Thursday, June 12, 2014

All's fair in love and...parenting.

Once upon a time, two little boys accompanied their mother to Target. Their mother foolishly thought that it’d be a good idea to take said boys into the dressing room with her as she tried on swimsuits. The mother thought nothing of this plan since every modicum of modesty as it pertains to nudity in their home, had gone out the window the moment these children came into the world. The children never mentioned it and none of them made a big deal. Bodies are bodies. Little did the mother know that was all set to change in that dressing room on that fine day. 

It started with the 4 year old boy who screamed as loud as he could when he laid eyes on his mother now in the process of trying on said swimsuit, and announced with his outside voice that “MOMMA’s GOT BOOBS!!!” To which his mother turned bright red and shushed her 4 year old to lower his voice. However, knowing how children operate, this only added fuel to the flame. The 4 year old began chanting this phrase over and over again as his younger brother laughed and then began to chant along with him.

As quickly as she could, the mother redressed and collected her children and her things, face flushed with embarrassment, and marched right out of Target, never again to return to another dressing room with her children...at least not one that she’d be using to change clothes.

True story. Aside from Hayden’s (what we considered then) epic meltdowns at the age of 2 & 3, I’d never been more embarrassed in my life. Since then, as parents, my husband and I have experienced countless other moments of embarrassment caused by our children. Like the time Sebastian pulled his pants down and peed on the floor at a store on an Indian reservation. Or the time Hayden opened his towel after undressing from a dip in the pool, to reveal his birthday suit, exclaiming to all the party goers "y'all really wanna see this!" Or the time he told his preschool teacher that he wanted to ride her boobs. We log those moments away in our minds as a sort of tally count for just how justified we will be when the opportunity arises for us to return the favor.

Hayden is 8. He’s now at the age that things are starting to embarrass him…little brothers, Disney movies involving beautiful princesses, the mere mention of cheerleaders, or asking him how many girls he kissed any day of the week. We see his face flush just before he buries it in his knees.

It’s fine to be embarrassed. It’s healthy. A little dose of humility never hurt anyone. In fact, I believe we’re all better for it.

What’s not okay, however, is to hurt someone as a result of them embarrassing you.

It was raining buckets earlier this week, so the kids got to watch movies while at daycare. The popular pick was Frozen. Now this is where I had to do a little bit of investigation as a Mom. I’m not there, so I didn’t see it go down, but what they tell me happened is they put the movie on, and suddenly, my 8 year old boy grew agitated, plugged his ears, and expressed a general and exaggerated disgust for the movie selection. His younger brother, Sebastian, genuinely concerned and confused, innocently inquired “But I thought you liked Frozen, Hayden!” And that’s when Hayden punched his little brother in the back.

My best guess is that Hayden thought Sebby was trying to embarrass him, so he retaliated.

I get it. They’re brothers, but hauling off and whopping your brother because he asked a question, is not okay.

So what we have here, my friends, is a little turnabout is fair play. We like to take a slightly different approach to discipline. It’s common in our house when our boys can’t stop fighting, to make them sit facing each other to repeat “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother.” back and forth to each other. It usually takes only seconds before the tension fizzles and they dissolve into uncontrollable giggles. We could have grounded Hayden for hitting his brother, but it just didn’t seem to fit.

And this is where I profess the sheer brilliance of my husband. During a trip to WalMart, he picked up a $5 poster of Elsa from Frozen. He showed it to Hayden and told him he was going to hang it in his room. Hayden was mortified at even the thought, but I don’t think Hayden believed that his Dad would do such a thing.

Oh yes, he did.


We’re not sure how long we’ll leave it up there, but it certainly sent the message home and I’m not sure our sweet Hayden will ever react in such a way ever again. Embarrassment hits home folks.

That’s called winning.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The other boy

It was a week ago that we approached the day filled with hope and equal anxiety. After a year long struggle with what seemed to be a host of health issues for our youngest son, we were prepared that another door would slam in our faces. Surely, such a simple procedure couldn't solve the hell we were living in.

But it did. And many have asked me if I'm angry with our pediatrician, and while I'm inclined to say yes, I can't stay angry for long. As it often is found, the journey we walk provides a testimony for others. I fully believe that I'm a small part in a huge story and the path that I follow, including the stumbles and face-plants along the way, are meant to help others.

I'm not sure that anyone fully grasped the magnitude of issues that we faced on a daily basis with Lennon. What started as a nod to the terrible two's started early at the age of 12 months, slowly matured into 90 minute to 2 hour meltdowns on a daily basis, multiple times a day. Lennon was only barely using words at the age of 2 and his behavior was similar to a manic. He could toddle around the house without a care in the world and suddenly launch himself into a full-blown meltdown of epic proportions, that nothing could stifle. No amount of love, cuddling, or discipline could stop him. Instead, like a seizure, you had to let it run its course. Lest you wanted to live with a busted lip or bruises, it was best to ensure he was safe, and walk away. If you found yourself lucky enough to successfully walk away from him and not have him follow you, which was common, it was impossible to escape it completely. Neighbors have reported having heard him in the evenings when we both had our houses locked up tight. I'm certain it must have seemed like we were harboring a lunatic, or at the very least, were beating our child senseless. Nighttime was brutal. He'd often wake at 2 a.m. and scream and cry for what seemed like hours on end. He seemed tortured and tormented by what felt like something that sat just outside of our reach.

Do you know how long a year lasts when you're miserable? Do you know that misery is only compounded when, as a mother, you find yourself completely at a loss as to how to remedy the situation? I'm hard-wired by God to know how to help my children, but with Lennon, I was at a complete loss and dealt with feeling that I'd completely failed my child. To be completely honest, Lennon was a manifestation of my nightmares. He single-handedly caused me to question everything I knew about being a mother. Not many people would ever admit it, but I'm an honest person, and let's all be real, we don't always like our kids. We love them, sure, but there are days when those kids really have a way of showing you why creatures in the wild eat their young. Over the last year, I didn't like Lennon. At all. In fact, he scared me. I even sought counseling to find a way to cope. The last year has given me a new perspective on parents that shake their children. The human brain and emotional system can only take so much before it begins to find a way to seek comfort and make the discomfort stop. We never shook Lennon or hurt him in any way, let me be clear, but during the throes of his meltdowns, the thoughts that pass through your mind can be scary. It's similar to an abusive relationship where one person is scared to leave. Only in our case, we couldn't leave. Our tormentor was our son.

It's easy to blame our Pediatrician and question how he could have let something so easily fixed, go untreated for so long. But no one could have known. Lennon's issues have been all over the map, not really pointing to an issue with his ears until recently. As we approached his 1st birthday, he had low iron and was not gaining weight. He was small, yes, but when we looked at him, we didn't see a failure to thrive baby, as his pediatrician had labeled him. He didn't appear unhealthy. So our first stop was with a hematologist, and let me be the first to tell you of all the places you never want to have to take your baby, it's a hematologist. Hematologists typically practice in cancer clinics. Why would we have been referred to one? Because anemia and slow growth are symptoms of leukemia in babies. This was the beginning of the end for me. Watching them hold Lennon down to draw 4 vials of blood from his already tiny body, will always haunt me. They tested for all sorts of things, all of which Lennon was cleared.

Back to our pediatrician and despite some interventions with Pediasure and other dietary work, we were referred to a dietician and a G.I. Specialist. The dietician was a wash, as we were already doing the healthier things that were suggested like calorie dense foods, combined with Pediasure. The G.I. specialist was more helpful and really dug in to arrive at the conclusion that Lennon had acid reflux. Which was a rational conclusion to reach, given his lack of interest in food, the night wakings, and the constant state of misery he seemed to be in. So we tried Zantac. After 2 weeks, we felt that Lennon was improving, but almost as soon as he seemed to improve, he declined once again. A follow up with the G.I. doctor prompted her to put us on Prevacid granules and also, prompted her to discuss having Lennon's hearing and speech evaluated. The granules ended up being a complete joke because trying to get a spoonful of apple sauce with these granules in Lennon's mouth was similar to trying to breastfeed a python. We listened to our guts and decided to forgo the Prevacid completely and urge our pediatrician to see us to explore hearing and speech evaluations.

If you'd have asked me how many words Hayden could say, I could pull a list from my purse. I knew to the day, when he said what. Sebastian, I knew a little less, but still knew a good bit. By the time Lennon became verbal, it was a crap shoot of when he said what or how many words he could say. He's our third child, and honestly, we were so consumed by putting out the fires of his meltdowns on a daily basis, while also caring for our older boys, that I had no clue. So at Lennon's 18 month appointment, when his doctor asked me if he could say 10-20 words, I said sure. It wasn't until the G.I. specialist started asking some very specific questions about Lennon's development, that I started to really think about Lennon's capabilities.

Could he say 10-20 words really? Questionable.
Had he ever called out to me from another room to locate me? Never.
Had he ever brought a toy to me to attempt to engage me in play? Nope.
Had he ever just come to me to get my attention, when he wasn't already crying? Never.
Had I ever heard him make the sounds of an animal or car when looking at a book? Negative.

With each question she asked, small light bulbs in my brain began to brighten, until suddenly I was confronted with the reality that my son was definitely delayed and perhaps, what we were dealing with had less to do with his actual health, and more to do with his development.

Eventually, we were referred for speech and hearing evaluations. Speech was the first and after a 2 hour evaluation, she determined that Lennon was, in fact, delayed. At 2 weeks shy of 2, Lennon was functioning as an 18 month old and while 6 months seems relatively tame, in baby land, 6 months is huge. Put a newborn next to a 6 month old. Huge difference. A 12 month old next to an 18 month old. Big difference. And so it goes for each age. The speech evaluator definitely thought there was a good chance something was going on with his ears. Has he had an excessive number of ear infections? Nope. Just a normal amount. Was he clumsy? Not more than any other child his age. Does he respond to his name? Maybe 50% of the time.

The hearing evaluation was the most eye-opening visit of them all. Lennon's ear drums and cochlea barely responded to the stimulations and it was only at a high volume that he responded to the evaluators voice. All of which were consistent with mild to moderate hearing loss associated with fluid buildup and resulted in a referral to an ENT and most likely tubes. We were so hopeful that this was our answer that we practically danced into the ENT's office on the date of our appointment. The ENT looked in Lennon's ears and asked us a few questions and ultimately decided that yes, we should proceed with tubes because enough evidence was present to justify the procedure. But then, "It may work, it may not work. Usually, you only see that type of behavior with extreme hearing loss and Lennon only exhibits mild hearing loss." Everyone from our pediatrician to now the ENT were starting to throw around autism as a possibility, that the room started to spin. It was as if the wind had been pulled from our sails. So we collected our things and drove home with disappointment soaked souls.

To have felt that we were finally going to get somewhere, only to be confronted with the reality that this might not work after all and angry Lennon might just be the kid we had for the rest of our lives. Sobering. Another brick in the wall.

On the day of the surgery, I found myself so conflicted. Hope is a funny thing and even though I was beginning to accept that this was just another dead end, I was still very encouraged and hopeful. I'd heard too many stories from parents with children that had a similar dispositions to Lennons and how much improvement parents saw in their children almost immediately, that I couldn't help but attach myself to that outcome.

The surgery itself took 20 minutes. Our life completely changed for the better in 30. Because in only 10 minutes after seeing him after surgery, his entire demeanor had changed. By that afternoon, he was running and playing. He said Momma for the first time without wailing. He engaged in play with me. We laughed a lot and my heart nearly burst with joy.


Day 2 was much of the same, and so has every day since then. He's still 2, so don't mistake me in thinking that he hasn't shown those sharp angles of the former person we've gotten to know so well over the last year. But those fits pale in comparison to the meltdowns he used to have. He sat with me and let me read to him. He's repeating all sorts of words, and he's babbling non-stop. He listens. His fits last 5 minutes and even the tone and pitch of the cry is different than before.

I'm sad that we'll never get the past year back, but there's no sense in hanging my coat on a hook of anger towards someone or something that no one could have seen. The surgeon and the nurse remarked that he had "a lot of fluid" after the surgery, which leads us to believe it was even more than the ENT could even see at his first glance. No one could have known that this baby needed tubes this whole time. No one.

We're on the other side of this, and this Momma's heart is whole. My sunshine has returned and I've got my baby back.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And may the odds be ever in your favor

The day began in true Lennon form. With a back fist to my eye ball and a similar good morning to his Daddy, Lennon emitted his typical good morning greeting. (Loud and screeching are adjectives that come to mind.)


I paused and prayed, as I am wont to do these days, that today just might be different. It was his birthday after all and you should be happy on your birthday. Not dramatic and whiney and angry and all roid ragey, but happy and very much like a scene from the tales of Winnie the Pooh.


We did get lucky though and after a somewhat rocky start to the day, Lennon found his smile and also his giggle box. I do like it when he finds those, or rather, they find him. The day to ensue is sure to be fun for all.


As our children have gotten older, my opinion of birthday parties has changed. I used to be all for throwing together a nice little shindig with streamers, balloons, and an assortment of snacks. These days, I do everything I can to persuade my children to consider other options than the birthday party. They just require so much effort and planning. I'm the girl that willingly opted for a marriage at the Courthouse with the Justice of Peace to avoid all the hoopla of a wedding, so it really only makes sense that my party planning would follow suit eventually.


Let's also just be honest. Lennon is at a stage in life that consists of moments in between tantrums, not the other way around. I'm not even sure tantrum is an appropriate descriptor for his outbursts. Don't tantrums have a time limit? Say 30 minutes? I'd say once you cross the threshold of an hour long scream-fest, you've really entered new territory. His "tantrums" only worsen when he's overwhelmed or overstimulated, and I'm sure all of our friends and family appreciate the nod to proactive headache management by not subjecting them to it.


We did lots of celebrating, just more low key. It started with lunch the day before with my parents at a local pizza restaurant, which included two types of cupcakes and Lennon enjoyed double fisting a sampling of each. Next, a trip to Toys R Us to let him pick out whichever toy he wanted compliments of his Mammaw and Pappaw. As we expected, a ball (his favorite right now), a car, and a bouncy green dragon all came home with us. Later in the day, he opened an outdoor water table from his Grammy & Poppy, which his big brothers proceeded to put together and as soon as it was practicable, Lennon climbed on and tested the stability by standing in it. The next day, we hit up a local park and not another soul on the planet had the same idea, because we had the place to ourselves. Lennon got to swing to his heart's content, walk through mud, pick up sticks and various bugs, and go in any direction he chose. The name of the game was follow the leader, and Lennon was the leader, except of course when we was fully on board with whatever his biggest brother had in mind. There was playing, more cupcake eating, a visit from Aunt Kacey, Uncle Austin, and cousin Riley, more cupcakes, and finally swimming at an indoor pool. At some point in there, we managed to sneak in a 10 minute nap, and then the rest of the day he ran in circles around the house.


He's 2 and in so many ways, I sent up a celebratory hallelujah that we survived the past year. I won't sugarcoat it in the very least. The past year has been a major challenge and has stretched our parenting bones in ways I can't even begin to describe. I've questioned every ounce of on the job training that I've earned as an 8 1/2 year old parent, and I imagine that's the way it'll go for the rest of our lives as parents.


We are hopeful and we are blessed. Recognizing that despite Lennon's uncontrollable outbursts, that we are immensely blessed with not just one, but three children, that are the picture of health. One good thing about the battery of tests Lennon's been put through over the year, is that we know that every organ in his body is perfectly healthy. We are hopeful because we're finally gaining some traction on a possible answer to why our boy might be so utterly exasperated most of the time. I am ever prayerful that the lessons we've learned and the story we've told thus far, can only serve to make us laugh as we look back, and perhaps provide another exhausted parent some humor, compassion, and a means to make even just one person not feel so alone.


Happiest of birthdays to the littlest lulu.


With love from our family and to all,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Birthday wishes

For my 31st birthday, I treated myself to an early morning run, that ended with a front row seat to watch the sun rise. It was beautiful and filled me with such an appreciation of another year on this Earth. Just another year to be a part of this life, to watch my kids and neice and nephews grow, to love my husband, to learn new things, to live life as best I can. I decided that very day that it seemed like a very solid birthday tradition to begin and so, I set my mind to it last night that I'd do the same in celebration of my 32nd birthday.

I've learned that I have a far better chance of making good on things like that when I say them out loud. And so I did, but apparently, Lennon was listening in his sleep, because he started wishing me happy birthday in the language of his people shortly after midnight. And he continued with this every 30 minutes or so until the sun came up. The language of his people is loud. It is spoken and sung with a very gruff and agitated tone. It is coupled with climbing next to the people he loves most and kicking them in the ribs while shouting in their ears. It is a language that I've not yet become fluent in, though I can only guess (and hope) that perhaps he was very excited about my birthday and just couldn't contain himself.

Needless to say, I did not begin my birthday with an sunrise run.

Birthdays as an adult have the tendency to really suck. I mean, it's not like you get to blow off work and chores and hit the bar to drink all day, though perhaps I should line that up for next year. You still have life that needs tending and if you're a parent, kids that need parenting and dear Heaven, if they are in school, they just have stuff that they need. So there's that.

As I rushed about this morning, Lennon screaming from one room to the next, I was inclined to feel terrible about the state of the morning. To feel in some way that I'd been ripped off of a super fantastic birthday morning. But then I couldn't help but be overcome with such joy over the fact that all of my dreams for my life have come true. And not to gloat or rub it in anyone's face, but I feel crazily blessed over the fact that I've got everything I've ever wanted. A wonderful husband, 3 beautiful kids, a nice house, great jobs. We travel. I have wavy hair. I can buy sparkly nail polish and wear it if I so choose. I get to dress fashionably for work. I have super loving friends that are so encouraging, sometimes I just have to squeal to myself. I'm a working photographer and I've run half-marathons. My body is in better shape now than it really ever has been. Oh and did I mention, I'm a 1st Degree Black Belt? I just, I just...I'm speechless. And inside, 7 year old Kellye is dancing a jig.

There's always been a part of me that's felt like at some moment in time, the other shoe is going to drop. Whenever paid a compliment, I sort of feel fraudulent, because in my mind, I'm still that gangly nerd in the 6th grade with all the textbook answers that desperately wanted people to like her. Somewhere along the way though, I became okay with embracing that nerdy girl and meshing it with the woman I've grown into today. And if that's not a testament to God's work, I don't know what is.

My life is not perfect, but it's pretty close to it. Not your version, but my very own and I just feel blessed.

I cannot wait to see what this year has in store and maybe, just maybe, this year has far fewer restless baby screaming nights!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wishing it Away

At least three different articles have crossed my path in the past week that discuss how fatigued the average mom is as of late. Each article presents its own set of tips and advice on how to make this fatigue better or at least more manageable.



The tips range in ideas from going to bed earlier, to taking more off your plate, but each of these articles is really missing the mark on one key component.



Kids.



Children.



Babies.



There is no way around how exhausting to the bone it is to be a parent. These tips, while fabulous, fail to mention that the success of these fabulous tips, all rest on the laurels of everything else in the world being able to stop, or rather, my children not constantly being in a state of needing something all the time.



Today, I've yawned at least two bagillion times throughout the day. Even as I drank my morning coffee, I had to wait for the yawn to subside before I could actually swallow the caffeine.



Lennon was up at 4 this morning and upset at the darkness, or his legs, or the fact that we dared sleep in our bed with him in it, but yet he wants us near him...so he can kick us in the ribs, or the head, or whatever else might be in the way. He bucked. He screamed. He kicked. He did an awful lot and we got zero sleep. I suppose the one positive thing of all of this was the dog was tucked warmly away in his crate, so he didn't conduct his tip tapping patrol at 4 in the morning to also wake me up. Someone mentioned that you get used to that sound at some point in time, but it's yet to happen and so I wonder if it ever will.


After I'd gotten out of bed, instead of using my shower time to grab the last bit of solitude before the day began, I cradled Lennon under the warm stream of the shower just to settle him down. Eventually, it did work, but then it time for me to get out. He screamed for a better part of the morning and in between trying to get the older children in line and ready to get out the door, I fought back tears.


I don't know when this will get any better. This angry man-baby that just doesn't seem to want to communicate. We have a hearing and a speech eval coming up next month, and maybe that's it. Maybe he's just frustrated because he can't communicate, no matter how hard he tries. But maybe that's not it. Maybe we're just going to have to buckle down and fight through the next who knows how long while I find ways to cope with caring for a highly irrational and irritable person. It's scary, you know?


I'm sorry to the teachers of my older boys. I promise we're doing the best we can with them, but honestly, their youngest brother is taking up every bit of my energy. I hope they know that. I sort of feel like I've dropped the ball on my A game.


I know I'll miss this, and dear Heavenly Father above, I know that I'm blessed. I love these kids with every fiber of my being, but right now, these blessings have me worn thin. I will miss these tiny hands, but not the peanut butter crusted stains that mark almost every surface in my house. I'll miss tiny socks, but not the fact that they always come up one short, because the other part of the pair has conveniently been tossed under the bed with the dust bunnies and obscene amount of dog hair. I swear I swept almost every day last week, vacuumed too, but the amount I find is impressive nonetheless. One day, I know I'll look back and wish I had my smaller (ish) grocery bill, but right now, I gotta say, I'm gonna wish away this day.


I'm sorry that I didn't sign off that we read the middle kid's book for homework. I didn't sign off, because we didn't read it. We didn't get the chance. Between trying to make it through surviving and feeding these children (why do they need to eat THREE TIMES A DAY plus snacks), I had to find my zen while the smallest one was screaming and the oldest one was asserting his dominance over his 2nd in command. Between making meal plans, shopping for said meal plans, AND cooking the blasted food, there's laundry...always laundry...and even basic cleaning, I just feel like I have nothing left. Nothing, but to kiss their heads and remind them to say their prayers.


Tips to ward off fatigue. I say there's one. Send the kids to a sleepover at least once a week.


Oh, but then I miss them.





Monday, January 06, 2014

In which Lennon loses his hat in Target

Tonight, our Pharmacist hugged me. She came out from behind the counter and hugged me. It's not that we are friends or anything. But I'm certain the look of utter defeat that covered my face was a bit alarming. 

People tell me that the photos I take of my children will embarrass them one day. I wish it bothered me, but it doesn't. Simply because payback is hell. 

Tonight, I attempted to digest the information from the GI Specialist we'd just seen, that Lennon might be delayed and we should get his hearing checked. As I mulled this over, I felt inclined to feel a sadness for my boy. What if it's true? What if he is just beyond frustrated because he is only saying what he understands. And all of what he understands only sounds an awful lot like Charlie Brown's teachers. 

But then, I glanced at my boy, just in time to catch him as he tried to pole vault, head first and backwards, out of the Target shopping cart. I placed him back in the cart as he screamed and thrashed and settled into a belly up position with his feet tucked under his back and the top of his head down in the cart causing his torso to contort upwards in such a way that I wondered if the demons might finally vacate his body. 

He grew silent until I moved to touch him and put him in a more comfortable position, and then socked me in the eyeball. Thank goodness I closed my eye first. That blow to the eye socket is really quite painful. 

He screamed some more as I realized on our way back to the Pharmacy to collect his new prescription that at some point during our journey through Target, he'd lost his hat. And he'd kicked off a shoe during the process, though, thank goodness it was lodged in the base of the shopping cart. 

I was inclined to look at my boy with compassion and understanding, but right now, I'm tired and am inclined to believe that in lieu of an Audiologist, we need a Priest, in a major way. What's the going rate for exorcisms anyway? 

So yeah, the Pharmacist hugged me. And apologized profusely as she also told me the news that they didn't have the prescription we needed. 

As in, a wasted and exhausting shopping trip. 

I'm sure the Target shoppers are still talking about it. 

Friday, January 03, 2014

And then he smiled

As the mother to 3 young boys, I often find myself floundering. I have my moments of clarity when I feel like today I own this thing called motherhood. I'm winning and on top of stuff and things are organized. Coincidentally, this happens to coincide with times that my house is relatively clean. The kitchen floor has been swept and the laundry is put away. Other times, I feel like I'm absolutely failing.

When discussing the subject of becoming a parent, people will say that it's hard. The beginning is rife with opportunity that you might harm or kill the baby. You could drop the baby, smother the baby by rolling over onto him in your sleep, give too much Tylenol and end up poisoning the baby. There are so many opportunities to fail at the physical aspect of parenting a newborn, that it's draining. Eventually, said baby moves into a stage that takes up the majority of the rest of their life while they are in your care. The part of life when they take the reigns of injury and you worry most days that they might actually seriously maim or kill themselves. Toddlers are like tiny drunk adults. Constanly missing a shoe and putting everything in their mouth that they shouldn't. Plundering in drawers and cabinets that contain "child-proof" mechanisms to keep them out of the dangerous things that lurk within. They jump off of and bump into stuff that was not made to be jumped off of or bumbed into. Move into preschool through pre-teen years and these kids turn into invincible superheros. Who says you can't backflip and land on your head? If you can do it in the cartoon or movie and walk away, why is that not true for real life? Move into adolescence and adulthood and the opportunity to ruin their life in other ways is exponential.

Beyond all of that, there's this emotional aspect to it that I'm just not sure anyone has a grasp on. You're raising people. People that will (hopefully) one day hold down a job and vote and make an impact on society in a positive way. While a world changer would be awesome to have as a child, I'd settle for a child that people didn't view as a jerk or go running the opposite direction when they're about to pass them in a hallway.

But how do you do that as a parent? How do you raise a person that will turn out decently normal? It's a lot of pressure to put on a person. Enough pressure that it's no wonder most parents are within moments of snapping.

I, myself, snap at my kids a little too much. I feel like I spend 50% of my time these days playing the role of Mean Momma and the other 50% of the time feeling guilty about it. It's very difficult to be all Mary Sunshine when your children ignore you the majority of the time. Until I raise my volume loud, it's as if I'm wearing my invicible clothes and no one likes to be ignored.

I struggle. I know I'm not alone either. Parenting is hard and it's easy to lose sight of what really matters. When you're in the bull pin looking at the playbook while the team is out on the field, you're focused on each individual play and sometimes get caught up in the technicalities of the game. You have a season of losses (one after another) and at the end of the season, people are throwing labels at your team. You're a bad team because you didn't win so many games. This is my life. But just like life has a way of bringing us back to Earth, sometimes in the most humbling ways, kids do too.

During a particularly difficult afternoon, the boys had dodged and avoided cleaning their rooms. Sebby was working on a task he was having great difficulty completing. He was at that point where he was so frustrated that I made him walk away. Admittedly, I was about to blow my top because my patience was long gone. When we came back to it, refreshed and ready to tackle it again, he completed it without issue. I gave him the biggest smile and told him I was proud that he'd come back to it and to take note of how easy it was once he'd taken a moment to regroup.

"When you smile at me, Momma, it makes me smile." He said in the most innocent and babyish voices.

The struggle is real, but the reminders of what's truly important are real too. Look for them. Listen for them. Be present for them.

Despite the struggles, I know I'm a good Mom, and you are too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Christmas wish(es)

"What do you want for Christmas?" It gets harder to answer that question every year. Perhaps it comes with the territory of getting older, but the answer to that question gets a bit more complicated. What I want can't be purchased online, nor can it be DIY'd from a Pinterest find. I'm sure that other Moms out there will completely agree that if any of these items on my Christmas list could be checked off, I'd be much better for the wear.

1. More time off. There was that one good week or two between the oldest and the middle having strep that the baby got hit with RSV and bronchitis and then I came down with strep (and possibly flu, though the test was negative). But I can't call in sick to work, because I have no time left. I've spent it all on my kids.

2. A house with self-vacumming floors and countertops and no I'm not talking about a Roomba. I want a steady flow of suction built into the baseboards that sucks out the dander, dirt, dust, and whatever else falls to the floor.

3. A consistent 8 hours of sleep for a full week.

4. Prozac for babies. I'm currently accepting applications for drug trials.

5. Scotchguard for baby clothes.

6. Similar to scotchguard for clothes, a bathtub that will not absorb nor allow soap scum to collect on its surface.

7. A warning message on my washing machine that will detect foregin non-clothing objects stowed away in little pockets. Things like crayons, rocks, wood chips, plastic toys, etc.

8. More good hours between the time we get home from school and bedtime. Focus on the word good here. I don't want more hours if it's going to be filled with more questioning of "how long until bedtime?"

Thursday, November 07, 2013

This is life

4:44 a.m. The typical bewitching hour. Lennon wakes in his usual way. He wails and cries out "MAAAAAMAAAAAAAAAAAaaamamamamamamamamamama!!!!!"

5:00 a.m. I go to him. I'm too tired to stand there and hold him and I know it will do little to no good anyway, so I pick him up. He places his head into the crook of my neck and we walk slowly, in the darkness, back to my bed. His heavy breath tells me that he's drifted off again and perhaps, we have a good 15 more minutes before the kicking begins.

5:17 a.m. He bucks and I am violently shaken from the sleep I'd just drifted into. His body stiffens and he lets out a screech. I pull him in closer, with hope that perhaps he'll be comforted. Alas, all for naught. He kicks. He thrashes. He wails, louder. I feel rejected.

5:20 a.m. My alarm beeps for the first round. I shush it and pray that Lennon and the alarm might both stop for just 5 more minutes.

5:28 a.m. More thrashing. More wailing. At some point, I grumble through my teeth "DUDE! Stop. Please. Just stop."

5:29 a.m. Realize I'm delusional as Lennon continues his kick, thrash, wail sequence.

5:30 a.m. Plead with the Lord to give me peace.

5:34 a.m. Turn off my alarm exactly 1 minute prior to the second beep and shuffle to the shower.

Oh peace. There it is.

I have exactly 30 minutes of peace before go time.

I didn't make the lunches last night, yet again, and everyone needs to eat....yet again.

Lights on for the older boys. Rubbing of the backs. "Time to wake up."

I go from room to room, and back again. Reminding the boys of what they already know, but can never remember. "Brush your teeth....No...pants. You need pants.

"Long sleeve pants?" Sebastian asks. I smile to myself and confirm that yes, indeed, it's a day for long sleeve pants.

Lunches packed. Coffee brewing. Waffles toasting. I hear arguing. Hayden is pushing Sebastian's buttons already. Confirmed that these kids wake up looking for ways to irritate each other.

Back to their room and they're playing. "BOYS! Teeth brushed. Socks and shoes. Hair. WHY ARE YOU PLAYING WITH LEGOS!"

Slip on my leggings as I'm walking to Lennon's room. Grab his clothes and hunt for him. He's in Hayden and Sebastian's room.

He wails. He rolls. He thrashes. He kicks. I try to find the zen of the morning. I resist the urge to put him in a sleeper hold and instead sing "Jesus Loves Me". Pants are on. Now the shoes. HOW DID HE GET HIS LEG OUT OF HIS PANTS?! Pants back on. He tries to bite me. I try not to cry. He wails. Louder. I wonder if I'm really cut out for this.

Sebastian appears..."Your shirt is on backwards." He looks down, laughs, and fusses with it. "You might want to grab a jacket, buddy."

I escape to my room to grab my boots. Sebastian follows me. "But Momma...I wanted 2 snacks." He says as his bottom lip begins to protrude and I recall his backpack from every day this week wherein at the end of the day I find the 2 snacks I packed, totally untouched.

"No. Sorry. I've done that and I'm not doing it anymore. You don't eat them. You get a banana."

More whining from Sebastian and further insistance that he needs 2 snacks. His shirt is still on backwards. Why is his shirt still on backwards?!

Back to the kitchen. Waffles and coffee are ready. One wants 2 plain. One wants PB&J. One wants jelly only. Done. Pour the coffee. Lunches into backpacks. Zip.

Back to the bathroom and I grab my bag.

"But Momma! I really need 2 snacks! I get soooooooo hungry."

Guilt and pity are lost on me at this point.

I ignore him and it's back to the kitchen with my bag.

Lennon is wailing...again. WHY?! For the love of all things holy, why on Earth is he always crying?!

7 a.m. Everyone is ready. Finally. Shirts are on the right way. Food in hands and backpacks locked, loaded, and ready to go. A quick check that they've done everything. "Sebastian...your hair?" He hasn't brushed his hair. Chad and Hayden head out the door and we're not far behind.

Lennon screams. He wants Dadaddadadadadada and bucks as I put him in his car seat. Sweat. I'm sweating and it's 40 degrees outside.

He's buckled. Car is loaded. Here comes Sebby. Into his seat, he buckles.

I slide into my seat and start the car.

And we're off.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Green, and yellow, and orange...and we hope it stops there

One of the things I struggle with the most as a parent is the mistakes my children make.

As a Type A, bit of a perfectionist, by nature, it's terribly easy for me to forget that we learn by doing, and consequently, learn by making mistakes. I certainly have not lived a life void of mistakes. Lord help me, I've made some doozies.

At the heart of it, I expect my kids to make mistakes. I want them to make mistakes. I'd rather them make some big whoppers of mistakes now, than later on down the line when mistakes tend to cost little more than parental disapproval.

What's more, I don't want perfect kids. I want messy kids. Kids that say the darndest things, and push the limits. I want kids that make a situation all the more exciting, just by being present. I want kids that get excited and are curious, and all in all, take a look at the life presented and grab that veritable bull by the horns.

The kids that show up in wacky outfits they put together all by themselves. Kids that embrace change. Kids that embrace life.

That's at the heart of it all and I truly believe the majority of my heart beats for these things to ring true for my babies.

But right now, I find myself in the midst of a crazy internal struggle over my heart's desires for my kiddos and the pressure from the world for them to conform.

In the last month of school alone, Sebastian has come home on yellow and orange, way more than he's been on green.

Hayden, while he's been on green a good bit, has also spent equal time on orange and yellow.

Typically, one comes home on green, and the other on yellow or orange, and I can tell which one before they even say it, because of the look on their face.

Tuesday afternoon, I knew it by looking at Hayden that he wasn't happy with himself. He looked tired, complained he had a headache, and even said he felt like he needed to throw up. He was on orange and his physical symptoms were a byproduct of the internal stress that he, no doubt, struggled with for a better part of the day.

It's times like this that I realize that I have to find a way to put Type A Kellye in check, because that girl has some seriously high expectations of herself and her children. That girl and the mom in me that would just about do anything for my babies, are about to have it out.

Mistakes are good. That's how we learn. But this blasted color chart is making the Type A perfectionist in me just about lose my grits every time these boys tow the line or step outside that perfectly green line. As if being on green all day, every day, were some code for how they would turn out as adults.

Blech.

I hate color charts. I used to love yellow and orange. Now, not so much.