Motherhood

The freezer repair guy

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I knew I had to call the freezer repair guy.

I knew it for 6 months. When I plugged in the freezer back in November and it made this monstrous, horrific buzzing sound, I knew something was wrong.

But I did what comes to mind when you discover an appliance is broken – I plugged it in again.

Same noise.

So I did the next knee jerk reaction; I started Googling “buzzing sound when I turn on my freezer.”

What do you know, apparently I wasn’t alone with this! People from all walks of life had similar issues; I narrowed it down to the fan. Certainly the fan.

Now what? Call the repair guy.

But it’s my spare freezer. I didn’t need it working in November anyway, so I made due with the other two freezers I have.

And I pushed it off.

Checked in on it in February, plugged it in, hoping it had fixed itself. No, it hadn’t.

I pushed it off again.

Until finally, I needed the freezer and needed a repair guy now.

With Pesach quickly approaching, and 3 cases of chicken and dozens of milk being delivered next week; this was serious.

I tracked down a decent company, made an appointment and for only $79, I would know what was wrong. No, that wouldn’t fix it. This was just the initial visit.

And the guy came.

Plugged in the freezer. Monstrous noise. I smiled a little, as if to say, see, I was right, it IS broken.

He looked around.

Plugged it in again. Unplugged it.

Looked at the bottom ledge, where the light is. And apparently a small black switch sits there too. And he flipped the switch.

And the noise was gone.

That was it.

$79 to flip the switch.

Apparently this smart freezer has a temperature alarm that sounds if the degrees goes down to low. The alarm had been turned to the on position. So when the freezer was plugged in, this smart freezer sounded the alarm to let me know that the temperature was too low. You can’t get a smarter freezer than that!

I tried to negotiate, “C’mon, this was your easiest call today. Do I get a discount?” Nope, no discount.

I paid. He kinda felt bad, I felt rather stupid and my freezer, well, it felt great! It hummed to life.

At least that’s all it was. You didn’t want it to be broken! Better than having to buy a new one. At least it was so simple to fix. 

And those were all true! But I still didn’t like the idea of spending close to 100 bucks on something I could have done myself!

Moms sure have lots in common with these appliance repair guys.

We also carry around a multi purpose bag of tools and tricks. Only repair guys get more time to assess the damage before pulling  out the right tools. Moms don’t always have the luxury; we have to reach inside our bag and grab one quick!

Sometimes we look for big solutions, and there’s really a simple answer right in front of our eyes.

At times I explore new, complicated ideas; yet it’s the simple ones that work best.

Like what happened two weeks ago.

It was one of those days. My son was having trouble sitting at his computer during class. As I’ve mentioned, the unique schooling my children attend is online;  class, teacher, friends and all, with a webcam and mic. This comes along with unique benefits (I can send the kids to class in PJ’s if they’re late) and disadvantages (having to make sure they sit in their seat!)

And this was being a tough day. He was bouncing. He was bothering his siblings. He was sharpening pencils all over the place. He was doing everything other than sitting in class.

I took a deep breath. Reached deep into my “tool bag” of tricks. And started to formulate some chart I would put together and some system I’d establish to get his behavior back under control. Started to launch into how many warnings he would get and what consequences he would deserve. I was ready to be patient. And firm. And get him to sit in his seat and do what he was supposed to do.

And then, for a fleeting moment, I thought out of the box. Like a light bulb went on.

Ditch the systems and charts. Forget the lists of broken rules.

“Follow me!”

And he did. Eager for a reason to leave class, of course.

We went outside. “Alright, I’m setting my timer. Let’s see if you can make it to the corner and back in 20 seconds.”

And off he went. No questions. No negotiating. No complaints. He ran and ran. And then tried to beat his time. And beat it a third time. And we got it to 15 seconds.

And he was out of breath. Cheeks flushed. The type of flush that is full of life and exuberance, excited and challenged. And the type when a kid looks pleased with himself.

And we went back inside. Him to class, me to continue what I was doing. That was it. It worked.

He didn’t need any complex behavior chart. He just needed help switching gears.

I just needed to flip the switch. He had the wrong one on, and thankfully, at that moment, I was able to realize that.

But I can’t say I always do.

So many times I harp on the same things. trying the same route again and again, thinking it’ll change things, when it doesn’t.

Sometimes I look for complex and time consuming solutions, and that’s not it either.

Like with my freezer. If I would’ve just looked at it, instead of all around it,  about it, and Googling it, I could have saved myself a couple dollars.

Same with my kids. I need to make sure to stop and do that more often.

To stop looking around at what they are doing, saying, going, playing, destroying, bothering, wrecking; and instead look at them.

Because more often than not,  I know that’s where I can find the solution.

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Behavior & Discipline, Motherhood

Kitchen grout and kids

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What happened to the grout?”

Huh??

What grout?

“The grout on the kitchen floor, between the tiles;  why is it that color?”

I stood there staring at my landlord, baffled.

There are pros to renting a house and not being a homeowner; namely, when something breaks, it actually gets fixed! A downside, though, is when the owner wants to do an annual inspection and see how the house is doing.

I know he’s not coming to judge my housekeeping abilities per se, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that my capabilities are being scrutinized. As many times as I tell myself he wants to make sure we didn’t knock down any walls or paint the kitchen  without permission, I still can’t help but feel it’s the dreaded housekeeping police, the type every mom has nightmares about, that walk in unannounced when the house is an absolute war zone.

But I was ready and  I was pretty pleased last week when the landlord arrived; the floors were clean and the toys were put away. Even the sinks were empty of dishes!

And the kids – they were all dressed. In matching clothes. No, not matching to each other, that stopped when baby #3 was born. But they were wearing pants and shirts that matched each other, respectively! And some even had socks on. They had all brushed their teeth the night before, their faces were clean. I was proud.

All the more reason why I was standing there speechless when he started asking about the grout.

At first, he gave a quick scan of the living room. All was in its proper place, we hadn’t taken down any walls, or build any new ones either. But it was during his quick look at the kitchen that he stopped to frown.

My first thought was -there are no dishes in the sink! Not a trace of last night’s dinner! Why are you frowning??

And then came the grout question.

You’ve got to be kidding! This house is still in one piece, the place is clean, the beds are made, kids are dressed, and you are worried about the grout?!

But of course, I didn’t say that.

I smiled sweetly and shrugged, “The floor is washed a couple times a week. I guess it’s the sign of life.”

He nodded slightly, not totally convinced.

And I silently counted my blessings. The many blessings that consume my life so that things like tile grout isn’t something that made it to my stress list. To me, that was the sign of a full life.

And later that evening, during bedtime, when I was doing a quick scan of each bedroom before checking off the kids’ charts; to see if clothes were in the hamper and things were put away, I caught sight of some little toy/thingie hiding in the corner of one of the rooms.  I caught myself as I was about to point it out to the kids.

I thought of the grout. Of how I felt when all my hard work on maintaining this house, (ok, with the help of my housecleaner!) was unnoticed, and all that was mentioned was the measly kitchen grout that refused to stay its original color.

The kids had cleaned their room. Their clothing was in the hamper. Their things were properly stowed. And one measly toy, cast aside, was forgotten and unnoticed…well I wouldn’t notice it either. I wanted to motivate them; and mentioning the one didn’t-do instead of the many did-dos would not help them want to do it all again tomorrow.

And later that night, when all was quiet, I did a quick google search just to clear my conscience. And guess what. There is no long term solution for keeping grout clean! Unless you get on your hands and knees and scrub it each night. I’d rather keep it the color it is. As a constant reminder that my life is full of more important things.

Motherhood

A defining moment of Mommyhood

Smiling boy with lunch clipart

There are some moments of Mommyhood that I call defining moments.

They are moments when everything you stand for and believe in, moments when everything you put your energies into, are suddenly on the edge.

When all you live for is about to tumble down on your head.

If you’ve had any of these type of heart pulling and nerve wracking moments, you’ll know what I’m reffering to.

Which brings me to adorable little boy #3, my 4.5 year old. He’s a charmer. Big puppy eyes, always happy, always having fun. He’s had a total of 3 tantrums in all his toddler years. He’s the life of the party. Ok, he’s also mischievous, rambunctious and at times a downright troublemaker.

It was because of this charming little boy that I installed a chain lock high up on my front door; he was a runner. In simple English that means, if the door opened, he was down the block. Laughing and squealing, of course. He was the only one of my kids (so far!) that pushed me to strongly consider buying one of those kiddy leashes.  Truth be told, even a dog leash. But as I said, a charmer indeed. And he has helped me reach many a defining moment, with the most recent taking place last week.

I came to pick up my little guys from an after school activity. All the kids were having fun. Moms were hanging around talking.

And then it happened.

Right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Sweet little two year old girl was standing minding her own business. And rambunctious 4.5 year old squealed by swinging his lunch bag. And I saw the glint in his eye. It’s a .01 second spark that those in tune with it (like me) can pick up on, but can’t sop in time.

And then he did it.

He. Hit. Little. Girly. On. The. Head. With. His. Lunchbag.

In. Front. Of. All. The. Moms.

I saw it. So did the other moms. I couldn’t defend him. I couldn’t deny it. And I couldn’t disappear, either.

If it was someone else’s kid, sure I’d know how to react. I’d laugh it off to the mom and tell her not to sweat it, kids are kids. I’d swoop up my little girl and sympathize that her head got a bit of a bang. And I’d reassure her that no, lunch bags are not for hitting. The little boy made a wrong choice.

But that wasn’t the side of the coin I was on at the moment. I was on the wrong side.

There I stood, in my defining moment. As a mom, As an adult. As a friend. As a person.

All the pages of the mommy books swam before my eyes, all my life experience as a mommy rushed through my head, and there I stood; little girly screaming, mischievous boy waiting for mommy to react and all the moms very un-casually half watching.

What now? Look the other moms in the eye and smile? Frown and admit failure?

Quite the humbling moment, watching your own kid starting the trouble.

And then I got myself together. It was a defining moment. A moment that defined my love for my adorable and rambunctious 4.5 year old.

A moment that allowed me to take him  by the hand and lead him away calmly, but not to be angry at him.

A moment to understand him, love him, admonish him, discipline him and hug him, all at the same time.

Certainly a defining moment of the paradoxical relationships that comes along with the wonders and joys of  Mommyhood.

Behavior & Discipline

I can’t control my kids. (And I won’t.)

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Whose kids are they anyway?

I catch my husband’s eye and sigh in annoyance; can’t someone control these guys?

My husband gives me a knowing look and nods, sharing my frustration. Where are the parents?

But I look around at the crowd and see that it’s pretty obvious; the secret is out, and I can’t pretend much longer. After all, they kinda do look like their father.

It’s our monthly community dinner and it’s apparent that everyone, my  kids included, are enjoying themselves. One is lounging under the table, one is eating chummus with his fingers, oblivious to the guy sitting near him. Hmm, I notice his seatmate leaning as far away from him as possible…I don’t blame him, looks like his suit is dry clean only. Brothers 3&4 are in middle of a game of who-can-finish-all-the-soda-in-this-room-first. Thankfully the two little ones are home with the babysitter!

Yes, they’re mine, and I’ll take care of it.

Can I control them?

Actually, no, I can’t control them. More accurately, I don’t want to control them.

I want to teach them.
Guide them.
Discipline them.
Love them.
Reprimand them.
Praise them.
Kiss them.
Hug them.
Influence them.
Motivate them.

Be a good role model for them.
Listen to them.
Talk to them.

But I won’t control them. I won’t control my kids.

There are many things in my life I do control; like my laptop. When it’s acting impudent or pushing my patience, I control it. With a click of
the lid, I snap it shut and I win. I control it.

When my oven starts overdoing my food, I just hit cancel and ta da, its off. I’m in full control.

When my phone rings and I’m not talkable, I swipe the decline icon and just like that, I control my phone.

I have higher expectations for my kids; I want them to be successful, passionate adults. I don’t want them to grow up and be little gadgets or robots; ones you can control by switching them on and off.

I want them to thrive. I want them to be people.

And so I won’t control them.

But I will continue to teach them to eat chummus with a spoon.