True To Nature

I have sweet, kind girls.

I also have kids and kids are by nature boundary pushers, button mashers and tiny manipulators.

My girls have discovered the wonders of youtube and all of the terrible trash that has been produced for kids that it contains.

I, like any good mother, use their smidgen of trash screen time to leverage as many chores out of them as possible before handing over a device.

They, like any kids worth their salt, do their best to wheedle and cajole and push for all their worth to see just how much extra time they can get.

Today my sweet girls found me in the kitchen and presented me with this:

For the record I’m pretty sure they intended to say that I am a person who draws rather than a drawer. However, I probably hold more of their stuff than I do draw things so maybe drawer is more accurate.

I, like any good mother, made admiring noises.

I, like any experienced mother, was touched and also suspicious.

And those sweet, kind, girls of mine, like any true, red blooded kids, waited no more than a half a heartbeat after I expressed my thanks before blurting out- “Can we watch more videos now?”

I have sweet, kind girls.

I also have kids and kids are by nature boundary pushers, button mashers and tiny manipulators.

Planetary Education

On a beautiful winter evening we were having a campfire in the snow and looking at the stars. I was pointing out constellations to the kids because I have always loved the idea that stories and pictures are painted in the night sky. John, less thrilled with mythology and mere stories, pointed out Venus, because it’s a planet and he’s got this thing about space going on. (Nope Honey, still not going to Mars!)

Snowy fire. #spontaniousfun

A post shared by Behind The Willows (@behindthewillows) on


Talking about Venus drew us all into a technical discussion about how planets worked. John, in what I must say was basically a stroke of brilliance, turned the campfire into the sun, Clara became Mercury, Ivy Venus, John was Earth, Jane his moon and I was Mars.  Off we marched around the fire in our own orbits traveling at different speeds just like the planets do. I had a bit of excitement when I traveled through an asteroid belt (brush patch) on my outer orbit and by the time John was done spinning circles while holding Jane as he orbited the sun Ivy was no longer in any doubt what planetary body the moon orbited around. Then we followed John’s directions to line up in the current planetary configuration while he re-pointed out Venus and explained why we couldn’t see Mars (I’m afraid my man knows these things because of his new quest to become an astronaut, it has me worried). It was very educational and the girls were having fun and asking more questions and I was just starting to tell John what a good idea it all was when Jane looked up at the sky and said:

“I think I see Earth!”

It was a brilliant planetary lesson, but maybe next time we need to start out with the basics!

A Reminder

Do you have anything that you pull out, look at, shudder and then hide it back safely away where it belongs?

I have a draft of a blog post hiding at the bottom of my overly large pile of drafts like that. It contains nothing more than this innocent sentence:

“Mom, guess what? I’m just going to fallow you around wherever ever you go today!!”

Occasionally I flip through all my started and discarded posts looking for inspiration and I run across this one and shudder.

There are probably mothers who could look at a memory like that with full hearts and happy smiles.

I can’t.

Instead that sentence brings me back to days of diapers and mandatory naps. Days of more children than arms and kids that needed help with all the things. Days that there was always at least one kid clinging to me and I wished for nothing more than to walk at a normal speed. Days that remind me just exactly what it felt like when I wished I could jump right out of my skin with it’s clinging children and head for the hills. Days that I’m glad are behind me.

I look at that terrifying sentence and thank my lucky stars, individually and by name, that my kids continue to grow and learn. I thank those stars that I didn’t run for the hills so I can enjoy them now in ways that I couldn’t before. And I thank them for the knowledge I have on those days when I still want to spring out of my skin and head for the hills. The knowledge that, whatever terrible phase we are now in, this to shall pass.

Gold Stars

I want to get gold stars again.

Little shiny stickers so the world knows I did something well.

Today I correctly answered this tricky question on the first try:

“Mom! What’s that other word for wrong?”

“Left,” is, of course, the answer.

I think I should get a gold star for that one.

A little shine during one of my typical slapdash, seat of my pants day of mothering to remind myself to stand taller.

I know lots of things!

…just not how much toilet paper we have or where the thingamabob is or who’s got gym class today or what we are going to eat for dinner…

But I know lots of other things and so do you!

I want to get little gold stars for them again.

Don’t you?

(And no, we don’t teach our children that being left handed is wrong or evil or that that particular direction has anything to do with the devil. Geeze what do you take me for?!?)


This half written post from earlier this year was pulled out of my file of drafts tonight. Thank you NanoPoblano for the incentive to rescue it and it’s little gold stars! nanopoblano1

I Can’t Keep Up

It’s happening. I’m turning into one of those old moms who says things like “I just can’t keep up with my children.”

And it’s true, I can’t keep up with them lately…

The girls and I get in the truck and buckle up for the half hour ride into the “big city.” This takes at least five minutes even though everyone can buckle their own seat belt and two kids cry. Always.

Since one kid is crying, that kid sticks with it. Then something happens with a water bottle and wailing ensues. Because of the pinching. Which is, of course, because of the unfairness of life, the universe, and everything.

I am informed of all these things at top volume.

I reply in my reasonable-yet-totally-pissed-that-I’m-having-to-have-this-discussion Mom voice.

No one hears me over the wailing and yelling.

I reply in my totally-pissed-I’m-having-to-have-this-discussion-because—pinching—seriously-girls? voice.

No one hears me over the wailing and yelling.

I reply in my I-have-had-enough voice and spew totally unenforceable statements at top volume (a skill that seems to come out best when I’m driving).

They hear me, and all wailing and yelling is now directed at me.

Slowly peace descends.

Then a tear-free chipper happy voice pipes up from the back “Hey Mom! Guess what so-and-so’s brother wore to school today? A fake mowhawk and tutu! Isn’t that crazy?”

Head reeling (I thought they hated me and were never speaking to me again) I start to respond in my Yay-we-are-all-friends-again voice.

But I get interrupted because of the wailing and demanding.

I reply in my reasonable-yet-totally-pissed-that-I’m-having-to-have-this-discussion—again Mom voice.”

No one hears me over the wailing and demanding.

I reply in my totally-pissed-I’m-having-to-have-this-discussion-because-sharing-is-just-something-you-have-to-do voice.

No one hears me over the wailing and demanding.

I reply in my I-have-had-enough voice and spew totally unenforceable statements at top volume (a skill I seem to be working on hard lately).

They hear me, and all wailing and demanding is now directed at me.

Slowly peace descends.

Then a tear-free chipper happy voice pipes up from the back, “Hey Mom! Did you know North and South America are only connected by a bridge!?!”

And I find it’s true. I just can’t keep up with my children.

 

The Fear of “What If?”

It’s possible that the longer that John and I go on being parents, the worse we get. Now, I can hear you all protesting already, but hear me out.  In the beginning, when you bring a new baby home and are suddenly faced with, you know, keeping it alive you try really hard to make sure you don’t mess it up. And as the kids grow and hit new milestones you continue to try really hard not to mess it up because, “WHAT IF?” Those are the two scariest words ever when you are a new parent.

But life happened and John and I went back to doing what John and I do (mainly activities that involve an avoidance of early mornings executed with spontaneous but poor planning) and we discovered that most of the “WHAT IF?”s are actually not so bad. I’m pretty sure my kid ate part of a dead shrew once… she was fine. Another of my girls wore the same dress for a week, child protective services did not take her away from me. I have experienced forgotten water bottles, snacks, diapers, wipes, wallet, shoes and underwear not to mention winter jackets on a Northern Wisconsin trip in December.

And you know what? It was all fine.

Inconvenient? Yes.

Fine? Absolutely.

Does this make us look like stellar parents? Probably not. Are our kids learning to take extra responsibilities for themselves because their mom is never going to actually remember to pack anyone a snack? I sure hope so.

This brings us to John’s company sponsored trip to the zoo this last weekend. Parents still in the “WHAT IF?” stage would have done a fabulous job of planning the day. Free zoo pass, multiple free animal shows to watch, free food over the lunch hours, free face painting… JaneIt was going to be awesome!

But…zebra

-John and I let all our kids have sleepovers the night before.

-Which of course had us leaving much later than we should have in the morning (and yes all the kids were tired and grumpy).

-Which meant that we had to feed them on the way to the zoo.

-Which of course we didn’t plan for because of the free food at the zoo.

-Which meant that when we got to the zoo they weren’t hungry and because patience has never been my strong suit, I encouraged us to go see animals and come back later.

-Of course we lost track of time and missed the food.

-Of course we lost track of time and missed the animal shows.

-Of course we ended up having to feed the kids on the way home because they were starving.

-And, of course, at one point we looked wistfully at a family with coolers and snacks and water bottles and a child being pulled in a wagon and wondered why we didn’t do that.taiper

But I know why we didn’t, we’ve lost our fear of the “WHAT IF?”

And now I can tell you, What if you go to the zoo completely unprepared over tired and miss almost all the “good” stuff.

Well…Jane Clara and a lion

You’ll still get to be eyeball to eyeball with the big cats. Watching the giraffe run will still amaze everyone. There will still be contests to see who can find the animal in each exhibit first and the kids will still have to pull the two of us away from the octopus.  You will spend too much on a snack, or two, it’s true. And there will be whining kids. (But isn’t there always?) You will discover that everyone would actually rather see the velvet peeling off the caribou’s antlers than watch the sea lion show anyway and you’ll teach your child that tapirs are not the same as armadillos. Your lack of handy wheeled device to carry all your nonexistent snacks will have you zipping in and out of all the exhibits and when a tired little girl says she can’t walk anymore, you can sympathize with her tired legs and skip to the next animal house together.Me and Jane (Clara too)

Yes, we’ve lost most of our fear of those two words, for certain we would be better prepared parents if we carried a bit of that fear with us still but I think we are doing just fine without it.