There.  I’ve said it.  I really hate this time of year.  I like having my kids around all the time, and while I’m fully convinced that it’s the best for them to attend school, in my heart of hearts, sending them off to be with other people all day seems as wrong now as it did when they were infants.  They’re mine.  I want them with me.
Maybe it’d help if either one of them was in the least bit enthusiastic about it – but they aren’t.  Jessie has been a wreck, rocketing back and forth between excitement over getting “organized” (she must get that from Marc, her odd delight in putting things in order) and sobbing because she’s dead certain that she’s got the meanest teacher in the world and she doesn’t like a single soul that’s in her class.  Sam is resigned to going, I think.  But he’s been a little extra clingy, and all I can think is that this time next week, he’s going to be a little pool of Sammy Misery, all tears and heartbreak because I have to send him away ALL DAY LONG.

I hate shopping for school supplies, I hate glue sticks and pencil sharpeners and trying to figure out what’s going to “cool” for Jessica this year.  I hate the agonies over wearing sneaker for gym (Jessie hates sneakers and only ever wears them when she’s got gym class, and always sobs over it), trying to pick out clothes every morning (and I know we should pick them out the night before, but anyone who says that’ll work doesn’t have an indecisive, moody eight year old, who will blithely agree with the outfit the night before and then decide she hates it and can’t possibly wear it the next morning).  I hate packing lunch, I hate fighting over homework.  I hate making them go in the morning.

All of this is just based on sending Jessica Mary to school.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m dreading sending Samilicious Boy out the door.  The hardest part for me is constantly pretending that going to school is the best thing since sliced bread, and they’ll LOVE it – third grade is the BEST and kindergarten?  Holy moly, kindergarten is more fun that anything!  When the truth is that I don’t want to send them at all.  Intellectually, I know that it’s the right thing to send them to school.  Temperment wise – Jessica and I would not do well homeschooling, we’re too much alike, and I think if I didn’t kill her, she’d kill me.  If there was any doubt in my mind, kicking her butt to get the book reports done this summer convinced me.  And Sam needs a little nudge to go out into the world.  He’s very shy and antisocial, and I’m hoping that kindergarten encourages him to be a little more social.  Or at least, not so out and out terrified of strangers.  It’s not terrified, he’s not afraid of people, he just honestly doesn’t like people in general.  In specific, he’s fine, he loves us, he’s got friends, neighbors, relatives, etc.  But in general, he doesn’t like people.

Ahh – general grumpiness all over the place today.  Jess has been sarcastic and disrespectful a lot lately, and I explained to her today that I wasn’t going to spend the next ten years being treated like crap, and from now on, every single time she was wretched to me, she’d be sent to her room and I’d make her write “I will not speak to my mother disrespectfully again.” over and over and over.  It’s either that, or I’m just going to start beating her with a stick.  I know she’s stressed about tomorrow.   But with her stress and Julianna’s teething misery, it’s not a good day to be bitchy to me.  That’s all I’m saying.

Julianna loves bags.  Lunch bags, backpacks, little girl pocketbooks, you name it, she’ll crawl (yes, she’s still not walking) around the house with it.  We did the back to school shopping and she’s delighted by Jessie’s new multicolored lunchbox and thrilled to death with Sam’s Super Mario Brothers lunchbox.  She’s fascinated with Marc’s big backpack full of D&D; books and one of her favorite activities has always been going thru my pocketbook.

I think I’m finally getting better.  Day 2 with no Sudafed.

Sam is playing little kid Dungeons and Dragons in the dining room with Marc and the two teenagers from across the street.  I’m 99% sure he has no idea what he’s doing, but he’s holy moly into it.  As is Marc.  I got a whole geek fest going on in there.  I made them cupcakes.

Jessica Mary – my precious little angel love bug, she’s been in the throes of something unpleasant as of late.  Call it hormones, call it crappy attitude, call it end of summer misery and back to school anxiety.  I’ve called it just about everything, and have yet to come up with a solution yet.  She’s weepy and miserable and mean and nasty – interspersed with these glimmers of angelic behavior.  I’m struggling with how to best deal with her behavior – and reminding myself that it doesn’t actually get any easier as your kids grow up, it just gets more complicated.

Mothering is not for the faint of heart.  I’d say parenting, but right now, I’m going to do a little gross generalization, and assume that what’s true for Marc and I is true for all parents.  Because I seem to worry about everything a LOT more than my husband does.  It’s not that I love the kids more, because I don’t.  I know that they are the very center of Marc’s world, and that he cares about them as much as I do.  But I worry and agonize over them a lot more than he does.

I worry all the time about their character, their morality.  I want them to be brave and bold and kind.  Giving, gentle and sweet.  Confident, capable, responsible.  But mostly, I want them to be kind.  I like kindness.  It’s sort of my thing.  Some parents want financial success, ambitious kids, some kids want them to follow in their religious shoes, or to vote the same way they do.  I don’t care about that.  I want them to be kind.  I want nice kids.  They can be dirt poor, or staggeringly wealthy – I hope that money isn’t what they use to define their worth.  They can celebrate Rosh Hashana or Christmas or Beltane, I don’t care – I’d like them to feel a connection to the Divine, however it manifests itself is fine.  I don’t care if they vote for a Democrat or a Republican, I’d like them to vote and to care one way or another, but which one?  I’m good with whatever.  But mostly, I’d just like for them to be kind.  To be good people, who think about others, and want to make the world a better place.

And when they’re not – when I’m forced to confront the fact that they, sometimes, just ARE NOT KIND, but are in fact, kind of mean spirited and selfish and nasty to one another, I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed as a mother.  And I’m baffled by it, how do you teach kindness?  I can teach them to not hit each other, I can teach them to stop throwing temper tantrums and to eat their vegetables and make their beds. I can teach them to use their manners and brush their teeth and speak respectfully to adults.  But kindness?  How does one teach that?   Modelling good behavior isn’t working as well as I’d hope – I’m kind.  I’m a nice person.  Marc is, hands down, the nicest person I’ve ever met.  He’s way nicer than I am, and I’m wicked nice.  And sometimes, my kids are just nasty to one another.

Ugh.  Just a bad day overall today.  Julianna is teething, and screamed for a good half hour this morning. Then screamed for another twenty minutes while I brushed Jessie’s hair.  And Jessie – man, I adore that child, Jessie was not in the best frame of mind today and was just randomly cruel to her little brother.  Who was innocent and confused, and it just spiraled out from there.  I’m still sick enough to feel like I’d be better off in bed, and everyone’s getting anxious and stressed about going back to school.

Definitely not a morning I’d like to repeat.

This isn’t a bad cold, exactly.  But it’s a long lasting one, I feel as though we’ve been collectively sick forever.  Today, I charged out into the world, taking all three kids down to the mall.  Jessie loves the mall above all else, and so for her, it was a dream come true.  We bought lunch, Chinese chicken and nuggets and french fries, then wandered around aimlessly for a while.  I gave them each a dollar and let them go wild in the Dollar store, and then drove to a playground and let them run around for about an hour.  They had baby swings there, and Julianna loves swinging.  She’s such a good girl – when she wasn’t swinging, she played happily on the top of the picnic table, going thru my purse.  I had my niece with me, Isabella, and she and my older two bopped around the playground for a long time.  After that, I packed them up and headed to my mother’s house.

Sam’s hair had gotten out of control long, he looked like Wolfman.  So my sister cut his hair, and it was traumatic for everyone.  He had a knock down dragged out screaming temper tantrum, and then ran in circles, filled with rage, around my mother’s back porch after it was done.  My poor mother and sister had never seen a full blown fit before and I think they were both a little horrified.  Sam’s a mild mannered kid, really, but when he wants to, he can throw down a fit that’s unimaginable.  And since I’ve got eight years of experience dealing with Jessie’s fits, I just stay calm and ignore it as best I can.  Nothing really helps to stop a fit, I’ve tried just about everything, so now I just let him scream it out.  And on the upside, his hair looks a lot better now :-).

Jessica is outside right now, playing with the neighbor, and Sam’s bopping around playing with his army guys.  Poor Julianna is sleeping – a full day doesn’t lead to good napping for her.  So she’s out cold, and I’m sad about that, as she’ll be up all night now 🙁

This is the never ending cold, and we’re still kind of sick here.  It’s been over a week and at least one of us (Marc and I) have been monstrously sick every day.  Coughing, hacking, eyes swelling up, noses running, crabbiness abounds.  I apologize for the lack of blogging, I’m just sick as a dog these days, and it’s all I can do just to sort of lay there.

In other news… school starts in a week and a half.  We’re half heartedly getting ready – and given that it’s 10:08 and my five year old is still asleep, it’s going to be a major adjustment for us.

I’d blog more, but honestly, I just want to go lay back down.

In an effort to share parenting duties, Marc has, from the very beginning, assumed command of feeding Julianna solids.  And since he wasn’t much of one for baby food, she started on regular food pretty early on.  The only snag that is that now, she really only eats consistently when Daddy feeds it to her.   Case in point – I put her in her high chair, give her food I know damn well she loves, and she’ll refuse to eat it.  I’m not clear how this will resolve itself – will she be seventeen, still waiting for Daddy to preapprove all food, cut it and put it on a fork for her?  Probably not – I’m assuming that eventually she’ll start eating the food I give her, but sometimes I wonder….

We’ve all been sick, to one degree or another, since last week.  First Marc and Sam got the cold, then I did, and Jessie still seems to have it.  I feel so much better than I did the past two days, even though I’m not all the way, I’m close enough that I’m cheerful about it.  No slamming migraine, no sore throat – I can handle a little chest congestion and stuffy nose.  That’s nothing compared to how crappy I was feeling.

In other news… all is delightful in my world.  My landlord has randomly decided to remain in FL and would like us to stay here for the foreseeable future (guaranteeing thru the school year) so we’ve suspended the search for housing and I’m very pleased with that.

We’re starting to gear up for school – Jessie starts on 8/31 and Sam starts the following Tuesday, after Labor Day.  Jessie is filled with all the first day of school anxieties, she’s convinced that all of her friends will be in other classes, but I think she’s mostly excited about starting back up.  And Sam is actually almost kind of enthusiastic about it.  He seems to be at the very least, resigned to the idea of attending school, and I take that as a major improvement.

Miss Julianna is still a crawling girl, with nary a step taken.  She just has absolutely no interest in walking and seems honestly perplexed with people telling her that she should be walking.  She’s a champion crawler – and I’m thinking she may in fact be crawling when she starts kindergarten.  She’s fast and efficient, she crawls slowly sometimes, super cheerfully (with an appealing little head bob that’s adorable) and has the super fast crawl.  She’s chattering more and more, and standing up and leading herself along furniture.  I don’t worry that there’s something wrong with her, because she can stand up, she’s just a crawling girl still.

Off to the Ecotarium today 🙂

There are lots of things that Marc brought into my life, he’s brilliant and kind and a wonderful father.  He introduced me to Judaism, libertarian-ism, and of course, gave me three awesome kids.  One of the things I’ve found most interesting is that I’ve found myself doing things I would never have thought I’d do (like having a total stranger chop off part of my son’s penis, converting to a religion that was completely foreign to me, and – please don’t tell my mother – voting Republican in the last election).

But I haven’t been able to get on board with his deep and abiding love of the New England Patriots.  It’s football, and that means really nothing to me.  My only vague experience is thru high school Friday night games, and I just cheered when everyone else did (which did mean that I cheered at least half the time when the opposing team did something good – which did not win me points).  I’m not a sports girl.  I’m the farthest you can get from athletic.  I’m perplexed, at best, when it comes to understanding why this matters to him, but it does.  And because I love him, because we are raising our children together, I make Patriots Football Games (yes, it does need to be capitalized) serious events at our house.

Everything stops.  Everyone must be involved – you don’t have to be watching the game, but you do have to be in the room or within hearing distance.  We usually eat the same thing (Marc’s a big believer in ritual) and engage in the same activities.  I curl up on the couch next to him, reading my book and nodding supportively when it seems appropriate.  I make the kids come in and listen when he explains what’s happening on-screen.  I even make a game of pronouncing Ocho-Cinco.  The kids can stay up as late as they want, as long as they are paying attention to the game (or at least, in the room, not making any noise).

And last Thursday – I really, really enjoyed it.  It was a lovely night.  Julianna went down to bed early, Jessie built an entire city of blocks and figurines on my dining room table and Sam puttered on the floor.  Marc and I snuggled up on the couch, I read my book (Cinderella Ate My Daughter – awesome book) and I was achingly content.  It was one of those moments (and fortunately, there are many of them in my life these days) when I was just happy to be me, here, with these people.  And I have the New England Patriots to thank for it.

I planned on having all of my kids.  Which doesn’t make me better than anyone else, merely points out that the spacing between them was deliberate and well thought out.  And overall, I like the three to four year gap.  It gives each child a chance to really be a baby, by the time the next one was born, the kid was really transitioned well into the preschooler stage.  And the nice thing now is that I have three very different kids, at very different stages in their lives.

Jessica Mary is eight years old, and about to enter third grade.  She’s in the throes of peer pressure, but not in the scary peer mode.  She worries about not having any friends, not about her friends pressuring her to drink or have sex.  Not that it’s not hard, I don’t mean to minimize it, but it’s not scary for me yet.  She’s pulling away from me a little, watching television shows that are a little more grown up, and wouldn’t be caught dead watching Dora.  I think, for Jessica, because she and I are so very close, and so linked in so many ways, the separation between us is challenging.  For both of us, really, but more so for her, I think.   She’s still my little girl in so many ways, still snuggles up to me at night and first thing in the morning, but more and more, I’m seeing her as her own person, dealing with feelings and emotions and challenges that I don’t always understand.  Which is, in and of itself, scary.

Sam is five, and about to start kindergarten.  This is such a huge milestone for any kid, but for Sam, having never attended preschool, I feel like it’s so much more of one.  After September 4 – a big part of his day, five days a week, is going to be spent with people other than me.  And I’ll be honest, I’m sad and wistful and so lonely already.  It’s not any easier to send your second child off than it is to send your first, as much as I wished that it would be.  I can’t imagine him at school – can’t imagine it.  And honestly, can’t write too much more about it without getting teary eyed – he’s been at my side for the past five years, and I can’t fathom what I’ll do without him during the day.

Oh yeah – that’s what I’ll do – Miss Julianna Ruth.  Julie is very much a Mommy’s girl, not that she doesn’t adore her daddy (because she definitely does – she’s much closer to him than either of the other two were at this age), but she’s very, very attached.  She’s my girl – and she’s a part of everything that I do.  Even when I’m not with her, I’m always aware that she’s missing me.  She’s on the brink of so much – almost walking, starting to talk.  Her world, in so many ways, revolves around me.   It’s not that I love her more than the other two, and it’s not that she loves me more than they do.  But right now, she seems to be at the forefront a lot, just by virtue of her age.

Jessie’s world is so much more than just me.  And Sam’s is on the brink of opening up into this huge whole world.  And Julie – so much of Julie is still me.  I’m thinking today about having three very different children, and how each one requires such a different level of parenting.  Jessie is so much more complicated – she doesn’t need to be held and coaxed into eating but what she needs is so much more patience and understanding and reassurance.  Julie’s needs are so much simpler – but easier to meet, she just needs me.  I don’t even have to do all that much, just my presence is enough for her.  Sam is still caught right in the middle – he’s not old enough to be a big kid, but so much bigger than a little kid.

We went to Canobie Lake yesterday – which is a big, old fashioned (I say old fashioned because I went there every year when I was a kid and I don’t think it’s changed at all) amusement park.  We’ve been several times with the kids – and quite frankly, Sam has hated it every time we’ve gone.  He’s occasionally, borderline, sort of not been miserable, but actual enjoyment?  Nope.

And I just figured it was Sam.  He didn’t like big crowds, he didn’t like new places.  But I realized yesterday that, while all of that was true when he was two and three and four, now that he’s FIVE – it’s a whole new world and I spent most of the day just utterly impressed at how big he’s gotten.  And only a tiny bit wistful, because he’s getting so big so fast.

He rode EVERYTHING.  Scary rides that I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle, but let him go on anyway, because he begged and I believe in letting them make their own choices, when possible.  He didn’t cry once, he’d hop off a ride, holler “That was AWESOME!”,and look for the next one.  He was perfectly behaved the entire time (which was more than I can say for his sisters – one wandered off and got lost, one cried for twenty minutes on the way home because we weren’t home yet, one sobbed thru the park on the way to the car because she was “dizzy sick” and her blisters hurt, and the other one is a year old and resented being put in the carriage).  Sam was amazing – he was articulate, described with letter perfect accuracy where a ride was located, rode everything he wanted, rode home happily in the least favorite seat and was, in general, the best behaved child there.

My anti-social little clingy boy is growing up.  And I can’t believe how proud I am.