Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No time to brush?

My children announced at the bus stop today that they hadn't had time to brush their teeth. I was astounded. I remember looking up from the hubbub at one point in the morning -- my middle son doing his homework while eating his breakfast, my oldest doing anything he could to distract him (which was something akin to yodeling after I insisted he keep his hands to himself), and my youngest telling me he needed help with his shirt (which he did not, he needed attention), the dog and cat orbiting me, and an early morning conference call in the background, while I was trying to make the lunches and ensure everything everyone needed was laid out next to their backpacks (recorder for oldest, library books for middle, snow suit and boots for youngest), and consume enough coffee to continue functioning. And I haven't had time to write in long enough that I am feeling "backed up" and I have a column due and need to write something for church invocation this Sunday. But yet, I still make time to brush. "But you get to stay home all day, Mommy!" my son said. Does he assume I am sitting at home in my pajamas watching Nickelodeon and eating toaster pastries (which is what he would be doing if I hadn't reoriented him this morning)?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I am too tired to work anymore

But probably will anyway...

Today was so busy I didn't have time to take the dog for a walk until nearly 5:00. Fortunately, he did his duty and then I dragged him back home in 20 minutes. It was really cold and the sun was starting to go down. My big plan was to pick up the kids early, take them to McDonald's, go to the supermarket...all before my middle son's den meeting.

Well, we got to McDonald's but I was already reluctant because the older two's misbehavior in the car. And it was family night. Value-priced Happy Meals (though my oldest is too grown up for those, which is silly, because his hamburger probably cost more than it would have if it was in the Happy Meal), fun, excitement, and make your own sundae. I knew the trip to the supermarket would be impossible.

Then, I thought I'd just drop off middle son and take the other two to the store during the den meeting. But the bummer about that is that the store is right next to McDonald's, and both are 7 miles away from the den meeting. Travel time and backtracking. Plus my oldest wanted to play chess with me during the den meeting (fortunately I had negotiated him down to cribbage, because I just don't like chess that much).

So, then I began modifying my grocery list to the absolute bare necessities: milk and whatever it is that I need for our dinner party tomorrow. I dragged the boys to the convenient grocery store across the street from our house, after dragging them out of the free-for-all the den meeting had become, and somehow one of them got injured fooling around in the parking lot. They were relatively compliant in the store, and I didn't even buy them any extras. And still, I wondered, "How did I spend $50?"

I still have stuff to do. Things that were due today. And look at the time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

At the end of my rope

After working around my kids all day (thankfully my neighbor had them in the morning so I could have three conference calls without hiding), I had to go out and shovel the snow. I made the kids come out with me since I didn't really trust them alone in the house and they really needed some exercise. They proceeded to throw snow in each other's faces and climb all over and into my car and somehow snow kept ending up back from where I had just removed it. I got so annoyed I just gave up and let them go back in while I continued to shovel as much as I could as fast as I could while muttering. Then I cooked them dinner and told them no more T.V. Go up in your room and find something to do. I am exhausted. The dog needed extra attention today, too, so I gave him a bath after the kids were done. And now the cat won't get off me and she has stinky toots. I cannot wait for the school bus to come tomorrow.

They are not always so annoying and sassy and rowdy and ungrateful, though. There were two recent occasions where I was amazed an proud of my older two.

I'll have to write about that another day, though. I plan to take a long lunch tomorrow and want to get some stuff off my to do list now before I crash.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Tonight we were watching Extreme Home Makeover. I don't know why the kids are so into this show, but we've watched it from time to time since Uncle was on it last year. Well, we're not sure if he was actually on it, but he did work on the house that was featured on an episode -- it was someone's who we went to high school with, so a lot of our old classmates worked on it, too.

Ty and the gang were sending a family on vacation to Hawaii! My oldest said, "I want to go to Hawaii!"

I answered, "Well, I'm sure that would be a lot of fun, honey, but I don't think we can do that until you guys are a little older."

"Awww, c'mon Mom!" (their standard plea).

"Boys, I just don't think I can stand being on an airplane with you for that long."

"How long does it take?"

"Well, at least twice as long as it does to get to California" (a trip we had taken in the summer of 2007, which was a two-week vacation, primarily because I knew I couldn't bear to do the trip twice in one week, and secondarily, because it would take two weeks of not sending the boys to camp and daycare to afford the costly direct-flight, convenient-time-of-day airline tickets).

Extreme Home Makeover comes on at 8 p.m. on Sunday Nights. I was fine with them staying up to watch it, since school has already been cancelled for tomorrow. I don't know how I am going to work around them. Usually by the time we finish with a weekend, I am so ready to wave "buh-bye" to the school bus. I had end-of-month work to do on Saturday morning and spent four hours working around sanctioning and separating them. "Divide and conquer" is my motto. They each ended up on a separate floor.

We have had so many snow days this year that to make up for tomorrow the kids will have to go to school on a Saturday. (Hopefully it's not a "Daddy Saturday" so I can actually enjoy the bonus "time off," which is essential for all mothers, and especially so for us single moms who have responsibility for our offspring 24x7 80-100% of the time.) The icing on the cake is that I have our dog barking at me and I have no idea what he wants. He's eaten, pooped, had treats, gone out in the side yard multiple times. Maybe he just wants attention. As does the cat, apparently.

Maybe I'll just suck it up and log a couple of work hours after the kids go to bed. Then I won't feel so stressed out about the fact that I'll be mostly working reactively tomorrow. I think I only have one or two conference calls (which necessitate my hiding after lecturing them not to interrupt me, and trying to ignore any shouting, crying, or crashing from other parts of the house, while keeping my phone on mute, just in case. But maybe not. I'm tired!


Yesterday I took my kids to a Lowell Devils hockey game. It was a PTA sponsored event so there were a bunch of people we knew in our section. We had a lot of fun -- the arena is small and family friendly and the lights were on, so I could "see the big picture," unlike how I ever felt seeing a concert at the Worcester Centrum (or whatever it's called now...guess it's been a long time, been a long time...).

I had prepped my youngest ahead of time to let him know that if he got tired, we were not leaving and he was not allowed to act like a pill, but he was completely welcome to take a nap on my lap, which he did. When the second period was almost over, I had to use the ladies' room and I handed him to a friend sitting near me. He woke up when I was gone but was unfazed, which is probably why when it was his turn to go to the bathroom, and I sent his 7 year old brother to escort him (and my oldest to check on them when they didn't come back within a few minutes), he (the youngest) took off from his brother and tried to find his way back to me on his own.

My middle son came running back to our seats and said, "I lost him!"

"What do you mean you lost him! How could you lose him?"

Two other moms and I jumped up and were up the stairs in no time. I made a beeline to the disinterested official at the top of the stairs next to the men's room. I couldn't seem to get him involved quickly enough so I moved on. The mens room was right there -- I sent my oldest back in. Something told me to look down the stairs of the next section and there he (my youngest) was. Thank God. He didn't even know he was lost.

I asked him, "why did you leave your brother?"

"He was bothering me."

"But you can't just take off like that -- we were all worried about you!"

"Okay, Mommy." As if it were that simple.

But, it's no simple matter for me to take three kids anywhere by myself. Even still, I do it as often as possible. I have taken them to McDonald's, the movies, the supermarket, church every week, Canobie Lake Park, and across the country in an airplane. We frequently talk about teamwork and the buddy system (hence my comments to my youngest initially about taking the nap on my lap, and not spoiling everyone's time at the game by whining about going home). I don't always receive full compliance, though. Like this event at the hockey game, and the drive home, and trip to the supermarket afterwards...

I had to pull the car over three times on the way home, the last time hauling my middle son out of the wayback to separate him from his younger brother. Apparently the exuberance of the hockey game had them all charged up and they felt the need to re-enact all the violent parts of the game.

At the supermarket I had to physically separate my older two multiple times while they fought over who was going to push their younger brother around in the cart. "No one is pushing the cart but me!"

A neighboring shopper empathized, "I've been there. My son is 17 now. It goes so fast..."

I smiled weakly at her, but inwardly I was thinking, "Right, you have one. You have not been where I am..."

(My kids thought the term for a child with no siblings is a "lonely child.")

Families where there are two parents and one child are much different than families with more children than parents. I have a friend who, with her husband, takes her son out to fine restaurants and all manner of cultural events (like the ballet and museums), and he takes all sorts of lessons, probably as many as my older two combined. As I mentioned, we go to kid-restaurants, kid-events (like bowling), and after sports, scouts, and church -- I don't have time for extra music or art lessons or karate, never mind hockey!

The Bigs had the nerve to ask me for quarters on the way out of the store. "C'mon Mom, we know you have some!" (They had brought me change on their numerous trips to the concession stands).

By the time we got to our friend's house for dinner (which was why we stopped at the supermarket in the first place, coupled with my need to get cash back, because the kids had cleaned me out at the game), I couldn't take any more. Maybe she felt the same after a long day with her kids. The good news is that they now had each other and the two of us, along with another (childless that night) friend were able to have grownup time and grownup food.

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...