The expectation….and the reality.

kidss

 

Having kids is a fun way to learn to NOT have expectations. It’s also funny that my husband always seems surprised and even perplexed when the little ones don’t cooperate with his plans for a fun afternoon together.

Take today, for example.

He had the afternoon off, and wanted to take the kids to the zoo. Perfect day for it, not too hot, still nice and sunny.

His expectation: A beautiful bonding experience, complete with shared laughter and warm feelings, as we all enjoyed our day and each others company.

The reality: Horrible traffic getting there. 4 year old falls asleep 2 minutes before parking and required vigorous waking up. Toddler won’t sit in the stroller, won’t hold hands to walk, wants to run in front of every zoo vehicle, screams like a howler monkey when we are forced to man handle her for her own safety. I carry her under my arm like a rolled up rug part of the time, sick of fighting with her to keep her alive and not flattened by a random tram. We can’t find the seals, where are the damn seals! We give up as the zoo closes. Get stuck in rush hour traffic on the way home, as toddlers shoe falls off in the back seat. And she SCREAMS. On and off, for 40 minutes.

As I drove, in bumper to bumper traffic….. I kept peeking over at my husband. Just waiting for him to start stabbing himself in the eye with something. The screaming from the back was the kind you hear when your child is PISSED OFF….it goes on, and on….slowly tapering off. You start to think you’re safe, you made it through…as she sits quietly for a few minutes. But no…. she was just taking a break. And it starts again, and hubby’s eye starts twitching…. hand desperately clutching a pretzel rod.

Oh, don’t think she’d stop if we would just put on her shoe. Trust me, I WISH it was that easy. When she gets pissed lately, there is no quick fix. Replace the shoe, buy her new shoes, take off both shoes…..doesn’t matter. She will cry until she decides she’s done. Not usually sooner, but later.

Now, ALL of our outings do not suck this much. BUT, I never expect them NOT to suck. Because then I can be happy when we have fun, and not all surprised when we don’t.

But still, my husband just doesn’t seem to understand how the world works with children. I don’t know if I should call it hopeless optimism…. or just feel sorry for him and his lack of ability to deal with reality. Sometimes it’s endearing, and sometimes it’s just annoying.

Like when we get a chance to go out to dinner together, us and the little ones again.

His expectation: We will sit, speak to each other about important or interesting topics, and we will eat our meal.

The reality: we sit. Then I get up about 30 times to take Jenna potty, because she MUST visit the potty every 4 minutes every time we are in a public place. We talk, about why is he letting Sammy run around wearing Jenna’s blanket as a cape when I’m off in the bathroom? I talk a lot to the kids, things like “Stop that!”, “get out from under the table!”, “sit down!”, “please eat your food”, “don’t spill that!”, “leave your sister alone”, “leave ME alone!”….. and between this I steal bites of food.

Sometimes things go better. But you know if you have little ones….going out to eat is not like….easy or fun usually. You have to be ready for anything, which is tiring even if nothing actually happens. Because it COULD happen, and you must maintain order at all cost.

Sounds like a lot of work huh?

At this point, based on my experience, my own expectations are more realistic.

Expectations: I will not participate in any lengthy adult conversation or activity while my children are anywhere around me. I will eat mostly standing up, and my food will usually be cold. I will never pee alone. If walking up the stairs, I will be either carrying a toddler, or a laundry basket. Or, a toddler IN a laundry basket. I will never have time to do my hair. I will steal kisses a million times a day from anyone who has previously resided in my uterus.

The reality: see above. Honestly, not so bad. And one day, I will probably even sleep through an entire night again…..

 

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Hey, I really liked my kids today!!

Today was a good day.

This morning, I wouldn’t have thought it was going to turn out this well. The 4 year old has had a fever since yesterday, and wanted his feet rubbed, back rubbed, and all spare moments dedicated to his comfort….as is expected for a sick little boy….or maybe any sick boy/man….??

The 13 year old had to perform in a concert at school but waited until the last possible moment to start worrying about what time he needed to be there, and what time he needed me to come bring him home. Not to mention the clothes I’d been asking about all week, “do you know where your dress pants are, are they clean???”  Of course, I found them in his closet today, clean and crumpled, and ironed them strictly to save my own reputation as a “good mom” with the other parents who would see him.

The 16 year old, who will be 17 in a matter of days, was full of attitude after waking up before 6am to play in two softball games. The two teens bickered like old women about who cleaned their bathroom last, and who should have to vacuum the basement for me.

16 month old was destined to be the favorite today. Even after painting herself with mandarin oranges and squishing them into her hair.

I was doing my usual weekend cleaning, yelling, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, folding laundry, moving furniture, more cleaning and begging the oldest two to please stop insulting each other for the love of all things holy.

Then it happened.

It was like the stars suddenly aligned.

Somehow, we all ended up in each others company……not yelling, screaming, crying, fighting or causing damage of any kind.

They played together! Definitely, having the baby helped, as her amazing adorableness can soften the most jaded of teenage hearts. We laughed as Jen-Jen entertained us as only a toddler can, with her budding vocabulary and love of imitating everyone around her.

Dinner was enjoyable. What??!! How often do I get to say that? So often lately it’s broken up by the sports schedules of the two oldest, I end up cooking for the youngest two, and then hours later the others will wander in, dirty, tired and somehow not hungry for anything I’ve made. Lately, a meal with all kids together is rare. Even more rare is a meal with no arguments of any kind, no 4 year old turning his nose up at….EVERYTHING I make….. , and no baby deciding to chuck her cup, and often parts of her meal, at my head the moment she decides she’s full. No warning!

Tonight felt so special. Jenna didn’t spit anything out at me, bonus. Sammy was feeling better, and ate some sweet potato and fruit. the older two actually finished off all the grilled fish, and LIKED IT!! There was good natured talking at the table, no fighting, not even a little!

My oldest and her friend even went grocery shopping with me and the baby later, to TWO STORES!  Nary a sigh was heard. I’m sure the chocolate I bought them didn’t hurt. The girls even made dessert.

We laughed more later at the antics of the baby, crawling after a tiny ant in the kitchen, and blowing on her toes to imitate me after I’d painted them. My 13 year old made me two cups of iced tea. Count them, two…..and I didn’t even ask, well not for the second one. There was a point we were all laughing and joking in the kitchen together. I thought about how happy I was, how nice this felt, briefly wondered if we were somehow all high…quickly dismissed it….

It was a night just made to enjoy. One of those nights you don’t want to end, you just want to keep it going.

A perfect night to savor being a mom. I felt like all four kids liked me, at the same time. And I liked them all too! No one screaming for me to pick them up, no one tattling or arguing. I didn’t feel worn out, as I tend to do by the end of a long day…but instead energized, and grateful.

I have had a day with my four, and I felt loved, enjoyed, happy. I didn’t have to force any of them to share my company, I didn’t even have to battle wits or make empty threats for it happen.

Tomorrow we will celebrate our traditional mothers day, but it may not be magical.  I doubt the greatness of today can stretch that far, surely someone will remember how annoying everyone else is by then!

But these days, when they happen, are the most special. They remind me of what to tell people who want to know why on earth I chose to have all these kids. Because I don’t think anything comes close to the happiness these kids can bring. It reminds me on other, less perfect days….what our potential is. Even if we don’t quite reach it all the time. Just makes it all the more amazing when we do.