Monday, November 21, 2011

Sick day

Recently, I've been struggling to feel like I'm staying afloat while staying sane.  Hence the large lapse in my posts (which, of course, brings on more guilt that adds to that drowning feeling).  The purpose of my blog is to document memories for my kids, and unfortunately I've been allowing the madness of life to take over the desire I've had to write for them.

We've been coping with busy schedules, ear infections, pink eye, tummy viruses, an overcommitted mommy, and the general goings on of life.  In the past week and a half, It seems like each time I'd get my schedule in order and begin to make headway, a kink would knock me off balance for a moment and test my patience, and my sanity.

The most recent twist came last evening, when Gavin came down with a stomach virus while we were at our friend's house for an early Thanksgiving celebration.  With Randy's challenging schedule, I was the one to stay home with the troops and play the various roles so all the needs of all three kids could be met. 

At one point this morning, I was in the kitchen baking (shocking, I know), and the kids were finishing Disney's Cars on DVD.  They were playing 'restaurant' duing the movie, as it was approaching lunch time, and Brynn wanted to take orders for mommy, the short-order cook.  Gavin, who was starting to feel better late morning, was playing the role of waiter, when he handed Brynn a 'menu' (one of my old magazines). 

I couldn't see, as the kitchen is around the corner from the living room, but I could hear their entire conversation.  It went something like this:
Gavin: "Here's your menu, lady."
Brynn: "Thank you, waiter" (pause....pause...pause--I assume she was flipping through so she could 'decide').  "!" (audible gasp)
Gavin: (whispers) "You'd better say sorry"
*it was at this point, that I assumed that Gavin meant Brynn should apologize to Santa, as they are already brilliantly aware that 'Santa is watching'
Brynn: "Why, Gavin? Is God a bad word?"
Gavin: "It's not a really bad word, but you can't say 'God' to God"
Brynn: "Oh. (pause...pause...pause...) I'm sorry, God.  Don't be mad at me.
Gavin: "Brynn, God doesn't get mad."
Brynn: "He doesn't?  Will my Grandpa get mad?  He's with God"
Gavin: "No, God and Grandpa don't get mad, but you just can't say their names like that, ok?"
Brynn: "Ok, Gav, I won't.  (pause...pause...) I'm sorry God and Grandpa".  Then, (to no one in particular): "Grandpa is with God now.  I 'weewly love my Grandpa.  Grandpa is an angel.
Gavin: "Brynn, we know this."
Brynn: "Yeah.  He is with God but I want to see him."
Gavin: "Brynn, just go look at a picture.  He's right over there in the picture."
Brynn: "No, I'm going to have a dream about him.  I like to dream about Grandpa". 
Gavin: "Brynn, you can't say what you want in your dreams.  Dreams are when you're asleep."
Brynn: "Soooo...I can dream about him.  He really loves me.  And Raegan.  He loves her a lot.  And you.  He loves all the people in our home."

Brynn was quiet for a while, and then said, "Gavin, I told Grandpa to make you feel better so we could play.  I don't want you to be sick, I want to stay home with you and play".

Brynn has been telling me a lot about her Grandpa recently, asking a lot of questions, and telling me how much she loves and misses him.  The funny thing is, Brynn met Grandpa once, when she was 4 months old.  Shes been telling me he has a beard and his face looks like daddy's.

At this point, I walked into the living room, to see Brynn's face through all this.  She looked matter-of- fact.  She was staring off into space, but had a beautiful smile on her face. 

So, I asked her: "Brynn, are you happy Gavin is feeling better so you can play?"
She responded, with a smirk on her face, "yeeesssss" 
That smirk meant something, as if she knew a secret.

A little later this evening, Brynn was helping me with dinner, being my sous chef and chopping zucchini really small.  She kept asking, "mommy, are you so proud of me?", as she chop, chop, chopped.  I told her I was very, very proud of her, and so thankful for her being such a wonderful helper today.  She said, "I know, mommy...I didn't get sick so that I can be your helper.  Grandpa doesn't like me to be sick, so I'm not sick". 

I put my knife down and turned to my daughter.  "Who made you not be sick, Brynn?" (I know, the grammar is terrible, but that's how she sometimes understands what it is that we're saying).  Brynn responded, "God, mommy.  I told Grandpa I don't want to be sick because that's not fun for me.  So, he made me not be sick.  I wanted to stay with my brother today."

And just like that, the three or four 'to do' lists I have going on, the stress I let compound as this past week became more and more complex, and the frustration I was experiencing this morning as I bounced a sobbing baby on my knee while cuddling with a feverish five year old all while trying to put together coherent sentences for my sub plans suddenly melted away.  We stood there, mommy and daughter, chopping veggies and scooping meatballs for dinner.  Sure, I accomplished a few odds and ends today, but I got to stay home with my kids--and be their mom.

I was just reading a book not too long ago when I came across this: 'no matter how well we do in one area, we always feel that we're falling short in another.  Seconds, we continually look to the wrong places to feel valuable.  We look at how well we perform at various functions rather than accepting that we are valuable simply because we are our kids' moms and we are loved and needed because of that'.  Ask me yesterday if a sick day was an ideal or desirable thing to experience, and my annoyance with even the premise of it would have been written all over my face.  But today, I got to be mommy, nurse, circus entertainer, comedian, singer, short order cook, waitress, cuddler, nurterer, boo-boo-kisser, snot wiper, and the recipient of many amazing hugs and smooches from my three affectionate kiddies. 

Usually, the large number of roles that I fill increases my level of stress, as I have a hard time saying 'no', and therefore I become overcommitted.  Today, while we were snuggled on the couch in the morning to watch one of 'their shows', I made a decision to put the 'to do' out of my mind for the day, and to spend some of my quiet time reflecting.  I've been praying for my father-in-law, and especially my mother-in-law, as the holidays approach.  I wish I 'talked' to him the way it seems Brynn does.  And with the holidays approaching, and that ever growing 'to do' list that I simply cannot ignore, I will take the inspiration from my daughter, and ask my father-in-law to watch over me so I don't wind up sick, like the rest of them!

Thank you, Brynn...for your willingness to share, talk, question, and be open.  Your free spirit reminds me of what my heart had been overlooking as my mind spun out of control when things went wrong.  In all your adorableness, and your spontaneous and genuine've re-centered me, at just the right time of year.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The age of innocence

I've had people ask me what is my 'favorite phase' of my experiences in motherhood.  It's a hard question to answer, because every age and phase has its own unique set of characteristics that you love and cherish (of course, there are also characteristics of each phase that aren't so thrilling and adorable--i.e. the random level 6 meltdown that Brynn has been known to demonstrate in the middle of Target or the grocery store).

One of the coolest characteristics of the kindergarten age is the perfect blend of 'knowledgeable sponge-like pupil' and 'sweet, innocent child'.  When I pick Gavin up from school, he and I have the opportunity to share about 15 minutes of peace and special conversation.  He shares what he's doing in school, what his teacher has been teaching him, and what events transpired during recess or BASE (before/after school).  It's adorable to hear him speak of Mrs. Irwin as though everything that comes out of her mouth is gospel.  I know he listens very carefully in class, and he's learning the art of being intuitive.  Just the other day, he told me his entire daily routine.  After he was finished, I told him I was amazed at how much they did, and how I would be so tired after a day of kindergarten.  He proceeded to tell me how his teacher is never tired, even with all the kids she has to teach, questions she has to answer, and directions she has to repeat.  In one instant, he went from being the 'knowledgeable pupil' who knew the ins and outs of how he's learning in kindergaren, to an 'innocent child' who lives under the impression that his teacher is similar to a superhero.  (I shared this story with his teacher, and she was tickled by his interpretation of her energy level :)


There's something about Gavin's age that I'm not a fan of--loose teeth.  I'm not in love with the constant wiggling, and the concept of the tooth falling out reminds me of a recurring nightmare I've had several times where my teeth crumble and I spit them out continuously (gross). 

This morning, while brushing his teeth, Gavin realized that his once unbelieveably wiggly tooth was no longer in the place where it had been patiently waiting to be freed from its temporary home.  Needless to say, he was concerned.  First, he thought it was in his bed.  Then, he thought he swallowed the tooth in his sleep, or with his cereal.  That's when his little innocent mind began processing at a faster rate--a more profitable rate. 

His concern shifted from the potential 'lost' tooth to the potential of lost profits.  "What will the Tooth Fairy do about my tooth?!", he pondered.  "Will she even come to visit tonight?", he asked quizzically.  "Oh no! What about my money?", he asked, frantically.  I assured him we'd get it straightened out in the evening, you know, when we don't have about 3 minutes to get out the door and on the way to work on time in the mini-blizzard-like conditions we were having at that time of day.


After basketball practice ended, we came home and went on a tooth hunt.  We searched the sheets, the floor next to the bed, and underneath Eeyore's tush.  No luck.  I could see the concern washing across his sweet little face.  Quickly, I scurried him down to the dining table and set him up with a pencil and paper.  He proceeded to compose a letter to explain his current plight. 
I asked him what he wanted to say, so I could scribe it for him to use as a model for his own work. "Dear Tooth Fairy,

I lost my tooth and can't find it.
Can I still have some money?
Love, Gavin

During his entire letter-writing experience, he was bouncing back and forth between teaching me all he knows about the words and letters he is writing, and the innocent child, desperate to make his plea to the Tooth Fairy in neat handwriting.  Brynn wasn't making the experience any easier, as she taunted Gavin with the possibility that the Tooth Fairy would say 'too bad, Gavin', and ignore his request (another one of those *fun* characteristics of a 3 year old girl that I just *adore*--and will absolutely not miss when it has passed!).

In the end, the letter was completed, and he went to bed as a trusting and innocent five year old, anxiously awaiting to reap the benefits of a very kind and understanding Tooth Fairy.  Good thing for him, we're blessed to have a very kind and understanding Tooth Fairy (and, double bonus--he will get to taunt Brynn as he drops his new coins into his piggy bank tomorrow morning!)

Innocence...a characteristic that has breached so many of the ages/phases that we've experienced so far.  As Gavin develops and learns in school, I know that the trusting innocence of a child will be replaced by the knowledge of a very knowledgeable and sponge-like pupil.  I pray for that innocence to hang on as long as possible...we've got a lot more teeth to lose in this household....