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Aug 28

Ugh

Do I really have to send them to school again?

This is a short week, school started on Wednesday, and the idea of hauling them all up again and packing lunches… it’s more than I can handle on only one cup of coffee.

Thus far, this school year isn’t off to a rocking start.  Sammy is struggling with some major anxiety – his transition into third grade was not handled well at the end of last year, and he’s holding it together at school and a hot mess at home.  All of Jessie’s really close friends are NOT in her class, and so far – the only thing that seventh grade has done for her is introduce her to eighth grade bullies.

Maybe next week will be better.

It should – I’m an optimistic girl.  Julie starts kindergarten, and I love her teacher.  Love her.  (Which brings me back to being bitter about how badly Sam’s transition was bungled this year, and I start to spiral back into worry and bitterness…).  But next week should be easier.  I think it’ll help Sam to have Julie at the school with him.  I think it’ll help Julie to know that her big brother is there too (unless she pays too much attention to the fact that he hates school and has spent the past two nights begging me to quit my job and homeschool him).

Let’s try this again.

Things aren’t all that bad.  Sam has, in fact, gone to school every day so far.  Yes, there have only been two days, but it’s still better than it was when he started kindergarten.  And he loves recess.  Jessie is still happier at Goddard than she ever was at Flagg.  She’s excited about learning, ambitious about her future and happy to see her friends.   Julie is coming to work with me today, and Marc will pick her up before going to pick up the other two kids.  Then he’ll come home, and make a lovely Shabbat dinner for us.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and that’s even better.

Just because it’s a rough start doesn’t mean that the year itself will suck.  In fact, I’m sure it’s going to get much better.  Maybe we got all the crappy stuff right at the beginning and the rest of the year will be smooth sailing.

On the upside, next week, my childcare woes officially disappear (as long as Sam keeps going to school…), and I’ll officially transition to a working mom with all three kids in school.  Julie is going to love kindergarten – I’m really excited about watching my girl thrive.  I think she’s more ready than either of the other kids at this stage, because she’s so familiar with the school, with her teacher, and she’s been watching the older kids going all her life.

It’ll get better, it will, right?

Aug 24

Heels

Jessie is short.  It’s been an established fact of her existence for a couple of years now – with her older sisters towering over her.  Glennys was the same way – we’d have these four girls bouncing around the house, and three of them were super tall, and one was adorably… not tall.

She didn’t like being short, and there were many, many conversations about WHY was she sort, and would she ever grow.  I’m a big fan of judging kids like I judge puppies, and Jessie’s paws (her hands and feet) are tiny.  She’s four shoe sizes bigger than her baby sister.  Her little brother has bigger feet than she does.

I liked her being short.  I mean, she’s my daughter, so I like just about everything about her, but the fact that she was on the shorter side never really concerned me.  My sister is short, my cousin Becky is short.  My grandmother was short.  I’m on the taller side, and Marc is obviously tall – but there are recessive genes and so what if she’s short?  I always kind of wanted to be shorter.

Then she grew.  All of a sudden, and all at once, she’s suddenly tall.  She’s a few inches shorter than I am now.  She’s within striking distance of Glennys, and it seems as though every day, she’s just a tiny bit taller.  Just a little bit, but it keeps happening.

I can’t get used to it.

Yesterday, we went out, and she was in heels.  Which is not an every day occurrence, but she couldn’t find any shoes (which happens far more often than it should) and grabbed a pair of heels she had snagged from my sister’s goodwill box.  She just started wearing her hair in a side part, and with the heels, and the sunglasses and hair… it was surreal.  Suddenly, she wasn’t just a little girl anymore.  She was almost as tall as I was, and so staggeringly gorgeous, with her ridiculously long legs, and perfect little face.  She was tanned and wearing a bright yellow top and blue denim shorts… it was very different from walking around with my little baby girl.  Because she was eye level, all of a sudden.

The milestones are different when they get older.   There’s no place in a baby book for the first time you go to a restaurant with your daughter and the teenage waiter is surreptitiously checking her out.    I don’t know that it’s a milestone, that’s not the right word.   But it was definitely something – and one thing I know for certain – I’ll be hiding those heels.  I’ve still got a few more years before my baby girl grows up.

Aug 21

Kindergarten

I was reading to Julie last night, and she had chosen a book called My First Day at School by Nancy Skarmeas.  It’s a perfectly lovely book, about a little boy who’s scared to start kindergarten, and (surprise, surprise) ends up really liking it.

I literally had to work at not sobbing in the middle of it.

It sneaks up on me – mostly, I’m all excited about the first day of school.  I’m mildly worried about Sam, as I always am when he starts a new year.  I’m thrilled to betsy for Jessie. Which mirrors how both of them feel – Jessie is flat out thrilled at the start of seventh grade – she adores school and can’t wait to get back. Sam is mostly excited, but a little bit nervous.

I’m sure that Julie will thrive in kindergarten, I’m not anywhere near as worried about her as I was about Sam when he was this age.  I know that she’ll be nervous and shy on the first day, and there will probably be a few tears on her side at drop off – but I also know that she’s going to be fine.  I know that she’s ready for this – academically, she’s SO ready to throw herself into school, and socially, it’ll be great for her to be in a classroom with a bunch of other kids her own age.

So it’s not worry for her – it’s just me.  My baby is going to kindergarten, and as I type that sentence, I feel misty and sentimental all over again.

I have been so focused on how much EASIER it’ll be once she’s in school.  How much easier her transition to be, because she hasn’t had me at home with her all summer (okay, yeah, maybe I am crying a little bit – because what the hell was I thinking, going back to work and missing out on this time with her?).  She’s my last little baby – and the idea that she’s big enough to go to to school freaks me out just a little bit.

Julie is my third baby.   It doesn’t get any less momentous or amazing.  It doesn’t get any less hard to kiss her goodbye and send her out into the world.  Yes, yes, I know… she’s not going out in the world really.  She’s just going to kindergarten.  But the reality is that she’s always had me (or her dad, or a brother or sister…) as a buffer between her and the rest of the world.  She’s going to have relationships with people I don’t know, interactions I know nothing about.  She’s going to grow up more this year, in a lot of ways, than she has since she was born.

So I get a little misty.  Not sad, precisely.  Not delighted either.  A combination of both, plus a general awareness that time keeps marching on… and while the future is bound to hold all kinds of exciting things, and truly, the alternative is unthinkable – I’m emotional as hell about the fact that my baby girl will be starting school in a week.

Now I just have to hide it from her.   Because if I cry, even once, it’ll scare the bejeezus out of her.  I stay endlessly upbeat and encouraging.  I’ll wait until she walks away to let the tears come.

Aug 19

Favorite moments from Summer 2015

It’s been a season of transition and growth around here at the Cohen household.  Between Marc starting his new job officially (moving from the four month intern process to full blown insurance dude) and me going back to work after more than a decade at home, there were huge sweeping changes about how we live our lives.  The kids have all grown up a lot this summer.  They’re working together more and more (not that the fighting and squabbling have stopped altogether…) but I’m seeing glimmers of a closeness that wasn’t there at the beginning of the summer.  This has been the summer of the Great Hair Crisis of 2015, the summer of Minecraft and learning to write.  (Can you figure out which kid matches up with which descriptor?)

Even with the struggles around childcare and the guilt, the never ending laundry and dishes and no time to do any of it – there were still moments that I’d live over and over again if I could.

– Taking the kids to the ocean for the first time.  It probably wasn’t the first time – but it felt like it was.   I couldn’t get them out, they love, love, loved the ocean.  It was blissful – to the point where the flat tire we got on the way there didn’t detract at all from the overall fabulousness of the day.  Becky came with Abby, so we had three adults, and a buddy for my water-phobic girl – but watching Jessie and Sam in the ocean that day is going to be a memory I’m going to cherish…

– Storyland.  We always meant to get back there, but the summers haven’t traditionally been a time where we had a surplus of wealth or time in the past.  We went the last time when Julie was a few months old, and it was great – but this time was so much better.  We brought Lilli and Sarah with us, and stayed for two nights at Annie’s house. Becky and Abby came too (which makes any family occasion so much better, not only because I adore Becky, but because having Abby meant that Julie had a partner in crime and Sam could be with the older kids).

– We got an XBox and an itty bitty flat screen television.   We aren’t really a materialistic sort of family – for a very long time, we had one old school cell phone that Marc and I shared and only one television.  We’ve added to that list of electronics substantially over the past couple of years, but getting the XBox and the television so that Marc and Sam can play minecraft together was a brilliant idea.

– The bunk beds.  Moving Julianna out of our bedroom was a HUGE step, and there were moments when I was kicking myself for doing it at the same time that she was adjusting to not having me home with her every day.  June was NOT a good month for my baby, and it was because there were just so many transitions all at once.  But putting those beds together, and shopping for her new comforter and pillows, and then her obvious joy and delight in having her own big girl bed and her own space – it was wonderful to watch.

– Working.  My job, after being at home with my kids for so long, is such a lovely surprise.  I had been wondering for a while about what my life would look like, after Julianna started kindergarten.  Without a kid at home, did I need to be here?  But… how could I give up that time after school?  Lose those conversations with Jessie after I picked her up, and miss out on seeing their little faces coming out of the door.  Try and cram homework, dinner, togetherness, and bedtime into just a few short hours after work?  But how could I find a job that would allow me to do pick up and drop off?  Getting the job at Literacy Volunteers was a dream come true, and that was before I even started it.   After two months and a half months of working – I still love it.  I love working at the library, I love opening the office every morning, I love talking to the students and working with women I respect and genuinely enjoy hanging out with – this is nearly an ideal working experience.  And starting next week, it’ll get even better, because I’ll be out in time four days a week to pick my babies up from school.

– Camp Grammy.  Because I’ve been home for the vast majority of the kids’ lives, they missed out on a lot of one-on-one Grammy time.  I like my mother too – so if they were going over to her house, so was I.  But this summer wouldn’t have been possible without my mother, and her relationship with Julianna is lovely to watch.  Julie really blossomed, having that time with my mom, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

– Yesterday afternoon, there was this moment… I had been at work all morning and came home for early afternoon.  And it was so hot, so ridiculously hot and the sky was grey and threatening to pour, so we didn’t want to go anywhere especially… the girls and I painted our fingernails, and then the three kids and I just hung out in the living room.  I was reading, Julie was sitting in her little “hide-out” that she constructed in the corner of the room.  Sam was on one couch, and Jessie was curled up right next to me, and there was something on television – it was so peaceful and relaxed.  Yes, there were dishes waiting, and laundry to fold and I should have been shopping for back to school sneakers or making the bed, or doing something more constructive than curled up with my girl, with my other two right there, but I didn’t want anything more that what I had, right at that very moment.  Then Marc came home, and it was like everything was perfect.

This season in my life is very different in a lot of ways from what I had before.  My identity has changed, my world is bigger.  My kids are growing, and their worlds are bigger and richer as well.  Jessie is ready for seventh grade, and has grown up so much this summer.  She’s responsible and beautiful and I’m so proud of my girl.  Sammy is going into third grade, and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring for him.  Third grade is traditionally a good year (at least it was for Jessie).  Brand new teacher this year, and he’s both nervous and excited.  Julianna’s the one who’s life is going to change the most – starting full time kindergarten is more of a game changer than anything she’s experienced before.  Marc is looking at opening his own office here in Worcester.   Everything is settling in – the older kids start school in a week, and Julie goes the following Monday.

Aug 17

Family Dinners

After doing this parenting gig for almost 13 years, there were two big areas where I was pretty much a dismal failure, at least according to the currently accepted wisdom.  I was utter crap at bedtime and family meals.

I’m a co-sleeper from way back, and with the exception of when I just had Jessie, I never had one of those routines that involved putting the kids to bed and then going about my day.  I had kids in my bed all the time, and kids who thrived on a lot of nighttime parenting.

Then we got bunk beds.  Suddenly, I have this really traditional EASY bedtime routine, involving putting them bed.  I just put them to bed.  Julie falls asleep on her own every night and sleeps in her own bed.  Sam is a little more high maintenance still (last night, he couldn’t fall asleep and conked out in my bed).   Jessie crawls into her bed and reads or watches netflix on the top bunk.

The other big change this summer is family dinner.  When I was home full time, dinner was my break.  When everyone was occupied with food and a kindle or a book – it was my downtime.  I’ve always preferred to read while eating – and because we were together all the live long day, I never felt this need to force family togetherness around the dinner table.  My dining room table was mostly covered with bags and papers and mail and books anyway – so I just them them eat wherever.

I always felt a little bit guilty about it – after all, family dinner is supposed to be this magical panacea, able to guarantee straight A students who never drink alcohol or experiment with drugs.  But not guilty enough to clean off the table.

Then I started working – and miss, miss, missed the kids.  I missed that time with them, with all three of them, and decided to start making everyone sit at the table to eat.  I didn’t want that quiet time with a book (okay, I did, I really, really did, but wanted the kid time more.

We’ve sat at the table for dinner every day for the past week.  We laid ground rules – one that was critical for me was that you do not ever come to the dinner table if you can’t be nice. Crabby or grumpy or just needing space – it’s totally okay to say “I’m really not in the mood to be at the table…” and they can go eat wherever.  Everyone’s got baggage, and one of my my issues is a massive aversion to being trapped at the table with people who are fighting or miserable. With three kids, the potential is there for one kid to be in a bad mood and take it out on everyone – so I’d much rather they opt out rather than spew it out on everyone.  Thankfully, that’s only happened once, where I had to send a kid away from the table.  Mostly, everyone just sits at the table and we talk and chat and hang out.

My family looks very different from the way it looked three months ago.  Mama out of the house working, Daddy with a flexible and less demanding schedule, kids sleeping in their own beds, and family dinner every night.

Aug 06

I miss them

This has been a tough summer in a lot of ways.  Going back to work is such a big adjustment, and while I’m so grateful for my job, it’s been a struggle to adjust to not being at home all the time.

I think it’s mainly because it’s summer.  During the school year, my job will be dovetail perfectly with their school schedule.  It will be easy, in so many ways.  I can drop off the kids, bop off to work, and leave just in time to do after school pick up.  There’s only one day that I can’t do pick up, and it’s Fridays – a day that Marc can be at home, picking up the kids and getting ready for Shabbat dinner.  In three weeks, my job will be absolutely ideal.

But I miss them.  It’s not just the agonizing over childcare, and worrying each day who’s going where, and what time. Yesterday, I just straight up MISSED being at home with my kids.  I missed reading with Sam, and talking with Jessie about her questions about Edward Snowden.  I missed cooking with Julie, and eating lunch with them, and going to the swimming pool or down to the playground.  I missed my kids. These three kids – who aren’t perfect, and they fight and squabble and whine – but they’re funny and sweet and I adore them with ever fiber of my being.  I’m used to a LOT more time with them over the summer.  I’ve been a stay at home mom for most of their lives, and I really, really loved it.   Being a mother is such a huge part of my identity, it’s been my whole world for more than a decade, and I miss being able to focus on it exclusively.

I love my job, and I love getting paid. I love being home with them more, and working when they are home is hard.  I know that the school year will start up, and it’ll fall into a routine, and everything will be easier.  I know that working is the right thing to do for this stage in my life, I know that the work I do really makes a difference in people’s lives, and I’m so grateful for the ability to do this.  I’m aware that this is a transient problem.  I know that Julie’s adjustment to kindergarten will be that much easier, because she’s been able to adjust to being without me during the past two months.  Because I’ve been at work, she’s been able to adjust to it while her life mostly stayed the same, she was able to stay home, or spend special time with Grammy – instead of adjusting to missing me and getting used to a whole new school environment.  Three weeks from now, they’ll be in school all day, and I won’t feel as though I’ve left my heart sleeping at home while I head off – but right now…

I had two meetings, one on Monday night, and one on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning, I was a teary-eyed mess at the thought of leaving my kids again.  I came home, and made everyone come with for Julie’s doctor’s appointment (she failed her hearing test at the pediatrician’s last week, but passed with flying colors at the specialist’s).  We all went trooped to the doctor’s office, stopping off for McDonald’s sundaes first.  Then we spent a half hour or so wandering around St. Vincents Hospital – we rode the glass elevators, and I showed them the one that I was in when my water broke with Sam.  Then we went to the gift shop and I bought gummy worms for everyone.  I let them gorge on them (I never do that – although it totally worked, Julie hated them, and both Sam and Jessie ended up throwing them out when they came home – once they were readily available, they realized how much they don’t really like them).  We all went to the grocery store together, and finally made it home.

The thing is – working is absolutely the right thing for this stage in my life.  I’m reluctantly coming to terms with the reality that there won’t be any more babies, and all three of mine will be out of the house in three weeks.  If I had taken the time to design my ideal job, it would be this one – working five minutes from the school, in THE LIBRARY, and with hours that perfectly dovetail their school schedule.  I love what I do, I love the people I work with and the people we help.

I really loved my life before, though.  And as much as I love my job, my heart breaks just a little bit, every day, when I walk out the door and leave them here..

Jul 28

Mid-Summer

It’s been a shorter summer, because of all the snow days earlier this year.  We really only had July and August, and we’re down to the last month.

It’s been a summer of changes, and I’m still catching my breath.  Starting work was more than a little overwhelming and I’m still not entirely used to it.  At the same time, it seems routine now, to get up and go to work in the morning.  I still have to go day by day, in terms of working out childcare and who’s going where when and who’s picking up who at what time, and that’s not getting any easier.  My job is less hours and more regimented, Marc’s is far more hours, but more flexibility.  It’s not unusual for Marc’s whole schedule to change from day to day, and plans for the afternoon can fall apart or suddenly develop at the last minute, requiring a whole new set of plans and adjustments.

The kids have adjusted beautifully to me going to work.  Now that I’m two months into it, Julie seems to be gaining equilibrium, and settling into her own routine again.  She’s grown up the most, this summer, in so many ways.  Going from being the last baby at home, and the one who got the most one-on-one time with me, to being without me for four days a week was a big jump, and then we tacked out moving into her own bed just a few weeks after I started work.  It was touch and go for a while there, with a lot of tears and an enormous amount of guilt on my part, but she seems to be better lately.  Jessie and Sam were both adamant that they wanted to stay home this summer and not go to camp, and although I’ve heard a few complaints about being bored, there haven’t been that many.  Marc and I are able to bounce our schedule around, and somehow we’re all surviving.  There’s a lot more minecraft and netflix than I’d like, but there’s legos and lemonade stands, coloring and math sheets too.

My afternoons are a blur of running around, trying to fit in bat mitzvah studying and flute lessons.  I have this list in my head of things that need to get done, and I’ve taken to emailing Marc when I want to talk to him about something because we’re always so busy at home that it’s tough to take the time to focus on conversation.

Jessie has started her lessons with the new cantor, and I’m still very much on the fence about religious school for her.  The reality is that both my older two don’t like religious school, and I hate the thought of forcing it on them.  We’ve definitely decided to not send Sam, but to either find him an on-line option or possibly a tutor.  Honestly, I think an on-line class would be best for him, combined with synagogue membership.  But with Jessie, I’m still unsure.  Julie will start at our local religious school, and I just hope that it’s a more positive experience for her than it was for the older two.

Jul 25

Vindicated Co-Sleeping Mama

I stumbled into the Attachment Parenting philosophy.  I don’t follow it slavishly, and I don’t follow a lot of the other lifestyle choices that seem to go along with it.  My kids eat cheetos and watch television.  I make them get their shots and brush their hair.  But I did pick them up all the time (to the point where my girls were both a year and a half before they started walking), I nursed on demand, and well into toddlerhood (Sam was three, Julie was closer to four before she stopped – Jessie bailed on me before she was a year old), and I co-slept with all of them.

Of my three kids – Jessie reliably sleeps every night in her own bed, and Sam has always been a haphazard sleeper.  He conks out wherever and whenever, sometimes in his room on the floor, sometimes on the dining room floor, sometimes in my bed, and very rarely – in his bed.  But he sleeps independently.  My bedtime routine has always been dependent on whoever’s needs were the most pressing – when I just had Jessie, I had this elaborate bedtime routine that involved reading and lullabies and quiet whispers until she finally drifted off.  When I had Sam, the bedtime routine shifted to getting ready to bed, trying to read to her while Sam nursed, and finally having both of them fall asleep on top of me in this huge love seat while we watched recorded episodes of George Stephanopolis.  By the time Julie came along, we had shifted over into Jessie reading to herself at night, Sam hanging with Daddy until he was really sleepy and I’d nurse Julie.  That stage lasted for years.  After having Julie, I gave up any illusions that I’d be able to stay up later than my kids.  We got a television for the bedroom when she was about a year old, and established the routine of nursing her to sleep and then just chilling out and watching television.

I had hesitated about putting her in Jessie’s bedroom.  Ever since moving into this apartment, I’ve been thinking that I’d probably be moving within the next six months or so – which made it easy to tell myself that I’d just keep her in my room until we moved.  Start fresh in a new place, have everyone get used to a new bedroom and sharing at the same time.  I got her a toddler bed, and put it in my room, because it was just easier.  I’d snuggle her to sleep and then throw her into her own bed.

The first night with the bunk beds didn’t go well at all, and the second was better, but still it took me almost two hours to get her to sleep and she was miserable.  Desperately wanted to sleep in her bed, but couldn’t get herself to settle down in her own space.  The third day, I got some construction paper and markers, and she and I made a Bedtime Book.  I wrote down every step in the get ready for bed process on a separate page and she illustrated it (and her depiction of a toilet is masterfully executed…).  And that night, we read the book, and then went thru, step by step, and she fell asleep, by herself, in her own bed and slept all night.  We’ve repeated it for the past four nights.

The best part is that now, I just put both Sam and Julie to bed at the same time.  I will reluctantly admit that Sam is sleeping on a hard plastic six foot table top (because I needed the twin mattress from the top of his loft bed, and suggested that instead of getting another mattress – because he’s got a big bed on the bottom – we just set up an art corner, where he can work on his legos, and color and get away from everyone.  A six foot folding table fit perfectly (with the legs folded up, of course), and it’s his favorite spot in the world).  I should have predicted that he’d sleep up there – but I naively thought he’d sleep on the bed as opposed to a hard plastic table… But  my point is that every night now, I tuck all three of my kids into bed (or onto a table).  Jessie goes up on the top bunk, with netflix and a book light, Julie sleeps every night in her own bed with no issues, and Sam conks out reliably up on his loft.

It took me three kids, twelve and a half years, and I’m still not sure how it worked out so well.  But all of them sleep in their own beds (or tables) and it’s blissfully easy.

Jul 21

Operation Bunk Beds/Sleep in Said Bed

It was a busy weekend (as are they all, really).  We had been talking for a while about getting Julianna into a larger bed in Jessie’s bedroom.   Talking for a lot longer than we probably should have been, and not actually doing anything about it.

I’m a co-sleeper from way back.  I slept with babies all my life, from my little sister to cousins to nieces and nephews.  I loved babysitting, loved taking a kid for a weekend, and never had trouble sleeping with a little one next to me – and that was before I had my own kids.  Once I had my own, and combined nursing with sleeping – it was a no-brainer.   With Jessica, I had a crib for her (and it was lovely, pale purple and so sweet) and I diligently put her in it every night.  At her first wake up, I’d just take her back to bed with us, and eventually, stopped waking up.  With Sam – his anxiety and colic led to a boy who didn’t ever relax unless he was next to me, and he never even laid in his crib (let alone slept in it).  By the time Julie was born, I didn’t even bother.  She just slept in bed with us and it was fine.

Part of the reason that she’s been in our bed for so long has been that I keep thinking we are going to move.  It seemed like such a big transition for Jessie – to give up her own room to share it with a five year old, and I kept thinking that it’d just be easier to wait.  And I loved sleeping with our girl – she’d snuggle in between Marc and I.  I had a toddler bed in our room that I’d throw her in more often than not, and she was outgrowing it.

It was time.

So we got some hand-me-down bunk beds, and they’re perfect.  Jessie was game for bunk beds, but asked for stairs, and Marc built her some bookshelves/stairs that he attached to the beds.  I took them shopping, and bought pretty new comforters and throw pillows.  Saturday, I went thru the closets and dressers, and rearranged all of them.  Jessie got Sam’s old dresser, Julie got Jessie’s old dresser, Sam got the bonus dresser I used for extra clothes, and Julie’s old dresser became the arts/crafts dresser.  So to speak.  I don’t know, really, what I’ll do with that one…

Sunday, Marc transported and built and shopped for wood and built some more.  By Sunday night, the beds were perfect, and my little girl was ready, psyched, even to sleep in her Doc McStuffins bed.

Until she wouldn’t go to sleep.  The battle went on for three hours, with her wide awake and kicking at the wall, wiggling like a little worm, and me getting more and more frustrated.  She deteriorated into tears and I started yelling.  I ended up taking her back into my bed – she didn’t go down until after eleven.

Last night, we made books.  One called “Julianna Goes to Bed” and the other one called “Julianna Wakes Up.”  I wrote down every single step, from cleaning up to having a little snack, brushing her teeth and picking out her clothes for the next day.  We read two stories and snuggled her to sleep.  It took me an hour and forty five minutes, and she cried (because she couldn’t sleep – IT WAS HARD – and why didn’t I understand that???) but I never raised my voice, and she slept all night in her own bed.  So it counts as a victory.  Not as much as a victory as it would have been if she hadn’t sobbed, but progress.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

 

Jul 14

Trade-offs

This is the summer of minecraft, nail painting and spending time with Grammy.  It’s also the summer of me learning that everything is a trade-off.  If I choose to do one thing, than something else that I should have been doing is going to go unfinished.  Or never get started in the first place.

My job is going wonderfully well – but there’s a lot to it.  A lot.  And I’m still on reduced hours (in a month, I’ll be doing 32 hours a week, but until then, I’m doing 20 hours in the office, and working from home when I can).  I’m grateful, so grateful, for the ability to work from home, to be able to work while my kids bike ride and play with barbies and to stop and get a snack or pour a drink.   But working from home has it’s own challenges.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly professional.  So I worked, a lot, from home.   This morning, I’m looking around at the living room floor, covered in books and empty cups, papers and crayons and pillows and hair ties, and regretting it.  Or not regretting it, because I got a LOT done yesterday, and it needed to get done, but my house is suffering.

I think it’s mostly the house that suffers.  And my kids, a little, my husband, a little.  Because I don’t function well in a really messy house.  For my own sanity, I need a relatively clean house.  Relatively.  We went to the beach on Saturday and it was beyond fabulous.  The kids had so much fun, and I loved being in the ocean more than I can express.  But Sunday was an epic disaster, in large part, because I was so damn frustrated by the fact that I hadn’t cleaned on Saturday.  I still had dishes to do from Shabbat dinner, so much laundry to do.

I keep telling myself that it will all get better in September.  I won’t have to juggle childcare – everyone will be in school.  I won’t have to clean so much, because nobody will be home during the day.  I won’t feel guilty because I’ll be home when the kids are home.

Julie didn’t go to bed last night until after eleven.  Not that she wasn’t in bed, because she was.  I got her to bed around eight thirty.  But that’s her one-on-one time with me, and I couldn’t help feeling like I needed to just snuggle and talk and be with her.  She didn’t want to sleep – she had a lot to talk about.  So I let her, but she’ll suffer today because of it.  Marc can go in later, so he’ll let her sleep for a while, and I’ll get out at two and go pick her up.  She’ll sleep on the way home.  Or the way down to my mother’s house.

She’s having a harder time than the other kids are.  Jessie and Sam aren’t loving me being gone part of every day, but they are already used to spending that time in school.  Julie is not.  As much as I tell myself that kindergarten will be easier for her, that she needs to adjust to this anyway, this way she does it with my mother and her dad, which is so lucky for her, I still feel guilty.

 

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