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An Almost Perfect Present

Number 5 and 6’s birthday was last week, and one of  Number 5’s gifts was to go to the salon with me for her first mani/pedi.

She has been begging for this for a couple years now, and she is my girliest girl, so I knew she would truly enjoy and appreciate the experience.

Not having my shit together for the past few weeks, I didn’t make an appointment or anything. We just winged it and went to my favorite nail place. I rarely have my nails done, but when I spring for a pedicure, this is the place I go to.

It was 11:30 on Saturday morning, the place was packed, and they had no openings.

I was bummed.

So we got back in the car and headed across the street to a place I’d never been to.

It was a newish place that opened up fairly recently.

They weren’t as busy as my first choice and were able to take us immediately, so we stayed.

Number 5 was so excited. The sheer number of nail polish colors from which to choose had her squealing with delight.

We sat down next to each other.

She felt right at home.

She had a dude doing her nails.  She’s a little shy, and I thought she might not be comfortable with that, but she was happy as could be.

Since she was going to have both her hands and feet done, I splurged and got myself one of the fancier pedicures. I’d have time while she was getting her manicure.

I very rarely get pedicures. This is partially due to the fact that they aren’t really in the budget.

But it’s also because I spend as much of the summer barefoot as possible, and I don’t spend very much time taking care of my feet.

So they’re kind of a disaster. Especially my heels.

If I got one of those baby foot peel treatments, I could  make a seriously satisfying skin peeling video.

So anyway,  the lady started going to town on my heels.

Five minutes in, there was a disgusting (but impressive) accumulation on the towel under my feet.

About the same time, I noticed the TV on the wall in front of us.

They weren’t playing The View or HGTV or any show a woman would stereotypically watch.

Nope.

They were broadcasting a fucking UFC fight.

What the hell?

I hate that shit! And I didn’t really want my 8-year-old daughter watching it during her first ever birthday mani/pedi!

I wanted to say something. But I also didn’t want to be that mom.

So I kept my mouth shut.

It wasn’t long before Number 5 moved to get her manicure.

I had fun watching her enjoy the experience while my technician continued her Cross Fit workout on my feet.

Number 5 seemed so big to me before we walked into the salon, but so small and cute when I watched her from across the room.

We both finished up at about the same time and sat at the dryers for a couple minutes together.

She had a smile from ear to ear.

We left about five minutes later.

As we were walking to the car, I asked her if she had fun.

“YES!!!” she said.

“Except there was just one thing I didn’t like,” she told me.

Fucking UFC fights. 

I was angry that my girl would associate her first ever mani/pedi with anything negative, but especially with that.

“What didn’t you like?” I asked her, knowing full well what her answer would be.

“I didn’t want to look at…

YOUR FEET! THEY WERE SO DISGUSTING, MOM! WHAT WAS ALL THAT GROSS BROWN STUFF THAT CAME OFF OF THEM? IT WAS EMBARRASSING!”

Oh. My. God.

Not the answer I expected.

But on the bright side, regularly scheduled pedicures are now officially justified.

 

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For Those Of You Struggling With The Transition Into Summer

This first day of summer has snuck up on me.

I’m not prepared. I’m not organized.

It’s kind of like when Christmas seems so far away, and you know you have plenty of time. And then all of a sudden, BAM. It’s Christmas Eve Day and you haven’t wrapped a single present. You haven’t even finished your shopping.

And you freak out.

I am freaking out a little bit.

Swim practice times have changed. My coaching hours are completely different. Summer swim team is starting. I started teaching swim lessons here at home yesterday. I am also close to launching a new and improved website and I have kind of a massive amount of work to do for that. From home.

And all the kids are here now. Every day. All. Day. Long.

Oh yeah. And it’s Number 3’s birthday today.

I feel so overwhelmed that I’m kind of paralyzed. I’m having trouble knowing or deciding where to start.

This paralysis leads to avoidance, where, inevitably, I end up on Facebook.

And Facebook is flooded with last day of school pictures/celebrations/whatever.

Ugh.

I managed to take a first day of school picture for some of the kids back in August..

But there was no last day of school pic.

Apparently the thing to do these days is have your kids wear the same outfit on the first and last day of school. And then document both days.

At least if you really have your shit together.

I don’t have my shit together.

I didn’t decorate the driveway with chalk or buy sparklers or make a cake with a custom message or go out for celebratory ice cream yesterday.

And today I didn’t start Number 3’s birthday off with a special birthday breakfast. In fact, I’ve planned nothing for him.

For me, right now, the goal is no blood, no fire, and no death.

Seriously.

And the no blood goal is pretty lofty.

I am functioning on the basics. Keep everyone alive.

That’s it.

Today I am just going to tread water. It is only about keeping my head above water.

I’m not worrying about forward progress. There will be no pressure to check anything off a to-do list. The kids may eat Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

They will survive. If I keep it simple for today, we all will.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a small list, and start to pick away at it.

I love summer. I really do. It is BY FAR my favorite season.

But this year the transition into it has not been smooth. At all.

When Number 6 first started preschool, he had a very hard time transitioning from one activity to another. Any time he had to stop one thing and start another, he would be inconsolable.

At the time I was frustrated by this. I couldn’t relate.

But today, I can.

100%.

If I were four years old, I’d be hysterical right now.

So if you, like me, feel like you are one of the only people on the planet who is overwhelmed by this change in routine, who is struggling with it a little bit (or a lot), and who is not even close to 100% excited that the school year has ended, you are absolutely not the only one.

And it’s okay to give yourself some time. Take the day. Take a week (or a month) if you need to!

Let the kids watch too much TV. Let them eat crap for a day.

Just keep everyone alive. And survive.

You can start to sort things out tomorrow. Or next week.

You’ll get your shit mostly or sort of or maybe just marginally together eventually.

Until then, just breathe. Take comfort in knowing that at least one other person out there gets it. And you are definitely not alone.

 

 

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What I Learned Over Spring Break

Last week was our spring break. It was the first spring break in about five years that we haven’t had major money problems.

Where we weren’t in danger of losing our house, where the Man from CL&P wasn’t coming to knock on our door on an almost monthly basis, where we weren’t on food stamps, where we didn’t have to return cans and bottles or hold a tag sale in order to pay for groceries.

We aren’t anywhere near rolling around in bags of money. We aren’t in the position to do whatever we want whenever we want. We are nowhere near that. We still have to be frugal and cut the fat wherever we can.

But we aren’t destitute.

Being in a terrible financial black hole for years had put me into the mindset that I couldn’t relax. That I had to spend just about every second of every day working or trying to find ways to make money. And so for the past four of five spring breaks and Christmas vacations and summer vacations, I have basically ignored the kids.

Going away anywhere was clearly not an option. But I had also convinced myself that taking time to do just about anything with them wasn’t possible. Or allowed.

It’s hard to get out of that mindset.

For me, anyway.

So this spring break, I made the conscious decision to be much more available to the kids.

I did this for a number of reasons.

First, Number 7 is five years old.

Five years old!!!

How did that happen so fast?

There are phases of life that have passed us for good.

We are done with diapers and highchairs and strollers and carrying kids. I find myself feeling nostalgic for some of these things that are long gone sometimes.

Although I appreciate where we are now. I am enjoying the kids having more independence. I am enjoying relating to them on a different level.

But damn is it going by fast!!!

I definitely have regrets. And I’ll see an occasional video show up on Facebook from five years ago and it’s scary how quickly I forget. I forget what the kids looked like and what they smelled like and what they sounded like. I know that happens.  But has it happened more for me because I’ve been letting so many opportunities with the kids pass me by?

I spend a lot of time with my kids. I mean, I’m the one who is usually home with them.

But I feel like I’ve been absent for a lot of that time.

I’m in the same place as them, but I’m not really present.

You know, like the stereotypical husband sitting across the table from the wife, reading the newspaper, and not listening to a thing she ways and just uh-huh-ing her without even looking up from the paper or actually listening to a word she says.

So there was that realization.

Then there is the fact that some of the kids are having issues with behavior. They happen to be the kids I spend the least amount of time with.

Maybe it’s just coincidental, but I don’t think so.

I am certain there is a direct correlation between kids behavior and the amount of or quality of interaction between them and their parents.

My kids need my attention. My focused, undivided attention. They don’t necessarily need hours and hours of it.

But they sure as shit need more than they’ve been getting.

So for the first time in years, I made the conscious decision to spend a significant amount of quality time with my kids while they were home last week.

And something ironic happened.

I didn’t get sick of them. I didn’t find myself getting pissed and annoyed and short on patience.

Don’t get me wrong. They did stupid and infuriating stuff. They still tried to annoy the shit out of each other and me. The are kids. That’s what they do sometimes.

But they started doing it less and less.

I spent more quality time with the kids than I have in a long, long time. And instead of me getting to the end of our vacation and feeling exhausted and exasperated and desperate for a break, I felt kind of sad that the break was over. I could have used a couple more days.

What the fuck?

I have never, ever felt that way.

I have spent every vacation for the last couple years desperate for the kids to go back to school so I could have a break.

And the kids (who are usually at least a little bit excited to go back to school and see their friends) were bummed, too.

Number 4 had no desire to go back to school. That’s never happened before.

At least ten times last week, she just looked at me — not in response to going on one of our adventures or in an effort to get something but just out of the blue — and she said, I love you, Mom.

Whoa.

I guess I am having one of Oprah’s proverbial light bulb moments.

I’m not going to stop working, drop everything I want to do, start homeschooling and construct a huge family bed.

But it’s clear that my priorities need to shift. Or at least the way I structure my time does.

Last week the kids and I had one of the best weeks we’ve ever had together. Possibly, the best week we’ve ever had.

I know we did some fun things. But it wasn’t really the fun things that made the break so great.

It was the fact that we did them together.

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The solution is simple.

Yesterday I lost it on the kids a little bit.

They deserved it.

But I felt bad about the way I handled the situation later.

And when it comes down to it, their behavior isn’t really their fault.

It’s mine.

Because while I know they are capable of behaving better, they aren’t.

And when they aren’t behaving better on a consistent basis and I continue to get angry about it but don’t change the way I am parenting them, the problem doesn’t really lie with them.

I know what I’m doing wrong.

It’s very simple.

I’m not available for them when they get home from school.

That’s it.

That’s all it boils down to.

It’s not that I need to be doing something in particular with them when they get home.

But I need to be available.

I need to be showered and dressed and prepared and organized for practice and dinner before they walk in the door and I need to be physically in the same room and making eye contact after they walk in the door.

I need to be present for them. Not for hours on end.

But I need to be fully accessible when they walk in the door.

And I haven’t been.

So that’s step one.

Gotta go.

Only 32 minutes until Number 3 and 4 get home and I still haven’t showered. 🙂

 

 

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