Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On the Other Hand

Ellie-5th grade, Megan-10th grade, Luke-7th grade, Joshua-2nd grade, Drew-kindergarten

The first day of school was difficult for me in many ways, but on the other hand. I am sooooo glad to see summer over. I think I thrive better on routine, order and systems, and I am not good about incorporating that too much into the summer. Summer leaves me torn between letting my children be children and preserving my mental health. I think I lent more towards letting them be children this year, and I'm fairly certain my mental health suffered.

So, when my last child was finally gone to school on Monday, I bought myself a bouquet of fresh flowers and then came home and cleaned. I didn't just do the usual twice weekly vacuum, this time I vacuumed behind couches and under end-tables. I vacuumed up crumbs, strings and who knows what from the last 12 weeks of a full house.

I then sat down at my clean kitchen table with one of my favorite lunches...cheese, tomatoes and crackers. I turned on the radio for some noise, (I love peace and quiet but it isn't exactly normal for me.) and basked in my alone-ness.

Then I looked at the clock and realized how soon the early-out elementary children would be arriving home, and I admit to feeling a little bit of disappointment with the shortness of my alone time.

After all those kindergarten tears, it turned out to be quite a wonderful two hours, and I'm really not worried about ever feeling "alone."
(Yes two hours a day is about all I'll get alone this year. PM kindergarten + a high school schedule=not too much alone time)

Monday, August 25, 2014

And Then There Were None

(Drew was more confident going to kindergarten today than I remember any of my others being. But I loved that the second he hopped out of the suburban, his little hand reached for mine.)

I wasn't prepared for the drive to kindergarten today. Despite having jokingly begged Drew for weeks to stay home with me for just a couple more years, I was still feeling in fairly decent spirits as I fixed him a peanut butter sandwich and some chocolate milk for lunch. But then we got in the car, and before I knew it I was crying. I couldn't believe, I was driving my last child to their first day of kindergarten.

I remember taking Megan to her first day of kindergarten in 2004. I had 2 year old Luke dragging closely behind me, one hand carrying Ellie in her car-seat and the other hand grasped in Megan's, as I took her into Shelley Elementary in American Fork. I cried as I drove to Chili's in American Fork to meet my sister-in-law for lunch.

I remember taking Luke to his first day of kindergarten in 2007. I actually think I left 4 month old Joshua and 3 year old Ellie at home this time. I left Luke in the classroom at West Bountiful Elementary and cried as I drove home.

I recall taking Ellie to her first day of kindergarten in 2009. She had her hair in pig tails tied with pink ribbons and she held my hand tight as I took her into the school. I like to think somebody stayed home with Joshua and Drew, but unfortunately my memory is blurry. Although I do remember crying as I walked back to the car.

I remember clearly taking Joshua to kindergarten in 2012. I think I cried on the way there, I know I did as I hugged him goodbye, and I know I did as Drew and I returned home alone. Just me and him. No longer did I have 2 children awaiting my attention at home. Only one child alone with me felt strange for several weeks.

I'm quite positive I will remember today. The day I took my baby to kindergarten. Despite the fact he has gone to preschool a couple days a week for the last two years, kindergarten feels different. It is different. My baby has started the real school system. And even though kindergarten is sort of a wasted year (to me), it still seems strange that just shy of 16 years with someone still at home with me, all of my children are in school.

Though I have never been a fan of half-day kindergarten, I think today I am! After leaving the kindergarten parking lot today, sobbing. (Yes. Sobbing.) I am sooooo glad, Drew will still be with me each morning for one more year. I'm hoping all of my tears will get out this year, and I will anxiously await my all-day alone time next year.

But today was hard. Too many big changes for one school day.
I walked Luke to the junior high bus stop, and even though he hugged me and let me kiss his cheek in front of all of the fellow bus riders, I cried the whole way home. There's something about 7th grade I do not like, and it was hard for me to let Luke go this morning. And Megan going to high school? I'm not quite sure how that happened. I'm pretending it isn't really true. Ellie in 5th grade, and Joshua in 2nd were a little less traumatic for me, but teary nonetheless.

I have anticipated this day for years...I remember taking Megan to kindergarten and wondering how it must feel to be sending the youngest instead of the oldest. Back then I imagined feelings of thrill, excitement and slight jealousy that my time was so far away. But I have realized how quickly it comes around in due time.

It's bitter and it's sweet.
Something only another mother would understand.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sometimes I Do Hard Things

There was a time a few years ago when someone asked me if I would lead/conduct a song at church and I responded, "I would rather give a talk naked than do that!" I was then given the assignment of a prayer instead. I've NEVER had much musical confidence, and certainly not in leading music. Part of the problem comes from not being able to figure out what "the beat is", and the other part of the problem is feeling like an idiot waving my hand in the air. And I guess another part is the same question I have as Luke, "Why do you really need someone leading the music?"

Sometimes, I do hard things and over the last couple years I have really made a deliberate effort to (somewhat) learn to conduct music, and did it last year in a very small meeting.

Sometimes I do even harder things...

Like last Sunday, my dear friend Lori was going to be absent from church. Her role each Sunday is to lead the older children (8-11) singing in Primary. (The children's organization in the LDS church.)  A few weeks ago, in a weak moment, I committed to being her substitute.

I'll sum up my past experience and expertise in the area in Mike's simple comment when I told him a month ago what I had committed to do...

His reply? "Oh dear."

So much for that boost of confidence.
So then I told Megan, and her reply was something along the lines of, "You?"

Thanks to her too.

To make a long story short, Sunday was my big debut. Somehow in the days preceding my leading, Mike was asked to play the piano. (Served him right for his "Oh Dear!" comment.) He ended up only playing the opening song, and Megan took over for the rest of them. (He didn't feel confident or able to do the "spontaneous" song choices that my singing time activity required.)

It felt a little bit like a Sowby Family Circus with me conducting, and both Megan and Mike having taken a turn at the piano, but then turned into even more of a circus when the "Singing Time Dice" that was rolled required "stand on one leg" for the duration of a song. Not only did I have to wave a hand self-consciously in the air, while sweating profusely, I also had to stand on one foot IN HEELS, all while singing right along. As if I wasn't feeling self-conscious enough, I happened to look over to my left and saw the Primary President taking a photo of me!

What????? A permanent record of my circus act for all to see?!

Speaking of that "Singing Time Dice" that I used, there was one option on it for "No Chorister". I told the children ahead of time if they rolled that choice, I would personally deliver them a treat that evening. (Only one child rolled it, but she is my new favorite Primary child now.)

One of the options was, "No Piano". Both Megan and I were mildly concerned for this one in the days previous,as we are both well aware of my inability to sing on-key. When one of the children rolled it, I found myself looking over to Megan for some kind of immediate help and escape, and instead found her trying not to laugh. Fortunately she played a nice intro, and then I looked to a capable adult in the room to start everyone.

What a day.

Then, as if enough Sowbys hadn't participated in Senior Primary, Ellie was assigned to give the closing prayer. As proud as I am/was of doing something so completely out of my comfort zone, I am glad the  Sowby Family Meeting last week's Primary meeting is now just a memory. I'd much rather teach or speak than wave my hand in the air while people sing.

Oh well! I did it! I did something hard. When my friend later emailed me the following photo, she praised me for doing hard things and complimented me for staying right on beat! (At least I was during the balanced-on-one-foot song.)

On beat and on one foot in red heels while conducting a song.

I can do hard things.
Yay me.

(Not sure why my mouth is closed here. I was singing too!)

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Fairy?

The long awaited day arrived recently...Joshua FINALLY lost his first tooth. He and Megan had a co-op effort to remove the tooth, and it was immediately placed under his pillow to await the over-rated yet highly anticipated tooth fairy.

Joshua woke up earlier than usual on Friday morning, and with a big grin on his face announced, "I got a dollar from the tooth fairy." His toothless grin and excitement over the mysterious placement of money under his pillow made me feel encouraged that I'd chosen laziness and had slept through my early morning Pilates class and was still in bed to greet him.

I like to think I somehow deserved the reward of seeing his early morning elation regarding a dollar bill under his pillow.

Luke on the other hand, upon waking up greeted me in my bathroom and asked in a somewhat accusing manner, "Why did you hit me in the face last night?" Despite no one else being around, I gave him that "mother look" and in a hushed voice said, "I wasn't in your room last night." To which his all-knowing 12 year-old prowess stated, "Well the Tooth Fairy is violent and she says bad words" as he turned to leave me to apply my mascara with no further interruption.

Forget the children. Where's the person that started the dumb (d_ _ _?) tooth fairy tradition in the first place? I have a few words to say to them?

Do they not know that the summer has already taken a toll on this mother?

Do they not know the skip in my step as I walked down the upstairs hall late the other night, encouraged that for the first time in A LOT of lost teeth the highly esteemed and sometimes forgetful Tooth Fairy was actually coming on the FIRST NIGHT???

We'll let my late-night Facebook Status tell the rest of the story....

For the first time in A LOT of lost teeth, the Tooth Fairy finally remembered to come on the FIRST night. Except as she tiptoed into the dark room, she tripped on a cardboard "airport", and fell onto the toothless sleeping child. The fall made enough noise to wake the nearby 12 year old, and as she went to hug him goodnight she elbowed him in the eye. Which caused him to make a loud noise, which made the Tooth Fairy realize she needed to get out of the room quickly before her identity was at risk. While leaving, she stepped on a sharp object and may or may not have said a bad word out- loud. The Tooth Fairy is still suffering the effects of having a sharp object jammed into her foot.
Whose dumb idea was a Tooth Fairy tradition?

Knowing full well Megan's displeasure in being assigned a responsibility to actually DO a secretive task, Megan had instead been threatened enlisted and strongly encouraged to not let the Tooth Fairy forget her duties. Megan didn't fail.

Except her timing was slightly off. She came into my bedroom to remind me about the visiting Tooth Fairy as I laid in my bed nursing a sore foot due to aforementioned sharp object jamming. I was a little less than cheery towards her and likely didn't thank her for her reminder. Which I didn't need.

In case you forgot... I remembered it all on my own.
Although I may think twice about remembering it next time.

D_ _ _ Tooth Fairy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh the Memories

Today I got a new computer! Hallelujah.

Our old desktop was getting old and slow, and the most recent virus it contracted became its cause of death. I will not miss it.

I digress. In trying to access what files exactly I have on this new computer, (Easy--none actually.) somehow I connected to some old videos from an old cell phone. Don't ask me how I came upon it. (Absolute proof that nothing really goes away these days)  The video is from the first smart phone I got, in April 2011. ...this is likely onee of the first videos I recorded on it.

Look at my baby.
Look at him!
He was barely 2 years old.
Now he is 5 years old.
Today he learned to tie his shoes.

You don't have to watch this, it's probably something mainly a mother wants to see. But today it made me smile, and was yet one more reminder of how the days are long, but the years are short. And though this little recording or him singing likely seemed such a "little thing" that evening recording Drew laying on the bed with Mike, more than 3 years later, it's a big thing.

I heart my baby.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Renewal

I had one high expectation this summer...that I wouldn't feel worn down by the beginning of August like I usually do. I have fallen terribly short of reaching that expectation.

I am extremely worn down.
I am snappy, and ornery, and I honestly daydream about becoming "one of those mothers" that runs away. You know the kind. The ones that don't come back into their children's lives until they are grown adults.

There. I've admitted my weakness out loud, and it already feels better to admit it aloud. (Well, I did also admit it to Mike last week. Problem was, I think he was concerned I was serious. Which I guess I kind of was. It had been one of those days.) Somehow it is therapeutic to write out my weakness for everyone to see. Besides writing on this blog, is cheaper than a good hour with a therapist.

Anyway, I digress. This was and is intended to be a lovely, beautiful uplifting post, where the joy of motherhood oozes from the words. So let's try again.
This evening I decided to go on a bike ride with my three boys. (I had intended to go alone, but that didn't happen...) A little way into it, Luke offered to return home with Drew and let me enjoy it without Drew cutting me off and making me have to brake every few inches. Joshua and I continued the bike road alone. It was a lovely cool (for August) evening and Joshua and I rode along for 5 miles or so.

I didn't have my phone with me, so I wasn't able to capture a photo. But I'm actually glad about that. Sometimes mind photos are the best anyway.

Joshua rode ahead of me much of the way, his small little bum going side to side as he stood on his pedals riding as fast as his little legs would go. On our return home, I was reminded of exercising with Joshua and Drew years ago. This particular moment I recorded HERE came to mind. And I was suddenly thrust into a sentimental memory while my little boy ahead of me pedaling reminded me how quickly the years have passed since he was a barely three year old child running ahead of his stroller.

Joshua is my sweet child. Caught alone with that boy, he reminds me of all that is good, peaceful and beautiful in the world. He is the peacemaker and the giver of the family. The more passive personality among the assertive companions he lives with. Joshua is an antithesis of his mother.

As we rode along on our bikes tonight, a bench up ahead caught my eye and I called ahead to Joshua to wait for me at the bench. And then we stopped, relaxed and visited together. We sat side by side on the bench, with Joshua's red mohawk helmet on his head and enjoyed the views of the beautiful mountains I love. The same mountains I look at daily from my kitchen and family room windows, they are stalwart and un-moving and  rarely a day goes by that I don't look at them in some metaphorical, deep way.

Joshua and I then raced home on our bikes. Joshua clearly beat me by a long-shot and I was greeted with a big trademark Joshua smile as I approached the trail head.

Whether it was Joshua, the mountains, the fresh air, or a tender mercy from God that refreshed my heavy heart tonight doesn't matter. What matters is I am reminded to keep showing up, and to keep pressing forward. Motherhood isn't supposed to be easy. Neither is summer vacation. But sometimes those brief moments come along and I'm reminded that it isn't as complicated and hard as it so often seems. This quote by President Uchtdorf in one of my favorite talks ever reminds me, "There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions."

My blog has been somewhat neglected this summer, but I am reminded tonight, that when I take the time to put my thoughts and feelings into words, things just feel better. And even though tomorrow I'll still have arguing children, crumbs on the counter, abandoned socks in every room, and pee on the toilet seat, my children are only young once. These days will not last forever.

I know that.
I need to remember it every minute of every day.

The days are long, but the years are short.


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