Monthly Archives: July 2010

Really real.

It occurred to me right after I published my Ministry of Reality post on Tuesday that it really wasn’t very Ministry of Reality-y.  I waxed poetic about the joys of sleep deprivation.  You’ve got to be kidding me!  It sucks to be tired, even if you’re doing it for a good reason.  Really.  It sucks.  In fact it sucks the life right out of you.  I forgot to say all that.  To make that post really real.

So I thought I’d make up for it by posting some reality of today.  I’m ready to sell my children.  I just wrote my husband an email telling him I had and received enough of a profit to renovate our bathrooms, replace our 86 year old windows, and have enough left over for him to retire tomorrow.  When reality bites you in the butt, dream big, I say.

Much screaming.  Much gnashing of teeth.  Accompanied by some intentional torture with a few lies tossed in.  And what do you have?  A crazy mother ready to resign.

I would like to continue this train of thought, ending it with some uplifting thoughts about these being the good ol’ days (and they are) or how God is blessing me through this time (of utter insanity) (and he is).  But maybe I’ll just end it with the vision of a lady hiding herself in her dining room, living an imaginary life through the pretty screen in front of her, paying no attention to the bathing-suited, life-vested, helmeted girlies running through the backyard sprinkler, and wishing she knew how to make a Margarita and lamenting the fact that even if she did know, she probably shouldn’t be drinking one at 3:00 PM when she’s the supposed “responsible one” at home charged with the care of three small children.

Yup.  That’s all I’ve got.  Just one big ol’ run-on sentence.

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Ministry of Reality Monday, the morning after

So, apparently, there was no reality yesterday. I was just living in a dreamworld. And all was butterflies and roses.

Actually . . . there was a butterfly in my house yesterday. Ruthie somehow caught it the day before. Yes. Ruthie. Caught a butterfly. And no one knows how. She just showed up inside with a butterfly in Hannah’s butterfly habitat. Who could know how the three year old was able to capture the elusive butterfly? So, we kept the butterfly all that day, with Ruthie occasionally shaking the stuffing out of the net habitat thingie. That evening we put in a sugar water solution for it, as per the instructions of the well-informed eight-year-old Boy. Then yesterday afternoon, I was informed by my dear husband that at some point during the day our very delicate flower of a third-born pinched four of the butterfly’s legs off. “And the remaining ones are both on the same side of his body,” adds the Man, as if a lopsided butterfly is somehow worse than one who has to drag himself around. The butterfly mysteriously disappeared in the night. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

So, that had absolutely nothing to do with my intended goal of this post. Sometimes my brain just wanders off course, veers off my intended path. Probably not unlike a lopsided butterfly . . .

Anywhooo . . . I went with the “morning after” title because I lived my reality du jour–or is it du semaine, given the goal of this little blog project?–last night. Back when I first entered the wonderful land of Mommyhood, I was under the delusion er impression that the absolute worst mommy mistake one could ever make was to invite one’s offspring to sleep in the marital bed. Don’t do it. Not even once. They’ll never leave. It will ruin your marriage. I don’t even know all the reasons I was given, but it was a huge No-No.

Obviously I went against the grain. The Boy would not, could not sleep next to another person. So, with him it was no problem to maintain that carved-in-stone rule. His first sister, however, would not, could not NOT sleep next to another person. And you know what? Neither can her father. So, out of desperation and inspired by some new-found crunchy imaginary friends, I put Hannah in bed with me. And there she slept. Ever so well. So, we attached her annex and away we went. Both of us sleeping better than we had since several months before she was born. That’s where Ruth started, in the annex, the crib attached to our bed, but in time we discovered she, like her brother, preferred to sleep alone. Lo and behold! our babies appeared to have their own little personalities and preferences. Go figure.

Fast forward a couple of years. Everyone has settled into sleeping in his or her own bed. They each go to sleep at night rather quickly and easily. Except the used-to-be-a-perfect-sleeper Boy. Who has fits of insomnia at times. Not unlike his father. Go figure. The mini-me Boy can experience the same sorts of sleep disturbances as his predecessor. Even though he’s just a kid. Apparently he didn’t get the memo that insomnia can’t impact you until you’ve hit a certain age. I guess that age is somewhere around the point at which it will no longer impact your parents. Not until the age of “you’re on your own, kid.” But I digress . . .

Mostly everyone sleeps great, right through the night, right in their own beds, despite all the dire warnings of eight years ago. But sometimes, one or the other will have their sleep disturbed by stresses of developmental spurt, or changes in routine or life’s circumstances, or for no real apparent reason. Sound familiar? I’m pretty sure these are the sorts of things that inspired pharmaceuticals to invent Ambien. Except, again, these sleep disturbances are only permitted once one has passed the age of “you’re on your own kid.”

And now, 660 words in, I get to my point. Between last night and the night before, every kid in the house (and in the night it felt like surely there must be thirty of ’em in this place) had a sleep disturbance. Vacation, while fun, has certainly exacted a toll on the children’s little psyches. Isaac and Ruth both are suffering some severe sleep deprivation. Isaac’s results in insomnia. Ruthie’s results in random acts of violence against her siblings, but that’s a-whole-nother post.

I know it involved two nights, but it’s all one big blur. Maybe it was three nights. Yes. Three. Mostly as a result of getting back on track after vacation. One night, when it was super, crazy hot, Isaac and Hannah both went to sleep in our bed because I didn’t have the heart to make them try to fall asleep in their hot attic bedroom when my bedroom has an A/C unit. So, when Ry and I were ready to go to bed, Ry picked up and carried upstairs both sleeping children. (He really must stop doing this with the 80-lb 8-year-old, however.) About an hour later one of them returned; we all fell back to sleep.

This is when the last three nights all look very similar. At some point, I wake up and ask Ry to return the sleeping kid back to his/her own bed. Mostly because Ruthie is in the habit of coming in sometime shortly after the sun rises, thinking it’s actually morning and not 5:30, and if she’s not disturbed, she’ll lie next to me and sleep another hour or two (or even three, but that only happens on Sundays, when I need to be in the pulpit at 8:30).

So, with Ruthie’s habit ever in mind, I kick the older two out at some point. With our new King-sized bed, I barely notice they’re there, I can sleep and sleep. But for the last three nights, it seemed that a half-hour after we’d return one to his own bed, another would arrive. And again, put her back, then the third one comes, and so on until, I’m pretty sure, the whole neighborhood has shown up in our bed at some point during the last three nights.

Crazy? Yes. Tiring? A little. But you know what else it is? Sweet. And warm. And cozy. And butterflies (with all appendages accounted for) and roses. Because it’s real. Because sometimes people have trouble sleeping. Sometimes our nightmares wake us up, sometimes the stresses of our lives keep us up. But how wonderful to grow up in a world, and continue living in a world, where when the things that go bump! in the night can be soothed away with compassion and love and warm–though groggy–words of comfort and snuggles abounding. Don’t we all want to live in that world? I do.

And some day, very, very soon, my children will stop crawling into bed with me at night. And, if every older friend I’ve ever had can be trusted, I will miss it. I will miss the late-night snuggles. I will miss the Super Mom ability to soothe all ills. In the meantime, I hold my babies close and pray that they will someday find someone else who will not mind a little sleep disruption for the sake of offering them comfort as their much bigger, much scarier adult-sized boogie men crawl out of the shadows in the night.

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Filed under attachment parenting, being The Mommy, Family Life, Ministry of Reality, sleeping

Ministry of Reality Monday, Vacation Edition

We are on vacation.  One would think we would leave our reality behind and have an other-worldly trip of bliss whilst enjoying our days of together time in some mountains not our own.

Ha!  One would be wrong.  Very wrong.  Because, really, nothing brings out Reality like a trip with three small kids.  Shall I start with the never-ending drive?  I could.  But it would be so depressing.  And long.  The short version is the drive wasn’t.  We’ve had some trips where we average 50 miles per hour over the course of 529-mile journey, stops included.  This time we averaged just under 20 mph.  Ryan tells me we could have taken the stage coach to make better time.  Now, we did stop for an overnight in a hotel where we all got some really good sleep.  However.  That’s not the only problem.

Why is it that two girls who have to be begged to empty their bladders so as to maintain health and wellness every other day of the year needed to stop every half-hour during our 665 mile journey?  Why is it that it took us two hours to drive the first 50 miles?  Oh.  I know why.  It’s construction season in my home state.  And we had to drive past all those pretty orange barrels.  It had to be simply a barrel display, because I didn’t see a lick of construction.

All in all it took us 27.5 hours to arrive at our destination, 2 hours of which were spent listening to the song “Remarkable Cows.”  Now, I realize I can’t be trusted with numbers, but that is a factual account.  2 hours.  One song.  The way I figure it, since Ruthie sits in the wayyyy back of the minivan by herself, she gets to pick the music.  And she really, really likes “Remarkable Cows” and screams at everyone to sing it with her.  Fun times.  If you’re wondering what music accompanied the other 13 hours in the car, that would be “Mine Favorite Bob Songs.”  AKA, Veggie Tales.  I did get to listen to one whole Ella Fitzgerald CD (during which Hannah pointed out that one of the songs sounded like the music from Dumbo and I thought that was pretty cool) and, if I recall correctly, two other CD’s of my choosing.  Just one time through with each of them.  What we did learn, during the last 20 minutes of the journey, is that Ruthie’s quite the fan of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Oh.  I wasn’t going to talk about the drive.  I guess I did.  Oops.

What I was going to talk about is the fact that all three of our kids were in bed by 7:40 last night.  Asleep.  So I went out to get some Ben & Jerry’s for Ry and me (we eat ice cream pretty much every night before bed.  And sometimes I actually wonder why I’ve gained all this weight since marrying this man.).  I also took advantage of the fact that in the state we’re visiting one can buy Adult Beverages pretty much anywhere.  I think the lemonade stands are likely selling the hard stuff.

So, here we were, Ry and me, getting the kids back on their regular sleep schedule, ready to hunker down and enjoy some booze and frozen, sweetened fatty goodness, and lo and behold! the Boy has a night terror.  Followed by his mostly-conscious-but-still-not-right crying jag.  So, he came down to sit with us on the couch for a bit.  Then we sent him back to bed.  His head can’t have had more time than to just touch his pillow, when Hannah came walking out of her bedroom (they’re sleeping in separate rooms this trip), whimpering that she couldn’t sleep.  The timing was impeccable.  Then they repeated it, once more, for good measure: Hannah to bed, Isaac back downstairs, like a seamless passing of a baton. If you saw it on a movie screen, you would have declared it contrived.  Unless, of course, you have children.  Then you’d just call it Reality.

I so wanted to end my blog post there. I really did. Because it’s so pithy. And witty. But you know what? It’s not Reality. Because the reality is, I’m writing this on Sunday evening, when “last night” took place, so that I don’t take time away from my kids to write it on Monday, and it’s 10:20 PM and I last saw a kid about 5 minutes ago when Hannah came out of her room for the I-don’t-know-how-many-th time. She had been out and back in and back out and hungry and fed a cheese stick (teeth be damned, tonight) and sent back to bed then back out and lonely (despite the fact that her little sister is in the bunk bed beneath her, where she begged to have her sleep, refusing to share the big bed with her upstairs) and back to bed upstairs in the same room with Isaac (could that be the problem? She’s used to sleeping with Isaac?) and back downstairs and hot so back to her original bed and back out because her water bottle got stuck behind the bed (somehow, I’m not sure how).

I’d like to yell and threaten and throw a fit, but the Reality is, it’s late and I’m exhausted, but you don’t see me going upstairs to bed. Nope. I’m too charged up with being in a new and strange place, it sounds funny and smells strange and we have a big day to look forward to tomorrow and the bed is squishy. And I still have my usual bed-mate, and don’t have to sleep alone. It’s hard to get upset with a five-year-old girl who’s having the same sleep problem I am but who isn’t allowed to help herself unwind and relax with the use of an Adult Beverage.

Poor baby. I think she needs a snuggle. I do.

If you go to soggymommy, you can find more Ministry of Reality blog posts. And you can add your own to her Blog Hop thing. I can’t figure out how to add the thing to my post.

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It’s Monday again. I must be Real.

I don’t know about the choice of Monday as the Ministry of Reality blogging day.  It’s Monday.  After Sunday.  The day when all brains in this house close up shop and hang up the sign, “Gone Fishin’.”  Though, maybe that makes it the best day for my reflections on reality.

Part of the Ministry of Reality blog project, as I see it anyway, is to counteract–I suppose counterbalance is a kinder word, or more neutral word–counterbalance those really pretty MomBlogs where all of life goes so smoothly, the children do all their chores, the mom does all the cooking and sewing and baking and still finds time to exercise and knit and volunteer three-thousand hours a week and color her hair a shiny shade of blond using all natural ingredients she grows herself in her backyard sustainable garden that grows enough to feed the orphans downtown.  Or something like that.

Those blogs evoke in me a whirlwind of envy and shame and annoyance and covetousness and laziness and shame and, most of all, exhaustion.  So, that can’t be healthy, hunh?

I like to think my blog has never crossed the line into that level of pressure.  I don’t see how it could.  In that way, this Ministry of Reality Monday is a little tricky, given the fact that my life is very real already.  My house is a mess–all the time–my children beat each other on a regular basis, watch far too much TV, have eaten far too many hot dogs in the last month, I don’t think I, personally, have done a load of laundry or cooked a meal in weeks.  Now, mind you, my husband has been off from work for several weeks, so don’t worry, we’re not starving.  On the contrary, we’re surviving quite well on a steady diet of buttermilk Belgian waffles, buttermilk pancakes, Nutella-filled ebelskiver, ganache-filled-chocolate-buttercream-frosted chocolate cupcakes, ganache-topped chocolate cake, and various grilled meats.  We’re fine.

So, what’s a girl to talk about to make a Monday more real than the other six days of the week?  Well, I think mostly, for me anyway, it’s a good opportunity to just stop and think and realize that life is life.  Life can be difficult, life can be fun, life can be pretty and life can be ugly.  I don’t have to always be on top of everything, I don’t have to run a perfect little household machine here.  Because my household is made up of people.  And people are messy.  On all sorts of levels.

So, today, instead of looking around my house and lamenting over what a mess it is, going through my daily–sometimes hourly–“I’m So Bad at this Homemaking Thing” song and dance, wasting my energy trying to live up to some crazy, external standard, I’ll just look around at my cute kids and my handsome husband and revel in the fun we have together and the love we share and enjoy the adventure we’re on.

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