B is for…

B… the moments that make us hold our breath.

… the moments that take our breath away.

… the moments that we need to be reminded to just breathe.

For the hopeful parents holding their breath waiting for the test results to the anxious parents in the delivery room a simple breath holds all the tension. They are the two greatest moments in becoming parents, after all. It is the moment you find out you’re going to be parents. It is the moment it all becomes real. There is one more person in this world and in that moment all it knows is you. In that moment you know that all of its needs are your responsibility. We hold our breath in hopes that we ascend to become the parents we hope we can be. We hold our breath as we watch our little one come into the world. We hold our breath hoping the doctors tell us we have healthy newborn.

Our breath breaks the tension all the waiting created. It is the first step in accepting our new role. In later years we’ll hold our breath again when our little ones are learning walk. Will they take their first step by themselves? Will they get back up if the fail the first time? We’ll hold our breath again while we wait to see if they’re okay after a fall. We’ll hold our breath again and again as they grow older. Fortunately, these moments are spaced far enough apart so we don’t die of asphyxiation.

There will also be moments that take our breath away. The sweetest actions by our little people can stop time. Whether they make us an “I love you” card, share something that means the world to them with us, or brags about us to others, these are the sweetest moments. Sweet like the art they made just for us. Sweet like peanut butter kisses softly planted on our cheek. Sweet like an older sibling protecting a younger one. They are moments that will most definitely bring a smile to our face. They may even bring a tear to our eye. A moment that takes our breath away will become etched in our memory and be a part of a story will tell and retell a hundred million times.

Then come the moments when we have to remember to just breathe. Those trying moments from the ones who also make us hold our breath and take our breath away. What did they break this time? What are they screaming about now? Why do they insist on trying to argue with me? Sending kids to a time out is most often for their benefit. It removes them from the situation. It allows us a minute to breathe, to count to 10, and hopefully not overreact. It’s as much a time out for us as it for them. A deep, calming breath can help us summon the patience we need to survive our children.

From the moments that make us hold our breath to the moments that take our breath away to the moment when we just need to breathe, parenthood is full of joys and scares and frustrations. The best we can do is catch our breath, hold it, and release it. One day they will be grown and we’ll be out of moments.

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How To Tell If You’re A Parent

 You might be a parent if…

you’ve argued about socks
you had to explain the reason for washing hands after pooping
you get no sleep
you get sleep, but still wake up tired because you’re eternally sleepy
you’ve been peed, pooped, puked, or bled on
you have to be in three different places all at the same time
you could really use a free maid
you could really use a free cook and masseuse, too
you have answered the question “why” so many times you found a parallel universe
you can answer any question sufficiently enough to satisfy their curiosity without raising more questions
You thought you understood parenthood perfectly before you were a parent but now that you’re a parent you realize you know nothing about parenthood.

You might be a parent if you’ve ever asked…

Where are your pants?
Why are you naked?
Where’s your other sock?
What is all over the bathroom floor?
How did you get water on the ceiling?
Why are you sitting on your brother’s head?
Why did you put three DVDs into the DVD player?
Why did you think eating the whole thing was a good idea?
Who peed on the toilet seat?
What are you doing up at this hour of the morning?
Why are writing on the walls?
Did you ask your father/mother, yet?
Didn’t I answer that question already?
Why are you peeing outside when we have a perfectly good bathroom inside?
How many times do I need to tell you ___(Fill In The Blank)__?

You might be a parent if you’ve ever experienced a temper tantrum…

because their cup is the wrong color
because a sandwich was cut improperly
over a hotdog that has lines (or doesn’t have lines) on it
over a broken crayon
because someone looked at them
because it’s bedtime or because it’s bedtime!
because they have to brush their teeth
because you didn’t read the book “right”
because you didn’t pick the right shopping cart
because you cut their cheese into the wrong shape
because you didn’t put enough chocolate chips in the pancake
their food is too hot
their food is too cold
their food is too something else…

Come to think of it, you could easily replace “You might be a parent if” with “You might be tending to a drunk if” The similarities are uncanny.

Raising children is like caring for someone too drunk to know that the potato bin is not a toilet.

You know you’re a parent if…

your fridge and walls are decorated with the art of a child
listening to your kids fall asleep is among your favorite sounds
you secretly enjoy when your kids are sick because it means more snuggles
you receive little doses of love when you least expect it and it means all the world
you feel the hand of your child in yours and think all is right with the world
you stop what you’re doing to answer a pretend phone call
listen intently, like you really do care about Minecraft (or whatever else you couldn’t care less about but have to pretend you love so as not to offend)
at the end of the day, all the frustrations, all the arguments, and questions, and exausting coversation, all that really matter are the little hearts that love you more than anything in the whole wide world… all the way to Jupiter and back.

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Lucy At Home

Battle of Wills

While I was trying to force encourage Crash and Bang to help me clean up their toys this evening I had an epiphany. An enlightenment. Or at the very least an interesting thought.

I’m the one who wanted it clean.

Why am I getting angry at the kids for something I want.

They clearly don’t want a clean room as much as I do. Really, I’m nearly convinced they’d be okay with a mess like Dresden in February of ’45.

Dresden After the Bombing

Is it possible that he doesn’t even see the mess? He looks at the basement area and there are toys everywhere, but to him it’s not a mess. It’s just toys all over. That can’t be, right. Because after we clean it he says, “Wow, look at the space. That’s a lot better.”

I’m the one who wants it clean, so why do I lose my patience when they won’t clean it?

It comes down to a battle of wills. I can lead him to the mess, but I can’t make them clean it.

If Crash isn’t around, Bang will normally help DW and I clean. He’ll vacuum the floor. He’ll vacuum the doormats. He’ll put some toys away. He’ll put the cushions back on the couch. He’ll help load/unload the dishwasher. If Crash is around, he assumes his big brother’s attitude.

What a bunch of chaches.

So it’s time for some lessons in being less selfish and more selfless. Just this morning, I told him it was time to pack his backpack for school and reminded him to fill his water bottle. I kindly asked him to fill his brother’s as well while I ran upstairs to get dressed. He whined about it! “UGH, you’re always making do stuff and I have no time for anything!”

Anyway, that’s for another time.

Consideration goes a long way. If you make a mess you clean it up. If you turn the light on, turn it off. If you open the fridge, you close the fridge. If you backtalk and get saucy, you get a swift reminder to watch your tone and what you say.

So, I want them to clean it because I want it clean. I want them to respect their belongings. I want them to respect me. Thus far, he’s only like this at home.

He’s been asking to start a YouTube channel so he can show people how to build some of the Lego stuff he creates. He loves to watch others build so now he wants to do that, too. Not that I want him on YouTube at the age of 8, but I suppose there are safe ways to do it. Some of his stuff is pretty neat – like the dog he made. Plus it would be his creative outlet. Maybe we can do a bit of negotiating. If he keeps areas clean and helps, I’ll help him make his videos. He wants to do stop motion videos with his Lego people, too. Should be interesting.

Sorry for writing  more about the frustrations in cleaning. I’ll have something different for ya tomorrow.

There, that’s 517 words.

Once Upon a Bedtime

Crash, the 7 year old knows the bedtime routine. When I ask him what it is he responds with “Yogurt, Pajamas, brush teeth, rinse, pee, get in bed.” And I say “Bingo, you got it.”  But just because he knows what the routine is, doesn’t mean he’ll follow it. He would stay up until midnight if let him. Actually, he was up until 1 am last New Years with us and he still wasn’t ready for bed. Anyway, he tries every trick in the book to delay bedtime. It wears my patience very quickly because I expect him to be autonomous at this point.

Soon enough, I’m fussing at him. I think he likes to be fussed at, though. He tries to get extra screen time not by asking, but simply playing his games in front of us. Sometimes, he ends up losing screen time for the rest of the day. But it doesn’t stop him from trying again the next day.

To get to the point, we fuss at him frequently. I hope it’s just a phase and he’s testing boundaries and that once he finds those boundaries aren’t flexible, he’ll stop. Last night was no different. While I was getting Bang ready for bed in his room, Crash was supposed to be following the routine – minus the yogurt because he’d already eaten. While I was reading Bang his bedtime book, Crash “sneaks” in to listen. I let him, because, well, books are fun.

I directed him back to his routine while I finished Bang’s routine – lotion, inhalers, vitamin E on his lips, and nose blowing (his cold is getting much better). I finished all that and went to check on Crash. Was he ready for bed? Of course not. He had done nothing. He was instead “hiding” on the stairs and was going to attempt to scare me. Then our Parrot, Piper, screeched. She was ready for bed, too.

Crash asked if he could put her bed. I told him no and, naturally, he didn’t like that answer. I told him if he had followed routine and had been ready for bed, then he could have put the bird to bed (change her food and water and cover her cage with a sheet). Now he had to get ready. Fussed at, again.

Finally in bed, all tucked in and books read and lights out and star turtle turned on, I’m feeling (I think DW has similar feelings) like I’ve done nothing but fuss at him since he got home from school. I’m laying there with my eyes closed getting ready to say something to him (our nightly chat) when I feel wet lips on my forehead. “I love you, dad.”

And BOOM, just like that, all of the fussing I’ve done, all of the testing he’s done, suddenly no longer exists. He’s melted his mom like this, before, too. Little bugger. Just when we’re feeling like we haven’t a clue what we’re doing, when we feel like what we are doing isn’t working, he leaves us laying in a puddle of our melted heart.

I snuggle him for a few minutes enjoying the brief moment. Then kiss on his forehead and tell him “Night night, love you buddy. Ugga Mugga, see ya in the morning.”