Friday, June 13, 2014

Tales From The Crib: Vows to my kids.

tales from the crib title button photo 926b28a9-37d5-4db6-a4e4-881a6822af73_zps02ccd029.jpg

This week marked bug's very last moments in kindergarten.  I say this nearly every fall when school starts again, but I found myself wondering when he grew up and how I could have missed it?

He went from the easiest of easy newborns to

a serious but adorable and still very easy baby to 

a spirited yet serious toddler then 

a very sassy and outspoken preschooler

and an even more temperamental kindergartner.  (that's funny, I originally typed "kinderfartner" on accident, and at least in his case, that's pretty accurate...)

And now... he's officially left those "early years" behind.  

I am not the kind of mom to become overly sentimental about my "babies" growing older.  (It may seem like I am, but I'm not.)  I don't lament the start of school in the fall, because, gosh darn it, I need a breather!  
I don't bemoan the first haircut, or any subsequent loss of curls.

I don't cry when they ride their bike without training wheels for the first time,

or lose their first tooth.

I've never felt sad packing away the baby toys and I generally offer a very large sigh of relief when the dreaded baby gates finally get put away.

And when it comes to my oldest son, I just throw my hands up and accept without much worry or care that I will simply never understand him.  This is difficult to admit, but even though he's only 6 there have been many hard moments between he and I.  I've wondered from time to time if our relationship is already broken, or at least worn so thin it can't fully be repaired to what it could have been.  He is my antithesis.  He is the serious to my laugh, the slow to my rush, the analytical to my emotional.  He is (and I don't say this to brag, but simply so you'll understand why I could have such issues with my son when he is so young) borderline genius and has a disturbing knack for pushing buttons.  He tries my patience nearly every minute, manipulates like a master, pushes the limits, must know the how, what, where, when, why for everything, is not content with parental guidance nor teaching moments, and generally considers himself an adult.  I love him and will love him no matter what the circumstance - no ifs, ands or buts.  But I will never fully understand him.  He's like a foreign species.

This week, in honor of bug making it all the way through the school year with very little incident (a frowny face on the daily chart here and there, which I suppose is to be expected) I left the two younger hooligans with Opa and surprised bug at school at lunch time.
They called him down to the office and I asked if he wanted to have lunch with me.  "Where's Zoe?" He asked.  
"With Opa.  It's just you and me."
My overly serious boy gave a teeny smile - the corners of his mouth barely taking an upward angle, you would have missed it if you blinked.
"Is Axel waiting in the car?"
"No, silly!  It's just you and me!"
And he took my hand on his own accord as we walked out the school doors.

My mind paused in it's constant state of feverish overthinking - you know the kind: 'what day is it again?  Did I remember to lock the garage?  Is he missing something important?  I wonder if Axel is screaming his head off.  Should I call and check on him?  How long has it been since I was away from the baby?  Wait, what day is it again?  What am I making for dinner for my parents?  Did I go grocery shopping yesterday??  I don't remember.  What was I going to do this morning?  I remember thinking it last night and then I thought I should write it down but I swore to myself I'd remember and now I can't think of it!!  Think!  Think!!  Did I comb my hair this morning?  I don't remember looking in them mirror.  What will the office ladies think??  Oh, wait.  I did comb my hair because I was looking in the mirror when the baby fell off the bed.  Did I just admit that?  Someone's going to call child services on me, I swear...  Where should we go for lunch?  It has to be something quick and cheap, but I hope he doesn't tell anyone I took him for fast food.  I mean, I should try to feed him something healthy right?  Maybe I should push him to pick Subway.

It paused.  And I actually felt that small hand that isn't so small anymore in my own hand.  And I thought about how telling it was that he couldn't seem to grasp the idea of going anywhere with just me.  Just me and only me.  Me all to himself.

And then we reached the car and the moment was gone.  He was chattering happily about the memory book he worked on today in class and the book about puppies his friend A. found - not the friend A. who moved away because she's still gone, but the other friend A. who is still here.  And excitedly sharing the problems they would get to work on with calculators later.  And no, he didn't mind if he had to miss recess, that was just fine by him...

He picked Taco Bell (because he knows I like Taco Bell) and was more excited than is probably normal to sit at the "high tables" in the "high chairs" because the "little kids" weren't there so we finally could.  And we talked.  We talked about who his friends were and how they pretended to be ninjas.  How he needed to take karate lessons right away so he could start his formal training to become a professional ninja.  We talked about the pages in his memory book from this year and how he was excited to be a first grader as soon as summer started.  We even had a brief "teachable moment" where we talked about "smokeless" cigarettes, the difference between them and "real" cigarettes and why they're probably still a bad idea.
Then we got donuts and sat outside and ate them.  He was excited to learn that he had picked daddy's favorite kind for himself.

I made a conscious effort to bite my tongue every single time I wanted to tell him to hurry.  For the most part, it was a welcome relief for me not to worry about rushing along.  We had plenty of time - thankfully he chose a place near school.  There were moments, near the end when I had to keep myself in check and use physical restraint from reminding him that we were on the clock.  I tried to remember that epiphany-like moment when I realized he needs more one on one attention and less pushing and prodding.  I succumbed to his naturally slower gait and waited patiently without once looking at my phone while he talked and ate with slow deliberation.  All in all, it wasn't a struggle, but a nice change of pace.

And then it was back to school.  I walked him in as the bell to come inside from recess was ringing - his friends calling to him and asking where he'd been.  His smile wasn't tentative anymore.  I gave him a resounding high five (to accolades from the office staff).  And then I left.

On the way home, I cried.

Of course, part of it could have been that I forgot my meds, but the majority was that I realized what a great time we'd had together, just he and I.  My brain swept back over that one hour of just the two of us and stopped at the momentary pause it took while walking to the car - his hand in mine.  What if we had more moments like this and less of me with my frazzled, too hectic brain that won't stop moving?  What if I could slow down and enjoy him more?  Perhaps my patience would extend farther.  Perhaps I would understand him more.  Perhaps I wouldn't so often look at him and wonder when he grew up. 

I don't REALLY wonder when it happened.  I was there through it all and I watched it happen.  I took the pictures.  And yet, looking back on his 6 years I recognize prolonged periods that make me wonder if I really was THERE.

There are times - sadly - that I feel like a failure as a mom.  Like 90% of the time at approximately 100% of everything I try to do.  I would be lying if I said that I was great at this.  I slip up.  I make mistakes.  Sometimes, unfortunately, I don't even try my hardest.  It's true.  But it wasn't leaving class early that made him freely hold my hand.  It wasn't the promise of lunch in a restaurant or even the delicious Dorito Taco.  It wasn't the donut I got him afterwards or the swelling feeling of self-importance for being the only kid out of school.  It was me.  Just me.  

Being there. 

I may fail sometimes.  I may not even try sometimes.  But in that fleeting moment there at lunch time I did it right.

So right here and now, in this period of clarity and epiphany and feeling like I actually lived up to my potential, I take a vow.  One that, because I am writing it down, will hopefully be looked back on again and again to refresh my haggard, haphazard, chaotic mind:

I vow to take the time every day to be in the moment with each of my kids.  Yes, I have responsibilities.  Yes, my brain will still move at a frantic pace and I will still have plenty that "needs to be done."  But this needs to be done MORE.

I vow to put the phone down.  Ok, not all day long, let's be realistic here.  I have to get in some Jelly Splash and 94 Degrees at some point... But it will be in short breaks from the day here and there.

I vow to be better to myself.  Because when I'm not good to myself, I'm no good to anyone.  Least of all my children.

I vow to make one on one time a priority.  None of my children should feel that they lack in attention.  And no matter how much I may think I'm giving the attention they deserve, they will always feel a lack if they must share it 100% of the time.  Divided attention isn't enough - it's a reality of most days, and they will learn that and understand that.  But sometimes, every so often each one deserves all of me.

I vow to take a deep breath.  To bite my tongue.  To pause the chaos in my mind.  To learn to chill.  Because they need it as much as I do.

I vow to seek the help I need to live up to my potential in motherhood.  Seek for advice, seek for a shoulder to cry on, seek for moments of alone time so I can gather myself together, seek for peaceful moments of prayer, seek the the teachings of Heavenly Father who knows what I can become and has seen what I can't inside of me.

It's a big list with a lot to work on.  But really it boils down to this one thing:

I wanted kids.  I prayed for kids.  I've cherished the privilege of being mom to each of my kids.  Now it is time to remember that - and not only remember it but act on it.

{Click here to read more Tales From The Crib.  You can also read Things My Two Year Old Taught Me - the predecessor to TFTC.}

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1 comment:

Jillian @ Hi! It's Jilly said...

I love this so much, Kim. I am right there with you and have been thinking about this kind of thing a lot lately. Thank you for putting it so eloquently! Let's do this thing!

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