Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Messy Life

I left the house in a mess this morning. 

There were dishes in the sink, I think I left two cinnamon buns on the counter (I can't be sure -- I meant to wrap those up and put them in the fridge), and not a single bed is made.  The boys’ rooms, well, I can’t even.  I am still in the process of unpacking from our ski weekend, and there is laundry to put away.  If, God forbid, our house were to become a crime scene, it would be difficult to tell what’s crime scene and what’s regular everyday scene.

Monday, I straightened up the house.  Then the kids came home.  
Last night, instead of unpacking and putting away laundry, I took the boys to the gym with me while Meems was at her tumbling class.  There are knee hockey goals in my living room, a robotic arm living in my dining room and rolls of duct tape and grip tape that someone left in the family room.

This is my life.

Once, when the kids were babies, my husband had the lack of judgement misfortune to question what I did all day.  The house was a mess.  He informed me that his home growing up was always spotless and he wondered why I couldn’t manage the same thing.

Granted, this is what it looked like.  Usually, I hurriedly picked up the joint before he walked through the door, but for whatever reason, that day did not.

can you find the baby? 
After he came to, I explained to him that we had two kids on two different schedules.  While one was napping, another was playing.  One didn’t want me out of her sight and one never stopped moving.  One was potty training and one was still nursing.  One liked to jump off of everything, and the day before, I found him trying to swing from the dining room chandelier.  During the afternoon nap I ran around the house doing all the chores only to have it all negated as soon as they woke up.  Anything that could be pulled out of a basket or cabinet was.  The playroom was also the living room, family room and entrance to our small, cozy home.  We lived in this house, LIVED.  And life is messy.  And kids are messy.  But they are my priority and I would rather spend my time playing with them and letting them explore than creating an environment where they were afraid to make a mess. 

We moved to a larger house; the mess moved with us and, with the addition of a third child, got bigger.  And as they get bigger, it never gets smaller – it just looks different now.  Gone are primary-colored plastic toys and bouncers and matchbox cars and babies.  Now it’s, well, it’s knee hockey goals and robotic arms.  It’s sports gear and projects and science experiments and shoes and balled up socks and wet towels on the floor and cheese stick wrappers and electronic devices and my daughter’s purses and papers.  Now it’s lacrosse and tumbling and cross country and drum lessons and basketball and friends and doctors’ appointments and tutors and homework instead of naps and potty training and nursing and cabinet excursions.

For the record, my husband now has a home office.  Lucky for me that home office came equipped with a better understanding of what the heck happens every day to create such chaos. 

I could have cleaned last night.  Should have cleaned last night.  But after working all day and making dinner and doing homework I wanted to do something for me.  And I wanted to do something for my children.  Will played basketball with his friends, Tate had me show him how to work all the workout machines, and then the two of us ran together.  Each boy was happy (until T fell on the treadmill and in a panic I stopped the machine and ruined his workout, but that’s another story), as was mom.  I got to have a little time with my little T, which doesn’t happen much.  His smile, well, it’s worth any sacrifice. 

That's not to say the mess doesn't drive me crazy, and I do yell about it sometimes.  I am trying to teach them how to be responsible for themselves AND their belongings AND our family’s total well-being.  One day, they will get it (ok, maybe).  In the meantime, we do what we can.  We clean up the messes, but they always come back.  And that’s OK. 

My home is messy.  But it’s happy.  It’s cozy.  There is love in every room and we live there, really LIVE there. 

It is what it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Although I  would like to find fewer balled up socks and wet towels on the floor. 
Ah, baby steps.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mornings with Meems

Let it be stated:  Meems is not a morning person.

Every morning, Meems asks me what she should wear. Every. Single. Morning.  I have yet to figure out what exactly she wants from me here. It just feels like a trick question somehow. I know, it would appear pretty straightforward, but not much with this kid is straightforward. Except when she tells you that you look prettier with makeup, or with your sunglasses on. That’s pretty straightforward. Brutally straightforward.

I offer suggestions. Typically, the result is this: she poo-poos each one and then gets mad at me because I can’t figure out what she wants to wear. She may not know what she wants, but she always knows what she doesn’t want.

No lie.

Typical morning:

“Mom, what can I wear?”

Leary and weary of her torturous guessing game, I decide to be encouraging instead. I tell her that she has a great sense of style and she doesn’t need me – she always looks cute (and she does have a great sense of style, I’m not lying to her). She usually comes back with a very loud sigh, the ever present eyeroll, and an “I know but what can I WEAR?” as if I don’t really understand the meaning of that word.

“Pants? It’s cold.”

“I don’t have pants. I have jeans.”

“Yes you do, you have some cute camo capris and some grey skinny cargos. Either of which would look cute with boots or flats. You also have yoga pants. And, incidentally, jeans are pants.”

“Ok but what can I WEA-YUR??” She has not only spoken the word super slowly but also turned it into a two syllable word.  Apparently, that word is still foreign to me.

“Meems, I don’t know what to tell you. I will tell you you’re 11, you’re running late, you have to get ready for school, I have to get ready for work and I don’t have time for this. Just pick something and it will be fine.”

Often, this exchange ends in someone stomping off and slamming a door. Mornings are no good for anyone around here.

This morning, it happened again. Because of course.

“Meems…” sigh “I don’t…..”

She cuts me off. “Mom, I just really am asking you today. Can you please help me?” The look in her eyes and the tone of her voice tells me she needs this, that she’s not actually setting me up for some evil preteen takedown.

I offer suggestions. She accepts them. We brainstorm. This, I love. I wish it could always be this way. Feeling bold, I suggest the boots she never seems to want to wear (what am I crazy? I am setting myself up to get shot down!) and she agrees.

I nearly faint. I am overcome with a little love gush for this sweet baby girl of mine getting all grown up. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy and truly connected and then…

“Thanks Mom. Now shut the door. I have to get dressed and the boys will see me naked. GEESH.”

Aaaand we’re back.

But for a moment, a tiny, shining, shimmering pre-pubescent moment, life was good, simple and happy. For one single minute, I wasn’t trying to guess if “I need your help” really meant “I don’t need your help” and if “I don’t know what to do” really meant “I KNOW, gosh!!”

I am discovering, as my children get older, that those moments are golden. They are warm and reassuring, to both child AND parent.

Those are the moments where life truly happens.

Thankful for one of those moments today.  And taking bets on how long it will be before it happens again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happiness Is...

A quiet house with just me in it.  Snow days, teacher work days, sick days, holidays...I think this is the first week since Christmas that I actually have a day off to myself.  I have some work to do, bills to pay, a workout to work in, laundry and bathrooms to clean, but it's just me.  Alone.  Bliss.

A sweet, warm puppy snuggled at my feet.

A full 2nd cup of coffee enjoyed while I catch up on my daily reading, instead of on the fly.

Mani-pedis with my favorite girl yesterday.  Every nail on my right hand is messed up now, but it's worth it.  

A child who likes to see the glass half-full.  To her, my nails are kinda' smooth instead of kinda' bumpy.  Love her heart.

Tooth moving progress in my oldest child's mouth.  The end of braces is (hopefully) in sight.

The smell of freshly showered babies.  Even though they're not babies anymore, I love the smell of just cleaned kids.  And they'll always be my babies.

Well mannered children.

Besties.

Listening to my 9-year-old play the drums.  

Watching your child find his passion and fearlessly pursue his dreams.

The opportunity to gather my thoughts and get them down.

In a lovely, quiet house ;).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Communication

As a mom, I think communication with my children is so important.  I communicate with them endlessly.  They love that!

My teenage son?  One word answers and imperceptible head nods are the norm around my house.

 Unless bathroom functions are involved.


Sigh.
 
At least it's something.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nine

My little T, my baby, turned 9 on Saturday.



NINE! I can't believe it. 

We celebrated with grandparents, a trip to Kline's (in Staunton) and dinner at Red Lobster.  He's been asking to go there for months, because he was dying to try lobster.  We don't usually do lobster for our children, like, ever.  Never.  Granted, he could've tried lobster somewhere else, but when you're 8 lobster = Red Lobster because, duh.

He's not excited about turning 9.  Truthfully, he's not excited about growing up.  He's not ready to not be able to play.  He told me that big kids get too big to play pretend and he doesn't want to ever stop playing pretend.  Sadness.  I told him I still play pretend, although admittedly a more grown-up version (you know, pretend you don't have housework, pretend you're a gourmet cook, pretend you don't see that crack in the ceiling, pretend the kids are cleaning their rooms).  He looked at me like I was crazy.  He might be right.  

Of course, he went to Red Lobster like this.


I love his crazy.  I love his energy.  I love his curiosity, his imagination, his irreverent sense of humor.  I love his big green eyes, his crazy hair, his freckles.  I love his heart. 

Nine years has gone by so fast.  At one point in the weekend, he crawled in to my lap, and as he sat there, I smelled the baby shampoo he'd used to wash his hair and realized that in another 9 years, he would leave me.  So I sniffed his hair some more and snuggled him up and hugged him tight.  Denial.  And then I let him go before I could start crying and make things weird. 

I hope 9 is good to him.  I am happy for these 9 years.  When we found out we were expecting him (surprise!) I thought, holy cow this is going to make things crazy, and now I can't imagine a life that isn't crazy.    

Happy birthday to my little T.  Here's to never losing your pretend.  Or your crazy.