Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking it Easy

I feel like saying today is a bad day.  But that isn't true.  I just feel bad today.  The day is actually okay.  We've gone through another cycle of sickness that has rendered us sleepless for two weeks.  With three children, the sleep deprivation is just so extreme.  It's worse than the newborn phase because they wake separately and cry for so long and fight you.  Last night all three were up for about an hour each, at different times.  My brain feels like it is melting.

But the good thing about times like this is that I have learned, when we get to this point, to let go of every single expectation and thing I need to do.  I just exist with the kids.  I lie down on the couch and let them crawl on me and kiss my face and get crumbs all over the place.  We made sticker faces and lounged around the basement eating graham crackers for lunch.  And, it's weird.  Because I'm just there with them, there's a lot less fighting.  There's a lot more laughing.

My friend Adam recently pointed out to me that this intensive period of childhood is really but a brief passage in our lives.  I mean, how long is childhood?  Twelve years?  After that you aren't really a child, you're becoming an adult.  You pull away and want your own space and don't want to be read to anymore.  There's still with you, but it's just different.  So, I've already only got ten years left of this, if I'm lucky.  And they'll be graduating from college in a blink.  I saw it happen with my nieces and nephews.  My throat closes at the thought.  I mean, we're raising them to become adults, to start their own lives.  And the dreams we have for them are large.  We want them to be fearless and travel and live abroad and do great things for mankind.  But that translates into being far away from me.

Maya made this face with stickers that she said is her "when she was a grownup."  And it looks a little like someone I might imagine her to be with lime green glasses and flamboyant earrings.  She cares so deeply and is such a nurturing person.  And she loves art and is fastidious with detail when she paints and draws.  She's wildly imaginative and tells amazing stories.  She recently told my mom about the older sister she had who died and how sad she was.  She's three years old.  I love this kid.  I see her doing the most amazing things.  I hope I can foster her care for people and her creativity and her fearlessness.  I want her to be a risk-taker.  I want her to dream much greater dreams for herself than I ever dared to dream.

Zoe is a spicy little peanut.  She's strong and willful and yet so very gentle and sweet.  She loves to sit in my lap or to lean over my shoulder and say, "Hi mom."  She's difficult.  She cries so very much.  And she's very mean at times, so I know she's probably going to be a challenge.  But I've been really working on letting go of trying to correct the bad behavior and just focus on the positive.  I've been really deliberate about greeting her with love and smiles and tenderness.  She's going to have a wide breadth of feeling and possibility.  She's still so little that her interests are still unknown, but I see how much she loves to watch Maya doing things.  She's mesmerized by dancing and watching Maya paint.  She sings all day long and babbles on about little things - pointing out details of life enthusiastically.  She's vibrant.  She has no interest in television but would much rather read and chat.  I hope that continues even though it is easier otherwise right now.

Elliot is my little buddy.  He's rough when he plays, but he never seems to be malicious.  I think he's genuinely shocked when Maya and Zoe retaliate.  And even though he's rough with them, he does not handle their attacks very well.  He comes to me crying for comfort all day long.  And he gets it.  He's such a munch, and I can't resist the snuggle time.  I know it's even shorter with him.  Boys don't want snuggles for nearly as long as girls.  They grow up and away and leave you.  So I give him a little extra sometimes.  He is hilarious and loves to show off.  And he has a captive audience with his two sisters.  He's a tentative little guy despite his seemingly rough nature.  He'll climb high and then get nervous and want to be helped down.  I wonder how all this will play out as he gets older, if he'll let fear get in his way or if it's just a toddler thing.  I hope I can help him become a valiant warrior and a tender man.  He's got a great role model in Marco.

I'm clearly really tired and a little weepy.  I'm glad that today I've let the difficulty soften me instead of drive me to that place of rage.  I'm learning.  The parent coach is helping.  So far, every single thing she's taught us has helped.  Bed time problems seem to have ended.  The atmosphere at home is so much more calm.  Plus, dinner time is actually fun.  Forget begging for more bites.  We just put food out and hope for the best.  That's it.  And we talk and sing and laugh.

She said the greatest thing to me.  She said, "You have decide how you want to live your life?  I don't even mean how you want to parent.  I mean how you want to live your life.  I just decided that I don't want to live my life being angry and fighting any more.  And it's so much better."

And she's been right.  I'm anxious to learn the next step in this parenting plan about how you do correct things that need addressing.  But focusing on the positive and stopping the punishing has changed things tremendously in our house.  It's all about changing the parents, not the kids.  And I'm relaxed.

Well, now they're up from naps and watching Shaun the Sheep.  I can hear Zoe commenting in her sweet little voice.  And I still need to clean up from breakfast.  Like I said, I've done nothing today.  I did try to sleep, but I just laid there and rested.  So, now I'm going to clean and figure out dinner and try to just exist with them some more.  Maybe we'll go to the park or swim in the baby pool or put on more tattoos.  Hopefully we'll sleep tonight.  I'm begging the universe, but it's echoing back it's emptiness.  It's okay, universe, I still love you and all your beauty even if you can't make my children sleep.  They will eventually.  And then they'll be in college and I'll miss them terribly.  I love those crying little snotty buggers.

I mean, seriously:


Sarah Park said...

Man, they are adorable! I love the one of Elliot, from the side, with his cheeks having that awesomely kissable baby quality. :)

I wish I'd had the parent coach who is helping you. In fact if I lived near you I'd love to be helped now. I'm inspired by your ability to think and write through these things, even in states of exhaustion. It's only recently that I've begun to remember to be creative in the midst of the chaos.

And I find it really, really hard to remember how fleeting this time is. Most days I think to myself that I can't wait for when they're all off at college. But you're right—I will one day ache to have them near me again, and so I want to learn to treasure this time, now.

Thanks for this thoughtful and encouraging post, Heather!

Uppside said...

I really enjoyed this post, and I just checked back and found pictures, love it!! They are too cute. Don't you love some baby curls. :)

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