Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Every Kid Needs To Be Tucked In.

It's 10:20.  The case worker is coming tomorrow for the monthly check-in visit.  I've got a pile of laundry on the couch that needs to be folded, dishes in the sink that need to be washed, and dog hair that needs to be vacuumed out of the floor.  So, naturally, I'm going to write a blog. ;)

I just finished tucking Patrick into bed.  This is mostly because he's roped me into it.  When I brought him an extra blanket one night and made a production of tucking him in; he discovered that he really liked it.  So, now, every night, he gives me the puppy-dog eyes and, of course, I reluctantly agree to come tuck him in.  It's not that I mind, of course; I'm just lazy and a little bit (extremely) exhausted. ;)  But, I go in and cover him up.  Then, I kiss his head and hope that it makes up, just a little, for all the nights that his head wasn't kissed. 

We've gone through a lot of stages of bonding over the summer and different lifestyles, for lack of a better word.  We've taken a family trip.  We had to adjust to that.  We came home and I worked for way too many weeks of the summer.  We had to adjust to that.  I finally went part-time and I was home a lot more.  We had to adjust to that.  And, finally, the kids have started school.  And, we had to adjust to that. 

There was all kinds of adjusting going on!

Looking back, I think the major bonding happened during the second part of the summer when I was home more.  That just makes sense.  But, we definitely had our moments when I was busy resenting the fact that I didn't have a lot of moments with the kids. 

So, as we've established, I was working. :)  This meant that there was a lot of tag-team child care going on.  Brian covered when he wasn't working.  I covered when I wasn't working (translation: the weekends).  And, Jennice, the poorly paid/overworked/god-mother/long-time friend covered the rest.  She saved me, this summer, because she stepped in and came over whenever I needed her to and only asked for some occasional gas money. 

This was not an easy time for me and I'm not thrilled with how I handled all of it.  But, thankfully, that time has passed.  While at work, I spent my time feeling sad that I wasn't home with the kids.  But when I got home, I was exhausted and, let's face it, more than a little grumpy.  My grumpiness would pass, usually after getting some food in my tummy.  And, then I'd have an hour or two to hang out with the kids before sending them to bed and falling asleep in the chair as Jennice tried to tell me about the day. 

It sucked.

I, of course, tried to boost the quality time factor up on the weekends and enjoy the kids as much as I could.  And, I did.  But, it never felt like it was enough. 

Whether I deserved it or not, Patrick tried to do things to make my life easier.  In the mornings, he offered to watch William, Antwan, and Lizzie until Jennice got there.  This is because Jennice is generous, but she's also always late...;)  He also cleaned counters, mopped floors, and helped get breakfast ready, in the mornings.  This did make my life easier and, also, made it slightly less frustrating that he, apparently, didn't know how to close the pantry door or put any of his dishes from the day in the sink. ;)

One night, I had one of those little moments.   I had one of those little reminders about the kind of mom that I wanted to be. 

When I left that morning, Patrick had said that he would vacuum.  When I got home, Jennice and the kids were still off galavanting around.  It was clear that the floor hadn't been vacuumed.  I promised myself that I wouldn't say anything; that I wasn't going to start the night complaining.  I wasn't even particularly mad.  But, when they came home, out it came, anyway.  I made a comment that he hadn't vacuumed like he said that he would.  I tried to make it light and jokey-jokey, but it was definitely getting lost in translation.  We went back and forth a couple of times.  And, before, he angrily walked back to him room, I saw the hurt in his eyes.

I wanted to be annoyed that he had an attitude, but I knew that I couldn't really blame him.  And, I knew what I had to do.

I went to his room and told him that I was sorry that I was harsh.  I told him that I was aware of all the ways that he had been helping and I really appreciated it.  Finally, I asked him if he forgave me.  He nodded and I left. 

A few minutes later, he cheerfully came out and all was well.

I felt like he respected the fact that I owned my behavior.  Or maybe he didn't think anything about it, either way.  But, I do know that I was proud of myself for realizing that I screwed up and going in and acknowledging it.  That's not my favorite thing to do, by the way.  

Either way, we continued to bond and, hey, I learned a little something about myself. :)

From that point on, I tried to be more aware of my tone.  Sometimes, I was aware that I nailed that supportive, patient, understanding tone.  Sometimes, I was aware that my tone wasn't so great.  But, I keep trying and sometimes, that's all I've got.  I might try, but still do a lousy job.  But, the cool thing is, I think he gets it.  Yeah, sometimes, he just cuts me a little slack and knows I'll do better next time.

He says that I'm the best mom in the world.  I know that's not true and, I'm fairly certain that he's buttering me up for something, haha, but I sure don't ever get tired of hearing it. :)

It's not going to be simple, but I think we're going to be ok. 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer's Over And I Never Got Any Rest.

Last night, I was cooking dinner and glancing out the window at Patrick who was playing basketball with some neighbor kids.  Then I thought to myself, "I'm cooking dinner and glancing out the window at Patrick who is playing basketball with some neighbor kids?!?!"  I was keenly aware that I have a teenage son.

I have four kids.  I love them all.  And, I am exhausted. 

It's been an interesting summer.  I've wanted to write a blog so badly.  I've wanted to get all these thoughts out of my head.  I've composed numerous first paragraphs in my head.   I've opened up the laptop and got the page loaded up.  And, then, guess what?  (If you were one of my kids, and, admittedly, me, you would now say "chicken butt!")  But, that's not it.  The answer is that I would almost immediately fall asleep.  And, this frustrates me to no end.  I have not enjoyed giving up an hour of my Emily time because, apparently, you can't send 13 year olds to bed at 8:30-9:00pm....  It would seem that 10:00 is more reasonable.  And, much like 10, 6, and 4 year olds, when they go to bed at 10:00, they don't actually get settled until 10:15-10:30.  I didn't always manage to stay awake until he went to bed.  Darn comfy recliner!  And, then, if Brian wasn't already home, he would be home by 11:00.  Aargh.

Ok, now, here's the part where I acknowledge how ridiculous that sounds. :)  While, every parent feels my pain.  Every parent also knows that's all part of the job.  And, here's the best part.  We added a teenager to our house and this is my biggest complaint.   Translation:  He's pretty awesome. 

Here's the part where I try to say only the really important things or no one will make it through this blog.  Well, except for Brian, but he's obligated to read it. ;)

We took a trip to Brian's parents' farm and it went great.  We picked blackberries, fed cows, ate my mother-in-law's yummy cake, and ate at Long John Silvers as many times as we could get away with (because Patrick now loves it, too!). 

Picking blackberries with PaPa.

Patrick's blackberries!

MaMa made blackberry cobbler!

I wanted to take it with me!

Long John Silver's!

It wasn't all cake and cows, of course.  William and Patrick bickered.  This was mostly due to William freaking out a bit about the change.  He has never liked change.  Beginnings of school years, end of school years, and even birthdays freak him out.  You can imagine how suddenly having a full-time big brother messed with his mind.  Several talks later, he seems to be doing ok. (Fingers crossed1)

And, that full-time big brother decided that he had enough of being a big brother on the Fourth of July.  So, he decided to stop speaking to all of us.  Seeing as I had everyone in patriotic colors and a camera ready, you can imagine how much I didn't like this.  Eventually, he acknowledged that they were getting on his nerves.  I assured him that was totally normal, but that he couldn't just shut down; he needed to tell us what was bothering him or tell us that he needed a few minutes.  (Last week, when he did tell me what was bothering him about me at the particular moment, I kind of missed the Patrick shut-down, haha.)  Anyway, once he talked to me about it, he perked up and I did get my 4th of July picture. :)

So, all in all, some bickering between brothers and one teenager freeze out.  Not bad. :)

So, we came home.  We got settled in.  Brian and I went back to work (boo).  And, we started to really figure out what it's like to be a family of 6.

Through the summer, we learned how to function as a big family in a 3 bedroom house.  I learned that I only thought I knew how much a teenager eats.  We found out that facebook isn't so cool when a biological mother uses it to friend request your son.  :(   We all figured out how to deal with each other in the best way possible, most of the time.  And, I got to enjoy the moments of signing him up for school, hugging him goodnight every night, hearing him call me "mom" for the first time, and hearing him say that he loves me.  And, it's also pretty cool when he tells me that I'm awesome, especially since I know that he won't always feel that way, haha.  And, through it all, I tried to master giving the other three kids all the attention that they need and want, too.  Tricky.

So, here comes the part where I realize that I can't fit it all in one blog.  There's just too much to say!  So, I'll have to stop here and write a part 2 (and maybe a 3).

I guess I better get to bed, my teenager has to be at school by 7:40.  7:40???  I'm probably not going to enjoy that moment so much. ;)