tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Video games are good for you


My 4 year old's Pac-Man drawing

At dinner tonight, my oldest son wasn’t too interested in eating.  So I decided to try a different approach with him than the usual “no dessert unless you eat” or “two more bites.”  He’s very into video games lately and he’d been drawing pictures of Nintendo characters earlier in the day.  So I told my 4 year old to pretend that he was Pac-Man and that his food was his pellets so he had to hurry up and eat them before the ghosts got him.  He began shoveling food in his mouth pretty quickly after that.  Another “eat your dinner” favorite in our house, “who’s going to win dinner tonight?”  The two older boys are so into “winning” all the time you’d think they were Charlie Sheen.  So dinner tonight became a Pac-Man game in which the pellets got eaten and everybody won and leveled up to dessert.  See parents, video games aren’t necessarily bad.



Constant company, whether you like it or not

No one ever told me that once you become a mom, you are never alone again. Okay, so maybe someone mentioned it, or I read it somewhere in a book, like one of those “What to Expect” books, but it was probably more in a “how wonderful it will be to have company “sort of way, not in a “no really, you’ll NEVER be alone again” warning. It really should be more of a warning though, especially if you are a person who enjoys any alone time, like say, in the bathroom.

The moment a woman finds out she is pregnant with her first kid marks a joyous occasion, but it also marks the end of an era; the era in which she ever had privacy. Now she is “with child” and that real doesn’t end when the baby is born. I didn’t realize this was the case right away, but it becomes pretty clear pretty fast.

Let’s focus mostly on my first pregnancy for this post because, as I said before, it starts with the first child, all children after that merely extend the amount of time before you finally get your privacy back. During my first pregnancy, my oldest son made his presence known almost before I knew I was pregnant. I had “morning” sickness pretty much around the clock (which is another thing no one real warns you about; the term morning sickness is so deceiving). This constant sickness made it hard to forget that I was “with child” and for me it lasted about six months. By the time the sickness was gone, I had the growing belly, constant hiccups (yes, babies hiccup in utero), and the kicking and somersaulting to remind me he was in there. Every time I tried to lay down to sleep, sure enough he’d start moving or hiccuping. If I tried to get romantic with my hubby, he’d kick up a storm to make sure neither one of us forgot we were no longer alone during this activity. By the end of the pregnancy, I felt so huge, I felt like the baby had completely taken over my body and it was no longer my own.

Once the baby is out and you just can’t take your eyes off that beautiful baby,but eventually those eyes start to droop and all thoughts turn to sleep. In the past I’d get myself ready for bed, climb in, pull the covers up to my neck and sleep through the night. Well, now I had someone extra to get ready for bed, which meant diaper changes and feeding. That would be okay if babies slept through the night, accept they don’t. I co-slept with all my sons, which means instead of cuddling up with my husband or favorite pillow, I now had a baby to cuddle, except they are too small to cuddle, so now nighttime becomes less about beauty sleep and more about making sure the baby is ok and doesn’t stop breathing during the night. Plus, I was lucky enough to have extra time with my son in the middle of the night when he confused his nights and days for about a month and was up half the night.

Babies cry a lot too and there is nothing more heart wrenching than the cry of an infant, which they often do when you put them down. So I found myself holding my son constantly; while he slept, while I slept, while I ate, while I attempted to fold clothes, even while I went to the bathroom. I remember one night, about 6 weeks after my oldest was born, and my hubby was working late for the second week in a row. It had been a particularly trying day of just me and a colicky baby. I finally got him to sleep and out him down just wanting to finally get to go to the bathroom and change into my pjs. The second I got to the bathroom door, not 20 feet away, he woke up and began screaming. So I picked him up and held him as I went to the bathroom. The problem came when I had to wipe and wash my hands. I had to lay him down on the floor, all swaddled up, and of course he began screaming and came all unswaddled. I was beside myself in tears.

Going to the bathroom doesn’t get much better though as they get older. I may not be holding my older kids while on the toilet anymore, but that’s not to say I won’t occasionally get the upset child who insists on a hug while I’m trying to do my business. At this point I don’t even shut the bathroom door any more. My kids can be happily playing off in a corner somewhere, but the second to try shutting that bathroom door, it is like an invitation to come keep me company in the bathroom. Sometimes they even bring the dog in with them so he can be a part of our family gathering.

If I need to shower or want to relax in the bath, forget it. First of all, there is no such thing as relaxing once you have kids. Second of all, kids always assume any bath drawn is for them. So after a hard day, if I asked my husband to watch the kids while I unwound with a bath, I either ended up listening to a child screaming and banging at the door to come in (while his dad obliviously sat playing video games), or I ended up sharing my bath with a toddler. These days it usually starts with the screaming at the door and ends with a two and four yer old in the bath with me, which becomes crowded so I end up kicked out. Showers are just as tough because once you become a mom you, for some reason (and this isn’t the same for dads), have to ask permission to take a shower. Fortunately my husband is very understanding and usually asks “didn’t you just take one the other day?” to which I reply to the man who takes a bath (not a shower) every morning, “yes, like three days ago. I’d like to maybe not smell today and get a brush through my hair.” So my shower options usually become take one at 9:00 at night or when I can convince my husband to watch the kids and that usually ends with my four year old joining me (because he’s a big boy and big boys shower).

Now that I have three kids, every part of my day has been infiltrated by kids. I wake up with kids in bed with me, I eat with kids picking off my plate and sitting on my lap, I go about my everyday chores with little ones trailing behind me or hanging off me. They are in my backseat as I drive, poking at me while I try to talk on the phone, and squeezing between my husband and I as I greet him with a hug at the door. Heck, even as I type this, one is sleeping in my lap while the other two try to climb on top of me, insisting that I decorate their fingers by wrapping pipe cleaners around them. So be warned those of you considering becoming a mom, you will NEVER be alone again (or at least until they are teenagers and want nothing to do with you), but it is the greatest job in the world.

A four year old’s view on life

I love having conversations with my oldest, who is almost four and a half. We have some of the funniest and most interesting conversations. Life from the point of view of a four year old is pretty interesting.

Last night my oldest had a tee ball game (it’s his first year playing) and a lot of times he spends the game sitting or spinning in circles in right field. So I made a deal with him that if he tried really hard and gave his best effort, after each game he’d get a treat. Sometimes it is just some simple Lego time with a parent or playing video games, but last night’s treat was froyo. So after we ate our frozen yogurt, I made him put on his pjs before getting in the car to head home. He loves getting time with mommy all to himself (or almost to himself, the baby was there but he sat quietly in his bucket seat) so this was a real special treat. I was explaining to him how it was important to go right to bed without any problems when we got home or he wouldn’t get to do this again.

“No fooling around like last night.”
“But I just want you near me at night Mommy because I miss you!”
“Miss me when? You are with me all day. You know who misses me, your Dad because he’s at work all day, so when you go to bed it is time for Mommy and Daddy to spend some time together before they go to bed.”
“Well maybe Daddy just shouldn’t work anymore so he can stay home, then he wouldn’t miss you anymore.”

Oh if only the answers in life were that simple. I’m sure my husband would love to not have to work so he could stay home with us, but until we win the lottery, that’s just not an option. I guess that means that my oldest better start playing the lottery.

Boys think with their penises, even when they’re young

I was having a conversation with my two year old who was taking great pains to say his words clearly if I misunderstood him (my oldest goes to speech). I asked if he was going to be my smart boy, to which he stopped, looked at me in a very thoughtful manner, then pointed at his penis and laughed. Yep, that’s about right for a boy.

Should we be worried?

Me: “Take that light saber out of your butt!”
Five minutes later, “Stop hitting yourself in the nuts with that (toy) hammer!”
Ten minutes late, Daddy: “Don’t put that clothes hanger in your butt! We don’t put things in our butts!”
Four year olds are funny.

Today’s quote

Quote of the day from my four year old, “I think Nana’s pissed because she can’t find it now.”. Oh boy, we are going to be in trouble with the teachers when he gets to school.

Go Red Feet, I mean Sox!

I’d left my four month old contently sitting in his glider in the living room while I was cleaning another room and my two older boys wandered the house. I went to check on the baby and as I approached, I heard my oldest talking to him. I thought, “How cute.” and peaked around the corner to see what he was doing. What I found was this:


I yelled “What are you doing?”
“I’m helping the baby.” he tells me.
“Helping the baby do what?”
“I’m helping him to have red feet!”

I think he was a little confused. I had told the kids that it was the Red Sox’s home opener so they had to wear their Red Sox gear to support the team. He was just giving the baby red feet since he didn’t have any red socks to wear.

Why sleep when you could blog? The fight against closing eyes

Why don’t I ever go to bed when I should? I’m total exhausted and think, “I’m going to bed early tonight” most of the day, but then the kids go to sleep and I’m suddenly not so tired. Yes, I get that they are part of the reason I’m so tired, but an even bigger part is that I don’t get enough sleep. So why don’t I go to bed and get that much needed sleep when I have the chance? I even stay up past my husband many nights. No, it isn’t because I’m doing something terribly important or interesting. The reason I stay up so late at night is because it is the only time the whole day that I get any “me” time.

I’m with other people, usually little other people, all day. I really don’t get a moment to myself. Some people are early risers who get up and enjoy their coffee in the quiet of their home, but I have small children, so my three alarm clocks go off as early as 5:30 and I’m not a morning person, how could I be after the lousy night’s sleep I just had (see “Sleeping around”). Working people get to zone out or enjoy morning radio on their commute to work. When I get out of bed in the morning, I’m already at work. Even when I did work, most of the 3 1/2 years of kids in day care, I had to do the drop off, which was near work, so I only got about 10 minutes to myself by then, and I was usually already running so late because I had to go back for 50 more kisses before leaving my kids, that I had no time to enjoy the quiet. Anytime during my day when a normal person might get a moment to them self to zone out or think, I usually have a little person in tow. When I shower I have at least one little person standing, banging on the shower door, while I’m in there, if not in with me (my oldest’s newest thing because he’s a big boy and big boys shower). If I have to go to the bathroom, I have an entire crew that follows me in, including the dog. I don’t get to go out to lunch as part of my job, unless I’m taking three kids to Chic-Fil-A to enjoy the play area on a hot summer’s day. If I have to go anywhere, run errands, I have little people along with me, usually demanding something. I don’t have the luxury of going to the gym to burn off the stress of my day. My exercise usually consists of pulling a wagon or pushing a stroller to the park, lifting children overhead for airplane rides, or fighting small ones off the balance board while I attempt to do Wii fit. In the evening, bedtime is a process from which I do not emerge until 8:30 or 9:00 and then I must nurse the baby, who usually falls asleep on my lap, so even tv time with my husband includes a little one. Even once I get the baby down for a few hours, I’m still not alone, that’s when I enjoy another coveted time, time with my hubby. Still a person needs a certain amount of time to them self to think, feel, veg. So I stay up after my hubby goes to bed because I also know that not long after I climb into bed, I will be joined once again by little ones, whether it be the baby waking, or one of the other two sleepily stumbling into our room, hoping to stake their claim on a place in our bed. Then even my dreams are infiltrated by the kids as their kicks and snores work their way into my dreams.

So it isn’t that I’m not tired as I type this, I’m exhausted, it is just that this is the first real chance that I’ve had to be alone with my thoughts all day. So I’m up right now, way later than a should be, trying to enjoy some “me time,” but I’m so exhausted I can hardly keep my eyes open, so I think I’ll edit and post this tomorrow.

*Within minutes of finishing this and closing my eyes last night, the baby woke up. Within the hour, yet another little one joined me and proceeded to kick me all night long. Yet, here I am, up late again tonight. It’s a vicious cycle.

Saturday morning conversations.

My oldest came to me this morning when I woke up (I was on first sleep-in shift) and told me he was hungry because his dad hadn’t fed him.  “Didn’t he give you oatmeal?” (he had).  “No, he just gave me a bowl of nothing.”  Interesting.

Later we watched Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild” and it was an episode about elephants.  My oldest then informed me that he wanted one as a pet. “I just want a tiny one.  Then we can let him in the house.”  I don’t think so.

The death of my modesty

I’m not a very modest person, but I swear I lost any modesty I had during the birth of my first son and the few days following. During a vaginal (yes I said it) birth, a woman is at her most vulnerable.  She’s sweating, she’s grunting, she’s crying,  she’s in pain, oh and her legs are spread  in the air.

My first labor lasted over 15 hours (2 and a half of pushing).  For the beginning of it, I walked around the room in that lovely, open-back hospital gown that they provide patients.  By the end though, I too ended up on my back, legs in the air, (isn’t this how I got into this situation to begin with?) for all the world to see my business.  Ok, not all the world, but several different nurses rotated through due to shift changes and each and everyone of them felt the need to “check” my progress, which meant sticking their hands all in there.  Then came the doctor, who gets head first in there.  Eventually it ended in a C-section because my son got stuck.  After the birth, my breasts became public property.  Not only were they constantly on displays with a child hanging off of them, but every nurse who walked into my room felt the need to grab my boobs to see how my milk was coming in.  Also, because I ended up with a C-section, I was dependent on others for a few weeks after the birth.  This meant I needed help getting to and from the bathroom, as well as, on and off the toilet; heck,  I couldn’t even pull up my own pants.  I also needed help showering, and not just getting in and out, but washing myself all over, and then getting dressed afterwards.

By the time my son was a month old, I’d given up the small amount of modesty I had to begin with.  If there was even the slightest bit of modesty still hidden somewhere inside of me, I can promise you now, after the births of three sons, it is completely gone.  I no longer close the bathroom door, ever (unless trying to hide from the kids); clothing is optional in our house (especially with my 4 year old), even if the neighbors might  be able to see through the window or in our backyard; and there is nothing I won’t talk about (hence the blog).  I guess on the positive side, I really don’t get embarrassed anymore.  Any questions?


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