survivingmyboyz

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

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Younger brothers can be stronger than they appear

My two year old had a very stinky diaper this morning, so naturally I changed it. A few minutes later, my four year old came into my room to tell me his brother had pooped again. I asked if he was sure because I’d just changed his diaper and maybe it was just some smell left behind. I asked him to go check because I was putting the baby down for a nap. Next thing I know, I hear some grunting and my two year old whining. I yell for him to forget it and leave his brother alone. My four year old comes back into my room huffing; “I tried to check but he was too strong; he over powered me.”

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Unplanned, not so spontaneous, scheduled births

As much as I like to think that I like to be spontaneous and carefree, I’m not. I’m a “what are we doing tomorrow? What’s the plan? I need a schedule of what to expect” kind of girl. That being said, I totally didn’t schedule to have a son every two years exactly.

Now, when I say exactly, I mean, to the day. Okay, so only my two youngest share a birthday, my oldest was born the day before their birthday. I know what you are thinking, we’ve heard it before, everyone knows when my husband and I like to “get it on”, but I swear, that’s not necessarily true. My first son was born on the due date that his first (and supposedly most accurate) ultra sound gave. My second son showed up a week late. I was so worried that I’d be in the hospital for my oldest’s birthday, but my second child was kind enough to arrive late and to wait until my oldest was safely tucked into bed before sending me into labor. He also had the common sense not to share his brother’s birthday, after all, that might start him off on his brother’s bad side. My youngest, we joked, should have come the day after my second child’s birthday so we could have three in a row, but he wasn’t actually due until a couple of weeks after the older two’s birthdays. I was excited to finally have a kid in a different month. My youngest, on the other hand, had other plans. He didn’t want his birthday to be an after thought after celebrating the other two birthdays, the youngest often gets forgotten as it is, so he decided to show up early. Despite my denial, I labored all day on Thanksgiving, which was my oldest son’s birthday that year. Even when the contractions got bad, I insisted it was false labor because it was too soon and I wasn’t going to be in the hospital for my second child’s birthday. Well, I finally had to admit it was real and rushed to the hospital around 1:00 am, an hours past my oldest’s birthday, and just an hour into my middle child’s birthday, and wouldn’t you know, baby number three was ready to arrive.

It will be interesting to see how my third reacts to sharing his birthday this year and how things will play out as the years go by and we celebrate three birthdays within 48 hours, it will certainly be expensive. My husband and I are done have kids, but if we were to have an “accident”, I’m sure it would be another boy and he’d be born, a day after the middle two’s birthday just to bookend things. So, just to be sure, next year, when our usual conception time comes around, we’ll be extra careful so we don’t get any surprises add to our already busy schedule nine months later.

The worst day

Despite what the title of this blog says, today has not been my worst day, it has however, been my four and a half year old’s .  At least according to him it has.

Personally, I would have thought it was a pretty good day if I were him.  He got to stay an hour longer at preschool to have lunch with his friends, he got to finally play the video game he’s been waiting to play, he got to watch one of his favorite TV shows, and he got a little whip cream on his after lunch snack.  Sounds good to me.  My oldest son, however, sees it differently.  To him, it was the worst day because he wasn’t allowed to play on the IPad until he cleaned up a few toys (I’d cleaned up the majority of them), he got put in time out for almost jumping on the baby after being told not to jump near him, and he was forced to wipe up his own pee when he peed in the corner during that time out.

I guess my four year old and I have different ideas of what makes the worst day ever.  After all, I’m putting up with his fits and I still don’t even feel like it has been a bad day.

It’s just a phase, it’s just a phase

My two and a half year old is going through a very unenjoyable phase right now. He’s become a screecher. Not a yeller or a shouter or even a screamer, but a screecher. A high pitched, loud, long, strident, shrill screecher. This is not a cute phase.

The screeches aren’t angry or upset noises, they are just for the fun of it noises. There is no real reason for them or warning to them. He just suddenly screeches and when he’s done he smiles with great satisfaction. I’m not the only one who is not fond of his screeches either. My five month old does not like my toddler’s new hobby either. When ever my toddler screeches, it shocks and scares his little brother, who then let’s out a loud, frightened cry. So, you can imagine how unenjoyable this little phase of his is.

The only consolation is that it is just a phase and phases do pass; eventually. I hope it passes sooner than later though because it is causing me quite a few headaches. Of course, his next phase could be even worse; he could become a defiant, limit-testing preschooler like his older brother, but that’s a blog for another day.

How do you rage against a machine that your children love?

When I was younger I was very much into making a difference and changing the world. I volunteered, raised money and awareness for causes, and raged against the machine. Then I hit 21 and forgot about changing the world and just wanted to have enough change for dollar draft night. The world went on and I became focused on myself. Sure I still wanted to make a difference, I became a teacher, but I wasn’t as politically involved as I was when I was younger. Then I had three kids and now I find myself focusing back on changing the world that my kids are growing up in.

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an activist, but I’m certainly not a simple bystander. I read up on issues, sign petitions, share things I consider to be politically important on Facebook, and I even attended my state’s rally against the war on women last month with all three kids in tow. My husband and I also try to support local and organic businesses and avoid businesses that we feel go against our political beliefs or practice unfair work ethics. However, right now, I see myself as a mom first, before everything else, and that means making my children’s happiness a top priority. This is a problem because some of the places I should idealistically be boycotting are some of my children’s favorite places. For instance, I love Chick-Fil-A’s value of family, but I don’t agree with the owner of the company’s view or treatment of gays. Without getting all political, I simply believe that everyone has a right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, not just macho, rich, white men. Plus I have three boys and am very aware that one could be gay and I want him to still be able to be in a loving family with a spouse and child if he wishes, because like any mother, I just want my children to be happy. Right now though, my boys love Chick-Fil-A and it is so much better than McDonalds when it comes to the occasional fast food splurge. I am also not a fan of Wal-Mart’s business practices or their treatment of their employees. However, they do have super low prices on shoes and clothes, so when I need an extra set of either to send to school, it is a great place to find these things for a one income family on a budget.

So I often times find myself conflicted with my renewed idealistic values and sense of activism versus the needs or wants of my family. What I’ve had to come to realize though, despite all my desire to change the world, is, sometimes you’ve just got to patronize a store you might not politically agree with for the sake of your kids’ happiness and your own sanity. After all, there aren’t that many places a mom of three on a budget can go on a 115 degree summer day and allow her kids to run wild for a few hours after enjoying a not completely unnutritous fast food lunch. I’ll just have to find a more kid friendly way to rage against the machine for now.

Being a family is work worth doing

Being a part of a family isn’t a given, it takes work. Yes, we are all born into families and have relatives of one form or another, but blood bonds alone are not enough to make you part of a family. Being part of a family means being involved, and that takes effort.

I was raised in a tight knit family, at least on my mother’s side. It took my husband a lot of getting used to when he would come to family parties with me. There would be so many of us and we’d all be up in each others’ business.

My husband wasn’t raised this way and neither was my father. My father’s parents didn’t have a lot of family growing up. My parental grandfather was an orphan and my paternal grandmother was a the only child of a single working mom who didn’t have the luxury of spending family time with her daughter. Because of this, my paternal grandparents weren’t sure how to be a family unit. They did the best they could but it was work for them. My dad learned more about the importance of being part of a family from my mom and her family than from his own parents. If being parents was work for my paternal grandparents, being grandparents was even more difficult. After all, they’d done their job, they’d raised two sons to adulthood, and now it was just the two of them again; except it wasn’t. They weren’t really sure what to do with grandkids, so most of the time they just didn’t do anything. Because of this, my siblings and I had little connection to them and we pretty much had to be forced to visit them.
My maternal grandmother was very different from my paternal grandparents. She was very involved in her kids’ lives; almost too involved sometimes. She often stayed with us during the winter and we visited throughout the spring and summer months. I loved going to her house for the weekend. We’d bake fresh blueberry muffins, swim at the beach, go to the play ground, play cards, watch jeopardy or baseball, and top off the day with an ice cream from Kool Kone. As I grew older, I remained connected to my grandmother. Sure she was old, cranky, nosy, and drove me nuts, but I loved her just the same. She taught me how to crotchet, made me love crossword puzzles, and shared stories about my ancestors. When she died I was heartbroken.

What made the difference in how I felt about my grandparents was the amount of work they put into the relationship. My paternal grandparents lived only 15 minutes away yet I hardly saw them. They knew so little about me that they didn’t even buy my gifts for holidays, instead they gave my mom money and asked her to get me something or just gave me a check; which to a young child excited to open one gift on Christmas eve was a real let down. My maternal grandmother lived 45 minutes away yet I saw her almost every holiday and many times in between. My grandmother always picked out her own gifts for me when I was a kid which often times were a little odd, but they showed thought and meant something to me. When my paternal grandparents died, I had so little connection with them that I was sad that my dad had lost his parents, but I didn’t feel like I myself had lost anything.

Being a part of a family is about more than being blood related, it’s about having those experiences and making those connections, which takes work. Being family is about sleep overs and special outings, cheering from the sidelines at a tee ball game, celebrating holidays and special occasions together, sending birthday cards, or even just a quick phone call to see how swim lessons went or how school is going. Without putting in this effort, you aren’t part of a family, you’re just someone who might be compatible with a group of people should you ever need a kidney.

The physics of parenting

I’ve often thought I was losing my mind. I’d pick something up, bring it into a room or put it somewhere, then I’d go back a few minutes later and would have no idea where it was. I thought it was a sign of getting old or part of “mommy brain”; me being forgetful. Today I realized that it isn’t any of that at all. Instead, I’ve come to realize that it is in fact, my kids working against me.

It seriously takes me an hour to get my kids out the door for an outing (see The Worst Part of My Day). My dad didn’t believe me until he came over the other day with my mom to help me finish getting the boys ready to get out the door for a tee ball game. He couldn’t believe the struggle. Today, as I again trying to get out the door for a tee ball game with my mother’s help, when I realized part of the problem. It isn’t just my four year old’s constant defiance or my two year old’s copycat tendencies in which he copies his older brother’s bad behavior, or even the babies constant need to be held whenever I’m attempting to get stuff done; my biggest problem is my children work in cahoots against me in a counter productive manner. In other words, for every action I take, my children take an equal and opposite action against what I’ve just done. That means the object I just carried into a room and very purposefully placed somewhere to get us a step closer to being ready, they then go and take from that place, while the other distracts me, and place it somewhere where I will not find it until a much later time. Every time I clean something or put something away, they will then mess up that clean area or pull out the object I just put away. Just last night I placed a fresh glass of water on the table, turned around to grab the boys’ plates with dinner already on them, and by the time I turned back around, they had their hands in my glass and half the water spilt across the table. It is a never ending and exhausting cycle.

So maybe there is such a thing as “mommy brain”, but it isn’t what we think. It isn’t some mental phenomenon that occurs the moment a woman becomes a mom. Maybe we don’t really get forgetful with age. Maybe the real reason we lose our minds has less to do with us and more to do with them. Maybe it is just that after all the years of our children working against us and making sure that every action they take is counterproductive to every action we take, our spirit becomes crushed and our minds give up, and we resign ourselves to just be lost. I know I’ve definitely felt that way this tee ball season, I just hope mornings before camp go more smoothly.

Mommy, you shouldn’t have a big butt

So about two to three weeks ago my family began doing walks in the evening a couple of times a week.  It is a nice way to unwind, spend time as a family, get some exercise and fresh air, and on a good night, all three kids fall asleep; bonus.  Tonight my husband wanted to do a jog-walk to get back in shape for running.  I haven’t run in years, but after three kids, I’m up for almost any exercise to get back in shape, so I wanted to go.  When I told my four year old that he was going to have to go in the bike stroller because Mommy and Daddy wanted to run tonight, he didn’t want to.  I’ve found that sometimes the best way to deal with a four year old is to rationalize things so he wants to do whatever it is that you want him to do.  So tonight I simply told him that Mommy wanted to have a butt like the lady on the cover of the Running magazine that Daddy got today.  “Don’t you want Mommy to have a nice butt like that lady?”

“No.”

“Well if Mommy doesn’t exercise, then her butt will get really big and then there won’t be any room for you to sit next to Mommy anymore.”

processing…

“Mommy, you shouldn’t have a big butt, you should exercise more.”

“So can we go running tonight?”

processing again…

“Yea, we better go running.”

 

Got to love the way a four year old’s brain works.  Oh, and by the way, my butt is not big, it just doesn’t look like the lady on the magazine’s.  Hey, I just had my third kid a few months ago and my size 8 shorts are very baggy, so I’m doing ok.

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