Monday, September 9, 2013

School, Potty Training, Teeth and Toes

I think I have finally accepted the fact that life isn't going to slow down.  No matter how much I want to freeze a weekend afternoon with my family, it just won't happen. I try to savor it; to soak up every little bit of raising little children.  I appreciate the quiet moment we have together as a family, as it is so easy for our lives to become full of other things these days.

I sit there and smile as Jim and I watch Lilly and Jack jump on the bouncy house and listen to them laugh hysterically when one of them goes head first down the slide.  I watch from close by on a picnic blanket, where Hannah is learning how to sit (so really, she does a lot of wobbling and not a lot of sitting at the moment), with and assortment of toys that she doesn't know how to play with yet.  Jim and I sit and chat and enjoy a cold beverage of our choice, and I know that this is how life should be.

With school starting and Jack potty training and teething and Hannah teething and my tutoring and Jim commuting into the city, it's easy to get overwhelmed.  I know that I'm hard on myself as a mother.  It's what mothers do best.  We feel guilty all the time.  Am I paying enough attention to each of my children?  Am I paying too much attention to them?  After all, I want them to learn how to play (nicely) by themselves.  Do I expect too much out of Lilly, because she seems so much older than the other two, even though she is only four years old?  Do I expect too much out of Jack, who is really still a baby but because he's not the baby of our family, he seems much older than he is?  Do I pay enough attention to Hannah, who is such an easy and happy baby that she spends most of her day rolling around on a blanket or bouncing in her bouncy chair?

I want everything in our house to run smoothly.  I want the children to play nicely and eat whatever I serve them for dinner with smiles on their faces and proper manners.  I want them to have had dinner, baths, brushed teeth and read stories when Jim gets home, so he can come in and give them hugs and tuck them into bed.  I want them to say please and thank you and look people in the eye when they talk to them.  I want them to be kind.  I want my children to grow up and have as wonderful memories of their childhood as I do of mine.  I want them to love each other and love being with each other.  The list goes on and on.  I know I put a lot of pressure on myself.  After all, Jim goes off to the office every day and supports our family.  Raising our children is my job, and I want to do it well and be proud of our family.  So I'm hard on myself if the day ends in chaos.  I take it personally, even though I know I shouldn't.  Thankfully, at the end of every day, Jim comes home from work.  We get to enjoy our quiet evenings and good nights of sleep, and I start each day off refreshed and with a clean slate.  I get to try again.

When things go well, I feel proud.  I feel like all my hard work has paid off.  Last week, I had one of those weeks, where things just worked.  Lilly went back to school and couldn't have been happier.  It was like she never left.  Jack finally popped his canines AND, more importantly, was potty trained.  He also got his haircut.  Overnight, he went from a toddler to a little boy.  We said goodbye to his diapers and to his long hair (for now anyway; the only reason I didn't cry is because I know it will grow back...).  Hannah was Hannah.  So sweet and happily went in and out of the car to drop off and pick up Lilly.  She napped when I needed her to nap and smiled and rolled around.  She discovered her feet and learned how to shake the toys on her play mat so hard that they fall off and she can hold them.  Her eyes light up whenever Lilly or Jack comes to talk to her or play with her, even if their idea of playing with her is putting a blanket over her face or giving her a dump truck that is almost the same size as she is.

It is weeks like last week that make being a mother amazing.  There's nothing more rewarding than seeing my happy little family, and being proud of who they are and what they are doing.  That doesn't mean that last week was easy; on the contrary, it was one of the most exhausting weeks I can remember having.  Timing naps and potty training and school drop offs and meals and tutoring and cleaning and laundry is tiring.  But the payoff--a happy family--is unmatchable.

Lilly's first day of school
September 4, 2013