Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bad Mommy Moment

      I'm having a "Bad Mommy" kind of morning (and not just because the twins are watching Super Why as I type this…).  We've had a rough couple of days, with another round of colds times four, which is keeping us up at night, a bit of stress as I am potty training one of the twins, more stress trying to plan a bridal shower for my sister from afar and being at the mercy of really slow people in the South, and I feel like it all came to a head this morning.
      So, I woke up on the couch this morning, for the fifth consecutive night, after another rough night of coughing children, runny noses, barfing up phlegm - Sierra sleeping on the living room floor, Kelsey sleeping in the room off the kitchen, and I've fallen mildly sick now, too.  So my head is rattled, at best. Quinn comes downstairs at 6:40, and lays at the end of the couch, since he's been warned to keep his distance so he doesn't contract the sickness again (he started it last week).  I eventually pull it together, get up, rouse Sierra from her sleeping bag (she looks especially beautiful in her sleep), make Quinn a healthy snack for school and his lunch for Extended Day, prepare breakfast, change diapers, talk Kelsey into trying a pull-up diaper again but she's sick so she hasn't been interested for the past two days, after a very successful first week last week.  Everyone is eating and the kids are being silly, my head is swimming but I'm trying to be upbeat for the kids.  I notice it's already 8 a.m., and we leave for the bus stop at 8:20, so I quickly clear off the table and run upstairs to get dressed and pick out clothes for the kids, while Quinn goes into the downstairs bathroom to supposedly brush his teeth and the girls look at books at the living room table.
        I'm upstairs half-dressed when I hear Quinn praising Kelsey and calling up to me "Mommy, Kelsey peed in the potty!", and all I can think is "Oh No…".  I rush downstairs, swipe a kleenex across Sierra's nose as I pass her, and enter the bathroom where Quinn hasn't brushed his teeth and Kelsey is sitting on the training potty - this would all be fine, except that Kelsey doesn't always sit far enough back on the potty and pees on the seat.  She says "It's okay, Mommy, Quinn wiped it up", and I cringe a bit as I notice that yes, Quinn must have wiped the pee off the seat, but there is pee all over her pull-up and pajamas around her ankles, on the floor surrounding the potty, and after I wipe her and get her up, all over inside the potty; but not in the right part, instead it's under the pot that catches it…  I try not to be negative, so she doesn't became scared to use the potty - I tell her it's great that she stayed dry and used the potty instead, but to make sure Mommy is with her next time.   She smiles, then sneezes, snot all over her face, and now in my face because I was talking on her level.  Super.
         So, I tell Quinn to hurry with his teeth, and to then come upstairs, and I lift a naked Kelsey over my shoulder and take both girls upstairs to get them dressed.  It's now 8:15, and as I'm laying out clothes in the correct order for the girls to dress themselves (with varied success), the phone rings.  It's my Mom (and she never calls from her cell phone so I answer it despite the mayhem around me) and she says that she's at work and telling the girls about the place where I've finally picked to host the bridal shower in May (after two and a half weeks of getting the run around and no responses to oodles of messages and emails I've sent - maddening!) is in the middle of, well, the projects.    Seriously… but it kind of makes sense since the aerial photos I looked at (yep, aerial photos, cause that's just how I do things) looked like many brick buildings situated just so, but my, how the interior pictures of the space were deceiving!  I'm glad she found out so I can find something that says "Garden Party" instead of "Gang Initiation Party" (yes, I realize this is a sweeping generalization and stereotype, still, I can't help that it pops into my mind)…  But as I stand there in my room, red clock numbers now saying 8:22 (bus comes at 8:26), Quinn in his underpants swinging his shirt helicopter style over his head, chasing naked Kelsey and droopy diaper girl Sierra though the hall, I just want to cry, but I know that will just make my nose worse.  I hang up, take several deep breaths and say "Okay, I'm driving you to school today" - this buys us about 12 minutes.  So I get dressed, wipe more noses as I dress the girls, scowl at Quinn to just get dressed, and we're downstairs…
           I run into the bathroom to clean the pee up from the floor and the potty; I don't want to leave it that way for hours while the girls and I run some errands after dropping Quinn off (I had planned to go to the party store for bridal shower things, and it doesn't even occur to me that I won't be going there now that the venue is undecided again).  Then I rush back out and stuff Quinn's lunch and snack bags into his backpack, his framed four-leaf clovers into his bag, and snow pants and boots into a separate bag in case they can play outside at Extended Day, lay out the girls coats, socks, and shoes, so they can do that themselves.  I bend down to tie Quinn's sneakers, don't even have time to show his the 'bunny ears, around the tree, through the hole' like I usually try to do; annoyed that I have to zip his coat even though he's perfectly capable of doing that himself.  Kelsey hits me in the face with her coat zipper, which is an accident, but that annoys me, too.  Sierra coughs in my face as I switch her shoes onto the opposite feet and zip her up, I groan even though I know she can't help that she's sick.  No time to brush there teeth; or my own, for that matter…  And we run out the door to pile into the van.
           It's 8:42 - school starts at 8:55 and it's only a 5 minute drive, but my stomach gurgles as I think of traffic getting through the only light on this side of town, which usually backs up at this time of day.  I hate to think that he will be tardy, my poor sweet boy!  I hate that it's my fault, but he will suffer a "tardy" on his permanent record.  Coughs and sneezes from the backseat echo in the hollows of my mind, and I try not to even look because it's not like I can go back there and wipe up their faces.  I remind Quinn of the school's strict drop-off policy - child is to to jump from the car (as soon as it stops, hopefully), take their bags, and rush into school - parents are not to get out of the car, not even for a hug or kiss goodbye, and pull immediately away from the building.  We've dropped off once before, and it all went fine, so hopefully this time will be no different.
             Of course the traffic is backed up at the light, and by the time I turn into the school driveway, my car clock reads 8:55.  We are one of three cars pulling in though.  I tell Quinn to unbuckle himself before we stop, and I unlock the doors, open his door automatically as I put the car into park (which is probably also a No-No, must stay in drive…).  I rub his cheek as he gathers his backpack and the recycled Disney Store bag housing his snow pants and snow boots, and he steps out onto the curb.  "I love you!", I call, as he doddles slowly slowly up the sidewalk.  He has only taken a couple steps when he turns and gives me a sad look, and my heart tears in two because I know I'm not allowed to get out, and the parking lot is 50 yards away, and then I'd take too long to get the girls out of the car to get back to him…  So, awful mother that I am, I point toward the school and tell him (through closed windows and doors) - "Go!  Hurry! Go!".  He turns to go again, and I can see his Disney bag is dangling precariously, and after a few more steps the bag falls and he's left holding just the snow pants.  There are three other parents standing near the door, but typical snooty Sudbury, no one makes a move to help him.  He stands and looks at them for help for a minute, but they're chatting away, possibly haven't even noticed him.  And I can't actually be mad at them for not helping, even though I know I am the type of person who would notice and would help a child in need, but this whole thing is my fault, and now he's probably feeling sad because he doesn't know what to do.  He looks back to me, where the van is still near the curb - I wanted to see him get through the doors, so I would know he was safely inside, but they've now been locked since the school day has officially started, and he doesn't know what to do (you have to push a button and stand in front of a camera to get inside)…  All I want to do is run to him and help him feel okay, I don't want him to start his school day like this!  My eyes meet with his, I feel panic wash over me, so, I pull over to the parking lot and park illegally in the first spot, handicapped, which is still 20 yards up to the school - I pull the keys from the ignition, lock the doors with the girls inside, feeling really guilty about leaving the girls in the car (what if someone sees?), but I have to act fast so he doesn't cry!
        As I start running toward the building, I can see the front door open - someone is walking away from the door and I don't see Quinn now, so I am guessing that he has gotten inside.  He did go inside, right?  And now I should stop and go back to the deserted girls in the van, right?  All I can think is that last look our eyes shared, and I consider that when I pulled the van away from the curb at that moment, he might have thought I was just leaving him in his predicament, when I was actually parking so I could go and help!  I picture My poor boy, distraught from such a horrible way to start his school day, carrying a "Tardy" slip down to his classroom.  And I won't even see him until I pick him up at 3 p.m. after his extended day program (at which point, I am going to squeeze him of the rest of the day) - I hope this doesn't make him feel bad the entire day, even though I know I will make me feel bad for the whole day.  I hope it has phased me much more than him.
          What awful mother lets her child go through that?  What awful mother rushes her child and thinks more of the rules and not my children's feelings first and foremost?  What awful mother gets annoyed at her children for being sick and not being able to sleep?  I wish I didn't let these things bother me so, because I don't want my frustration to be what sticks with the kids, I want them to remember the fun and the love!
           I sat in the van for several minutes, trying to decide what to do next - go inside to check on him or let it rest and go on with our day.  I felt so shaken from the experience, and I found myself explaining to the girls what happened, as if I'm trying to rationalize it for them, but I know it's just for myself.  I want to make it okay in my mind so I can get over the guilt and move on.  Is it fair for me to move on when maybe he is feeling sad or maybe even crying inside the school?  The rational part of me feels like there's only about a 2% chance that he's actually crying - he was probably relieved when the door opened, and the woman at the front desk would never make him, or any young child, feel bad about being tardy (I'm sure she's well aware that 9 times out of 10, it's the parents fault, case in point).  And now I think of how ridiculous it all was - I never should have rushed him like that.  I'm normally such a well-prepared, punctual person, but this morning, things just got away from me.  I should have just accepted that he was going to be late, and just parked, got the girls out, and walked him to the door anyway, but I was apparently more concerned with him being "tardy" that I just wanted him to run inside, but he's 6, he doesn't think that way.  It was so hard to decide what to do in that moment, when it was all happening so fast, but it's just one more opportunity to learn what I will do differently in the future.  I honestly don't know what the "right thing to have done" is at this moment (teach him independence or always rush to his rescue?  how does one teach promptness in the first place? I'll definitely tell him the steps to get into the school door though), but hopefully I will figure it out before the next time!
           So, that's my Bad Mommy Moment - hopefully that's the only one for today…

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Holy Harrar

    Oh, I had such high hopes for my two hours of freedom for today.  By "free", I simply mean that there are only two hours each week when I have no children with me, because Quinn is in school and the girls are at their one-morning-a-week class.  I had big plans of checking out an espresso bar in town where I've never been, for which I received a gift certificate, and I could just picture myself sitting at a cozy table, maybe near a fire place, an aromatic dark roast in a warm ceramic mug, typing away on my laptop, beautifully eloquent prose and clear, concise persuasive arguments pulsing from my fingertips through the keys as I wrote up scholarship letters for Graduate School…  Oh, so productive but relaxed, enjoying the coffee and ambiance and perhaps a delicious baked good, not even caring that it would probably be overpriced.
    Everything was butterflies and rainbows this morning, I think I even heard a choir of angels in the sky as I walked out of the building where the girls' classroom is.  I hopped into my dark blue minivan turned gray by the salt and sand of winter roads, made a couple of quick stops along the way (didn't even feel phased by the snippy gas station attendant, nothing was breaking this good mood, in fact, I was super sweet and tried to cheer him up), and finally arrived at said Espresso Bar, which should probably remain nameless to protect the innocent.
    Well, parking was pretty cramped, but I found a spot right near the door, in between a giant white Escalade and a Land Rover, both without a speck of salt or grime, clearly having been sheltered in garages.  I gathered my oversized purse, from which I removed the diapers and wipes and gallon size bag holding zippy cups, to make room for a smart looking blue spiral notebook and my schnazzy new MacBook Pro.  I walked inside and saw that it was very cramped; middle-aged groups of people at each of the three tables, a woman and man facing each other on the two couches, and one scholarly looking woman at the long counter on the wall perpendicular to the door.  I approach the "Order Here" counter where a cashier awaits, and ask about the two hot roasts listed, saying I'd like something dark and brooding.  There's a huge area behind the counter that seems empty but it's clearly for production (wish they had tables back there…).  The staff all seems very interested in the coffee and flavors and styles of beans they are roasting, but a long line has formed behind me, so I use my gift certificate (I spill Subway and BabyGap coupons which I have to retrieve from the floor) and move over to the condiment counter.  I don't like being rushed, this isn't very relaxing so far…  I pour in as much sugar as will fit in the cup, and take my belongings to the other end of the counter from the scholarly woman.  I set my bag up on the chair to my left, which doesn't have a counter in front of it for anyone else to use anyway, pull out my laptop and notebook, as well as, my cell phone in case one of the schools calls for me, and try to get to work.  A salt and pepper haired guy who was behind me in line sits down between the book woman and I, so I move my things over to make room, even though I have to put my coat back on because it's really cold by the door.  Another man joins the line and apparently knows salt and pepper next to me, because they hug and start yucking it up until he moves up toward the counter.  He reapproaches after getting his cup of joe, and the other man says "there's another stool over there, but she has her bag on it"… Dude, passive aggressive much?  Just ask me, I moved over to give you space when you sat down, do I really look like a rude person who's not going to give up my bag's stool?  No, I don't say any of this, but I do say sweetly "You're welcome to this stool if you want it", and he takes it.  This isn't very relaxing so far...
         Okay, move on, forget the rudeness, give them the benefit of the doubt…  I give my coffee a stir and take a taste, and it is heavenly.  I don't think I got enough sugar in there, but it is such a flavorful roast (the Harrar), it doesn't even need any more sugar.  I start reviewing my notes, trying to compose thoughts for my first of five scholarship letters, deciding which paragraph best describes my academic achievements which is hard to do since I haven't been in school for 14 years (yikes…that sounds old), so I have to blend it with employment and life achievements.
        Ouch, Salt and Pepper just elbowed me, and didn't even acknowledge it…  Good thing you didn't spill my coffee on your elbow, Jerk.  Anyway, writing, writing, thinking, thinking…  okay, trying to write and think but these people are really loud…  what are they saying?  I hear two woman at a table talking about their recent colonoscopies; not the most appetizing talk for a coffee shop.  The two people on the couches are trying to one up each other about some talk of stocks and bonds, who just invested through which company, and the guy seems to be implying that the woman's investment is about to go belly up, which seems to be hurting her feelings because she sounds defensive; maybe she's the broker and he's the client?  Salt and Pepper and his compadre are talking about their kids - one says about how his daughter graduated from college last spring and decided to take a year off before looking for a job - she's living in Bora Bora right now.  (Bora friggin' Bora!  and clearly not working..)  And then he says he has a son who took a year off after high school to travel through South America, and that he's working at a hostile right now, but that's really helping him keep his living expenses around his allowance of $3000/month (what?! hostile living in South America much be really expensive...).
          Okay, I'm trying really hard not to make snap judgments about other people around me, and I would certainly never say these things out loud to any of them, because that would make me a bad person (just the interpretations that spawned these thoughts are bad, I really don't think I'm a bad person for having them, right?).  My mind was completely open when I set out to come here.  But holy harrar, this experience is just unreal - here I am trying to ask UMass for scholarship money and these people probably have that amount of money in their pocket right now, in cash!  I had such high hopes for this day, for this place, but those hopes are now dashed by these hoity toity people emitting a shroud of inferiority to all those around them.  If there had been a table where I could have sat and people hadn't been so loud, I could have sat here peaceably, sipping my coffee, putting the energy to good use and finishing off these letters, but that is definitely not going to happen now.
        I've clearly come to the wrong place - I'm cold, I'm cramped, I'm caffeinated, I'm outta here.  And now my two hours are up and were not the productive hours that I had hoped they would be.  I feel a little better once I'm out of there - the sun is bright, the air is cold and crisp and slaps me in the face outside the door, a much needed wake up call.  At least, I'm taking a really good cup of coffee home with me, and I can leave their shroud behind me; next time, I'll have to take the coffee to go.  And it's time to go pick up the true riches in life, anyway - two of my darlings, at school.

Friday, January 10, 2014

She who casts the first stone...

Hello All (all 4 of you, that is!) -
      Happy New Year!  Wow, it's been such a long time since I posted, as you can see - apparently I'm a fair-weather blogger…  I never intended to be, I had great intentions of being a serious writer and getting ideas and experiences "set to paper", but so many things seem to get in the way of sitting down and typing a full article, let alone composing a clear, concise thought.  It's the usual list of important day-to-day priorities that will only sound like excuses if I tried to explain them!  All I can do is try better this year, so here goes…

       Six years ago today, my heart was stolen by this amazingly sweet, handsome, smart little boy - my baby boy, Quinn!  I don't know where the time has gone.  I look at pictures of him from over the years, and at some point, as if right before my eyes, he left behind the baby phase and has become a small man.  I have so many wonderful memories of my time with him, watching him grow and figure things out, and teaching me how to be a good mom and a great person along the way.  As his mother and his friend, I wanted his 6th birthday to be a lot of fun, despite being on a Thursday.  I think for him it was, although I had to deal with a big hiccup in the middle of the day that threw me off and distracted me for quite a large chunk of the day.
         All three kids woke up early - 6 a.m. - today.  And there I was worried that I wouldn't be up in time to make birthday pancakes!  Quinn was surprised to see streamers and decorations in his honor, hanging from the ceiling and draped over his chair (despite having his party somewhere other than home, I still like to decorate around the house for him).  The kids had adequate playtime while I cooked breakfast and packed Quinn a special snack for school (he's obsessed with the idea of Lunchables), and then we enjoyed pancakes before scrambling to get everyone dressed to go to the bus stop.  I don't always dress the girls for the day before we take Quinn to the bus stop (since it's been near 0 degrees most mornings, I drive the warmed-up minivan up around the corner, and the girls stay inside the whole time, and Quinn and I jump out as the bus pulls up).  This morning it was a "balmy" 20 degrees, a welcome warming, and since I do have a jam-packed morning, I dress the girls quickly before throwing on their coats, grabbing Quinn's backpack, and carrying out it all out the door to the waiting van.  As we wait for the bus, I run down my mental To Do list for the morning - drop Quinn off at the bus (almost 'check'), go to the post office (the Sudbury post office is slower than death so I had no idea what kind of wait we were in for), stop by the atm, drop off a pre-labeled box at UPS, take the girls to the 10:30 story time at the library, and then head up to Quinn's school for 11:20, to read a book to his class for his birthday.  So, once we saw Quinn safely onto the bus, I took the girls home to finish dressing them and cleaning up from breakfast, pack up their snacks and our packages, track down our due-today library books, and head out the door by 9:20.  We hit the atm briefly first, then walked into the post office to mail our packages (a belated Christmas gift and the wool coasters that the girls inadvertently stole from their Uncle and Aunt in Newburyport).  Thankfully, there was only one person in front of us, so it wasn't a horribly painful wait with the girls (what's a few cards falling out of the card carousels as the girls spin them as fast as they can…).
          Next stop, UPS, and all we need to do is drop off a box, onto which I had already printed out the return label.  Even with the unbuckling and rebuckling of two children factored in, this is a 3 minute job, tops.  I accidentally drove past the entrance and had to loop around (amateur move, I know), and as I drove up from the other side of the building, I saw a worker right at the counter by the door.  Oooo, if I can park in the open spot right by that door, I can hand him the box and not have to get the girls out.  So, I pull up and reverse into the parking spot, thinking added safety if they're closer to the building.  I grab the box, and for a second I reconsider not taking the girls with me - I've never actually left the kids in the car for even a few seconds, and definitely no farther than the distance to pump gas (well, other than running groceries into our house from the driveway before taking the kids in - safer buckled in than running rampant in the house alone, right? - or shoveling the driveway while they're warm in the car watching a movie).  But the guy is right by the door, so I can run the 5 yards, hand it off, and get right back to the car.  As I'm about to open my door, this giant white SUV storms into the parking spot right next to me.  I wait for this marshmallow-Patagonia-jacket-and-obnoxious-purple-Lulu-Lemon-wearing woman to slowly get her package out of her car, before I can jump out of my car and double-click my keychain to arm the alarm.  I speed walk around her on the other side of her car as she's getting something else out of the other side - the guy is still just inside the door, but he's starting up the ramp, so I rush toward the door, when I hear "Oh my God, are you leaving a baby in the car while you go inside?".  I'm stunned by this statement, but I say "No, I'm just handing off this package", still in my hurry-mode to get that package inside.  "Dropping off?" the man says as I open the door to the store, an odd look on his face.  "Thank You!" I tell him, as I spin around and rush back out the door, and starting to feel defensive and ashamed because this woman is still standing there spouting opinions and threats - how she should call the police, that I should not have a child because I'm an unfit mother, how dare I leave a baby in the car in this cold weather…  I don't even know what else she's saying because I'm already giving myself a guilt trip because I never leave the girls in the car and the one time I have taken what felt like an innocent (and still perfectly safe?) shortcut in three+ years, some high-and-mighty-elite-opinionated woman calls me on it.  I think I yelled something at her about "you try having twins and an older child and see how hard it is" and "the guy was right inside the door, I was eight feet from the car" and "who are you to pass judgment on me?"…  I was so pissed off when I finally got back in the car, and so stuck inside my own head, that I couldn't focus on anything else, couldn't think of anything else to talk to my girls about (luckily, they weren't looking for conversation - only about 90 seconds had actually passed since I'd gotten out of the car, and they were just happy to have Finding Nemo playing again on the dvd player).  My mind was filled with devastating thoughts, and I was riddled with guilt.
      I drove up to the library, about 2 minutes away, and my mind was racing.  I parked in the lot while the movie played, just trying reign in my stomach, and collect my thoughts.  Was I in the wrong today?   Were the girls actually in danger being there in the car?  Was I really a bad mother, leaving my babies alone in the car?  Was this bitchy woman right in everything she was saying?  Could I actually be arrested for what I did (I heard helicopters overhead hours later back at home and the thought crossed my mind that they had come for me)?  Did that one instance take away all the good things I'd done as their mother?  Granted even if I hadn't been caught, I would probably have thought back on that decision (to leave my precious girls alone in the car more than a few feet away) throughout the day anyway and second-guessed myself.  The fact that this holier-than-thou woman had yelled at me such horrible things at me just compounded it.  But, as I sat in the car, I saw plenty of people parking at the curb and walking down a ramp about 15 feet away from their cars to use the outside book drop, many of them leaving kids in the car - wasn't that worse, more unsafe than the distance away from the car that I had been?  Couldn't that be construed as a shortcut, too, not taking the kids to the book drop with them?  Surely that woman had left her kids in the car to use the book drop?  Despite it being my first borns birthday, I found this terrible person was occupying my thoughts instead (and was she awful because of her accusations or because they could be true? I couldn't decide…)
        We went inside the library, I held my girls close (they crawl over me and sit on my lap anyway, not like I was letting this woman alter the affection I showed my babies) but wasn't quite paying the usual attention to the librarian and the craft.  During the craft, I made myself helpful by dividing up the sticker sheets to be shared with all the children at the table; anything to get my mind off the altercation at the UPS store, to feel like I had purpose as a mother and a human being, maybe doing a few extra good deeds would take away the fact that I'd apparently left my children in jeopardy because I was too lazy to unbuckle them to hand off the package (was my mind rationalizing for me by defending it that the guy was right inside the door?!).  And hey, attention everyone else around me in the craft room - my girls can almost write the first letter of their names - because I love them enough to try to teach them that!  See, I'm not a bad mother!
        After the library, we hurried up to Quinn's elementary school to check in (and not be late as usual…) for our reading to his class.  Quinn had helped me pick out a story to read to the class, which would then be left as a gift to stay with his classroom (it focused on rhyming and repeated word patterns so I felt it fit right in with the kindergarten theme).  The girls and I walked into the classroom, and immediately disrupted everything; hey, it happens basically everywhere we go.  I noticed that the assistant teacher was there, but there was another woman there who was not their main teacher but also seemed out of place… but that's besides the point.  The assistant teacher focused the children on cleaning up their tables and heading over to the circle time rug so that I could begin with my part (it occurred to me that maybe I should have prepared more of a presentation).  I sat down in that rocking chair, all the children, two teachers, my girls and Quinn in the center, and realized that all eyes were on me.  I talked to the children, got everyone involved, read the story with the same animation that I read to my own kids at home, doing voices and expressing the attitudes and emotions as if I were in the story - they were all hooked, laughing, getting excited, asking questions; they loved every minute.  I loved every minute of it, and truly enjoyed seeing the smile on Quinn's face with his sisters and his friends around him.
           I took Quinn (and the girls, of course) home afterward, as opposed to him riding the bus (though we stopped by the bus to check the lost and found, where his snow pants and new gloves were found).  We had a nice lunch at home, completed with sandwiches, blueberries, and Quinn's favorite sour cream and onion chips.  The kids wanted to put on their slippers and watch a movie on the couch under blankets - My Little Pony, oddly enough it was Quinn's pick.  I stacked the lunch dishes so I could join them on the couch.  The girls sat on either side of me and Quinn sat on my lap - it was heaven.  These are the moments I love, where the kids are all over me, I can smell their skin and their hair and hug them tightly (without them telling me "Mama, no more kisses!").
          I couldn't help letting my mind wonder back to that evil woman's opinions, but this time I decided she was the one in the wrong - how dare she make a snap judgment about another person without having any idea of their situation?!  She doesn't know me or have any idea just how much I love my children - how I hug and kiss them all day everyday simply out of love, the great care I take of them and have since before they were even born, how my eyes tear up randomly during the day simply thinking of how precious my babies are and how my heart bursts with love for them!  I am an amazing Mom, and a wonderful person - I'm so thoughtful of other people's feelings, I have a good and generous heart and go out of my way to help people, even complete strangers; I put myself in everyone else's shoes and really try to feel how they feel.  And now that some time has passed since that woman's accusations, I feel confident again in myself and my abilities and my past decisions to know that I don't need to justify any of this to anyone else.
           One lesson I can take from this is to make sure I never put someone in that same position myself - to make sure that I curb my judgment of someone and see if there is something I could do to help the situation.  Instead of being part of what she felt was the problem (leaving a baby in the car, clearly she didn't see there were two babies!), she could have tried to be part of a solution and tried to help - she could have offered to stand by my car while I ducked inside the door or she could have offered to hand the box to the worker while I watched from my car.  She didn't need to say a word to do the first option, she could have done that without even offering, and I probably would have been none the wiser because I was on a mission to get back as quickly as possible.  Maybe she didn't know I was just going inside the door to drop off the package (but seriously, who would ever go all the way inside the store, conduct business at the counter for several minutes with babies all the way outside…?)  Instead, she took what is probably her usual route in life - to cast judgment on other people so she can feel better about herself, and I wish I hadn't wasted so much thought on such a ridiculous person; I wish I could have rolled my eyes and moved on, to focus on Quinn's birthday and all three of my children in general.  I'm used to people giving their unsolicited opinions - you shouldn't nurse in public, you shouldn't dress your twins the same, your boy's hair is too long, etc etc.  It comes with the territory of being a mother, and if that woman is a mother, she should have known that, too.  I think her opinion of me not being a good mother struck a cord because with the holidays, and preparing for and taking down of them, I definitely have felt guilty that I wasn't being as attentive to the kids as usual, but my love for them has never faltered, I just had to show that love in other ways (trying to give them great holiday memories through decorating and activities and gifts from Santa!).
            Who knows, if I hadn't driven past the entrance to the UPS Store the first time, the whole confrontation with that woman might have been avoided, or maybe the worker might not have been by the door and I would just have taken the girls inside with me anyway.  I wonder if God or whatever 'powers that be' wanted me to learn from this or to reaffirm my confidence in myself as a person and a mother (wish they'd picked a day other than Quinn's 6th birthday though…).  Bottom line, what I should take from this "experience" is this - she who casts the first stone had better be without fault…  I don't pretend for a minute to be without fault, and I'm sure that awful woman isn't either.  I just need to make sure I never let my actions or opinions make someone else feel the way she made me feel today.  Tis' better to be part of the solution, not the problem.  Surely, Karma must be on my side, right?  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Separation Anxiety

     It is with a heavy heart that I left the school this morning.  Maybe I should have been running from the building, clicking my heals in the air, celebrating this new freedom, but that's not how I feel at all.  Maybe if the girls had been happily playing when I left, I would feel more relieved right now, but they were not happy in the least.
     After five weeks of warming the seat of the parent chair in the classroom, I decided that "easy does it" was not working so I'd have to go with the "cold turkey" approach.  Rip off the band aid, cut the proverbial cord, untie the apron strings.  I spent those weeks sitting in the classroom for moral support, taking frequent breaks, trying to make each break a little longer each time, but my girls would still freak out every time I left and would cry even if I was there or anytime I was out of sight, and Sierra more so than Kelsey.  It was nice being there, to a point, watching all the kids play, seeing how things were run, and noticing all the various child personalities at work and the dynamics of development and growth (and being the "resident Mom" wasn't bad, giving out hugs when a child, even other than my girls, needed a hug from a Mom instead of a Teacher).  But I have a doctor's appointment next week and will not be available to console them. And really, how long could I let this reaction go on without addressing it?  This was the week to swing the ax, for all our sakes.
      I made them laminated necklaces of a picture of me with them, so they can hug "me" anytime they need to and to show them that Mommy is always with them.  We've played school everyday for the past week, going through the drop-off process as their Mommy and then being the Teacher and going through their schedule at school, from free play to craft to snack to gym time to circle and songs, to the moment that door opens and all the Mommy's rush back in with open arms to take their babies home.  I presented their picture necklaces to them this morning before breakfast, and said that today was Tuesday, the one-day-a-week that they go to school.  We packed their snacks in their owl backpacks and drove the three blocks over to Terrific Twos.  We walked inside and hung their coats and backpacks in their cubbies.  Kelsey turned to me for a hug, her chin wrinkled and quivering, and Sierra, red-faced, started gripping my body so tight, I thought she might go right through.  We walked over to Miss Barbara, one of the teachers who we've known for years who lives in our neighborhood and was Quinn's teacher; she was by a toy barn and animals that the girls have always liked.  My mouth proclaimed "today is the day", but I'm sure my eyes spoke volumes more.  I gave the girls hugs and kisses through their tears, trying to pry them off me, trying to be strong myself and to break down as much as it hurt my heart to leave them.  They cried "Not yet, Mommy!" as we walked toward the door, "one more kiss, Mommy", "don't leave us, Mommy"...  I knelt down by the open door, took Kelsey in my arms and told her I loved her and gave her the "last hug and kiss for now, I'll be back very soon, I love you".  I took Sierra in my arms and squeezed her and said "be strong sweet girl.  Mommy loves you".  Another sweet teacher, Miss Anne, smiled at me and closed the door as I rushed out, a huge sigh escaping but feeling shaky and sad and like the meanest Mommy ever.  I sat on the bench in the hallway, I could hear the girls crying through the door,  Sierra shrieking for me and Kelsey whimpering, Miss Anne talking to them, asking them questions and trying to distract them (since they won't let anyone but family and close friends touch them to console them).  Pretty soon, the crying stopped and another mother who came out said they were standing along the wall beside the closed door, holding hands, red faced but no longer weeping.  I waited about 30 minutes and then looked inside for myself, through the small square window high up on the door.  I scanned a crowd of children and toys right by the door, 6 or 7 kids sitting on the floor with bins and piles of toys, and right there were my beloved little girls, amidst the other kids and the toys.  They still sat side by side, backs against the wall, Sierra still looking very reserved but holding a little puppy toy and Kelsey a little more lively, playing with two toy horses.  I would have felt better if they were across the room playing happily, smiling away and just fine, but hey, I'll take it.  It just seemed so sweet how the other kids were sitting right there with them, consoling them through play and comradery, whether they intended to or not.
        And here I sit, alone at home for the truly the first time in the 3 years we've lived here....  writing about my children!  (And, looking at pictures and videos of them on my phone...)  It's funny how symbiotic our relationship is - they have a hard time being apart and I feel just as out of sync without them near me, like I'm missing my arms and don't know what to do without them. They are clearly the hugest part of my life, really 99% of my day, but 300% of my heart (100% for each of them!).  I know it is time for them to go out (to a safe place) into the world, to find themselves and have a little time away from their Mommy, and that's all a good thing and part of growing up (all of us growing up, that is!).  But I will be the one to cherish the moments we have when we're just being together, even long after they are fully grown and move on.  Me and my babies!

Monday, September 2, 2013


      My little boy, my first born baby, is starting kindergarten tomorrow morning - half day, 5 days a week, but riding the bus.  I have been handling this impending life change pretty well all summer, trying to manage all the details, gather information about his classroom, his classmates, the bus routes... anything I could do to regain control of such a major stepping stone over which I have very little control.  We've gone to play dates on the playground throughout the summer (disappointingly low attendance though), toured the school twice, and visited the classroom and met the teacher - well, she lives around the corner from us and we've talked in passing for years now, but we met her in the context of being his teacher last week.  I thought I was okay, but as Quinn's questions have been more of concern recently and as we prepared for bed tonight - laying out his clothes for tomorrow ("it's a tie day, Mommy", he told me), packing his lunchbox for snack time (5 options, including a surprise snack of Swedish Fish), readying his backpack (even though his supplies were purchased and delivered to the school weeks ago) - well, my heart has started doing that fluttery, flip-floppy thing tonight and I'm hoping I can choke it back tomorrow.
         Yes, Quinn has attended preschool for two years now, but I think my problem is in the disconnect in getting him there.  For preschool, I drove him there, walked him into the school in the morning and picked him up a couple hours later (along with his two baby sisters in tow),.  I talked to the teachers daily and also got to talk with and get to know many of the parents of his classmates.  I felt comfortable and welcome myself and that gave me the power to help Quinn to feel comfortable and welcome, too.  For Kindergarten, Quinn is taking a bus, so we will walk him around the corner to the bus stop (granted, half the neighborhood will ride the same bus...) and wave goodbye, so long, good luck out there, and hope to God that that bus reappears at 11:54 a.m. like it's supposed to - and that he's on it and that he had a good day and didn't get lost or scared.  It pains me to think of him feeling so small and scared and alone, and my not being there to comfort him and take care of him.  I know I can't shield him from everything forever, and I understand that this will be an important step for both of us.  But still, it's the night before kindergarten so all these feelings are floating around in my head and my heart - that he's my baby and he's been with me nearly every day since he was born, that he's only 5 (but he is 5 after all and that's what 5 year olds do), how brilliant his smile is and how it's grown through the years!  I relish in the memories, all the wonderful milestones I've gotten to share with him along the way, how much I love him and I know he loves me.  I have to push away the scary thoughts, the thoughts of what could go wrong - like, getting off the bus at the wrong stop or getting on the wrong bus and then being lost forever, or what if someone is mean to him or makes him feel bad, or what if he can't find his classroom in the first weeks, or what if there's a predator who somehow manages to kidnap him, or what if a shooter enters the school (I couldn't help but notice three outside doors right by his classroom...).  I've walked him through all these instances, with suggestions and procedures on what to do (hopefully not scaring him in the process), and everyone assures me that none of these scary things will happen.  I just have to hope that he is a strong, confident little boy, and smart enough to think clearly and troubleshoot on his own, and that his guardian angel is looking out for him when I can't be there by his side, holding his hand.
          Tomorrow, I know I will distract myself with the details - pancake breakfast, making sure his bus pass and class name tags are fully visible, that his lunch has adequate refrigeration to stay cool until snack time, that we get his bus drivers name and that he remembers to stay sitting even though there's no seat belts, and the fact that right after I follow behind his school bus to make sure it arrives at his school, I have to go have another blood test to make sure my latest miscarriage "has been successful" (can't go there yet, as it's a floodgate of emotions I'm not able to put into words yet), and that I have much to do having been away for 4 days and that we are hosting a BBQ tomorrow night...  I have plenty to keep my head busy, I just hope the worries in my heart don't overpower me.
            One thing is for sure - I will be standing at that bus stop well before 11:54 a.m., along with his sisters, anxiously awaiting his return home, hoping he has a huge smile on his face and so many wonderful stories about his first day of kindergarten.  I'm going to give him the biggest hug he's ever had to date, and then I'll keep him close until 8:26 a.m. the next morning when we have to do it all again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Is it Exorcise or Exercise?

         It's getting harder and harder to exercise these days.  I wish I could say it's because I'm sore from too much exercising or that I don't need to do it, but alas, it's neither of those things.  Partly it's because I can only exercise after bedtime, which is also the time I have to do anything else (clean up, laundry, computer stuff, organizing, painting, talking with my husband without kids hanging on us, bedtime routine with Quinn... to name a few).  It's also really hard to focus on designating time for exercise, when I know the kids aren't actually asleep yet, that I'm neglecting my husband who is upstairs while I'm downstairs...  And even once I do exercise, which usually ends about 9 p.m., then I have to shower, dry my hair, straighten my hair; it just takes so long and it's after 10 before I can get to my other chores. 
         I'm in desperate need of some exercise - I mean, just look at me.  And apparently, chasing the kids around 18 hours a day, running after bikes and scooters, chasing them around the yard, carting them in and out of stores, which feels like a workout in and of itself, isn't going to cut it.  I can't fall back on the "I just had twins" excuse anymore, because they were born 2 1/2 years ago!  I know that I need it to try to burn calories and fat, to get my body back, for my mental state, and just to feel like I'm doing something constructive (not that looking at a clean room or organized closet wouldn't give the same effect!)  I thought I'd have more time to exercise as the kids got older, but somehow that hasn't been the case - my time maintenance and the breakdown of my time has changed, but I'm still needed even if in different ways.  And I think the fact that we moved into this house four weeks before the twins were born, and I couldn't get everything set up, painted, organized, before they were born, has definitely played into that.  It still makes me feel hopeless on the exercise front, whatever the reason. 
         I'm sure a big part of it is a lack of motivation, feeling like I'm starting from scratch and have so far to go and, medically speaking, I might not ever get my body back.  Many doctors have told me that I have an abdominal separation; after carrying the twins, my abs are separated along my ribcage from my belly button to my breastbone, and without surgery, they will never be reconnected (which is not going to happen because of the cost).  Part of me wishes I could muster the same motivation and determination I've had in the past, when I gave up smoking or drinking or whatever the situation was; but the other part of me knows that in reality, I have a lot of work to do, between dieting and exercise, and it would be a tough road, and I wonder if it would be all for naught.
          I do feel great after exercising.  After a 45 minute workout, my body hurts so good and I'm sweating, I'm dizzy, I pound glass after glass of water.  I think about eating salad and apples, and really want to make a change in my diet and workout more (once I regain my balance and breath).  After a shower and the hair drying and straightening, I am ravenous - I end up on a "see-food diet", where I see food and I eat it.  I just need to purge the house of junk food.  My kids eat so healthily, but I always save that food for them - between the three of them, they will eat 5 pears in a sitting, 2 pounds of strawberries in one fail swoop...  I feel like I'd be taking from them something so important if I'd eat it, and often times, a lot of that stuff takes prep time that I just don't always have when I'm starving (so I reach for the bag of chips and a sprite).  I tried to throw everything from our candy/snack drawer in the garbage today, but
           I need to just stop talking and do it.  Exercise more frequently, get my husband on board to help me designate time for it so I don't guilt myself out of it for whatever reason; I need to not eat so much crap, be free and clean.  Not sure how to get started, but I think eventually I'll get to a breaking point - like other times in the past, I will pick a date in my mind, and not tell anyone in case I fail.  But I won't fail, I never do (that's the determination speaking, not sure if I believe it; it's hard setting oneself up for failure).... If only I could suck it up and just pick a date!  Tonight, I'll ponder it over a beer and bag of Doritos though (fail #1)...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Turning in my key...

   Well, I turned in my key today.  It's been such an important key to me, for all it's given me in the past two years - access, togetherness, a feeling of importance and belonging, personal growth and the ability to watch my amazing little boy grow at the same time.  It's a strange feeling not to have it anymore, to close the book on that phase of our lives, but these are feelings I've definitely felt in the past; uncertainty, insecurity, sadness - it's hard to let go and move on sometimes.  I'm just glad my son doesn't share these feelings.  Thankfully he seems to be feeling the other side of the spectrum - familiar and confident in his friendships, optimistic, excited for the future and a new school.
    The key I turned in was my keycard for Sunny Hill Preschool.  I can't believe our two-year journey has come to an end, for Quinn and I.  When I accepted the keycard two years ago, it was at the beginning of Quinn's preschool experience - we were in a new town (well, for just over a year), I had 10 month old twins that were running me ragged (in a mostly good way), I was trying hard to make friends for our family and for myself, trying to come to terms with the idea of how to let my little boy move forward without me always by his side.  It was like I was the one starting a new school - would they like me?, what if I said the wrong thing?, do I look acceptable (as in, with two babies hanging from my body, droll on my ripped clothes, speed walking after my running-ahead boy)?...  I tried hard not to reflect these insecurities outwardly, so that Quinn wouldn't pick up on them, and he was mostly fine with the transition; a little clinginess the first couple weeks, but so excited to be going to school and making new friends and playing with all the wonderful things in his big and bright classroom. 
     I've enjoyed being involved in Quinn's classrooms both years - interacting with his classmates, meeting the parents at drop-off and pick-up, working with his teachers, being inside those walls with their bustle and promise and joy, watching Quinn laugh and learn and experience so many things, even see his sisters become less shy with people and explore certain areas of the classroom while dropping their brother off.  I became involved in the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) that first year, so that I could stay involved in his schooling despite being quite distracted in general (having infant twins can do that... I'm still wondering when I'll come out of it!) and try to find my place in the community, to have a voice and, quite honestly, not be so damn shy.  I had great ideas, I tried to share, I felt like I got squeezed out of some things, I volunteered for things, then I stopped getting "invited" to meetings, but was really happy to find out this year that I hadn't actually been disinvited, but that the PTO last year had apparently disbanded.  I tried the PTO again this year, and had great success - I was in charge of the school library, I wrote pieces for the school newsletter, I volunteered and contributed to planning so many school events and charity drives, I coordinated playdates, became Room Parent and truly thrived on it, I got the entire enrollment of parents/children together to buy a Keurif coffee machine and assessories for the school at the holidays, I attended every PTO meeting and spoke up all the time.  It was so nice to be heard, to be involved, to feel valued, and to feel like I was helping and making a difference...  I guess I'm having a hard time letting that go, knowing I'll have to start over, and there won't be a similar drop-off/pick-up oppportunity to meet other parents at and interact with Quinn's classmates.  I know I'll have to put forth a major effort and push myself not to fall into the background, but hopefully I will be able to tackle that.
        It's definitely scary to think about what next year will hold, and to only think about it when I have downtime, because I don't want Quinn to feel anxious about the future.  I want him to retain his innocence and his excitement for going to kindergarten, and just let me do the worrying about the new school, the possibility of rude kids, riding the bus, etc...  My part will still be to get involved, so I can keep tabs on this new phase that seems out of reach right now, to benefit my son first and foremost, but also to keep myself growing, too.  I know I have a lot to offer, and I have a good idea every now and then, so hopefully I can put myself in a position to share those.  The scary part is always putting myself out there, but hopefully if I can do it, then Quinn won't even think twice about doing it himself.  Because I know he has so much to offer, too, and anyone would be lucky to have him as a friend. 
         We can only pause for a moment to say "good-bye" to his preschool years, because I have to be ever vigiliant of what lies ahead, for all my children, but it's nice to reflect on the progress and growth that we both had through Sunny Hill over the past two years.  Even though I have to turn in my key, I hope I can retain those feelings of confidence and self-worth, and build upon them as we embark on Quinn's elementary school years.  Worst case, Sunny Hill, I'll be taking that keycard back in another year and a half when my twin girls will be unleashed into your halls as they start their preschool experience - hope the world is ready for that!