Monday, May 16, 2016

A Stolen Moment

Sweet Dylan, my baby.

Big blue eyes with the longest eyelashes that brush his soft cheek.  Soft blond hair that once hung long in wispy curls now cut to reflect the boy he is becoming.  Rosy full lips smile sweet and plant warm kisses.  Lanky in leg and arm, he stands tall.

He is a boy who deeply loves all within his world.  Each day he tells me how he loves me, often he folds me in a close hug while telling me so.  He fully expects we return the love and basks in being doted on by his patient older brothers.  And they do.  And we all do.  Because he is our Dylan.

But please do NOT try to make him do what he has set his mind against.  Then you will meet the stubborn Dylan that hides beneath a blanket or sits sullenly showing you only his back.  A boy who feels love so deeply also feels hopes shattered just as deeply.

Recently a busy morning began with Dylan visiting a JK class in preparation for school days in the fall.  Attending his brothers' doctor's appointment followed where we sat waiting an hour.  The early afternoon was spent helping Daddy in his workshop.  A boy, still only three, full of life, sometimes needs a rest on a day so filled with busyness.

Eyelids drooping, thumb found its way into his mouth.  Sleepy Dylan refusing to lie down or sit to read a story.  Resistance beginning to waiver, allowing me to snuggle him close against my chest while standing and swaying a rocking rhythm perfected from many days practice.  My off-key rendition of 'Hush Little Baby' sung as a mantra echoing many nights gone by.  It is a version of the lullaby only my children appreciate.

A Stolen MomentArms trembling with the holding of him.  Legs cramping from the swaying.  Back aching from the weight of him.  Voice cracking with the singing on repeat.  Until his lovely eyes flutter closed to rest in slumber.  Until his frowning face relaxes into sweetness.  Until his body softens into mine.

I stay holding him close and remember him daily sleeping in my arms: the snuggles and cuddles, the nursing, the days when I was his world.  Sweet, sweet memories cherished in every mother's heart.

Some days mommy knows best and has to push hard to meet her little ones' needs.  This day it was to
help him fall asleep.  And in the toiling through the refusing and crying and complaining and pushing of it all, mommy got the best reward - a moment stolen from the past.  A stolen moment of rocking her sleeping baby.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Keeping Too Much Stuff Makes Clutter

Simple BountyI have a tendency to keep...well, everything.  It is probably one of the things I struggle with most.  I am a huge saver of things that may be used, or may be needed, or may be of use to someone.  Rather than fill our space and home only with items that are of use to us now or have a specific purpose of use, I have filled it with things that may be useful.  Some day.  By someone.  It. Just. Doesn't. Make. Sense.

If I had some noble reason for saving it maybe it wouldn't feel like quite such a burden weighing on me.  But I don't.  It is simply an inability to part with stuff.  Not because I want the items or think they are particularly useful.  Not even because it makes sense to keep it for any reason really.  Being a saver of 'stuff' has become a millstone.  

The trouble with all this stuff I save for use at some indefinable time is how much it hinders us from being able to enjoy our space in comfort and ease.  There is clutter and piles making some areas difficult to organize because they are overrun with too much.  The result is unrest for all.  Things cannot be found easily or quickly.  Mess is left because putting it away is not simple. 

As the accumulation has happened, in a way, I felt somewhat of a spectator watching it grow.  There have been some very legitimate reasons why I haven't tackled the problem head on over the years (we had five babies in 5 1/2 years) as well as some lame excuses (I just don't know how to deal with it).  Although I have turned a blind eye to it at times, the need to do something has never been far from the surface of my mind and I have spent vast quantities of time thinking about my problem even though I have never quite tackled the problem itself. 

I know there are two root reasons why I keep stuff.  The first is my list of "What if's..."  What if we need it someday?  What if the boys want to play with it again?  What if someone else could use it?

The second reason is emotional attachment.  If any of us have used the object or my children made it, played with it, touched it, I feel I must keep it.  Even mysterious tiny bits and pieces must be kept in case something we've used needs that part to fix it.  Or, what if one of the boys find a need for it in one of their projects.

Rationally I know none of it really makes sense or is a good reason to hold on to an object.  But that is the thing, it's not something that is rational.  It is something that is emotional.  Something that is an ingrained part of me that is not easy to change because it cannot be thought through.  It is felt.

Most of the time I am able to assess the items I see as excess and acknowledge they are unnecessary for our home, yet I keep them anyway.  Again, in my time spent thinking about it rather than doing anything about it, I believe my emotional attachment to things stems from two things: 1.  learned behavior and 2.  Decision Fatigue.

With the first, learned behavior, I watched my mom make do with little for much of the time.  As a result, she saved as much as she could so she could offer things to help her children.  She doesn't want us to have to live as she did for so long.

The second, Decision Fatigue, is the direct result of being mostly responsible for making many decisions on an ongoing basis for many little people and being sleep deprived a great deal of the time.  As decision-making has never been a strong skill for me, the overload and overburden with so many littles caused my ability to make decisions about anything not pertaining to daily living to shut down.

But the biggest thing I've learned through all my soul-searching about my inability to part with stuff is simple.  My action, or rather my inaction, is impacting my children in many negative ways.  They are learning by my bad example.  And ready or not, I need to start making some serious changes in my behaviors so I can set a much healthier example for my children.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Best Place To Be {Is Spending Time Together}

 The weather was predicted to be -20 Celsius with large accumulations of lake effect snow flurries piling up on us that day.  The permission form had been signed and returned granting permission for Evan to join his class in a day of outdoor activities including bird watching and snowshoeing.  Arrangements had been made for the youngest, not yet in school, to spend the day with my mom, freeing me up to join Evan on his class trip.

After enduring the previous week of sick in our house, I had ended up with a really nasty sinus cold.  I felt miserable!  There was no way I really wanted to participate in anything so...cold and uncomfortable.  Winter and I have a bit of a love/hate relationship.  I love its beauty.  I love how the world is covered in a beautiful blanket of white concealing the brown and bare beneath it.  I love that winter is a time of slow down and stay home all warm and cozy.  On the other hand, I am not a fan of being cold.  Nor am I a fan of driving on winter slippery roads. 

With careful consideration I made sure Evan wasn't aware of my lack of enthusiasm for joining him on the outing.  After all, I was looking forward to spending the time with my Evan, it was the cold itinerary and nasty sinus cold that had me bemoaning the fact I had so readily agreed to accompany him.  Since snowshoeing is a winter activity I enjoy, I knew it would be alright.  Still I just did not want to.

Checking the forecast for a final time the night before, Evan and I laid out extra layers of clothes to wear beneath our snow clothes, packed a hearty lunch and had our backpacks filled with only what we would need to carry.  I pulled my warmest snowmobiling suit out of the back of the closet and found myself a cozy toque to pull over my ears that would meet my soft scarf.  I was not going to be any colder than necessary.  I carefully planned the limited time I would have in the morning and went to bed a little earlier than usual.  All the while I was still apprehensive about the following day predicted to be one of the coldest we had yet experienced this winter.

Although the morning held a few challenges that started the day offtrack, the day turned out to be nothing like I had envisioned.  The sky was a beautiful clear blue and the sun was shining brightly.  There wasn't a snowflake to mar the brilliance.  Oh, it was definitely cold!  But we were in an area sheltered by trees for most of our outdoor time.  It was only when the strong, cold wind blew at us that our cheeks smarted and we burrowed a little deeper in our snow gear.  Spending part of our time indoors making bird feeders and learning about different types of birds before heading out to find them also helped keep us warm enough.

Throughout the day Evan leaned close to me, beaming all his happiness in my direction with his sweet gapped-tooth smile.  We held hands both while we walked and wore our snowshoes, even though it was awkward and hard.  Our chairs were pulled close whenever we sat doing crafts or eating our lunches.  Evan was not letting a single moment of our time together be wasted.  We'll always have our memories of our day in the snow to share together.

It was so worth spending every moment of the day trudging through snow and shivering with cold!  Even though it felt like the last place I wanted to be, it turned out to be the best place to be.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Some Weeks Are Hard

Weeks of sick are hard.  Days blur.  Bodies filled with limitless energy, lie still.  Growing boys, changing day by day, reflect their younger selves as they lay with stillness.  Loud boy voices subdued with no energy left to squander.  Each boy has his turn with tears and moans and pleas to make it stop.  Night time rest disrupted to tend to ailments suffered.

Hours disappear in the busyness of tending each need in the makeshift sickroom that was once our living room.  Favourite blankets line the couches and chairs making cozy where little bodies nestle.  The television plays movies and shows chosen to whisk sick boys from the misery they feel to worlds where all is right.  Tired eyes heavy with weariness watch the screen
 without reaction.  Sleep claims still bodies.

Mommy moves between them: rubbing backs, touching hollow cheeks, kissing hot foreheads.  Sippy cups with straws are pulled from the back of the cupboard, refilled as soon as it's empty, encouraging parched lips to receive another sip.  Light foods are offered to empty tummies refusing any nourishment.

Some days one or two children venture to school.  The bus rolls up for just so few feet to wearily climb its stairs.  The tired boys returns at the close of the school day, exhausted from energy burned before bodies are fully restored to that of the days before the sickness started.  Back to the days when life was normal.  Normal seems so long ago.

Slowly, day-by-day,  boys become more active.  Tummies stop rebelling.  Throbbing heads clear.  All boys sleep the night through, feeling as they should and resting deeply.

Until finally, a week after it all began, the living room is again filled with log houses and trucks, not blankets covering still bodies.  Boys yelling and playing drown out thoughts, not the television.  Fights break out as they work out different ideas, not cries from feeling awful.  Life is back to normal.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Twins and Teamwork

Our two oldest are fraternal twins.  They share a birthday, they share a room and Lego, they share clothes, they share common interests, and they share friends.  But they do not look alike.  Nor are their personalities remotely alike.

When I need someone to fetch me something when I'm arm-deep in the middle of a task, I ask James.  He knows where everything is!  And if he doesn't, I can explain exactly which shelf/box/bin it is in, or which colour/shape it is, and he will find it.  He's been like that since before he turned two and would help me by getting a diaper or a fresh sleeper for our newborn Evan.

When I need someone to help take care of one of the younger boys or do make something caring for someone, Morgan is the man to go to.  He takes responsibility and caring very seriously.  When they were tiny toddlers in our first home just beginning to toddle around, Morgan would always wait expectantly for me to hand him two sippy cups or two snack cups - one for him and one for James.  He was never happy unless he knew James had exactly what he needed too.

I love watching and learning the intricacies of each one of my boys and what makes them who they are.  Often they still baffle me, but knowing them the best I can helps me parent them individually.  Just like every other parent out there, I need all the help I can get along the way on this parenting journey.

Along with having twins came a whole set of unique child rearing attributes that I definitely found to be different than raising the three singletons I have.  And it's not only because they were born six weeks premature - that's a whole other experience that comes with it's own set of unique challenges and circumstances.

There have been many significant moments throughout their lives that are simply because they are twins.  I remember when they were about eight weeks old I had them lying side-by-side beside me when I noticed they were clutching each others' hands.  I pulled their hands apart to see what would happen and within a moment their hands were joined again.  Then there was the first day James walked across the floor on his own at 13 months.  Within hours, Morgan was toddling right behind him for his first walk alone too.  They each cut their first tooth on the same day.  I'm going to refrain from mentioning the times that being twins got them into mischief though - that's a whole other post.

Through it all though, I think one of the most significant attributes I've noticed about them being twins is their teamwork.  From the moments early in their lives when one boy would drop a toy and the other would hand it back to him to their quiet moments in their room now when they take a toy apart and figure out how to put it back together.  Teamwork takes them places.  Morgan bolsters James's self-confidence when they are in a new, uncertain situation.  James organizes Morgan.  They split up their cleaning and chores to cover more in a shorter timeframe.  They challenge one another and encourage each other to do better.  They make a great team.

The school they attend emphasizes a specific virtue each month of the school year.  At the end of the month there is an assembly where a few students in each class are recognized for how well they display that virtue in their daily lives.  The virtue for January was Teamwork.  James and Morgan were chosen in their class along with one other boy.  Besides being proud of them, I had to smile to myself.  It's not the first time they have received recognition for this virtue and I highly suspect it won't be the last time. 

Twins make teamwork easy.

Monday, December 14, 2015

From the Sidelines

I watch them out there every week.  Skates laced tight, helmets on snug.  Concentration etched deeply on their brows as they manipulate their feet and bodies while maintaining their balance.  Arms and legs working together to achieve careful unity.  Week by week subtle improvements might be visible in one boy while another seems to still be struggling to balance properly when lifting a foot or turning precisely.  Some weeks one child will almost dazzle when he suddenly masters skating backwards.

Tonight is different.  The regular stations situated at each corner of the ice rink are left empty.  Rather than barriers, drills and practice, the ice is clear for a free skate.  It's beautiful watching them.  Amidst the skaters, small and big, skills vary over a wide degree.  Among our four boys alone, abilities and enjoyment are wide ranging.  Two short months of weekly lessons have brought dramatic changes for each of them.

Slowly their steadiness increases as their confidence grows.  From the sidelines I cannot differentiate which inspires the other - does confidence bring steadiness?   Or do they feel more confident when they achieve a greater level of steadiness?  Either way, the blossoming of success is wonderful to watch.

It was a good decision to enroll them in skating lessons this year.  When they began their abilities were mainly remaining upright and making forward momentum.  James and Morgan have quickly progressed gaining speed, fluidity and skills.  While Evan is progressing at a much slower pace, he's acquiring his own set of skills and is able to do much of what he is shown even if it is in his own awkward way.

But tonight was Nicholas's night to shine!  His determined, solid little body usually makes him appear as a tin soldier on ice skates - legs straight, arms pumping rigidly at his sides.  The moment his skates hit the ice tonight, there was a difference - he glided.  It was the first time I'd watched him move so easily across the cold surface.

At times like this I love sitting on the sidelines.  They learn, grow and accomplish while I have the great privilege of simply watching them.  So much of parenting is teaching and shaping little ones and all the joys and trials that come with it.  But sitting on the sidelines, ahhh, that provides lovely, (almost) uninterrupted moments of watching them experience their life.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween - Day 31

Excitement builds as the day progresses.  Chores are done without complaint.  A friend drops by with early treats.  Costumes are donned for a first run through.  Pieces are found; incomplete costume parts are made.  Face paint is picked to make the costumes complete.  Trick or Treating time is soon to begin.

An early supper of fruit, cheese and crackers is spread on the table to nibble on while we prepare to face the night.  Tummy's don't need to be too full tonight as plenty of treats will be eaten later.  There are certain times through the year I don't limit the amount of treats and goodies they eat.  Halloween is one of them.

After clothes are layered beneath the costumes for warmth, accessories are added and makeup applied.  Pictures are taken and we head out the door.  A Mystery Man, a pumpkin, Robin Hood, a dinosaur, and a black and white cat all load in the van.

Driving to town we trudge up the streets.  Small boys walk diligently on through drizzle and rain, knocking on doors Daddy says are okay.  As wee legs tire and fingers grow colder the little ones climb in the van that is warm.  But the twins keep Daddy walking, and standing in the wet, until home and dry beckon warmth.

Dylan fell asleep well before the last doorbell was rung.  Evan and Nicholas sat sorting candy in their seats in the van, enjoying some while we waited.  The three went straight to bed, exhausted by Halloween.  But James and Morgan's fun was still running high.  A good snoop through their loot, a few treats to eat, and off to bed they went.  

Thank you for joining me on this journey through Write 31 Days.  I'm so glad I accepted this challenge.  It's really helped develop my love of writing and making it part of my every day.  Starting tomorrow, November 1, I will be starting my next writing journey of NaNoWriMo so I can continue writing daily.  I'm so excited!