Monday, January 30, 2012

Great, It's Going to be THAT Kind of Day

This morning I woke up feeling smug about the status of Operation Get Four Kids Out the Door. The smugness should have been my first bad omen. No mom of four should ever get cocky. Lunches had been prepared the night before, clothes had been put in the dryer, and I was out of bed well before seven. I was showered, dressed, and having coffee by 7:30. Babies were loaded in the car by 8:30. Excellent. My keys were....nowhere to be found.

A frantic search ensued for the next fifteen minutes as our kids watched. The boys were strapped into the back of Dad's truck, and Scout was tucked away behind my driver's seat. They were surprisingly well behaved as we scrambled to retrace my steps from the night before. My phone was dead, so at a certain point, I had to stop, look up my work number (oh the common skills we have lost due to technology--I can't even memorize a phone number anymore), and call to let my coworkers know I had lost my keys.

Woo, I bet they were surprised to hear Molly, who is always on top of things and has it all together, couldn't find her keys. I warned my colleague I was likely going to end up riding my bike to school and kindly requested everyone refrain from poking fun at me, despite the fact that I'm just such an easy target.

At 8:59 (now nine minutes late for work), I gave up. I had sent Jason on with the boys ten minutes earlier. I changed out of my boots since biking two miles in boots is difficult and retrieved a warm coat for Scout to wear inside the bike trailer. I raised the garage door, and as I started to pull my bike out, I happened to look down and see my keys on the ground under the van. Apparently I dropped them there in the dark the night before when I hauled a sleeping Scout in from the car.

Thankful I didn't have to ride my bike to work, I took the four minute car ride to work and shamefully skulked inside right as the school day began. The students must have sensed my fragile state because they were absolute angels. I even had lunch with a great friend, was first in carpool line to pick up the boys, and scored Dolphin Tale at the Redbox kiosk. The day was looking up again.

Of course, it was capped off by Scout crapping up her back and my locking the keys in the van for the fourth time in two months, but hey, my life is the best comedic material I've got. Boredom isn't part of my vocabulary, and my own little brand of frazzled mom adventures make for one fun ride.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

If Your Sink Makes You Gag, It's Time to Load the Dishwasher

Yesterday I was at the end of a tough week, and I knew I was losing my grip on what I like to call "In Control Molly." Last Monday we instituted a No Yelling policy in the house that goes across the board. It started with no yelling for Mommy and Daddy but segued to include the kids by Wednesday. As a result, I have had to maintain a calm demeanor 24/7 until it becomes habit.

When Camden yelled in my face, I had to gently remind him of the new policy. When Hudson giggled as I redirected him, I had to try not to lose my cool over his lack of interest in following the rules. When Lawson demanded something to drink with a loud, disrespectful tone....yep, you guessed it. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce, hold hubby accountable, be held accountable by hubby in return. The first week has gone as well as I could have hoped, but it has been exhausting. When Camden and Hudson chose to ignore me when I asked them to stop wrestling on Thursday, I lost hold of my control and burst into tears. It was time for a break, which meant it was time for a clean house.

To be honest I would almost rather cry when redirecting my kids than try to clean my house in the state that it was in yesterday. No one should have to fight the urge to gag as much as I had to yesterday when simply loading the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. There was one dish cloth casualty, and our bedroom ended up being the new home base for the clean yet unfolded laundry. My bedroom is now officially my least favorite room in the house. Clearly that's a challenge for another day. The three and a half hours I got to sit and talk with my husband over dinner last night while my sweet friend Brittany and her beau watched my little ones made all of the gagging and frantic vacuuming of dog hair tumbleweeds worth it.

I think our impromptu date night was important for two reasons. One, because every couple should find a way to connect as people and not just as parents. You fell in love before you were responsible for little people, and it's nice to remember who your partner is other than Dad or Mom. Two, because every parent needs to realize it's okay to need a break from your kids. I was a wreck on Thursday, and part of it was guilt over needing a break from my kids. However, I guarantee you my babies are much happier today because Mom isn't an emotional train wreck simply because she had a few hours to regroup.

There is no job more important to me than being a mom. Sometimes being a mom is about taking care of myself and connecting with my husband, and sometimes being a mom is about spending time with my kids and finding new and exciting ways to connect as a family. Every component is important to the delicate art of balance. Now I'm off to bathe some kids and venture off on an exciting journey to a magical land called Wal Mart. See you soon!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

To My Husband on His 39th Birthday

Today my kids and I are celebrating the birth of a man who I'm not even sure truly grasps just how wonderful he is. He is the love of my life and my husband, Mr. Jason Jones. When we began dating almost eleven years ago, I knew I was in trouble. He was everything I was looking for and COMPLETELY unprepared for. Sure, I'd had a girlish crush on him since I was fifteen, but this was something totally different. I was twenty-three, fresh off an excruciating breakup, and ready to sow a few wild oats in the big city of Atlanta before I gave a second thought to things like marriage and family.

For almost a year, I put him through the ringer, first refusing to date him exclusively and then backing away every time I felt we were getting too serious. I even sulked when he took a job at a law firm in Roswell, and we ultimately ended up living in Atlanta at the same time in apartment complexes that were next door to each other.

When waiting for him to show up for a double date with my best friend and her boyfriend, I warned them not to get too attached to him.

"We're not going to end up being some fabulous foursome," I believe were my exact words.

Those were words I would ultimately have to eat when we got married two years later with both my best friend and her boyfriend turned husband in our wedding party. That day as I stood looking into Jason's big brown eyes, I wondered what I had been so afraid of and counted my blessings he waited for me to come around.

He is the joy of my life, and he has given me four of the most amazing blessings alive. I'm not saying every day is easy--far from it. In fact, every day we have to wake up ready to greet the challenges and stress of four kids, two working parents, a dog, a cat, and a house that is normally screaming for a good vacuuming. We have to work at our marriage and take time to remember who we are as a couple without our kids around. You see, we're two different people, and we don't always see eye to eye on things like the most efficient way to get out the door in the morning, who washes the most clothes, and whose turn it is to put Scout back in the bed.

What I do know is that at the end of the day, he is the one I want to cuddle with to regroup for tomorrow. He's the one I want to run with on a pretty day. He's the one I want to crack up laughing with when we New Girl is on. He's the one I want to talk to about the sweet little Jones kid stories that pop up throughout the day. He's even the one I want to pick a fight with when I'm grumpy because I know he's a worthy adversary.

He's my partner, my friend, and the perfect quiet balance to my Too Much Information approach to life. I love that he's a wonderful father and that he holds me accountable. Even though he drives me nuts sometimes, I love that I am the lucky one who gets to know all the annoying and endearing nuances about him. What a privilege to know someone on the level that we know each other and how lucky I feel that he lets me into his world the way he does.

For his birthday, I'd like to promise him that I will do a better job helping him make up the bed at night, especially since he loathes the feather bed I insist I need for my back. I promise to try and use my big kid words during a disagreement and respect his requests for space when he needs it. I promise to feed the dog more often and to ask for his keys to lock the front door before he climbs under the covers and gets comfortable. I promise to keep believing in his innate goodness and to support him in his endeavors. Most of all, I promise to love him unconditionally for the rest of my life and to wake up each morning ready to take on every day God brings our way. Happy birthday, Jason!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Waxing Poetic on Brown Rice and Noodles--Tales of Restless Mommy

You know when you've been sick but you're starting to get hungry again? Only nothing sounds remotely appetizing because it all reminds you that you just got over a wicked bout of the hurlies? That's where I'm at today. Even Hudson's cupcakes look revolting. I'm home bound again since Scout ran a fever all night, and I really feel like the three day post-puke mark (so gross--I'm sorry. I have no shame.) should be a point where I can sit down to a nice cup of coffee or a plate of nachos. Instead everything sounds disgusting. I had noodles for dinner last night, and I'm whipping up a nice bag of brown rice for lunch today. Yum.

The house still looks like a train derailed inside it. The laundry boggles my mind every day, but I know I've more than covered that topic on this forum. I really want to complete at least one task today so that I can feel like I accomplished something in my four-day absence from work. Wouldn't it be nice if we all headed off to where we need to be in the morning and left a clean, shiny house behind? Ahhh...allow me to daydream for a moment. Instead I'm typing away at this computer because I have motherhood induced ADD and a pipe dream to become a writer. Maybe it's the rain outside. It gets me all jumpy. Time to wrap this up and organize some Legos.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Just Along for the Ride

This afternoon marked a pinnacle in my latest adventure in motherhood. I have officially reached the point where I can laugh and joke about the series of events over the past five days. This milestone is a big deal because I'm quickly learning to laugh at my life as it's happening rather than when I'm looking back on it. Last Friday we began a fun ride when Camden woke up in the wee hours of the morning vomiting. He later tested positive for strep throat at the pediatrician's office, leaving his doctor hopeful that the hurling was from the strep.

Well, that diagnosis was contradicted on Sunday when Lawson ralphed in the van on the way to get Hudson's birthday gift. We pulled over and dashed into Rite Aid to get wipes, Lysol, paper towels, and Febreeze. Jason started feeling queasy at that point, so while he fought back the hurlies, I dismantled Lawson's seat and proceeded to scrub and disinfect for the next 45 minutes. We were almost home when Jason lost his battle.

When I finally got everyone home and got Lawson in the bath, Jason quarantined himself in our bedroom, and I proceeded to get Lawson cleaned up. This little feat involved two more vomiting incidents and an especially fun episode where I got projectile pooed on. Twice. When I finally got the boys settled in, I started feeling queasy myself. Scout apparently didn't get the memo and refused to go to sleep because she couldn't see her daddy. I finally resorted to putting her on the couch with me, but when I woke up at 2:30 a.m., she had migrated into our room and curled up next to Jason. Clearly I knew what I could anticipate with her in the next 48 hours after that.

For most of the duration of my illness, I lingered in what I like to call Puke Purgatory, in which the person remains in a state of disgusting nausea without the relief of throwing up. It reminded me of the five months of debilitating nausea I endured when I was pregnant with Scout--which reminds me that I really need to call that urologist. Anywho...Jason assured me, having thrown up no less than ten times that night himself, that the relief that came with the act was completely overrated.

We spent the whole of yesterday catching fleeting moments of sleep and breaking up fights. Well, Jason got to break up the majority of the fights since I couldn't get out of bed until 2:00 in the afternoon. We woke up optimistic today and started bathing some seriously stinky boys, which is right around the time Scout started throwing up.

Apparently our little sunshine really hates to puke. Every time I held the little barf bowl to her head when she started retching, she shoved it away and whined "I don't want to!" There were many times throughout the day she won the battle of wills with the barfies. She would gag and then declare "I'm okay."

At 3:25, I took a chance and loaded her in the car to go get the kids. She hadn't thrown up in a few hours, and very few people have room for three extra kids (who are all still in boosters) in their mommy mobiles. I got her in the car smoothly, but when I turned the key in the ignition, I heard the increasingly familiar click of a dead battery. Epic. I put in a call to the school to have the boys sent to the front office so that I could wait for my rocking mommy friend Margie to come over and let me borrow a little juice from her battery. Let me just tell you as a side note that I can now jump a battery in less than two minutes without any input from my husband or father. And it's not my alternator; it's a crappy Wal Mart battery that is reading a marginal charge. Clearly we need to get that resolved as soon as possible. But I digress.

The moment I put my car in park at the boys' school, Scout projectile vomited Gatorade all over herself and her car seat. I didn't even miss a beat during Round 2 of "Let's Throw up in Mommy's Van" and simply wiped her down and stripped her. Kudos to the school secretary, who walked my boys out to the bus lane to load up in the van when I called back to explain what happened.

Car seat number two is now dismantled, Scout is bathed and sleeping, the kids have finished homework, Camden is reading, Lawson is playing a computer game, and Hudson is the last man standing. Now we wait. What a feat it will be if he escapes this powerful cootie germ that is taking down Jones family members one by one. If he wakes up hurling tomorrow, it will be the first time all six family members (plus my friend Meghan's son) have been taken out in one fell swoop. Tonight I'll work on birthday cupcakes for Hudsy, who has offered up little complaint despite having had the lamest sixth birthday ever. If he hasn't thrown up by Thursday (the 48 hour mark since Scout got sick), then I hope I feel well enough to eat one of his cupcakes to celebrate.    

That Natalie Merchant song "These are the Days" keeps playing over and over in my head because despite all the throw up and poop shoots, these are the days. I figured out a long time ago (and relearned it last summer when we had our lice epidemic) that this is the good stuff that you'll laugh about later. When Jason and I are surrounded at Christmas by our four grown kids and their own families, I hope we laugh till we cry telling stories like these. I hope my own children experience these same challenges one day because this is the good stuff. I mean, it's nasty stuff, but it's still good.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hudson Takes on the World

Today Hudson is six years old. Many of you who have followed my blog since its inception have likely read anxious posts detailing my agonizing decision to take him out of one pre-k program and place him in another and my worries over his going to kindergarten. Hudson is the least adaptable of all of my children. He is noticeably more introverted than his brother Camden and more anxious than his brother Lawson. Until last year, he had great difficulty making strong social connections. When we moved here, he cried for months over missing his one acquaintance from preschool, a child whose last name I never even learned.

I credit WIPP a great deal for changing Hudson's life and building his confidence level. He made his first friend, Dodge, who to this day still tops his list of besties, and thrived in the safe environment of Julie Reese and Lindy Horton's classroom. Last spring at kindergarten orientation, all the progress he made evaporated when he panicked and ran when the kids were divided into different groups and sent with individual teachers. He knew no one, and I saw his old anxieties surge to the surface. I had to chase down Camden's kindergarten teacher and plea with her to take Hudson into her group. He was familiar with her, so she was the only teacher he would agree to walk with.

I was very blessed that Hudson was placed in Mrs. Sheppard's (Camden's former teacher) room and even more blessed that Dodge ended up in the same class. Hudson struggled at first, earning straight faces and two frowny faces as he adjusted to the schedules and rules of class. Eventually I began to receive positive feedback from Mrs. Sheppard, and Hudson began talking about other classmates besides Dodge.

One afternoon he came home and announced he made a new friend. According to Hudson, the little boy didn't have a friend in class, and Hudson felt like it was important for him to become his first friend. They play together often now. When another boy was moved into his class a month into the school year, Hudson was wary because this little man had long been friends with Dodge. The first day was disappointing to Hudson because he felt like the new boy wasn't interested in being his friend, but each day got a little better. Soon Hudson considered Dodge's friend his friend as well.

When a situation arose where this little boy was laughed at by his classmates for a particular behavior, Hudson came home very upset over the incident. He told me very emphatically that he and Dodge did not laugh with the other students, and he was very disappointed in the friends who did. The little boy's mother mentioned the incident to me the following week and expressed how thankful her son was that Hudson not only did not laugh, but was angered by the behavior of those who did. I was so proud to be his mom in that moment.   

I realize I have a child who is sensitive to his environment. He has always been this way. He needs the right situation to feel comfortable and to thrive. He needs the right teacher who can balance attending to his needs and letting him know he is loved without pushing him before he is ready. This year I have realized I also have a child who is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. He is naturally empathetic, a gift I find extraordinary in children.

My heart melts when I see the progress he has made. He was a child who was once incapable of looking an adult in the eyes and who isolated himself from the group, sometimes giving in to the grief and weight of his separation anxiety. To see him gain confidence and make new social connections is a wonderful blessing. He will always be quirky and different, but I think that makes him even more interesting.

So today I celebrate my complicated, beautiful, introspective, empathetic, giggly, silly six-year-old boy who brightens my life. Happy birthday, Hudson Robert Jones!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Today was our first regular day after the winter break, and we made it through the morning by the skin of our teeth....wait, that's a figure of speech, right? Jason would probably call that one of my "Bowdonisms" in honor of the small town from which half of my family hales. Anyway, our pitfall today was a little complication called mismatched socks. I think I could write and produce a hilarious satire on the Mystery of the Missing Sock. I always start with a complete set of matching pairs, and then somehow, I end up with a white wicker basket full of socks with no mates. The dryer has to be stashing them somewhere in an effort to drive me crazy. I bet that pesky appliance cracks up about it with the washing machine whenever I'm not home.

When I came tearing through the house at 2:45 to change into my T-shirt and tennis shoes before darting back out to Wal Mart and then carpool line, I was dismayed at the state of the house. I'm just going to have to accept that as long as I'm working, the house isn't going to look the way I want it to. I've got a good grip on the dirty laundry right now, but to be honest, the clean laundry waiting to be folded is staging a coup. I'm going to try my best to hold the tiny whitey tighties at bay until Saturday, when I plan to clean and fold like a crazy woman in order to get ready for Hudson's 6th birthday on Sunday.

Tomorrow will be Day 2 of sleep deprivation and two minutes showers before work in an effort to make it out the door on time. I really should be making sandwiches right now, but instead I opted for blogging. I'm sure I'll regret that decision around 8:15 tomorrow morning. Thank goodness it's a short week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just a Regular Day

There hasn't been anything extraordinary about the past two days with my family. In some ways I think it's what makes the last two days of Christmas vacation so spectacularly lazy and fun. Yesterday we stayed in our pajamas all day long. I literally had to change out of my pajamas from the night before and change into clean ones to climb into bed.

The kids and Jason played Mario Slugger on the Wii, and I unearthed pictures from the boys' infancy and toddlerhood that we didn't know we had. It was so much fun to look back on the photos and watch videos of baby Lawson and tiny Camden and Hudson. I was humbled by how quickly time has passed and sad to realize it's passing by with Scout just as quickly.

On the other hand, I relished the moments with my big boys, and their growing independence is both exciting and sad. I know it will be hard for me when they don't need me as much, but I sense an underlying trust and friendship that is building between us that is both hilarious and touching. Tonight I sat in the bathroom floor laughing so hard I couldn't breathe because my mini-dork forgot to take his socks off before he stepped in the tub and then laughed so hard at himself he farted. It felt so good to let the opportunity to tell him to pay attention to what he's doing pass and just laugh at his dripping wet sock and look of stunned amusement when he picked his foot up out of the water. The fart was just the icing on the cake as it reverberated off the porcelain tub. Ordinarily I would tell him to use his manners, but not this time. The moment was too fun and too genuine to be marred with lectures. I let myself be a kid for a moment and shared a great moment with my son.

I also cut all three boys' hair tonight, and it gave me a few minutes of solo time with each of them. They are so different in their own ways, but there is a genuine passion and a silly zeal for life that unites them. Hudson insisted I tie the cover I used to protect his neck from stray hair around him like a cape, and he bounded around his room like a superhero when I was done. Lawson danced and giggled his way through every snip and then launched himself back into the tub to wash off the "itchies." Camden fretted I was cutting his hair too short until he caught a glimpse in the mirror to check my handiwork. He didn't even get upset when I nicked him with the scissors, and he went so far as to laugh at the joke I made at my own expense.

Sometimes I can laugh with my boys and take pride in the patience I muster in caring for them. Sometimes the pack mentality takes control of them, and I find myself yelling in frustration to deaf little ears who are too far engrossed in goofy wrestling matches to realize I'm even talking. These are the moments I might have to walk away to be able to deal with the situation the right way or when I try and seek out Scout for a cuddle to remind me they are only little once.

Jason and I go back to work tomorrow, and the kids go back to school on Wednesday. As the week grows increasingly hectic, I hope I can hold onto the perspective I have right now to carry me through the stressful moments. My goal is to slow down and see life through their eyes even when our demanding schedule dictates every moment of our lives. Happy New Year to you all, my cohorts in this adventure we call parenting.