Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey, do you want some WHINE with that??

At my house, whine is something that it served up on a daily basis, and there is no need to wait until Happy Hour, because it never comes...

My children are never without Whine. Whine appears at daybreak, with complaints of waking up too early, of not having anything good to eat for breakfast (code for: why can't we eat a pound of bacon and chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate syrup and whipped cream?), of having to share the bathroom sink, of not finding the water bottle.

Miraculously, Whine disappears at school. Regardless of what is expected of them or assigned for class work, there are no complaints. Why is that the minute they walk in the door at home, Whine picks up like a paused movie. It is usually accompanied by its constant companions, Jab and Poke.

Jab and Poke are not allowed on the school property, so they hang out in the house all day plotting new games to play while I am cleaning, making dinner, on the computer..... Jab and Poke have taken up a permanent residence in our home. They are constantly on the prowl, and it is nearly impossible to determine who came first, Whine or Jab and Poke.

They especially like to come and play at quiet places, like the doctor's office, restaurants, church, and any time I am on the phone on serious grown up business, like fighting with the insurance company.

It used to be that Max was the resident interpreter for Whine. Being the middle child, I am sure that it is his God-given right to complain about every blessed thing. Ryker is now very fluent in Whine as well. I know, he is so young, but Max has taught him well. But you know what? I. CAN'T. STAND. IT. ANYMORE.

It's all the time, without rhyme or reason, and frankly, Whine needs to move the hell out and find another family in the Exchange Program for Parenting Hell. Andrew is the keeper of Jab and Poke. These three have become fast friends and are not afraid to prey on Max, who will immediately resort to invoking Whine at increasingly higher decibels, depending on how present Jab and Poke are at that particular moment.

Then, the Ghost of Not-Me (of Family Circus cartoon strip fame) claims all responsibility. Wherever Whine and Jab and Poke appear, Not Me is sure to follow. Not Me likes to switch sides fairly often, which makes it incredibly difficult to corner Whine, Jab and Poke. Not Me is by far the worst of The Fab Four, as I like to think of them, and truly needs to move on as well.

Now, I understand that my children are finding their voices. That Whine, Jab, Poke and Not Me appear where they feel safe and secure (although, really, if they knew the visceral reaction I have to The Fab Four they would not come around anymore!) and I should feel as though I am doing something right, because my children invite The Fab Four to come hang out at the house. But I have a pretty good hunch that the psychologist and behavioral specialists who wrote those theories didn't have these troublemakers as permanent residents in their own homes.

And I really am beginning to think that these four have been responsible for many a mother just going off the deep end and winding up in a padded room, quietly whispering to herself for the rest of her life. So, I guess I have to lay some ground rules here.

I can be glad that my home is such an inviting place that The Fab Four have decided to stick around for a while. I guess that it is to be expected, given the amount of testosterone that exudes from my home. But The Fab Four need to settle down. I can accept that they are going to squat for a while, but they gotta play by my rules. They can only come out to play when we are home, and they need to stay away from the dinner table, no exceptions. When I am doing official grown up stuff, they need to keep a lid on it. NO INTERACTIONS IN THE CAR OR AT CHURCH WHATSOEVER. Just a couple of rules to keep things on the up and up.

But I guess that what really has me so upset is the reality that these four are really here to stay for a while. They had made sporadic appearances for the last couple of years, but nothing really permanent. And now, here they are, a fixture that is truly an eyesore. And a headache.

And another thing. Didn't their mothers teach them any manners? Don't they know that you always bring the hostess a bottle of Pepsi as a gift? Maybe then, after a glass or two, The Fab Four and I can become friendly, you think?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't Postpone Joy.....

I saw this on a bumper sticker on my way home from work yesterday. The message is so simple, but oh, so hard to put into practice.

As women, as mothers, we are ALWAYS putting ourselves last on the list. And really, when we wonder why we aren't appreciated, thanked, valued the way that we want or deserve, it is because all too often, we have taught others how to treat us. Although times have changed mightily and we enjoy the choices and freedoms our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers struggled to secure for us, we are rarely content with ourselves.

It is not that we are not happy, we are overwhelmed. With the choices we must make to help our families stay afloat, with being torn into a million different pieces, with the multitude of roles we must fulfill in one given day. And all too often, we are too tired to try to find some joy within our days. Some days, it is all we can do to fulfill our job requirements to a bare minimum, come home, be mothers to our children: feed them, supervise home work and baths, tuck in bed. Then be wives to our husbands: lending an ear, holding a hand, comforting.

We never stop to think that we CANNOT do these things for them, yet, repeatedly, we DON'T do this for ourselves. How many of us have ever stopped our husbands mid-story and said, " I just need you to listen to me." How many times have we sacrificed our children's needs for our own...we are just not programmed that way.

And I am NOT saying that our joy, our comfort for ourselves should come at sacrificing our children and spouses, but that we should also take the time in our day for ourselves...Because we ARE important.

If you think of it, so much is balanced on these shoulders of ours. We need to be on our game for the other people who desperately depend on us. Our children, spouses, elderly parents. How can we give when we ourselves are spent? And what do we tell ourselves each day?

"Tomorrow I will...When I am done with this task, goal, whatever, I will..." Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months into years. We postpone our joy. Daily, constantly, decidedly, without compassion.

Perhaps it is not one big to-do that must happen to fill us with joy. Perhaps it is changing our expectations. I would rather a year's worth of silly or quiet moments with my family than a big blowout of a celebration for a few hours in one day and then 364 days of nothing.

I find that opening myself up to the beauty of each day: the gift of molding my children into the adults I would like to see, the gift of having a job that I somewhat enjoy (on most days), that I live with a man whom I so love and respect; I prepare myself for the joy that the day will give me. Because the joy maybe disguised in many ways.

It may not be flamboyant. It might be that a particularly difficult day has finished with no one worse for the wear. It might come from a kind word from an acquaintance or the knowing smile of a stranger. The gift is unexpected, but there. Or it might be something that I give to myself. That at the end of the day, the joy comes from knowing that another day has come and gone, that progress of some sort has been made. That I have crossed the finish line.

The reward of joy might be a cup of tea, a few pages from a magazine that has been sitting abandoned for weeks, soaking a warm bath, clearing the slate for the next day; but something; something that is just for me, must happen. However small, that daily offering to this weary domestic goddess must be made. So that she can continue to exist in balance...and joy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Warts and all

Last night, after my son had been complaining about his brothers, we talked about how families are...that we love each other, "warts and all," I said. He looked at me with this puzzled face and I went on to explain...

"When we love someone entirely, in spite of their faults and we still like being around them, we love them warts and all."

Many of us are raised with the notion that because someone is a family member, you should automatically feel something for this person...Not always so. Shared lineage does not a family make. We don't really get to choose who ends up in our families, we just have them.

We sometimes cannot reconcile the fact that they are indeed sharing the same genetic codes, and in spite of that, we have to distance ourselves. We don't like who we become when we are around them, we don't like the many arguments, (besides those that occur at the dinner table over which way food should be passed), too many hurt feelings, too much bad drama.

You can tolerate being in their presence for brief, highly controlled situations, and then move along. You take one for the team, to keep the peace, but there is no allegiance.

Families usually start when a boy meets a girl, they have babies, their babies have babies, and so forth...but families are cultivated with love, history, shared stories and concern for one another.

And that often includes people we choose to include, that don't necessarily share Granny's ability to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue! Bird of a feather, flock together kind of thing...and that sometimes means taking the good with the bad.

And isn't this especially true of marriage. After the wedding dress is preserved and stored, after the monotony of daily life sets in (because it does), the warts really start to appear. They are very easy to spot on our spouse, but every once in a while, we see shadows of our own warts staring us in the face. When you really love someone, you can acknowledge all the warts (his, hers, ours), all those imperfections that make us, at times, intolerable, and still love them and the person they are attached to.

It is not that you are blinded by your love for this person, you just love them enough to look past it, and they return the favor. And if you are really lucky, you might even get a running joke out of one or two of them.

Warts and all is the cornerstone of parenthood, I think. We love our children desperately...we give up sleep, sick days, our waistlines, sanity, and bank accounts because of our love for them. But that love does not diminish our abilities to see our children as they are. At least for me, that love gives me a sense of clarity when I look at my children as a whole. I can see their imperfections, and as their mother, perhaps I can help them fine tune those that need tuning.

Our warts shouldn't be a barrier or something that prevents us from the love of another. They are there to remind us that we are constantly in need of improvement within ourselves. That there is always the opportunity to improve those things in us that seem to make us uncomfortable. That if we love ourselves enough, we can really make those changes. And maybe, just maybe, if we can diminish our own warts, we might just be the inspiration for someone else to do the same for us.

After all, there is always more to love without the warts...

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Best Day Ever

This past Saturday was a date I will remember for the rest of my life. A day that has been 5 years in the making. A day I sometimes lost faith in the fact it would ever happen.

It was the day my two oldest boys were baptised, and became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was the day my husband was worthy to be the one to perform these baptisms and confirmations.

My oldest son, Andrew, is now 13 years old. He could have been baptised several times over the past five years.....but he wanted to wait until his dad was able to do it. And in a way, I'm glad he waited. It made a wonderful day all the more special.

The weather wasn't ideal, and unfortunately it kept a lot of family members from being able to come; but the ones that were there made the day all the more special.

Grandma Kate and Uncle Tim gave fabulous talks. The spirit was there in abundance. The music was great, the missionaries were great, the video presentation was great. The day was just....well, great.

I am so glad that my boys have made the choice to be baptised and to live their lives according to the Gospel. It's just one more step in our family's journey to eternal life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Ode to the Men in my Life

Dear Guys,

In the past 15 years (YIKES!), I have had every childhood dream come true. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I realized that the chain of events was set into motion, but I cannot believe how wonderful the ride has been so far.

First off, to Hubby:

I remember the day that we first met, so long ago. I remember your kind smile and thinking that everyone should be greeted by a smile like yours; warm, inviting and just a slight bit devilish. There was an easiness between us that just felt right. When our interest in each other became more than just platonic, there was a certain amount of fear on my part. Could I succumb to this delicious, intoxicating lull that was love? Could I really say that I loved you and not be marked in some way? No, I could not just say it and not be changed. The fact that you had chosen me, even at just nineteen, was a gigantic leap of faith. You were a guy, in love with a girl, and just wanted a happily ever after. There was no trepidation on your part, and you simply caught me. You saw further than I could imagine...and in your eyes I saw a forever that made me feel cherished and equal. Because of you, I changed for the better. I became less defensive, more accommodating, more silly, more able to laugh at myself and my craziness. You gave me an empowerment that I had never known, and for the last fifteen years, we have stood side by side, certain that our strength together can overcome all that life has sent our way. Fears, job concerns, long shots that beat Vegas odds...together, we have withstood all of them, stronger, more in love, and deeply loved by the other.

Among all the gifts that you have bestowed, you have given me three beautiful sons. Yes, beautiful, because they are truly the best parts of each of us. They are a constant reminder of what true faith and a lot of love can produce. So I say to you, with all my heart; let's stay in this moment and enjoy...the best is yet to come.

To my Andrew:

You were the first real miracle that I had ever been witness to. When I first looked into your newborn eyes after months of waiting for your existence, I knew that I would be hopeless in my love for you. You changed me in so many ways. With you, I became a mother, without any idea of how profoundly that would shake me to the core. I know that there is still much that I need to learn. We are learning from each other, pushing each other's boundaries, finding our way together. You are brilliant in ways I still cannot comprehend. Your capacity for learning is something I envy. And yet, I think that of all my children, you are the most like me. You are a paradox of devilish, boyish humor, and wisdom that takes a lifetime to achieve. Know that every time I look into your eyes, I see boundless possibilities. You are my gift from God and I love you dearly!

To my darling Max:

You are the one who looks most like me, but reminds me so much of your dad. I watch you struggle between being the younger and older brother, the one in the middle. Yet, of the three of you, you have had the most courage. You are constantly analyzing those around you, thinking of how to fit in, how to please. I want to see you stand on your own, strong in your sense of self. I want to help you find the voice you keep silent to find your place among your brothers. As I once told you, you were sent to be the most important brother; you try to bridge the differences that separate you from the others. You are so bright, yet are humble. Kind, but not willing to take anyone's nonsense. You have an incredibly sharp wit, and are quick with the one liners. You are a series of contradictions, yet you love with your whole heart, without reservations...Life will reward you with a great love that will be as boundless as your very own heart. You have had my heart since I gazed upon you when you entered this Earth. You are my strength and my inspiration and I love you dearly!

And my littlest angel, Ryker:

You came to us the way the sun brightens a somber day. You came to us against all odds, and you have brightened every day since the day we knew you were on your way. Even though you are the youngest, you have an old soul. You are wise beyond your years, and your ability to comprehend things that should be above your head is astounding. You came to us at a time when we were pretty sure that we wouldn't have another baby, and in that way you taught me that all that is important cannot be rushed. It must come in its own time, at it's own pace, so that the anticipation gives way to acceptance and joy. When I look at you, I see all that Daddy and I have prayed for, a healthy son whose very presence in our lives has been the cause of so much joy. I know that of all of you, you will be the one to handle hardships with patience, acceptance and humor instead of frantic worry and overdrive in trying to remedy the situation. You are just so perpetually and infectiously happy. You have taught me that all you really need is love and faith. You are living proof of both. I love you, peanut!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Going MIA for a few days

Hello loyal readers. Sorry things have been sparse here lately, but I have BIG NEWS.

We bought a house. So needless to say the next week is going to be insane with packing and moving and unpacking, and moving the kids schools.

I promise to post and update and some pictures in a week or so.


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