My aunt had this quote hanging in her house that said "Mothering small children is like being pecked to death by a duck." As a teenager, I remember thinking that was an odd little saying. Isn't motherhood supposed to be glorious and wonderful? And ducks have those rounded beaks - would their pecking really even hurt? But that quote sure comes to mind on days like today!
Today started off great. I got up at 6am (a BIG deal for me) to go walking with a friend. She didn't show up so I was a little irked but then I went for a run and it was a beautiful morning with all these flowers out everywhere and it worked out to really nice. I need to get up earlier. But that would mean I need to get to bed earlier - hmmm...
I got the kids to school and preschool, did the grocery shopping, and the twins were great little helpers unloading all the groceries this time (last week we had a little fiasco - Oliver dropped a glass bottle of spaghetti sauce and it splattered tomato stains and glass shards over a surprisingly large portion of the garage). I went to a neighborhood Board meeting, replied to a bunch of emails and had a great story time with the twins (hasn't been happening enough lately). Then we had 1/2 hour for a nap before the big kids got home from school (thanks to my good friend April's influence, I've learned that it's actually OK for a good mom to nap in the middle of the day when she's wiped out! She wrote a great article on it and every so often I just cry "uncle" and lay down for a few minutes thanks to what I've learned from her). I laid down between my sweet little boys and after a little squirming, Silas interlaced his fingers in mine and we fell asleep holding hands. Ah, so nice, so sweet to drift off with these sweet boys beside me.
So far it was really a nice day.
But just as we fell asleep I was jolted awake by a leaf-blower outside my open window. Sad. I closed the window but by then it was too late. I was awake. Luckily the boys stayed asleep - they'd been pretty grumpy.
Then the kids got home from school and I was all excited to tell them the great plan I had for the afternoon - we were making cookies for our teachers for Teacher Appreciation week and then we were all going out to dinner (a totally rare treat - we had a gift card and the kids had been begging....). As I got ready to make these exciting announcements, Isaac and the little boy we carpool with started begging to have Isaac go over to this little guy's house. I explained my exciting plan, thinking that would fix things. But Isaac started WHINING and Eliza started telling me all about the costume she's wearing for her play at school and the carpool boy kept saying, "but WHY can't Isaac come over?" I was trying to explain everything and stay cheerful but I was tired from my 2 minute nap and couldn't even get a word in edgewise to explain things. Meanwhile the carpool boy's mom was waiting in her car and Ashton was shoving papers from school in my face. I just don't like those swimming-through-molasses moments!
We got things resolved there and I had a little talk with Isaac about how sad it makes me when I'm trying hard to do fun things and he's whining about it. He gave me a big hug and sincerely apologized then got to work on the cookies (he's my best cookie maker lately). Then I tried to pay overdue bills and fielded homework and cookie questions while Oliver asked me about 20 times to play Memory with him and Ashton wanted to talk to me about how he discovered his favorite band - Green Day. I explained that I needed to be left alone for a few minutes so I could get a couple things done so we could go out to dinner (in retrospect, couldn't I have paid those bills tonight? It's sad how urgent whatever I'm in the middle of usually seems - I need to step back and get more perspective more often).
When I got the top-priority bills paid, I saw that the place was a mess and decided to squeeze in 10 minutes of clean up so everyone could "earn" going out to dinner just a bit. And I had to ask each kid to do each little thing like 5 times. Sometimes a quick clean-up with a reward at the end works great. Sometimes it just doesn't work. With more yelling than I care to admit, they did finish a few little tasks and we got everyone in the car and headed to the restaurant.
We got there and while the twins played in the exciting revolving door, I realized Isaac's shirt was covered in cookie dough and Eliza's hair was a mess. Plus Jared wasn't there. I herded everyone to a table and fielded 100 questions and requests while helping everyone understand the menu options and having Oliver cry that I wasn't playing tic-tac-toe on his menu with him (I really should have played Memory with him earlier...). Jared luckily showed up before too long - he thought we were going to pick him up at his office nearby and didn't quite get the message to meet us at the restaurant until I got pretty frazzled and called him.
Dinner was actually quite pleasant and the kids were so excited about eating out - especially when the kind waitress brought kid cups of ice cream to all of them, whether they'd ordered a kid meal that came with ice cream or not. I loved the look on the twins faces when she set their ice cream in front of them - great moment.
On the way home, everyone was talking at once and asking me questions and as soon as I'd start answering one question, someone else would ask me another one or start telling me about some awesome thing they wanted me to know. I've probably said 1000 times - "I can't listen to you when I'm in the middle of telling you something!" and "I can only listen to one person at a time!" Ashton wanted to tell me that he'd called the radio station this morning to vote on his favorite 80's song (must have been when I was in the shower) and he got to hear himself on the radio - great story and I wanted to hear more but at the same time, Isaac was asking me if we could stop for some Dr Pepper for his teacher since that's her favorite (she'll just have to be happy with the cookies) and Eliza wanted to tell me all these cute things our little neighbor boy had said to her. Plus Oliver was singing a preschool song and Silas complained - "Oliver, that's EENOYING me!"
By the time we got home I was feeling quite "done" for the day. But we still to make cards for the teachers and do the whole bedtime thing and Jared had to take off (he's usually so helpful at bedtime and I do rely on him!). I was trying to keep being nice but as each child brought up more and more things they wanted to say and do before hitting the sack, I was getting pretty eenoyed (as Silas would say). Kids just don't naturally have a big sense of urgency when it comes to bedtime.
When everyone is saying or doing or asking something all at once it's just pretty hard to enjoy all the cute and funny things they're each saying and doing! In the middle of brushing his teeth, Silas put his toothbrush in the air and declared himself the Statue of Liberty while Oliver sat on the toilet and said "Mommy, remember when we had to catch my pee in a cup at the doctor?" and Eliza started exploring that topic with Oliver while Isaac came wandering on into the bathroom STILL not in his pj's after I'd asked him 10 times. I finally got the twins to bed and headed downstairs to tuck the big kids in.
Ashton and Isaac started wrestling while they were supposed to be brushing their teeth and I walked into their room to find a big mess they were supposed to have cleaned up this morning. I probably should have just had them get in bed and clean it up tomorrow, but it felt urgent to have them clean it up NOW and I wasn't super nice about it. Then Eliza got all teary eyed when we couldn't find her school t-shirt for t-shirt Friday tomorrow and she really wanted to show me her latest art masterpiece and I wasn't super patient with her.
We finally got teeth brushed, prayers said, kisses and hugs given and everyone tucked in. But I'm sitting in the basement outside the boys' room typing this because they kept messing around in there and needed me to sit out here and tell them to be quiet and go to sleep quite firmly several times.
There are certainly lots of really frustrating and hard things that pop up in my life. But mostly, there are just lots of little things that keep coming at me. And many of those little things are good things. My kids say cute things. They give me hugs. They want to tell me things and show me things. They want me to play with them and help them with homework. I LOVE these things about motherhood. But when they all happen simultaneously and I find myself having 3 different kids talk to me at the same time while I'm trying to keep straight which ingredients I've already put in the dinner and the phone rings and another kid starts crying in the next room and I have all these other things on my mind - well - I start feeling "pecked." If everyone could just need things at different times, it would be great. But it generally doesn't work out that way!
So I'll head to bed and tomorrow will be better. But I wanted to remember this day when I was needed and loved in such abundance - even though it was a hard day. I learned today (again) that I need to do a better job putting off things that aren't as urgent as they seem so that I can be in a somewhat better position to enjoy the great stuff that's coming at me right and left. And the stuff that comes at me can feel less like pecking and more like loving if I am in the right frame of mind and I'm not trying to pack in so much.
Now I'd better firmly put MYSELF in bed.