Giving When You Have Nothing Left To Give

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There are weeknights when I am putting the monsners to bed and I am empty.  I have been patient and kissed boo boos and given cuddles and cleaned up accidents and tamed tantrums and put notes in lunchboxes and gone to meetings with teachers and advocated for my child and then at the end of the day, when its bedtime, I’m empty.  I just have nothing left.  I literally feel hollow.  My monsners are too young to have too much self-awareness to notice all the things that are done for them in a day, and I’m not sure I would want them to notice anyway, that isn’t the point, but they simply are too young to “give” a lot back in the way of cooperation.  Its like trying to herd cats getting everyone moving in the right direction.  With so little left of me at the end of the day sometimes it is so very very hard.    I try to take a deep breath and to be thankful.  Be thankful that I have this problem.  Be thankful that I have 3 monsners to herd.  Be thankful that I get to be the one to do the herding in the first place.  When I am in that moment though and Miss S has decided that she doesn’t want to be my mommy anymore, (she gets confused with her words)  and M is just not with us mentally because he’s tired and therefore not able to even focus enough to follow simple directions, and middle child A is overly tired and bouncing himself silly, its very hard to dig deep and find the patience for those last moments of love during the day before sleep.  Most of the time, I dig well.  I gather my mind and remember my blessings and curb my selfish desires to collapse on the couch with a tv show, and I herd those cats into bed and give hugs and kisses and listen to haphazard thoughts about the day and I get cups of water and pick up clothes off the floor and I make it all the way to the end of that finish line.  #doitlikeajob Sometimes I lose my temper along the way.  The bouncing on the bed really bothers me because I really am afraid that someone is going to 1) get hurt or 2) break the bed.  Sometimes I yell and I don’t mean to.  Often I threaten to call their Granny and tell her about their bad behavior.  Once I threatened to e-mail Santa.  This works better than you might imagine.  But I always, always end with hugs and kisses.  I dig deep until I find them and have one more thing to give.  One more thing for my daughter who has not had a cuddly day in her life, for my autistic son who I’m pretty sure equates me with an itchy sweater at bedtime, and my middle son who does love all the cuddles and really needs them to feel secure.

I wonder sometimes about my perspective on this.  I wonder about my mom and whether she gave and gave until she just didn’t have anything left.  I wonder about my dad.  I can’t see through their eyes though at their situation when I was young so I have no idea what they felt like.  I only remember through the eyes of a child.  I do remember one time at Christmas, my dad went out in rainy, sleeting cold weather and put together a gigantic trampoline for me outside so that I would believe that Santa brought it and left it for me no matter the weather.  That’s giving.  That was his language of love.  I hope that when my children are older they will understand at least some of my language of love.  Everyone’s language of love is different – some people spend money, some people spend time, some people bake or cook for others.  I hope they will understand what I do for them is out of love for them.

Be Fierce.  Herd your cats.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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How do you stop this thing?

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Seriously I feel like I’m spinning and whirring about and I just can’t seem to stop.  Every now and again I do seem to get off of the “ride” and collapse.  Its at that moment that every thing else collapses around me.  And then I get back on the ride and here I go!  Whoooo!!  Its like spinning plates.  Let’s take Wednesday for example…

6:45 AM  – Got up, ran downstairs took Miss S to the potty, got her dressed.

7:00 AM Made breakfast

7:30 AM  Everyone got teeth and hair brushed.

7:45 AM Miss S got on the bus

8:00 AM Boys got dressed for school, I made lunches for boys

8:15 AM I got dressed, ate

8:40 AM Took boys to school

9:15 AM Cleaned up kitchen from breakfast, made dinner in crock pot – turned on for the day, cleaned up kitchen again from dinner prep.

10:00 AM Started a load of laundry

10:15 AM Came upstairs and sat down.  Whew.

DH enters and says, “What are you doing?”.  Me:  “Sitting down! I’m tired!”.  DH:  “Why?”  Me:  :::head desk:::

…and so on, and so forth.  In his defense, he apologized almost as soon as he said that and he was sure I had been running around all morning.  The next day, Thursday, the children had off from school because it was a holiday.  I had my mom’s group in the morning and brought the children to a playdate there and then we had 2 other playdates scheduled for the afternoon.  It was so fun, but so tiring.  I feel like that is how most of our days go lately.  Its a good-tired.  I try to plan our days to maximize them whether we’re at home or out and about and my emphasis is almost always on the experience and not say the tediousness of dusting my bookshelves or something to prepare for visitors.  (So, if you come over and its kind of well, lived in – sorry!)

Do you want to know what I did this morning?  I overslept…..  cause, its Saturday.  And then dashed out of bed and DH and I swept through the house declaring nonsense about soccer clothes and then dove into the truck to bring everyone to soccer practice with random fruit bars and pieces of whole fruit for breakfast.  Mercifully, DH went to the bakery to get coffee and doughnuts for us and doughnuts for the monsners and brought it back to practice.  I did the tennis-match watching of Miss S on the playground to my left and the boys at practice to my right, while trying to decipher M’s loose-goose movements on the soccer field.  He was hanging on the coach, couldn’t pay attention, kept wanting to sit down, asking for breaks, etc.  I pulled him out and asked if he needed a stimulation break, ie. hugs, jumping, running, etc.  He didn’t seem to – but I gave him the hugs anyway – sometimes that calms him down.  The poor coach was trying to be understanding and kept sending M on break and I kept being the “tough-love” mom and sending him back on the field.  So difficult to decipher between stubbornness and autistic traits.  After all the madness we went to the Farmer’s Market downtown and picked up a few fruits and veggies and came home.  That seems like last week.  Ages ago.  In the meantime, I have mopped the floors, weeded the backyard, cleaned up toddler accidents (2), gone to the hardware store and we’ve eaten dinner.  Its now about 8pm and I know this not because I’m looking at a clock, but because I literally kind of shut down at 8pm.  A switch goes off and suddenly I’m too tired to do much of anything besides find my toothbrush and go to bed.  I usually don’t *get* to go right to bed because I have to prep the house for the morning and think about breakfast meals, but still.  The tiredness.  And it is a good tired.  We’ve had an awesome day!  I love watching the kids at soccer practice, I love the Farmer’s Market, heck I love clean floor day.  There’s no way to  “let go” during the day, at any point in the week even, without some of my plates falling down if you know what I mean.  Sometimes I do let go and some plates fall and then I have to pick up the pieces and get everything going again….  And then there I am again on the whirling ride.  I think I feel a little more overwhelmed than usual right now because some of my “built-in” breaks have not been there this week and I really depend on those.  Our regular sitter has been gone and I’ve taken on a little more in the kitchen lately which seems kind of superfluous to me, but it is also important because I’m trying to improve our eating habits and move away from processed foods – and it does add to the daily workload.

Any ideas for built-in breaks?  Ways to have little breaks in your day during all the running around madness of taking monsners to and from school, playdates, appointments?  And I don’t need hour long shopping excursions, I just mean you know, 15 minutes of recharging here and there so that the umpteenth time I’m asked for juice my head doesn’t explode.  That’s all.  🙂

:::deep breath::::

So.  Be Fierce.  And Take Breaks.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

A blurb about cooking…

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So, I’ve been trying to cook more, which is a little challenging because my monsners are at that stage where we’re in the car running to and fro most afternoons.  My solution has been the crock pot.  Now, I’m not a “crock pot queen” or anything like that – but I am definitely getting better at it.  I actually love cooking meats in it.  I think the flavors really marry well.  So far this week I have made:  Pot Roast, Chicken Provencal, Chicken Tostadas, Corn Chowder, French Toast and Chicken Noodle Soup.  (I have a lot of chicken.  LOL!)  Everything has been really really good.  The vegetables in the pot roast could have been cooked longer – they tasted more like steamed veggies, but were still very tasty.  The children have been pretty adventurous trying all the new dishes.  My oldest pretty much looks at food and then inhales it, so I’m not sure if he’s tasting it or not, but it does go down.

I would really love to try crock pot freezer cooking, where you take an afternoon and prepare a large batch of crock-pot meals, put them in freezer bags and freeze them for the week, but 1) we have a fashionable, but small new refrigerator (our previous one was too big to fit properly in our kitchen) and 2) I don’t have the time to dedicate to putting it all together once a week.  Oh well.  I seem to have small blocks of time in the morning – so I’m sort of doing everything fresh every morning.  Kind of nice.  Kind of unexpected.  Also – I should mention, this is absolutely out of character for me.  I’m not a cook.  My mother wasn’t a cook.  Although she did cook for entertaining at holiday parties etc.  I’ve never really learned or had an interest in cooking until now.  I’m not even sure that I’m actually interested in it!  Its just something that one day I started doing and I’ve sort of kept it up.  Now, its only been about a week, so we’ll see, but I really like it.  I don’t mind all the prep work, in fact, its kind of fun.  I’ve even gotten past the, “omg-I’m-using-every-dish-in-my-kitchen” phobia.  I love that I can make something that tastes loving, and not out of a box.  I love how it feels to me to be able to give that to my family.  I really hope I can continue on with this, even if my pace slows down a little after the excitement of new kitchen gadgetry has worn off.

Be Fierce.  In the Kitchen.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

Homework Monster

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Oh he looks harmless enough, right?  Cute even.  Don’t be fooled!  He’s the homework monster!!!  Dun dun dunnnn.  My second grader has entered what I consider the “big time”.  He has homework every night that has to be handed in on time.  His answers get marked right or wrong.  (as opposed to just a smiley face or good effort marking)  Its real now.  I feel like I got on a train (the school train) and had trouble getting my balance and was very wobbly and now we’re just getting situated and figuring this whole education thing out properly.  Last year both of my boys had homework, but it was much more effort-based and somewhat optional.  This year, as they’re moving up, the expectations are moving up of course and so we’re all getting our feet on the ground for this.  Since my first grader also has homework, we now have an official “homework time” in our house which is right after we get home from school.  Sit down, do the homework, then they can have additional playtime.  (The children get some playtime on the playground after I pick them up from school so they get a chance to get their wiggles out and blow off some steam.)  Usually, its not so bad.  Sometimes.  Sometimes, it takes forever – hours even of convincing, prodding, pleading, threatening action figures, video games and lego sets which leaves me… deflated.  I literally feel like an empty balloon by the end of it all.  Especially when I’m trying to make dinner or do anything else during all of the homework negotiations.  ::::sigh::::  Anyone have any tips for this??  Non-food rewards?  Incentives?  Anyway, pair this with bedtime routines and sometimes its just all I can do to get through the evening and collapse.  Whew.  Only 11 more years of homework drama to go!  Woot!  ::::head desk:::

Doing What Works

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So, its that time of year again….. its getting cooler, pumpkins are beginning to appear on porches as we prepare for Halloween season here (that’s what I call it because I swear it lasts a whole month), and as per usual, DH is getting ready to switch projects at his job.  For our family, this means 2 things:  1) Since we know about it ahead of time, there should be very little financial bump in the road in between projects and 2) He will be working in a different time zone, and thus, coming home earlier on Thursday evenings.  Yay!!  In the meantime, I’ve been getting more settled into our schoolyear routine.  As my monsners are also a year older,  my children have aged out of one of the “mom groups” that I go to.  By chance, I was invited to go to another mom group, “women in balance”.   Some of the moms there have part-time jobs like I do, or they may work full time at home.  Most of them have school-aged children or older.  So, long story short – I started going to the new group to get my “adult interaction quota” for the day.  (If I don’t reach out, I may not actually see adults, only small mons-ners, so I reach out for my sanity, otherwise I end up with anxiety problems.)  So – this new group, we did all of the “get to know you-type” of activities and everyone is was intrigued by our family’s work arrangement with DH traveling so much.  As many of you know, he travels Monday – Thursday every week, sometimes more.  I think this is often something that people hear about or read about, but don’t actually meet people who do it.  Well, we do.  Many women in the group had questions about how we manage to get things done as a family and I did get many sympathy pats etc.  I always think that is weird.  Its a choice.  This job situation works best for our family.  I think there is even a term for SAHMs in my situation now called married-single-moms.  Now, I am not, not, comparing my situation to that of a single parent which is why it has the word married on the front of it there.  This is a fairly recent term for a married mom whose spouse either works very long hours or who is often traveling.  I believe there are even support groups now for these women!  (and possibly men in the reverse role?)  It is definitely a unique situation.

I have 2 friends who are on opposite sides of the coin of this issue.  One of my friends feels so much sympathy towards my situation and she is a “do’er” so she casually mentions open job positions for which DH might be a good fit.  Its very low-key and she really has the absolute best intentions, she just can’t imagine being in my situation, so to her, its a problem.  What she doesn’t know is that DH could not go into the same office day after day, week after week.  He would suffocate.  He loves the travel, the different hotels and cities.  He loves changing up his job every few months or so with a new project, new co-workers, new managers.  My second friend is a mom of 4 grown children and she was a married-single-mom for most of her adult life because her husband traveled overseas for business on a very regular basis and was gone for sometimes weeks at a time.  She is of the attitude that DH is providing for his family, and if this is the best way to do it, then it should be accepted.  She is also very supportive of it being a difficult situation.  And then, I guess there is me.  I want DH to be happy.  His job makes him happy and he supports our family which makes me happy.  This traveling job kind of came up out of the blue for DH and it started up gradually and has now increased to where the travel is regular and often.  I have adapted.  When he first started traveling, there was a definite learning curve.   I was isolated.  All the women that I knew worked full-time jobs like I had until I began to stay home.  I had to learn where my weak points were in handling the house, the children, money.  I had to learn how to create back-ups for emergencies since we have no family close by.  I had to learn to build in breaks for myself from the children during the week.  I had to network, to reach out to my community and make connections so that I would at least see adults once in a while.  It  took time.  The first thing that happened was that I almost accidentally reconnected with a high school friend on Facebook and she invited me to join her scrapbooking online group.  I had only a mild interest in scrapbooking, but I was desperate for friends.  This was perfect for me because I had an infant and toddler at home with me and 1 child in school.  I could pick up and put down the group whenever was convenient for me with the message board.  Also, I learned a ton about scrapbooking.  Within a month I was going away for the weekend with a new group of friends to a Crop (scrapbooking event).  I gained confidence in making friends.  (I was truly recovering from my previous workplace – but that is a different post.  I was damaged emotionally – this helped.)  Eventually I branched out even farther and now I feel like I have good connections in my community.  I feel very at home here and comfortable, even when its just me and the monsners.  For us, this situation works best.  You have to do what works for you and your family, even if it seems “problematic” for other people.

I miss DH when he travels.  But, I also get to miss him!  We’re so excited to see one another every single Thursday!  That’s not so bad after 19 years of marriage.

Be fierce.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

I’m a smiley face.

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And then…. there were smiley faces.  My inner ear infection is lots better thank goodness.  I am so glad I called the doc again to ask if there was anything else they could do!  There was!  Woot!  Much less dizziness = happy faces.  Ahem.  So, you know all that “being off my game” for a few days got me thinking about how it makes ME feel to be a SAHM who also, happens to be laying on the couch.  Ok, so I had a very good reason, I could not really walk straight lines very well for several of those days, but still.  There is something about being a SAHM to me, where I feel like I have to prove my worth constantly.  I have to prove that  I’m worth ‘being cared for’ by someone else, even though I definitely do work.  Its just in the home.  With the children.  So, when I lose control of my home environment like that and I’m just “down”, I feel horrible guilt.  In my head, a little voice says well maybe I maybe could be up and running around if I could just try harder, or I could have more energy (even with an infection) if I would just put my mind to it.  That’s almost never the case.  I work myself harder than anyone else probably could.  And I like my situation.  I enjoy getting Miss. S dressed in the mornings and putting her in cute clothes and putting her hair up and scooting her out the door to the bus while she’s chanting, “Look there’s the bus!  There’s the bus!!”, as if she’s never seen if before.  I enjoy the chaos of the multi-door-drop off for my boys at their school, its one of my favorite things to complain about.  Ha!  (no, really, it kind of is.  That and the weather.)  Anyway, its all the little things that I love – putting notes in lunch boxes, seeing my oldest get better at doing homework on his own, spying on the boys bird watching outside from the porch.  (They are so funny!)  And I’m willing to do the hard work that goes with it, in order to enjoy that privilege:  coercing my oldest and ASD child into sitting in a chair during his sunday school class (instead of walking around the room carrying the chair for example), meeting with his teachers and support network at the school to keep him on track academically, putting to bed 3 tired children most nights of the week on my own including toothbrush fights, squished bananas in odd places and endless dishes at the end of the night.  So why do I feel so guilty when I get sick?  Is it a societal thing?  If I were sick and working outside of the home I would still have to stay home… would that be ok then because I would be getting sick pay?  I would still have to pay for childcare so I wouldn’t be accruing anymore money… Why is that so engrained in my head?  I did lose control of the house this weekend (and last weekend I think) due to this dizziness, but I seem to be gathering it all back together again.  Upward and onward I suppose.  Mom guilt does not equal smiley faces.  😦   Boo.

Be fierce!  Say no to guilt!

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

I’ll Stop the World and……..please.

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Please stop the world.  From moving.  So my mom-cold?  From I dunno, a week or more ago?  Yes.  Now in my ears and I have an inner ear infection that is making me more dizzy than I’ve ever been in my life.  I’m off balance, my head is throbbing, I just want everything to stop moving around from the pressure in my head.  And yet….. nope.  Still with the regular mom-duties.  Still with the daily schedule.  Up and moving at 7AM, rush Miss. S to the potty and dress.  We had fruit for breakfast by the big window and got our hair combed and backpacks ready.  Got Miss. S on the bus, boys dressed and breakfasted and lunch-boxed.  I checked all the backpacks, combed hair, rushed everyone into the car (drove very very carefully the 1 mile to the school) and did the dual-door drop off at the school, chatted for a few minutes with mom-friends there, came home and did dishes, made breakfast for DH, went upstairs and collapsed.  And yes, I did rearrange the moon and stars so that I could go to the doctor and where I verified that I have an infection so I’m kind of just waiting for it to get better.  O.o  I did call today though after this awful bout of dizziness to see if there was anything else I could do rather than just wait.  How frustrating!! /end rant