Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Trip to the Bank

There was nothing unusual about yesterday.  Michael spent the early morning moments with the kids while I grasped a few more minutes of precious sleep.  He poked his head in at 7:15 and told me he had to go so I stumbled out of bed and brushed my teeth.

My day began at 7:17am.  For the next 12 hours, I was solely in charge of two toddlers.  We chased each other around the kitchen island, made artistic drawings that (I feel) could hang in any modern museum, caught up on our favorite shows, built sand castles using kinetic sand, took great naps, and shared our feelings on Jesus's birthday cake (still hanging around), clean floors (too slippery), and bedtime stories (Mama Bear's lumpy bed is funny).  

It was a great day.  It's almost always a great day.  But with every day comes those little not-so-great moments that add up...

The kinetic sand made a huge mess under the dining table... three different times.  The chases inevitably led to tears.  The ink from the artwork ended up all over our clothes and hands (regardless of what the box said, it was NOT washable).  Nothing big.  But I feel like there's a savings account for parents and every time something like this happens, a small deposit is made into that account.  By the end of every day, you're a millionaire.  Even when each new day starts at zero.

Every time I had a negative thought, I quickly reminded myself that a) this was my dream job and b) I was so lucky.  I shouldn't complain and how dare I grumble about cleaning up the 47th mess when the kids had so much fun?  I either pushed my feelings aside or chastised myself for even having them.

I'm no psychologist, but Itook a year of psychology in high school and I think that's called repression.  And I'm pretty sure I remember it being a bad thing.

Staying home with my kids is my dream job.  And I am so lucky.  But there are plenty who have dream jobs outside the home.  They also have bad moments when their employees don't listen or when they have a big "mess" to clean up.  But when they get frustrated they don't immediately feel guilty.  Why is it different here?

I've found the same is true when my kids get sick.  Our first response is, "It's only a cold, we should be grateful."  Or "So many kids have far worse things to deal with, this is nothing."  And both of those statements are probably true.  However, just because someone has it worse than you (and trust me, someone will always have it worse), it doesn't mean you're not allowed to take a minute and realize right now... this very moment... it's just not a good time.  

We need that minute.  That little bit of time where you hide in your closet and cry (or do it in front of your kids - no hiding necessary).  A minute of having a tough time and not immediately feeling guilty for it.

I think we need to allow ourselves to feel the bad and the ugly.  Even if whatever it is we're feeling may seem small and insignificant compared to what a friend is going through.  To stop comparing our sad moments to others and just realize that yeah, this is sad.  This is frustrating.  This is hard.  

The next time I start feeling that tightness in my chest because it's been 12 hours alone with my kids and my daughter starts every single statement or question with, "Mama, mama, mama, mama, mama...." I'm going to the bank and cashing out.  For one minute I'm going to allow myself to wish for bedtime to come quickly and I'm not going to punish myself for it.  Because if I let myself have that moment, I will be better off for it.  The weight on my shoulders will be a little less than it was before.   

My love for my kids, however, will not.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jude & Sloane | 3 Years

As with every birthday for Jude & Sloane, I spend the weeks leading up to it a sentimental mess.  I look at old pictures, watch old videos, and constantly ask Michael "Remember when...?"  He always smiles and gives me a hug (rolling his eyes as he pats my back, I'm sure).

This year was no exception.  For some reason, three seems ancient.  I mean, they're basically ready for college.  And the changes that have happened this last year... it's truly hard to keep up with it all.

But I shall try.

Jude the Dude
Jude is the sweetest, most exhausting little boy I've ever known.  He is a whole lot of everything in a 3-year-old body.  Jude is incredibly active, especially if he is in a new place or when I really need him to sit still.  When people meet him they always (100% of the time) say, "He's all boy," which I know is polite for, "Oh my gosh that boy never stops."  And he doesn't!

He is very tactile.  He wants to hold things, he wants to throw things, he wants to touch everything in sight, he wants to run down hallways, jump off couches, and crawl into tiny spaces that aren't made for toddlers.  But he always manages to fit.

Do you have a good mental picture of my Tasmanian devil?  Good.  Now let me tell you about the other side of Jude.  He gives the best hugs.  He crawls in your lap, puts his hands on your cheeks, and kisses you straight on the mouth.  Again and again and again.  He says "please" and "thank you" and "bless you" and "your welcome" and "excuse me."  He waits until we leave and then crawls into Sloane's bed every night so he can be close to his sister.  He is the most empathetic toddler I know, truly feeling the emotions of his friends and characters on TV.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Poor Elsa" or "How sweet!" or "What's wrong with Sloaney?"

Jude is talking more and more, which is music to our ears.  He did not qualify for the early learning school so he no longer meets with a speech therapist each week.  We were shocked he wasn't accepted but his vocabulary is growing every day so we're not worried about it.  We call him our engineer because he loves to build tall towers and design all sorts of buildings (Jude's school house and Sloane's library are his favorites).  He loves counting everything in site (he's counted to 30 a few times but usually stops at 20) and loves to point out numbers when he sees them on books or posters.  Shapes are also important to him - he constantly points to objects and names all of the shapes he sees on them.  In some areas, he's weirdly smart.  The other day he was trying to pick up his toys to take them to the play room.  He couldn't hold all of them so he went to the kitchen to find a box, put all of his toys in the box, and then carried the box to the playroom.  I was impressed.

He spends a lot of time in timeout.  He is extremely stubborn and only wants to do things his way and on his own time.  He gets frustrated very easily and when that happens, he completely shuts down.  Michael and I are learning how to deal with this behavior but it can be frustrating for everyone involved.

A few other fun favorites...
Song: ABCs
Number: 8
TV Show: PJ Masks & Mickey
Phrase:  "Put me down!!" or "Mama, I have a present for you...."
Toy: Magna Tiles
Person: Sloane
Food: Any fruit

Sloaney Bologna
If someone gave this girl a microphone and put her on stage she'd be set for life.  She is the most extroverted toddler I know.  The other day my friend told me her husband was a little jealous of how much Sloane loved Michael.  I shared this with Michael and he said, "She gave me a hug and saw him smiling at her so she kept giving me dramatic hugs and kissing my face."  Total actress (though she does adore Michael).

Everything with Sloane is a big deal.  When life is good, it is really, really good.  When something goes wrong, leave it to Sloane to make it the biggest deal on earth.  She has perfected her Charlie Brown walk when she is sad and it is HILARIOUS.

Sloane is fiercely independent.  She wants to do everything herself.  She also wants to help you but quickly gets bored and moves on.  She's inquisitive and resourceful.  She loves Jude but loses patience with him quickly.  They are the epitome of an old married couple and we constantly hear her yell in her most exasperated voice, "Ju-uuude."  One day he will be holding her purse.

She loves meeting new people.  I've caught her many times talking to a stranger.  She's always very polite: "Hi, my name is Sloane Elisabeth Haynes.  What's your name?"  Once they answer, she tells them about her day.  Fortunately, they've all been extremely polite strangers and listen intently.

We were advised by Jude's therapist to have Sloane tested for the early learning school as well. She was accepted - Michael and I were more than shocked.  Sloane has a very large vocabulary, but she has some pronunciation issues (leaves letters out of words, etc.).  She now goes to school two days a week (two hours each day) to work on those specific areas.  To be honest, neither of us truly feel this is necessary but we're trusting we made the right decision and she will "graduate" in no time.

Sloane absolutely love her friends.  Her prayers at night go on for days and she constantly asks me what they're up to.  She loves seeing them at ballet and school - my prayer is she'll be a friend to everyone she meets and not just her favorites.

A few other fun favorites...
Song: Jesus Loves Me & Twinkle, Twinkle
Number: 3
TV Show: PJ Masks & Sophia the First
Phrase:  "I want to do it all. by. my. self." "Please, Please, pretty please? (bats eyes)"
Toy: Her microphone and stuffed animals
Person: Whoever is standing closest to her
Food: Pizza & Pancakes

The past year has been amazing.  There have been plenty of rough moments and tears from all of us.  I've spent many nights praying to God to give me wisdom to parent because I have no clue what I'm doing.  Michael and I have perfected the look that says, "We need to get out of here RIGHT NOW."  Sometimes our days are total disasters and I'm counting the minutes until bedtime.


I couldn't love anything more.  I feel so lucky I get to spend my days with these two, learning all of their little intricacies that make them so unique.  I smile knowing they can and will be their worst around me because they're comfortable with me.  I'm honored to be their mom and if Sloane would lend me her microphone, I'd shout it from the rooftops.

Here's to many more tears, fears, and (best of all) years.


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