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?

Motherhood

A piece of my heart is six hours away…

heart-piec2

A piece of my heart is six hours away in a lovely campsite, enjoying a week of winter camp. On Monday I exchanged one part of my heart for another – I picked up my son and dropped off my daughter.

Over the week my big almost ten year old was in camp, I scanned every photo that was uploaded to the camp Facebook page, trying to get some information of how he was doing.

He’s smiling, he must be having a good time.

He’s huddled in his coat, oh he must be so cold, I should have sent warmer clothes.

They’re on a hike, I forgot to send him a cap, oh no! I hope he doesn’t get a sunburn.

I hope he remembered to put on sunscreen.

Good, he’s wearing a different shirt than yesterday. I hope he put the other one in the laundry bag, so it comes back home.with him.

They posted a video – a video!! I can get more than a one second glimpse!

He’s standing on his bench, singing along with the other kids. One second, two seconds. He sits down.

Why did he sit down? Maybe he’s homesick? Maybe his foot hurts? Maybe his new sneakers are bothering him?

Oh, he’s back standing.

I guess he just wanted to sit down!

And so the week goes on, until he can call. He calls! My heart feels closer to complete for a moment. But. I have a million questions!

Are you too hot with your coat?

Is it too cold, should we have gotten warmer clothes?

Are you homesick? Are the kids nice to you? Is your counselor nice?

Are your shoes comfortable? Did you take a shower? Are you happy? Are you sad?

But I prepared myself; I knew he’d have a short time to talk, and the worst feeling is hanging up and realizing I didn’t give my kid a chance to talk.

And so he called. And I quieted all my screaming questions and said, “So, what do you want to tell me about?”

And off he went, telling me about every and any activity, answering none of my unasked questions. So I listened, trying to read between the lines.

He sounds happy.

He’s not crying.

He has a lot to tell me.

And I have to accept that I will not get the answers to all my questions. Even though I’m his mother and I should know everything!

And the week passes, we pick up my big boy and drop off my big (but looks little to me) 8 year old girl for the greatest week yet. She meets her friends, some of whom she has only seen in online school over the computer. First she’s shy. They’re so excited to see her, she’s not really reciprocating.

Then I realize the problem; I need to leave. I can’t hang around. As long as I’m there, she won’t loosen up. So I casually disappear in the crowd, and watch her running across the camp grounds with her friends and a big chunk of my heart.

And I practice the speech I know so well by now.

She’ll be ok. She has her friends with her. There’s good staff. I trust the directors. She wanted to go to camp. She begged to go to camp. She wants to be here.

And we leave. She waves. I try to be the grown up; I wave and casually get in the car. As if I’m as fine with it as she is.

And I wait to see pictures.

She’s in lots of them. She’s smiling. waving. Cheering with her bunk. Working on a scrapbook. She’s sitting between two friends.

More pictures.

Oh no, she’s sitting in a different row than her friends. Maybe they got into a fight? Maybe she’s upset? Maybe they’re upset with her?

And a little voice of sanity reminds me – maybe she just wants to sit there!

And then the pictures of day two. I don’t know how she slept. What if she cried herself to sleep? Was she homesick? Maybe still is homesick?

Again I scan the pictures, looking for answers. Are her eyes red and puffy? No, she’s smiling. Hmm, is it a regular smile or a homesick smile?

I’m slowly making myself crazy!

I show my husband the photos.

“Great, she’s having a good time!” That’s it.

“You think it’s a real smile? Do her eyes look red? You think she cried last night?”

He shrugs, “Maybe, but that’s ok too.”

And for a moment I wish I was the father, not the mother; life is so simple!

But I know he’s right. It IS ok. It’s ok if she gets homesick or doesn’t sit near her friends. Even if she chooses not to participate in an activity. She needs to experience all that. It’s part of growing up.

She’ll call tomorrow. And I’m going to put my million unnecessary questions aside and listen to her talk. And I hope she won’t cry, because I’m not convinced I won’t join her if she does.

After all, I miss having my heart complete.

Motherhood

Surgeon General, we’ve got a bone to pick

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I’m looking for the Surgeon General. I’m determined to uncover who is this ambiguous being who has the authority to issue ominous warnings and rules on a whim, without ever checking with those it affects.

Surgeon General, we have a bone to pick.

Boruch Hashem, two weeks ago I gave birth to another little beautiful baby…boy! With the help and support of my dear friend Ep E. Dural, who always stands firmly and supportively at my side through each birth, (well, except at baby #3, which I still haven’t forgiven him for, but I will save that for another time!) I’m not a big fan of unnecessary pain, and I enjoyed every moment of the pain free labor and delivery, truly experiencing the wonder of it all.

And with the announcement of “It’s a boy!”  I couldn’t stop my response from escaping,  “Are you sure, can you check one more time?!”

They were sure, and I assumed that anyways, because by now I’m a tried and proven Mom of Boys. I’ve earned my title. What ten years and a band of boys have done to me is pretty wild. I can just imagine what another ten years will do…they’ll be walking on the ceiling, I’ll smile and wave and go back to what I was doing without even taking a  picture.

So back to the Surgeon General … apparently the Surgeon General is not a mom…because this Surgeon General decided that it was best for new moms if they closed down the nursery in this particular group of hospitals and require all moms to room in with the new baby….huh?

If you’re one of those moms who prefer that, well, we don’t talk the same language. The best advice I ever received was before my first was born…a dear friend advised me; send the baby to the nursery for the night!  For your good and the baby’s good! You will go home from the hospital well slept and you can catch up on your sleep deprived nights for months to come! Don’t feel guilty, you have to take care of yourself!

Yes, best advice ever.

I’ve gotten a good night sleep and come home a step ahead, not a sleep deprived mess.

Well, enter Surgeon General…with his new ideas.

Baby was born at 10:39 PM. By 1 AM, all quieted down and I was pretty exhausted. With the nurses finally giving me some peace and quiet, and the baby asleep in my room, I started drifting off…1:10 baby was up…fed him again, put him back in his little bassinet thing, laid back in the awkward hospital bed…1:40, he’s whimpering again…1:50 he’s back asleep, 2:20 he’s back in my arms…I adjust the bed, up and down, trying to find comfort and trying not to fall asleep while sitting up feeding the baby…after all, the nurses told me that the Surgeon General says not to fall asleep while sitting in bed holding the baby…yet another clue it’s not a mom, because falling asleep isn’t something a mom can control…

2:40 he’s back asleep…3:10 he’s whimpering…3:30 they need to check vitals…4:00 they need to clean the bathroom…4:10 he’s up…and I’m hitting the 24 hour mark of being awake…

Where is that Surgeon General?? You’re telling me this arrangement leaves moms well rested and more competent to take care of the baby upon arrival at home?!

At 5:00 am I call one of the friendly nurses and plead with her, please oh please can you watch my baby for a little so I can get some sleep…

And the nurses are so sweet and nice in this little small town hospital, and three hours of sleep is granted!

Ready to take on the day…of course, sleep while the baby sleeps…in between nurses coming in and out, doctors checking in….filling out paperwork, another cleaning crew to clean the bathroom, meals being served (my lonely kosher tray of a banana and an apple juice…it’s good my husband brought me some goodies of my own)…

And the day continues, with a total of 41 minutes nap time…And the night begins, I bemoan my tiredness to the visiting nurse of the hour, inquire about this know-it-all Surgeon General who obviously never slept in a room with a newborn or has never experienced interrupted sleep…11 PM we’re both asleep, 11:30 we’re both up, including the visiting nurse…12 AM we are both asleep, 12:20 we are both up..by 3 AM I call a nurse and she kindly takes the baby for 3 hours…and a total of 3 hours of sleep is under my belt.

If I find that Surgeon General…I’m already planning my lawsuit.

I leave the hospital more sleep deprived than I’ve been in 5 years.

No, Mr. Surgeon General, your plan did not work. Depriving new moms of their precious little sleep is not the way to send them home to start motherhood responsibilities in their best shape and form.

I’m not a first time mom-you can’t sell me a boat like that.

And all the articles I’ve read that nursing creates the same hormones the brain secretes during sleep or something like that, so really, you’re just as well rested whether you sleep or nurse all night…I don’t buy it.

I remember sitting bleary eyed in bed, nursing my oldest, wondering where that hormone was and what was wrong with me that I was so tired…

Nursing at night is tiring. It’s sleep depriving. No sugar coating it. It’s not easy. Period.

But I do it anyway. For as long as I can, so long as it isn’t affecting my daytime functioning as a mom. It’s part of the uniqueness and joy of motherhood. But let’s not pretend it’s not tiring!

And hence the reason a sleepful night right after childbirth is so dire; to me, it’s like refilling  the fuel tank (which goes on empty after childbirth), and the full tank goes a long way.

So, dear Surgeon General, I will find you. And you have a lot of explaining to do.