I love my family. I do, really. I have, hands down, the best relationship with my mother – far exceeding that of anyone else I know. I love her, absolutely, respect so much about what she’s done and how she’s done it, and I know that she thinks I’m the bees’ knees. But my siblings? Whole other situation – and nothing drives that home faster than spending the holidays with them.

I actually managed to get thru the day without an all out brawl with my brother. Okay, he was violently ill, and was only at my mother’s house for about an hour. I managed to not speak to him at all, and we got thru the first Thanksgiving in living memory without the two of us screaming at each other. But lest I get too cocky and start to think I have one of those happy, peaceful families, my sister and I got into a fight. Or I should say, my sister got into a fight, my having learned painfully that the best way to keep the peace was to remain perfectly silent. So she yelled at me, and my mother (because you know that everything is always the mother’s fault) and then stormed out. But even though I stayed quiet, I was SO mad, and stressed and it just cast a shadow over the whole day. She came back, of course, being blessed with one of those tempers that blow up and over quickly, and it was as though nothing had happened. Meanwhile, it’s four days later and I’m still pretty pissed off about it.

It’s strange to me, how even as adults, we continue to fight the same fights we did thirty years ago. Or twenty five, I guess, since she’s only just turned thirty, and it’s unlikely that we were arguing over who was more important when she was two months old. Maybe we were. I just know that she reacted as though her child was being bitterly abused and stifled and I reacted as though my child’s thoughts and feelings weren’t being given their full importance. I still think I was right… but mostly, I think it’s sad that we can’t move past being little girls with each other, even to the extent of continuing the fight thru our own small daughters.

Just my favorite day. And it’s bright and sunshiney outside (freezing cold, so I’m not actually going outside, but the sight of the sun still makes me smile) and all is right in my world. The boys are getting along wonderfully, Harrison is singing away to himself and Sam is very focused on eating. He asked for a glass of water, not a sippie cup, but a BIG cup, and then immediately dumped it into Marc’s coffee cup and is very happy with himself. He’s fallen hard for Marc – he talks about him all day, waits up for him at night, it’s awesome. I can’t express how much I enjoy watching that relationship grow.

Jess and I have such an intense relationship. The connection is so strong, and she’s such a strong personality, I think she and I have such a close, intimate bond. Intimate, intense… all these I words keep coming to mind when I think about my daughter. Sometimes we are all sweetness and light, a mutual admiration society. But she can make me crazier than almost anyone else. I recognize myself in her so much… and now I fully understand why so many people talk about the mother/daughter connection. I have a really good relationship with my mother, I always have, but my connection with Jessica is so unbelievably… intimate and intense :-). It’s hard to articulate – suffice it to say that I am pleased that my husband and son have a similiar connection to each other. Sammy loves me, don’t get me wrong, but he WORSHIPS Marc, like a God.

I am. I swear it. And my kids are healthy as well. But this winter, it’s not living up to the standards that I have set. I feel like I’ve had a cold, not a bad one, but a persistent one, for several weeks, and so has Sam. Sam runs a fever when he’s sick (which Jessica never did) and the poor kid was up all last night, not unhappily, just couldn’t breathe when he was laying down. He’s been running around and happy all day, but I’ve got the headache that won’t quit and I know it’s a sinus infection. I just took some cold meds, and you know it has to be bad for me to voluntarily take that stuff.

I’m taking a break from folding the fifteen loads of laundry that I did over the weekend (okay, it’s only four, but it feels like fifteen), and listening to Jessie read to herself and Sam repeat over and over again ‘Dessi, play wit me!’ in an ever increasingly urgent tone. Soon, he’ll start screaming or whacking her (let’s be honest, he’ll do both), and she’ll start howling – and the headache will intensify. Good times…

I’ve honestly thought about this for a couple of years now. Basically, ever since I had Sam. With Jess, I was still pretty mobile. With one child, you can pretty much go and do everything with her. One child is cute and a fun addition to most activities. Shopping with friends? Check. Going out to dinner? Check. Even the movies was possible with just one. But with two… the whole landscape is different, especially because somewhere between having Jess and having Sam, I started having Lilli and Sarah every weekend.

And while it sounds as though I’m complaining. I’m not. Really. In fact, part of what’s puzzling me is that I don’t really WANT to go anywhere. Do anything sans cherubs. I don’t know if it’s inertia, just the mere fact that it takes such effort to line up a sitter (or talk Marc into taking all of them by himself), and convince the kids to be okay with having no Mommy (or be able to just saunter out of the apartment, impervious to the howling and anguish I’m leaving behind). But whatever it is, I find myself more and more reluctant to make plans with other people. I’m still pretty good at dragging them places, to the library, or the Ecotarium, or out food shopping, and I’ll haul them all to my mother’s house for the afternoon, but more often than not, Saturdays and Sundays, you’ll find me sitting at home with the kids playing. Or at least they’re playing, mostly I’m cleaning.

And it’s not just that – I don’t go out without them much either. I don’t get my nails done, or get haircuts, or go see friends, or volunteer, or anything, really. I stay at home. All the time. And I don’t think I’m all that unhappy about it. On more than one occasion, I find myself cancelling plans, just so that I can stay at home. I like my comfy chair, I like whatever book I’m in the middle of, I like spending time with Marc (when he’s available for hanging out with me, which isn’t all that often, honestly). That might be part of it, I feel as though the time we have together is so limited anyway – adding on a busy social life on my part might push it over the edge.

I don’t know… I just know that I’m home A LOT and not all that miserable about it.

This is what I call my children. When I’m speaking of them, or calling them to go somewhere… and today I had all four of them. I find it fascinating – there are four children, two of them by one woman, and two from another. They have the same father, but different everything else. My step children are much less involved with my in-laws, have a completely different home environment, different educational background, different holidays and traditions in a lot of ways. I make sure that my step kids are a part of my extended family – in that I bring them to my mothers, and refer to them as Grammy and Auntie this and Auntie that. And the girls do spend a lot of time with us – we have them the majority of every weekend. Lilli and Sarah obviously have Lisa’s whole extended family that they are close to as well. It seems as though they are two totally separate families in so many ways.

And yet these four kids are so intimately connected and so close. They have the obvious bonds, Lilli and Sarah and then Jess and Sam – but when all of them are together, it’s amazing to watch. Jess and Lilli were close from the beginning – Lilli bonded immediately with baby Jessica and Sarah was totally uninterested in her for a long time. And that’s still there, the bond with Lilli and Jessie. Those are the two that will play together in Jessie’s room, or hang out on the computer. And my little Sam – while Jessie still holds this dominant place in his life because she’s here all the time – he LOVES his Sarah. He lets her carry him around the house (and he hates it when kids pick him up usually) and spends most of his time following her around like he’s a little puppy. And she’s so patient with him – and so willing to play with him. And then they’ll switch the whole thing up – in the car, we have assigned seating. Jessie and Sarah sit in the way back and they LOVE it. They have a secret language they communicate in (it consists mostly of spitting at the window and screaming with laughter) and Sam and Lilli will sit and play together – she’ll read to him or play with little toys.

This apparently rings true even if you are almost 35 and live two towns away. My mother is having a crappy day, no real reason, she’s just grouchy. And unfortunately… talked to me this morning, and now I’m all grumpy and out of sorts.

Actually, I’m working hard on improving my mood. Although I’m freaking out about an appalling lack of money, and am tired and my feet are cold, we’re not destitute, and we can pay a lot of our bills. I have two toddlers who nap during the day, so I can hopefully sneak in a little doze as well – and oh, lookee here, some socks right next to the desk. It’s like the universe is looking out for me 🙂

MAJOR MILESTONE ALERT!!! Samuel Earl slept in his very own bed last night ALL NIGHT LONG. Well, mostly, until about 4:30, but that counts as all day in my world. And it’s lovely – I have my husband back in bed at night, for cuddles and warmth (and the snoring – oh, the snoring in my ear but I’m more than willing to pay the price).

When you have kids, or rather, when I had Jessica, my identity changed. Becoming a mother just superceded everything. And because it happened so closely to the time when Marc and I became a couple, I don’t always feel like that aspect of my life, that of a wife, really gets enough attention. Then after Sam was born, and I quit my job (actually, if I’m being honest, after I got pregnant with Jess, and my whole outlook changed, my committment to a professional career went right out the window), my whole world became Mommy World. And it’s a lovely place, unconditional love and joy, it’s fun and sweet, and so hard sometimes. Frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming as well. But there’s not a lot of room left for anything else.

Maybe I do it wrong? Maybe I need more balance, more time for me, more time for me and Marc together as a couple. Maybe I need to be able to see myself as a wife, as a lover, a partner to him. But I think that I need to have more a sense of myself, separate from being just Mama, before I’m able to give that role, that of wife, the attention that I need. Because to be Mama, that’s all need that I fulfill. It’s all immediate – Mama, I need this, I need that, I fell and hurt my leg, I need oobies, I wet the bed and need to crawl in with you, I’m hungry, Can I have a drink, read me this story, etc. I just do – without a lot of thought. Without a sense of me in it – it’s easy to get lost.

I don’t know that I feel all that lost (could this post be any more rambling and disjointed?). It feels right and somehow normal to just relax into this role. I read. That’s my thing I do for my sanity. I don’t get really any alone time, but I’ve always got a stack of three or four books to read and am in the middle of one. I can escape with a book and for a period of time, not be thinking about the next load of laundry, the dishes that need to be done, the toddler that needs his diaper changed, or the five year old who needs a story. Not for long, because (and it keeps coming back to this), those needs are immediate. I don’t go to the bathroom unless it’s at a convenient time. If the dishes need to be done, I do them. I change the diapers, and I can’t see refusing to read to a child because I’m reading myself.

But I would like time to be a wife. Time to be the woman he fell in love with, time to focus on his needs, on my needs… To be a whole person, have motherhood be just a part of my life, instead of my whole life. I remember reading somewhere that you look at your life as circles that intersect. And when you have children, your circle and theirs are almost entirely on top of each other, and the process of raising them is moving more and more of their circle out from under yours. If you look at life that way, my circle, the part that’s just mine, is a pretty tiny fraction. And the part that’s just shared between Marc’s circle and mine isn’t a lot bigger. But the part that encompassing both kids is still pretty big.

I wonder if it’s something I really want. Do I want to change? Do I want to put more of a focus on the other? On me, on Marc? It takes effort and mostly, it’s easier just to keep doing. Change the diaper, get the drink, crawl into bed and read for a few minutes before crashing out of sheer exhaustion. But I have a feeling that everyone, me, Marc, and the kids, would benefit if I was able to balance it out a little more. Just a feeling, a suspicion. I could be wrong – it certainly feels right to keep doing it the way that I have been. But maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong.

Halloween was great this year – I really, really enjoyed it. Jessica was dressed up as Dorothy, with the dress and ruby slippers, and I put her hair in two little braids, she carried a basket with a stuffed dog in it. Sam was supposed to be Batman – but at the last minute, refused to dress up, so I told people he was dressed at Bruce Wayne. Jessie is at the PERFECT age for it – old enough to really understand what she’s doing, and confident enough to do it without being scared or uncomfortable. Sam… it’s just not his thing. He doesn’t like people, in general. Not really, and especially not strangers. So having all that attention, dressed up with people commenting on him, going to strange houses, it’s just completely the opposite of what he’d like to be doing. Plus – he doesn’t like candy :-). Loves opening candy, and licks it, and hands it back (if I’m lucky, mostly he just drops it wherever he is) and says “Don’t yike it.”

We started off at the Auburn Mall, and again, Jess had a blast and Sam was miserable. Then we went to Marc’s work to pick him up – and this was where Sam actually enjoyed himself. We’ve gone to bulbs.com enough so he’s comfortable there, and he carried around his little pumpkin and got a lot of candy (still not dressed in the costume though). Then we met Lisa and the girls, which was GREAT for them – Jessie really enjoyed going with her big sisters, and I think they really loved having their little brother and sister to show off. Sam, again, really didn’t have fun. The best part for him, was a bush that he enjoyed touching :-). Then we went up to Bonnie’s house, and Sam and I stayed there and let Marc take Jess and go out with the girls. Sam played with Morgan’s toys and really had fun. Then we went to visit Yvonne, and that went great. Sam had a banana and Yvonne was really happy to see us. Stopped at Nan and Howie’s (both my kids LOVE Uncle Howie, strangely enough), and finished up with a visit to Jeff and Karen’s house.