Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the category “Large Family”

5 Life Lessons for 2013 That My Kids Accidentally Taught Me

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Trust me — we’ve got it all figured out.

I know many will be shocked — nay floored — that I don’t yet know everything, but it’s true.  Luckily, my kids have also recognized that deficiency and have pitched in on project Improve Our Mom™.  Like when Big Boy points at those obnoxious weight loss clinic ads on the TV and screams “Yeah Mom!! You should do it, too!!  Look how happy that lady is!  And you get new clothes!!”

“Yeah,” adds Princess.  “I’ll come with you.”  (She’s 5.)

Or how my darling son pokes at the exposed small of my back as I scrub the tub.  “Time to get a Trendy Top, Mom!”

Of course, tells me that my first step must be to cancel the cable.  And stop cleaning the bathroom.  But beyond that, here is Liz’s Guide to Wisdom (Gleaned from People Not Yet That Wise):

 

You know I'm awesome

You know I’m awesome

Sarcasm from the under 18 set is always welcome

The best way to build a relationship and be taken seriously, is to totally roll your eyes when you talk, and add geezjust kidding to everything.  Trust me — this-is-suuch-a-good-idea <sigh>.

Many problems aren’t solved, not because you lack the solution, but because you just don’t want to do it

I have talked myself hoarse to tell kids the same thing over and over.  Everyone understands, everyone hugs, tomorrow’s a new day, yada yada yada.  The next day or week or month we’re right back at it.  I’ve now realized that the easiest way to deal with a problem, is to blow off steam by getting someone to brainstorm your solution, and then completely ignore it as you go back to acting the way that you always have.  It won’t actually fix the problem, but it makes you feel better for however long it takes for you to actually change your behaviour .

People are born thinking that, whatever they know, is the sum total of everything that there is to know

Yesterday, Dad tried to “scare” off Tall Girl with threats of a “Mercy Fight.”  This should have filled her with genuine terror, considering that her Dad is a veteran of both the High School wrestling team and Air Force Cadet Survival Camp, not to mention a really rough Junior High School.  Instead, she kept trying to grab his nose while squawking, “What?!  Bring it on!”   The concept that something really, really awful could exist outside the knowledge of her 11 year old mind, totally escaped her.  In other words, a junior version of “what could possibly go wrong?”

What really needs doing is the absolute last thing anyone wants to do

Be rich and famous, and drone endlessly on about your personal brand; tonnes of takers for that.  Repeatedly wipe down the powder room with Fantastik, plan menus on a budget, spend supper time conversation on why war happens, vacuum up Kleenex from under the bed; not too many line up for those duties.  Unfortunately, the first isn’t really needed, and the second is becoming more and more neglected, leading to a whole bunch of problems for everyone.  Which leads me to my last big lesson:

Real success often means looking like a failure

“Can’t you let your sister win?  She’s only a baby!”  And after some grumbling they do.  Later, they do it without being asked — let someone go first, bite their tongue, give the big piece away — it’s what makes a parent proudest. Yet, who really wants to do that?  Doesn’t it sound better to be one of those judges on a reality TV show, barking out insults and walking out to your limo?  No one ever calls someone a hero because they grabbed all the change off the table.  Unless it was to deliver it to the poor.

Now, thanks to my genetic contribution to the world, we can all become smarter, wiser people.  Maybe they still need the plots of iCarly explained to them, but they unintentionally do tell you a lot of what right and true.  Even if sometimes you need to hide in the mini-van from all that right and true, which of course is wrong and false, but nothing has burned down as of yet so no harm done. Right?

Have a Merry Christmas Season and a blessed 2013!

What are the egg and pineapple doing? Relaxing! (Silly question...)

What are the egg and pineapple doing? Relaxing! (Silly question…)

Hope, Terror Haze and Old German Tourists

Guess who’s too old to make Superhero poses? (Hint: Look for the Aviators…)

We went Fall camping, which is awesome if you can get two days off work, live 3½ hours from Jasper National Park, the daytime highs are 27°C and you have a tent trailer with a furnace.  Yes, that’s right.  Not a backbacking tent which is enveloped with condensation by 4 AM, but a nice cozy tent trailer with a kick-butt furnace pumping out the BTU’s all night.  This is necessary in the Rocky Mountains because, no matter how warm it is mid-day, come breakfast time it’s going to be hovering around 5°C.  From toques, to shorts, to fleece, to toques all in 16 hour period.  Nature is not that forgiving, especially to your wardrobe.

I would say that I was tough, but that would be a lie.  Hardy, in that I can take all the frosted breath and brisk hikes to the ladies’ washroom.   Dear Husband convinced me to take all the kids — including the small ones — up the Jasper Tramway, which can best be described as a tiny, metal box which zooms up the side of a rock face attached to a tiny, metal cable, all while your children press their oblivious faces to the window screaming, “Look how far doooowwn it is!”   Now I, sans kids, had hiked up this rock face and I thought it was quite tame.  However I had never considered what a sheer drop of 2400 odd feet combined with progeny with no common sense and slow reflexes would do to my adrenaline level.  We’re talking about a 3 year old who runs to the side of a cliff, starts jumping up and down, yelling:  “If you jumped off this cliff, you would be DEEEAAAAD!!!  Right Mommy?!!”  Or nearly crashes into the sliding glass doors that open onto the tram when it isn’t there, just an elevator shaft straight into Hell, to, yet again, demonstrate what one should NOT do in the name of safety.  When we finally touched down, unharmed, on God’s sweet Earth at the bottom, Dear Husband asked me if I was okay.

“A haze of terror.  That’s all I remember.  Children running to their death and sheer, unadulterated terror.”

He agreed not to take me back up there again.

Jasper, like all the Rocky Mountains, attracts visitors from all over the world.  English, Australians, Japanese (less and less), Chinese (more and more), Americans (varies from year to year), and always, Germans.   It wouldn’t feel like you hit the mountains unless you heard “ich bin…” or “Stimmt!” at some point when walking around town.  If the Parks are open, there’s a German somewhere in it.  Including all over our campground.  Which was the weirdest part of our trip.  All the sites in this campground are extremely open, including ours which was smack-dab next to a walking path to the showers.  All the nice Commonwealth types would walk by with a friendly greeting and smile at the children.  The Germans though, would return my hello, and immediately look away.  As soon as our gaze was averted, they would then start staring at our children.  When I caught them, they would immediately look away, and pretend to be really interested in a tree.  This happened over, and over, and over again.

Our way too young to be driving a rented RV site neighbours, were the worst.  This young couple could barely mutter a word to us, but would stand there — when they thought we didn’t see them — and gawk at us.  I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t come up and ask us where the kids were from.   But then it I caught one facial expression that I was not meant to see.  Embarrassment.  They were staring because they felt it was obscene to see a family with so many children.  They were watching a freak show, and they didn’t want to admit it.  No, these folks had no shame in driving around in a Granny-mobile in their 30’s, wearing uber-expensive mountaineering clothes to walk around handicap accessible groomed trails, and leaving their empty wine bottles at the entrance to the campsites for the “forest fairies” to collect for recycling, but were ashamed for us that we had too many children for their tastes.  Huh.  Auf Wiedersehen right back at you, Sweetheart.  (Did I mention the Australians were really nice?)

I have children because I have hope.  At one point I had no hope, and I had no children.  I do not believe that life is pointless, I do not believe that God will fail, and I do not believe that things will ever get so bad that I will wish that the human race would disappear in favour of the Dominion of Slugs.  There’s a trite expression, “Children are God’s way of saying the world should go on.”  They are also people’s way of saying that they should go on.  But if you have no hope, and then why should you go on?  Waste your money and time travelling around foreign countries, trying to fill your days with some pleasure and diversion, before it all comes to its meaningless end.  Staring at big families when they’re not looking.  Like I said, Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart.

(Sorry for the rant.  Did I mention the Australians were really, really nice?)

Does this Baby Picture Make You Sick?

How annoying is this?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the app that lets you replace the pictures of your Facebook friends’ kids with those of kittens, sunsets and bacon.  Unbaby.me‘s website promises to “delete…babies from your Newsfeed permantently — by replacing them with awesome stuff…Now you don’t have to look at all your friends’ annoying kids”.  Yeah, who would want to look at pictures of human beings, when you could amuse yourself with pics of stuff to own, watch or consume (and judging from some of the sample photos on the website, also lust and mock.)

I don’t think anyone who’s tried to take more than zero kids onto a Tim Horton’s Sunday around noon could be that surprised at this.  And I bet it’s not just Hipsters among the over 71,000 “Likes” — some of the dirty looks that little old ladies, (sorry, I think the term they prefer is “cougar”) shoot you when it appears that the generation that is going to be funding their twilight years of government pensions and nursing care, might disturb their weekly Maple Glazed Danish and Double-Double, could peel paint.  (By the way, this is precisely why I avoid eye contact in public places.)

I do find it bizarre that those of us who have chosen to sacrifice the present for the sake of providing everyone else with a collective future, get cast as selfish, annoying dweebs, who just want to talk on and on about our kids.  I totally agree that forgoing children for a higher purpose is a very noble and commendable sacrifice.  Getting really good at Call of Duty, or devoting more time to your dogs doesn’t even register, Folks.

This reminds me of a something from woman’s magazine I saw from the 1960’s.  It was the Shocking! Emotional! tale of a mother who was going to use birth control, despite whatever her Priest said.  “What about the children I already have?  If I have more, won’t it be unfair to them?”  This seems so quaint now, considering the massive experiment in family living that would follow in the divorce happy 1970’s and 1980’s, calling a younger brother and sister in an intact family “unfair.”

However if this is unfair, with 5 siblings my kids must be first in line in the Completely Shafted Department, just itching to get their own Android compatible device, so that they can purge all those annoying pictures of their sisters in diapers.  And yes, they surely can complain when things aren’t so smooth between them.  But when the two oldest, Tall Girl and Sweetie Pie, made it home from camp, they did something that even I didn’t expect. As they piled out of the van, they ran first to me for a hug.  Total reassurance that they were home and Mom was there.  But, then they immediately started for Baby.  They picked her up, and carried her around, and almost started to fight over who got to give her a hug.  Baby, of course, lapped it up and was her super, smiley, giggly, baby perfection, waving hi with her fat little hand.  Funny, their faces didn’t look put out or annoyed.  Joyful would be more like it.

I really don’t know why people hate kids.  Maybe they hate part of themselves.  But as I’ve said before, people are awesome.  Even the noisy, inconvenient, over-photographed little ones.

Pursuing Failure

Remember the sunscreen!!!

I sent the kids to camp this week.  Overnight camp.  Like 4 nights and 5 days overnight camp, and for the third year in a row.  I caught my Sweetheart’s eye as Tall Girl and Sweetie Pie queued for the bus.

“Ripped right out.”  I pointed at my heart.  He nodded.

“I thought it should get easier, but it doesn’t.  The logistics do.  But this?  No.”

Why do we do this every year?  I mean they have the time of their lives and make all these friends and develop as great human beings.  But is that all worth their parents’ grey hair?  Or sleepless nights?  Come on — who wouldn’t trade a week with a Slip ‘N Slide with a bunch of cranky preschoolers, for a giggle sleepover on an island on a bug-infested lake?  I mean really.

Plus, we sent Art Girl to Taekwondo Daycamp, so I’m stuck at home auditioning next school year with the bottom three kids.  This gives me an opportunity to try out my “Why you can’t watch anymore TV” arguments.  Eventually, I know they will get bored of sitting on the couch staring at that black, matte rectangle, commanding it to light, and wander over to the kitchen table to take out their frustration on some playdough.  Until then, between that and the heat, it’s going to be a long week.

Are my children secret cave men?

Compound this with my Walk Guilt.  As I wrote last time, I’ve been trying to get back into some kind of shape after being left floundering on the carpet with back pain.  Tall Girl is now a certified babysitter, so this summer I’ve been taking the Baby in the stroller and leaving big sis in charge for 40 minutes.   Which is great for about 10 minutes, until I start feeling like the World’s Worst Mother for leaving them.  What if they are fighting?  Speaking rudely?  Just today, Big Boy demanded a pencil of me.  No, “please”, “may I”, nothing.  Is this what goes on when I’m not here?  They revert to troglodyte cave kids?  I’ll come home to grunts and people painting on the walls, eating raw meat.  It hasn’t happened yet, but maybe I’ve just been lucky.

I had thought, that once the kids were older, I would start to take some time to “do some things for myself.”  Except, I can’t seem to leave.  They’re all fine, independent, moral human beings.  But I’m a crazy woman.  I just can’t go.  I was thinking of whether I should get a job.  I can now know that unless someone is prepared to pay me to run around after my own offspring, it’s probably a no go.  Actually, it’s definitely a no go.  I always figured that some kind of worldly success was hiding inside of myself, but when I actually looked, I found someone who was happy being a failure, if it means more time with her kids.

I know that one day the girls and boy will grow up and move on and leave.  I’ll be sad/happy, but that’s part of life and that’s okay.  But I can’t rush it and still be all okay with life.  Come back soon from camp, girls.  Your Mom wants to make sure you brushed your teeth.

“How Empty is Your Life?” and Other Parenting Misses

Everything’s just peachy around here

Did you think I could stay away from the my little soap box for a whole 10 weeks?  Come on now.  You’re dealing with a woman who gets interrupted six times while screaming “FIRE!”  Plus, I went camping so there is only so much that one’s psyche can handle.

Since there is only 4 weeks left to the kids’ summer vacation, and I wouldn’t want them to have delusions that it was niceor anything, I thought I should permanently record the Mommy Misses so far of the season.  Think of this post as one of those Realty TV recap shows.   My kids will appreciate the cheat sheets for their memoirs.

“This will be perfect for the cover!”

  1. As for the title —  I didn’t actually say it that way.  Sweetie Pie came up and showed me some gross, dried-up glue in a tube, and said, “You could squirt it on some paper in a big blob.”  I assuming that, at age 9, she was a pretty much an adult in some Hunter-Gatherer cultures,  and quipped, “How empty would your life have to be to want to do that, eh?”  As I watched her eyes and then entire face fill with horror, I realized that I had made a grave mistake.  I gave her the glue and paper and a whole bunch of candy.  Things seem fine now.
  2. Look into my eyes!

    Tall Girl asked why I was staring “right there,” and pointed to a spot above her eyebrow.  I said that I was just looking at her.  Then I realized, being always crazy-run-around-busy, I never make eye contact with my kids.  They think all Moms have heart to heart talks with their heads stuck in the dryer.

  3. I got so out of shape I couldn’t get up off the floor.  Well, let’s back up on this one:  While I was pregnant with my SIXTH adorable child, I strained the ligaments in my back, which caused me an amazing amount of pain.  Being, like, not un-pregnant, I took it easy for a while.  A while being 18 months.  This rest period was abruptly terminated the day I lay down to retrieve a binky from under the kids’ bed and couldn’t get up.  I pacified the little ones by grinning furiously and telling them I was “playing whale.”  Daily walks have since ensued, and the call to “bring it here to Mommy” is slowly disappearing.
  4. Mommy is soooo distracted. Plus this tastes healthy.

    Today, my kids ate Chocolate Chip Cookies and a little piece of cheese for lunch.  I gave them buttered bread, cheese and peaches for lunch, with a cookie for dessert, and they just ignored all the real food and went straight to the sugar.  I was trying to fix my email and didn’t notice until I went to clean up and found all this perfectly good foodruined by sitting in sun outside for too long (they were having a picnic.)  Luckily, chocolate is a good source for Vitamin K.

  5. I told the kids the Ice Cream Man was “just a jerk in a truck.”  They retaliated by lying that he was riding a bike and wearing a FREE ICE CREAM hat .  I knew better — that’s too many letters for a hat, and those jerks avoid all physical activity.  Mom 1 Kids 0
  6. Big Boy reads Green Eggs and Hamto himself by stabbing the the picky guy with his finger and shouting, “I hate you.  I hate you.  I HATE YOU.”

    Come back here Sam-Not-I-Am! We’ve got a score to settle!

Yeah, lots to be proud of around here.   People sometimes says nice things to me like, “You have lovely family,” or “What good children,” or “Could you please go ahead of me in line because I can’t stand the noise” and I just have to laugh if they knew what a zoo I have.  Oh, well.  Four more weeks to screw up improve.

If you feel it would be helpful, feel free to share your parenting missteps in the comments.  Remember, it’s harder to catch a whole herd, than a single Bison.

Today, I’m Gonna Parent Like It’s 1929!

Speak up, Sonny! I’m a very old lady!

Sigh.

It started off a good day.

Sun shining, breeze blowing, and I’m on time for once for dance class.  The MOST IMPORTANT dance class for my 5 year old, Princess, because we all get to come in and watch.  She was so happy to have Big Boy, Baby and me in her audience for once — even if it was just an ordinary class, and this was just a preschool introduction to dance at our city Recreation Centre.  Did I mention that I had left in time to be a little early?  Well, except my cell rang with an emergency phone call from Art Girl, who wouldn’t stop crying.  You see, her legs were cold.  Nothing more.  Her legs were cold in her shorts, so she spent the morning bawling at her seat, and I had to calm her down.

Just on time, I finagled two kids to the last available spot in the very corner in the room.  The other Parenta-razzis had brought every single relative within the local dialling area to watch their 4 year old jump in a hula-hoop with pointed toes.  I swerved  out of the way of some dude’s 8″ telephoto, past the kid who got pulled out of school so he could film sister with his own iPhone (exactly like Mom beside him was doing, ) and settled beside a guy with both video camera and a point and shoot, who spent down time from watching “Put your arms out reeeaaaallly straight!” to do editing on his touch screen.  I spent the next 45 minutes vacillating between utter cuteness-induced giddiness, and trying to keep a 13 month old off the stacks of weighted bars beside the floor to ceiling mirror, all while hissing “Quiet!”  to Big Boy so he wouldn’t end up ruining someone’s scene.  Kinda good times.

Then:  Race to the lobby of the kids’ school to collect them.  Suddenly, a woman I am sure I have never seen before, stops me.

“You know every time I see you, (?!) you remind me of my Grandmother.”  She starts.  I’m wondering if it’s because Grandma’s far, far away, which is where I’d like to be.

“She said that the first 5 kids were hard, and then after the 6th, they just all took care of themselves.”  I glanced nervously over at my eldest and smiled timidly, wondering if this was a veiled accusation of foisting the other kids’ upbringing onto her shoulders.

“Of course,” she continued, “that was a 100 years ago.”

Of course it was!  Here, I was thinking that I was a relevant, contemporary, with-it Mama, but I guess when I called penicillin “emerging technology,” I gave myself away.

Now back home, I’m sitting waiting inpatiently for the kids to get home from the park, so I can go and run an errand, except Tall Girl is late because there are no numbers on her Justin Beiber watch, since it would get in the way of his “dreaminess.”

Sigh.

Don’t listen to me.  I’m just having one of those Mommy days, where everyone else seems to be entering Mom-entrepreneur contests, and buying Franchises, and finishing their novels, and combing their hair.  My biggest accomplishments as of late are figuring out new ways to hide leftovers with Club House Gravy Mix, and how tight I have to pull a ponytail so that it hides the fact that I need a shampoo.

But things will look up.  Princess just invited me to Big Boy’s Birthday Party.  He was born in November and it’s now June.

“We’re serving Rock Cakes,”  she says and points at mounds of road crush left by the previous house owners.  Sounds good.  I hear that was a real delicacy about century or so ago.

The Dog is Dead. Long Live the Dog.

Please let me rest in peace. Please, please, please!

“Look — cute doggie toys.  We should get them.”

“That’s a nice jacket for a dog.  Why don’t we buy it for Karma?”

“There’s a picture of Karma doggie in the doctor’s office, Mom!  Look.  Look.  Looklooklookloooook!!”

“Mommy! You have to buy that dog food for Karma.  You should put it in the cart!”  Big Boy shouts as the bag of Mainstay floats by on the way to the Pringles.  Everywhere Princess and Big Boy go lately, they are on the lookout for stuff for our dog.  Food, toys, accessories.  They spy photos that look just like her, and little rubber boots to keep the salt off her toes.  I dread the Hartz section of Safeway, and all the requests for squeaky toys and flea collars.

There’s just one problem with all this.  The dog is dead.  Like over two-and-a-half-years dead.  Like dead when Big Boy was only two months old.  Our faithful, dopey Springer Spaniel was a great pet, super with children and a devoted companion.  But years of ear infections and allergies wore her down, and now she is taking her eternal afternoon nap in the great beyond.  If I could only explain this properly to my children…

“Um..Yeah…Honey, Karma went to heaven, remember?”

“Yeah.  That’s okay!”  He pipes.  “We can send it to her.”

Now, I’m flummoxed.  How do you explain to a 3 year old that heaven includes a meal plan?  Oh, wait — I’ll let the 5 year old do it.

“You don’t need food in heaven.  They give you lots of dog treats,” Princess states like this is common knowledge to everyone in their pre-Kindergarten year.  I start to relax and add something to the cart out of Baby’s reach.  Crisis avoided — or not.

“You know when you go to heaven, you can see Karma.  But I’ll go to heaven first.  No wait.”  She scrunches her face and looks at the ceiling.  “First Auntie D. will go, then Mom–”

“–And then Biscuit!”  Big Boy injects to make sure that Auntie D.’s Yorkie is not left out of the Big Dog Park in the Sky.

“Right.”  She points her finger at him in accord.  ” Auntie D. Biscuit.  Mom.  Me.  And you.”

Standing in front of the Miss. Vickie’s I realize that the sole determiner of mortality for my children is a) have we seen you with a dog lately, or b) are you currently in front of our faces.  If neither of these conditions apply, it seems that you’re going to live forever.  Forget the vitamins, healthy eating and all those laps at the pool — just plan your route to a drop off at the SPCA well away from us, and you are making it to at least 150!

This is my life:  one long theological debate with children.  If God can do everything, can He do something bad?  It’s not okay to hit, unless the person’s evil, right?  So, what if we hit them before they do something bad, and then we would be making them good?   And isn’t’ that good?  Why did God make mosquitos who are so ugly?  And bite me?  Why?

Usually, I answer these questions, and try to help little, forming minds tackle the tough stuff in a way they can handle.  But this Doggie Death March is just too much, even for me.  “When’s Auntie A. going to heaven, Mom?  Is it soon?”

Big Boy stares at me, all smiles and wide-eye innocence, waiting for an answer.

“You know what Karma told me?  That she wants you to stop talking about this and pick out chips.  Who wants treats?”

The crinkling cellophane chorus drowns out the nagging voice in my head that I am a terrible, terrible Mother, whose kids will be 16 and wondering why their departed relatives aren’t getting their postcards.  I’ll just tell them the truth:  Mail delivery is really spotty to the Pearly Gates.

If It’s Mother’s Day, I’ve Already Forgotten….

Looking in the mail for your card, Mom? Don’t be silly! They’re right here on my counter.

Some years ago, (I think I was preggers with Big Boy,) we took the family on vacation to the sunny shores of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, an area known for hot, dry summers.  We were staying in a two bedroom “guest suite,” which is basically someone’s walkout basement that they rent out during the summer to tourists.  Late one sticky afternoon, we were watching TV in the tiny living room/dining room/entrance area, trying to get a weather report for the next day.  Tired kids whined, and Princess cruised, since at 14 months she refused to walk, and I was fed up trying to keep the under 7 set occupied.  But as the 10-Minute Update theme caught my attention on the Weather Network, I noticed something strange about the date.

July 3rd.  Wasn’t there something special about July 3rd?

I racked my brain.  I made that strange thinking face, where you tilt your head and furrow your brows.  What was so special about July 3rd?  OH I KNOW!

“HONEY!”  I shouted.  “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!”

This true story illustrates just how bad I am with dates.  (And so is my husband.  I guess that’s why we work well together. :-)) It’s not that I can’t remember them, though that is part of the problem.  There is just some part of my mind that doesn’t associate, oh let’s see, May 13th as Mother’s Day, with the May 13th that is the day after tomorrow.  So, I fully expect that on Sunday morning I will be awoken by proud children baring homemade gifts and wondering why they are giving me presents early.  Since it can’t be Mother’s Day yet, because that’s not until Sunday.

In other words, unlike other bloggers who are posting lovely, heart-felt reflections on Motherhood, and their Mothers, and their children, I will have forgotten — until the 14th, when it will be too late.  Combine this all with the fact that the Mover’s are coming to take all of our stuff to our new house on the 14th, and I’ve got a daughter away at Guide camp, and I have to get three sets of green clothing ready for a big park dedication at the girls’ school on Monday, well, Mother’s Day has been pushed off the radar for me and any other Mother’s I might owe due homage to on Sunday.  To all of you I would like to send my deep, heart-felt apologies.

And….thanks.  Because that is one thing that I love about Motherhood:  forgetting.  Forgetting about myself, and losing myself in the moment of life with my family.  Children have a way of drawing you out of your head, and the mundane, silly, disappointing world we live in, and connecting you to the greater, happy, hopefully world that we should live in.  Like when Big Boy shouts out with joy at McDonald’s that we “are the best Mom and Dad in the whole world.”  (They don’t call them Happy Meals for nothing!)  Or when Art Girl looks at me with her chocolate brown eyes and whispers, “You know what I want to be when I grow up?  A Mom.”

“Really?”  I beam.  “How many kids do you think you’ll have?”

“5.  No, 6.  No, 7!  I want to beat you and Dad.”  She giggles, and then grows thoughtful.  Looking down at the floor, I she says to herself.  “I really hope I have at least one.”

Yes, sweet girl of my heart, I really hope you have at least one, too.  Because Motherhood is a gift everyday, and I am very happy to receive it.

And one more thing before I forget:

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

My House Has Told Me That We Need to Talk

I think our house wants to kick us in this region.

Yep, my house is starting to figure that something is up.  It’s noticed that I’ve been a bit more distracted lately.  That I’ve been stepping out for afternoons and coming back with empty boxes.  It’s tried to listen to my phone conversations and heard words like “possession” and “keys.”  But the lipstick on my collar was when a  guy walked through the house and shouted that with three guys and a truck it would be “easy to clean out.”  This house is no dummy — it’s figured out that we are leaving.

And it’s letting us know it’s displeasure.  This is no house to be easily scorned.  First, there was the tiny-tiniest rivulet of water from the door of the washing machine to the floor.  The repair man came.  He pronounced it a “non-specific leak” and told me to wipe my gasket.  But the house has other tricks up her sleeve.  The dishwasher has started making the strangest hum while running, yet isn’t sick enough for the fellow at South Appliance Repair, who was all too anxious to cash my $375 cheque just 18 months ago, to come out.  And somehow, the only bugs to come out of dormancy in this frozen wasteland I call home, have managed to die in the upstairs flush-mount light fixtures.  The ones I just washed 2 months ago.  The ones I guess I’m going to be washing again.

I’d bring home some flowers for the kitchen, but this house has upped its passive-agressive game, and now I know it would be a good $35 wasted.  As if to cover its eyes in horror, both light bulb on our porch blew at out at once, leaving our night-time coming and goings in darkness.  No cheery, bright welcomes anymore, just stumbling toward the keyhole by street lamp.  Then it brought out its big guns.  Friday morning I tried to open the door of our bathroom door and – nothing.  The lever handle had total ceased to engage the mechanism when you turn it on one direction.  In other words, a person could in a moment of er, urgency, find himself fumbling in futility as he tried to reach the fixtures on the other side of the door.

I realized that this was our house’s equivalent of hardball.  “Fine.  You want to leave?  Not until you clean up a bunch of carpet stains caused from some very small children with very large bladders.”

House, Baby.  I’ve avoided this conversation for way too long.  Yeah, we’re going, but you’ve got to know:  It’s us, not you.  Seriously.  Have you seen what a single bedroom with three girls packed in it looks like?  It ain’t pretty, unless you think being inside a room after a IED stuffed with nail polish, Barbie Dolls and used Kleenex has gone off is pretty.  And what about the time I nearly got hit by a bus putting the Baby in the truck?  In the rain?  WHEN I HAD A HEAD COLD?   Yeah, I’ve met someone new on a quiet street, but I only started looking because we’ve grown apart.  Or we’ve grown by three kids and have to part.  You get the picture.

Look, I know you’ll meet a new family real soon.  Yes, house I can guarantee it, because Transfer of Title is a legal document.  So buck up Sweetheart.  Us leaving is the best thing that could happen to you.

And please, please, please stop breaking things.  I promise I’ll buy you flowers.

Raising the Next Generation of Barbarian

Nothing says crazy like a tinfoil hat.

Big Boy was at the park when a gaggle of older girls came upon him.

“Hello cute little boy.  Do you want to be our friend?”

Big Boy was scared very of these big, bossy Kindergarteners, but he didn’t run back to his Mother’s skirts. Instead, he scrunched up his face, hunched his shoulders and balled his fists.

“I’m a tough guy,” he said.  “I don’t want friends.  I’m going to go fight my sister.”

He waited until they had walked away, and then directly hid behind his older sister, shielding himself with the thick denim of her pant leg, squinting his eyes at any further threats from those intimidating females.

Some blogging Moms get to brag that they are raising a new generation of leaders, or artists, or healthy eaters. I get to state that I’ve got the next generation of barbarians.

Spring has brought delightfully warm weather, and the kids begged me to let them lower the windows of our black Expedition as we tooled around the neighborhood.  Soon, three kids were cutting the wind with their snouts, their hair pushed back and eyes barely open.  It was then that I heard shouting.

“HEY!  HEY, there people.”  Art Girl hollered in her best stadium voice.  “How you all doin’?  YEEAAAHHH!!”  she called out to her audience on the sidewalks and parking lots.  The show continued as we pulled up to the curb on our busy street, just as a bus was pulling away.  Art Girl leapt out of the truck onto the boulevard, assumed the Power Stance, and pointed.

“Hey there! Mr. Bus Driver!  How’s your day on the bus?  Go drive that bus!  Oh YEEAAAHHH!!!”

“Dear God!  Stop it!  Stop it!  You sound like a crazy person!”  I screamed in horror.  But what can I expect from a kid who hums the Imperial March from Star Wars while pumping on the backyard swing set.

My face will scare you to jail!

Well, at least she’s keeping her inner Mongolian Horde somewhat under wraps.  Unlike Big Boy.  In addition to scaring off 5 year old girls, he has created a new game called Dr. Scary Face, who uses his incredibly angry face to, well, scare off bad guys.  But if that doesn’t  work, he’ll bring out the big guns.  Or big cucumbers — on Friday at Walmart he grabbed a $1 English Cuke and used it to “BANG BANG BANG!!!!” every passing shopper and toilet paper display.  Luckily us Prairie folk tend to have a sense of humour.  (I’m not sure about the toilet paper.  Its silence may have indicated extreme offence.)  I doubt they would have been as understanding of our bath night superhero:  Super Naked Boy.   Or maybe they would have been fine.  Our Church’s Sacramental Assistant thought it was funny that she had to cajole Big Boy into putting his shirt back on during Children’s Liturgy.  Since become a parent I have developed the ability to smile while slowly dying inside.

With all of this mucho-macho action, I wasn’t surprised to hear Big Boy tell Princess that in their game he was going to be Iron Man.

“Iron Man?”  I asked.  “Are you going to fight some Bad Guys?”

“No.  Today, I am going to have a tea party.  With Spider Man.   Then I’ll fight the Bad Guys.”

Maybe things are totally wild.  Yet.

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