Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “Happiness”

The Reason You Should Have Kids

The Reason You Should Have Kids

Princess drew a picture of a little girl being chased by a T-Rex. She then placed it on her dresser in a frame that reads, “Each Day is a Gift from God.”

So can you tell me, where else are you going to get that kind of perspective, if not from someone whose career goal is “have sparkly shoes”?

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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…)

Whither Sturm und Mom?

Enjoy the entire 39 days of a Canadian Summer!

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog.  I just realize that a this puppy’s been gestating about as long as a baby.  Is this thing my 7th kid?  I don’t’ know.  But I DO love list posts, so I thought I would summarize myself in one.

5 Truths I Learnt in 9 Months of Blogging

1. Consistency is (often) way more important than brilliance.

People want what they want.  When I started blogging, I thought I would write commentary on social issues related to Motherhood.  That proved waaay too time consuming for a hobby.  I also felt uncomfortable writing about religion, like I was wearing my mother’s interview clothes to a party of older people, thinking that would make me fit in.  Since I’m not a programmer/chef/expert about anything, this leaves general purpose Mommy blogging.  But, having going through all these permutations over the last few months, means that anyone who liked my blog in the first month, probably hates it now.  Successful blogs are uni-purpose.

2. As far as a money-making opportunity, you’re better off working at Starbucks

As Wordtabulous wrote, we’re doing this in some way to be discovered, and that’s okay.  But just like that small town gal with great gams and a big heart, there’s a million others out there.  As far as I can tell, the business model behind most “Make Money Blogging Guides,”  is to sell the guide to other people who want to make money on the Internet.  Besides, most well-read bloggers are constantly referencing their lack of cash, so if they can’t make it, don’t count on anything other than an occasional free product sample to review.

3. Blogging is more about community than writing

If you want a widely read blog, you must promote yourself via whatever Social Media you can get your keyboard on.  You must also seek out others with the same “brand”/message/genre and start trying to entice their readership to check out your page.  If you have a product, like a book or a consulting service, that you are already trying to promote, then this is just another day at the virtual office.  But if, like me you have forgone real paid employment to spend time with your kids, this can become a shockingly draining hobby.

4. If the real you wasn’t popular in Highschool, the Internet isn’t going to change that

Blogs are driven by one of two things — information or personality.  If your high school personality was more Square Pegs than Beverly Hills 90210, it doesn’t get any better on line.  Sure, you’ll find more people who see things your way — but the majority still won’t.  This isn’t good or bad, but it is the truth.  Not only that, a lot of what will be kicking your stats is total junk.  Pages of inspiration boards as you seek the perfect Fall lipstick.  Rants about how some organic snack doesn’t meet some standard in Europe so it shouldn’t be sold here.  Nasty tales of what you did to someone’s daughter at a bar last Saturday night.  The cream may always rise to the top, but so does the garbage on Lake Michigan.  (Sorry for the Goodtimes reference.)

5. Blogging will teach you something about yourself that you didn’t really know…

…and with that knowledge you can do something that you really need to be doing.  You’ll learn what style of communicator you are, get used to being critiqued by strangers, learn how to tailor your ideas for an audience, and some of how the Blogosphere operates.  At the very least, you’ll figure out what doesn’t work for you.  With that, you can go forward to accomplish what will make you most happy.

I finally realized that I have been put on this Earth to succeed at something.  This isn’t being selfish, it’s being who I am.  I really like writing and explaining complex ideas with words, and I don’t really like the spotlight.  And I want to earn some money before I die.  I’ve finally accepted that I’m driven, and rather than being a character flaw, it’s my DNA.  By accepting this, I can manage my life to reflect my values, rather than just fumbling around wondering what’s wrong with me.

Being a typical, wacko INTJ female I couldn’t just publish a Gone Fishin’/Closed for Renovations post as I took the summer off to get my head in order and this blog back on track.  But you probably are used to that since you’ve all been here before.  Which is awesome.  I couldn’t wish for a better group of commenters, and “Like”-ers, and Facebook friends and all the rest who have taken time out of their lives to give this a read.  You are all the best, or as Princess would say, “Bestest in the world.  Even better than McDonald’s!”

Have a great summer, folks!  Take it easy and God Bless!

My Little Commando

My little man just can’t stop moving!

Big Boy ran across the floor of the Toy Section, jumped at least 12″ up and landing 180° around, feet in a Sumo stance. “Ta Da!”

“It’s s Shaving Kit!  Just like Dad.”

There is something about being under 40lbs. that allows you to punctuate your sentences by leaping a third of your body height into the air.  Big Boy does it all the time.  He jumps, and kicks, and points, and air punches.  Like when he found a Junior Shaving Kit, complete with a can of foaming soap, a cracker sized mirror in a yellow frame, a tomato red Barber’s comb, and a plastic toy safety razor.

“Now,we can shave together,” he announced to the young salesgirl who was following us surreptitiously. “Me, and Dad.  Together.”

But he couldn’t wait that long.  As soon as we hit the back deck, he was scrapping white cream off his face with his blue and red Shaver.  “How do I look?”  Big Boy stuck out his chin, as if it was a pre-Prom inspection for missed spots and toilet paper First-Aid.

“Two big thumbs up, Dude. You’re perfect.”  Like you always are, Dude.

Big Boy is all of 3, and if you don’t know, hanging around with a 3 year old is a like keeping time with a non-stop one liner machine.

“When I grow up, I’m going to dance like SpiderMAN does.”  Punctuate this with a donkey kick or two.

“I wasn’t playing with the curtains, Mom.  I was just wiping my Boogy-juice.”

“But I can’t stop fiddling with my nose.  I’m exercising it.”

This morning I handed him an outfit straight from the dryer.  “Shirt, shorts, and underwear,” I said.

“Underwear?  Underwhoawhoawhoear,” he giggled and saluted the suddenly ridiculous garment toward the ceiling.  The invitation to Big Boy’s world includes the the letters:  U.O.L.O.L. or, Underwear Optional, Laugh Out Loud.  Never has anyone found anything so funny or so dispensable as Big Boy does his BVD’s.  I find discarded boy’s underthings – perfectly dry and clean, mind you – in the most unlikely of places.  Beside the powder room floor (tucked behind the waste basket,) on the TV couch, under my bed, by the kitchen table, and in with a bunch of doll dresses.  He’s never naked, just less dressed, you could say.  (We’re way beyond the stage where he come down “ready” in the morning, sporting nothing but sweater, Tee and socks.)

This all reminds of the time he was running around in his Board Shorts in the sprinkler.  They were big, baggy, Hawaiian print swimwear, and while the string ties were keeping things in place in front, the back was totally different universe.  I was blinded as two very round, very white cheeks reflected the sunlight straight into my eyes.  Sort of the pants version of a Mullet:  all business in the front, all Moon in the back.

“Dude!  Pull up your pants!”

He bent over at the waist and started twisting furiously back and forth looking evidence of immodesty.

“What?  Looks perfect to me, Mom.”

Yes, Big Boy.  You’re perfect.  Like always.

Happy Father’s Day to the Best Guy in the Entire Universe!

I never thought I could ever find such a great guy as I have in you, and you happen to be the best Father ever!  Who could be so lucky?

Here are some ways you rock, Sweetheart:

You are (in no particular order of awesome-tude) funny, kind, an amazing cook, handy around the house, defender of the weak and innocent, interesting, well-read, well-thought, a philosopher, a play-fighter, Daddy Robot, reader of bedtime stories, endurer of bubblegum pop, extremely competent, sympathetic, reliable, and you always have our backs.

We love you so much!  Have a great day!

Is There Ever Enough?

Baby Girl came into bed at 6:30 this morning, and insisted on sleeping on my neck. But I didn’t mind. The wind was cooling the room, and the sky was the over-cast helmet of a day of rain. Perfect napping weather, except I had to crawl out of my cocoon and start the day. I smiled at my Sweetie as he read his iPad, the blue glow on his face. When I’m like this I’m all haimish and happy. Then, I get up and the spell is broken.

I worry.  And worry and worry.  Will there be enough?  Enough to cover piano lessons, enough milk in the fridge for cereal, enough time to remember the project for school before they dash out the door?  Will I have enough patience not to snap, not to shout, to jump in the air for the 40th time that day and pretend to be surprised when she stomps up behind me and yells “Boo?”

Who will pay for our retirement?  What if something happens to one of us?  Maybe I should go back to work and help out around here.  It’s so hard to always say “no.”  No, you can’t have that.  No, it’s too much money.  No, we don’t have time today.  No, your Father and I don’t think it’s a good idea.  So, no.  Face falls, shoulders slump.  “I knew you’d say that….”

For years now, I’ve been researching the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de  Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James), which crosses from France over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.  It is my Sweetheart’s and my dream to one day walk it together.  A common thread seems to unite the reflections of the pelegrinos (the name for all “pilgrims” on the route) is that the Camino is life, and life is the Camino.  Everyday you get up and keep walking.  Did you have great day?  Super!  Now, keep walking.  Things going bad and everything’s wrong?  Rats.  Keep walking.   Just like daily life with it’s tiny victories and humiliations — just keep walking.

But what is so illuminating about a physical pilgrimage, is that it’s pretty hard to hide our decision to stop walking.  By Day 3 of your “Rest Stop” sitting in a Pub in some picturesque Spanish village, it has become apparent to everyone, including yourself, that you are going nowhere.  In the river of daily life though, it’s easy to be caught up in some little ebb and happily bob along there until it is too late.  The race was run and all you’ve got to show for it is a really awesome DVD collection, and a decent on-line gaming personae.  Trying to avoid the pain of the step after step after step, you missed the entire journey.  The gnawing in the pit of your stomach that you took the easy way out.

It seems I can walk the Camino without ever leaving home.  (This is awesome, because with trans-Atlantic flights costing what they do, I feel like we’ll be using walkers by the time we save up enough.  But who knows?  Maybe by then it will be Wheelchair Accessible.)  The question is whether I can keep going, step after packed lunch after messy room after bill to pay after step.  And if I don’t look at the big picture, but just do the little bit in front of me, well, I think — I hope — I can.  Just do the next thing and somehow we’ll all get to where we are supposed to go.

Update: I realized that I should have listed some of the Camino resources/reflections that I stumbled across that might be of some interest to you all.  As Brother James mentioned in the comments, there is the excellently reviewed movie The Way, which is hovering at the top of my to see list.  However, the rest of these I have had the chance to check out personally:

I just recently read this reflection by Dr. José Pereira, a Palliative Care Doctor at the Nothing More Beautiful Event sponsored by the  Archdiocese of Edmonton on May 10, 2012.  It is not a description of the Camino but a spiritual reflection of the impact the journey had on Dr. Pereira and his faith.

I was struck by several similarities to a programme on CBC Radio 2 I had stumbled on a few Sundays previous.  The program was called Inside the Music and it highlighted the work of fiddler/composer Oliver Schroer (1956-2008) who walked the Camino and recorded his own work in various Churches along the way  and collected in the album Camino.  The description of “keep walking” was a paraphrase of (what must of been previously recorded) Schroer’s.

Finally, if you are looking for a well-written travelogue with some wry commentary on just how weird thing can get with a bunch of women, get a hold of Jane Christmas’ What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim.  This book has a lot of great information on the nuts and bolts of the Camino, and some “funny now that it’s over” observations on traveling en masse with fellow females.

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!

An Invitation to Minimalism

Our next house will have stone walls

Today, and yesterday, and definitely tomorrow, I will be packing.  And de-cluttering, emptying closets, filling bags with charity donations, and generally removing stuff from my house.  A painter will will be sanding and painting, and then I will scurry in behind him and finishing cleaning up.  All this is due  to sticking 8 people into an 1830 square foot house that would usually hold 2 to 5 people, (not optimally hold, just mostly likely hold,) and the sheer volume of necessary stuff required to keep us takes up a lot of room.  Tables for 8, high chairs, bunk beds, a really big sectional in the front room so we can all watch TV.  But when you are trying to sell your house, like we will be doing right away, you need it to look spacious, empty and like a Wonderlandesque rabbit hole of storage possibilities.  So everything that is not nailed down (nearly) is going into a box.

Which is great.  It’s lovely and liberating.  Why?  I really hate stuff.  Not always — when I was a kid I used to have drawer of “special things” that I only pulled out and looked at twice a year.  I was a hoarder raised by hoarders, surrounded by piles of Woman’s Day and Chatelaine, and reprints of baby care books from the 1930’s.  “It could come in handy one day,” I always heard.  It never did, but it could.  But what they, we, were really saying was “That’s someone I could become one day.”  Someone caught up on her reading who had delicious recipes cooking up on the stove, someone who knew exactly what to do with a crying baby (if it was 1936,) someone who made crafts and seasonal centrepieces, who finished afghans because they started them, who was always fashionably dressed, who has lost that baby weight and can wear that dress again.  Someone who looks just like me, but only a little bit better.  And, by saying “good-bye” to all these better-me projects, I am forced to admit that I am okay just they way I am.  Sure, there is always room for improvement (patience, perhaps?) but how much true self-improvement and growth have I delayed until I finish whatever I have stored in my closet.  It’s the classic refrain of the procrastinator:  “Oh, sure, I should do that.  I just need to do this first….”

Looking out at my newly patched and pristine walls (yes, I know it won’t last a week, but let me have my moment,) it reminded me of being a kid and looking out over a field of freshly fallen snow.  Snow so deep that it spilled into the top of your Sorels when you tried to clomp through it.  It was so randomly perfect, a complete feat of nature impossible to replicate by human means.  In my desire to capture that feeling of pristineness, I would run out into the snow leaving a gash of my footprints behind me.  As I turned around to look, I would realize that by trying to consume it, I had destroyed the beauty I was trying to possess.  Some things can only be appreciated, and not consumed.  As soon as you try to take them home and stuff them into your crammed cupboards and over-scheduled weekends, they’re lost.  The beauty leaves us when we try to grab too tight.

I am shocked, again, how much better the kids are playing with a ¼ the toys they had, how much easier they get dressed without 6 pink t-shirts to choose from, and how much faster the bathrooms clean up without having to move 10 different vials of Face-This and Skin-That.  It’s liberating and lightening, and hopefully it lasts.  Maybe instead of the 100 Mile Diet we need the 150 Item Household (is it possible?)  All I know is that benefit #1 of the move is a new appreciation of nothing.

F is for Happiness

Since I am so bad at sharing links, today I will share two. So there.  Since I came across these two articles, today’s topic is happiness, :  the first on why parents should make their own happiness a priority, and the second from Gail Val-Oxlade on contentment and money (h/t Simply Frugal.)  These got me thinking on how to be happy, and why I am happy, and what makes me happy.

Look at all that matching going on

And the answer is:  Finishing.  I finished my bloody match-matchy Christmas Stockings that cause me so much guilt and grief.  Been there, done that, got the craft.  Next November 21, no longer will I sigh longingly as I gaze out on the freshly fallen snow, pensively wringing my hands, muttering “Oh, those stockings.  I have to finish the stockings.”  Nope, ‘cuz I’ve got 8, count ’em, 8 identical, hand-embroidered, handmade, personalized stockings sitting in a storage tub in my basement.  And as soon as I turned that last cuff out and I saw that it wasn’t backward, or crooked, and was generally OK, I felt great.  I made something neat from nothing.  It felt freaking awesome.  And like birth, I immediately forgot all the swollen ankles, heartburn, nausea, not to mention 20 hours of labour.  I looked at my brand new thing and thought “When’s the next one?”  Yes, I am now looking for a new craft project.  I know. I’m sick.

Part of the reason I need more crafts, is that we finished watching Battlestar Galactica.  Every Friday night, my sweetheart and I would pop some corn and sit and watch two or three episodes of BSG.  It was like a date without a babysitter.  And with a baby.  I’m sort of glad it’s over because for the last eight episodes I couldn’t figure out what the frack was going on.  And why is Bob Dylan channeling some kind of otherworld music?  My sweetheart told me that I am not allowed to shout questions at the TV anymore.  But still we couldn’t stop watching.  These two in the clip could have been us.  Scary.

Family is an F word for happiness

Happiness is finishing.  And faith.  Faith in God first.  And some in yourself to figure out an answer and in the future, that it will turn out okay.  Faith enough to trust to go with the flow when you need to, and put your foot down when you don’t.  Faith to decide to be happy.  Which reminds me, years ago I arranged a “Mom’s Evening Out” with a gal down the street.  We signed up for a Pilates class together, and I thought that since we both had two kids, we would just use it as a time to chat, and blow off a little steam.  I was thinking relaxation.  Boy, was I wrong.  As soon as my backside touched her bucket seat the onslaught began.

“Do you know what happened to me today?  It was Emily’s birthday on Saturday so I had to go to Sears get photos and then Mackenzie started crying and then Emily had a temper tantrum outside the elevator and then I still had to go to Costco to get a cake and then….”

This went on for 5 F-ing minutes.  Finally, I couldn’t take it.  My kids were young, too.  I put up with enough hissy fits and spilt milk all day, I didn’t need my night out to be filled with someone else’s brat attacks.  In one of my least proud moments of my life, I found my mouth suddenly open and I blurted out,

“Yeah, well.  I know someone who’s daughter had cancer.  Twice.  That was really stressful.”

She stopped talking and stared straight ahead for a moment. Then she said, “Our friend has cancer.  He told his wife that now she had to make him spinach dip.  It was really funny.”

My husband suddenly had to work every Tuesday night, the same night as those Pilates’ classes.

The final F of happiness:  fib.

**********

P.S. If you want to see what happens when some Japanese retails decided to use English in their signage and certain language intensifier that starts with, you guessed it, an F, click here.

Have Yourself a Little Bit Sad Christmas

It’s Christmastime around here, and that means one thing — cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Between decluttering to make way for whatever Santa brings, and the scrubbing and polishing everything else to get ready for Christmas Day company, I’ve had my arms elbow deep in Murphy’s Oil Soap for a week.  All this is made harder by the constant cry of “Don’t go in there!”  whenever I venture toward a closed door or closet.  With 8 people exchanging gifts, the entire house becomes one big booby trap of secreted packages.  One of our Christmas morn traditions is the game “Guess where I hid it?”  I still win with my husband’s 40th Birthday Present.  I merely wrapped the 2′ by 3′ box in colourful paper and placed it on the shelf overhead of his work area.  Here it sat for two or three weeks, in plain sight, as he typed daily at his computer below.  Well, at least I can’t accuse him of wasting time while he’s working, staring at anything but his computer…

This Christmas has me a little pensive, too.  Not regretful or sorrowful, but a bit sad.  As 2011 comes to a close, I realize that another year with my young ones has also slipped pleasantly by.  While I am no big fan of the baby stage, as I made painfully clear in my post on walking 3 kids to school in 90km/hour winds, I still can’t believe that my little baby is closer to 1 year old than she is to being a newborn.  This September will also usher in a new phase for this big brood Mom.  Princess will be 5 and starting Kindergarten.  In 8 short weeks I will be attending the school’s Open House, and filling out her registration papers.  And that first fall day that I walk her into her classroom, will also mark the first time I have the majority of my kids out of the house during the day, rather than at home with me.

2012 will be a year of firsts — and a year of lasts.  This time next year, Tall Girl will be gearing up to attend Junior High Information Nights with us.  The first of our children to leave Elementary School.  But it will also be a year of packing up baby clothes, and sending maternity wear to the local thrift shop.  Baby will stop needing to be rocked to sleep this year.  Big Boy will learn how to zip his own jacket.  Someone will take off her training wheels.  I’ll be hands on mothering just a little big less.

This makes be both happy and sad.  I know many Moms make a joke or a boast about how they’re “done with that.”  And trust me, I get what they mean.  But I still treasure the warm hands in mine, or the little boy who just needs a hug.  These milestones come and go, and you don’t even realize that suddenly, you have a Tween in your house, who listens to strange music, and get’s pinched by the boy sitting next to her.  It was just 5 years ago that you packed her first snack for Kindergarten, and walked her to the bus stop.  Now she’s telling me she wants a bikini, and to dye her hair blue “temporarily.”

That’s why this Christmas season, I know now that no matter how many times the camera clicks, the glasses clink, the children squeal, that no matter how “perfect” the moment is, it’s all fleeting, tomorrow’s memories.  So with all the joy, there is ever the slightest tinge of sadness, because I know that the moment, however wonderful, can’t last.  So no matter what, I will have a Merry Christmas.   Why?  Because all this passing of time has helped me realized that happiness isn’t something you achieve, it’s something you have.  And I have it in spades.

Plus I made two loaves of my kick-*ss Light Cherry Orange Fruitcake.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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