Oh, I love listening to these four year old girls visiting and playing together over here. Today is my babysitting day- the day of the week that Lydia looks forward to from Friday night till the following Friday morning.
The conversation I'm listening to right now is going something like this:
"Hey kid. Bring this microwave in the car. Her cheese it getting cold." "My name is Mecky and you're Gen. Are you ready yet, kid?" "I'm not a kid. I'm a mom." "I'm a dad." "Boys are dads, not girls. Can girls be dads? Like, not pretendin' dads, but for real dads?" "That's okay if her cheese gets cold." "Let's go to the doctors." "What hurts?" "Nothing." "Then why did you come here? Go back."
Ah, I love it. Reminds me of so many times when we were kids and we'd turn over the entire living room with our doll stuff. I was a big-time doll player when I was a kid. In fact, this past Christmas I'm not sure who was more exicted when Lydia opened her twin dolls- me or her. I'm just so glad she gets her cousin over here once a week to play dolls with her- so much more fun with a friend!
Well, after a whirlwind weekend trip to visit that new nephew of mine we returned back to the reality that Mondays always bring. Wouldn't have minded staying away for a few more days but it wouldn't have worked out. It was a quick, but fun time- except for the fact that Hannah decided she wasn't going to sleep. Anywhere- not in the crib, not in my bed, not in my arms. Mildly related to the fact that she was working on popping another tooth through (that still hasn't come.)
Had an interesting situation with a careless, useless driver on the way there. There I was, minding my own business, cautiously driving along over icy covered roads- commenting how much I dislike driving through snow- when I noticed a crazy person flying in a little rusty car down a side road towards the highway. (I don't have anything against rusty cars- just rusty drivers- this just applied to this person in both ways). As soon as I saw him I knew he wasn't stopping, but there was hardly time to process that thought when suddenly there he was, sliding out onto the highway in front of me as I braked to avoid hitting him. There was a semi behind me that nearly came right through my back window- I'm still not sure how he didn't- but I swerved off to the side of the road as soon as I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him barreling towards me. Then- the guy in the car that caused the whole scenario- (who- did I mention was driving a car with a smashed in headlight/front end?)- has the nerve to pass me and throw his hands up in the air in a "What-is-your-problem?" gesture. Ooooooh.... Why, oh why are these people allowed to drive? I think it should be required to take a road test in the middle of winter when you live in this land of the never-ending snow.
Ah, anyways. At least nothing major happened. It was all okay. Just got me a little wound up. My poor niece that was riding with me probably was thinking she'd never catch a ride with me again between that and catering to my kids every three and half seconds.
Aside from that it was a good time- so glad I got to see that new little guy (he's so awesome)! And it now looks like a tornado ripped through my house as we we lugged our sleep-deprived selves into the house last night and dumped everything in one massive pile in the middle of the entrance. The pile has morphed. Dirty-clothes-and-sticky-juice-cup-amoeba.
All I know is my coffee supply is running dangerously low. As in the scoop-is-scraping-the-bottom-low. Ugh.
I poured myself a cup of coffee and chose my hiding spot wisely: the bathtub. And since my kids didn't think to look in the darkened bathroom, my hideout remained a secret for a much needed five minutes or so.
I think I kind of like that game. Yeah, I know- I don't play fair since they're both a bit afraid of the dark... But sometimes... At six o'clock on a Monday evening... with kids who are wild with excitement from spending the day at Grandpa & Grandma's... And a husband off at class for a couple more hours... Well, uh, we don't count what's fair and what's not.
Hannah, today you are one year old and I find myself looking at you with awe, startled by all you have become in one short year. Even with two older siblings who are more than willing to pave the way for you, you are full of your own discoveries. Watching you learn to wave, shake your head, pull yourself up to standing is remarkable all over again. It doesn't matter that we've watched two others before you perfect these tricks, we're just as excited for you to learn each new thing as well.
Up until now you have been our quiet one. When you were just a few months old we looked at you with your thumb in your mouth and thought, she will be the relaxed one, and you have been. You are the one who still enjoys cuddling, being carried and held. You were the first to sleep through the night, the last to sit up, the last to roll over, and, my dear, you still have not mastered hands and knees crawling (although you do sport a pretty mean army crawl.) At one year old you have just one little tooth, but a beautiful, contagious grin that never ceases to make me smile.
Now however, I'm sensing a slight ripple of change in your quiet ways. You've learned to screech a high-pitched, fire alarm screech that stops us from whatever we're doing and turns our attention directly to you. It usually means you're hungry. Or thirsty. Or tired, or bored, or uncomfortable, or thrilled. Yes, it's your favored means of communication right now and you love to see the looks on our faces when you try it out in church. You pull yourself around at amazing speeds, emptying out cupboards and baskets and drawers in record time. You pull yourself up on the couches and chairs but have not yet tackled anything that resembles walking.
You adore your siblings and I love to watch you playing alongside of them- they make you giggle better than I ever can, they are so eager to wrap you in hugs, and when I see you watching them longingly from the bottom of the stairs as they run up to play I think don't worry, soon it will be you. So I'm going to kiss your round, soft baby cheeks, and cuddle you while you still enjoy it because soon enough, in another moment or two, that will be you.
And someday, long before I'm ready, you will be running out the door, calling good-bye, and I'll be happy for what you've become. But if you look back and you see tears in my eyes, understand that while I love watching you grow, part of me will be remembering that sweet little one year old girl with the whispy slash of hair and the pretty little grin.
When it comes to kids, I'm absolutely convinced that if you are content with things the way they are, you should never, ever, ever even casually mention it. In fact, don't even whisper it at three a.m. when they're sound asleep dreaming about a heaping bowl of Lucky Charms- the real kind too- drooling all over their pillows becasue somehow, in some bizaare way, they will hear you. And immediately they will change their ways, go against the happy little routine the two of you have built together, and you will be left crunching down the candy that was supposed to be for the kid's valentines while a pile of wrappers grows along with your confusion.
For those of you who need a little clarification as to what I'm getting at here- so you can smack yourself in the forehead and go, "Oooh! Yeah, that!" allow me to explain. It's quite simple really, but it's a technique that is not typically mastered in any immediate fashion. I don't consider myself experienced in any form of parenting, however, one might infer that after three kids I might catch on to this simple phenomenom.
So, for instance: if you enjoy the fact that your baby is sleeping through the night it, don't even think about how wonderful it is to crawl into bed at night and not set your feet back on the floor until either a) your alarm sounds or b) the kids tell you they just ate those moment-of-complete-weakness-Snickers bars you bought from the Dollar Store last night for breakfast.
I'm serious- if you feel the thought coming on, grab your preschooler and start belting out the ABC's or quickly get on the phone and imerse yourself in some type of intelligent conversation, like the tale about the Snicker's bars, to someone who has long forgotten what it's like to be in this stage of parenting and has now been reduced to laughing and choking out, "Enjoy it," like you might forget lest they remind you. Anything. Because the second those words soar out of your mouth, or enter your brain, there's no changing your mind. Even if you look at your sweet little baby and give her a some goofball grin trying to disguise what you just did with a high-pitched, "Just kidding!" it's too late. From that point forward (well, until some undetermined point in the future- like maybe next year?) she will start waking up just to visit with you at two in the morning. And then again at five. And, maybe on those really lonely nights she'll call for your attention once again at six or seven at which point you will haul her into your bed and she will proceed to slap you in the face and giggle every time you say "Ow!"
Ah, the codes us mothers must decipher. Mastering the unwritten rules and jumbled up paraphrases is much worse than those tricky paragraphs full of funny looking phrases like IXLD NZR that give you the all-telling clue of A=K. OHhh! Aaaa eaquals Kaaaay! I get it! Uh-yah-huh. If only the clues to motherhood's rules were quite that simple.
This is becoming a little too routine. I might start to expect it or something. This is the second week in a row that my clinical has been cancled. I woke up, ten to five, hopped in the shower and started gettting ready when I got a call at 5:30 from my instructer telling me clinical is cancled. Huh. Not sure why since the bad weather (freezing rain) isn't supposed to hit till later today, but I'll take the day off. I'm too wired to go back to bed, however, so I'm sure just about the time when the kids are rolling out of bed I'll be ready for a nap.
Unexpected days off are always motivation for me to get some things accomplished... Or just read a book... Or get some things accomplished. And being up and ready to go before the kids is always enjoyable- I feel like I have a better hold on the day when we're not all stumbling toward the kitchen together right after we wake up. I kind of like a head start. Makes me wonder if I should re-think my night-owl ways and start getting to bed a little earlier... I think I bring this up every few months or so. As you can see, it has not yet happened. Oh, well. All too soon I'll have school kids and it won't be possible to sleep in with them anymore- enjoy while I can, right?
Anyways. I think I'll go find myself some more coffee.
Finally, days after January passed and February slid in, I put up my 2009 wall calander. Dissapointed, Lydia asked why we couldn't leave it on the "ice skating" picture that was January and I set about trying to explain the way months and days all fit together to form a year. I watched and patiently listened as my words bounced around inside of her and came back out as a series of questions. And while I tried my best to clarify it for her, I'm not sure it made much sense at all.
Yet, as I sat there with her, flipping through the calander, looking at each of those tiny squares marching across the pages I realized how long a year must seem in a child's eyes. How very many opportunities (365 to be exact) we have to wake up and find ways to make all those little squares feel complete.
I was inspired. Inspired to see those squares as a new beginings and empty slates once again- much as a child might do. This time of year it is especially easy to stare at those boxes and calculate how long it will be before spring arrives, or a break from school begins, or a vacation comes. But when one thinks of it as a young child does, those terms such as "a month from now" have very little meaning. A month to them is a vey long piece of time, as is two days, or a year all the same. And while they might try to grasp it, they just as easily put it out of mind and live for right now. For that little box that is today.
And that's what I'm attempting to do. Not to see February as the month in which winter trudges along showing little relief, but to view every day as a new chance to appreciate the simple things that make each day a good one. And even as the squares become scribbled over with places to be and things to get done, appointments to keep and bills to pay, I hope I can remember that those are not the things that make each day. Those are simply the fillers that should be stuffed around the important things. Because it is those little important things, after all, that make those boxes complete.
In our house we only have one of everything. One couch cushion, one book, one doll, one cup, one chair, one pillow, one blanket... At least I'm pretty sure this is the way my kids see it in moments like this.
I'm sitting here with a free ticket to front row seats at a pretty good brawl. It involves two kids, a couch cushion and a Berenstein Bears book... And I'm trying to stay out of it because I know right now they're viewing our living room as that one single couch cushion and one well-loved book.
So. I won't point out that there's two thirds of the couch not being used. I won't let them in on the secret that there's an entire "little couch" (as they call it) that's completely empty. I won't tell them to stop screaming or fighting or yelling. Or kicking. Or throwing a fit. I won't remind them that there's an entire cupboard full of books. Or, if they keep fighting over that book it's bound to get ripped. I won't suggest perhaps, that we get rid of the books if they can't share. I won't step in, I won't step in, I won't... Okay... I... should probably tell Jack that Lydia left about 30 seconds ago so he can stop screaming at her now.
Wait, part two. She's coming back downstairs. I have to get some more coffee, this is going to be good.
Well I was halfway to my clinical at ten after six this morning (which is only to say I had gone about a block and a half from my house) when I decided to switch on the radio. And just as I turn it on I catch the announcer saying our school district is on a delayed start... Which means- so am I!
So, now I'm sitting here drinking some coffee and enjoying the peace and quiet of a silent house. I could actually enjoy Mondays like this. I still have to go in later, but it will mean my school day is three and a half hours shorter than it should be. Now, how nice is that for a Monday morning?