Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What does "vacation" mean?

As a stay-at-home mom, (which is a title I am not 100% in love with) I am struggling with what it means to be on vacation.  This summer a "vacation" meant cooking meals outside, washing dishes by lantern, getting fully dressed to use the bathroom, and packing and unpacking daily.  It seemed that I was doing most of my normal jobs, just in an outside environment. And as much as I like camping, really I do, it was exhausting.

Today starts my husband's vacation. He is home until the New Year, and that is very exciting. The boys are happy, I am happy, I think my husband is happy.  He doesn't have to go to work, no meetings, code writing, coffee breaks, lunch out with friends, bike rides on cool clear mornings.  He is home with us. Still un-showered, relaxing in the morning (he did get up with the boys this morning) and spending time with us.

But today as I explained on my way upstairs that I was going to take a nap. He asked, "Is this going to be a daily occurrence while I am on vacation?" I stopped, looked at him and asked, "What is a vacation for me?" Seriously, I want to know. Today, I drove the kids to a play-date, ran into 5 stores on Christmas related errands, picked them up by noon, drove home, did lunch & naps for the younger two, and then wanted to go lay down.

I can not explain the feeling I have when I go into my bedroom in the middle of the day. Close the blinds, turn off the monitor, turn up the sound machine, place a pillow over my head, and pull up the blanket.  It doesn't matter that Jack is up wondering what to do, Micah is in and out of his room doing something in the bathroom (I forgot to close the gate) and Finn is talking in his bed.  Brandon is home and I can check out for an hour (or two). It is a rare gift and one I absolutely love.

That is my vacation. That hour right there, where the dishes are still on the table, laundry is piled in the living room to fold, Christmas cards and crafts are still waiting to be finished, but I am in my room drifting off to sleep.  When I return to reality, dinner will need to be cooked, kids play-time will need to be supervised, and the list of things to do before the 24th is daunting.  I can't leave my job for vacation, my life is my job, and as much as I love my husband and my boys, I am in desperate need for a "vacation". 

So, if you call between the hours of 1-3 during the next week, chances are I will be unavailable.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I May Not Survive

Really, I am not being over dramatic, I don't know if I will survive raising my middle child.  My last post was about this boy and I hate to write two in a row, oh my goodness, this boy is something else.

I read a book once that said to list all of your child's traits and then turn them into positive words.  For example, stubborn would be determined, hyperactive would be athletic, cry baby would be emotionally sensitive. Today I was trying to think of what would be the positive to 'sneaky'.  Honestly, I couldn't come up with one.

Since Micah learned to climb out of his crib he has been a challenge to keep in his room. I know that I should have bought a crib-tent and been done with it, but I read a story of a toddler who strangled themselves in the tent trying to climb out. Figured that would happen to Micah.  So, instead, we put Micah in a toddler bed, even though he was 2 years old and we had a newborn baby in the house.  For the next 4 months I fought with Micah every nap and bedtime.  He would sneak out of his room, creep downstairs and secretly watch TV, he found my lotion in the bedroom and gave himself a facial, he found the toilet to be quite entertaining.  We would 'joke' that with such a creaky, squeaky floor, Micah was like a stealth ninja. You never heard him leave his room or come down the stairs. All of a sudden you would turn around and there would be a blond head at your elbow.

Now, you may be thinking, where were your parenting skills? Natural consequences? Time-outs? Spanking?  Did you not realize you were the adult and he is a 2 year old child? Um, yes I did, and I will totally admit he kicked my butt. It didn't matter what the consequence was or what parenting strategy we tried, Micah still escaped his room.

Finally, a wise woman suggested a gate outside his door, a way to contain him but not going so far as to put a lock on his door. Considering I was paying her $125/hr. I felt this was advice worth taking.  The gate was a lifesaver. Kept Micah in his room and I could breath easy during naptime when I was juggling all 3 kids, and also know that once I put him in his room at bedtime I was off the clock.

Recently we took the gate off the door. He is 3 1/2 now, potty trained and so much more responsible. I should have seen the warning signs, but I still believed in the good of my child.  Earlier this week Micah snuck out and took a whole box of Qtips into his room. When I went to get him at 3:00, it was like a Qtip explosion happened in his room. Qtips were everywhere, in his bed, on the floor, on the dresser, in Jack's bed. Some were whole, some were broken, and some were wet from being chewed on.  Serious consequences ensued, plus lots of crying. I felt like we were finally getting somewhere with this one.

Until today.  I was busy making dinner, cleaning up, talking to Jack. I had to get the boys up early and into the car at 2:00, so no sleeping for me!  It was so quite upstairs that I assumed Micah was asleep. Imagine my surprise when I went to get Micah up and found him hiding under his blanket. Micah, I said, what are you doing? No answer. That normally means trouble. I take off the blanket and find him in the fetal position hiding something under him. What now? I thought.


Seriously. Micah snuck of the room, went into the bathroom, on top of the dresser, to the little bowl in the back and found a box of matches I had mistakenly left there.  Matches were all over the bed. It was all I could do to not start yelling.  SAFETY ISSUE! I told him. He did not seem to care.  I called his dad, who said, "I think he needs to be spanked". I looked at Micah just grinning, not caring that he had just been playing in his bed amongst flammable blankets with a box of matches.  I did not feel spanking was going to be a good option right then because I was pretty upset.

Fast forward an hour.  We have established the consequences removed certain items from Micah's bedroom, and informed him he was going to bed right after dinner.

I swear to god this is what he said to me:
"Am I going to have playtime?" "NO"
"I don't like playtime"
"Am I going to have snack?" "NO"
"I don't like snack"
"Am I going to have a show?" "NO, no show, no snack, no playtime with daddy, no stories, no snuggles. You are in TROUBLE"
"Good, I don't like stories or playtime or snack or snuggles"

"Fine", I say. Then in a moment of awesome parenting I say: "Jack do you want to watch a movie tonight and eat popcorn?"  Of course he does! Can Micah?  NO

Micah: "I don't like movies and I'm not hungry for popcorn I ate enough at lunch. I just want to go to my room and go to bed. I like being in my room alone."

This one is going to be the death of me. I swear.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Good Thing About Boys

When I had Finn (and yes I still have baby fever) and knew we would be a boy heavy family, I started a list in my head of the good things about having boys.

Some are obvious:
  • No worries if a bathroom is unavailable
  • No one to fight over the bathroom with
  • I will (hopefully) always be the prettiest in the family
And of course:
  • The lack of whining
Not that there is no whining at all, it just didn't seem to be as high in volume and frequency as little girls.  I was used to crazy energy, loud yelling, wrestling matches, and tantrums at about an 11, with my oldest son.  But he didn't really whine. 

Then along came this one:

And, OMG, does he whine. If you know this boy, this might shock you, but he has a total and complete monopoly on whining.  It doesn't seem to matter what it is: his brother took his toy, it's nap-time, he can't have dessert until he eats dinner, his sock feels wrong, his shoe is too tight, his brother got into the car first, dad tried to buckle his carseat, the water is draining from the tub, mom laid down with his brother first, he didn't get to pick the show, the list could go on and on.  Whatever the cause is, the outcome is the same. It starts out with just a little whine to his voice but quickly escalates into unintelligible, high pitched, sounds coming from this little body.

I love this boy. He is so me. The middle child, the one who most looks like me, and seems to have a very similar temperament.  No matter how much I love him and want to squeeze him and kiss on him, as soon as the whine appears, it is like fingernails on the chalkboard.

I know this too shall pass.  Definitely, by the time he is 15 and his voice changes, if not before. Today though, I shall have to think of a new item to add to my list.  No whining has been removed.  

I could add:
  • Likes to eat boogers
But I'm not sure that is specific to boys.