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Monday, August 31, 2009

Early Morning Snuggles

Rousing from a peaceful night's sleep the other morning, I awoke to find my four-year-old standing next to my bed staring at me. A quick glance at the clock told me my other children were probably still sleeping and that I needn't get up for a few more minutes.

"What do you need?" I yawned.

"Can I get in with you for a few minutes?"

How could I resist? Much to my husband's chagrin I love snuggling in bed with my children every now and again, and this seemed like the perfect time. I opened the sheets and she climbed over me, settling in right beside me. We lay there for a few moments, and then I reached over and pulled her close to me, soaking up the smile that spread across her sweet little face.

"Can we play our game, Mommy?" she asked.

Although she didn't specify, I knew exactly what she was referring to. I didn't much feel like playing a game, hoping to simply lie in bed and rest for my remaining few minutes of peace, knowing that soon three more kids would appear and "life" would begin in one hectic swoop, but it seems that whenever I am faced with a decision to make time for one of my children or selfishly follow my own agenda I suddenly glimpse them growing up and not wanting to spend time with me, and I immediately agree to take advantage of the time I still have with them. I agreed to play the game, and she began.

"I love someone in this room who . . .has brown hair." I rolled over to play along and say my part, which is, "Me?" and then I tickle her and kiss her cheek before taking a turn. But she stopped me before I could continue, saying, "Wasn't your hair red the last time we played this game?" I giggled inside. I had recently colored my hair and it was darker than last time. Four-year-olds are so perceptive, I thought.

Then it was my turn. "I love someone in this room who . . .loves to ride her purple bike."

"Mom, Nate gave me his bike and now I ride it. It's blue and yellow."

"Oh, well, I like the purple one better. Just say your part." This game wasn't going as well as it normally did. She said her part and started a new series.

"I love someone in this room who . . .hmm . . . has a nose," she finally managed.

"Honey, everyone has a nose," I said. "Can't you think of something else?" So much for her sharp perception.

"Oh yea. I love someone in this room who . . . has blue eyes."

My eyes aren't blue, I thought. Should I say something? Probably not, but I couldn't resist. "Regyn, my eyes are green."

"Oh. Okay, I love someone in this room who has green eyes."

"Me?" I asked as incredulously as ever before tickling her and planting a kiss on her cheek?

"Yes!" she said with as much enthusiasm.

And so the game went along for a few more minutes until, just as predicted, three more faces showed up telling me they were hungry. I squeezed Regyn one more time before rolling out of bed to start breakfast, still chuckling inside at how our little game had gone. I couldn't help but think as I plugged in the frying pan that it was the perfect start to my day, and I wondered to myself, Will Regyn remember these moments when she gets older? Will the memories of snuggles and tickles and giggles and love remain stronger than the memories of cross words and harsh discipline?

I certainly hope so, but to improve the chances, I hope to hope to store up a lot more memories of early morning snuggle games, taking turns professing our love to each other, rather than memories of nagging and yelling and being frustrated with each other. I sometimes fast forward in my mind to an interview someone has with my children when they are grown where the interviewer asks about their mother, and I fear their answer will be something like, "My mother loved to nag. I can still hear her nagging voice today." AAHH!! Oh, how I hope their answer will be something more like, "My mother loved us. She always told us she loved us."

I guess that means lots more early morning snuggle games. I can't wait!

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

My friend was telling me the other day about a commercial she saw that made her chuckle so hard she nearly fell off her treadmill. The familiar Christmas tune, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was playing while a mother danced through a store, throwing school supplies in a cart.

How telling!

I have to admit the commencement of school this year snuck right up on me. In fact, last night I drew in a quick breath and panicked just a bit, quickly gathering my children to begin the bedtime process as I said, "You've got to get to bed early tonight. You've got school in the morning."

"I do?" came the reply. So much for preparing my children for the abrupt change in schedules.

And although we had a wonderful summer together, I must admit I was giggling with glee inside this morning when I awoke, looking forward to the first day in three months when my children won't ask me what they can do because they are bored. They are anxiously engaged in a good cause, and I don't have to do anything, I thought to myself. Oh, how I love school!

The truth is, the years of sending all four of my children out the door to catch the bus are approaching faster than I'd really like them to. I know there will come a day when I'll look back on these days and realize they were some of the best days of my life.

BUT until then . . .

I can't seem to get that Christmas song out of my head. "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grandmothers

My maternal grandmother is dying. Even as I write that, I can hardly believe it's true. I have been blessed in my life to have known and associated closely with all of my grandparents. Both of my dad's parents, as well as my mom's, are still alive, so this will be the first grandparent I lose. Although I know she is old (84) and she's been in a nursing home for the past six months or so, and she hasn't really been herself in years (she's suffered from dimentia), it is difficult to think of losing her.

She's a remarkable little woman (only 4' 10" tall) who played an important role in my life as I was growing up. Living right across the field from her, I would visit every day. I will never forget the puffy purple coat she wore while she drove through town in her little white truck, straining to see over the steering wheel, or seeing her her in her recliner, focused on a crossword puzzle. I'd ask her what she was doing, and she'd always say, "Not much of anything. How 'bout you?" Or I'd ask her how she was doing, and she'd always say, "Gettin a long just fine." I will sure miss hearing her say those familiar words.

Since she's been on my mind so much, I decided to write a few thoughts about grandmothers.

Grandmothers are . . .

Cookies when mom says "no,"
Surprise appearances at baseball games,
A break from chores, and
Someone to spoil you when no one else will.

Grandmothers are . . .
Warm, delicious meals,
A drive home at midnight when you decide you don't really want to spend the night,
A soft hug, and
Homemade doilies.

Grandmothers are . . .
Picnics at the park,
An unlimited supply of sweets,
A real education about life, and
Chocolate milk.

Grandmothers are . . .
Mothers made nicer,
A time-out from rules and consequences,
A breath of fresh air, and
God's way of making life a whole lot sweeter.

Whatever life holds for me, I sure hope I get to live long enough to be a grandmother!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ways to Keep Your Cool:1-3

I'm not sure if it was what you might term "fate" that I happened to find a long lost parenting article I printed out a year and a half ago and then forgot about, but the other day, right out of the blue, I found an article entitled "Seven Ways to Keep Your Cool." Sounds a little fishy, doesn't it? Especially considering the fact that lately, as soon as my husband walks through the threshold from work, I've riddled him with how trying one of my children has been and how difficult it has been to remain the calm, loving parent I'm working to become. So, either my husband is trying to offer helpful hints, or God is answering my prayers with less subtle messages in hopes I'll finally catch on. Either way, I thought I'd share a couple of these ideas that I think are from the Good Housekeeping magazine last year.



1- Know When You're Being Baited

We all have triggers--certain words that set us off or shut us down--and no one knows that better than our kids. So seal your lips whenever you hear these classic calls to arms: "I hate you!" "You're stupid!" And the real killer, "I wish I had a different mother."



Okay, seriously, the more I think about it, this paper must have fallen from heaven because I hear each of these phrases numerous times nearly every day, and as hard as I try to ignore them, thinking "this is simply kid-typical behavior," I struggle. What I really want to do is run into my bedroom crying. I know they're just kids and they don't mean it, but that information does not seem to make their words any less painful. Am I alone here? Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to start repeating in my mind the words, "you're just being baited, you're just being baited." Maybe that will work.



2-Don't Mess With Messy Bedrooms

Having their own space is essential to kids becoming separate individuals--and if it's "their" room, they can keep it the way they want (except maybe a twice-yearly cleansing for hygiene's sake). Whenever you look at their lair and feel a hissy fit coming on, go clean your own room instead.



A hissy fit? Have these guys been peeking in my windows? I understand the concept of children having their own space--I really do--but when a room becomes so messy it's dangerous, should we not intervene? Or when we can't find anything anymore due to the piles of clothes and toys and objects shoved under the beds? I can't help but think there's a certain limit to this advice, but then again, maybe that's why I needed to read it.



3-Give Up Your Need to Know How They Feel

You can ask, but they usually won't tell--and then you get mad and risk a blowup. Yelling is particularly pointless in this situation, since most of the time kids simply don't how how they feel (neither do most adults). So inquire about their feelings, help them learn to express themselves. But let go of your need to make sure they feel the "right" way, which is usually nothing more than the way you think they should.



Who writes this stuff? (jk) Honestly, lately I haven't wanted to know how my kids really feel. Their actions have said enough. What I struggle with is wanting them to know how I feel, and I'm pretty sure they're getting tired of that.



If you're dying to know what 4-7 are on the list, just tune in next week. For now, I'm just trying to work on 1-3. I have a feeling one of these days I'm going to give up on trying to keep my cool, and enjoy a good, long fit. I figure as long as the kids are gone to school while it happens, I'm not in the red. Only 22 more days!