Monday, February 23, 2009

The Magic Kiss

Have you ever been amazed at how effective a kiss on an owie can be when your kids come crying to you about being hurt? It's like mothers have a miraculous soothing balm in their lips that automatically makes it all better. Even the worst pain can be instantly relieved with the touch of some loving lips. It's fabulous! I've never been quite sure how it worked, but I've always felt wonderfully powerful at being able to work such magic. I guess it's just one of the little gifts mothers are blessed with to make life a bit easier.

Well, the other day I had a little accident in the shower and needed some magic lips myself. Trying to keep my two-year-old from jumping in the shower himself with all his clothes on, I stepped in without watching where I was going. What do you know, my older son had showered earlier and left the squeegie on the shower floor right by the door. My first step happened to be right on the squeegie, which happened to be very slippery since the shower floor was still wet from previous showers, and before I knew it, my feet were out from under me and I was fast-approaching the tile floor. In an effort to avoid falling on my back (which already has injuries) I twisted my body, trying to catch myself with my one good arm (my other shoulder has an injury as well--I've had a bit of bad luck lately). I was successful at avoiding serious harm for the most part, but as I landed on the bathroom floor, my left foot crashed down on the shower door track, and it hurt, as my kids say, "way bad."

I struggled to my feet (or should I say "foot") and began dancing around the bathroom, wincing in pain and trying not to cry. My two-year-old just stared at me like I had gone mad, and I could tell he wasn't going to offer me any comfort. The only other person at home was my four-year-old daughter, so in an effort to find someone to complain to, I told Boston to run upstairs and get Regyn. He obeyed, and soon Regyn appeared in the doorway.

"What happened?" she asked, looking very concerned.

"I fell in the shower and hit my foot really hard. I'm in a lot of pain," I answered.

"Are you okay?"

"No," I lied. I was worried she would turn around and bound back up the stairs, returning back to life as normal. I was still in a lot of pain and wanted more sympathy. I reminded myself that she was only four. What could I possibly expect her to do? Still, I couldn't let her go yet. I was really hurting, and there was no one else to comfort me. I decided to try the "kiss it all better" trick and see if it worked on grown-ups, too.

"I think I need a kiss and a hug," I said, still hopping around on one foot.

I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't the look I received. Her eyes marked me up and down, finally staring straight at me as if to say, Are you serious?

It was then I remembered I was still butt naked! The vision of how it might look to a little girl to see her mother dancing around the bathroom this way entered my mind in a flash. I immediately stopped hopping and searched for my towel, which I couldn't find. There was a moment of awkward silence before I made a quick decision to let her off the hook. My owie felt better, even without the magic kiss.

"Actually, I think I'll be fine now. Thank you, sweetheart," I said and dismissed her. She didn't even glance behind her shoulder as she hurried out of the bathroom. I was sure she was thinking her mother was crazy, and I couldn't argue with her.

I picked up the offensive squeegie and threw it into the closet, and then carefully stumbled into the shower again. My foot was throbbing and a massive lump had swollen on top. I couldn't help but let the tears flow down my cheeks with the hot water. But then, I replayed in my mind the events of the morning, and my cries turned to laughter. What had I been thinking? Was I so desperate for a kiss better that I forgot the obvious--that I was still in my birthday suit?

The good news is I did finally get my magic kiss--after I was showered and clothed. And I can tell you that children have the perfect touch as well. The hug and kiss I was hoping for did make me feel a lot better (as did the ice pack and ibuprofin). So, if you are having a bad day, or you happen to slip in the shower, or you just have any type of little owie that needs loved better, don't hesitate to call one of your children to your aid. Just be sure to get dressed first!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Motherhood--Is It Enough?

I have often wondered what I would be doing with my time all day if I wasn't a full-time mom. I mean, would I know how to live and breathe and make it through each day without wiping noses, cleaning toilets, and helping with homework? Do I have skills other than potty training (okay, so that's not a skill I've really mastered yet), reading bedtime stories, folding laundry, and kissing booboo's? I vaguely remember life before motherhood, and it seemed like I had some other talents and interests. What happened? Am I still becoming the woman I hope to become when I have put aside some of my other dreams and goals for a time to be first and foremost a mother? After nine years of writing "homemaker" on every questionaire that asked my occupation, am I content? At the end of the day, is motherhood enough?

Over the past year, I have contemplated my answers to these questions many times. Maybe it's because I feel like we are arriving at a new phase of life when I will no longer be either pregnant or nursing. It's becoming a reality that in only a few short years I will be home ALONE all day, and I am becoming a bit giddy, thinking about all the possibilities of what to do with my time. I can feel myself becoming anxious to revive old skills I haven't put to practice in a while and learn new ones as well.

It's not that I've given up everything to be a mother--in the past nine years I've managed to pursue many of my own interests, like graduating from college, completing writing courses, learning to golf (still working on that one), coaching and playing volleyball, publishing a children's book, and more. I've even been on "The Price is Right" and played an extra in High School Musical 3! It's just that these other interests are just that--other interests. My main priority has been my children, and since mothering young children is such a full-time job, my other activities have had to be squeezed in.

I have to be honest and admit there have been times I've wondered if I've lost myself totally to motherhood. I've worried about still being a contributing member to society if I had to do something besides be a mother. I've gone weeks without being called anything but "mom" or "mother," (besides my husband, of course) so that even to hear someone call me by my first name has shocked me a little. I've had to remind myself, Oh yea. I'm Lori. I'm a person outside of being a mother.

The good news is, I am so profoundly grateful the Lord has blessed me with four children, that I am willing to put my own interests aside a bit to fully dedicate my life to them. It's not that I have to completely forget my own needs and desires, but I only have ONE chance to raise my children--ONE--and if I don't soak every bit of it up while I can, I will have missed the point. I will have regrets, and I don't want regrets. I know I'm making plenty of mistakes as a mother, but this is one I am determined to avoid.

As I was wrestling on the floor with my two-year-old the other day, tickling and laughing, it became clear to me that I was doing exactly what I should be doing at that particular time. This phase of my life is is all about sitting on laps, reading stories, playing with playdough, building castles with blocks, snuggling on the couch with a Disney movie, playing "Old Maid" or matching games, making snow angels, shooting hoops in the driveway, stealing hugs as kids head out the door for school, kissing soft cheeks--then kissing them again--because before long, those soft, pudgy cheeks become more defined as kids grow up into teenagers and then adults and begin to prefer a "high five" instead of a kiss. And if I have to put a few of my passions on the back burner for a few years for my children, I can live with that.

Motherhood is an overwhelming, all-encompassing, exhausting responsibility. It takes the best that's in us, and then some. It's probably the most thankless job on earth. There are no worldly accolades; no pay raises; no sick leave; not even any bail-outs.

But still, it is enough.

Despite all the skills I still hope to devlop, the education I still hope to gain, the talents I still hope to share, the dreams I still hope to realize--the biggest part of me will always be a mother, and that's okay. Although there are still many things I want to succeed at and so much more I want to become, motherhood will always be at the top of the list. It's the one role in which I am determined not to fail, even if it means a life of simplicity and a lack of notoriety. I may always be small in the eyes of the world, but as long as I never let my children down, I will be happy.
Besides, I know a lot of wonderful, dedicated mothers who find a way to become incredible women, sharing their talents and fulfilling their dreams, all while giving their hearts to motherhood. I think the Lord makes it all possible somehow.

So, for now, I will keep taking classes, learning new skills, developing my talents, and making time for myself in the cracks and corners motherhood allows. And at the end of the day, when I think about the ups and downs the day has held, and I ask myself if I wish I was doing something different--something more--I can say with a sincere heart: this is enough!

Monday, February 9, 2009

How Babies Are Made--What You May Not Have Known

While watching Father of the Bride, Part 2 (for the 176th time) the other day, my four-year-old asked me the inevitable. It was near the end of the movie, where both mother and daughter are in labor together in the hospital. I looked at Regyn and saw the wheels turning. Sure enough, moments later, she turned and asked . . .

"Mom, how did both those ladies get pregnant?"

As usual, she caught me off guard, and I wasn't sure how to answer. Thankfully, she immediately came up with her own conclusion.

"That boy just talked to them. I think that's why they got pregnant," she stated matter-of-factly.

I simply grinned. Then, unable to resist a chance to be tutored on the birds and bees by an innocent four-year-old child, I ventured into the topic a bit further.

"So, how did that work?" I asked, faking curiosity.

Her reply could only be fully appreciated had I caught it on camera. With a glimmer in her eyes and a shrug of her shoulders, she said with full exasperation, "I do not know how that happened!"

I couldn't avoid a chuckle, to which she immediately asked, "Do you know how, Mom?"

Uh-oh. I had gotten myself in a bit of a bind now. I've made a strict pact with myself to never lie to my children, even about sensitive topics. When my eight-year-old had emphatically asked last year, "Santa Clause isn't real, is he, mother?" My reply was smooth as ice, "Why would you say that?" allowing her to draw her own conclusions, therefore avoiding deception. When my seven-year-old asks me if I have gum and I don't want him to have any, I simply say, "not for you," rather than lying to him by saying I don't have any. When my children ask me if I want to play "Battleship" with them, and I really don't want to, I've learned to say, "I don't want to, but I will anyway because I love to spend time with you." And so on. I have been working on becoming the master of truth-telling without really saying anything at all.

But now I was backed into a bit of a corner. If I answered truthfully, I knew the question that would follow--"how?" If I said "no" I would be lying. What to do. My mind was reeling as two big, blue eyes stared into mine, expecting to be educated. I did what every good mother does when put into such a situation.

I changed the subject. "Regyn, would you like some chocolate milk with your lunch?"

It worked like magic! She refocused on lunch, and I blew out a sigh of relief. Only to discover a few minutes later that I didn't really want our conversation to be over. I inched out further on the limb I had been dangling on.

"So, why is that woman having a baby?" I asked, as if I were a child and she had all the answers.

Not wanting to disappoint me, she answered, "Oh, I know!!" And then after a moment's pause, "Just let me think about it for a minute,' k', Mom?"

It was obvious I was passing my tricks onto an avid learner. She was buying herself time to come up with a plausable story about a topic she knew nothing about. I couldn't wait to hear what she came up with. I waited patiently for a moment, and when she knew I was eager for an answer, she gave it to me.

"Actually, a big star was in her tummy. While she was eating, it fell out. Then ,they glued it and put it back in. And now she's having a baby."

It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, but I could tell it worked for her. There was a finality to her explanation that couldn't be missed. Still, I couldn't resist one more question.

"S0, you're telling me she's pregnant because of a star?" I asked incredulously.

"Yep! That star did it, Mom."

And that was that. My tutoring session was over, and we finished the rest of our lunch in silence. But as I chewed I couldn't help but grin as I thought of a day that would arrive all too soon, when this sweet, innocent child would be a mother herself, and her own four-year-old would look into her eyes and ask her if she knew how some lady got pregnant. I only hope I happen to be there to hear her fumble around for an answer. Whatever she may come up with, I have a feeling it won't have anything to do with stars!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I Am So Tired of This Crap!

I have decided that any mother who says she has a boring, uneventful life hasn't yet gotten out of bed for the day! Yes, some days are monotonous; some are lonely; some days even feel like Groundhog Day, where we deal with the same fights, spills, and chores as the day before. BUT, I am here to tell you, if you are a mother, there is plenty to record in a journal and pass on to posterity--it just may not all be uplifting and fabulous. Here's an example.

Remember my prayers on potty-training? Remember how I wrote that things were going so much better because my two-year-old was starting to poop on the potty? Well, I wasn't lying or exaggerating--things did start falling into place--until this past week, that is! Since then, I have cleaned up more poop than in the previous two months of potty training combined. And I just have to say, I am tired of crap--literally. Let me explain.

It all started a week ago when my three-year-old told me there was a horrible smell at the end of the hallway. Well, that is never good news, so I hurried (reluctantly hurried, that is) down the hallway, took a deep breath, and threw open my two-year-old's door. I thought he had been asleep for the past half hour; instead, he had pooped in his underwear, and then--here's the best part--he had tried to clean up the mess himself. Can you invision the scene I faced? A big glob of poop was in the garbage can (I couldn't help but think what a responsible mess maker he was to have at least put the poop in a reasonable waste receptacle), poop was spread all along his bed rail, and of course, poop was matted down his legs and feet, as well as all over his hands and in his fingernails. But wait--that's not all--this dear child, in an effort to do an efficient cleaning job, was rubbing poop into the carpet with a wet wipe--in three different places.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. I wanted to stamp my feet and throw my hands in the air (okay, so I did stamp my foot and throw my arms in the air). When was this going to end? Was it going to end? I mean, we were past this point, weren't we?

Apparently not.

The good news is, I got through it. Two days and four carpet scrubbings later, the smell was gone and the carpet was cleaner in those spots than anywhere else in the house. You'd think I would have cleaned up my last lot of poop. That's where you'd be wrong.

Less than a week later, I had a new "first" as a mother, and of course, that four letter word--poop-was involved. We had spent a few days in Cokeville with Grandma and Grandpa, and I was working to do the weekly laundry and get caught up on things. I put a load of whites in and went about my other chores. A couple of hours later (I'm not real good at keeping up with the washer), I returned to the laundry room and nearly passed out at the horrible stench. I sniffed and sniffed everywhere trying to figure out the source of the smell (brave, I know) and finally opened the washer lid, and jackpot! It smelled so bad. It didn't make sense to me, but I decided to simply put more soap in, extra fabric softener to drown out the bad smell, and rewash the load.

A few hours later, feeling a lot less courageous, I sent my nine-year-old in to check out the smell. I opened the door and pushed her inside. She came right back out, reporting the laundry room smelled both good and bad--mostly bad. "It smells like poop," she said. "That's ridiculous," I countered. But then I began to wonder. . .

I opened the washer again to find the same horrible stench, this time even worse than before, and I began taking out each article of clothing, one by one to figure out the source of the smell. About halfway through the load I noticed signs of smeared poop on a towel and some other clothes. I couldn't believe it! How could poop have possibly gotten on all of these clothes?

There are times when you simply don't want to know the answer to your own questions. This definitely qualified as one of those times! A few articles of clothing later, I found the offender. I lifted a pair of Boston's underwear and found a huge lump of poop inside. Suddenly I realized I had washed all of our white clothing with poop--not once, but twice!

How could this happen? I was mortified, frustrated, and pretty much down right mad. I had cleaned up enough poop for a lifetime, let alone one week. It was then I remembered my nine-year-old telling me Boston had gone poop all by himself the other night while in her care. It had sounded like a suspicious story to me since he has a hard time getting his pants down all by himself, but I was more than ready to hear and believe a happy story about our potty training progress. I had inspected the bathroom thoroughly when I had returned a short time later and found nothing, so I was feeling pretty thrilled that Boston was making such great headway. Standing in the laundry room, holding the offensive underwear, it all became very clear to me that I had been naieve once again. I was pretty sure Boston had pooped in his pants, then put them in the dirty clothes basket in an effort to clean up (if nothing else, I sure have taught that boy how to clean up after himself), and that's how they made their way into my washer.

I scrubbed my washer, then rewashed my whites for the THIRD time, adding even more detergent and fabric softener, threw away the underwear, washed and sanitized my poopy hands once again, and decided it's a darn good thing Boston is my last child. I'm not sure I could survive the perils of potty training again. Even my sister is exhausted from all my experiences (which is extremely unfortunate considering she has a child to potty train in the next six months).

All I can say is, if you happen to be going through this wonderful adventure, I feel your pain. And if you still have children to potty train, my advice is this: stock up on hand sanitizer, carpet cleaner, and, most importantly, treats--not for the child, but for you for every time you clean up a mess!

And be prepared to deal with all the crap that goes with this glorified job--Best of luck!!!