I am sitting in the doorway of my kids' bedroom, laptop on my lap. Eli is four and constipated. Lola will be two next week and is determined to get Eli to play with her, despite the fact that he just wants to sleep. So here I am, following Supernanny directives and common sense (when I am within eyeshot, Lola stays quiet and quits bugging her brother).
In the doorway of Eli & Lola's bedroom I can also see into the bedroom I share with my husband, who is dutifully painting the kitchen a nice shade of Innocence, which looks much whiter than it did on the swatch and has me a little nervous. The sound of the neighbor's lawn mowing is not accompanied by one of my favorite scents, but is instead juxtaposed with the acrid scent of fresh paint. I am within eyeshot and barely out of earshot of the TV in our bedroom* which is turned on to
[I think Lola might be asleep]
. . . which is turned on to Make Room for Multiples on Discovery Health because although I swear I am done having kids (and I really am) I like to see other people having kids. I especially like to be scornful of their choice of names, for although my womb is closed for business, I collect names that are especially nice.
[she's still quiet]
[never mind: kicking the safety rail on her bed]
School's out, it feels as if I've been on summer vacation for weeks rather than a few days, and I am a summertime stay-at-home-mom. I'm going to disclose a little secret of mine: summer vacation is the time I am reminded why I am not a year-round stay-at-home-mom. It is a hard job, and I know many SAHMs that are much, much better at it than I am. I am not particularly social, so we stay at home a lot. The house tends to be messier when we're all home during the summer than it does during the school year. And I'm tired.
Every summer I have to get reacquainted with my kids in a new way; assessing what our summer goals are and weeding out annoying behaviors that have been developed over the school year.
Each summer is so different. Last summer I had a baby girl who still took two naps a day (so we had to stay home a lot) and a newly potty-trained toddler. The summer before that (2008 if you're keeping track) I had a prematurely born baby girl who required 5 weeks in the NICU, and a little boy who was adjusting to life as a big brother (that was a very hard summer). The summer before that was beautiful with my baby boy, but I can barely remember it.
So this summer is promising.
This summer is promising.
Summer is . . . still hard.
But there was a beautiful time today. While Lola napped I was teaching Eli to sew while I made felt flower barrettes for Lola. It was peaceful and still makes me smile. Of course when Lola woke up she would have none of that sewing business. The kids started in on one of those "OMG where can I hide" fights (I won't bore you too much with the details but the gist of it was Eli didn't want Lola to look at his kool-aid). So wonderful parent that I am, I took a deep breath, forced myself to talk slowly, and said in my best Mary Poppins voice "Okay children! We are going to read! Lets all go sit on the couch and read together!" They love to read, so they followed (still screaming at each other) and I grabbed the nearest cutesy book (Baby Animals by Gyo Fujikawa) and within 5 minutes they were calm but more importantly I was calm. We read through the time that I should have been starting dinner. We read until we were laughing and ended up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and green peas for dinner.
And the calm lasted until bedtime. It was truly wonderful.
I have to remind myself that it is usually more important to do anything that restores order than to do anything else. Dust will wait, but memories of chaos is not what I want in my kids' minds.
And I wonder. All the abuse and chaos witnessed this past school year. I wonder, if their parents had grabbed their kids and instead of hurting them, they read to them, how much more peaceful they would be? How much easier my job would be. How much better the world would be.
I'm willing to bet that I actually know what I'm talking about this time.
And that post-naptime will be set aside for reading this summer.
And wow, that PB&J was really good.
*I have always sworn I would not have a TV in my bedroom, so I feel the need to explain. A few years ago when I got pregnant and really sick with my ulcerative colitis, all I could do was come home and go to bed. It wasn't a pretty time, and the TV kept me from going insane with sickly boredom. I watched all the Food Network I could (since I couldn't eat much of anything), and escaped a little. Now of course the kids have taken over and insist on crawling into our bed every chance they can to watch their favorite cartoons. But don't worry, on my husband's list of things to do this summer (this is his own list, I am absolutely NOT the "honey-do" type of wife) is to move the TV out.