Parenting Fail. The Highs and Lows of Stay at Home Mom-ing.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I decided to be at home with the kids more.  I knew they needed it and I needed it. In fact, the first month after I quit both jobs confirmed everything I had been thinking and feeling about staying at home.

Let’s call it the honeymoon phase.

The house was cleaner, the laundry more manageable.  I was able to make time for kids and clients. I even blogged more than I expected.  I was definitely nailing this stay at home thing.

Then February. An abrupt ending to my January honeymoon. Each day I felt like at best I was treading water, at worst I had already drowned and couldn’t admit it.  So far, March hasn’t seemed any less chaotic.  The beginning of last week perfectly illustrated the parenting highs and lows.

Sunday was beautiful. Jeff was exhausted after a long night of kids not sleeping (it usually bothers him more than me), and I was determined to exhaust them so we might get a good night sleep.  So I packed the four of them in the car, left Jeff at home to doze, and took them to a beautiful local park, Maymont.

Maymont 1

We hoofed the entire park (Langston on my back) from the Children’s Farm, through the Japanese Gardens, up the beautiful steps to the Italian gardens, past the mansion, to the visitors center and back to the Children’s Farm to say goodbye to the pig before we left. We had a great time, and the kids were happy and exhausted. Sunday was a parenting high.

Maymont 2.JPG

Monday came around. I got the kids off to school, and was getting ready for a catch up day when I went to change Langston’s diaper.  I got distracted by a messed up trash bag and in an instant, Langston flipped off the table. I picked him up to hug him before realizing blood was pouring from his mouth; a bottom tooth was out and dangling, root and all. We rushed off to a somewhat-nearby Pediatric ER (at a hospital which I knew happened to also have a dentistry practice), and I found myself standing there, unshowered and barely dressed, with a busted up baby, a shattered phone (which I had broken on Saturday) held together with scotch tape, and a two year old who was wedging himself between a side table and a waiting room chair.

infant fall lost baby tooth.JPG

WHY WAS I ALLOWED TO HAVE CHILDREN?

It just seems inhumane.

We went home, one tooth down from a set of 6; I was utterly exhausted. This was definitely a parenting low.

Tuesday rolled around and I was determined to redeem the day before. The kids were off from school, so I’d planned a great day at the zoo, a trip to Toys R Us and other fun stuff. Except nobody was excited about the zoo. One child (who will remain nameless) had been particularly sour the past couple of days, and  even stepped it up a few notches… but it wasn’t just him. In fact everyone was so uncooperative, difficult, and just plain nasty that I completely lost it. LOST. IT.  Lost it.  I yelled. Loudly. At my children. About the zoo.  They cried. I cried. It was a mess. Evidently, while trying to balance a growing list of things demanding my attention,  I had been missing some big stuff bothering one of the boys. Parenting really, really low.

We took deep breaths, had a good talk, hugged a lot, and told each other we loved each other a lot. We made pancakes. We went to the zoo. We saw baby animals. We laughed. We had fun. We were on our way back up again.

metro richmond zoo

feed giraffes metro richmond zoo

 

The house is still a mess, and I’m behind on a lot of things (like this very blog).  I’ve got my fingers crossed for a few uneventful days.  In fact, I could use an uneventful month… The reality of stay-at-home/work-at-home parenting has proven to be much bumpier than I expected. So, I’m trying to hold a tight grip on the things that matter while I ride out some of these highs and lows.

Ps. Still doing dishes in the bathroom sink.  Big update coming soon.

Saying Yes

Last night I sat and helped my 9 year old sort over 500 Pokemon cards by type. I colored.  I played “mama bomb and baby bomb” with my 7 and 2 year old.

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Chaos at the dinner table. If you’ve ever sorted Pokemon cards then you know a glass of wine is absolutely required.

I would love to say that I always show interest in Pokemon… but I don’t. And it’s been awhile since I’ve played with stuffed animals.   I’m very good at saying “no”. No, I’m feeding the baby/doing the dishes/laundry/working/cooking/reading… I can’t right now.

And recently, my 2 year old said something to me that broke my heart.

“I’m busy.”

I don’t want to be a parent that says no. I want to be a parent that says yes. I’m great at saying yes to the things I already enjoy; I’ll sit and color and talk with them for days. When one of the kids asked for cookies, I got out the ingredients and baked them from scratch… but I’m not sure that really counts.

Yes, I will help you with that thing/watch that terrible show/read that book for the 100th time/play a game I know nothing about/listen to you talk about that thing that bores me to absolute tears.

I can’t always say yes. After all, the things I’m busy doing are usually  important (though, admittedly, not always).  But I can say yes more.

“Yes” when I really want to say no.  “Yes” when it’s easier to say no. “Yes” when I have to make the conscious effort to shut the computer/put down the phone/leave the dishes half done/leave the house unswept and follow their lead.

 

I always end up being glad I did it. After all, who knows… I may even learn a little bit about Pokemon along the way.

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When the going gets tough… enjoy the little things.

Okay… so that’s not how it goes…

I realize things have been pretty quiet here at the MotherBlog. I worried this would happen.  While our family balances work and family time like most families, there’s an additional complication in the mix: theatre.

These days I am knee-deep in  Richmond Shakespeare‘s King Lear playing Regan (there I am on the left looking all Regan-y)

Photo by Eric Dobbs

While I love being a part of King Lear, it means much less family time. I work from 9-6 five days a week and rehearse 6:30-10:30 five days a week. several days may go by where I don’t see Max or Hudson awake.

It’s not easy. And while I think it’s something that is important for me to do for myself, I can’t say it makes me a better parent.

One thing I can take away from it, is that when life gets incredibly hectic, I learn not to take the precious hours (or minutes) at home for granted. If Hudson asks me to blow bubbles, I need to stop what I’m doing and go. It’s not practical, but the dishes can wait. When Max wants me to watch a movie with him. I do. It takes an incredible amount of energy but often, after blowing bubbles or cuddling with Max, I feel refreshed and refocused as if they somehow know what’s better for me than I do.

I have a choice, I can be mad or annoyed or frustrated that I don’t get to see my kids. Or nest in my new house. But I learned quickly that it’s not helpful and only ends up tainting the moments where I do get to be home. Besides, the truth is, This is the life I signed up for.

So that has been my overall focus in the past two weeks.  Taking the small moments and making them big moments.

I have some plans for a reupholster project this weekend I am very excited about I just need to find an awesome fabric!

Tell me. What do small changes do you make when things get really busy? What grounds you and keeps you going?