Archive | September 2012

Regrets

Yom Kippur starts tonight.  This is the Jewish holiday where we feel bad.  There’s more to it, but when I first met Marc and was trying to figure out Judaism, that was the short explanation I used to explain to myself and my family.  Rosh Hashana is the New Year, but then we have a week to ponder.  To make heartfelt and sincere resolutions, to apologize for mistakes made over the past year, to repair relationships that have suffered, and to vow to do better.  So, in the spirit of Yom Kippur, and the fact that this is a parenting blog… here are my regrets.  The things I wish I’d been better at, and my hopes for this next year.

I’m sorry for all the times when I didn’t have time.  Time to sit and read with my kids, or time to go for a walk, or time to go harvest the vegetables or look for the flowers or even just to sit and eat dinner all at the same time.  I paid too much attention to things that seemed critical at the time, like loading the dishwasher or folding the laundry or talking on the phone, and didn’t take the time I could have to enjoy their childhood with them.

I’m sorry for all the times when I didn’t intercede soon enough.  I’m a mom, I know when a fight is going to resolve itself and when it’s going to bubble up out of control.  And I didn’t always stop it when I knew that the inevitable result was going to be Jessie calling Sam stupid, or Sammy hauling off and shoving her.

I’m sorry for all the times that Jessie may have felt ignored, because she’s the oldest and the most capable.  The other kids’ needs were not more important, but can feel more immediate, and if I made her feel less important because of that, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the times that Sam may have felt ignored, because he’s the most even tempered and low maintenance.  The girls are more dramatic, and sometimes it may have felt like I paid more attention to them, and I’m sorry for that.

I’m sorry for all the times when Julie was just expected to go along with the program.  When her needs weren’t the most important, because we had a schedule that involved activities that she got nothing out of, like boy scouts or religious school or dance class.  For all the missed naps and the times she sat and waited patiently, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the times when I didn’t pay enough attention to my husband.  All the times when it was easier to focus on the kids and the house and the errands and everything else, and he fell to the bottom of my list.  He’s not, not ever, but sometimes in practice, it probably feels that way.  For that, I’m sincerely sorry.

And now I’m vaguely depressed and pretty sure that I’m not very good at this parenting thing at all.  So I’m promising to do better.  To try harder, to not take the easy way out and to do my very best going forward.  For well or ill, this is who I was this past year.  These are mistakes I made, and I’m pretty sure that, even with the best of intentions, I’m going to make them all again next year.  But hopefully not as much.

Yeah, I know you think I’m an idiot

There are times, as a parent, when I know I look stupid.  When I can step back from myself, see the situation and pretend that I don’t know the backstory – and yeah, I look like an idiot.  But I’m not.  I’m just a mom.  A mom who’s doing her best and doesn’t always do it right.  With a son who’s trying his best, and doesn’t know for sure that he can do it without me yet.  So I’m okay looking like an idiot.  Because I know, and he knows, that I’m just doing the best that I can to help my son to be the best he can be.

My six year old doesn’t like new things.  He’s not a boy who thrives on change, shall we say.  It took him the better part of year to adjust to being born, for instance.  He’s still pretty sure that this, right now, is good.  He’s perplexed that we’d ever want to change, that we might someday move, or get a new car.  Or start school.  To the point where he’s literally repeating kindergarten, and is kicking academic butt.  He’s capable of first grade work, but still tries (really, really hard, some days) to stay home every morning because the thought of dancing out the door to spend six hours without his mother baffles and infuriates him.

So starting a new religious school is hard for him.  Our religious school merged with the two reform synagogues to start one cohesive school that, unfortunately for him, expanded the size of his class from four to fourteen and moved it to a new location.   And he’s straight up horrified by it.  The first day was last week, and it was miserable.  He refused to go into the room at all, so I went in, with my toddler, and sat in the corner.  My two year old LOVES it.  She plops her little self down in the circle, is an active participant.  Raises her hand at inopportune moments, and claims that yes, she knows the Hebrew alphabet (she doesn’t).  My poor boy spent most of the first day with his head buried in my lap, moaning when I tried to shove him off of me.

Today, he cried for a half hour about going.  This is HEBREW SCHOOL.  I want him to love this.  I don’t want THIS to be a struggle.  So we compromised.  I’d go, and I wouldn’t leave him – but he had to participate.  He couldn’t cling.  AND HE DID IT.  I was so proud of him.  He glanced back at me every few  minutes, and a couple of times I had to remind him that he needed to participate with the class if he wanted me to stay, but he did it.

But it did mean that when the other mom, a good friend of mine, came over and said “the other moms are all over there talking, why don’t you join us?” I had to shake my head.  “Nope, I have to stay here.”  She looked at my son, who looked, at that moment, like he was happy and having fun, and gave me a look like I was … an idiot.  Clearly, he’s fine.  Why was I still here?  Can’t I let go?  I know what she was thinking, but I also know that I wasn’t leaving.  He was fine, and it was light years better than last week, but it was a fragile victory, and could have been lost in an instant, had I disappeared to sit and socialize with the other moms.  I know that.   I know I look like an idiot.  But one of the things I love most about him is that he challenges me more than anyone else to try harder, to do what’s best for him despite how it looks to everyone else.  And this was what was best for him.

He learned today that he kind of likes Hebrew school.  He learned that he was safe, and he had friends there, and that he fit in.  He wouldn’t have been brave enough, not yet, to learn that without me there.  Without me smiling in the doorway.  He didn’t need to be in my arms, he didn’t need to be on my lap.  But today, he needed to see me.  He needed to be able to glance over and see me smiling encouragingly.  He needed that.  So I’m okay with looking like an idiot.  And on the upside, I know absolutely that when it comes time for my youngest to go to school, she’ll ditch me like a hot potato.  Because at two, she’s already a viable active member of the first grade class at religious school.

Other people’s kids

I’ve had two rather odd experiences lately.  And I’m thinking today about how much we, as parents, have the obligation to protect our children from other kids, and how much we should step back and let them fend for themselves.  Because if we don’t ever step back – will they be able to handle it on their own?  Where do you draw the line between protecting your child and fighting their battles for them?

The first occurred while Sammy was in a childcare room over the weekend.  Another kid threw a toy across the room, deliberately, and it hit my poor boy on the temple.  It broke the skin, and infuriated me in a way that few things do.  Hurt my boy?  Are you kidding me?  I really wanted to scream back at the kid, or even better, go find the parents and scream at them.  But I didn’t, I just got ice for his poor little head and snuggled him a lot and resorted to glaring.  I wonder now if maybe I should have done more.  Not screamed at the kid, but been more forceful with the parents.  I don’t like confrontation, and there was a part of me that felt like confronting them wasn’t going to make it okay.  It wasn’t going to help his head, and probably would only end up making me madder.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Not just because my son was hurt, but also because neither of the parents apologized or made sure that the little boy did.

The second situation involves my Jessie.  Because she’s so sweet, and because she always sort of feels a little out of place in social settings.  There’s a new girl in her class this year, and it’s just not working out for my girl.  This new girl is a strong personality, and very quickly began to dominate the social circle of fourth grade girls.  And Jessie is at a loss – this girl alternates between telling Jessie she’s her best friend, and thus Jessie can only hang out with her, or deciding that she hates Jessie and telling everyone else that they can’t talk to her either.   What to do with that?   I tried, calmly, to convince Marc to go beat her up for me, but he stubbornly refuses.  I tried talking to Jessie, telling her that she’s stronger than she thinks, and that nobody gets to tell her who she can talk to, and she should stand up for herself – but I know damn well she won’t.  She’s a pushover at times, like her mother.   Which just reminds me of the situation I described above – I should have said something, and I didn’t.  Is it any wonder my daughter feels helpless when someone behaves badly?

Am I teaching them to walk away from fights that need to be fought?  Am I allowing behavior that should be stopped to continue unchecked?  If I was in the other parents’ shoes, at least in the first situation, I know that I’d want to know.  I’d have immediately apologized profusely, checked to make sure that the other child wasn’t hurt, and made sure that my kid was appropriately disciplined.  But in the second situation, I’m a little unsure of myself.  Because Jessie is older, and because it’s not as clear cut.  Is the problem this other kid, who’s certainly being a jerk, or is the problem that Jessie is letting this kid walk all over her because she’s new and and Jessie would rather be hurt than take the risk of hurting someone else?  It’s not a toy being thrown across the room and breaking the skin.  It’s hurt feelings and little kid cruelty – which doesn’t make it any easier to take, and certainly makes it tougher to decide on the right course of action.

I don’t have any answers today – just reminding myself of why I think infancy is the easiest.  The problems have clear solutions.  They might be tough to implement, but you know, absolutely, what to do.  Change the diaper, pick up the screaming baby.  The bigger they get, the harder it is to know exactly what you’re doing. Should you step back and let your child feel her way thru it with just pep talks at home for support, or do you get more involved?  Do you approach the school, talk to the teacher, convince your husband to go beat her up?

Oldest children

I read somewhere that oldest children are like tester pancakes, they never really turn out as good because you almost have to mess up one before you get good at making them.  As the oldest child, I thought it was kind of a lousy way of looking at it, but as a mother, I somewhat see the wisdom of it.  Not that Jessie isn’t going to be as “good” as the others by the time I’m done, but she’s the one that teaches me.  Because of her, I’m a better mother to Sam.  And Julie benefits from having both of them come before her.  I know what I’m doing, because I’ve figured it out, somewhat.  I know how to do the “mother of a six year old” and “mother of a two year old” – I’ve done it before.  But Jessie’s always at a new stage, it seems, and each time, I have to realize again that I really have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s an established fact that at some point, your child will scream “I hate you!” at you.  I was prepared for that.  In fact, Jessie (and Sam) have both already, at least once, said it to me mid-temper tantrum.  But last night, Jessie yelled me “I know you hate me” and it took my breath away.   My baby girl, my beloved child, the child who has owned my heart from her very first breath, thought that I hated her.

She’s a smart kid, she knew that I was ready, to some extent, for her to hate me.  I could have handled that.  But to say that I hated her – it devastated me.  Want to know why she thought I hated her?  Because I wouldn’t let her watch Dance Moms.  Worse, I insisted she either go to sleep in her own bed, or she could snuggle up next to me and watch George Stephanopolis.  When she objected rudely to George, I told her she was welcome to go to her own room, and she stormed out.

But she only went as far as the bathroom doorway.  If she’d gone to her room, I would have let it go.  Would have been pleased to let her go, because she would have fallen asleep that much faster.  But instead, she stood in the middle of the bathroom doorway, in an otherwise dark and silent kitchen and screamed hysterically (overtired, much?).  When I (rather calmly, I thought) told her that it wasn’t an option for her to stay there, she could go to her room or come back to mine, but she had to lay down and go to sleep, she hollered out that she knew I hated her, she didn’t want to be anywhere near me, she just wanted to be left alone, and stormed into her room to cry herself to sleep.

And sleep she did.  Me, not so much.  I laid awake most of the night, wondering.  How did I get here?  Am I screwing up that badly that she honestly thinks I hate her?  Intellectually, I get it.  She’s a dramatic kid, with intense and real emotions, and she’s never had any trouble tapping into them.  She’s also scary smart, especially when it comes to reading people, and she knows how to push my buttons.  It was, absolutely, the one thing she could have said that would guarantee that I’d feel as bad as she did.

Which is why I was thinking about the tester pancakes last night.  Not because I think I’m screwing up, I know intellectually that she knows I love her.  She confirmed it this morning, when she apologized and said she was just so tired that she thought it was true, but now that she’d gotten a good nights sleep, she knew differently.  I tell her I love her all the time, her preferred spot is still (most of the time, anyway) on my lap or next to me, and I like to think that we’re pretty close.  But first children have shock on their side.  It’s not that I won’t ache if Sam or Julie says it to me, but it won’t be as awful as it was when Jessie did it.  When Sam said he hated me, I wasn’t delighted, but I was able to brush it off easier because I had been thru it with Jessie.  When Sam has had huge staggering temper tantrums – they aren’t any worse than Jessie’s were at that age, and thus, I’m able to ride them out without second guessing myself the way I did with her.

So Jessie, if you’re reading this ten or fifteen years from now – please know that I always, always love you.  And that you have an incredible talent with words and a scary ability to perceive exactly which words will have the most impact – and you should wield those weapons with care.  And also know that, for sure and for certain, I’ll be making sure that the television is off before the previews for Dance Moms start next Tuesday :-)

Shana Tova!

Tonight starts the holiday of Rosh Hashana, followed next Wednesday by Yom Kippur. This is really the start of the holiday season for us – we’ll run thru the High Holidays (the aforementioned two), then Sukkot, and Simchat Torah. And then rush into Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years.  We’ve got a bunch of birthday sprinkled in there too, but for my purposes, things get crazy around mid-September and we don’t stop for breath until early January.  We have a big family party planned tonight and tomorrow, as well as full days at the synagogue for Monday and Tuesday. Tonight our party is at one of my husband’s aunts’ houses, but the party tomorrow is here. So today will be spent baking and cleaning and tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be making matzoh ball soup.  Jessie is in charge of all desserts, and will be whipping up whoopie pies and cake, as well as making the circular rolls that we’ll be eating in honor of the New Year.

I like the thought of a New Year in the fall. It feels like a good time for a fresh start. Yesterday was the first Saturday that our Community Religious School met, Temples Sinai, Emmanuel and our synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel are merging this year into one entity for religious education. Jessie already knew a lot of the kids in her class, and is adjusting quicker. Sam is horrified about new people, and a new place, so we’re taking it slow with him.  Really slow, he refused to go altogether yesterday until I stayed with him, but there’s a limited amount of time that Julie can sit thru a first grade religious class.   We made it about an hour, and then bopped around the synagogue, meeting people and discovering little playrooms they could play in.  I love the idea of the new school, but the first few weeks are always tough.  Jessie is missing her old Saturdays, where it was less about school and more about a religious service.  I know she’ll adjust, we all will, but it’s going to take some time before it feels comfortable.  It helps that she really likes her teacher this year, and she’s got some friends from last year in her class.  

So we’re all about new beginnings, all over the place. I also feel like we’re entering a new phase in our family’s life as well. With Sam thriving in kindergarten, Jessie entering this new “tween” stage, and Julianna out of diapers completely (including staying dry at night and when we’re out and about), we’re moving into a stage in our lives that’s unlike any other so far. I’m not saying no to the idea of another baby, but if it does happen, it’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s entirely possible that we’ve gone from the stage where we were growing our family to where we’re just raising a family. Which is kind of a dramatic change, given that for the past nine (almost ten – !!!) years, I’ve had a little one.  Next year, I probably won’t have to sit thru class with Sam, and the year after that – Julie might even be in preschool Hebrew, and then I might even be able to go and sit thru a service without having to sneak out before my kids disturb everyone.  Last night, Marc and I actually dropped the kids off at my  mothers and went out for coffee.  Without a kid.  We don’t ever do that – but we can now, because they’re all getting older and it’s just easier.  It feels right, it feels exciting and new and challenging. It’s a good time to celebrate where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. 

Shana Tova – best wishes for a sweet and happy New Year! 

My daughter is beautiful

I’ve been kind of caught up in Sam and Julie stuff lately, and Jessie has been flying under the radar.  But I’ve been noticing, more and more, that she’s kind of… gorgeous.  I mean, she’s mine.  Right?  So of course, I always think she’s beautiful.  But this is different.  She’s suddenly… a lot older looking.  A lot more… gorgeous.  She’s all long legs and skinny, skinny body.  Her cheekbones are suddenly there, her eyes are bigger.   Her hair is longer, she’s more put together somehow.  She’s carrying herself differently, somehow.  She’s growing up on me, and she’s stunning.

Fourth grade is big.  Not only is she suddenly toting home textbooks and switching classes – they don’t have automatic school conferences anymore.  Because in the K-3 age frame – you’re really relying on the teachers to take care of your kids.  Not just teach them, but to watch out for them.  To make sure that they’re okay.  And now… that’s just not needed anymore. We can certainly meet with teachers to discuss academics, but that’s what they’re there for.  To teach.  Not to take care of them.  Jessie’s more than capable of taking care of herself now.  It’s a big change, and I’m feeling a little… just not ready for it.

It’s the little things, like realizing that I don’t really worry about getting her to bed.  I worry about Sam getting enough sleep, but Jessie can stay up later.  If Sam’s still awake at eight thirty, I start feeling the pressure to get him asleep as quickly as I can.  With Jessie, it’s looser.  I still have to tell her to settle down and go to bed, but it’s not the same intensity.  It’s being told by the teachers at last night’s Know Your School night that we aren’t supposed to be correcting their homework and helping them so much.  Now, the teachers don’t want you to sit beside your child and walk them thru it, they want the child to be able to do the work on their own, or to come to them for help.  That’s enormous.  There’s this huge transfer, on a whole bunch of different levels, of control over to them.  I’m not saying that she’s an adult.  But she’s responsible for a lot more than her little brother is.  She’s capable of so much more, all of a sudden.  I know that it’s not really all of a sudden, that it’s a gradual process, and it’s just that I’m suddenly aware of it.  But it feels like she woke up and aged three years one day in late August.

My baby girl isn’t a baby anymore.  I know I say that all the time, about both of them… but wow.  You know?  I mean, she’s my baby.  She’s my first little angel girl, and I’m gradually, slowly, realizing that she’s really, really growing up.

Victory

Day Four – and the first day that Sam went to the car without having to be dragged kicking and screaming.

He’s a stubborn kid, and dammit, he doesn’t LIKE going to school.  From all reports – he’s a happy, engaged, playful and content boy once he’s there, but man, does he hate going.   But he goes, because I really, really believe that he is learning valuable lessons about independence.  While I can teach him at home, what I can’t give him is the knowledge that he’s safe and secure without me there.  I can try, but in the end, the only way he’s going to know is for him to do it.   Because he is safe and secure, he just needs to know it. I wish, wish, wish that he had an easier time of it, but this is just who Sam is.  He’s my boy, and I love him exactly as he is.  That being said, I felt like dancing on the way back in the house, just because a morning when I don’t have to kiss his tear stained little face and rip my arm out of his grip is a gift I never stop appreciating.

In other news – Julianna is all potty trained.  Not dry at night yet, but that’s not far away.  Mostly, she’s dry at night, but the mornings are so hectic, having to not worry about dragging her to the potty right away is helpful.  But she’s reliably dry all day long, and I could not be happier.   She’s starting to tell me herself before she has an accident, so it’s not just me remembering to prompt her.  She’s got this, and I’m still surprised by it.

Jess is doing pretty well at school too.  She struggles sometimes socially, trying to navigate the social drama of fourth grade.  It’s hard to watch – but it kind of reinforces, for me, that a huge part of why I send my kids to school is so that they learn how to be around other kids their own ages.  Academically, I don’t worry about her at all.  Or Sam, for that matter.  They’re both bright kids, they love learning, and they’re intellectually inclined anyway.  But they’re both introverts, and learning how to handle that is a struggle for both of them.   Jessie is learning how to stand up for herself and articulate her wants and needs – and that’s huge.  Sam is learning how to smile and connect with other people without hiding behind my legs, and those are both skills that they’ll really need going forward.

I’m still pondering preschool for Julie.  Just because she is so social, and so happy to be around other people.  I worry that she’s not stimulated enough with me at home by herself, but I’m not ready to ship her out into the world yet.  She’s not even two and a half, but she’s so verbal, and now that she’s not in diapers, it feels like she’s a lot older than she is.

Repost from 2008

I was looking back to see if I’d written anything helpful about Jessie’s first year of kindergarten – because I remember it as being fairly traumatic.  Sam is going every day, but sobbing on the way out the door.  Which sucks.  A lot.  But I remember Jessie doing it too, and have to keep reminding myself that it’s just a stage, and he’s great all day, happy and playing, and that’s better for him that sitting at home, staring at the walls or the television set all day.  (Not that he stares at the wall or television all day, but I still think he gains a lot from going and spending time with other kids/adults).  Anyway – I found this old post and liked it – so I thought I’d repost it.  (With a couple of updates, in blue)

1. I’m thirty five years old, and not entirely sure how I feel about that. I think I’m pretty happy about it, I really like where I am in my life. (I’m thirty eight now – and still kind of like it.  Marginally weirded out that I’ll be forty soon, but not too much)

2. I’m very happily married to a man I think is uniquely suited to me. And I think I’m uniquely suited to him. The qualities I wanted most in my dream husband are the ones he possesses in abundance. (Yes – a thousand times yes.  Even when it’s hard)

3. I’ve been pregnant three times, one miscarriage of twins, one daughter, one son. (Four times now, one miscarriage, two daughters, and a boy child)

4. My daughter is six years old, and there is nobody I feel closer to on a lot of levels. We don’t always mesh perfectly, but I always understand exactly what she’s feeling, and have since she was born. Getting her to do what I want is another story… (I don’t always like it, but yes, I still get her all the time)

5. I really thought my son was a girl before he was born. We specifically didn’t find out, but I KNEW he was a girl. And spent the first day or so after he was born a bit confused as to what to do with a son. (Now, I can’t imagine him as a girl, or what I’d do without my Samilicious)

6. My husband feels the same way about my son as I do about my daughter. Which I think is nice.

7. I feel incredibly guilty if I leave my kids. I do it – but dropping them off with someone is NEVER easy, and I always want to back out of whatever plans I’ve made that don’t include them.

8. My son will be three in July, and I have a feeling that he’ll still be nursing. (He was – and there’s a not zero chance that when Julie turns three in April, she’ll still be nursing too.)

9. I’m kind of a breastfeeding snob. I (silently) judge people who don’t nurse their kids. I’m not happy about this, I’d like to be all ‘live and let live’ about it, but the longer I’ve nursed my son, the more judgemental I get about it. I really think it’s the only way to feed an infant, and you should nurse until the child is ready to quit.

10. I really want my son to wean on his own. And am doing everything I can to encourage it.

11. I’m extremely close to my mother. We talk three or four times a day, and I hope to have the same relationship with both my children.

12. I’m a stepmom to my husband’s two daughters from his first marriage. It’s not a role that’s always easy, and I’m always trying to get better at it.

13. I’m really afraid of things that fly. Birds, bugs, butterflies – they all freak me out. I’m afraid the birds will bite me (do you know how much pressure the average parrot can exert with his beak? Scary) and I had a hornet once fly into my hair and get stuck.

14. My sister is six years younger than I am – and while I don’t always understand the bond between us, we’re so different, it’s one of the strongest ones I have.

15. I have two brothers, and don’t really talk to either of them. One on purpose, and one just because neither one of us puts the effort into it. I’m okay with both situations.

16. I have a stepfather and two stepsisters. I am a stepmother and a stepdaughter. Odd.

17. One of my secret fears is having my sister and cousin put me on that “What Not to Wear” show. (still kind of surprised, happily, that it hasn’t happened)

18. I secretly believe that I could, in fact, walk on water, if I could just manage to suspend the belief that I couldn’t. If that makes any sense. (have experienced spiritual turn around – my philosophy is now better summed up as “crappy stuff happens, what are you going to do about it?”  Which is to say, sometimes awful things happen.  You can’t change it, it doesn’t happen because you weren’t strong enough to change it, but you can change the way you deal with it.  Perspective is all.  Or at least most.)

19. I think I might be turning into a Republican. I’m not sure, but am no longer a hard core Democrat. (If I had to pick a label, I’d say Libertarian, very socially liberal but conservative economically)

20. I love putting my kids to bed. Feel a little guilty because I don’t do it the way I’m supposed to – but we all snuggle up in the recliner and I cuddle them until they doze off. (Now that they’re in school, there’s more pressure on getting them to sleep, so I don’t love it as much)

21. I hate cooking. And dishes. And am perplexed because so much of my life is cooking and dishes and I’m perfectly okay with that.

22. I really like staying home and not working. As much as I’m still proud to call myself a feminist, I live this very traditional, Mommy at home in the kitchen, husband off to work, paying all the bills sort of life.

23. I worry sometimes that my kids are getting the message that there is women work and men work and they aren’t the same thing, simply because I always do the dishes and Marc always kills the bugs. But I don’t want to kill the bugs or nag Marc to do the dishes.

24. I’m not very friendly. I’m not unfriendly, but I’m really kind of shy and don’t like to ask a lot of questions or assume that people want to tell me stuff. I’d much rather other people make the effort to be friends. I like to listen and talk and hang out, but am not good at starting off friendships.

25. Then again, I let a really good, long friendship die – so maybe I’m not all that good at being a friend either.

26. I’m a really good wife and mom.

27. I realized soon after getting pregnant that I couldn’t keep putting everyone else ahead of my own family. That’s now my criteria – is this what’s best for my kids? It’s not always the deciding factor, but it’s always a major priority.

28. I don’t like shoes. Don’t like wearing them, don’t like buying them. Am frustrated that you have to wear them all the time in public.

29. I don’t like coats either, now that I think of it.

30. I’d almost always rather stay home with a good book.

31. The quickest way for me to relax is to open a book. I read them incessently. I’ve usually got two or three that I’m reading at any one point.

32. I really want another baby. I’m not desperate yet, but can feel the yearning. (I don’t think I do.  I don’t think I don’t yet, either.  But I’m not positive either way)

33. I love being pregnant. I feel like crap thru it (or did every time before) but it’s still one of my favorite times in my life. (Julianna’s pregnancy was straight up horrible)

34. I’m very low maintenance on a daily basis. Husband’s t-shirts, cut offs and a ponytail is my uniform.

35. I think it’s magic the way I wake up before one of my kid’s does. It’s like I hear them thinking about waking up and pop awake.

36. I sing all the time, despite having a terrible voice. Mostly I make up lyrics to the tune of My Little Sunshine. I don’t know why, but that’s a really adaptable melody.

37. I’m converting to Judaism, and wish it was over and done with already. I feel like I’ve been doing it FOREVER. 

38. I hate it when my mother complains about my living in the “city.”

39. I get all freaked out when my house is a mess. If my house is a mess, and there are people in it not helping me clean, it gets worse. My standards are low (dishes done, laundry done, floor vacuumed) but they are standards.

40. I have a really hard time not jumping in with Jess when she’s upset about something. Even though I know that when I get upset, it just makes it worse. (I still have a hard time not matching her emotional intensity when she gets upset)

41. I think Sam’s adorable when he’s most angry. He literally jumps up and down over and over again – it’s great.

42. I let my son play with toy guns. Marc feels really strongly about it and I feel really strongly about letting Marc make that decision. Even though it makes me crazy.

43. I still think homeschooling Jess would have been the right decision. And think less of myself for caving to peer pressure.  (I’m relatively positive that homeschooling would not be best for Sam, and Jessie is thriving.  Not 100% certain, and still hold the option out there, but for right now, public school is working)

44. Left to my own devices, I’d eat out all the time.

45. I love my family. A lot. My mother, sister, cousins, aunts… but like the distance too.

46. I get migraines. And always want to just endure the pain rather than take meds for it, even though it makes no logical sense.

47. I give my kids motrin with no hesitation, despite the fact that I have to force myself to take it myself.

48. One of my favorite things in the world is a hot shower all by myself.

49. I really, legitimately think my kids are the most amazing creatures. I’m amazed every day by them.

50. I’m always aware of how incredibly lucky I am. (Always.  Still)

Motherhood Confessions

Nobody’s perfect, right?  And here’s a list of my top five motherhood confessions just in case you had any doubts about me…

1 – I’m utter and complete crap when it comes to putting my kids to bed.  By the end of the day, I’m just done.  I’m tired, and while I’ll go thru the motions, getting jammies for everyone and demanding they brush their teeth, mostly, I let my kids go to bed on their terms.  I’ll make them lay down, but if they’d rather lay next to me and watch cooking shows to fall asleep, I’m okay with that.  We have designated bedrooms and beds, but almost never does everyone sleep alone in their assigned beds all night.  I let kids conk out on the couch, my bed, Sam’s got two beds in his room, so if he wants a buddy, Marc sleeps in there with him.  Julie uses her bed mainly for jumping purposes and sleeps next to me.  It’s just not a battle I’m willing to take on.  Everyone gets a good night’s sleep, but we don’t do it the way most people do, I guess.  Life is short, too short to make your kids cry themselves to sleep, in my opinion.

2.  I clean up, not all the time, but frequently, by throwing their toys away.  Not the biggies, mostly, but crayons, barbie clothes, polly pockets, army guys – yeah, I get sick of picking them all up and every couple of days, I just throw a bunch out.  This makes no appreciable difference in the amount of toys they have to play with (which, in and of itself, is probably an issue) and none of the kids have ever noticed.  It’s liberating – I recommend that everyone do it.

3.  I’m not good at feeding them.  Not always.  If they don’t tell me that they’re hungry, I’ll frequently forget about breakfast or lunch if we’re all home.  I try and get some food into them before they go to school, and generally make the connection when Julie starts melting down that I haven’t actually given her breakfast yet… but I know I’m not good at it.  Dinner – I’m good at dinner, and I always feed them before I feed myself – but I frequently skip meals or forget to eat when I’m busy, so they’ve learned to remind me to feed them.

4.  I don’t always make them go outside.  I’m a lazy girl – and there are days, when it’s really hot or really cold, or I’ve got a headache or everyone’s crabby – when I don’t make them go outside and run around.  They don’t sit in front of the television, I make them play independently, but every time I read studies saying that kids need hours of running around outside, I feel guilty.

5.  I think waiting with all the other parents to pick up your kids at the end of the day feels just like trying to find a seat in the cafeteria in high school when all of your friends are in a different lunch period.  It’s my least favorite part of the day.

It’s like they know…

My kids are magic.  I don’t know how, or why, exactly.  But somehow they manage to communicate telepathically on a level that I don’t think they’re capable of verbalizing yet.  They never have temper tantrums at the same time.  They never get sick at the same time.  They never demand 100% of my attention at the same time.  And when one of them is having a God awful horrific day, and I feel like the worst mother in the world (suffice to say that Kindergarten 2.0 isn’t going any better than 1.0 went) – one of them will choose that day to go all day, for the very first time, with NO ACCIDENTS.

So I’m not going to blog right now about how Sam curled in a fetal position, shaking, and threw stuffed animals at me so I wouldn’t force him to go to school.  I’m not going to blog about how I cried all over the kindergarten teacher and sobbed thru a conversation with the school adjustment counselor.  I’m not going to write about how much I hope tomorrow goes better, about the plan that involves two teachers and a principal lined up to coax and, if necessary, lug, his screaming self into the classroom.  I’m not going to write about how I love this boy with my whole heart, and watching him go thru this is harder than anything I’ve ever had to do.  I’m not going to think about that at all.

I’m going to brag about my brilliant and beautiful not even two and a half year old Julianna.   Because today, for the very first time, she went all day, including a trip to Sam’s doctor for his regularly scheduled physical (where his awesome pediatrician assured me that he’s not crazy and I’m not a horrible mother, he’s just an extremely introverted, stubborn and attached six year old boy who will learn that he’s safe and secure when I’m not there, but won’t learn it willingly, and we just have to love him thru it, and know that he’s strong enough to do it – but I’m not blogging about that).  I’m going to blog about a girl who refuses to drink out of a sippie cup because she’s too big.  And about Rebecca Rubin, who faithfully gets dragged into the bathroom to sit on the extra little girl potty  next to Julie.  And how she washes her hands afterwards (Julie, not Rebecca), and also insists on brushing her teeth as well – and I figure the more oral hygiene the better, right?

Because my kids are magic.  My kids are awesome and amazing and they accomplish things that I never expect them too, like potty training a full year earlier than her older siblings.  And tomorrow, my boy will go to school and he will be awesome.  Because he is.