I am on a kid-free vacation.
I am alone in the warm Southern Arizona desert with my husband. No children around me. No diapers to change. No house to clean. No whining to listen to.
Just an occasional phone call from a kid to complain that the babysitter asked them to practice or from a kid telling me how fun that the babysitter made playdoh.
For weeks, I have anticipated this trip. I have been thrilled to have some alone time with my husband, excited to have some alone time with me! I've even gone so far as to say, "I think I even deserve a few days to myself." We haven't taken a trip alone since we had only three children. But this trip is ever reminding me that there is no denying, who I am. I am a mom. I have been reminded of it constantly.
Even, on a kid-free vacation...
When I sat down on the plane, I was excited to sit and read and enjoy some peace and quiet, but I kept watching the family in front of me...
The poor mother, who was trying to read her book, kept getting interrupted. First it was to find the cereal, then pour some milk from her Starbucks cup, then look for a spoon in her expansive carry-on. Then bless her heart, all of those things were returned to her, empty and used. I know the drill, being a garbage can is part of being a mother. I couldn't help but smile. Though I allowed her mothering to interrupt my non-mothering vacation. I am a mom. I wanted her to be able to read her book uninterrupted. It didn't happen. She is a mom.
As the plane ride was approaching landing, the young boy in front of me, was speaking loudly. He had ipod headphones on, and so of course, was compensating with a loud voice... The dad kept 'shushing' him, obviously, so he wouldn't annoy the people around them. If my kids had been with me. I would have been doing the same thing. That is one of the jobs of a parent, 'shushing kids' so they do not annoy others. It wasn't annoying me. It made me smile. I understood. I am a mom.
As I sat at on the hotel patio, during 'cocktail hour', sipping my Sprite, while my husband mingled with sprinkler associates, I couldn't help but notice the family that was passing by on their way to the pool. The young children wanted to stop and watch the goings-on. The parents trying unnoticabley to hurry their children on. Even a simple walk to the pool isn't always straightforward. Even though I was enjoying my quiet solitude, I am a mom. I understood.
When I approached my room, yesterday afternoon, I saw a galloping tween in front of me stop at the room next to mine. With gusto and energy, he unlocked his door. I smiled that a child was in the room next to me. I have been concious of checking my family of seven into a hotel room before, hoping the occupants of nearby rooms, don't see us enter. I am always relieved when other children are nearby. I hope the energetic tweens parents, don't shush him too much in their room. I am a mom. I understand noise.
Sitting at the hotel grill, eating my sandwich, I smiled as a young family approached. Thankful, that today I was eating my sandwich without breaking off bite-size pieces, and drinking from a straw that wasn't being shared with anyone else. There was no back-wash in my water.
When I want to go and sit by the pool, I am aware that I only have one swimsuit to put on and I only have one thing to carry, my book. I notice I have no floaties, no swimming diapers, no snacks. It is just me. I read when I want, I people watch when I want. Yesterday, I watched another mom, and I sighed a smile. It didn't feel quite right. I am a mom, yet for now, no one is sitting on me wet, and no one has said to me, "Watch me Mommy." It was odd when I stood up to leave the pool and heard no one whine when I was ready to leave.
I am a mom.
I can't escape it. Once a mom, always a mom.
Even on a kid-free vacation.
I decided to cook a 'Sunday dinner.' (A few months ago, for various reasons, I switched 'Sunday dinners' to 'Monday dinners'.)
But, Sunday I was hungry for a good meal. I reneged on my switch.
While cooking Sunday's meal:
I listened to complaints about the meal choice.
I received negative replies when suggesting the table be set.
I heard moaning about another task asked to be completed.
I could hear mean words exchanged between sisters.
I heard the tears after a shin was kicked by a sibling.
I was still hungry and tired.
I exchanged cross words with my husband, while I verbally spewed my regrets of fixing a dinner and not keeping with my original four month ago plan to not have Sunday dinners
I turned off all the stove burners. I pushed the stop button on the dinging microwave. I went to my bedroom and cried.
When I returned, my solitary place setting was still at the table.
It stayed there all day.
It was still there when I went to bed Sunday night.
It was untouched.
I cleared it Monday morning.
Motherhood is not always bliss.
Thank goodness for tomorrows.
About ten years ago, when I was only a year or so into being a mother, I was visited by two women within a multi-level sales company. I had bought some product at a recent party, and they called a few days later to come and visit with me. I was informed the visit would give one of the ladies some points towards a vacation. Politely, I agreed. I was not against giving anyone a favor.
The visit turned out to be more than a favor. It was their intent to try and get me to join their sales team. I politely told them I had no interest. In an attempt to sway me, they resorted to comments and questions, that though I am sure were not intended to demean-they did. "You'll have the opportunity to make a lot of money, wouldn't you want your husband to be really proud of you for something?" "Wouldn't you like to feel as though you are contributing to society?"
I sat there flabbergasted, that two women, one of which I knew was a mother, could ask me the questions they did. And as tends to be the case in most uncomfortable conversations, I thought of good responses too late. I wrote a letter not only to those two ladies, but to the corporate office.
In my letter ten years ago, my response to each question was such,
"My husband is proud of me. When he asks our daughter where her nose is, she points to it. I taught her that. Both my husband and I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in our day-to-day accomplishments with a one year old."
"When I am teaching my daughter the meaning of 'no,' I am contributing to society as I begin to teach her the basics of right and wrong."
I received apologies from all involved, and I recognize their questions were attempts to recruit me rather than to demean me.
But, I have never forgotten those questions they asked. Now, ten years and four more kids later, my answers to their questions are generally the same as they were ten years ago, albeit, more experienced now.
Since I became a mother eleven plus years ago, I have had little desire to step into the corporate world. Sure, there are days I fantasize about dressing up in a dry-clean only business suit and going to a restaurant without a play toy for lunch. I even imagine how I would spend a paycheck written out in my name, for the hours and efforts I worked.
But for now, my 'business attire' consists of jeans and a t-shirt (on a good day it's even clean, with no kid residue visible). My 'business meetings' are nothing fancier than a PTA board meeting in an available classroom. And my 'paychecks' right now are nothing more than slobbery kisses and an occasional thank you.
But I have no doubt, I am contributing to society as I raise my family, in my small corner of the world.
Years ago, Megan used to watch the PBS show, Zoom. Megan LOVED it. In fact, in our 'Family Council' Book, our records show frequently in 2003-2004, when it came time to Megan's 'Matters of Importance', week after week she would request, "I really need help sending something to Zoom."
Well, Zoom was taken off the air, and unless looking at past Family Council entries and laughing, we thought Zoom was forgotten. Until recently, when Megan discovered you can watch it on pbskids.org! Megan saw a fun game on there, and wanted to play it as a family.
Combine all that with (mine and) Mike's frugality plus a one year old baby, plus a boy we thought had a sore wrist, plus our satisfaction in staying home and making our own fun...
This is a peek at our Saturday Night 'Zoom Carnefel.'
Each person was in charge of their own activity.
Megan's (courtesy of Zoom) was 'Balloon Train.' We divided into two teams and paraded around the house with balloons between us. Joshua insisted on using his hands (not allowed) and Drew had his own version of the game.
Luke's game was (in his words); "It's like, 'Pin The Tail On The Donkey', but it is 'Put the drawing of the person closest to the side of Tatch (name of the horse) like when I fell off of it.' So with us each blindfolded with a Cub Scout kerchief, and a little twirl, we attempted our placements. Daddy won.
Ellie's game, was the most difficult. We had to pass pasta tubes from one straw to another. Megan and Daddy were the only ones that didn't use their hands... (The rest of us were finished and bored, by the time Daddy and Megan finished!)
Mom and Joshua's activity was ice cream tacos.
Daddy's activity was by far my favorite. (Sunday was Daylight Savings, and the clocks needed to go forward.) So...while Daddy played, "Name That Tune" on the piano with all of the children, I ran around to every clock in the house and put it forward one hour, to 8:33pm!
The Carnefel was SO FUN. Time just FLEW by!
When it was over,
It was bedtime.
Now that, is SMART parenting!
Many years ago, I was babysitting a four year old girl, whose parents were going through a divorce/break-up (actually I'm not sure if they were even married now that I think about it).
The little girl, with baby dolls and strollers, was playing house. As she played, I could hear her say things in a mad voice such as, "I don't want to have her tonight. It's your turn." or "I have things to do, I'm not watching her."
Of course I was shocked. But I realized, that our children 'play house,' very similarly to their real life 'house.'
And though I have heard my fair share of my own children playing 'real' house. I was thrilled when Drew found this baby doll on the floor yesterday. He picked it up, held it close to him, and "ahhh"-ed the doll as he rocked his little body side to side.
This time, I am proud to say, he learned it from ...
"The key to being a real cowboy, is to get back up on a horse when your
broken arm has healed properly."
The Cowboy's Mom
Friday afternoon, I watched as Luke held on for dear-life as the horse he was riding galloped towards home at full-speed. All I could do was scream, "Hold on Luke, hold on." And bless his heart he did, and then Luke could hold no more, and I watched my little cowboy, Luke, fall flat on the asphalt. He suffered scrapes and sores all over his little body... A three inch bruise/goose ache on his knee... A bruise/scrape/goose ache on his right elbow. And, a sore wrist. Or so we thought.
Mike and I spent most of Saturday in heated discussion regarding Luke's 'sore wrist.'
Luke spent nearly all of Saturday laying on the couch. His activities consisted of, Tylenol swallows, ice pack wraps, band-aid replacements and an occasional complaint.
Sunday morning, Mike took Luke to the church at 8:30am to set up chairs. Upon completion of that task, Mike (finally) took Luke to Primary Childrens Medical Center where a broken arm was diagnosed.
Ellie's response to all this?
"It's a good thing Grandpa didn't see it, because Luke wasn't wearing a helmet."
Joshua's response to all this?
"I don't want ride a horse and fall on the road."
Megan's response to all this?
Luke asks. Megan does.
Mike's response to all this?
"At least now Luke has a good story to tell. Not only does he have a broken arm from falling from a high speed galloping horse, he set up chairs before he was taken to the doctor!"
On top of my fridge I keep a ceramic jar with candy in it, chocolate to be specific. Periodically, I will offer the chocolate as a treat. It is an unspoken rule, that the children never help themselves to it.
The other day, Luke (as usual), was entertaining the neighborhood kids. The neighbor kids were delighted watching Luke ride along a piece of wood and then off of a bike jump... They were fascinated with all of his ropes that he had tied to this and to that... Luke soon came in explaining to me that he was having a show, and could he take out a treat for each of the kids that they can pretend to buy at the show? "Yes, fine," I replied, "They can each have one piece of candy."
In the meantime, Mike called to say he would be late getting home. Megan was choosing to not be as obedient as I would have liked. Dinner was hot and ready to be served. Drew was emptying drawers at my feet.
In a nutshell.
My patience was being put to its limit.
Drew and I sat alone and ate dinner, while the kids played outside.
Megan soon joined us.
The other kids soon trickled in, dismayed at dinner being eaten without them.
I went to the front of the house to turn on our outside lights. When I returned to the kitchen, there on the counter sat my ceramic candy jar. It was cold to the touch and had a single piece of candy in it and one empty wrapper.
My patience, unfortunately reached its limit.
"Where has this been?" I asked, more loudly than I'd have liked.
"Outside," came Luke's soft response, "I took it for my show."
"The whole thing?" I continued to question loudly, "It was full. How many pieces did everyone have?"
"I had two, Joshua probably had five and the other kids were going crazy wanting some," Luke admitted.
"Of course they were going crazy, wanting some. What kid wouldn't, when given free reign over that much chocolate?" I questioned.
I was mad. I will not detail the next few minutes for the world to see, but to ease my tantrum, I left for a little while. And, my husband, being the good man he is, cleaned the kitchen spotlessly, and enlisted the children to get into action fast. They worked, practiced and cleaned.
I returned home an hour later. Feeling sorry for myself and my lack of patience, feeling sorry for my children that they have an inpatient mother, and feeling sorry for Mike, having to come home from a days work to 'that.'
Sitting on my kitchen counter sat the following:
For the first time in a few hours, I smiled.
I immediately went and found Luke, who was obediently, sitting at the piano practicing. As I hugged him and thanked him for the card, he told me the money was to buy more chocolate. I told him that would probably be the right thing to do, but he didn't have to spend five dollars on it. I thanked him for his generosity. As Luke's little repentant face looked up at me, I hugged him again, apologizing for my outburst. "It's just chocolate," I humbly admitted. "It was nice of you to want to share."
That night, as I relaxed in a bubble bath, reading an uplifting magazine article, referring to a faithful dad, I read,
"As children, blessed with such parents, we can feel heartfelt gratitude for
their simple yet profound examples and sacrifices."
And I realized, that for that day, it was the other way around.
I felt blessed for my children, and felt heartfelt gratitude for
their simple yet profound examples and sacrifices.
Back during the Christmas shopping season, I happened to come upon a DVD on Amazon, that I thought might capture my kid's attention. (With the exception of Megan, rarely do my kids watch a movie from beginning to end.) Upon arrival of the DVD in the mail, I began to have second thoughts about giving it to Luke for Christmas. I thought he would be somewhat disappointed to receive a DVD, even if it was about a horse.
A few days later, Mike and I were leaving Megan in charge to babysit one evening. To help ease Megan's burden of four children, (three of which get very hard to manage for her) I decided to call upon my 'magic skills' and abracadabera-d a movie, 'Horse Crazy .'
That evening we came home to four very happy children, who could.not.stop.talking. about the movie. "Tyler," "Wild Mustangs," "Nevada," "Stoney Davis," etc. etc. All the kids watched it again twice the next day. That night, Mike watched it with them. Monday, while the kids were at school, Joshua wanted to watch it again. Only problem was, he snapped it in half getting it out of the case.
To make a long story short, a few weeks later, Nana replaced the ever-mourned, 'Horse Crazy' DVD. That day the children watched it two times. It has been watched at least daily ever since.
All day, everyday, Joshua dresses up in some home-made chaps and vest (thank you Halloween 2007), too-big cowboy boots with spurs, black cowboy hat of Lukes and with two ropes wrapped around his arms, he recites,
"My name is Stoney Davis. I from da gwate tate of Texas. In Texas I ride quawter horses and live on a tousand acre wanch."
And then he sits down to watch the movie.
Except sometimes, he just recites the line while doing something else. (It is stuck in his head, just like a line to a song.)
(In fact, it has even happened to me. One day I found myself busy with my own tasks, several times beginning to say, "My name is Stony Davis...")
To make the story even shorter.
I had a temper tantrum the other night. Yes, you read that right. Me, the mother, had a temper tantrum. It went something like this.
I AM DONE!
NO MORE STONEY DAVIS.
I CAN'T STAND IT. I AM CONSTANTLY TRIPPING OVER ROPES, OR SPURS OR COWBOY HATS.
I DO NOT WANT TO TIE THE CHAPS ONE MORE TIME.
I CAN'T EVEN STAND THE MOVIE, IHAVE THE WHOLE THING MEMORIZED AND I'VE NEVER EVEN SAT AND WATCHED IT.
PLUS, THAT OLDER BROTHER IS A BAD ACTOR, I AM DONE!"
And with more than a little drama, I scooped up the cowboy boots and spurs and put them in a high cupboard. I ordered Luke to hide the chaps and vest in the dress-up box. I opened the mud-room door and threw the ropes in the garage. And for added effect, I slammed the door.
Obviously, no one was on my side. The next morning, all the kids were at school. Drew was napping, I was on my bedroom floor folding laundry. Quietly, and very sweetly, I hear. "Can you help me put on da chaps? I gonna be Stoney Davis. Where are da wopes?"
I have decided to really hear the words of our dear, 'grandpa-aged' friend. Last night he said, "One day, you'll miss having the ropes to pick up or the boots to trip over."
And so, I guess, I'm not done.
Stoney Davis is part of our family.
At least, for now.
Today I bought my last cans of formula. I've imagined this event for years. I thought I'd be happy. After all, formula is very expensive and I have formula fed four of our five babies from week one. We have spent a lot of money on formula. I don't even want to imagine the total cost. But, it was with bittersweet feelings, I pulled the formula off of the shelf at Costco this morning. And as I often do, I got a little teary eyed...
Another stage is soon ending.
I love flower bouquets at Costco. I always gaze at them. I don't often buy flowers for myself, unless Luke is with me, then I sometimes do. Luke always wants "to get some flowers for you mom." Which interpreted means, he picks them out and I pay for them.
As I walked by the flower display today at Costco, still processing my 'no more formula' feelings, I had a fabulous idea. Each time a stage ends that I am a little teary eyed about, I will buy myself flowers! But, so as not to be selfish and wallow in my own self-pity, I will find somebody to share them with that needs to be cheered up far more than me.
This morning, I handed over a beautiful half bouquet of yellow roses, to a dear neighbor and friend who had yet to make any contact with any of her Chilean family members following the earthquake in Chile. With tears in both of our eyes, we embraced. The flowers offering a simple expression of love.
As I look at my beautiful half bouquet of roses sitting on my table, I count my blessings.
So it is no secret, I don't LOVE holidays. But, I often love to make random days into something. And as I explained last year, March 2nd is one of those days.
BUT, this year it is even bigger and better.
I'll give a little background.
1. Having a baby, means age is marked in months. Each 30th, I have announced how many months Drew is that day...
Aagh-slight problem, this month; there is no February 30th.
(And if you remember, I was VERY picky about Drew NOT being born on March 31st, as he'd never be able to have a 'real half birthday.')
2. Occasionally, the kids will ask how many months they are, and we will all practice our 12 times-tables, plus a little addition and we'll come up with the answer.
Well guess what?
I am so excited.
Think, random day/Dr Seuss day/half-birthday/how many months old today-and you have one very exciting day at our house...
Today of course is March 2nd, so not only will the kids find the Dr Seuss book on the kitchen table, but Drew is technically 11 months old today,
and Luke, is exactly 100 months oldtoday!
Wow! For all that to fall on one random day, makes today extra special.
Forget just the Dr Seuss book. Today might even include a cake (Luke's request), and it will definitely be chocolate (my request).
Really-who needs silly holidays like Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day or even Halloween, when you've got Dr Seuss day combined with someone turning 100 months old and 11 months old.