I Can Tell You Apart — Non-Identical Twins of Mine

September 15, 2014 at 3:30 am (Parenthood, Twins) ()

I can tell you apart on the phone
I can tell you apart when you hug me from behind
I can tell you apart by patting your head
I can tell which plate on the counter was whose. Auden picked out the onions

I can’t tell you apart in a football uniform, unless I know your number
But I can tell which two on the field are mine; you hit the hardest

I can tell your handwriting apart. Usually
I can tell you apart when you wake up and I’m downstairs underneath you. That one’s easy, only one of you jumps off the top bunk
I can tell you apart when you wake up and I’m still in bed. One of you pees louder
And I can even tell you apart when I’ve been asleep and one of you crawls into my bed to snuggle. You each flop a different way.

Someday you’ll have more separate lives. Different careers and different friends. Different cities maybe. Ten years into this life, you still wouldn’t rather be with anyone more than your twin brother. And I don’t blame you, because you are both pretty freakin’ awesome.

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Summer Wrap Up

August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm (Family, GOJ, MJ, Parenthood, PJ, WJ) ()

Every time someone asks my kids what they’ve been up to this summer, and this is a favorite question of adults to kids and other adults alike, my kids’ response is “Nothin'” and a shrugging of their shoulders.

I started the summer practicing, and really have always used, an “Embrace the Bored” parenting style. I don’t over schedule my kids (generally). And I don’t feel the need to prepare specific activities for home either. We have plenty of toys, plenty of yard, plenty of books, plenty of craft supplies. Go.

I have a box for our unfolded socks that is labeled “Are you bored? Fold socks.” Translation- don’t talk to me about nothing to do or I’ll find something for you to do. My kids know that mentioning boredom will get them either an instruction to do a chore, a recitation of my motto “Only boring people are bored”, or a lecture on how being bored is a privilege of the rich. Or all three.

Still, I know what irks me about them being ho-hum about their summer is that I wish we’d done more. There were days we lazed around and bickered all day, and I knew we’d be better off getting out, but just didn’t quite have it in me. In practice, “Embrace the Bored” seemed to lead to kids stretched out on couches, clearly bored, but smart enough not to say so. What do bored school-aged children tend to do, I found? Not find a great book to read, but pester various siblings until they find the sibling that yields the biggest reaction. The littlest one, interestingly, is happiest to occupy herself. You can usually find her at the kitchen table, drawing.

I can’t say I’m ready to give up “Embrace the Bored”. I’m not sure why there was not much taking up of interesting projects or play this summer. Perhaps that’s just my point of view. Maybe there was internal processing going on that will bear fruit later, during those hours sprawled on the couch, repeatedly and unfruitfully asking for more screen time (my rule was an hour after your morning chore was done, no more until Dad gets home and we may decide to watch something as a family, may not).

I do wish I’d arranged a few more get-togethers with some of the boys’ school friends. They did play nearly daily with their neighborhood friends. That may have gone a long way to feeling “fun”, more than anything you can pay to go see. But arranging such things is not really my forte, and I was also looking for a job all summer. So I was trying not to commit to anything too far out, such as a camp they could have done with friends. We mostly did family day trips. Even then, some of us like to leave the house more than others. The same kids that complain we didn’t do much this summer have to be dragged out of the house more often than not.

At any rate, all these Nothin’ replies and my usual self-criticism had me feeling some major Mama-guilt about their summer. So I made a list*. Turns out, it wasn’t Nothin’. I had a lot of fun at some of these activities, and I believe the rest of the family did too. Maybe it’s just that the older kids get, the less they know how to do Enthusiastic well. Teenagers are not known for their enthusiasm. Maybe we should have done much less and we’d have gotten over the Bored hump. Maybe many things. My conclusion after some reflection is that we tried to do some fun things, and you win some you lose some. They can choose to believe they had an awesome summer, and they can choose to believe it sucked. Like all things, I can’t control what anybody else thinks.

I will show them this list, though, so in case their teacher asked, they might have something to say. ūüôā

*Here, for the record, so you don’t believe what you hear from my kids, is

What We Did This Summer (June – August 2014)

Charter boat fishing off Westport for salmon (SUCCESS!)
Set up, played in, and maintained our 18 ft above-ground pool
Hosted my Aunt Elly and cousin Chris (in his twenties and therefore way cool for all of my kids) visiting from Alaska
Celebrated my Grandpa John’s 90th birthday camping in Corvallis, OR
Returned two weeks later to celebrate his life in memorium
Visited the Flying Heritage Museum three times, including their annual air show and the last flight of the White Knight)
Bought and lit fireworks for the first time
Visited my parents’ home in Port Angeles
Hiked to Marymere Falls
Had Date Night at Diamond Knot Brewery
Attended gymnastics classes
Backpacked up the Elwha River
Camped with family friends at Flowing Lake- canoed, fished, tubed, and attempted waterskiing
Played at Wild Waves
Celebrated Willa’s 4th birthday at Birch Bay Waterpark
Petted animals, ate junk food, rode ponies, and watched the Logger Show at the Evergreen State Fair
Boated with cousins on Lake Sammamish
Celebrated Father’s Day with a ferry ride and drive to Point No Point Lighthouse- fished
Toured Whidbey Island, visiting the Coupeville Arts Festival and toured Fort Casey bunkers and lighthouse
Hosted and attended several bbqs with friends
Hosted a family party for Willa’s 4th birthday
Attended a Glow Birthday Party at Jump Planet
Played at Auntie Laura’s house on Lake Jane twice- kayaked, swam the lake and in her neighborhood pool
Visited the library at least once a week
Swam at Rattlesnake Lake
Loaded and emptied the dishwasher ~130 times
Shopped for, fixed, and consumed ~360 meals and snacks
Dirtied, washed, sorted, and folded ~180 loads of laundry
Read at least one full book geared for adults
Read many many books geared for children
Climbed to the top of Guemes Island with friends
Celebrated Backwards Day
Swam at Lake Washington with cousins at least twice
Caught our first crab
Camped at Blue Mountain with Dad’s co-worker and son
Went to the Fremont Solstice Festival
Played at Edmonds Beach a couple times
Watched the Bothell Fourth of July Parade
Flew to San Diego for a job interview
Swam at McCollum Pool
Spent a couple days watching our road get repaved
Replaced electrical cables in Mark’s truck and got it running again (both boys helped)
Had friends over and played in the pool and Xbox (many times)
Attended eight doctors visits (caught up on all the check-ups and multiple specialist)
Attended three dentist visits (Holy Cavities!)

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8:43 am

August 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm (Family, Parenthood, WJ) ()

Republished in honor of World Breastfeeding Week

A Breastfeeding Story
(with plenty of other trivialities mixed in)

The three older children have just left.¬† I am rain-drenched from going outside in a T-shirt and yesterday’s flats to help load them and their three carseats and three backpacks and buckle them in.¬† No, scratch that.¬† I watched my friend buckle them in her car while I distracted her by asking questions about her weekend.

My bi-weekly gift of three hours alone with four months-old Willa has begun.  First, pick her up and ask her what we should do first. 

Coffee, she says!¬† I pour a cup of the pot Mark brewed at 5am and set the microwave for 44 seconds.¬† I am no coffee snob.¬† What to do while we wait… (because I am so neurotic about efficiency I couldn’t possibly just stand there and talk to Willa- which is how I end up completely scatter-brained and inefficient)… laundry!¬†

Move clothes into the dryer, taking care not to drop them in the cat’s water dish like I always do.¬† Put muddy clothes from Saturday’s rainy park outings into soak.¬† Notice Willa in her bouncy seat is chowing down on her hand.

Yo ho, are you ready for a nap already?¬† Clearly you are hungry, but are you tired also?¬† Not so much looking like it, but let’s try for it anyway.¬† Mama’s got things to do.¬† Three hours, three hours!

Go upstairs.¬†¬†¬†Hmm, the bed is stripped.¬† Because, like I always do, I left Willa naked there this morning, thinking I’m sure she won’t pee this time.¬† And like she always does (and every other baby, and I know this and choose to ignore), she peed.¬† Find some baby blankets, and we lay down.¬† Oh, and find my cell phone.

It’s a source of pleasure and guilt.¬† I often (okay, usually) put Willa down with my cell as amusement.¬† Check email, check Facebook, check blog reader.¬† A triplet of websites each time.¬† It makes nursing even more enjoyable.¬† What’s not to love about lying in my comfy bed, with a warm cuddly baby, reading amusing anecdotes?¬† And if I can hear Mark¬†outside the bedroom taking care of a screaming¬†three-year old¬†and It just took a little longer than usual to get Willa down, honey, well, so¬†be it.¬† (We’ll see if he gets around to reading this post.)¬† I do worry I’m making Willa believe she’s not worthy of my attention, though.¬† Like I should stare at her beautiful baby face and sing her to sleep every time, not just sometimes.¬† My own little Mommy-guilt dilemma that I bash myself with multiple times a day.¬† I know I’m a nutball, I know.

We lay* down.  I twist her to her side.  She grins at me.

I’ve always been a big side-lying nurser.¬† I like it for being able to leave without disturbing the baby after she falls asleep.¬† I know moms that never master it, which I cannot fathom.¬† It’s so useful.¬† Try it, really, you’ll like it.¬† (Disclaimer:¬†¬†You do not?¬† Okay, do what you like!¬† I’m not saying not side-lying nursing makes you a bad mother.¬† Or not nursing at all!¬† Or not having children at all!¬† Though if you don’t, you probably stopped at the words A Breastfeeding Story.¬† Okay then.)¬† And it’s easier on your wrists/arms.

She whimpers in her sweet Willa way as I adjust pillows and shirts and blankets.¬† Letting me know she truly is hungry.¬† Good, we’ve timed it right.¬† She’s not full-on crying, so I also know she’s not starving.

She latches on easily, begins gulping.¬† Greta asked me the other day why Willa sounds like a pig when she nurses.¬† I suppose she does, a little.¬† At least she sounds like what I imagine pigs to sound like, because I can’t say I’ve spent much time among real live ones.

I launch Google Reader.¬† The light from the phone draws Willa’s attention.¬† I move¬†a pillow between it and her face.

Her left arm flails around until it finds my right thumb.  The (second) connection Willa-required for nursing and sleep.  Her grasp seems to me a loving hug.  I need you, Mama.  Not just for food but for tender touch.  I am happy to lose my texting thumb to her.

Her eyes close quickly.  I have always loved the early morning nap that babies seem to take just after breakfast.  Sleep seems to come easily at 9am, and not always so easily at 2pm for that afternoon nap.  Time passes.  A belly fills, a social media fix sated.  A content smile on two faces.  Or perhaps mine is more an amused smile, and hers a content smile, or as much of one as a nursing baby can manage with a nipple in her mouth.

Time to get up and work around the house spend too much time writing a blog entry.  I let her hand go, and it does not flail.  A sure sign she is asleep.  I release my breast from the gentle sucking she has continued.  Ease her to her back.  Her hand immediately and desperately searches her face.  Thumb finds mouth, mouth sucks vigorously.  Fingers fan above.  The sucking quickly slows.  She is fully asleep.

I tiptoe downstairs, remembering my cold coffee still in the microwave, in love with my baby Willa Apple Merigold.

20140806-093055-34255163.jpgthe only side-lying nursing photo I have, six years pre-Willa

*lay/lie? Enlighten me if you know!

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What Shall I Teach Them Next?

October 10, 2013 at 5:36 am (Parenthood, Uncategorized) (, )

Parenting success of the morning: convincing the kids that Pandora’s Tiffany station was actually the David Guetta station that was Parker’s request. (Wednesday being his car stereo pick day.)
Don’t get me wrong, I like David Guetta as much as the next 38 yr-old (probably more); I just felt like some guilty-pleasure Jefferson Starship, Heart, and Peter Cetera. Not sure why my singing at the top of my lungs didn’t clue them in.
On a serious, great-big-thought-leap, it often strikes me as scary, what a parent can get their kids to believe.
As a parent I have been known to use this for small personal gains, such as convincing them that all kids are supposed to make and bring their parents coffee on Saturday. I mean, I think I earned it picking up all your stinky socks and returning them to you clean and matched.
But my mind goes to racism, hate (never modeled by us, intentionally anyway), screaming that other drivers are idiots (some parent in our household not named me), or bitching about the crazy neighbor in front of the kids (okay, me). Kids are so gullible, even those I’m-cool 9 yr-olds.
And I am reminded to use my awesome* parenting power only to brainwash my children that mamas are not garbage cans or coat holders**, that eating sandwich crusts will make you grow big and strong, that collecting aluminum cans from the side of the road is a typical American family activity, and that the University of Washington is way better than WSU.

*in the original sense of the word, meaning “inspiring awe”, not the bastardized meaning, “cool”.
**I consider this one of my actual parenting successes. I don’t care if you’re two, let’s walk and find a garbage can together, I’m not putting it in my pocket. You’re too hot? I’ll help you tie that jacket around your waist, but I ain’t carrying four coats. When I’ve been on field trips with 4th graders (FOURTH graders!!***), I still get asked to carry jackets. Not by MY children. What do I look like? A coat rack?
***[lest I sound judgey, yes all those kids are still wonderful human beings to hang out with. I think how their parents didn’t have clairvoyance on this one issue but did in a hundred ways I didn’t, and I try to learn about those ways as I go about life] Can an asterix have an asterix?

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the closest I can come to a related stock photo- G and her first time with a sandwich (and thus first time avoiding all crusts)

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Our road trip, in numbers

August 6, 2012 at 9:47 am (Parenthood) (, , )

Days gone: 10
Miles driven: ~850
Relatives and friends I visited with: 43
Times we sang “Happy Birthday” to one of them: 2

Times pulled over by police: 1
Speeding tickets: 0
Times I pulled over the car due to misbehavior: 0 (this is saying *a lot*, because I’ve had days I pulled over three times *on the way to school*)

Times I put up and took down a tent: 4
Times I put out and then stuffed/rolled a sleeping bag: 14
Different places stayed (aka times I hoofed everything in and out of the minivan): 5

Meals consumed: 29
Times we ate out: 3
Peanut butter/Nutella sandwiches consumed or made in the car: Countless
Pictures taken: 305
Pictures taken of kids eating [something cute, according to me]: 14

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Times we located all the swimsuits: 7
Times we didn’t but got wet anyway: 2

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Different set of twin fawns spotted: 4

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Times I was thankful for the grins on everyone’s faces: Countless

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Times I was glad we were doing this, despite a lack of grins at the current moment: Also countless
Years I hope to remember this trip: All the ones I’ve got left

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Daddy vs Mama

April 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm (Parenthood) ()

I’m not really back to blogging, this is just too long-winded for a Facebook post…
Sleepless one year old is crying in the wee hours. I go in and nurse her, comfort her, tell her it’s still time for sleeping. Leave, she cries. And continues crying.
I go back in, lay her down, cover her up, tell her it’s still sleepy time. Leave, she cries. And continues crying.
Repeat.
Repeat.
I send in the big guns.
Mark goes in, tells her to go to sleep. Leaves. She goes to sleep.
Is my authority already undermined? She already knows Daddy means business while Mama does not? Or does she just want Mama that much but gives up when she figures out she’s not going to get it?

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Where I’m at (Work)*

June 11, 2011 at 3:54 am (Parenthood) (, , , )

I have vowed against¬†hesitated writing much about mamas who work** versus full-time mothering.¬† Not necessarily so much to avoid controversy, though there is that, but because¬†so much has already been said.¬† I once picked up a book of essays on Motherhood and was bored to tears by how many of them focused on why they choose to work, or not.¬† A justification of their choice.¬† As if this was the most important parenting choice.¬† It absolutely isn’t.

Family is first shaped by the parents’ attitude toward parenting, the way they teach and guide their children, and what they choose to do together.

However, I’m now going to do exactly what I thought was boring, and discuss our decision to have two parents work, because it’s what I’ve been pondering and wondering and mulling for months, and well, it’s my blog.

Parents come up with endless varieties of childcare solutions while they work.  We have tried three- Mark at home while Heather worked, vice versa, and both parents working.***

SAHD:

Dad staying at home is certainly the least common of these.¬† What I loved about it: As a mama, I’m always going to be deeply involved in my children whether I work or not.¬† Generally fathers may or may not be.¬† Mark built a solid foundation in his relationships with his children by taking care of them so many hours when I wasn’t there to help/direct/judge/interfere.¬†¬†He did “guy things” I’d never have done- standing in front of a¬†recycling facility so long they came out and gave them free T-shirts, endless playground visits, experiments with dry ice, building projects.¬†¬†Mark and I¬†have Plenty of Issues with our different parenting styles, but he sure loves his children and can conjure up enthusiasm in fun learning projects¬†like none other.

For me the biggest downside of working while he was¬†at home was¬†the lack of control over those hours.¬† Choose your paid childcare well, and you can say “please make sure he gets two naps” or “please don’t feed him junk food” or “it’s¬†been working to get Auden not to hit Parker by responding to it with X”.¬† You can tell your stay-at-home-dad husband that, and he may listen… or he may not.¬† Second downside in our Mark-at-home arrangement- a pretty much continually trashed house.

For Mark the downside was lack of interaction with adults.¬† He’s not the type to go seek out other dads at home, and there aren’t many.

During the periods Mark was at home, I felt really stuck.¬† I can earn more, and we together wanted the boys’ care in the immediate family.¬†We were first time parents.¬† We didn’t think anybody could¬†care for them the way we¬†would.¬† To him¬†the daytime care¬†fell.¬† He went to work when the boys got older, but then we had Greta, and childcare costs for three meant it again made sense for him to stay home.¬† But oh how I longed for it to be me.¬† How I ached for them some days.

SAHM:

When my company laid off the whole facility, I was overjoyed.¬† I wasn’t sure what I’d do longterm, but a severance payment meant I could stay home comfortably for at least a year.¬† I¬†could earn¬†a little cash taking care of a son of friends.¬† I was very optimistic about what I would accomplish, the difference I would make in my children’s lives. Let’s be perfect and blog about it too.

Reality set in slowly.¬† I remember the rest of that summer as fun.¬† School started, and we just felt rushed all the time.¬† Somehow there wasn’t enough time while they were gone for half-day kindergarten to actually accomplish anything.¬† And then I got pregnant.¬† I could’ve¬†napped every day.¬† I started to.¬† I let Greta watch more TV than I ever would’ve let Mark let her without totally bitching at him.¬† I just felt behind behind behind, all the time.¬† So behind and so bad at the housework/paying bills/all the other American life maintenance crap that I felt I couldn’t just stop and play with the kids.¬†¬†All the concentrating on kids I wanted to do just didn’t happen like I wanted it to.

Some days were fine, some days were great.¬† A very few came close to the idyllic¬†days like I imagined.¬† Days that were¬†like the days when we’re on vacation, and all we do is play together and cook meals and clean them up.¬† Somehow I thought staying at home would be like when we go stay in a little three room cabin.¬† It just… wasn’t.¬† Of course not.¬† We have activities (though I try to curtail them) and school and a big house¬†and yard to maintain.¬†¬† As I worked on dishes, or picked up, or put Willa to bed, I constantly wondered why I was so slow at all this, how I never had time to just relax with the kids.¬† Or relax period.¬† I even did a study to find out.¬† Over the years I’ve decided, yes, I’m probably slightly slower at some housework.¬† Yes, I probably like to sleep more than moms with perfect houses.¬† Yes, I have more children than the average.¬† But I’m not the only one who can’t keep it all up.¬† Many families live in squalor¬†like us and just handle it better.¬† They get over it.

I know that’s the advice everybody gives new moms.¬† “Leave the laundry.¬† Hold your baby.”¬† That’s all well and good, and believe me I held those babies A LOT.¬†¬†But eventually you run out of clean underwear and spend extra time running around finding pairs for six different people out of the dryer and random piles of unfolded laundry.¬† You can leave the dishes and read the kids an extra long bedtime story, and then go to bed because you want to be rested and not snappy at them the next day.¬† But then in the morning you have a disgusting mess on the dining room table that you need for breakfast.¬† And the kids are whining “I’m hungry” and you have to leave in 10 minutes, and “Damn it why didn’t I do this last night?”

Every single day, I’d tell myself a variation on “I’m going to catch up today and do x and y and z and then really spend some time playing with Greta because she’s been having a rough time”.¬† And then I’d actually only do x and maaaybe¬†y and end up scolding Greta because she’d peed¬†her pants for the 5th time even though I don’t even believe in scolding a child for peeing their pants but Goodness Gracious Child, you were a foot from the toilet.¬† The daily let down wore me down.¬† I was Burnt Out.

Bottom line-¬†I just never ever ever felt good at being a stay-at-home mom.¬† And in life, it’s important to have something one is good at.

Two working parents:

I don’t mean I think I’m a bad mama.¬† I’m choosing to accept that it’s part of who I am to need time away from my children most days.¬† And to have the structure of leaving the house.¬† I’m not good at instilling that structure into my days myself.

I was dreading¬†going back to work.¬† Even though I wasn’t so happy at home.¬† I worried about Willa and especially Greta.¬† I knew it needed to be done financially.¬† Mark pushed, but gently, for me to look for work.

But here’s what I’ve discovered after six weeks back at work.¬† Everybody’s happier.¬† Not just our checkbook.

For the males in the house, not too much has changed.¬† Still school and work.¬† They don’t see me after school, but they don’t seem to care.¬† Except for that Dad generally doesn’t let them watch one TV show after school like I did.¬† So, fine.

For Greta, I’ve seen a blossoming.¬† She’s more confident and¬†speaks more clearly even to strangers.¬† She comes home and tells me all about the butterfly life cycle, and how she and¬†“my best friend Romy” played.¬† She’s (finally!) not peeing her pants every day.¬† Only once has she seemed anything less than enthusiastic about going.¬† I think she and I had¬†gotten stuck in a rut at home together every day.¬† And it makes a big difference that we found a preschool we really like.

For Willa, it’s harder to tell.¬† She seems to enjoy it just fine at her daycare.¬† But she did have a nursing strike.¬† Does she love it all day every day?¬† Probably not.¬† But I’m confident she’s getting attention and loving care.¬† Before there¬†were honestly days I was so stressed she didn’t get the attention she needed from me.

And me, I’m happier.¬† Yes, it’s crazy tiring to get up at 5:30am to get four children and me¬†ready and out¬†to¬†four different places by 9am and¬†finally return home by 6:30pm.¬† I don’t like being New at work and the learning curve of procedures and figuring out who does what and all.¬†¬†But I don’t feel like a failure at the end of every day.¬† Sometimes I feel smart again.¬† Sometimes it’s even fun.¬†¬†Three times at work¬†in the last weeks I’ve embarassed myself by laughing so hard I had streams of tears running down my face.¬† I can’t say that’s a burden.

Here’s the thing, and I wish I could’ve done this when I wasn’t working but I really just couldn’t seem to, never matter how hard I tried:

When I’m working, I don’t feel the same constant¬†guilt about what needs to be done for our family, at home or errands or whathaveyou.¬† Even when I’m not actually working.¬† When I come home, I don’t automatically switch to the get-stuff-done-mode that I couldn’t switch out of as a non-working mom (or its alternative, not-getting-stuff-done-mode-but-feeling-extremely-guilty-so-can’t-feel-good mode).¬† I switch from Worker to just plain Mama.

I’m not going to really try to sell you the whole it’s not the quantity of time, it’s the quality line.¬† I do wholeheartedly believe children need LOTS of time with their parents.¬† They need one-on-one time and doing parallel projects at the kitchen table time and family dinner discussion time and just plain I’m here at the house if you need me time.¬† But do they need me 24/7?¬† No.¬†¬†My time before and¬†after work is pretty much concentrated solely on them.¬† It wasn’t before.¬† (Um, when do we do housework you ask?¬† Well, we do just barely enough.¬† Don’t surprise us with a visit.¬† Or actually, DO.¬† Just don’t judge us!)

I don’t regret ANY of the choices we’ve made¬†about the times I and Mark have been at home, or now while we’re not.¬† They’ve rounded out our relationships as parents and children.¬† And now I know, as I didn’t at my last job, that for the most part working is good for me and our family.

——————————————————————————————-

*Not now of course.¬† I wouldn’t blog at work.¬† I have Fridays off.¬† Skippity yay!!

**Disclaimer:¬† By work, I mean employed work.¬† I’m not implying if you don’t have¬†employment you don’t work.¬† I used to find it so tiring that people I talked to while “staying home” (except that one doesn’t actually end up staying at home) was quick to qualify “so you don’t work?” with “I mean, I know you work… of course taking care of four kids is work… I mean work outside the home… I mean you don’t work for pay…” fumble fumble with words.¬† I’d try to cut them off usually.¬† “I get it.¬† You’re not trying to belittle me here.¬† We all know kids are work.¬† Moving on…”

See the problem?  So for ease of use and to cut all this out, here:

  • work = earning an income, even if you happen to complete this work at home
  • at home = unemployed though I’m well aware you may not spend any more time at home than an employed person, and I certainly know IT’S WORK.

Enough jibberish?

***As brief a history as possible, just for the record:

  • Twin boys 0 to 4 months- Heather at home on maternity leave with lots of sisterly support
  • Boys 4 months to 2 1/2 years- Mark at home
  • Boys 2 1/2 to 3 1/4 years- In-home childcare
  • Boys 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 years, Greta 0 to 4 months- Heather at home on maternity leave
  • Boys 3 1/2 to 5 years, Greta 4 months to 22 months- Mark at home
  • Boys 5 to 7 years (when not at elementary school), Greta 22 months to 3 3/4 years, Willa 0 to 10 months- Heather at home
  • Boys 7 years-¬†School (no actual change from last above), Greta 3 3/4 years-¬†Full-time preschool, Willa 10 months- In-home childcare

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Mother’s Day

May 9, 2011 at 4:54 am (Parenthood) ()

My fam really did up Mother’s Day this year.¬† My first as a mama of four.¬† I knew it was going to be good when Greta started saying, about last Tuesday, “I just can’t wait until Mother’s Day!”¬† Either that, or the girl just loves a holiday.

By Friday she really couldn’t wait, and gave me her handmade creation from preschool.¬† Then she fretted that¬†she didn’t have anything to give me on actual Mother’s Day.¬† Parker and Auden followed suit with their school creations, and I opened my two homemade bird magnets.

Today, I received two sweet cards, brunch, a shell necklace thoughtfully imagined and made by Auden, a certificate from Parker for making my bed, a toot, a puppet show, and a pair of pants.  Yes, toot means fart.  Greta knows just what I like.

Not to imply that Mother’s Day is just about gifts.¬† I also got to take a walk with Greta while she peddled her trike (I’m a big girl!) and do some gardening with A&P.

I love my life.  No, really, it might not always look it, but I do.

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8:30

April 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm (Parenthood, School, Transportation) ()

I’ve come to grips lately with the fact I’m not cut out to be a blogger.¬† I’m not dedicated to writing daily (or even monthly), I haven’t bothered to cover a certain niche, and I’m not good at making bunches of friends, really, internet or otherwise.¬† So anyway, this is actually a complete aside to this post, but this blog will¬†continue as a place to write, when I feel like writing.¬† Maybe a few real-life friends and family members will read it.¬† Maybe the occasional stranger.¬† That’s who currently reads, just now I won’t try to think it ever¬†might be more.

On a related note, I’m not particularly well-suited to stay-at-home-motherhood either.¬† It’s a damn hard job.¬† I won’t even pretend that I have anything eloquent to say on the subject.¬† Some people are great at it, happy.¬† I am okay at some of it, happy when faced with some of it.¬† I hold high, probably unattainable¬†standards for motherhood and taking care of a household, and I didn’t hit them.¬† Not even close, ever.¬† I’m hoping my next boss is a little easier to please.

I also won’t pretend that our reasons for my working aren’t mostly financial.¬† All the other stuff is just what I’ve been reflecting on in light of this reality.

People keep asking me about my new job.¬† I shrug.¬† It’s the same job I left almost two years ago.¬† Not literally, but basically.¬† I know I’m good at it, something I didn’t always know about stay-at-home-motherhood.¬† I used to enjoy (parts of) it.¬† I don’t care about talking about the job, though, because I don’t (yet) care about the job.¬† They want to pay me, they’re located close to my home, they’re willing for me to start every day after I drop the boys off at school, I know old co-workers there- ok, sign me up.

I’m still a mother first.¬† The last three weeks since I’ve accepted the job, all I’ve worried about, planned for, is where my four wonderful kiddos will be each and every minute of my workday.¬† I haven’t spent any time thinking up all the new ideas I can bring to my new job.¬† I won’t bore you with the details of why the childcare worked out how it did; let’s just say- it’s complicated.¬† Four children, how could it not be?¬† I was assured by my new boss, I can start at 9am.¬† I don’t think they’d had a candidate before that was so worried about start time (hopefully not the first strike against me).¬† A lot of childcare starts at 6 or 7am.¬† But 9am for me means only paying for daycare for two kids, not four.¬† My boys can be dropped off straight to school.

So at 8am every day, I will drive in a figure eight.¬† First dropping Willa (10 months) at an in-home daycare, then fifteen minutes down to drop Greta (3 years)¬†at a daycare/preschool, then another fifteen minutes to the boys’ (7 years) school, and ten more minutes to work, a mile from my house.¬† My husband will drive the same figure eight¬†at 3pm.¬† I even drove it for practice (to time it).

I am SO worried about them, people.¬† What if Willa won’t drink her bottles (she won’t now, though she did a month ago), what if Greta starts throwing the tantrums she throws with me at her new school, what if she repeatedly pees her pants, what if Mark has a nervous breakdown under the pressure of all those pick-ups and making dinner with four hungry grouches?¬† It feels sometimes like the needs of our family are being met like a house of cards.¬†

I’m hoping they will flourish.¬† I’m hoping Greta makes some leaps in independence, that Willa continues to be the happy bug she is, that the girls learn to let their dad meet certain needs, that the boys’ lives are pretty much unchanged, that Mark and I’s relationship doesn’t collapse under the stress.¬† But, oh, the scenarios for something getting out of whack.

I emailed HR at my new¬†company yesterday¬†¬†to get confirmation I’m starting Monday at 9am.¬† And she replied.¬† “Please arrive at 8:30am.”¬† AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK.¬† aka Fuck Me!

I know she has NO idea what a difference that half hour makes.¬† And I can probably make it work.¬† But I wanted to scream yesterday.¬†¬† When you have four kids, finding childcare for just a half hour¬†can involve endless juggling.¬† And I feel like all I’ve done for weeks is set up the juggle.¬† I wanted to take the next three days and enjoy my days with my children.¬† Say good-bye to the (part-time co-op) preschool we’ve loved.¬†

Now this person tosses in an extra ball.¬† And I maybe could question it.¬† After all, I was told I could start at 9am.¬† But I don’t want to set myself up to be THAT employee.¬† aka Not A Team Player.¬† Especially when this company seems to pride itself on people who work hard (aka long).¬† It’s probably not great to start out with “excuses” about my FOUR children.

So I will call the school today, and see what options are for their before-school care I was hoping to avoid.¬† And probably spend $40 plus¬†a $100 registration fee- $140!¬†for¬†ONE half hour of care.¬† (I’m not even joking- it’s a daily flat fee, x 2.)¬† GRRRRRR.¬† (I knew I’d probably have to do it sometime, for meetings or such.¬† Just NOT THE FIRST DAY.)

This 8:30am issue symbolizes where my heart is.¬† With my kids, worrying about their schedules and activities and homework and swimming lessons and whether their emotional and physical needs are met.¬† I am not ready to let any of that go to anyone else and concentrate on contributing to a company I hold no vested interest in yet.¬† All this time, I’ve been worrying about how my kids will do with this transition.¬† Who I probably should have been worrying about is me.

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Why I often look delirious

January 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm (Parenthood) (, , )

I am not a sleeper.¬† I’m not sure how I slept as a baby, but I’ve had trouble sleeping off-and-on since I was a kid.¬† You hear people give advice about young children learning to put themselves back to sleep in the night.¬† I tend to think that’s shit.¬† Either you’re a sleeper, perhaps with occasional trouble sleeping, or you’re not a sleeper, but occasionally get good sleep.¬† My husband is the former; I am the infuriatingly the latter.¬† If we have some petty disagreement at bedtime, he can still be asleep in five minutes while I stew for hours.¬† Thankfully that’s not my “usual” reason for insomnia.

Pregnancy and having babies that wake in the night just exacerbate this.¬† When I was pregnant with Willa, I’d lie awake just wishing somebody would soothe me back to sleep.¬† I’m not alone, I know, from the number of pregnant friends I know posting on FB at 3 in the morning.¬† And something about winter seems to keep me up late also.¬† Maybe I need more exercise.¬† Actually, there’s no maybe about needing exercise, just a maybe concerning its helpfulness to my sleep.¬† At any rate, if you are reading this sleep-deprived, I wish you Sweet Dreams tonight!

As an example of the ridiculousness of my evenings, here’s a rundown of last night, unfortunately not an atypical night:

9-10:30pm: Watch Friday Night Lights on DVD with husband.¬† Feel guilty because slept horribly the night before and should be sleeping, but don’t feel tired yet.

10:30-11pm: Go upstairs, wake up Willa (in our bed) crawling in.  Feed her, listen to her and husband fall asleep.

11pm: Decide should read until tired.

11:30pm: Decide am not tired enough, need a little snack.¬† Have snack watching¬†reruns of Friends.¬† My criteria for “fall asleep TV” is it can’t be creepy (i.e. CSI, etc.) and I must have seen it before, so plenty of stupid TV not worthy of my time gets watched.

11:35-11:55: Toss and turn on the couch, feeling guilty I won’t be at my level-headed best Mamaness tomorrow.¬† Feel annoyed because tomorrow has plenty of important to-dos.¬† Worry about money.

12am: Fall asleep.

12:20am: Wake up.¬† Drag self off couch, dreading waking up Willa in my bed.¬† I refuse to sleep all night on the couch.¬† Sleeping on the couch is for people in their twenties who have had too much to drink at a friend’s house.¬† We are in the process of transitioning Willa to Greta (and now also Willa’s) room, but it’s taking longer than planned.¬† First Mark built a lofted bed for Greta, completed a couple days ago.¬† (Please ignore the cobwebs which I am too lazy to crop out.)
There were four on the bed
Now I need to get Willa’s spot in that room ready. ¬†Heading up the stairs, I remember Parker’s a good cuddler and go wedge myself between him and the wall in his twin bed, half on the siderail.¬† Hours of wonderful sleep… that kid IS a good cuddler.

4am: Hear Willa grunting, go feed her.

4:14am: Mark’s alarm goes off.

4:30am: Go downstairs to say good-bye to Mark, hoping Willa will stop talking and go back to sleep.

4:45-5:20am: Toss and turn while Willa jabbers next to me and plays with her feet.

5:20am- Feed her again in hopes of her sleepiness.

5:30am- Decide to give her the bed to see if she if the lack of my distraction will get her to sleep.  (It often does; I am REALLY looking forward to having another choice of place for her to sleep soon.)  Shower.

5:40am- Out of the shower to a sleeping baby.  Good.  Climb back in bed to see if the hot water has worked its magic.

6am- No, it has not.¬† And…. up for the day.

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