Sunday, May 31, 2015

Winding down

There is hope I may, one day, even like snow days.  That is what has happened with summer.

I'm sure I could dig back through some of these blog posts and find many complaints about summer.  The lack of structure and routine for the kids, too many video games and too much tv watching.

The past two years have changed my view.  I think it is my part-time teaching coupled with the kids' increased school-related activities that have made me increasingly ok with the prospect of not having much to do and no schedule by which to do it.

Last week was our final piano lessons and Girl Scout meetings until September (me and N), and our last music academy classes (me and M) until mid-August.  Friday was my last class at the cottage school until September.

M graduated from preschool in mid-May, and N's graduation from 5th grade is this coming Thursday.
I have no grand plans for the summer, other than to take the graduate class at my alma mater to renew my teaching certificate, and this is really less "grand plan" and more "I have to."  There are 4 books I need to reread in order to plan next year's cottage school lessons (Beowulf, Hamlet, Little Women, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I'm working on now).

Our city is doing cultural passes again this year, so we'll be hitting up some of the places we didn't visit last summer.  I'd like to take the kids to visit a historic fort about an hour away from us, and they'll be doing every summer reading program they can squeeze in.  I'm going to have all the kids work on piano this summer and will be starting to teach G cursive after we return from our vacation.

This is the first summer that I'm really feeling grateful to be a stay-at-home mom so that my kids can luxuriate in idleness, in staying in their pajamas until they change into their swimsuits.  It reminds me of my summers as a kid.  I was always glad to head back to school after 10+ weeks of break, but it was also so great to not have to get up or go anywhere on a regular basis.  Camps and YMCA and all that stuff provides kids lots of fun, but there is something wonderful about just lazing around your house all summer.  It is a hallmark of childhood, or at least childhood of the 1950s-1980s variety.

The worst part will be running the dishwasher 11,000 times a week from all the snack bowls. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Managing the kids' anxiety

I've had recent "situations" with the kids that are anxiety-related.  Two were obvious anxiety, while the other is anxiety posing as tantrums. 

N loves to play with her American Girl dolls.  She got "into" them quite late--3rd grade, but she is hard-core AG now.  

Recently, she has had some anxiety related to her friends giving up doll-play as they approach middle school, a concept that N finds confusing and potentially embarrassing.  On the one hand, she doesn't understand why anyone would need or want to give up playing with the dolls, but she is aware enough of the social strata to not want to be thought of as a baby for playing with dolls. 

There have been numerous crying bouts about middle school, about how her friendships are changing, how her friends are changing, and worries as to whether she is weird.  It is painful because it automatically brings to mind every middle-school-related angsty feeling I ever had.  How can I possibly help her manage this when I managed it so poorly?

There have been 3+ events whereby M and I are driving in the car, and he brings up death. 
"Mommy, I don't want to die."  
"Mommy, I don't want you to die; I will be so sad."  
Last week he started tearing up on the road, bravely trying not to lose his stuff.  
Yesterday, he said, "When they give me the first shot that will make me die, will it hurt?"  

I knew right away that he was thinking about our discussion about Shanks and euthanasia, how the vet would give Shanks two shots--the first that would relax him and the second that would stop his heart.  M, since that time perhaps, has been internally wrangling with death.  

I explained that we only do this with pets when they are sick and old, not with humans.  I explained how we give people medicine to help them get well, and if the medicine doesn't work and they grow sicker we give them another medicine to take the pain away until their heart stops beating on its own.

His reply, "I'm not scared to die anymore."
When I told D this last night, he wondered how freaked out M has been all these weeks while getting his allergy injections.  

What I suspect is G's anxiety has masqueraded as temper tantrums.  It is difficult when this happens because I have to do a lot of detective work to figure out what is provoking him.  Right now, we are in the midst of a number of transitions that may be impacting him: M graduated from preschool, N is graduating from elementary school, school ends in a few weeks, right after school lets out we are flying to Orlando.  Given G's rigidity, any and all of this can be churning up worry.  

It could also be his first grade performance, which his class has been practicing for weeks. I am reminded of Dec 2013, the month from Hades when he was off-the-rails tantrumy.  It was also the month when his kindergarten class was preparing a performance.  

Yesterday, he said his class had performed in front of two other first grade classes.  He said, "My heart was beating so hard the whole time."  

G is aware of his anxiety because he has started handing me his brush each night before bed so I can do the Wilbarger brushing protocol.  We haven't done it in a long time; all of a sudden, we're back at it at his initiation, which is good. He at least recognizes that it makes him feel better.  

I am starting to have a better sense of just how differently difficult it is as the kids are getting older.  When they were babies, it was physically exhausting and isolating to be with them all the time.  As they grow up, I am increasingly aware of how much guidance and support they are needing, which I am completely ill-suited to give them.  If they only knew that I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  Parenting is graceful, and often not-so-graceful, winging it.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ermagerd! I hate Mother's Day.

I do not have a legitimate reason to hate Mother's Day.

I have a lovely relationship with my mother, as well as my mother-in-law.
I am a mother to three pretty great kids, and all things considered, I have a good relationship with them.
I didn't struggle to become pregnant.
I never lost a pregnancy.
I tell my husband exactly what I want for Mother's Day, and he buys it for me. (This year....a chainsaw.)
I refuse to get up during the night with the middle child or get up in the morning with him on Mother's Day, and my husband does it.
The is nothing for me to dislike about this day.

But I loathe Mother's Day as much, if not more than, Father's Day.

I hate it because it is a day to celebrate, to sentimentalize motherhood, an experience that is, at least for me, all full of conflicted feelings.
Motherhood blows at least 70-80% of the time (sometimes 99.9% of the time if it is a really bad day or week).
And yet, I wouldn't change it at all.
How f*cked up is that?
It sucks, but I wouldn't change it?????

It is a day in which, because it is a thing, I feel like I should, maybe a little bit, be worshipped.  And I am, sorta, with the cards and the gifts.  But I don't want to be worshipped because 1. that is ridiculous and 2. that means tomorrow, when I'm not worshipped, I'm just gonna be pissed off.  I will be thinking to myself, "Yesterday you were all sweet to me and today you're screaming at me because I put the corn flakes into the pink bowl instead of the orange bowl." Mother's Day is false worship.  It is worship because someone, somewhere, in some office noted the date on every calendar that is printed in the country.  My family doesn't thank me because they feel honestly compelled to do so.  They do it because a date on the calendar makes them feel obligated.

This is why I hated attending church as a kid.  I did it because I had to, not because I wanted to.  Which is a lot like motherhood.  I do it because I signed up for this, even though I didn't know what I was getting into, and now I have to do it.

Celebrating Mother's Day is like saying, "Thank you mom for falling into the same trap everyone does which is thinking motherhood will be different for them.  Thank you for not walking out on me when I was a complete pain in the butt.  Thank you for not murdering me in my sleep and screaming at me any more than you did.  Thank you for not allowing your resentment of how I stifled your life in various ways to boil over and completely eff me up as a person."

Do you see why I hate a day honoring this?  For me, it brings up all kinds of weird feelings about how society thinks I should feel about motherhood and how I actually often feel about motherhood and how, in spite of all those feelings, I can't imagine my life without being a mother to these kids.