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

Archive for the category “Everyday life with three boys”

Life with a three year old

3 yr old: Me want
Me: you want the Chex mix? Okay, but it is the last of it, it is mostly crumbs. (Handing him the bowl) Just don’t spill it.
Two seconds later the bowl of Chex mix is all over the floor and he is crying.
3 yr old: Me want! Me want!
Of course you do.


Saving my son from the world

I’m afraid it is starting, the world is beginning to try to ruin my sweet little boy.
The other day, my sweet little My Little Pony loving, nail polish wearing, pink is his favorite color little guy came home and told us that liking princesses made you a girl and that he no longer liked My Little Ponies. I know he really doesn’t feel this way (he fell asleep with one of his mini ponies in his hand tonight), but someone is telling him this and I’m afraid that one day he might believe it is true.
My first though was naturally to homeschool him and never let him leave the house again in hopes of persevering his pure sweetness, but I realized that wouldn’t work because he’d still have contact with his older brother who already teaches him plenty of bad things. So I had to settle for a less drastic route in dealing with this, I had to set him straight and arm him with the strength to stand up against this kind of thinking.
My husband and I talked to him together about what he said. I figured, if he didn’t believe me because I am a girl, maybe he’d believe his dad since he is a boy. First we asked him who told him this information. He just acted a little embarrassed. We didn’t expect him to name names, we were making a point to him that we knew someone else had told him this and that it wasn’t his thinking. We then told him that whoever told him this was wrong. We explained to him that there are no “boy” things and “girl” things and that he could like whatever he wanted. We told him that boys and girl could like, be, and do whatever they wanted to. I explained to him that the only true “boy” thing or “girl” thing was what was between our legs in our private areas and that was the only real difference between boys and girls (we’ve been having the “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” talk for years). My husband even went a step further than he probably needed to at this age and told him that if, when he was older, he decided he want a girl part instead of a boy part, he could even have that. My son just laughed and didn’t believe that part of the story, which is fine because I’m not about to try to explain that to him. Our main message to him was that he should like what he likes and not let others tell him what he could or should like and not like. We told him that we love him and the person that he is and that he shouldn’t change.
I’m sure this won’t be the last time I hear from my son about messages he is getting about “girl” things and “boy” things. I’m sure one day my son might even bring home worse messages that other people might try to convince him of and ruin him with, but I’m hoping that if we keep sending my son the right messages, he will not believe the wrong ones. Hopefully, if we just instill self-confidence in my son, other people wouldn’t be able to make him doubt himself and ruin him. If we are lucky, maybe one day, my sweet little boy will even help fix the world with his kind, gentle, loving acceptance and help others open their eyes to see the world the way he does.

Shit happens

Shit happens, sometimes in my bath tub.

I love you, but I really don’t like you.

“I love you, but I really don’t like you and can’t be near you right now.” That’s the message I just sent three of my four kids off the bed with (the fourth is only a baby, so he isn’t old enough to get this message yet). Does this make me a horrible mother? Probably, but I’ve reached my limit and I know I can’t be the only mom out there feeling this way.

It is Friday night and I’ve been pushed beyond my brink at this point. This week has been hard, so have the last two or three. I’ve been a virtual single mother lately, through no fault of my husband’s. I’m a work widow. My poor husband has been working 12 hour workdays on a good day. Other days he doesn’t crawl into bed until after 2am. It is temporary and I know that.

He’s tired, I’m tired, and the kids don’t sleep. Our bed has become a revolving door of children lately. There is the baby, who is expected to keep us up, but aside from him waking to feed, he isn’t that bad. Then there is our first grader, who will sleep through the night most nights, but wakes way too early and clumsily stumbles into our room looking for electronic devices each morning. Our soon to be five year old has developed a fear of everything (again) and has been having nightmares. Most nights I can convince him to go back to sleep in the empty toddler bed in our room, but lately, he has been waking up again in that bed and wanting to crawl in with us. This is problematic because, despite having a king size bed, our bed is already crowded. That’s because that empty toddler bed in our room belongs to my almost three year old who never sleeps in it anymore and he is my worst sleeper of all. He wakes within two hours of finally getting to sleep (usually not long after I’ve finally gotten to sit down and attempt to relax for the night). He wakes again just as I’m falling off to sleep each night. He has night terrors for 20 minutes and wakes up the baby. He kicks, toss and turns, flails about, and yells out in his sleep once we have finally given up and let him into our bed. No one in our beds sleeps well.

The mornings come too early, with too little sleep, and very little cooperation from the three kids I need to get out of the house to school. It has been cold and wet and traffic near my kids ‘ preschool has been horrific lately for such a small town. I feel like I spend all morning getting kids in and out of car seats, shuttling them to and from school. I have very little time to get anything done on the two mornings a week that I’m down to one kid. Most of the time I’m tired and just want to crawl back into get, but there is grocery shopping to do, errands to run, toys to pick up, dishes to clean, and the never ending mountain of clothes to be washed, folded, and on the rare occasion, actually put away. We paid people a good amount of money to come clean last week, thinking we could spend the weekend relaxing for a change, but the house was a disaster area again by the next morning (by the next evening my two oldest had peed in the bathroom sink and pooped on the bathroom floor, on purpose). When the two middle kids get home, it is a never ending cycle on meal prep and clean up. Then hurricane first grader gets off the bus and tears through the house. The homework battle begins, melt downs ensue, and the baby is screaming; the witching hour is upon us. Magically, a dinner that everyone refuses to eat makes it to the table, several glasses of milk are spilt, food dusts the floor around us, and another pile of dishes collect, just incase I didn’t have anything fun to do once the kids are in bed. After dinner, I herd cats upstairs and into pajamas. We have the “did you really brush your teeth?” argument (spoiler alert: they didn’t) which always ends with a breath check that makes me really wish I hadn’t (why do they think the rotting food between their teeth smell won’t give them away?). Then the real juggling act begins!

Have you ever put four kids to bed by yourself? Oh, you should try it sometime, it is fun! First is the baby, who isn’t like my other kids were as babies. My other kids could be put on a boob and fall asleep while I multi-tasked, not this one though. This one was born a fighter, he was a preemie, so he seems to think that everything deserves a fight, even going to bed. A lot of rocking, jiggling, back patting, and sshhing are necessary to get him to sleep. Meanwhile, his brothers bounce off the walls like idiots, jostling him or kicking him in the head every time I almost have him a sleep. Once he’s finally out, I attempt to read to three boys who all want to be next to me. News flash: there are three of you and I only have two sides, you can’t all be next to me. I attempt to get them to all take turns sitting next to me as I read the required 20 minutes of reading each night. When reading is done, I attempt to separate kids by sending my oldest to his room with an electronic device (nothing like ending the day the way you started it, with more screen time) and I try to get my middle two to lay on opposite sides of me in what is suppose to be their shared, full sized bed. Usually this is about when someone gets impatient with me as I set up the baby monitor and wakes the baby back up. Once the baby is back asleep and the middle two are almost asleep, my oldest usually decides it is his turn to wake up one of his younger brothers. I finally get the middle two to sleep, the baby may or may not be awake again, and I go lay with my oldest who then likes to play a game called “annoy the crap out of mom so you won’t fall asleep.” Usually it is close to 9pm when I’m finally able to sneak downstairs, it only took 2+ hours to get them all to bed, temporarily. Then there is cleaning up from dinner to be done, a dog to feed, and lunch for school to be made. I finally get a chance to sit and turn on a show so I can unwind before bed when, you guessed it, the Middlest wakes up.

On top of this daily grind of my typical day, I’ve been trying so hard to not yell at my kids, I try to do fun things with them, and be in the moment. It’s not working. I’ve tried all the things people and articles tell you to do. I try letting the mess go and just be with the kids; the mess just gets bigger. I try making healthy food they usually love; they don’t eat it. I try talking calmly to my kids and laughing at the horrible things they do that I know I’ll laugh at as I tell people about them later; they just continue to do horrible things. I plan fun activities that we can all enjoy, things I might actually be able to relax during, like tonight’s living room camp out and movie with popcorn; one complained the whole time while another made repeated messes that I had to keep getting up to clean. You name it, I’ve tried it, and all I’ve gotten is exhausted, frustrated, and taken for granted. I’ve had it! Tonight, after several weeks of this, I started to really think that I might just need to go back to work so I can escape and let someone else raise my kids. How awful is that?

I love my kids, but I really have not liked them very much lately. There just seems to always be one who has to make things miserable at every moment of my day. Sure, they can all come together and act like total animals at the same time, nearly driving me insane, but can they ever come together and just allow a moment to be peaceful and enjoyable; no way!

So what am I suppose to do? I’d never find a job that will make enough to pay for four in day care, not that I even have time to look. Besides, I love my kids, even if I don’t want to be around them right now. If I got a job, the first morning I had to leave them would be precisely the moment I’d decide that I really do want to be around them after all. I guess my only solution is to sneak downstairs, heat up the dessert I decided not to share with them, and attempt to devour it while watching a few seconds of tv before someone wakes up. Wish me luck!

Brotherly bonding

My two oldest sons bonded tonight by jointly desecrating their bathroom which we had just spent good money to have cleaned. They both went to bed without any stories or cuddles; two sad boys. When my husband asked my almost five year old if he would ever do what he did again, the response was “no.” I’m not sure that means he learned his lesson though because when my husband asked him if he knew why it was wrong to poop on the bathroom floor the response was also “no.” I guess I should just be happy that they are bonding.

Blurred lines: My Little Ponies and Ninja Turtles

The other night I bought a cute little My Little Pony Tshirt for my almost five year old, who had begged me for it after seeing it on the wall at the store. It was half off, so I obliged. When we got home it was hung up next to my almost five year old’s other recent prized bargain, a Hello Kitty back pack, gifted from a neighbor’s daughter who no longer used it. These two things are just a few items from the collection that is gathering from my almost five year old’s favorite cartoon icons. Some people might find this strange, since I am the mother of four boys. That’s right, my almost five year old is a boy. A sweet, wonderful little boy who doesn’t see gender lines.

T is the second of four boys and will be five in two more months. He is very much like all other boys his age. He loves superheroes (Marvel and DC, he doesn’t take sides). He loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ninjago, and Adventure Time. He wants to be a fire fighter (and maybe a farmer) when he grows up. He plays sports and goes to Farm school, where he loves to play in the mud and feed the animals, and when he’s not in school, he loves to ride his scooter and his “two wheeler” bike that he is super proud of riding without training wheels. Just a “typical” boy, who also loves to get his nails painted, his favorite color is pink, enjoys watching My Little Pony, and wanted nothing more than a Monster High Doll for Christmas two years ago.

So what does all this mean? Nothing. It means that my son is who he is and doesn’t see gender lines. He sees the world the way more people should, as an open and limitless, unbound by sex or gender. Unfortunately, most people don’t see the world this way. Most people like to categorize and label things. Most people like to tell others that things are wrong or meant for other people. Most people will try to crush my guy and his spirit as he grows up. They will try to force him to conform to what they expect of him. His older brother has already experienced this.

Only a year ago, I used to paint all my boys’ nails, it was the only way I could coax them into letting me cut and file their nails. We’d play nail salon. I bought colors like metallic silver, sparkly blue, and green for the boys; colors I thought society might allow my kids to wear without ruining our fun. Then it happened. I painted my oldest’s toe nails the Sunday before he began a gymnastics camp with T; Monday afternoon he came home and asked me to take the nail polish off and hasn’t worn it since. Someone had obviously said something to my oldest about nail polish being for girls and with that comment, they stole from me that special quality time with my oldest in which he would sit in my lap, cuddle into me, and talk to me as I painted his nails. From that point on, those gender lines became more solidified for my oldest, despite his desire for them not to be there. When his brother first started watching My a Little Pony, my oldest made comments like “that’s a girl show” and refused to watch it with him. T didn’t care, he watched it anyway, he loved the show. Then my husband found my oldest hiding in his room with my iPad watching it alone despite his brothers sitting downstairs watching it together. He acted like what he was doing was somehow wrong and shameful. My husband told him that it was ok to like the show and encouraged him to go watch it with his brothers. Now the three older ones watch it together most of the time. Then this week, while we were in the store where I bought the My Little Pony shirt, my oldest showed again, how the world had already begun engraining gender lines into him. When his brother crossed that imaginary line from the boys’ clothes section into the girls’ clothing section, my oldest was sure to point it out. T again didn’t care, he just knew he had seen a shirt that he loved and that he wanted to see it closer. As I began to look at the price on the shirt and check the sizes against him, my oldest son seemed to get confused. He knew that his brother was in the girls’ section and for some reason he shouldn’t be, but neither his brother nor I seemed to get that, we were both acting like it was ok. At this point my oldest began walking though the store from side to side stating which section his was in, the “boys’ side” or the “girls’ side.” Then the came to the athletic wear and there didn’t seem to be a clear side in that section. The sections were no longer separated by an aisle, they just seemed to blend into each other. This seemed to catch him by surprise. He came running back to his younger brother and excitedly told him “over there, there is no boys section or girls section, they just blend!” It was like he had found the perfect place for his brother.

I love my sweet little almost five year old. I love his humor, his sensitivity, his individuality, and the fact that he loves the things he loves, no matter what others say. I worry for my little guy though. I worry that over time, the world will crush him and not allow him to be who he is. I worry that too many people will draw lines in the ground and tell him which side he needs to be on. I wish more people would allow the genders to blend more seamlessly. After all, the only thing that really makes someone a “typical” boy or girl is the ability to adhere to our expectations of a certain gender. If we eliminate those gender lines, we allow people to just be themselves.

Boys’ Day, a new tradition

The other day a box was delivered to our house and the boys wanted to know what was inside. I was excited because it was a table for the porch that I had wanted. I explained to the boys that it was something for everyone to use, but that it was a late Mother’s Day present for me. My four year old then ask me “when’s it going to be boys’ day?” I asked him what he meant since his speech isn’t always understandable. He then elaborated, “If Sunday was Mother’s Day and you got gifts, when does it get to be Boys’ Day for boys like me to get gifts? I want Skylanders Swap Force for Boys’ Day.” Oh child, I’m pretty sure,in this house, everyday is boys’ day!

Needing to increase my survival skills

When I first started this blog, it was to record some of the craziness that goes along with raising three boys. In order to survive, it takes a lot of patience, wine, and humor. Well, yesterday I found out that I’m going to need a lot more patience, wine, and humor because next spring we are going to have another boy to survive. That’s right, four boys under age six in one house! I’m in trouble.

When I first told people that I was pregnant again, aside from people wondering if I was crazy, most people told me they were hoping I’d finally get a girl. There was a lot of talk about a little girl with three older brothers and how protected and such a princess she’d be. My in-laws even began looking up Irish girl names the night before we opened the envelope with the sex of the baby in it (we saved it for Christmas morning). People assumed this fourth one had to be a girl because I already had three boys and I just had to have a little girl. I felt like people were worried for me incase I didn’t get that little girl. I even felt like the ultra sound tech was trying to prep me for the let down of it being another boy without actually telling me the sex of the baby. The thing that most people didn’t seem to get is, I didn’t want a little girl.

Sure, when I got pregnant with my first child, I wouldn’t have minded a little girl, but I just wanted a healthy baby, which I got. With my second child, I would have loved a girl so I could have one of each, but I wasn’t disappointed to have another boy. By the time I had two boys, I had kind of decided that I was meant to be the mom of boys, it just seemed to work for me, so I wasn’t surprised that the third was a boy. It was around that time that I decided that I kind of wanted four boys, even though my husband didn’t want more kids. I thought maybe later we would adopt another boy. I had this picture in my head of all my teenage boys, taller than me, but still my babies, hanging around our house with all their equally large friends, raiding my fridge, causing chaos, and me smacking them up the backside of the head when they burped or made a disgusting remark. Sure we would have to shop 3 times a week at Costco and still never have food, there would be dirty, smelly socks everywhere, and I’d have to go back to work just to pay for shoes for their constantly growing feet, but was my idea of an ideal future.

What all the people who were wishing a girl for me didn’t seem to get was that the idea of a daughter terrified me. I’m 37 years old, I have three boys already, raising boys is an old hat to me, I know what I’m doing (sort of). Introducing a daughter to our family right now would throw us into complete chaos (I mean, more than the everyday chaos here). I wouldn’t know what to do with a little girl. I know my husband would refuse to change her diapers because of “all the folds down there” so he won’t know what to do. We would need different clothes and different toys. Plus, I have two nieces, one who is in third grade and already acts like a teenager, I don’t need all that drama, that’s what my oldest son is for. In my house we are all about fart jokes, superheroes, and playing rough. A little girl would never survive in our house and I’m too old to start over and learn a new way to parent. So I was secretly praying for a fourth boy and when we opened that envelope on Christmas morning, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

So now I just need to prep for a little more chaos come this spring. I’ll have to stock up on wine, take yoga classes, and practice smiling through the craziness, but I will survive my four boys, even if my furniture doesn’t.

Blame the two year old

Ok, so I should take a little responsibility for this, after all, I am the adult, so yes, maybe I’m a little crazy, but mostly I blame the two year old.

The problem is, he’s just so darn cute and lovable. He is just the sweetest little thing and at such a fun age. He’s two, but hasn’t hit his stride as a terrible two year old yet (besides, I think three is way worse). Everything about him makes me happy. His laugh makes me smile, his little belly screams to be zurberted, and his checks need to be kissed. I just want to hug and kiss him all the time. It is this overwhelming cuteness that I blame. Well, that and my reasoning in Kindergarten and A Vasectomy.

Whatever the reasoning (or lack there of)behind my thought process (maybe temporary insanity should be claimed), some how I find myself in the spot that I’m in today; 18 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy, though also very sick most of the time, but I do have flashes of reality that lead me to believe that I probably wasn’t thinking very clearly when I devised this “what the hell, let’s give it one more shot” plan. Even more perplexing is how I got my husband to go along with it. I guess we really didn’t have much time to reconsider the plan and back out though since our plan seemed to be successful one of the first two times we tried it.

My husband is happy about our pending fourth child too (most of he time), but he wasn’t exactly on board when he first found out. I guess the timing could have been better though. A week into my husband’s recovery from his vasectomy I sent him a text at work with a picture of a positive pregnancy test. It took him about three days before he really said anything about our new reality. When he finally did say something, he made a joke about our future with four kids and I knew he’d worked out any issues he was having. Maybe if I’d waited at least until his manhood had stopped hurting before telling him, he would’ve only need one day to come to terms with thing.

However we got here, we are all on board with the idea of a fourth child, even the boys, and we are almost to the halfway mark. In two more weeks, we will even know what we are having. Of course, all three boys are in agreement that this baby had better be another boy, though each has their own plan if it isn’t. My youngest says he won’t be nice to a baby sister, but will be to a baby brother (I think he’ll just be so glad to not be the youngest anymore that he will terrorize the baby no matter the sex). My middle son has informed me that I’m the only girl allowed in the family and if he gets a sister, he is going to fart in her (again, still probably going to happen no matter what). My oldest though has real reasons for wanting to throw the baby out and get rid of her if she’s a girl. My oldest doesn’t want to have a sister because he wants to be able to “show off (his) goods” whenever and wherever he wants to and he can’t do that with a girl in the house.

Whatever happens with this fourth kid, whether they are a terror and become the breaking point for my husband and I, or they are just a disappointing sister instead of a brother, I have my scapegoat ready to free me from blame. I’m simply just going to keep a picture handy of my current youngest at this age and tell everyone it is his fault. After all, if he just wasn’t so darn cute and lovable, I wouldn’t have wanted another one like him so badly.

Split in two

Today I experienced one of those all too common moments in the life of a mother; the moment when you need to be everywhere at once. Not to say that dads don’t experience this, but when kids are little, usually mom is the first one a child calls for when they are in need.

Today was a big day for my now 4 year old, he was making his stage debut as “the large pig” in his preschool play. I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks. I even arranged the day so that I my husband could take half a day to work from home and watch the kids while I went to my oldest’s parent-teacher conference and then we could all go to the play together and no one would have to miss out. Of course, life had other plans.

We faced adversity from the start of the day. First my youngest threw up, threatening to keep one parent home with him, but he bounced back enough to survive an hour at a school play. Then my husband texted me to say that they had called a sudden meeting that he had to attend at the exact time as the play. Luckily the meeting was pushed back two hours. The clouds were starting to clear and it looked like everything was going to work out, my husband even came home a little earlier than I’d asked him to. Then I got the phone call. My oldest son had been injured at school and wouldn’t stop crying. His teacher didn’t want to put him on the bus and wasn’t completely sure what was wrong. I raced over to the school thinking he was probably just upset and that we might need to schedule in an emergency chiropractor appointment after the play. As I pulled up to the school though, I could see flashing lights in front of the school and my heart pushed into my throat. I entered the nurses office to find a crew of paramedics from the fire department, office staff, and my son curled into a ball on his teacher’s lap, sobbing and holding his neck. It seems another child yanked on the back loop of his back pack and his neck was injured. They couldn’t get a full story from him and he was in too much pain to straighten up, so they wanted to get him checked out at the hospital and the best way to move him was via ambulance. So I rode to the hospital on a gurney in the back of an ambulance with my son balled up on my lap. I texted my husband to take the boys to the play, get a few pictures, but to just enjoy it because someone was recording it and it was important that one of us was present at the performance.

After being checkout and x-rayed, the doctors decided that it was probably just a sprain with severe muscle spasms and that he was okay to go home. Of course I had no way to get home, since my car was still at the school, and my husband was at the play that was about to begin. We couldn’t just hang out in the waiting room for an hour, especially with my son still in a lot of pain, so I instructed my husband to come get us as quickly as possible and then race back to the play, hoping to make it in time since my 4 year old’s part was toward the end of the play. My husband did his best, but I don’t think I would have been satisfied with his speed if he were going 100 mph. I just wanted at least one of us to be there for him and now both of us were in a car trying to get there. When we got to the play, we hurried in, each carrying a child, just in time to see my middle child sit down in his seat while the child after him gave his lines. Me had missed his lines by about 10 seconds. My eyes welled and my heart broke. When his group performance was over, my husband snuck over to him and told him that we were all there, so as far as he knew, we had seen him deliver his lines and made it in time. To me though, I still felt horrible, I’d missed his big moment.

This was one just one of those occasions where I wanted to be there for both of my children, but I just couldn’t; there is only one of me. I didn’t want to miss my sons big performance, but I had to be with my injured son because he needed me more. Thankfully my oldest didn’t have anything seriously wrong with him and I will be able to watch the video of my middle child’s performance at a later time, but I still felt like a failure as a mom for not being able to do it all and be there for both boys. It’s a constant tear and it happens on almost a daily basis. It isn’t anything I can control, I can’t clone myself, but I still feel like I’m a bad mom if I can’t be everywhere at once and always be there for my boys. I know I’m not the only mom that feels this way, but that doesn’t help with the guilt. I just need to learn to except that I can’t split myself into two and that sometimes life makes my choices for me, leaving everything else to be watched on video later.

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