Wednesday, December 12, 2007
This too shall pass
I need to get a job, plain and simple. I mean a job outside the home. I really don't know how the stay-at-home moms of the world do it. I'm not talking about the stay-at-home part, I think I've got that licked. Everyday I get up and gather all the laundry from the day before and I run down and throw those in the wash. I then hurriedly start a pot of coffee and empty the dishwasher and re-load any dishes in the sink that came after loading last nights load. Then, I run upstairs and get all the kids up and get them dressed for the day. Granted, I no longer have to dress my 9 and 7 year-olds, but I do still have to convince them that getting up and going to school will one day be in their best interest. We recently started "reward charts" so lately I've only had to say, "If you want your sticker for 'getting up on time,' then you need to get up now." So, the kids roll themselves outta bed and get themselves dressed, all the while I'm changing the baby and getting her clothes on. After they've dressed themselves, I remind them to brush their teeth.."make sure you get every single tooth and don't forget your tongue!!" and "Sam, please remember to put deodorant on, cause you don't wanna get icky at school!" I do realize that at 9 years old he's not really gonna get icky and stinky, but I really want him to get into the habit now. He's got one 11 year-old friend who seriously needs some educating in the body odor department, but I haven't said anything out of fear of hurting his feelings. I just asked Sam if he noticed the smell his friend is emitting and reminded him that that is not a manly smell. Ok, back to morning routine. We all get downstairs and I quickly find out what everyone wants for breakfast and I whip it out like a pro. Then we, no scratch that, I review the day's school lunch and everyone decides if they want lunch at school or a packed lunch. Andrew, my 7 year-old, always wants a packed lunch. During all of this the baby is usually running around downstairs tugging on a toasted waffle. Sam then gets his daily medication and rushes out the door for his 6:30 a.m. bus pick-up. Sam goes to a school across post (we live on an Army post) because the elementary school nearest us only goes to 3rd grade, and so he has to leave a whole hour earlier than Andrew. I could just let Andrew sleep for an extra hour, but Sam doesn't think that's fair so I get them all up at the same time. Ok, so then there's me, Andrew, Olivia and my hubby, who is just rolling outta bed and getting ready to go to work. Olivia is still running 'round with our dog on her heels just waiting for her to drop one tasty morsel, which has actually saved me tons of vacuuming and sweeping. At this time I get to pour one God sent cup of coffee and sit down for few minutes while Andrew finishes his breakfast. My hubby comes down and gives what's left of us a kiss good-bye and heads off for his day. At around 7:30 me, Andrew and Olivia head out the door to walk him to school. This is after, of course, reminding Andrew at least 3 times to get his shoes on and get his backpack and lunchbox and then wrestling Olivia's socks and shoes on. We live right down the street from Andrew's school so when it's warm, we walk. Lately, though, I've been driving him. Andrew getting off to school usually ends the chaos of my morning. When Olivia and I get home I usually make her a bottle and usually she falls back to sleep for a morning nap. If that doesn't happen then the course of my day gets thrown off track and I get very little done. But let's assume that she takes her nap. After laying her down, I usually swap over the laundry that I started at dawn and sit down to finish the coffee I started earlier. That gives me a chance to check email, pay bills and look for free stuff online. I also get to think of all the things that kept me awake the night before and figure out when and how to get them all done. So, I make all necessary phone calls at this time, schedule appointments, arrange my calendar, plan for dinner and do any extra QUIET (so I don't wake the baby) cleaning. Olivia will usually wake up after about 30-45 minutes so then it's Oli time wholeheartedly. A few days ago I was talking to one of the Moms at Andrew's school who has a baby about the same age (18 months) and she was saying how her daughter always wants her to sit and watch Dora with her. My jaw dropped because Olivia pays absolutely no attention to the TV whatsoever. Now, some of you may say, "Oh that's great! TV is so bad for kids," but I was totally jealous because when Olivia is awake and the boys are gone, she is on my heels the entire time. She either wants to be on my hip or on my lap. Now, she'll settle for me sitting on the floor and giving her my undivided attention, but there's no way she's gonna touch those toys without me being right with her. We recently moved into a two story house. When we moved in I thought that it would be great because the toys would stay upstairs and the downstairs would stay nice and neat. The problem with that is that Olivia also wants to be upstairs with the toys and I can't leave her up there alone, so most of my free time is spent on the floor of her bedroom. I thought I'd taken care of that by bringing just a few of her toys down, but she doesn't really care about those toys unless I am also enthusiastically playing with them. Ok, so we play for a couple hours upstairs and I sneak away occasionally to make beds and do some general cleaning in the bedrooms and bathrooms. We have an upstairs gate so I don't have to keep my eye on her the entire time, but I don't ever leave the upstairs if she is up there as well. At lunch, I try to find something simple we can both eat and Nick usually comes home for about half an hour. He used to come home and grab a quick bite and then take a short nap on the couch. I quickly put a stop to that one because I've been up longer than him and, even though he doesn't realize it, I've been on the go all morning. So I usually hand Olivia off to him and sit down for a bit. Let me explain the sitting down part a little bit. When I say "I get to sit down," it doesn't mean that I get to rest my legs because with a baby/toddler you spend a lot of time on the floor or in a chair. What I mean is that I get to rest my head and not pay attention to every little thing the baby is doing. When I sit down to rest, I stop focusing on the daily demands of motherhood and think or not think. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the TV for just a few minutes without even paying attention to what's on. Sometimes I just go outside and look at the trees or cars going by and daydream about "the simple life." Everyone's problems are their own. I used to work with families and I remember having a mother of one complaining about the demands of parenthood, but then I also had a mother of eight also making the same complaints. To each their own. Anyhow, so hubby then leaves and it's me and Oli again. Playing or running errands. I hate running errands with a little one. It's not just one thing that makes it difficult, it's lots of things. Getting in and out of the car, for example. If she's game for going on a ride, she'll easily get in her car seat, but if not, she'll arch her back and scream and grab the straps and kick off her shoes and so on. Then when we get to where we're going I gotta wrestle the shoes back on and straighten her hair and coat. So we get to said destination. God forbid if there be a cart involved. She absolutely refuses to sit in the seat with the seatbelt on. She'll wriggle around until she's backward and flips herself into the cart. Once I didn't notice that she'd done that and I literally caught her by the ankles before she went head first into the back. Little devil. So I usually strap her in and push the cart by holding on to her thighs through the leg holes. The other customers are often put off because I am now the proud parent of "the screaming kid in the store," but I just don't make eye contact. Ok, so I get all my running done and get home just in time to get Andrew from school and welcome Sammy back home. UGH, homework time. Sam is such a smart kid, but we have really struggled with multiplication and division this year. I keep telling myself, "billions and billions of kids have gotten it....he will too," but I get so frustrated sometimes when he keeps asking the exact same question over and over again. Andrew's homework is not so tough yet, but it's the getting him to actually focus and get it done that's difficult. He sometimes just sits there playing with his pencil or gets distracted by Olivia and takes off on a rampage with her around the house. "Andrew PLEASE SIT DOWN!!" This is also the time when I start preparing dinner. Ohh, how easy it would be to feed them Kid Cuisines everyday and how they would certainly enjoy that, but alas, we can't afford that luxury. Now, homework is done, Andrew wants a snack, Olivia wants a snack and Sam desperately wants to spend the rest of his day playing Xbox (to which I usually respond with an evil stare). Snacks are given and outside the boys go. Olivia is crying cause she wants to go out too, but cannot because I'm too tired to run after her as she bolts for the street over and over again. I am finishing dinner with Olivia crying and snotty at my feet when Nick gets home from work. He usually takes Olivia and goes upstairs to change into his "home clothes." We get dinner out and all sit down to eat. Olivia makes huge messes, Sam seems to swallow his dinner whole and Andrew eats so slow that his usually has to be warmed up twice. Andrew is always complaining that he doesn't like what I've made, but Sam is usually excited that he gets to go play Xbox (grr) after dinner. Dinner is done and I'm cleaning up the kitchen...the counters, the table, the floor (what's left after the dog eats her share), loading dishwasher, putting away leftovers. Nick takes the baby to play during this and it gives me the chance to fold the dry clothes from this morning and take the basket upstairs, but once Olivia sees that I've gone upstairs she will usually cry until Nick brings her up so that she can dump the basket I've just folded. So I pick up the clothes that she's strung out and put each item in its proper place. This gives me and Nick the chance to sit down in the hallway and talk. We sit here so we can watch Olivia as she explores each bedroom looking for new and exciting things and occasionally hug the parent of her choice. Then, while we're up there, I'll plop Olivia in the tub and the boys will, in turn, get their showers. After mopping the bathroom floor of all the extra water that miraculously jumped out of the shower, I will take Olivia downstairs and get her a bottle for bedtime. NO, I don't put her to bed with a bottle. I give her a bottle downstairs, wait for her to fall asleep and then take her to bed. The boys get one hour of TV time before bed, which is usually the quietest time of our day and then they are out for the night. Nick and I usually watch about an hour of TV and then we go to bed. Olivia will almost always wake up around midnight and because I am so tired I just bring her to bed with us. Anyhow, that's my day in a nutshell....in a nutshell. So my point to all of this is that I do this every single day. I don't ever get to "come home" and play with my kids. I don't leave my job ever. Imagine if you lived at your work. I did work with my two oldest boys and I missed out on so much because of it. But I also enjoyed my time with them even more I think. I worry that now I take this time for granted because now I'm never away from them. I don't know, I guess I'm torn. My mantra....this too shall pass.