judge and gossip.  and that is how i often feel.  full of judgment.  attitude.  self-righteousness.
but i don't like it either.  it feels gross.  it does nothing for me but make me feel worse.
takes me away from the ONLY things i should be focused on. . .being a good mother.  being a good wife.  being a good friend.  being a good person.  keeping my house clean.  my kids healthy.
and i am reminded of that SO often. . .when my confidence in myself or my beliefs starts to grow, someone, some THING, always yanks the reins on me.
i am fish-hooked back to reality on a daily basis when i get caught up in that negative pattern.  the MINUTE my ego starts to inflate or i get too big for my britches, bragging to a friend about how great grace has been, or jack, or charlie.  
and it seems within MINUTES, a sly chuckle from GOD, a shift in the universe, a parting of the clouds, finds me in a situation where i'm knocked right back down that ladder i was climbing up so nicely.  heh!  i am taught another lesson.  about humility. 
grace had an epic meltdown to prove my point,
after WEEKS of angelic behavior (which i was bragging to a friend about, of course,)
in the car, because she didn't want to go to cheerleading, yet was BEGGING to only five minutes before.  she was so distraught all of a sudden, that i thought i'd have to pull over and check her for a pulse.  she was beside herself, practically banging her head against the window, kicking, screaming.  she's got the tantrum down pat, after 5 years of practice.  charlie started crying because he was so upset about her screaming.  our sweet minivan turned into a complete gong show.  jack and i staring blankly forward in to oncoming traffic, wondering what the hell just happened and MAKE IT STOP!
and oddly enough, i just kept driving, stone faced.  made some crack to jack about women.
"IF and WHEN you get married someday, my son?  make sure she's not crazy."  he just looked at me, laughed.  "yeah.  seriously."
it's amazing.  and in those moments.  my rage gets the best of me, usually.  the situations where i'm clearly not in control and can't do anything to make it better, other than remove her/him/them from our space.  so i drove home.  skipped cheer class.  told her we were done with that.  let her scream.  carried her up to her room, this perfect angel otherwise, kicking and screaming still.  and slammed the door.  she climbed under her covers and fell asleep.  and then you just feel like a jerk.
she's exhausted.  and probably hungry.  and only 5.  and i should have seen that.  and we probably could've skipped tonight anyway.
parenting is SO much more than what others think.  it's trusting your gut, using your intuition to guide YOU in what's best for THEM.
and there's the laughable mundane and monotony of this job, that although often exhausting, never ceases to amaze me.
like, when?  when in the journey of being a stay at home mom, did i decide everything have to be covered in a duvet?  like the duvet that covers my sweet little angel?  what happened to beautiful floral print comforters that you could so easily toss over a bed, pull taught in an instant?  when and why did i decide to switch EVERYone's bedding to a down comforter stuffed lumpily in to a duvet?  i hate you.  but i love you.  the fluffiness and softness that tired little bodies sink in to at the end of a long and over-stimulating, tantrum-throwing day.
after two (many) weeks of being neglected, finally getting all the kids' bedding in to the wash, then wrestling (literally,) with it while jack struggles to get his homework done so we're not rushing to get it done 5 minutes before school and while the other 2 monkeys are bathing, i curse the duvet and my inability to once again, let go of something that will make my life SO much easier.  but no.  rachel ashwell and shabby chic at target has sucked me in.  and here i am.  punching cotton linens while grace and charlie turn the bathroom in to a fricking flood scene.
and as i try to talk to the rage building, this lovely time of year, put a lid on it before it blows all the garland and twinkling lights out of my house, trying to find the positive. . ."oh.  let 'em be.  they're having so much fun.  and i haven't heard grace laugh like THAT in so long.  you've been meaning to scrub the floor in there anyway.  now it's soapy and wet.  half way there."  in the meantime, thinking i'm awesome for being so chill-axed and talented for so swiftly getting the duvet in and keeping my temper in check, then realizing the cover is inside out!  DAMNIT!
these are the nights.  the days.  where the smallest things seem to set me off, in to a rage of fury, frustration. . .but where i hate myself for behaving so dramatically in front of the kids.
ahhhhhhhhhhh. . .deep breath in, deep breath out.
but it's the end of the day, no matter the season, the bedtime routine, although ALWAYS full of chaos and stress,
that and in the late hours of the evening, 
before my large head hits my own pillow,
shoving chubby little thighs in to old man jammies.

oh my.  there IS nothing cuter than these jammies.  they are keepsakes.
oh.  and a little pre-bedtime stretch.  gotta' break in those pj's.
the puff of their little chests breathing in, breathing out.  rest and peace in their tiny,  overworked minds. . .that brings it all back around again.  the reason.
a 3-year-olds round little belly and pruney post-bath fingertips. . ."PRUNEY'S!"  he yells as he giggles his face off, running naked up and down the hallway, the cutest butt cheeks you've ever seen.
again, i remind myself.  how quickly these moments will pass, so i continue to learn to bite my tongue and breath these little beings in. 
pulling soft, innocent hair into little ponytail holders, a 5-year-old that stares in to the mirror and thinks she looks beautiful. . .doesn't care how perfect her hair is or how many pieces are falling out because they're not quite long enough yet.  SO grateful for this and yet, fearing the future, knowing my own obsessions and nonsense as a young teen, how can i keep her from the same torture.  eh. . .i'll worry about that another day.
for now.  she's perfection, just as she is.
{even if she DOES look like Tattoo from fantasy island, in this picture.}
the kind-hearted words of a special 7-year-old, who, in the quiet hours of the evening, when the noise has been capped and it's just the two of us, "mom?  have i ever told you you're the greatest mom in the world?  and that i love you?"  of course, my first reaction is, "what do you want.  what are your motives?"  "what?  what's a motive?"  "are you buttering me up?  saying nice things because you want something?"  he giggles.  "no mom.  i just wanted to tell you that.:)"  oh, my heart.
and this is why.  whether it's genuine or not, that we keep going.  sluff through all the mud and the muck, the packing of lunches, the washing of clothes, the wiping of faces, the sleepless nights, the doctors' visits. . .
we get paid each day, in little ways.
whether in their sweet morning faces, the funny things they say and do each day,
the pride.
they have mass at jack & grace's school every thursday and the first graders hosted a few weeks back.
so i went, since jack was going to be speaking in it.  i was SO nervous for him,
although he could've cared less about it.
he got up to the podium.  read his lines.  made eye contact with the audience.  read slowly and clearly.  like he was BORN to do this.
me, holding my breath the whole time.
i told brian i thought i was going to burst.  the pride, in just those 7 short little words he read,
was amazing.
so much so, that i grabbed the sleeve of the little old lady next to me.
i whispered loudly in her ear "that was my son!"  forcing her to wince and turn down her hearing aid.
who does that?
i did.  i couldn't help it.
and watching him play hockey, although a part of the routine, is equally as exciting.
because it's my kid out there.  
sweet skin and rosy cheeks, innocent eyes peeking behind metal cages. . .moms huddled together with their iphones or a good book, their cute boots, dads huddled with their travel mugs, mitten-less hands. . .because they're tough.  but all there for the same reason. 
their love for their child.

he's not the strongest skater, but skates with confidence and fire.  this fills me with such an intense pride and joy, i can hardly stand it and want to throw up when i watch him play.
but THAT it is.
that feeling in the gut.  that, no matter the season, or the stress or the chaos that distracts us sometimes,
pushes us to be better, try harder.
love them more, do more to make their life amazing, while giving them the tools to grow up and be better too.  but also be better as a TEAM.  a wife and a husband.  and find the things that will make you BOTH better so you can give THEM what they need.
wishing you a JOY and PEACE filled Christmas.
good health and the energy and inspiration to be better.


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