Motherhood

It’s not just about juggling

Of all the things I’ve discovered in the past 11 years of motherhood, I’ve reluctantly come to terms with the fact that I can not micro manage every corner of my house or everything my kids are doing.

Actually, I can not micro manage anything.

PJ’s end up in middle of the playroom and don’t necessarily get put in the hamper. Wet towels pile up on the floor of the bathroom after shower time. I don’t always know if everyone washed their hands before supper. It can take a few days until I get wind of a particular project going on in one of the kids rooms. (Very) often the beds are not made. Oh of course, I have a rule that everyone has to make their bed  in the morning. But a rule is only as good as the way it’s implemented. 

And I’m not able to implement everything, all the time.

Many times I have to let things go.

And I’ve decided that that’s ok. 

Really, it’s all just a juggling game.

We are all jugglers. And if you’re a mom, that takes your juggling to the next level. You add a couple extra hundred balls and up the speed by 500% or so.

But the aim of the game is not just to be a good juggler. It’s to realize that not all my juggling balls are the same.

On the contrary, they are quite opposite. Some of them are glass; the most fragile and delicate type.

And some are made of extremely durable rubber; no matter how hard they fall, they will bounce right back up.

The goal of the game? Don’t confuse which balls are glass and which are rubber.

Myself. My husband. My kids. Each one of them. The smiles on their little faces. The atmosphere in our home. These are my glass balls. These cannot be dropped, no matter the circumstances.

The house. The laundry. Fancy dinners. Matching socks. Sales. Beds that are made up each morning. Clean floors. A clean bathroom mirror.  Sinks that don’t have dishes piled up. Walls that don’t have some marker designs. DIY projects and cutesy homemade crafts.

They are all rubber. Every single one of them. If I drop them for an hour, a day, a week, (a year)…I know they will bounce back up. Eventually. 

And that truly guides me through each day, as I watch my rubber balls scatter in all directions, further and further from my grasp.

Organized closets? That’s a rubber ball, it’ll bounce back. 

Quality family time and not losing my cool? That’s a glass ball. I can not let it drop. It is not worth the price.

Always focus on the glass balls, they’re much harder to repair if they fall.

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Motherhood

Mommy Camp Exposed

mommycamp2

Mommy camp.

It’s like being a walking, talking  Pinterest board.

There’s at least 273 easy and creative things to do with your kids – without having to leave your house!

It seemed so simple!

We’ll do home made play dough and cake pops and then colored gel sensory something or other. And then collect empty toilet paper roll thingies and make the 76 easy and no mess things that are so simple and fool proof..

We’ll cut sandwiches into cool shapes and everyone will gobble them up because of the cool shapes..

We’ll slice watermelon and kiwis and avocado and spinach and make ices that will fool the kids and they’ll lick every last drop, asking for more.

We’ll cut pool noodles and use ice cube trays to make the greatest water toys ever.

I’ll make all those colorful and bright signs and charts and the kids will follow all my marching orders, tucking all their stuff in the right places…

Another day of mommy camp passes and I fall onto the couch, too tired to even read.

I mentally go through my Pinterest-board-mommy-camp-day…

I manage to start the day off with a quick shower, put on some clean clothes and I’m the last one to join the breakfast crew.

I cracked, beat, flipped and scramble eggs, while I myself scramble from counter to counter giving everyone breakfast. Make that their second breakfast. My husband had already given them breakfast when he started the first shift..I was lucky to have the late shift of 8 am.

3 bowls cinnamon life, 1 bowl maple brown sugar life…oh no, that was supposed to be 2 bowls cinnamon…pour contents back in box, get another box. Soymilk, almondmilk, regular milk, spoons and I have breakfast under control. I sneak over to make a coffee while everyone is immersed in their food, which I know will last for at least 90 seconds.

I clean up two floor spills, one table spill, one ice-maker flood, dump some things in the sink and join my kids at the door to wave good bye to my husband like he’s leaving on some long journey, while truthfully he’s going all of a mile to the Chabad House and only till 5 pm. Not that many hours until then, I convince myself.

I direct everyone to get dressed, wipe up another spill, dump in a load of laundry and say a little prayer that I should remember to get it into the dryer before tomorrow.

Feed the baby, dress the baby, change two diapers.

Trip over some cars and referee a Lego battle.

Remind everyone we are leaving to the park in 12 minutes, so we can get there before the heat does.

Balancing the baby in one arm and trying to keep him from grabbing my marker, I scribble some pictures on our makeshift daily schedule so the kids know what’s happening.

They’re not totally decipherable, but good enough for our mommy camp.

Put on socks, velcro shoes (once again validating my no-shoes-with-laces policy) and strap in car seats.

Diapers, wipes, snacks, drinks, sunscreen.

Shlep out bikes from the trunk, distribute helmets, lug out the scooters.

I sit in the shade and do nothing, relishing every moment of the shade and the nothing.

I give out water bottles, and guard them as told.

Push the toddler on the swing, feed the baby.

Answer some questions by random strangers…

Yes, they are all mine.

Don’t worry, they’re not ALL boys, there is a girl in there somewhere.

Yes, I do have cleaning help.

Yes,  I do homeschool.

And I leave the rest for them to discuss when I’m out of earshot.

Time to leave and pile in the bikes and scooters and helmets and we are back home…just in time for lunch.

With the baby in one hand, I crack eggs, beat and flip and scramble…grill cheese sandwiches, yesterday’s pasta…No cookie cutter sandwiches, no cutesy nothing.

One thing is for sure, in mommy camp we do a lot of eating.

Baby and toddler go for a nap and now we can start activities.

Set up a paint project – outside. Nothing from the list of 101 creative ideas. It’s called freestyle. They can paint whatever they want. We focus on the process, not the result (read: they’re busy, that’s good enough for me!)

I direct cleanup and then clean up the rest. And 2 spills.

Baby is up. Feed and diaper again

Ooh and aah over paint projects and listen to elaborate descriptions of what it’s supposed to be.

Wash a few dishes.

Sweep the floor, minimally.

Referee another Lego battle.

Clean a spill.

The kids get into bathing suits and I spend the next hour contemplating if I should make a chart to keep track of who splashed who in our tiny kiddie pool that’s really too small for so many kids and telling the kids to close the back door and not get water in the house. No fancy water toys in sight, only good old fashioned cups (and some other things that someone sneaked out of my kitchen and that I pretend not to see).

No avocado spinach trick-your-kids ices.

Strawberry mango smoothies, some liked it and some didn’t and cleaned more spills, only these were sticky.

Change another dipaer.

Somewhere along the way, I’m not quite sure when or how, put together food for dinner.

Referee computer time.

Wiped up a spill.

Join my kids at the door to greet my husband, giving him a hero’s welcome.

Supper, showers, baths, brushing teeth reminders and kids in bed.

Sit with each kid a few minutes and chat about their day.

Nothing about my day was Pinterest worthy. Definitely not the pile of wet towels at the back door, the scraps of paper and crumbs and scissors and gluesticks that litter the kitchen floor.

Mommy camp is exhausting, grueling, draining and at times challenging.

But mommy camp is also spending every moment of my day with my biggest fan club, and that makes it all worth it.

They make me feel important.

After all, I’m changing the world, one diaper at a time.

Life in General, Motherhood

Kids, by definition

kids

It was a great trip. Fabulous. Fun. Hectic. Crazy. And a lot of other things.

6 days schlepping around LA, attending the wedding of my sister in law, daily breakfast in Cafes – it was all incredible. And beyond exhausting.

There were many moments, as my husband and I herded our 7 little passengers in and out of our great big 15 passenger van, that I wondered why we didn’t just go home already, back to our space.

But I knew that stressful and exhausting were two mere details of such an awesome trip spent with extended family. So many aunts and uncles for my kids to con into buying them every treat possible (especially those with Red #40).

And I learnt a lot on the trip. I learnt a lot about kids. Ok, it’s nothing that I didn’t know before. But I find, as a mom, I can learn the same thing every day for 10 years and still it will surprise me.

So here’s what I figured out.

Kids, by definition, will:

  1.       Make noise
  2.       Touch everything they see.

Hence it brought me to the conclusion that the two most useless, wasted statements to say to children are:

  1.       Be quiet.
  2.       Don’t touch.

And trust me, I got to say that many times over our trip.

At the Café when other people were trying to eat.

When they had a display of different drinks that the kids had to touch.

Over the two days in a hotel that didn’t have a sound proof children’s room –when, oh when will they start making child friendly hotels?

When they ran up and down the loooong hallway in the hotel.

When we walked through the mall and the kiosks had the most delicate, fragile items within arms distance.

And there we were, telling the kids to be quiet and not to touch.

But that’s like telling a mom not to worry.

It’s telling a child not to be.

Because kids, by definition, make noise and touch things.

We can’t tell them to stop being.

But we can tell them how to redirect their nature.

Go outside to talk loud.

Use a lower voice inside.

Ask before touching something that’s not yours.

Things like that.

But still, it’s not foolproof.

Kids need to be kids, and they will make noise and they will touch things.

And adults will continue to get nervous from it.

But the adults are the ones who have to adjust their reactions, not the kids.

And trust me, over the trip I sure had plenty of opportunities to work on this!

Oh, and there’s one other discovery I made on the trip.

Kids will fight with one another when traveling in a vehicle, no matter how big the vehicle is.

Life in General, Motherhood

That dreaded 7-letter-word…

packing

That 7 letter word that strikes fear in the heart of  every mom.

It’s the word that makes every trip almost not worth taking.

It takes hours, and no matter how organized you will be, you will forget something.

It’s called PACKING.

I do not like packing. I really do not like packing.

And there I was, with the clock moving quicker than usual, speeding around the house packing for 9 individuals of all sizes for a 6 day trip. It’s good I like math, because it was finally being useful.

54 pairs of socks, I keep muttering.

12 more pants.

3 more size 4 shirts.

4 more size 5 shirts.

Dressy shoes. Dressy Shoes.

When I pack, I chant. It’s the only way I will remember things.

Up the steps again, reciting out loud grey and orange size 7 shirt.

Back downstairs, I glance at the clock.

Big mistake. I’m passed my midnight goal.

My husband calls from Walmart – anything else I need before he leaves the store.

It’s part of every  7-letter-word dreaded experience; a midnight trip to Walmart.

I tell him to leave already, because I won’t remember the forgotten items until he has left.

4 more brown socks.   4 more brown socks.

The piles are sky high, and I try to look at the bright side, that at least all this stuff won’t be weighed, because we are driving to our destination.

Up the steps and down the steps another dozen times

Tylenol. Tylenol. I’m chanting out loud. Infant’s, children’s, adult’s.

I pass the couch piled with the kids back packs. I had told the kids to pack some stuff to keep them busy in the car.

I suddenly notice the half empty bookshelves and empty toy bins. And overstuffed backpacks. I try to lift one and nearly fall over. I make a mental note to be more specific next time.

Phone charger. Phone charger. I’m determined not to forget the phone charger this time.

Pampers. Wipes.

I check my pile of lists for the 112th time in 40 minutes, and discover I need to deal with what I’ve been pushing off longest….packing stuff for myself.

And it’s up the steps, once again.

I stand in my closet, seeing a blur of colors and trying to think straight. It’s not working.

I grab armfuls of clothes and lug it downstairs, hoping I’ll have enough options for each day of the trip, but too tired to really care.

The clock is still moving.

My body aches and screams for bed.

I line up the suitcases, the shoe bag, the diaper bag, the laptop bag and lots of food bags and some random other bags and collapse in bed, only to jump up two minutes later to get the phone charger and to jot down some more reminders. Long after my intended bedtime, I finally close my eyes and dream about staying home and never packing another suitcase again.

Life in General, Motherhood

“Let’s make a video!”

filming

“We have a school project, I’m going to make a video!” shouts my 10 year old as he comes barreling through the front door to share the good news with me.

I take a deeeeeeep breath.

Because I know what this means.

It means the contents of my towel closet spread across the length of the upstairs play room to set the stage just right.

It means my neatly folded linens will be hanging from the walls with his trusty blue tape to make the perfect backdrop.

It means every hamper will be overturned and dumped out to create thrones, chairs, tables and more.

It means contents of toy boxes dumped out to use the containers for something or other..

And it means various other items that belong to me, from all around the house, will suddenly go missing.

And it also means I’ll have to keep the baby in my arms and the 2 and 4 year old under close scrutiny so they don’t dare mess things up.

I let out my breath.

I smile a fake smile.

“How exciting, what’s it about?”

He pulls out a pile of papers.

“This time I’m being organized. I made a list of props and costumes that I need, Can you help me get them?”

And he’s off, calling his built-in cast, his younger siblings, from all corners of the house.

He is so creative, I marvel.

And then I remember I have my work cut out for me tonight and I’m not quite as thrilled.

As I listen from downstairs, I hear them all laughing and giggling as they get into costumes.

Enjoy the moment, I think to myself.

I know what lays ahead of me.

They will fight. They will argue. They will come crying to me at various times.

They will laugh and have a blast. They will film each other and make goofy faces.

And the two year old will ruin some part at some point.

There’s only so much I can micromanage from being downstairs in the kitchen, cooking supper and holding the baby.

Part of me wants to discourage them…maybe make it a bit shorter…you don’t really need props…maybe just draw a picture…build something with lego…

But I know letting their creativity loose is more important than my neat linen closet.

I give them some rules.

Oh, they need a digging scene.

Only sand, no water.

No, you can not make mud.

No sand on each other’s heads.

Deep down I know that there will miraculously be mud and there will be sand in everyone’s hair (and no one did it).

Only the blue sheets.

Oh, but he needs the green.

Ok, also just the green.

And just one more…

I’m losing my control of the situation…do I try to get it back or let it slide?

So many quick decisions to make.

And just one more towel.

And one more roll of tape.

And the silver tray.

And for the 47th time in one hour I remind them to make sure it all gets put back because I trust them with all this stuff.

No food. No, you can not take food. You have to pretend.

And they’re off to start filming.

I hear laughing from upstairs.

Then a crash. I just know that was the sound of the tripod…

And then someone is crying.

And  a door slams.

Then some language that’s not allowed in this house.

That’s it, I’m marching upstairs and making them stop. It’s not working out.

I make my way to the steps and start marching up, only to hear the sound of laughter.

Oh, the fights over.

I head back downstairs.

At the next fight, a mere 3 minutes later, I breathe deeply and count to five. I do it three times. breathing through the fight, kind of like a contraction, only here it actually helps.

Sure enough, more laughter.

An hour later I’m still downstairs, praying to have patience not to make them stop before they’re done.

And then they finish and I get to watch it.

And oh, how my heart swells with pride.

How creative! What a great cast they make! What a great job!

And there’s even a “behind the scenes” clip and some bloopers, and I pray that I’m not in either of them.

Phew, I’m not.

I get a glimpse into what was going on the past couple of hours.

How they all worked together.

And as I notice the towel cabinet door slightly open and towels stuffed in on all sides, I bite my tongue from pointing anything out.

Who needs neatly folded towels anyway?