Friday, June 29, 2012

Surrender Dorothy!


This is our first week of summer, since Paprika just got out of school a week ago! This week has been filled with swimming lessons, a playdate at a friend's house, a few trips to the park, and a lot of unstructured free time - that means just hanging out and trying to keep the kids occupied so I don't go crazy!

The good news is that Paprika and Ginger are two peas in a pod. They are always looking out for one another, and I could not ask for two closer sisters. They are such a pair!


This week has been challenging for me. I was so sad for my brother to go back to Indiana. We had such a great time with him here - he is so easy to be around, and so positive (especially in light of everything he has been through this year).

Being home with all three girls is a lot for me to handle, especially with Mr. M working so much. It's just tough, no way around it. I feel like I keep looking for solutions to help me - like hiring a babysitter or joining a gym with daycare - but really, nothing works for long!

I had to quit the gym this week - it was just too much trouble going there, and it kept ending in disaster and the aftermath of it just wasn't worth it. For example, I tried taking the girls there on Tuesday, and what happened was pretty typical:

First, Paprika didn't want to go (she never wants to go but always has a great time once she gets there). Then, Ginger didn't want to wear clothes, so I had to struggle with her to get dressed. Finally, got everyone in the car and drove 15 minutes to get there. Then, when we got there, Ginger didn't want to let go of her water bottle (she wanted to run around with it open and spilling everywhere). So, I took that away from her and she had a huge meltdown. Then, I dropped Violet off and raced over to the gym. I hopped on the elliptical and 22 minutes later I got a call saying, "Your baby has been crying for the last 20 minutes. No matter what we do, she cries and it's escalating."

So...I quit working out (obviously), and came back and picked up the girls. Mission: Fail! The rest of the day was pretty much a disaster because Paprika was overstimulated, Ginger was grumpy, and Violet was overtired.

I feel like it's like this no matter what I do with them. I have also tried having babysitters, but it just doesn't work very well. Violet has major separation anxiety, so she has to come with me always. Paprika is difficult for other people to manage, and I have a hard time trusting anyone to watch her (she can be frustrating to people, and then I worry how they will treat her). Ginger is fine, for the most part. A few people have told me that my kids are very hard to babysit, and I think it's true. I wonder often: what am I doing wrong? Why doesn't my life resemble Pinterest? Haha!

I feel like I am just trying new things all the time trying to find SOMETHING that works to give me a little free time to myself, and nothing works.

So, my solution has been basically to surrender to THIS being my life for now. My kids and my husband ARE my LIFE. I know this is probably not making sense, and it sounds kind of pathetic. But, everyone knows that when you have a child, you give up certain things. And the truth is, the more children you have, the more that is true!

Instead of being upset about it, I have just decided to GO with it. Is there another choice, really? I feel like whenever I struggle against that process of surrendering, I just make my life harder. I definitely DO choose my battles and for the big stuff, I definitely do take a stand.

But, I have come to realize that I may not be able to have an uninterrupted conversation for the next five years, and that is okay. Really. I may live in yoga pants and Old Navy t-shirts until my kids are older. It's fine. My laundry is piled up and the floors need mopping? Check!

I am tired of wishing I had family living closer or looking for someone to help me out part-time. It IS what it IS. I love being around my kids, and while it is all-consuming, it is just my life! So, instead of being upset that Mr. M and I can't go out for dates all the time, I am just going to be happy about putting a movie on for the girls and ordering in take-out on Friday nights. If that's a date at this stage of our lives, then I am okay with it. Happy, in fact!


So, that was a novel! Haha!

We went over to a friend's house earlier this week for a little playdate - she has a little girl Ginger's age and a little girl Paprika's age. We had a great time. It was fun to just lay there with Violet in the grass while the big girls had a ball playing.


We put down a blanket for Violet, but all she wanted to do was crawl off it! That stage of "laying on a blanket with toys" kinda flew past us. I would not be surprised if Violet just stands up and starts running one day soon - at 7 months, she is so strong it pretty much blows my mind!


And back to that idea of unstructured playtime? Basically, this week the girls have had a ball playing around the house and in the backyard. I went outside yesterday and Paprika had put together this little ensemble. She said she was a witch named Goo and that her broom had lost its magical powers and she was trying to get the powers back. A little fairy (Ginger) had stolen the powers and hidden them in the backyard, and she had to find the powers to fix the broom so she could fly again!


Her little get-up made me think of my new motto: Surrender, Dorothy!

And my other motto, too: There's No Place Like Home!

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Mimi said...

I missed this post yesterday.
Erika, you know from previous comments that I think you're brilliant, but I'll say it again are brilliant!
I remember from when mine were little how difficult it was in summertime, it's just a juggling act and some days you feel you got nothing done. Looking after, mothering 3 children is hard work, all-consuming.
It's great, and enjoyable too, but it IS a lot of work. Like you, I didn't have family close by, and that makes it a lot harder. I used to envy (know i shouldn't do that!!) people who had grandparents to take the kids, just for an hour or so.
Sorry that I haven't any solutions to offer, only an empathetic ear.

Melanie said...

I'm catching up on blogs I've missed over the past 1 1/2 weeks while I've been out of internet and cell phone service areas because I was the nurse at Boy Scout Camp in Pioneer Ohio where my oldest is now attending camp this week!

My intial reaction to this post was not one of have made it a point to be your girls sole caregiver for their entire lives so it does not come as a shock to me that they want to be only with you or feel comfortable only with you...but does that mean you shouldn't be able to have ANY time to rejuvenate yourself, to refresh your batteries for the next round? No, I don't think so!! I also don't think that you are anything but a GREAT MOM! Your girls are so lucky to feel so loved, so safe and so secure in the knowledge that no matter what, whether they want to wear their clothes or not, whether they are feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed, or whether they just need to know if they cry they will be heard, ALL of your girls know that YOUR world revolves around them. Unfortunately, in todays world, not a lot of parents do it that way. Not always because they don't WANT to, but because they can't. So other children might be more familiar with babysitters and short-term daycare. One thing you may want to try is to tap into your resources at the pool where your girls have swim lessons. Are there any older girls that work there looking for a few hours a week work? Or even the local high school or older Girl Scouts who have had babysitter training. Try having whoever it is come to your home to watch the girls so they are in their own environment, AND have them come a few times while you are there to see how you interact with the girls, how you talk Paprika down off the ledge, how you get Ginger to at least wear a diaper to go outside and what Violet likes best to calm her down. See how she interacts with your girls, encourage her to play with them outside while you are there, change a diaper, feed the kids, etc. If the girls see that YOU trust her in your home, they will too.

I NEVER gave enough credit to SAHMs until I became one myself in January and now find myself begging God to give me patience daily. One thing I do know is you have to have time to yourself to be able to keep doing this job. It doesn't make you a bad Mom to say that being with your children 24/7 is exhausting and not always fun.

You are a GREAT Mom, Erika! You have done a beautiful job with your girls and the scariest part of parenthood is just starting, well the scariest part since conceiving, carrying, delivering, and getting past've already been through the worst thing that can ever happen to a parent. No Mother is supposed to have to bury her child...and I am sorry for your loss. The scary part I was talking about coming up next is letting go and leaving others in charge of your kiddos. It will be easier if it is just one or two people that you have trained in their own environment rather than trying to place them in a situation they aren't familiar with.

However it works out to those who say that your children are difficult to care for, those are the ones I would NOT leave my children with for anything. They won't understand that Paprika's "behavior" isn't a problem, but a symptom, that Ginger is still caught between a rock and a hard place...not yet a preschooler, but definetly not a baby, and Violet, sweet, smiley Violet, well, you may want to practice naps NOT being held :)

Keep on keepin' on!!

Melanie Whitaker