Christmas morning could rival how I feel this early am. The kids are all desperate for food, but I just keep telling them their parents are returning tonight. They don't care, they need food. So it's sunday and that means breakfast at my favorite little diner. I get all the kids dressed and deal with a sock mismatch issue with Griff that I think bothers me more than the little one, but I get it fixed quickly.
It's a brisk morning but the weather God's have promised me a warm day so we take coats (which is an ordeal in itself) but have on layers underneath in preperation for fun in the sun.
The husband meets us there and as I pile out of the van with three kids and dog (who waits for us in the car) I notice a lot of other Mom's and Dad's doing the same. However, they have 10 years on my young face and I think I'm looking pretty good in my day old leggings and hair that at this point is all over the place. I borrow a little lip gloss from Rowan and I'm feelin good.
We get our table and I always find I am so grateful for the places that offer paper and crayons. These are things I would NEVER think about let alone give a crap about, but now? It's a gift from God. They color while the adults discuss house stuff and our trip to Europe which is quickly approching. Pancakes seems to be the concensus and then donuts for dessert...of course. It's Sunday so I don't protest. We go through several cups of oj, a surprising number of pancakes, lots of toast with cinnamon and for course donuts. Now when my husband and I come here on Sundays we leave with a $15. dollar tab at most. Keep in mind I usually hungover and food isn't that appealing. Today we leave with a $55. tab and kids who I promise in 30 minutes will be hungry AGAIN. However we have a nice carry home container of food for our chickens, which the kids love to feed. ACTIVITY POINTS!
So back at my house we all go for our daily scooter ride. I should explain how these usually go. Since Chloe is in school first I normally have only 2 kids and 2 dogs with me, although I have done it with all of them twice and it's stressful. Today was that day, 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 adults. Our house intersects a dead end road, which is perfect for walking dogs and scootering, BUT there is a blind curve in the road that has become the fear to my most recent nightmares. Since the kids are at all different levels, one goes far ahead, the other struggles to keep up and our littlest goes really fast then looks back to see us, causing his bike to veer left or right and me to gasp.
So, because of the pressure on my heart from these daily rides I have empleminted the mailbox rule. They can go from this mailbox to that but then need to wait for us. This works most of the time except with the littlest one wants to go farther and does. He is not a huge fan of listening to his oldest sister so today when she told him to stop he answer was, "NO." He IS however a huge fan of Rowan (the middle child) and she was able to reach him and indeed he did stop. I was so mad because he was hitting the curve and would not listen when I told him to stop. I wanted to scream, "You could get hit by a car!!!" However that means nothing to a 3 year old. Once I reached him I explained HE MUST STAY WITH ROWAN, I gave him a kiss and sent him on his way.
This is part of parenting which I have found the hardest. You don't want your kid to get hurt, but you also want them to grow and develope on their own. This line is very fuzzy and I can see how Mom's are always struggling with guilt and fear. My husband wants him to speed down the hill, I want him to go slow. He thinks I my sister is over safety concious with helmets, I think they should be in full armor. I think there has to be a good partnership between parents so that one doesn't soffucate and other doesn't let them run wild. I see now that my husband and I have that. He is on one extream and I am on the other and we meet in the middle. When we walk alone with our dogs, he always holds my hand. Today he holds my arm so I don't go running down the street screaming, "PLEASE SLOW DOWN."
After we returned to the house the kids went to feed chickens and my husband goes to turn on the Gyspy (his fast car) to go do errands. So this car has been modified A LOT. It's fast, too fast for me to even drive, becuase the shifting is for racing and then the car takes off. The other thing that makes it so fun (not) is it's LOUD.
Well we have a few acres so the kids explore and do their thing, but when this car turned on Griffin came out of no where. I should explain that he, like many boys his age, have become slaves to the movie CARS.
SIDE NOTE: I have this friend who use to write for Disney many years ago. She penned several books and learning tools for them until she left them in the late 70's. One of the books she wrote and never got published was about a race car who gets trapped in a town while on his way somewhere. Sound familair? This book was shelfed for being too boring. She swears this is her book. Maybe yes, maybe no.
Okay back to the story, so Griffin hears this car and goes nuts. He wants in and he wants to go fast and he wants to go NOW. Here's the thing, I have to go on an errand too and although I am now use to three kids in tow, 2 would be a lot easier. Here's the other thing, my husband worships this car and the car is spotless inside and out. A 3 year old who requires snacks? It's not going to happen. Also my sister would KILL ME.
Well the flood gates open when he tells him "No" and for the first time my husband was faced with a walling little boy in front of him. This is where I know I have become a real Mom....I walk away leaving my husband to deal with this crying boy. HA HA HA. The husband looks at me like what do I do and I just smile and say I have to find the other kids.
Ten minutes later he is carrying Griff to me and saying "I can't get him to stop." Not so easy is it??? Since I DO know how to get him to stop I take a moment to decided...continue to let boy and man suffer or take boy and make man feel guilty for leaving me with a crying child. I go for the latter and add an exhusted look just for effect. He says he's sorry and then runs off to his fast car.
I let him huff and puff a little longer and then decide it's a great day to go to the playground and BANG, I got him! Smiles and excietment from all and we are off.
I have to say the playground is my favorite place when there are no other kids. We decided to go to Chloe's school since it was close and big. Not a soul was there and as they ran around I sat in the sun reading blogs I had missed all week. So, relaxing. I realized this would be our final outing together for awhile and decided to join in the fun. I love hearing them laugh and come up with imaginary scenarios. These kids are bright and sweet and I love how active they are. I love that they check in with me and they don't mind giving me a hug or kiss before they run off. When Griff asks for water it's on hand and when they all want a snack I dole out strawberries and then it's back to play time. I will miss them I know.
As I am thinking of my week ahead without the kids and how my real life is so much different then this, Griff comes over to say he has to go to the bathroom. Hummm we are on the play ground at a closed school next to woods. I have few options. I tell him he can go next to the woods, but of course that must not translate because as I turn around he is peeing next to my bench. Okay, so maybe getting back to my life won't be so hard to do.
By 3 we were home and I was cleaning and getting the house ready for Mom and Dad to return. Dinner had been made, the girls had cleaned their rooms and now all were outside playing.
I got to think about how different my sister and I were from each other. She began having babies at 22 and now just 29 she is this amazing Mom to 3 wonderful children. Her path has not always been easy and she will be the first to admit she missed out on those 20 something years where you're partying, living with lots of girls, dating and complaining about the working world. However, look what she got instead!
I don't think my life is any better or worse then hers or vise versa, they are just different. I cannot image not having built a career for myself and having started several businesses and forming partnerships, those are my babies and I love them very much. I am grateful everyday for the life I have and continue to carve out for myself.
I was talking to my Mom today and she said how proud she was of me for taking care of these kids and doing so well. I remember her telling my sister, not to long ago, how proud she was of her for having and raising such wonderful children. It got me thinking about how I never really remember my Mom saying those words when we were growing up. It didn't mean she didn't, but I don't think parents really get to see all their hard work until their babies are adults. We are now and my Mom has these 3 adult children who are so different, but who have accomplished and over come a great many things. As a Mom for only a week I think all this hard work, fear, guilt, running around, all of it is for these moments when their adults and you can say "I taught them how to do that. I don't know how, but something I did was right and I am proud."
My week was done. I came into with fear, but left with great accomplishment. I will miss my alone time with my kids, our hugs, picking out outfits for the morning and singing Katy Perry in the car. My week of The Hunger Games is completed. I had WON....in a million ways.
Thank you to all the readers who have been following this. I have gotten at least 20 emails a day from people I don't know!! Cool. Thanks to all my sisters friends who were so nice and helpful to me. For my husband who lived without me for a week and whom I hung up on like 100 times with a "OH crap I gotta go." To my Mom and Ellie (the other fabulous Grandmother) for all their support. Mostly to Chloe, Rowan and Griffin for teaching me what I could not teach myself. I love you!