Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

We are currently on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a 25 hour journey. No, we didn't take the world's biggest detour, but driving for 12 hours with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 month old is tough. (Thankfully, Georgia flew down with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. A LIFESAVER!!!) We had to make way more stops than we anticipated, and we stayed overnight about two-thirds of the way here. But overall, it was a very pleasant drive. The kids were good, we all got a great night's sleep, and we have settled in to our little home away from home.

This morning Georgia woke me up at 6:30 AM. Since I was asleep last night around 10, it wasn't so bad. She got in our bed and cuddled up to me. We watched a little Charlie and Lola (LOVE them!) and then Noah got up shortly before 7. As the two older ones snuggled under the covers with Alex, I got dressed and went out for a walk. I went down the stairs and headed to the beach on my own.

It was glorious. Truly glorious.

For anyone who hasn't been here, I highly recommend you plan a vacation here. Especially if you have kids. It is just such a laid back, relaxing, family friendly place. We have come every year since I was pregnant with Georgia, and will continue for as long as we can. But the best part of the entire island is the beach.

The beach here is amazing. It is 100 feet wide at time, flat as a pancake, and so clean. The sand is packed down so hard that many people bike on the beach everyday. And when the tide goes out, there are these amazing tidal pools all over that the kids love to jump into and splash around in. The water isn't crystal clear tropical blue, but it is warm and pretty calm. And there are sandbars that let you walk out 50 feet and still only have water up to your knees. I love it.

At 7:00 this morning the beach was so quiet. The sun had just come up. The only people out were surfers, people walking their dogs, and a few walkers like me. It wasn't hot yet, and there was a breeze blowing that could earn you a mean sunburn later in the day. And it was just me, alone with my thoughts. No one asking me to get them something, make them something, pick them up, etc. Glorious.

I walked and walked and walked. Not strolling along and pretending to walk, but walking with a purpose, with power. I watched the shrimp boats head out for the day, watched two black labs fetch a tennis ball thrown tirelessly by their person, and watched the paddle surfers catch a few waves. You know what else I did?

I breathed.

In and out, over and over. For 40 minutes I focused on nothing but breathing and taking in the view given to me by Mother Nature. I didn’t think about anything that is usually swimming around in my head. With every breath I tried to go of a little bit of all the stress I have been carrying around for the past 9 months. I didn’t worry about moving, schedules, bedtimes, money…nothing. I just tried to let it all go. It felt great.

When I got back to our vacation abode I was hot and sweaty, but also refreshed and ready to get on with the day. I was excited to have a week with my family altogether, with nothing to do but play, eat, and sleep. And I am now enjoying the reward of a busy morning at the pool and beach: THREE (that’s right! ALL of them!) sleeping children who will be ready to go out to dinner and stay up a bit later tonight.

Here’s to 7 more glorious mornings.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There He Goes

This is the time of year that parents, particularly those of us who stay at home with our children, simultaneously love and dread. It is time for the kids to head back to school. The end of summer days which allowed us to relax, not worry about getting out of the house at a certain time, and let the kids stay up just a little past bedtime to watch fireworks and catch fireflies. It is also the end of almost three months of a lack of routine and schedule, trying to come up with ways to entertain our children, and find activities for those rainy days (which we had many of this year.) I am happy to have my children back in school, and we haven't even hit kindergarten yet. My kids are so much happier when they have a schedule and they know what to expect every day. I am also hoping that the return to school will bring some stability for Georgia and help her handle our crazy family life a little better. She loves school and has been so excited for it to start this year, as she was for the two previous years. We have had a few days where there were some tears, but overall she goes in, drops off her bag and jacket, and is off and running. I love it.

Today, however, was a new day. It was Noah's first day of pre-school. My little stinker, full of his two-year-old self started his first year of school. I was a little nervous all weekend, not sure how much to talk about it, how much to build it up. We went and met his teacher on Friday, and he got to check out his classroom. And he knows the school since he went with me all last year to drop off Georgia. He used to cry because he wanted to stay at school with Georgia. But you never know how these things are going to go when the time comes to go it alone. And Noah is such a mama's boy....he would sit in my lap and have me cuddle him all day if I could. So this morning I was constantly thinking of who should be dropped off first, what I would do if he started to cry, if I could walk out leaving him there calling for me.

Then the moment arrived. We walked Georgia into her class and then went back out to the playground, where the 2's classes start their day. (I give the school much credit for knowing that the youngin's do better leaving mommy when they are in a giant sandbox or climbing on a jungle gym.) We washed our hands (lots of flu-avoiding hand-washing talk this year) and then went off to find something fun to play with. Then the dreaded goodbye.

You know what my Noah said to me? He said, "Bye, Mom. See you later. I'm going to go play." Just like that. And then he was off. I walked out of the playground, closed the gate, and got in my car with a smile a mile wide on my face. He was just as happy when I picked him up a few hours later, and is already talking about going back.

This morning was perhaps one of my proudest moments of motherhood thus far. The wings are just starting to grow, but I think they will be quite strong.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Doesn't Kill Us....

So here is my day in a nutshell.....from the VERY beginning.

12:00 AM - 2:00 AM: I am up basically every 10 minutes with 2 sick, snotty, stuffy children. Or I am flipping the other one over because he can only roll one way, and it isn't the way he likes to sleep.

3:00 AM: Get up to feed baby who has been flipped over again, but isn't going back to sleep this time.

3:45 AM: Check on crying Georgia who has a sore throat. Give her some water, lie her down, and tell her to go back to sleep.

6:00 AM: Flip over above mentioned baby.....AGAIN!

7:00 AM: Get up because Georgia and Noah are awake. And still snotty.

8:30 AM: After feeding 3 children, sit down to eat my own bowl of cereal. Discover it is mushy. Decide I should never pour milk into the bowl when I think I am going to eat. I should wait until I actually sit down at the table and no one is crying or fighting.......but I might never eat again if that is the case.

10:10 AM: Arrive at the dentist 5 minutes EARLY (never happens!) to get a cavity filled. Wait for 20 minutes. Have an x-ray of another tooth and find out I need to have a root canal. LOVELY! Then I have to try to rinse out my mouth while I only have feeling in half of my face. Mouthwash dribbles all over.

1:30 PM: Novacaine has finally worn off and I can eat and drink without fear of eating my lip or spilling my water.

2:30 PM: Go get my haircut....the highlight of my day. Really, it was.

4:30 PM: The sitter leaves.

4:31 PM: The kids go cuckoo for cocoa nuts! Mommy's cranky pants are on, and we are in for a rough time.

5:30 - 6:00 PM: Repeatedly tell kids to start cleaning up, they say okay, and don't do anything but take out more toys. Eventually yell and start taking away bedtime stories. (I know, I am a mean, mean person.)

6:30 PM: Try to give the baby a bath with 2 naked children running around the house.

6:35 PM: Discover that non-potty trained son has pooped on the floor. YAY!

6:40 PM: Get soaked by washcloth that Georgia has flung out of the bathtub.......time for speed bathing. Lose my mind, and my temper.

7:25 PM: Pour myself a glass of wine, make some dinner and try to relax.

Anyone want to trade places?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Grammar Lesson

Georgia has recently begun to read. Full on reading of books on her own. She sounds out all the words herself, and is so proud when SHE can tell ME the story.

So along with reading the words in these books, she has come to be very curious about punctuation. She is always asking what something is, what it does, why it is there, etc. But the other day we have this conversation, which amazes me and then cracks me up.

Georgia: "Mommy, I know what exclamation marks do. Do you?"

Me: " You do? What do exclamation marks do?"

Georgia: "Exclamation marks make things exciting."

Me: Silent, wondering where her little brain came from, and if it might burst from having so much information in there. And then, "Yup, you are exactly right."

Where does she get these things?

My Very Own CIA Hopefuls

I think my blog needs a bit of humor after the last few posts......they were not exactly all fun, pretty butterflies floating in a field of daisies.

Let me preface this by saying that Noah is 2 yrs and 9 months old. As anyone who has been through this age with a child knows, potty training is a big thing to think about right now. Now, I am in no hurry to potty train him, much to the dismay of some people in my life. But the kids has virtually no interest in the potty, other than the fact that he gets to be naked when he sits on it. Naked is his favorite thing to be, and hey, who can blame him? Also, he doesn't need to be trained for pre-school, and I have enough to worry about when I am getting out of the house. I am in no rush to start searching out the closest bathroom of every location that we visit for the next 6 months, constantly asking, "Do you have to pee? Are you sure? Really sure? Why don't we try?"

However, when Noah wants to sit on the potty, I encourage him. I sit in there with him and read a book or something. Last week while we were doing this he looked down into the potty in complete shock. He looked back at me with a grin from ear to ear and shouted, "I'm peeing.....I'm peeing!" Needless to say, there was much celebration. High fives, kisses, hugs, and more high fives, followed by calling all of our relatives to share the great news. But nothing since then. And hey, that is okay by me. Now I am getting to the funny part.

So yesterday I was on the phone with my mom when Georgia and Noah come walking over to me. Georgia is smiling, and Noah has his diaper off and pajama pants around his ankles. When I ask him about his nakedness he declares, "Mom, I pooped on the potty." Still smiling. Georgia smiling too, although sort of an evil smile, like she is getting away with something. So I run into the bathroom, still on the phone with my mom because she is super-excited about this latest development, and verify the information I was given. Indeed there is poop in the potty. There is also a diaper all wrapped up in the trash can. And the celebration begins.....super high-fives this time because, come on, he POOPED ON THE POTTY!!! We must do a dance, set off fireworks, announce it on Twitter, right? Then I look over at my daughter, my adorable, sweet, angelic daughter, smiling with this goofy grin and holding in some giggles. And I ask her, "Did Noah really poop on the potty? Like he actually sat on the potty and then pooped?" And the answer is, "No, not really."

So how, you may wonder, did the poop get into the potty? My 4 1/2 year old daughter and 2 1/2 year old son worked together and hatched a plan to fool poor, gullible mommy into thinking Noah actually pooped on the potty. They were covert ops, for goodness sake! Georgia removed the diaper, dumped said contents into the potty, cleaned up her brother (must remember this skill of hers!), and then disposed of the evidence. I just about peed my pants laughing when I figured this out.

Seriously, if they can work together this well to dupe me already, what the hell am I in store for when they are in high school? I better get some GPS and lie detector chips implanted in them before then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Heart is Hurting

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. - Elizabeth Stone

This is perhaps the most honest and right-on-the-money quote about motherhood that I have ever heard. And you can not possibly understand the magnitude and truth of these words unless you are a mom. You have no idea what will happen to your heart when that little being, wiggling, crying, and covered in a whole lot of mess, is pulled out of your body. You are instantly capable of giving everything you have, including yourself, to make sure that this baby will be loved and protected from all possible harm. You will ache the first time they are sick, get a boo-boo, fall down, speak your name, go to school. That child, and any that come after it, will walk around with a piece of your heart forever.

Right now my heart needs some help. It is broken, and I am hoping it can be repaired.

My oldest child, my lovely little girl is in pain. And it has become increasingly apparent to me that she can not handle going through her life like this, so I need to find a way to help her. Georgia has been struggling these last few months, really struggling to hold herself together. Her behavior has steadily deteriorated, becoming more and more difficult to handle every day. She has always challenged me, forcing me to really think about the decisions I make and the words that I choose. But most of the time I just marvel at this amazing little girl....funny, smart....SO smart, loving, and extremely creative. Lately though, we have had so many bad days, days where I go to bed feeling like I have been a terrible mother, that I don't know if I can do it all again tomorrow. We have had more arguments, tantrums, crying and yelling in this house over the past 3 months than we had for all of the 4 years that came before them. I have been so frustrated with her, and with myself for not being able to "fix" the problem. She has taken to telling me everyday how mean I am, dramatically throwing herself down on the floor and having a tantrum, stomping up the stairs, and slamming her door. I feel like I woke up one morning and my sweet 4 year old daughter was replaced with a hormonal 15 year old girl.

So I have been thinking about what could be going on with her for the past few months. She isn't able to really explain her feelings yet, so I am left throwing darts at this enormous wall of possible reasons. Yet, I don't want to ask her too much, because sometimes she takes those questions and makes up stories about why she does things. But at some point today I think I figured out what is going on. And then I started to ache for that part of my heart which has been hurting all this time.

She has no idea of what she can depend on in her life anymore. And how scary must that be for a four year old?

There have been so many changes in our home. Obviously this is a no-brainer. It is not easy for a child to adapt to one change at a time, let alone when they are being buried under an avalanche of change. There are all of these books and articles out there giving advice on how to help a child adapt to the birth of a new sibling, moving, change in a parent's job, change in caretakers, etc. But there are no books out there telling you how to help a child when ALL of these changes are happening.......AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!!!!

My God. What an idiot I felt like this afternoon. I know how stressed I am about everything that has been, and will be happening in our lives. I must cry at least once every day, and feel like I am constantly trying to keep myself from having a total mental breakdown. And if I am this stressed out, imagine the stress that my Georgia must be feeling. Because on top of all the rest of it, she has a mommy who doesn't seem so put together and happy anymore. SO if mommy is worried, stressed, and crying, then it must be bad.

Can you imagine? Really imagine what a scary world this home must be right now for her? She has had almost no consistent routine this summer, a new baby brother who is taking up her mommy's time, a daddy who is not at home more days than he is, a new nanny who is helping out during the week, and a mommy who is pulling her hair out trying to take care of everything she needs to do plus all the things daddy used to do around the house. OH.....and don't forget that she has no idea where this mythical "Virginia" is, what it will be like there, what "moving" means (do we have to leave my bed here, or can we take it with us?), or when this move will take place. When I look at it through her eyes, it is amazing that she is able to keep it together for any part of the day. How would you feel if it seemed like, at any moment, your entire life might be picked up, broken into a million pieces, thrown into a blender, and sent flying SPLAT on the wall in front of you?

I'll tell you what you would feel like. You would feel like slamming doors, throwing things, yelling at the people you love most, and rolling around on the floor crying.

So now that I have come to this realization, what do I do? I will try harder. I will try to give this girl, and her brothers, some sense that I am here for them no matter what. I will let her know that no matter what else may be blowing up in her life, I will be there for her. I will not budge. I will help her however I am able to, even if that is only by giving her a hug.

I will try to put my heart back together, to help it heal. Because it won't survive if it stays broken much longer.