What Was I Thinking?

Everyday, as soon as I leave for work, I’m eager to return home. I think about the kiddos and my hubby all day, imagining how nice it will be to get home, relax on the couch, eat dinner with those I love.

And then I get home.

Before I can pull the door shut behind me, the middle one is grabbing my hand, trying to pull me into the living room, “Come on Mommy, I want to show you something!”

“Give Mommy a minute, baby girl. Let me get my coat off.”

She gives me an “anngh,” her sound of disgust that is so high pitched, I’m surprised we still have windows.

I look up at my husband, already starting dinner **the lovely man that he is**, and shrug. He smiles knowingly back.

“Mommy, Mommy!” The little one runs up, a coy smile across his face. He bats his eyelashes at me. “Me just pooped my pants,” he says before he breaks into a grin and runs away, looking for a chase.

I look at my hubby again for help, and he shakes his head and says, “It’s your turn.”

“Mommy will be there in just a minute,” I say, dropping the coat off my shoulders and unwrapping my scarf. Just then the oldest walks into the kitchen.

“I told you, I don’t want spaghetti,” a scowl on her face.

I lean down and kiss the top of her head, “Hi honey.”

She abruptly turns and glares at me, then lets out a big sigh, exasperated. She storms out of the kitchen and stomp-runs up the stairs, and I can feel the walls shake when she slams her door.

Welcome home Mommy!

*********************

This is every day life. It is no better and no worse than every other day of the week. Every day is chaotic when you have children, at least to some degree. Every day there are dirty diapers and bruised knees and 7 year olds who think they are 14.

And every day I walk through that kitchen door and feel overwhelmed.

Don’t misunderstand. I love my children. I love my husband. And most days, I love my life. But sometimes I just want to take a moment. Breathe. Be. But that just doesn’t happen in real life.

In my eagerness to get home, I picture this peaceful homecoming, where one child is sitting doing their homework, while another is setting the supper table. The baby has clean clothes on and a clean face. There are hugs and kisses and so-glad-you’re-homes. But this is not real life. Real life is chaos.

And if I’m honest, I wouldn’t want to trade in the chaos for the calm; the chaos is what makes us, us. But sometimes the bad mom inside me takes over and in those moments, I’m thinking: “What the hell was I thinking?!”

Game Playing: Take 2 and 3

So both of these occurred quite awhile ago, but I figure I should try and catch the blog up…

Take  2 involved playing Chutes and Ladders during one of our family nights. It was all 5 of us, but the little one and I were playing the same piece. It started out well enough, even though Daddy was bored and the little one was bouncing around. We got onto the second row of squares before the middle was fussing about not being in the lead.

And then the cheating started. She wouldn’t spin the spinner, but instead just put it on six each time. And then she’d move her piece to the closest ladder and scamper up it. At this point, the baby is no longer interested, instead spending his energy bouncing on the couch.

Daddy’s lost his focus too, and soon I realize I’m playing for both of us. The oldest starts getting pissed, because she really does want to play, but between the bouncing and the cheating, it’s rather chaotic. Soon she starts to tear up and her lip’s quivering.

I start trying to calm her, get her focused when

“Cannon ball!!”

The baby jumps right in the middle of everything, sending my blood pressure through the roof and game pieces scattered through the living room.

Screaming and crying ensued. *sigh* Not a win.

And then there was Take 3, shortly after the middle one’s birthday. It was a new game, something about Barbie dogs I think, and rather unique, in that you had little obstacles that had to be completed. Things started out well *don’t they always* but it didn’t last long.

See the middle one, she’s a cheater. And she doesn’t even know enough yet to try and hide it. She does it in plain sight of everyone and doesn’t care in the slightest. So she’s cheating like it’s a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em while the baby’s running laps around the table.

I don’t remember what happened first, blame it on the blocking out of bad memories, but it seemed it all went to shit quickly. There was a 7 year old storming off, a 6 year old sitting in a chair screaming, obstacle pieces all over the floor and red Kool-Aid spilled over the table.

Failure number 3.

And what I’ve learned…

  • The baby’s still not old enough for games. But what the heck do I do with him?
  • My hubby’s not really into games. Especially Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land or some Barbie Dog Show shit.
  • Cheaters are not fun to play with.
  • I’ve got to remember that it’s just as frustrating for the oldest, who really wants to play, as it is for me.

*sigh* Take 4 coming soon.

Changes: Mornings

I like to sleep. Particularly in the mornings. I like to lounge in bed and hit the snooze button a good ten times before I begrudgingly make my way to my first cup of coffee.

And, yes, I know I’m grown and I’m a mom and all that stuff. I understand that getting up in the morning is something just about every responsible person does and it’s not a big deal. But I don’t like it. Not one bit.

So needless to say, I sleep as late as I can. Many mornings, I’m actually woken by my 7 year old, after her alarm’s gone off, telling me it’s time to get up and get ready for school.

And so I do. I get up, I get them dressed, help them get ready, get myself ready, and try to get us all out the door by 8 am.

Most mornings it works.

But not always.

And on those mornings when it doesn’t work, I typically become frantic, running around in 15 different directions, scrambling to get papers signed, find library books, and make sure I leave the house with clean underwear on and my cell phone in hand.

And when I get flustered like that, my patience shortens and my nerves frazzle. One little thing can set me off and then I’m yelling at everyone, and before long, Mommy is replaced by a screaming banshee in business pants.

And it can get bad. There have been mornings where all three children and myself have cried before we left the house.

How crappy is that, to know I am responsible to starting off my kids’ days that way, in a crazy, chaotic manner. I hate it, and it makes me feel like a bad mom.

The sad part is, I know how to fix it. All I have to do is get up a little earlier. Have a cup or two of coffee, watch a little bit of the news, and relax before their little feet scamper out of bed.

Or how nice would it be for me to be ready for work by the time they got up? I could be showered, dressed, and have my make-up done in less than 20 minutes, so it’s a damn shame I don’t it.

Well *standing up tall* it’s time. I’m going to do it. I’m going to start acting like a grown-up, and take care of business.

Starting tomorrow, I am getting up early. I am going to start my kiddos’ days off with calm and patience and send them out the door with love.

*After just 5 more minutes of sleep…*

Wish me luck!

Cooties

It’s funny the things we tell children. There are bad, made up things to deter them for doing things we don’t want them to and then there’s crazy, made up things to encourage them to do what we want . I’d guarantee I’m not the only mom that’s told my children they should eat the crust on their bread because it’d give them curly hair. Or how about my grandmother always told my cousin that his “turtle” would fall off if he kept touching it. I remember him being 3 years old and running, crying into the bathroom because he thought his little package was going to go away.

I wonder if it works, if even for a little bit. Or if the kids can see right through it…

………………………………..

We were eating dinner this evening and our kindergartener was telling us about recess. She was playing with a new friend, Sydney, and I asked her what they were playing. She proceeds to tell us that they were playing chase with two little boys.

I look at M, my husband, raising my eyebrows, “Leave it to her to already chasing boys!”

She giggles. “They kept tackling us,” she says.

Then she blushes a little bit.

“They kept trying to kiss Sydney and me,” and a little squeak of laughter spills out of her.

“Kiss you! You better not be letting them kiss you,” I joke.

M looks at her, his face completely serious, and says, “They’ll give you cooties.”

I look at him surprised. “Cooties?”

Now it’s his turn to look at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I ask, “That’s where we’re going with this? Cooties?”

He looks back at her and shakes his head. “Yes,” a quick glance in my direction, “cooties. If you let them kiss you,  you’ll end up with cooties.” And without a second thought, he goes right back to eating his dinner.

And I wonder… will the fear of cooties keep her from kissing boys, even if only for a few years? Only time will tell, but I sure as hell hope so!

Game Playing: Take 1

Milton Bradley Chutes and Ladders game board c...

I’m trying, I really am.

A few weekends ago, at the request of my oldest daughter (7), we rearranged her bedroom. I moved all the kid’s games from the top shelf in her closet, which is hard for even me to reach, to the closet floor where they would be more assessable.

She saw CandyLand and pulled it out, wanting to play it right then. I explained now wasn’t the right time and that we’d play later. She sort of rolled her eyes at me, knowing it was a cop-out and an excuse. And the sad thing is she’s right. I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve played a game with the kids. *shameful moment*

So a few days later, the kiddos were watching TV after school and I went and got the game. I didn’t say anything, but sat down in the middle of the living room and started setting up the game. Within moments, all three of them were hovering around me, wanting to know what I was doing? “Getting ready to play a game,” I said, smiling at them.

And then chaos ensued.

The baby (2.5) started grabbing the cards and pieces, demanding they were his. My middle girl (almost 6) started whining because she didn’t want a boy piece. All three of them were sitting so close they were practically on top of the game board.

Deep breath.

I got everyone scooted back to allow for breathing room, rearranged the pieces so no one was crying before we got started, and we were off to the races. The baby didn’t have the patience to play, he just wanted to move his piece where everyone else’s was and play with the cards. The girls started to fuss about it, but I was able to explain that it didn’t matter what he did, the three of us could play.

Disaster avoided.

Three moves in and the oldest lands on a piece of licorice. If you don’t know the law of the land in CandyLand, that means you lose a turn. Well, that didn’t go over well, and sent her storming off into the bathroom in a mini crying fit. “It’s not fair,” she kept crying, but after I threatened to take the game away, she reluctantly came back out and plopped down on the floor with the attitude of a 13 year old.

We moved forward. And then the damn CandyLand gods decided they were going to make this even harder on me. Every single time I picked up a card, I moved substantially ahead. I even tried to cheat to make myself lose, but it seemed they were destined for me to win. I’d skip a turn, only move one square if I was supposed to move two, but still I ended up in the Candy Kingdom before either of the girls.

That did not go over well.

Another crying spell, and I ran upstairs to get Chutes and Ladders, thinking a change of game would brighten the mood.

I was so wrong.

We didn’t get past the first row of ladders when the middle one started trying to cheat. By the time we were on the second row, the baby had kicked the board twice, throwing all the pieces scattering and having everyone struggle to remember where they were. Which of course led to arguments and accusations.

With three kids yelling at one another and demanding the other move their piece back one space, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I stood up, grabbed the board game and shoved it back in the box.

“What are you doing?” one of them asked.

“Putting the game away,” I said in my not-so-nice-mommy voice.

“But whhhyyy?”

And then I lost it. “Why? Because this isn’t fun. You’re not having fun. You’re sister’s not having fun. Your bother’s not having fun. I’m definitely NOT having fun. Games are supposed to be fun. Apparently the McConnell family is not designed to like games!” I stormed off out of the room.

Damn. Not the best way to handle the situation.

But I’m not going to give up. I love games. Love them. And I can’t wait until they are a little bit older and can play games like Scrabble and Life and Apples to Apples. So I have to keep pursuing this. I have to learn how to handle it. I have to show them that this can be fun.

And here’s what I learned for next time…

  • The baby is not yet ready for board games. He needs to be entertained elsewhere, or he will never give us enough peace to play a game.
  • Holding him on my lap with us “playing together” does not work.
  • We need to talk more about winning and losing.
  • I need to be more aware of timing when I start these things.
  • And I think I need to take a Xanax before we begin playing.

Take 2 will hopefully happen this weekend, so wish me luck and please feel free to throw your two cents in, because believe me, I need as much help as I can get!

My Laundry List

So one of my goals through this journey of trying to be a better mother, is to not only improve my parenting skills, but become a calmer, more patient person. Honestly, I think if I can accomplish that, then I will naturally be a better mom.

See, I’m rather manic at times, spinning in different directions, with a thousand things running through my head. And I’m also a procrastinator and completely unorganized at home *surprisingly over-organized at work*. Add all these things together, and often times, my actions are what lead to some of the chaos in our lives.

And that’s where my laundry list comes into play. It’s an idea stolen from The Happiness Project, and one that needs to be done. I have a ton of things left undone, a ton of small errands that need run or projects to complete, but I put them off all the time. So again, I’m using this as a level of accountability, and keeping my list active here on the blog.

The list I’ve started here is not complete, not by a long shot. But it’s a work in progress, and I fear that it will become never ending, constantly being added to. Either way, it will be quick for me to reference and hopefully *fingers crossed* get things crossed off.

And one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I have a love of To-Do lists. I make them all the time, and yes, I am one of those people that will put something on my list that I just completed, just so I can cross it off. I get some sort of internal joy over crossing things off my list.

So I’m hoping this will work for me. And help me get those things I keep putting off done and out of the way and off of my mind. Again, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed! Wish me luck!

Tired Children

School started on Monday, which means that there was a lot of changes this week: earlier bedtime, earlier wake-ups and long days. This led to tired, cranky children and a tired, cranky mom.

I ran my ass off at work today, and was excited to get home, especially after receiving the call that soccer practice was cancelled. After dealing with a pregnant heroin addict who has decided to start smoking crack and a middle-aged cross-dressing alcoholic with severe schizo-affective disorder, I just wanted to come home and chill with the family.

And it started out fantastic. I was met at the car with a hug and a kiss. I came in and was greeted by two more excited faces and small arms reaching around my waist.

But the smiles and hugs did not last long. Hubby and I were in the kitchen, making pepperoni balls for dinner. The oldest came in and asked if she could help and I told her to wash her hands. I don’t exactly remember what happened, but she quit, but then came back to help again. *Trying to include them more, even if it means a little more work or a few extra minutes* Along with her came her 5 year old sister and 2 year old brother wanting to help out too.

Well, that was more than I planned on. The others  were told not today, while I tried to move the oldest to the counter to start an assembly-line-style production. Apparently, that was not what she wanted to do. Bursting into tears, she turned, ran out of the kitchen and stormed up the stairs, her wails so loud they could be heard outside.

“Hey,” I called from the bottom of the steps, “You can help.” The wails got louder.

Whatever, I think, Let her be.

Fast forward 25 minutes and it’s time to eat dinner. She’s still sobbing uncontrollably, ridiculously loud, purposefully trying to make sure she is heard throughout the whole house.

At this point, I can feel my teeth grinding. “Please stop crying and come down to dinner.” She eventually does, and we move on with our night.

I’m not sure who was next. Perhaps the middle one, who would not stop fake poking me with her finger and making weird noises, even after I told her to stop at least 5 times. I’m not proud of it, but I lost it. I told her, in a very loud voice, to get to her room. She wouldn’t go. I said it again, even louder. She didn’t move, but decided that would be a good time to make her weird little noise again. I stood up, grabbed her arm and drug her to the steps.

She spent the next 10 minutes crying in her room.

And then there was the baby *almost 3*, who was also sent to his room after picking up his sister’s glasses and throwing them across the room as hard as he could. Or when he wouldn’t stop playing in the popcorn and getting it all over the couch and floor.

At that point, we decided that it was bedtime. Teeth brushing was a huge issue, and there’s a good possibility that all three of them were whining/fussing/crying about something in the 5 minutes it took. The baby wouldn’t stop playing with the drain, opening and closing it over and over again. He was told to stop. He wouldn’t. When he was physically removed, he started screaming. At the top of his lungs.

And it didn’t get any better with bedtime. The middle one is refusing to wear anything but dresses to school and did not want to compromise on that. During story time, the oldest wanted to talk in the other room. I told her to wait until the story was over. She again, burst into tears and ran to her bedroom.

I lost it. Again. I followed her. “What the heck is so wrong that you are laying in here crying like a banshee?” I demanded to know.

She wouldn’t speak.

I became more frustrated and mad. Perhaps my voice even got higher. “You need to stop crying. What did you want to tell me?”

“Nothing,” her lip quivered.

“Oh, it wasn’t nothing,” no longer yelling, but I’ve definitely got my mean mom voice on. “It was important enough to miss story, so what was it?”

She looked at me with big puppy dog eyes, filled with alligator tears. “I don’t want you to yell at me,” her voice and eyes lower.

I stop. I close my eyes. Take a deep breath. In. Out. In. Out.

“Okay. I’m not going to yell at you. I’m sorry for yelling at you. But it feels as though someone in this house has been crying for the last 3 hours. Since I’ve gotten home from work, there has constantly been someone crying!” *Which is not true by the way. There was a good 20 minutes of painting plaster horses at the dining room table that went pretty well* “So, what did you want to tell me?”

Sheepishly, she says, “I love you.”

Damn.

“I love you, too.” In. Out. In. Out.

I sit down on the edge of her bed. I lean down and kiss her forehead. “I think we are all just very tired. Do you feel tired?”

She nods an affirmative.

“Tomorrow’s a new day, right?”

She gives me a little smile and I send her back to her sister’s room to hear the rest of the story while I fight back my own tears. Yeah, it was one of those “ashamed-of-myself” moments.

I lose my patience so easily. And then I feed off their chaos. I give into it. If they are screaming and yelling, then so am I. *And I wonder why they do it* If they are throwing temper tantrums, then there is a good chance that I am too.

It freaking sucks.

Damn. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow, I will not act like a child.