Tuesday, April 26, 2011


No one told me how the bulk of parenthood is about maintenance.  There is, of course, all the wiping--of noses, of bottoms, of sticky fingers and hands, and then of every surface those sticky hands touched before you could grab a wipe.  There are clothes to clean, and another load ready to be done by the time you get the first out of the dryer.  Baths are required at least weekly in my house, after which the bathroom also needs a cleaning (or at least a drying).  The kids make demands to get this or that and need batteries replaced and covers tucked back in.  Itchy tags have to be removed from clothes that are already too small or worn and need to be replaced (but who has the time or money?)  And those nails...those impossibly small nails that grow at a staggering rate, so that if you even have the time to notice them, you're clipping them every day and a half.  With my two kids, that equals 40 nails.  It blows my mind.  And let's not think about teaching them to blow their nose so we don't have to continue the monotonous cycle of wiping and suctioning during allergy season.  Which brings me to the medications...the endless vitamins, and antibiotics, and allergy remedies which don't work and require steroids, and breathing treatments and night-time vaporizers (which need to be refilled, emptied, cleaned, and refilled).  And night-time snacks, and another book read, and sleep with me, and clean up time.  And hope that this leaves some restorative sleeping time for all before it all begins again EARLY.

There are doctor's visits, and the dentist, and school forms to fill out, and the homework (yes, my kids are still in preschool...it starts early), and all the health forms and insurance. 

But these are just the tiny things.  These minutiae, which eat up so much time, underscore the bigger maintenance tasks of teaching the kids ethics, morals, values, and nurturing them in our faith and love.  It's hard to see this greater work progressing as I'm reminding them for the bazillionth time to take off their shoes and clean up their messes and wash their hands.  It seems impossible when I hear a wailing child in the millisecond I escaped to the bathroom and discover that one child has caused another to bleed.  And yet, there are moments, mostly when they're in the company of others (i.e. not their parents) when I see evidence of manners and rules and respect.  Strangers in a store were as delighted (and surprised, I imagine, as was I) to hear the sweet sound of my kids spontaneously burst into a church song I didn't realize they knew.  Somehow, in the struggle, in the fight to maintain the status quo (which is hopefully balanced), something must be sinking in.

In this work, I realize that I'm in a process of maintenance as well.  I'm trying to maintain my patience and positivity (or maybe attain both) while also maintaining my high standards for the kids.  We're all a work in progress, thanks be to God.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

My baby girl, now three, you are a wonderful mix of baby and child, full of strong emotions, and much love.  You, my baby, clung tightly from the very beginning, and always wanted to be in my arms.  I'm glad, as my last little one, that you're still holding on.  I've grown to cherish your dependence as you've helped me to redefine my role as mother, as I've learned there is a difference to mothering more than one child.  You have completed our family and brought us much laughter.  They say that the baby of the family is often a clown, and we love your silliness that emerged early on.  Even as an early talker, you made up your own language of pet names, calling us "Bickle" and me "Mawmaw" and using words like "doot" to make us laugh.  You now dance and prance and skip wherever you go.  When you're happy, the sun seems to shine brighter, and when you're not happy, you're fierce.  I'm proud of your fiesty and spirited side, though, as it gives me confidence that you'll be able to stand on your own strength, an important trait for a girl.  And when we battle daily and you exercise you're new favorite word, "No!", I'm reminded of your growing independence and think that maybe we're doing okay in guiding and nurturing you.

I'm so proud of you and who you are.  You are a quick learner, saying your first sentence at age one, and mastering the potty at age two.  This year you've learned your letters and how to write your name.  You are great at creating games with Brady.  I love your imagination and the worlds you create.  I adore how you love your big brother and want to be wherever he is.  I smile at your love of collecting tiny objects and crowding your bed with them at night.  I am happiest when you throw your arms around my neck and snuggle, saying your classic line, "I love you show [so] much!"

You are so loved, our sweet cuddle bug. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Today was Brady's second preschool conference.  As a (nerdy, teacher's pet) child, I loved conferences.  It's where I got affirmation and a strong sense of self (I am competent!  I succeed!).  My mom was always super proud and excited, but then again, she was always supportive and encouraging regardless.  As a perfectionist, though, I thrived in school as I knew exactly what to do to achieve my goals.  As a parent, however, conferences make me a little anxious.  In my husband's words, "I don't like someone else judging our children."  We certainly know our kids aren't perfect.  We spend a lot of time (okay, all our time) prodding, pleading, and threatening in order to teach them the skills they need (and sometimes, we actually model and nurture the traits we want to see).  We spend our "couple time" rehashing the days successes and failures and wondering if we'll ever get through this phase or the next. 

And yet, we're extremely proud of our two little ones.  I just read that you can judge a lot about the adult a child will become based on who they are at age five.  And we feel confident about Brady.  He's a sweet and caring boy with a great creative side and an amazing mind.  He's extremely stubborn, too, which sometimes can be a plus, like when he became determined to learn to read at age 3 1/2, and had basically taught himself by age 4 1/2.  So I went into the conference expecting a lot of positives about our boy, and maybe a little tiny pat on the back about the awesome job we're doing as parents (but mainly I wanted him to be proud...I mean, who really needs affirmation of their parenting?...)  I love his teacher and his school, and it has been a perfect fit for him.  We've enjoyed watching him come out of his shell more, make friends, and thrive in the responsibility and independence the school nurtures.  And the conference reinforced the school's high expectations.  Brady was given a new list of goals, from improving his "scissoring" (as he calls it), to dealing better with the disappointments of friends not wanting to play what he wants and waiting for his turn.  There was a brief mention of continuing his good work in literacy, but it was combined with a goal to become more independent and empowered in his writing and not need for it to be perfect (ahem, I wonder where he got that?).  Instead of asking how to spell each word, he should just write it as he thinks it should be.  So his teacher should be proud of the note he wrote to his daddy, translated from the above: 

"Daddy, I have a piece of paper to color.  Daddy, I want to tell you something.  Daddy, I love you and Rye"

I've written before about the difficulties of parenting, but I see more and more that many of my struggles come from trying to differentiate my expectations for myself with mine for Brady, while trying to let his own goals guide mine.  Ultimately, it's not up to his teachers (or his parents, entirely) to guide his path.  We are giving him all the tools we can so that hopefully he can use them to build the beautiful life God created within him.  And we stand by proudly, watching and cheering him on.