Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Growing as a mommy

I've started this post dozens of times in my head...and I'm sure that even after I finish, I will be seeking out different words, better words to convey my feelings and thoughts.  I'm challenging myself not to do that.  To say what comes from my heart, as it comes from my heart.  To allow this to happen, I can't re-read my writing, because I'll revise.  So I apologize in advance for errors in spelling, grammar, etc.  This post is going to be a hard one...

I'm in the midst of reading a book that I've been anticipating since January.  The night I found out about this book, I wrote a post about being a mom-a-holic.  Yesterday, I was browsing the Kindle store, downloading two other titles I'd come across in my recent soul searching mission as I re-adjust to my newly expanded role in motherhood.  That's when I remembered Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & Modern Motherhood by Samantha Parent Walravens. Yes!  It was listed in the Kindle store and within a few seconds, it was loaded and ready to go.

I started reading it today (shortly after downloading it yesterday, the kids needed my attention), and even with the necessities of 'mommyhood', I'm already about a quarter of the way through.  Torn is a collection of 'true stories from the trenches of motherhood'.  I am so grateful for the 'highlight' feature on the Kindle, because it is coming in handy on practically every page!  This book is a perfect read for moms.  All moms.  Career moms, stay-at-home moms, and every mom in between.  I'm finding it to be just the thing I'm needing right now...

(here comes the hard part...)
As I said, I'm sort of on this 'soul searching' mission.  I feel extrememly despondent in admitting my dissatisfaction with where I am in my life.  Don't get me wrong.  I am beyond blessed in countless ways, and am beyond grateful for all that has been bestowed upon me.  None of my feelings of discontenment are due in part to the countless amazing things (and especially people) in my life.  In fact, they are what have kept me afloat when I allow my mind and my feelings saunter down a negative path.

I've been allowing myself to become caught up in an ideal, a quintessential lifestyle that I've created in my imagination, now that our family is 'complete'.  Ever since finding out I was pregnant with Raegan, I've been subconsciously fabricating what I thought our life would be like once we were 'complete'.  I know, it sounds terrible...insensitive, even.  How could I not be content with a wonderful husband who is an amazing dad to our two beautiful kids??  The truth is, I was.  I was very content.  I just didn't feel 'complete'.  Once I realized that the missing piece would be another baby, I began making plans.  I stopped 'living in the moment', stopped 'appreciating the moment'.  For example, family photos.  I had really wanted to have family photos taken professionally, but once I realized we were going to have three kids, I held off.  I didn't want the photos to be 'missing' anyone.  Or certain routines...like meal planning, bed time rituals, toy organization...I decided not to 'finalize' anything because it would need to change to accomodate three kids. 

I'm a planner.  I crave routine.  I don't like to ask for help. When things don't work out as originally planned, or as I envisioned...I shut down.  It's not an endearing quality, especially since I just so happen to have two careers that require flexibility, and fluidity--teaching and motherhood.  To top it off, Randy's schedule is one that does not permit as regimented a routine as I crave in the depths of my soul.

I know that I don't tend to show this 'shut down' flaw in my character too often, because so many of my friends and family comment freqently on my ability to 'do it all'.  The truth is, I try to 'do it all', include mask the discomfort I often feel with what seems like randomness in my life.  Because I don't like to ask for help, I'm often times viewed as 'doing it all'.  In reality, I always feel as though I'm not doing enough--or that what I am doing isn't always what I should be doing--at least not first anyway.  I need to focus on finding priority in the things that I do, and being ok with the fact that in order to accomplish each task to the best of my potential and ability, that I might not get to every item on my list.

I recognize these flaws, and I'm working hard to change the--to fix them.  Not just for me, but for my husband, kids, family, and friends.  Because I'm starting to see how the cracks in my foundation are developing into bigger problems with the whole structure. 

Take my post from January about being a mom-a-holic.  I re-read that post this evening, and as I did, I cried.  I cried because in a few short months, I have noticed a change in me.  While I still love my kids more than life itself, I find myself struggling to find my true identity--to shed away the outer skin of my 'image', and reveal the true person I am on the inside.  I still love to kiss my kids faces, tell them I love them about a million times a day, and take photos as often as I can (nowadays, I'll admit, I'm slightly behind on doing so).  But there's a part of my 'mommy' that's lacking.  I become irritated much too easily.  I am impatient.  I avoid certain activities that allow exploration/learning/just-plain-fun because they're too messy/I'm too tired/I didn't plan for it.  I've allowed the kids to become too dependent on TV and have found myself using it as a babysitter for them (or, a mindless way to spend an entire day for me).

I am feeling as though my life as a mom is in some sort of a 'limbo'.  I think what's happening is that I'm envisioning life with three kids as 'life-with-three-kids-five-years-from-now'--when they're all potty trained (yes, even Brynn!), they don't require naps on a daily basis, can hold a relatively interesting conversation, and can all participate relatively equally in family fun activities. 

Again, I know I sound terrible.  I sound like a mom who is wishing away this precious time that I have now to get to a point when it becomes 'easier'.  That's not it at all.  Parenting never reaches a point where it's 'easier' (at least while they're living under your roof).  Granted, I'm not there yet, but I know once we get past the stage where they require essentially non-stop caretaking, we'll enter into a whole new realm, where they'll need me to solve problems that are bigger than 'my goldfish spilled all over the freshly vacuumed rug'. 

I am absolutely, positively cherishing every moment of this time that I have with the kids.  There is a quote from the book Torn that is one of the countless I've highlighted so far, and it shines light perfectly on what I've come to realize in my five years of mommyhood.  It says 'when you have small children and life is so overwhelming, the days are truly long, but the years are short'.

Today, when I read this, I cried.  It is so, so true.  At the end of this summer break, I send my little boy off to kindergarten.  A place where he'll make new friends, learn new talents and skills, and take with him from home pieces of his life that identify who he is as a little boy.  I want him to be true to himself, to be honest with his feelings, to learn how to embrace change and become stronger because of it. 

In order to make that happen, I need to set a role model.  I need to be open to my feelings, honestly and candidly share them, and above all I need to embrace change.  I need to live in the moment, not plan for the next.  I need to let go, be free, enjoy the beauty of every age and stage of my kids' lives, not plan for 'what we'll do when...'. 

I'm readjusting my definition of 'productive days'.  Some days, productive days might be that we run all our errands, dinner is on the table by a decent hour, and I remember to have the kids brush their teeth before bed (plus I've read them a bedtime story rather than promise it to them the next night).  Other days, productive might mean that we're still in jammies by 3:00 and lunch consisted of popcorn and string cheese.  Even still, we might have days where we abandon all the things that I use to think I *needed* to accomplish, and find something new to experience. 

Yesterday, after my sluggish morning, I began reading a book.  I came across the quote, 'when you have small children and life is so overwhelming, the days are truly long, but the years are short', and promptly put down my Kindle.  I threw on a pair of jeans and a tee, plopped a hat on my head, and packed all three kids into the car.  Our destination?  To Lowes--to buy flowers and soil and containers.  To fulfill a promise I'd made to Brynn when I had to throw away flowers she had planted that had died due to lack of transplanting them in a timely fashion.  Three kids plus flowers and soil and containers required two carts and a lot of patience.  We bumped into each other, knocked over flowers, and at one point nearly rammed a car with our cart full of potted plants.  But I didn't lose my cool.  I was patient, calm, and real.  I didn't make smart-alec jokes to the passersby who watched as our 'circus train' went around the garden center.  I accepted help from others who saw that, at times, I needed it.  It might not sound like much, but I was pretty proud of my impulsivity, my coping techniques when things did not go as planned (i.e. Gavin's cart-steering abilities), and my openess to help. 

When we got home, I couldn't find my gardening gloves (chances are it's because I have a terrible green thumb and Randy very well could have trashed them after my many failed attempts at growing anything other than babies in my belly!).  I also failed to locate our gardening tools (again, could have been trashed...or it's just that I've become such a stranger to them--probably because they dig in the dirt--that I had no idea where they could be hidden.

Either way, my options were limited, but surprisingly, my ambition to create these little container gardens was not.  No gloves?  That's ok...dirt washes off!  No tools?  That's ok, too...you've got hands! (albeit un-gloved hands with nails that are all relatively the same length that are calling out for a manicure...).  And so, we began...

And turned this:

Into these...

I know for many of you, this isn't much...but for me, it was a step.  A postive step in the direction that I've known I need to be heading in all along.  The direction I veered away from for a time all because I was waiting.  I was waiting for that feeling of 'complete', when I could really get down to the nitty gritty of being a well-planned mommy who has it all figured out.  The truth is, I'm never going to have it all figured out.  There isn't a perfect balance or a perfect plan for anything.  Another essayist from Torn wrote, "Expect the unexpected.  Embrace fluidity.  Perhaps what matters most is that you've got a boat at all--and time to enjoy a conversation in it as you travel". 

My soul searching continues...

Until next time

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Witching Hour

Raegan is such a good little baby.  She's easy going, isn't overly fussy, is starting to become entertained by the world going on around her, loves her bouncy seat, and is on a great little sleep schedule. 

Unless is happens to be the 'witching hour'...

Right about the time when I'm needing to rely on her easy-going, easily-entertained, and good-little-sleeper personailty, she becomes demanding.  Needy.  Clingy.  Sad.  Beyond annoyed.  Totally inconsolable. 

This makes it virtually impossible for me to accomplish tasks without going slightly crazy.  Making dinner?, eating dinner?, cleaning up from dinner?...all genereally require two hands.  Spending quality time with Gavin and Brynn?  Changing them into their jammies?  'Cuggling' and reading a bedtime story?...not so 'special' when there's a screaming baby requiring walking, bouncing, 'shushing', dancing, and anything and everything you can think of to keep her content. 

I am beyond thankful that none of my children have had colic, and applaud all the mommies and daddies and older siblings of babies who go through it.  I am beyond thankful that Raegan apparently doesn't realize that every evening offers the opportunity for the 'witching hour' to take place, and that we've experienced it just a few times in Raegan's 6 weeks of life.

I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to experience the 'witching hour' with my baby girl, and that despite her inconsolable nature at times, that she can occassionally find solace in my arms...

...although I might not be beyond thankful for the permanent look of exhaustion that my face carries.

And, on night's like tonight...when I have had two and a half solid hours of 'the witching hour' all while trying to make dinner, clean up the kitchen, and give Gavin and Brynn the attention they require and deserve...I am beyond thankful for moments like this:

Now it's time for mommy to get some sleep!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You can't keep them little

Yesterday we took a trip to Target.  Nothing out of the ordinary, since I've been known to hit up Target at least twice a week.  Diapers, wipes, and a few other necessities were on the list.  Brynn requested a stroll down the toy aisle(s), to which we agreed once we had what we needed.  Of course, she wanted to buy a toy, and of course she wanted a $60 doll.  When we declined her request, we were met with a pout, a 'hmmpf', and a pitiful look reminiscent of Puss in Boots from the Shrek movies.  Nothing we haven't experienced before, so we knew that ignoring her (while smirking behind her back at her adorable attempt) was our best defense. 

As we headed toward the check-out, we strolled past the books.  I found a Dora book I thought Brynn would like and offered it in exchange for the pouty face.  She took the bait and we were on our way.  Until I caught a glimpse of a title that I could not pass by: If I Could Keep You Little... by Marianne Richmond.  Think Guess How Much I Love You, Oh, The Places You'll Go, and Love You Forever, and you're along the same 'pluck-the-heartstrings-of-a-mommy' books.  Seeing as how I have all of those titles, I picked up the book and promptly put it into my cart. 

As we were leaving, Brynn decided to revisit her earlier mood (grumpy), and proceeded to have a bit of a fit because she wasn't getting a toy.  That's about when I took her book and removed it from the cart, because there's no way her behavior warrants anything that could be viewed as a 'reward'.  Well.  That wasn't a great move on my part if I wanted to avoid gaining the attention of the entire check out area of Target.  Thankfully, I didn't care who witnessed her temper tantrum, I cared about my parenting.  The message was going to be clear: "we.do.not.act.like.that.".  The tantrum elevated to the point where I wasn't able to contain her writhing little body, so daddy stepped in to help remove her from the store.  She screamed.  She cried.  She begged for her mommy, the book, and a toy.  She received none of them.  Randy struggled to strap her into her carseat, while I had to ignore and let him handle it.  When we climbed into our seats, we looked at each other with a bit of exasperation.  Randy seemed a little taken aback by her 'performance', and was just about to say something about it when 'whooosh!', a small purse came *flying* from the backseat in our direction, landing on the gear shifter.  Daddy did not find this amusing.  And Brynn?  She was not a fan of the response she received for her actions.  Needless to say, it was a quiet ride home (minus the occassional *sniff* from the backseat.  Thankfully, during all this, Raegan slept--we don't need her learning this behavior!)

When we got home, I was unpacking the bags and remembered I had bought myself (ok, the kids) the book.  I sat down on the couch to feed Raegan and flipped through the pages.  I was reading the story, finding myself tearing up (I told you--I'm a sap!).  The general message of the story highlights the diachotomy of cherishing the 'now' of every stage your child goes through with the often times heartbreaking experience of watching your child grow up.  Basically, I felt like the book was written for me (as I'm sure that every mom would feel this way after reading the book). 

I am going through a bit of a struggle right now, as I'm still finding the balance between mommy-of-three, wife, friend, daughter, and 'me'.  I want to cherish and savor every single moment of Raegan at every age, as I did with the other two, but even moreso because I know it's the last time I'll have these experiences.  The trouble with that is that I have two other kids who deserve just as much attention (and, in Brynn's case--demand that attention!).  I also have friends, family, and a husband, all who deserve my participation in the relationship.  Plus, I need to make sure I'm remembering what makes me, me, and stay true to that.  Whew.  I never thought that at nearly 6 weeks post pardum, I'd still be struggling.  I assumed that I'd 'have it figured out' by now...or at least feel a little more settled about it.

I have a lot of guilt.  Guilt because I'm always wanting to be a better mom, wife, friend, etc.  Guilt because while I say I want to cherish every minute of my childrens' lives, I find myself being annoyed by some of the little things, that in reality, shouldn't be that big of a deal.  Guilt because I feel bad asking Randy for help, and if/when I do, I don't feel like I do it in the nicest way.  Guilt because I want desperately to make time for myself (read, work out, just 'be alone'), but always put that as the bottom of my priority list because I feel guilty about asking Randy (or anyone) to take the kids for a while (yikes, that's double guilt).  I could go on, but you get it.  Guilt.

Randy's told me that I'm a people pleaser.  This, I know.  I don't want to offend people, or do something that will upset them, or make them not like me.  My addiction to approval has been something I've dealing for a while, but it's starting to catch up with me, and starting to affect the relationships with the people that mean the most to me.

It sounds funny (or even hypocritical) saying I don't like to upset people or have them not like me, all the while letting my daughter have a temper tantrum in public because she didn't get a toy.  I'm sure I annoyed people in the check out lines, but at that particular time, I didn't care.  Brynn was learning a lesson, or at least taking a step toward learning a lesson.  Being true to my parenting beliefs trumps whatever feelings people may have about me.  She might temporarily cause people to be annoyed by her screaming, but in the long run, being a good mom will turn her into a good person.  While I can't keep them little forever, I can instill in them what they need to become the people they're supposed to be.

While I continue to struggle with this balance, I cherish every moment I have with each of my kids...the smiles I'm starting to get from Raegan, the extra bed time kiss I'm surprised with from Gavin, and even the Target temper tantrums I have to endure from Brynn.

5 week old giraffe :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

the best mom

On Wednesday we had a ‘girl’s lunch’ with my dear friend.  She had recently taken a trip and happened to see a sign in an airport that made her think of my family.  Can you imagine why?

Of course the ‘giraffes’ fit in well; as it seems like I’ve been seeing giraffes all over the place since Brynn gave her input as to what her thoughts were on the baby.  But what struck me even more than the giraffes was the saying written in the sky. 

I thought about what it is that I do best.  I do a lot of things well, but best?  How do you define best?  Well, I looked it up in the dictionary (there's the teacher in me), and I found this: excelling all others,  most productive of good : offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction.

So, when I first read the poster and thought about what I did best, my immediate response was 'being a mom'.  Then, I read the definition of 'best'.  For a few moments, I was reconsidering my response.  I mean, it sounds somewhat pompous to attribute 'excelling all others' to my mommyhood.  I neither compare myself to other moms, nor do I strive to excel all other mommies.  But then I put a different spin on it...or rather, I kept reading the definition.  'Offering the greatest (satisfaction).'  When it comes to mommyhood, who is my primary audience?  My kids, of course.  Just like any good mommy, my goal is to give my kids everything that they need, instill morals and values, keep them safe, and shower them with unconditional love.  The ideal outcome is for my children to become well-rounded, successful adults who work hard to acheive their goals, and live the best life they can.

Ok, so I have to provide my kids with the best life possible, I have to be a mommy who offers the greatest satisfaction in their lives.  It doesn't sound too challenging--just focus all my efforts on my kids, and volia! Happy, healthy kids...right?  Hmm...if you base this on the past few weeks, then no.  No, no, no.  I focus all of my energies, all my efforts, all my best 'mom stuff', and there were still ocassions where I was called 'mean mommy' when I refuse candy as a snack, jealous children while I attended to the needs of others, dinners needing to be cooked while a baby screamed, and countless other 'mommy' tasks.  All this, while trying to maintain some sense of sanity in our ever-changing household.

My long-term sub text me today to see how things were going.  When I told her that I'm trying to adjust to the fact that I can't plan like I usually do, she responded with some common sense advice that I needed to be reminded of.  She said, 'sometimes you just gotta go with the flow and NOT plan!'.  One reason I consider mommyhood as the thing I do best is because I'm a planner.  I like things to have a system of organization--I have this constant running script of what I'd ideally like to happen so things run smoothly.  Take away the ability/need to plan...where does that leave me? 

The problem isn't with my ability to be the best mommy, but rather my understanding of how to adjust my perspective of best mommy.  Sure, I'm a planner.  But right now, my life is being lead by 3 young little minds who all have different needs, different abilities, different perspectives.  Over the past 3 1/2 weeks, I have faced the harsh reminder of just how much work an infant can be.  Many people told me that the third child just fits right in to the family, because frankly, they have no choice otherwise because the family unit has really become established, is able to function well.  I went through pregnancy assuming that Raegan would just adjust into the little box of 'our life'.  Then, she arrived.  And she's an infant.  A needy, nursing infant with the inability to sleep through the night, verbalize what she needs, and do anything at all for herself. 

I knew this going into the whole 'third baby' thing...of course I did.  But you sort of forget these things when you're so adjusted into a particular lifestyle.  And now, we're needing to adjust.  Correction: I need to adjust.  I need to follow my friend's advice and 'go with the flow'.  I need to realize that while at the present time I might not be able to plan what tomorrow, or even later today might look like, I can live in the moment and appreciate them, regardless of how they might look 'on paper'.

For example, yesterday, I did nothing.  Literally.  Ok, so I drove my mom to the airport, and of course did the usual necessities (restroom, change diapers, eat), but otherwise?  Nada.  Brynn and I watched The Princess and the Frog while Raegan ate and snoozed, snoozed and ate (and ate, and ate!).  I cuddled my girls on the couch (Gavin was hanging out with daddy in the basement).  I had laundry, dishes, vacuuming, and other odds and ends I could have been doingl  But because I want to be the best mom, and be better at doing so, I opted to do nothing--hold my kids, cuddle, kiss, and laugh with them.  I guess, when you think about it...that's not 'nothing', but everything.

I want to be the best mom I can be for my kids.  I want to keep working, adjusting, changing, revising all the necessary components of being a great mom.  In my efforts to do so, I am doing what I do best...and doing it better.  Mission: never accomplished...but rather in thoughtful and purposeful progress.  I rock.

they make me want to be better :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

a birthday post for my little boy

This morning, I experienced a pretty surreal event.  This morning, I sat in the library of an elementary school, listening to a principal speak.  I've done this countless times, however the role I played today was very different than any I've ever played before.  Today, rather than a classroom teacher, I was simply 'mommy'  (Not that being 'mommy' is ever something that can be done 'simply').  Today, I didn't have to focus on anyone else's children, I didn't have to plan what I'd say to parents or what I'd teach my class.  Today, I didn't have to do any paperwork (other than fill out a name tag and write my email address on a sign-up sheet!).  The only responsibilities that I had were to pay attention to what the principal was telling the group about preparing your child for kindergarten, and watch my son's reaction towards and excitement for kindergarten.

Today I got the first true taste of what the next phase of my life will be.  Today I realized that in a few short months, I will have a child in kindergarten.  Today I realized that my handsome and sweet little boy is on the verge of becoming a 'school aged kid'.  For now, he's existing in a limbo between late toddlerhood and 'little boy hood'.  Today Gavin had a meet and greet at his school, an oppurtunity to become familiarized with the school he'll be attending this coming fall.  I had the opportunity to sit amongst other moms and dads, and reflect on the speed at which the past five years have passed...

May 9, 2006

Five years ago tonight, I was blessed with an amazing gift  My life suddenly had new purpose.  The events of that day were exhausting in many ways: mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically.  We had several tense moments where our faith was on the verge of being tested in multiple ways, but God was watching over us that night, as he has always, and blessed us with a 7 pound, 4 ounce handsome baby boy.  Five years ago tonight, I became a mommy. 

As I sat in the library today, I was watching Gavin's expressions and mannerisms, the little quirks that make him unique.  I listened as he told me he wanted to 'get outta here' because 'this place is boring' (we were waiting for the tours to begin).  And as we roamed the hallways of the school, I did so wearing a different set of glasses than I ever have walking the hallways of an elementary school.

I saw student work hanging all over the walls, student artwork covering nearly every available nook and cranny of the hallways, and students who were hard at work to expand their knowledge.  As we walked, the names on the pages blurred.  The faces in the classroom blurred.  They became ghosts of their true indentities and took the shape of my son.  I could envision Gavin's handwritten name adorning the tops of the pages, his initials haphazardly scrawled into the artwork, and his face looking back toward his teacher in wonderment of the information she was teaching the class.

I could picture my sweet 'baby' boy in a whole new role--a student.  The role of a student is one that I know well, however Gavin as a student is something that I'm only beginning to experience.  Preschool has provided me with work to hang on the fridge, stories at dinner time about what classmates did that landed them in time out, and many 'trial runs' at dropping off my pride and joy, my little boy, into the hands of other adults and entrusting his education and well-being in their hands.  Preschool has given him a wonderful base on which to build upon his educational future, but now, the *real* work begins.  Now comes reading, phonics, comprehension, story writing, math algorithms, science experiements, and history lessons.  Now, he becomes a student.

For five years, either Randy or I have been the primary source for Gavin's education.  We controlled what books he'd read, toys he'd play with, food he'd eat, friends he'd play with, and experiences he'd have (within reason of course, as some things are simply beyond our control).  We know as parents that it's our job to make sure his life is filled with rich experiences that help him learn and contribute to the man he will grow up to be.  Over the past five years, we have watched closely as our little boy grew and changed and became the big boy he is today.  It seemed to happen slowly while in the midst of it.  It seemed like the time for him to become a kindergartener was so far off in the distance, like we had loads of time before it was reality.  Then...bam!  Reality hits. 

He's growing up, and at a rate that I'm far too uncomfortable with.  Perhaps my current perspective is slightly skewed because for the past three weeks, Raegan's developemental stage has shined new light on Gavin's abilities and capabilities.  He's capable of being such an independent and responsible little boy.  He loves to help out, can keep himself entertained, and is much more self-sufficient than perhaps I'm ready for him to be.  But, on the other hand, his independence is a welcome sight for these tired mommy eyes.  I'm not ready for this stage, but I'm welcoming it, especially at times when I'm pre-occupied by the youngest princesses in the household.

I told Gavin the on Sunday night as I tucked him in that I'd probably cry on his birthday.  I'm proud of myself because while I did shed a few small tears, no one saw them (or if they did, they didn't notice).  The tears of sadness are in mourning for the times I'll only be able to treasure in photos; but the tears of joy, excitement, anticipation, and pride are the tears that fall from my eyes late tonight.  I know that we're doing our job well.  We've spent five years dedicated to his growth and maturity, preparing him for the times when he won't be with us so that he'll know how to interact, how to respond, how to function appropriately.  We'll never stop being dedicated to our son (or our daughters, obviously), however in a few months, we'll watch as the dedication we've shown up to the this point comes to fruition as he has a successful and amazing start to his school years.

Five years ago tonight my life changed forever...my life had new purpose...and my life became richer and fuller than I ever thought imaginable.  All because of one title, one person, one miracle.

Happy 5th birthday, Gavin!  Mommy and Daddy love you more than anything!  We are so proud of the little boy you have become!!

ziplining at his birthday party this past weekend

the best big brother in the world!

bowling on his birthday

his new-found hobby

Monday, May 2, 2011

3 is better than 2...right?

I stopped in to work today, to drop off some stuff for our upcoming Fun Run.  It was one of my many, many things that I did today, perhaps too many things that I did today.  My friends were happy to see me, meet Raegan, and of course compliment Brynn on being such a great big sister.  Gavin was at preschool, which was a bit of a blessing, as he would have been a little bored by the whole day of running place to place.

I was happy to see my friends and introduce them to our new little peanut...that is, until they asked the inevitable question.  "How are you doing?"  Ugh.  What a challenging question to ask a mom of a newborn...let alone a mom of a newborn plus two.  In an ideal world, the response to this question would be filled with nothing but happiness, butterflies, kittens, rainbows, bunnies...all things wonderful.  But we don't live in an ideal world, do we?

Don't get me wrong.  I am in.love with Raegan, Brynn, and Gavin.  I wouldn't trade in a single moment of mommyhood for anything in the world.  Even a nap.  Or a chocolate hazelnut candy bar.  Or a really great glass of red wine.  But in the past two weeks, I've come to realize some of ways in which three kids is a totally different story than two. 

1. Having three kids means that there's a really good chance that at any given time, someone isn't happy.  Most often, there's an even better chance that multiple people aren't happy.  During a typical day, we run the risk of have people crying, fighting, over-tired, hungry, jealous, lonely, whiney, pouty, or just plain grumpy.  Actually, it's not a risk.  It's a fact.

2.  Having three kids means that in addition to having four thousand mood changes throughout the day, there are seven thousand times during the day when I need to meet the needs of someone other than myself.  In a 24 hour period, I fill sippy cups 32 times, open 8 packages of gummies or granola bars or cheese sticks, change 18 diapers and 4 pull-ups (thankyouBrynn!), wipe snotty noses 59 times, read the same book 4 times, watch the same movie 2--sometimes 3 times, nurse 16 times, give 10 'owwies' kisses, send kids to time out 6 times, and use the bathroom 2 maybe 3 times (only one of those times gets to be by myself).

3. Having three kids means that the large majority of those seven thousand requests occur during the 16 times that I'm nursing.  It's as though the moment I've become 'less available', they need me to be more available.  Thankfully I have all but mastered the art of the 'nurse and walk', the 'nurse and discipline', and the ever-popular 'nurse and do-whatever-is-necessary-to-make-their-whining-stop'.  I bet most of the uber breastfeeding moms are appauled by that admission.  But to be honest, I don't have the time during daylight hours to view breastfeeding as something much more than a means to keep one of them happy.  The bonding doesn't get to happen when the sun is shining.  That's what 2:00 a.m. is for--the television at that time is crap anyways.

4. Having three kids means that my poor, sweet little Raegan has learned at the tiny age of two weeks that she is going to need to 'go with the flow'.  Her screams and cries are important to me, and I know I need to attend to them.  But sometimes, she just will have to wait.  For the time being, that works.  So long as she's in a safe place, I can let her cry and walk (or run) away.  She can't follow me like the other two.  And the other two are like little St. Bernards in an avalanche.  They.can.find.me.anywhere.

5.  Having three kids means that now that Randy's vacation is over, I can all but kiss my mid-day naps goodbye.  Sure, Raegan might be sleeping...but Brynn isn't.  And Brynn?  She's got lipgloss stashed all over the house, and isn't afraid to use it...on anything that isn't her lips.  So, while I'd *love* to sleep while the baby sleeps...I'm fairly certain the only way to make that a possibility might be to duct tape B to a chair--and I'm 100% certain that's highly frowned upon, if not illegal.

6. Having three kids meant that Gavin and Brynn have grown to adore each other even more.  I mean, they definitely have their moments of tears, whining, smacking, and the ever-popular  'you're not my friend anymore', however they do love each other.  Even moreso now, because they've realized that Raegan is pretty much incapable of joining in on the fun--for now.  The older two take care of each other and themselves far more than they had before...or maybe it's just that I'm noticing it more since Raegan's barely able to hold a binkie in her mouth.  They hug each other if they're sad or hurt.  They are perfecting the art of compromise (at times).  Brynn misses her brother when he's at preschool, and Gavin (despite his 'manly' facade), adores playing with Brynn--we think mainly it's because she idolizes him and he can basically get her to do anything he wants.  They are both becoming far more responsible (just the other day, Gavin poured his own cereal--milk included *shudder*, thankfully no spills though!).  Brynn, albeit still a v-e-r-y distant relative to the potty, is becoming more capable of dressing herself (she has mastered undressing herself many months ago!), and also wants to buckle herself into her carseat now, just like Gavin.    Their newfound responsibility is adorable--and appreciated.

7. Having three kids, especially one of whom is a newborn, means that I have to re-evaluate and re-prioritize my daily accomplishments.  There will be days when my greatest acheivement might be getting the oil changed in my car (tomorrow's goal).  I might only get to the point where I've got all three kids from one pair of pajamas into a clean pair of pajamas by 5:00 p.m.  And still, there might be days when I do a *ton* of stuff, but my favorite and best part of the day is the 20 or 30 minutes when I get to cuddle up on the couch with all three of my babies, watching a mindless episode of Spongebob to unwind before tucking each one of them into their beds, kissing their sweet little faces, and sending them off to dreamland. 

8.  Having three kids means you learn how to take your already amazingly full heart and find yet even more space for this new little person, more space for the two kids you already have, and more space for the amazing husband who gave you these beautiful gifts. 


weightliter Brynn

WHY did I only buy one?

how she sleeps through the fighting, I'll never know

her face captures my thoughts exactly