Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Serenity NOW!


Synonyms of this word include calmness, composure, patience, tranquility.  
Antonyms?  Agitation, disruption, disturbance, trouble.  See also: a day in the life of a mom.

Moments of sweet bliss that can appear throughout the day as an opportunity to take a step back and regain perspective.  Perspective seems to be an area with which I struggle when I'm in the trenches with mothering.  It's not necessarily that I don't have perspective, but rather sometimes it's so narrow that I'm not taking a moment to broaden the lens to find a reason for the tantrum, a purpose behind the question, the initial cause of the fight, or an alternate {read: calmer} way to handle a situation.  The results have led me down a path of knee-jerk reactions, unnecessary yelling, and wrongful imprisonment {relax...it's just a time-out in their toy-filled, spacious bedrooms complete with ventilation, light, and electricity.  They drive me bananas, but I'm not a tyrant!}.  Sometimes most days it's not easy to keep that perspective wide enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel {bed time?!}.  Yesterday was one of 'those' days.

Our neighborhood pool is always closed on Mondays; which in my humble opinion shows that the person who came up with this *brilliant* idea is not a mom of young children.  I rely on the gloriousness of my children's post-swim stupor to help me accomplish a few additional things on my 'to do' list.  Ok.  I lie.  I actually use that time to catch up on Facebook, play some Candy Crush, or clear a show or two off the DVR.  But still.  Aside from the whole exercise and Vitamin D part of being at the pool, the after effects can be pretty awesome.  The number of fights reduce, the eyes glaze over and occasionally even close, and their energy levels are just about right to do not much other than play mindlessly with Legos, Barbies, or crayons.

With the hopes of a chlorine-induced siesta out the window, I planned to take the kids to the library to replenish the empty bag since we had returned books last week in the middle of an errand-running marathon.  The morning had been filled with endless arguments, whiny battles over who loved whom more {I guess there are worse things they could be fighting about}, a non-stop trail of random toy scatter, and a litany of questions that would even get on the Riddler's nerves.  It was also filled with the darkened skies of an emerging thunderstorm.

Determined to not let it rain on our parade library books, I scurried around the house to get everyone out the door before another 'Moommmmmmm!' could emerge from their goldfish crumb-laden lips.  Just as I slid into my flops, the skies opened and washed away my desire to struggle a toddler into a car seat in the middle of the deluge.  Back into the house marched the confused tears of a toddler, foot stamping annoyance of a five year old, and ornery indifference of a seven year old.  The cats and dogs commenced their fights as I turned the Keurig back on for another cup of energy.

Eventually, we did make it to the library.  However, the allure of row upon row of neatly displayed book spines was lost upon the drool-inducing, colorful flashing screens of the touch-screen computer games.  In the middle of the children's area, a round table boasting three free screens paved the way for three children to whoop it up and rip-roar through the otherwise peaceful goings on of a library to stake their claim.  A tiny part of me wanted join in with the other patrons of the library and look around in dismay for the mother who would let their children act in such a manner.  But, with a look around that said, "look, I'm doing the best I can today!", I hurried over to calm my three howler monkeys who had shifted their noise level from arguing over who had which computer to pleas of, "MOMMMMM, I NEED HELLLLLLLP!".

The serene picture of three children happily tapping away at their screens while I browsed the shelves for a selection of picture books lasted roughly 27.8 seconds before I heard the calls of 'MOMMMM' from two of my three joy-sucking delightful little offspring.  This trend continued for the remainder of my sanity their computer time; help Thing 1, watch Thing 2, hush Thing 3, snag a book or two from the shelves, assist Thing 2, watch Thing 1, hush Thing 3, haphazardly grab some more books.

It wasn't long before one computer had begun speaking Spanish {"Mom, I swear I didn't do anything, it just started doing that!"}, one computer was being operated by a child who needed me to give the okay before each and every single touch of the screen, and one computer had been abandoned by a child who also decided shoes were also optional as well as manners, respect, and a general code of conduct for library patrons.  She {any guesses as to whom I'm referring?} had turned the library shelves into her own personal labyrinth.  But rather than walk slowly and ponder a question or meditate on an idea, she raced around in random circles, her speeds approaching those of a Kentucky Derby horse and her whooping at volumes that only a room full of fraternity brothers could appreciate.

The disapproving eyes of the librarians, the dismayed glares of other mothers, and the annoyed stares from the whole patronage of the library fell upon me as I wrangled my toddler, picked up her shoes and firmly stated to the children, "it.is.time.to.leave.    NOW."  I grabbed our library bag containing who-knew-what that I'd grabbed during those *serene* pockets of 'time' between the incessant cries of children who needed help getting to the next level {or the next language}, lifted my shrieking and wiggly toddler onto my hip and headed for the check-out desk.

At some point in the 38 step journey (that felt like 1/2 mile), wiggly toddler managed to turn upside down in my arms where she proceeded to take her volume to an even more obnoxious level, thus re-attracting the attention of those who had looked away in annoyed disgust at my inability to will my child to behave.  It was about this point when she decided to lift the denim skirt I immediately regretted wearing that day, providing those who couldn't look away from this train wreck a whole new side of me.  Up until then, I had kept an outwardly forced smile, because hey, many of these people had to be parents and empathize with what I was going through, right?  At some point as the skirt reached the top of my leg, a blindness came over me and tiny specks of colorful light flashed before my eyes.  I'd like to think it was the colorful language that was swirling around in my head providing me with my own personal fireworks display.  I'd also like to think I kept the smile on my face...but I'm fairly certain no one was looking at my smile.

We could not get out the door quickly enough, but I knew that I'd have three tantrums to deal with if we didn't bring home Fancy Nancy, The Lorax, and the other characters fearfully hiding within the pages of the books I'd selected.

As if Moses himself were present in the library, sea of patrons awaiting check out parted and I approached the desk, shoving my card in her general direction.  The Annoyed Librarian {A.L.} scanned the card and then paused to look at the screen.

A.L.: "Oh.  It appears as though you have an overdue here."
Pathetic, Horrified Me: "What. {Raegan, stop. Gavin, take your sister's hand.} Is. {Raegan, stop.  Brynn, go sit on that bench.  Raegan, stop.}  The. Title? {Raega! Stop!}"
A.L.: "Mommy's Little Monster."
PHM: "You're shitting me, right?"
A.L.: "Uh...no, Ma'am.  It says 'overdue' right here."
PHM: "I mean the title.  Mommy's Little Monster?  Is this some sort of joke?"

unearthed from behind our 'shoe bench'...which  is also where we keep our library bag...

Apparently, it wasn't.

Oh.  And you might be wondering what that light green box was right above the book in that picture?  {or, maybe you didn't notice and now you're scrolling back to look}.

That, my friends, is serenity in the form of a half dozen sweet treats.

It's not what you're thinking.  I did not reward the misbehavior of Mommy's Little Monster with cupcakes.  The reward was actually for me.  A sugar-filled badge that gave me a few moments of calmness and composure.

A cupcake for a tantrum you ask?  Trust me, if that were the case, I'd go through at least a dozen and a half. By Wednesday.

No, no.  The cupcakes came as a result of not only the library debacle, but the events leading up to the library, as well as the {continued and just as unfortunate} events that occurred after the library.

I could write it all out for you here, but honestly, it's probably just as effective in bulleted points as it would have been in long-winded, sarcastic, satirical fashion.

~we wound up having lunch with daddy {woohoo!} at Burger King {not my first choice...but the less waiting time, the better}
~ordered food for children {surprisingly accurately} in the midst of a barrage of "Mommmms", whines, skirt tugs {at least it wasn't 'lifts'!}, demands for chocolate-milk-orange-soda-apple-fries-cheeseburger-but-no-pickles.
~specify my order to have 'no mayonnaise' {not really an 'issue'...but, as I'm sure you can imagine, this point will be revisited again}.
~Gavin's order filled incorrectly, manager attempts to argue with Randy over what was clearly stated on the receipt, and tries to charge him for the change.
~Raegan does not follow our family rule of 'don't tip, just sip' with her container of milk, thus spilling chocolate milk on her dress.
~open my sandwich to find, you guessed it, mayonnaise.  Return to counter to have manager attempt to argue with me, telling me that it isn't mayonnaise and that I should have asked for 'no mayonnaise'.  I {calmly} explain that I did ask for 'no mayonnaise', and then asked if it wasn't mayonnaise, what was that on the top of my sandwich bun {what little appetite I had was practically diminished at this point}
~find a hair.  A. HAIR. poking through the breading of Raegan's chicken nugget.  {vom}.  Upon inspection to make sure I was in fact seeing what I was seeing, drop the hairy nugget only to have it land on the last few bites of my {mayonnaise-free, but not frustration-free} sandwich. {appetite vanished, stomach churning}
~visit the counter yet again, only to have the manager attempt to argue with me yet again.  She denies responsibility and passes blame onto the company {whom she represents, by the way}, stating the hair was there when they processed the chicken nuggets {pang of internal mommy guilt for the word 'processed'...we should have just gone home after the library}.  So, I return to family, baffled at the manager's inability to attempt to right even one situation in this debacle of a dining experience.
~while lifting Raegan down from her seat, she karate kicks in a sporadic fashion, knocking over her container of chocolate milk.  That wasn't empty.  That is now pooling under my legs after having landed on my thighs but failing to be absorbed by my standard uniform of yoga pants or jeans, because for whatever crazy reason that morning, I decided to wear that freaking.denim.skirt.
~after having saying goodbye to Randy and practically begging him to allow me to swap places with him for the remainder of the afternoon, we head toward home.  Raegan begins wailing, shrieking for milk, and showing no signs of relenting.  Any and every red light and I drove toward the highway found the 'just right timing', further prolonging the torture.
~and then, the railroad gates closed.

So...you can see why I veered off the highway and headed to Gigi's for a sweet bite of serenity.

When we finally arrived back home, I requested 30 minutes of 'quiet' time, for everyone to be in their own space, no talking, no fighting, no being around each other.  I tried to use that time to gain perspective, even though I couldn't help but think that this might have all been avoided had the pool been opened.  Regardless, I tried to widen my lens to see the day differently.  I decided to write it off as a humorous slew of events that would make a funny story for my kids to read one day {or, for you to read today}.  I realized that the opinion of the people in the library did not matter, what mattered is my kids were at the library and were learning and were having fun {loud fun, but still.}.  I recognized that the lesson to be learned from the manager at lunch was to make sure my kids know how to own up to mistakes and apologize for things that go wrong, even if they're not the direct reason, but are somehow affiliated with the faux pas.  And I even gave thanks to the train that prolonged our journey home, because it gave me a few moments to clear my head before getting onto a highway with my three most precious gifts buckled in the back.

With a fresh perspective on my day, I was able to call the kids back into the kitchen for a cupcake snack.  Instead of honing in on crumbs and frosting and messy faces, my perspective allowed me to actually see my kids enjoy the cupcakes.

And enjoy they did.

Brynnie and her Scarlett's Red Velvet

Gavin and his Orange Dreamsicle

Cherry Limeade for Mommy's Little Monster

the look of sweet satisfaction

taste test of the frosting

she's one happy girl!

he finished his cupcake shortly after this :)

unprompted hilarity.  all day, every day.  {you've just got to look for it}

top down...

bottoms up!

a tiny dot of frosting hangs from a hair in front of her left eye.
{at least the hair wasn't in the cupcake like it was the chicken nugget!}

one of mommy's 2 cupcakes {two...don't judge, you would have done the same}

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