Brief Interruptions

The splendid life of a 10 year old boy here has been briefly interrupted for one main reason: a teenager’s attitude with a mouth that has left me speechless.

Those of you who know me know that this is no small feat.

It isn’t swearing. It is ridiculously know-it-all-especially-you-loser-mom mouthiness.

This kid has NO idea how easy he has things.

Except today, he got a little glimpse when he woke up and learned that mom was no longer going to provide assistance until his attitude changed. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no assistance with ANYTHING unless life or death issues are involved.

The battle continued most of the morning, so he spent it in his room. After lunch, things turned around. He folded up the Therm-A-Rest he used over the weekend which was the object that sort of projected the trouble into the stratosphere. He made his lunch (a corn dog with a string cheese).

By 4:00 he learned that iPod downloads were done because only mom knows the password.

He learned that his baked goodie supply took a sharp turn south since he couldn’t eat mom’s food. Initially, this was a benefit until he learned it included cake batter cookies, chocolate chip cookie bars and pancakes.

He learned that making his own cookies and brownies was far more complicated than he anticipated.

He learned that you can’t just buy taco meat. (Admittedly, you probably can, but not in this house!)

He learned that trips to Target and other such places were curtailed.

I suspect that his attitude will change within days, but I don’t really believe he will have learned his lesson in fewer than seven days.

That is enough time to require him to do his laundry and to get tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and corn dogs.

A friend wished me luck this way: “may the force be with you.”

I am going to need it.

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Some days it feels like I’m parenting with a giant red F across my forehead.

On the day with a seemingly permanent red forehead tattoo, the 10 year old asks for the exact amount of minutes before “I’ll be in” to tuck him into bed and send him off to his dreams with a kiss.

These days, it feels like I’ve done all sorts right.

Despite the red raw marks all over my forehead.


Lesson Learned

This is day 17 of the Reverb10 project.

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

How fitting that this is the prompt for today…the day Mila was born.

Ten years ago when I had Jack, I was single mother who worked full-time. I didn’t have a choice to stay home, but had the universe presented different circumstances, I would have preferred to work part-time 25-30 hours per week. I probably would have spent five extra hours with my son a week because I was in grad school too and could have used an extra 5-10 hours a week for homework. This would have led to much more than the 5 or 6 hours of sleep I survived on during this time.

I honestly don’t know how I did it. But, I didn’t know any different, so it was normal to me.

Hard? Yes. But, normal too.

This time, a rather unfortunate set of circumstances created an opportunity for me to be home with Mila full-time except for the one or two classes I teach in the Spring at the community college.

I was worried about this prospect.

In fact, I have stated since well before Jack was born that I wasn’t built in the way that some people are. The way that leads some people to feel like they are doing exactly what they should be doing when they are home caring for their children.

That isn’t me.

Don’t get me wrong. I take great pleasure (and exhaustion) from cooking and baking for my family. I did that while I was working every single night though because I feel it is incredibly important to feed them food that isn’t highly processed.

But, I didn’t take great pleasure caring for my baby and my school-age son.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my children. I just don’t happen to believe that I need to (nor do I want to) spend nearly all my time with them to raise them right.

I took great pleasure in the fact that my son knew I was there in the morning before school and that I would be there after school.

I took great pleasure that Mila’s routine was the same everyday and that she knew exactly what to expect.

But the monotony.  Good grief, the monotony.

It could have been the baby…boob, sleep, poop, boob, sleep, poop.

But this book changed my whole perspective.

I read it in June because I was planning a Blessing Ceremony for Mila with a Unitarian Minister. Knowing Robert Fulghum was a Unitarian Minister, a dear friend recommended I see if he’d written anything relevant.

At my local library, sitting on the shelf, looking all dusty were these books. This one was written specifically for me at this moment in my life.

It was a moment that the monotony was overtaking the meaning.

And, it spoke to me.

It said specifically that the things we do the same EVERY SINGLE DAY, hundreds or thousands of times, in our lives are the rituals of our life. Yes, there are the blessings, the funerals, the milestones along the way.

But, to the baby

lying on its back

10 or 12 times a day

for a diaper change,

THESE are meaningful rituals of his or her life. Looking up and seeing a familiar face while the diaper is changed is what that baby knows and feels.

I kid you NOT. It said that.

And, suddenly, meaning began overtaking the monotony.


Gratitude

This is day 12 14 of the Reverb10 Project.

Appreciate:  What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it.

Without a doubt, the one thing I have come to appreciate this year is time.

Time for mornings to get one kid off to school and to be there when he returns.

Time for a sleepy girl to snuggle while she wakes up after a nap.

Time to sit on the floor with the little girl and a snack and teach the little girl how to keep the snack in her bowl, not on the floor.

Time to make cinnamon rolls from scratch, then freeze them individually for Sunday mornings.

Time to volunteer at the older kid’s running club during lunch recess.

Time to teach how and see a baby roll over, crawl, toddle and walk.

Time to make over a room for a birthday present.

Time to strap a needy girl into the baby carrier for early evening crabby time while I make dinner.

A rare moment in time to take a quiet shower.

I had to spend my time differently the first time around. I’m grateful I get to spend the time now.

Even though I don’t spend much time working outside my home, I feel like I have less time now than I did when I was spending most of my days away working.