Monday Musings

Week two and the renovation is still ongoing.

Thankfully our contractors keep everything confined to the basement and are very unintrusive. I shudder when I walk down the stairs and see the drywall sand and dust accumulating on all the items and think a garage sale is in my future. But then reality sets in of planning and executing a garage sale on my own as Mr. L is knee deep in the last manic rush before summer hits to try and offload his work so his summer is more manageable, and I suddenly feel very very tired.

The kids are getting a little jittery. They are used to having the run of the rec room and being forced to stay on the main level or using their bedrooms as playrooms and this is becoming more and more challenging. A tidal wave of books, toys and rainbow loom elastics have once again made way onto my dining room table. I am now forced to keep the shears of the main level shut so nosy neighbours do not see the state of my house.

Sunny skies are a nice diversion but in our little pocket, spring means the temperature rarely hits above ten degrees celsius so still cool to be outside for more than pockets of time before chilled little hands want hot chocolate and snacks, inside.

But, it will all come together. The room has taken shape and I dream of organized shelving areas and freshly painted walls. A proper desk to move my piles of paper strewn on the kitchen buffet. The hope a new (and sound-proofed) office space will entice Mr. L to work from home more often when he doesn’t have to weed through knee high piles of tissue paper to get to his desk. Even the kids are tired of searching through their homework piles combined with my novel looking for a pencil. We all need our own spaces, soon.

Amidst the chaos of a renovation, Easter happened. A quiet weekend by all accounts and E.B. was thankful only to have to hide eggs in 3/4 of the house. Neighbourhood egg hunts. Turkey dinner. A success for three chocolate-loving children. Then into wedding season.

Our first wedding of the year happened this past Saturday at a sunrise ceremony for my uncle. A lovely man who in his mid-fifties exchanged vows with his soul mate at 6:20 am overlooking a grey sky interspersed with geese honking and burst of light rain. The wedding was quirky and wonderful to watch. Casual and small, my kids were troopers getting up before the sun rose to bowls of cereal and hurriedly dressed for the outdoor ceremony in splash pants and toques. They stared in awe at the wonderful little lake and ran amongst the large rocks whip cream and pastry crumbs on their hands.

As we rushed back to our town for their usual Saturday activities and two fell asleep for a much needed nap, I told Mr. L (who understandably had reservations about taking the kids so early to a wedding) our kids were troopers. Better than us. Elizabeth, who is a little obsessed with weddings and wedding dresses, keeps asking about questions and I can see her little imagination stirring wondering what her wedding may be like.

Then Monday happened.

Sunny day. Cold morning. Tired Mom. Jacob up at 5 am.

We had tried to keep Sunday a low key day but I threw in our first spring hike. As we tromped off the beaten path veering into the forest to take a closer look at the crocus flower patch, I felt content and wondered how we could fit this type of thing in every weekend?

The hike was nothing major for a mom, three kids and a dog. Just a walk near our local forest, creek and pond to break up the day full of cleaning and trying to finally home start some sort of spring organization. But it tired them out.

Then home and onto spring cleaning. First line of attack. The mud room. Each kid emptied their tub of winter clothes into keep/wash or giveaway and I worked on the other cabinets removing garbage and stale food from knapsacks and closet floors.

However, the spring cleaning, hike and early morning wedding plus regular activities had left a very emotional six-year old and I saw the result on Monday morning. An altercation I had not witnessed the prior day between Audrey and Jacob, had left my little guy with a black eye. At the time he had cried, she said sorry and we went on with our day after I again reminded her about the no hands on rule in our house.

Seeing my three year old with a black eye the next morning, I realized how hard she must have hit him. Pointing this out to her and again, going over how we never use our hands when upset, resulted in a complete breakdown as she screamed, “I wasn’t even really sorry!”

Another week. Another kid. It was her turn.

Image

From burkevector.com

 

Having three or more kids there is no break in the worry or constant diligence of dealing with emotional disruptions. Either I am dealing with a stubborn three year old, calming down an over-worrying eight year-old or helping an emotional six-year old understand about boundaries and anger management. Motherhood never stops.

This all happened twenty-five minutes before her bus pick-up time.

Typically, I would focus on the band-aid solution. Time-out, quick Mom lecture, hugs to try and calm her a bit, get her out the door and on the bus. Except, she had not eaten breakfast and had stomped off to her room slamming every door imaginable. The last time we had an outburst like this and I sent her off to school, I received a report from her teacher re the after-math. The cloud that hovers above the head of an emotionally sensitive kid when their world is out of whack means a  grumpy, snarling at her friends, unable to listening type of day. In Audrey’s world, if she is mad, the whole world better be mad right along with her or get out of her way.

So instead, I changed my tactics.

I sent her to her room to calm down.

I called the Absence Check System and reported she would be late due to personal reasons.

I emailed her teacher and briefly told her she would be in during morning recess as we were having a bit of a rough start to the day.

I made sure Elizabeth and Jacob had their breakfasts and sipped my coffee trying to keep my own temper. (After all, to be fair this kid gets her temper from somewhere.)

And then I went up to talk to her, calmly, outlining why is it not okay to hit people and the consequences for behaving inappropriately in the morning and yesterday. Chores after school. No playtime with friends for two days.

We talked about her calm down spot how she needed to start using it if she was feeling angry instead of hitting. And I listened as she told me she is tired of her brother bothering her. (And he does..) I actually heard for the first time that her brother’s three year old antics were impacting her too. It wasn’t just me.

So, I made a mental note to pay a little more attention when she does use her words, praise her for it and then distract Jacob from his rough play with her. After all, us girls (me included) are trying to get used to having an active and physical little boy around the house who plays and reacts much differently than they did at this age. All my old psychology and child development knowledge from another life ago came back. The emotional and physical developmental differences between boys and girls. Trying to manage parental expectations of behaviour and being realistic. How else would an emotionally sensitive six year-old deal with a stubborn little brother who gets in her face trying to get her attention? She really has no idea how strong she is. Or if she does, she doesn’t realize the consequences. Quotes regarding sibling relationships and common characteristics of multiple children entered my mind. Sometimes I find my kids amazingly clever and smart in some ways but very, very age appropriate in other ways.

Then after her older sister was walked to her bus, we all got ready without rushing. She started her day a little calmer and hopefully the rest went without incident.

All of this happening before 10 am on a Monday morning has left one tired mama but hopeful that perhaps, this one was dealt with the best way I know how, a little more mindfully and my strong-willed six year old heard me a little more as I heard her.  As I put one tired little boy to nap at home and take time to write this with another mug of coffee, I can hope I get a bit of a reprieve before the next wave comes crashing in, a half hour from now.

 

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The Purge – Stage Two

Eight pm.

The kids are tucked into bed. Mostly. Stories are read. They are showered. Hugs and kisses all around. It is that time of night where parents around the world sneak in their guilty pleasures. Television series they really do not want to miss, that last glass of wine, texting, instagramming, face booking or tweeting. Video games or gossip magazines. A really good book. Chocolate. Tea. Sex.

Whatever your guilty pleasure, most of us tread away from darkened bedrooms hopeful their darling ones stay in their cozy beds surrounded by a hundred Beanie Boos. Our shoulders loosen and our bodies relax. Sure there is “other” work to be done. Lunches to pack. Agendas to sign. Laundry to fold. However,  all of that other “work” can be intermixed between our guilty pleasure. After all, you can pack lunches during commercial breaks.

But (yes, there is always a “but”), all of this changes when life takes you in another direction. It could be a fitness goal, work to catchup on or for this mom of three, the renovation.

THE PURGE was only the first step. I came back from a glorious retreat from my everyday life inspired and motivated to patiently slog to the completion of my writing goal, to the reality that we had a renovation starting in a week. I knew it was coming. After all, I planned the dates. But somehow in the excitement of my own personal goals, I underestimated my time to get ready for the upcoming renovation.

Yet, I marched on ignoring Mr. L’s pleas,

“Why don’t we postpone? It can wait until September.”

I laughed at his lack of confidence. “Wait? Are you crazy? We need a proper office now! The money is sitting there.  We’ve committed to the dates. We can do it!”

Truthfully, I was putting on a bit of an act. Internally I knew it was going to be a struggle to move over fifty percent of our storage from the area in the unfinished part of the basement to the rec room as well as empty a spare bedroom/weight lifting area in less than a week. Throw in Mr. L being away for three days. Regular crazy work life not to mention passover at our house.  All of this is to be done so we can to bravely tear down a wall between two smaller rooms and make a dream office space.

Being a stubborn mom, I bravely faced THE PURGE for an hour each night since I returned from my retreat. Mr. L was away on Friday night, but I kept at it. Lugging boxes, rearranging storage space in the other half of our basement, taking out paintings not yet hung on the walls upstairs away from the inevitable drywall dust that will soon cover the area. Saturday was a write off. After a day full of kid activities, dinner and general mayhem, I fell asleep watching a horrible movie on some channel I cannot remember. Sunday too was a waste, being out of town all day at a family birthday party with no leftover energy to head down to the windowless basement.

But Monday! Surely Monday would be salvation day. Except Monday was Passover and I spent the majority of the day cleaning before the in-laws showed up. However, with two out of three kids out of the house at school, I took Jacob downstairs with me, showed him one of the wonderful toys I found that has not been played with in two years, and went to work, finishing up one room except for the things I simply could not lift. Yeah!

As I looked around the room, I realized Tuesday would be the final day. Two hours left. With Mr. L’s help, we can get the rest done in two hours. We have to. The contractor is arriving on Wednesday at 8 am meaning another night where guilty pleasures will have to wait.

With THE PURGE nearly complete, the rooms almost emptied and the excitement of having a proper office rising, my attention can go back to my guilty pleasures. Can’t it?

Damn!

Easter is this weekend. With one child in senior kindergarten, handing out Easter treats to your friends is still “a nice thing to do,” and I am a nice Mom, or try to be. So my nights will be filled with filling easter bags, secretly stashing filled-plastic eggs for our own easter egg hunt and planning an Easter Sunday dinner for our immediate family at our house.

But I can do all of that while watching Sex and the City reruns? Right?

Happy Spring! The season of rain (or snow), chocolate treats (or matzah), spring cleaning (or purging) and renovations.

The Purge – Facing your fears.

The last of the snow melts away in the warm spring sun. The ice cracks on the lake hissing and popping.  It’s coming. Be ready. The temperature begrudgingly moves up a few degrees into double digits. There are no more excuses. Is now or never. It is THE PURGE! 

Winter fades away in our little abode and I dream of washing winter clothes finally able to tuck them away into, some random closet shelf. Or do they need to be washed? Hmmmm….

I have ignored the robins arriving. My head down intently clacking away on my keyboard writing at my fiction project in anticipation of an upcoming retreat. It is not time yet. 

But it lingers. The thing that mother’s all over the world (or at least here in Southwestern Ontario) cannot seem to escape. In the shadows it presses on our brains at night. Boxes. Storage Containers. Garage Sales. These words filter through our dreams, never going away.  

Spring arrives. The smell of fresh soil in the air as the first crocus pushes through reaching for the sun. Droplets of water, slightly warmer, tap on our rooftops. Random pieces of furniture appear on fronts lawns as if fairies brought them for a party. Still I write, desperate to cling to the last few days of winter hibernation before I am swallowed up, consumed with THE PURGE!

Plans are made.

“Of course we need an office. Extra money you say? No, we shall not save it. We’ll spend it and get our office. A wonderful brightly painted spot where the shelves will be forever organized and the children are not allowed. A dream come true.” 

“Mid-April start date? Sure. I can clean out the basement by then.” 

April 6th.

“Hon, did you start the basement yet? You know I”m away until Tuesday. You did say you would help… No? Really? Nothing? Maybe you can get it started? Okay..guess it will wait until I come home.” 

Night.

Sleep escapes me. I dream of random sleeping bags thrown in a pile from the last cousin sleepover. Fragile glassware spread on long white plank shelves. Gift bags from baby showers and birthday parties decorate the floor. Tissue paper crinkles underfoot. Unopened boxes sit in corners waiting to be discovered. The purge searches for me, reaching it long tentacles hoping to drag me down. But I will not give in. Not yet. 

For one more day I will hide. Tucked away in a silent cottage overlooking an ice-encased lake. The purge will not find me here. I am too far away. Tomorrow. Tomorrow as I hug everyone tight upon entering my house I will tell them,

“Yes, yes. I missed you!” 

Then after I tuck the children into bed after one more story, I will succumb. I will head to the basement to face THE PURGE and we will battle. For a week. And I will win. I always do.