Monday, June 29, 2009

The 90/10 Rule

Have you ever found yourself exhibiting high quantities of patience throughout the day, only to finally lose it before bedtime, destroying any harmony you worked so hard to maintain throughout the long, arduous day?

This phenomenon is what I call the 90/10 Rule, and it's literally the story of my life. Let me explain further.
I wake up in the morning, happy to experience life and be a mother. I am optimistic, singing and whistling and speaking to my children in happy, light-hearted tones. Then the whining begins. Followed by the fits. Followed closely behind by the fighting, which is followed by the begging for snacks and friends. My nerves a bit frazzled, I float through the house, solving every problem and softly but firmly redirecting all negative behaviors. I am like a goddess, fluidly working around each obstacle with ease and finesse, and above all, patience.

By noon, I am a bit tired. It's time for lunch and I barely got breakfst cleaned up. The whining has increased, as has the incessant complaints that "there's nothing to do." I fix a lunch nobody likes (including myself), all the while giving myself pep talks inside my head in hopes I can keep my cool and ramain a calm, well-collected mother.

The afternoon passes slowly, a combination of kids running in and out, leaving doors open, making messes we just spent the morning cleaning up, grabbing snacks they weren't authorized to grab, passing them out to the neighborhood, fighting about who got the most or the biggest snack, and on and on. My reserves are beginning to wear down a bit, but still I manage to take deep breaths and remind myself this is what having children entails; and besides, it's summer, so I should relax a bit and let my kids be kids.
It's now time to make dinner. I haven't thought about it all day and have no idea what to make. My husband will be home soon, hoping for something satisfying to eat and for a peaceful, enjoyable evening with his family. I feel the pressure. By now, the kids are pulling at my pant legs, whining more than ever, and I'm feeling just as tired as they are. I juggle putting together a make-shift dinner with refereeing fights between siblings and meeting the demanding needs of my toddler, all while trying to keep my wits about me. I'm counting the minutes until a reinforcement (my husband) arrives.
My husband walks in (late, of course). It's complete chaos. The house is diseheveled, the kids are fighting, dinner isn't ready, I'm holding on by a thread. I still manage to pull it together somehow.
Then bedtime rolls around. My nerves are raw. I'm tired, and so are the children. They begin to resist the bedtime routine, and . . .
I lose it!
I raise my voice, threaten, and stomp through the house on a small rampage. It's over in a matter of minutes, but still, the damage is done. All the patience I exhibited throughout the day disappears as though it never happened, and I am left feeling disappointed in myself as a mother.
It's then my husband looks at me in either of two ways: 1-like he' as scared of me as the children are, or 2-like he wishes I would handle things better.
I send myself to my bedroom, shut the door, and promise myself tomorrow I will make it through 100% of the day with my sanity in tact.

Sound the least bit familiar? It's the 90/10 rule, and it's amazing how consistently it appears in my life. I can't number the times I've told my husband that if he could only have seen what a wonderful mother I was while he was gone all day, he'd be thrilled and amazed. It's completely unfortunate that he happens to be home when the ten percent makes its appearance. The only glitch with that explanation is when the weekend arrives and life begins looking more like 60/40 than 90/10, and my husband is home all day to witness it.
Oh well, all I can say is that I was patient for close to 90% of the week!
Below are pictures of my two-year-old when he had his tonsils out this past week--when my 90/10 may have been more like 80/20. The surgery went well, and he's done great, except for the agitation and fits. I'm afraid my nerves have been raw all too often lately.

Boston--before surgery, listening to his heart--my sweet little boy

Boston--right before they wheeled him away--that adorable little smile has not come back since!

After surgery--sleeping with Daddy (before the fits started).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trouble--Times Two!

I found out this week why I don't have twins.

Actually, there are lots of reasons, the summation being I can hardly handle ONE child at a time, let alone two, but this week reinforced in my mind the exact reason why giving birth to twins has never been one of my life's aspirations--they turn into two-year-olds!

Not that I don't love two-year-olds. The truth is it's one of my favorite ages, and I think of all the stages I'll miss as my children grow older, it's this one I'll miss most. The pudgy hands, the loves and kisses, the curiosity, the developing speech (especially if he has a lisp, like my two-year-old does), the energy--I love all of these wonderful traits--just not times two!

Let me explain.

My sister came for a visit this past week, bringing her three little girls and newborn baby boy. I truly love their visits and couldn't wait to get my hands and lips on that sweet little boy. However, there were a few mishaps while she was here, and I don't want to sound like a tattle-tale, but at the bottom of each disaster there were two little innocent faces and hands: my two-year-old and her two-year-old.

We finally (I know what you're thinking--we should have caught onto this idea a little sooner) decided we needed to watch them like hawks, never letting them out of our sights. Still they managed to find trouble. Two-year-olds have an uncanny nack for that. Needless to say, by the end of the week we were both exhausted. The only thought that consoled us was that she only had to go home with one of them, and I only had to keep one of them.Yes, as darling as they are, one at a time is more than enough for me! Here's a short recap of our week:

Day One: my master bathroom was "wall papered" with a whole role of Charmin toilet paper and a bowl of toilet water. There was 1/2 inch of toilet water all over my bathroom floor and small shreds of toilet paper all over the walls and their clothes. It looked like paper mache--sort of. I only wish my husband would have taken pictures before he cleaned up. I took a quick shot of Boston's clothes (after they had been washed out) before I threw them in the washer. On top of that, Boston pooped his pants. A trip to the tub.
Day Two: My master bedroom was repainted using twelve different colors of craft paint I had stowed away in one of my dresser drawers. We scrubbed paint out of my bedspread, the carpet and my dresser. The drawer had to be removed and ran under tap water to get the paint out of it, there was so much. My best towel was covered with paint, as was their clothing, which had to be thrown away. A trip to the tub. Oh yes, and this was the day it took my sister nearly two hours to get her darling little lovebug to go to bed for the night. That was a LONG day!

Day Three (the day we decided to keep a more careful eye on them): My Demdaco figurine was broken (I'm so thankful for super glue--most everything in my home has been superglued back together at least twice). Mireya (the other infamous two-year-old) pooped while swimming in our kiddie pool. Not wanting to pull herself away from the fun, instead of informing us of her accident, she kept swimming for who knows how long. We're just waiting to see who gets ecoli first. A trip to the tub.
Day Four (still keeping a watchful eye): They started digging the sand out of my flagstone and getting into the mulch in my flower beds. Thankfully, they were caught before a major felony occurred.

It was then my sister went home.

I think by the end of those four days, we averaged giving baths two times a day, taking deep breaths to control our frustration four times a day, and shaking our heads in disbelief six times a day.

So, for those of you out there raising twins or triplets or so on, you have my deepest respect. And if those children happen to be two years old right now . . .

You're in my prayers!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Truths From Little Children and Worn-out Mothers

I'm not sure where I got this, but I found it recently and chuckled as I read it. If you're in the mood for a laugh, read on; OR if you're searching for some comfort in knowing you're not experiencing the mayhem of motherhood alone, keep reading. I think we can all relate to a few of these "simple truths from little children."

1-No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

2-When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.

3-When your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.

4-Never ask your three-year-old brother to hold a tomato.

5-You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

6-Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

7-Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

8-You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

9-The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

10-The parts of speech are lungs and air.

Now, just for fun, I'm adding my own simple truths. I think I'll call them "Truths From Worn-out Mothers." Feel free to add a few of your own.

1-Never cuss the neighbors when your children are in ear-shot.

2-Be sure to explain the difference between alligators and elevators before the need arises to take your toddler to the doctor on the fourth floor.

3-Explain that the "F" on your perfectionist child's tithing slip stand for "female," not flunking, before you attend tithing settlement.

4-If you are in desperate need of some rest and relaxation, asking your children to leave you alone for a few minutes will only ensure they will stick to you like glue.

5-If you are on an important phone call, it only makes things worse to ask your children to please be quiet.

6-No matter what they tell you, double chocolate ice cream does not come out of white sweater vests that have been left for days by your "helpful" husband, regardless of how much bleach and stain spray you use, or how many times you wash it.

7-"I made a mistake, and I'm sorry" are the seven most important words you can teach your children.

8-It is important to be sure your potty trainee's underpants are poop-free BEFORE you wash them with all of your white clothing--twice.

9-There are worse things than finding your children jumping from your couch to your coffee table to your love seat--like finding your children jumping from your couch to your coffee table to your loveseat with full cups of ruby red kool-aid in their hands.

10-When your children stand before you, holding out freshly picked flowers (the ones you splurged for because they were perfect for your flower beds), grins spread across their innocent little faces, it's best to simply swallow hard, smile, and say, "thank you for your thoughtfulness."

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Life is Truly About

I just returned from the hospital where my sister Katie gave birth to a beautiful, eight pound baby boy.

And I can't stop tearing up.

My mom and brother and six little kids and I arrived just in time to hear the nurse announce his weight and height. Standing on the other side of the curtain, I immediately felt the familiar sting of grateful tears and the throbbing of a humbled heart when I heard that sweet little newborn cry. I've often wondered how unbelievers could ever hear the first sounds of precious life and not be awed at the miracle of birth and life, realizing it's got to be of eternal consequence.

As I watched my sister and her husband and three little girls all huddle close to the hospital bed for a picture, I could see clearly in my mind four times before when I was the one lying in a hospital bed, having just given birth to one of the four greatest things that have ever happened to me, reveling in the amazement of it all, my heart offering constant prayers of gratitude to God for blessing me so much. And just like today, when I heard the first cry of each new baby of mine, my tired body became wracked with joyful, thankful, humble tears. And each time, the doctor and nurses came to my side to see if I was okay. What they didn't seem to understand is that I was more than okay; I was absolutely perfect. I was holding in my arms a miracle--a special part of both my husband and me--a little person who would unequivocally change our lives forever.

I always love the first couple of days after my babies are born--not only because I can finally bend without losing my breath, sleep on my stomach, and sleep at night--but because I get the chance to remember what life is really about, and I am reminded of how grateful I am for the opportunity of being a mother.

Then, we go home from the hospital and real life settles in, making me wonder what I've gotten myself into! About one year later, I finally wake up feeling like life is nearly normal again--and about two months after that, we start talking about having another baby! What a life!

I traveled to my home town this past week to hear my dad speak at the high school graduation there, and I was so impressed with his very last remarks to the graduates. He left them with three pieces of advice, all of which were good, but the last one struck a chord. "No matter what you aspire to in your lives, no matter what degree you choose to pursue or what job you decide to take, remember that the most important thing you will ever become is a father or a mother," he said. Then he continued with, "No words mean more to me in my life than the words 'dad' and 'grandpa.' So make sure you become the best mothers and fathers you can be, because no other title matters more."

I couldn't agree with him more. New little babies, excited older brothers and sisters, that look between a husband and wife when they've just witnessed the miracle of bringing another baby into the world--what could be better? Nothing else compares. What happens on Wall Street is not more important than what happens at home, and it never will be.

What I witnessed today, in a hospital in Layton, UT--that's what life is truly about!