Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things that are hard

Life is good. I'm blessed to have happy, healthy, cute, smart kids. We've had a wonderful summer.

That said, there are some things going on around here that are really getting old! Here are a few of them:
  • My phone disappearing. My kids pick it up to look something up on it or play a game and carry it off and somehow it's seldom where I left it when I go looking for it. This is very very frustrating - especially since we don't have a home phone and I often have a tiny little window of time to make a phone call. And it's especially annoying when my phone walks off and I need to be on a call for work at a particular time...
  • Everyone needing things at the same time. Somehow, things can be relatively quiet for hours, then quite suddenly, everyone needs something at once. Someone's at the door asking to play with someone while I'm talking on the phone while several kids are asking me for something and none of their requests really go hand-in-hand. It's not very fun - at all. And sometimes I'm not very nice during these crazy moments.
  • My nose itch problem. I think it's allergies. Randomly (I can't figure out a pattern to it), my nose will start itching like mad and it lasts for like a 1/2 hour or so. It's SO annoying that I practically want to rip my nose off my face sometimes. And it's extra hard when the nose itch pops up right when everyone's needing something at the same time. 
  • Interruptions and plans that get thwarted. This is a never-ending, must-be-accepted part of motherhood and of life, I know. But it's still hard when I have these great plans for fun and meaningful things to do with my kids and either a kid is really spoiling things with their attitude or something comes up with work or church that is sort of an emergency and everything gets messed up.
  • The fact that my darling children have to be asked from 3-10 times (or more) to do things. I think they all developed a case of selective hearing during their long period of relative freedom from too much adult supervision at Bear Lake and I'm trying hard to break them of the habit of turning off their ears when their mom opens her mouth. They seriously sometimes seem to have no recollection that I've asked them to do something repeatedly. We've had big talks about this. I've tried many different methods. I've tried making eye contact before asking them to do things. I've tried having them repeat back to me what I've asked them to do (helps even though there's lots of eye-rolling involved). I've tried having them repeat back the instructions THREE TIMES (generally does work but not always and it's pretty annoying for everyone). I've tried doing the thing WITH them (not always possible). I hate nagging and I really think it can't be fun for them (but maybe it doesn't bother them much since they don't hear me anyway...). I'm working to be more consistent with the repeating-back thing but it's hard with so many kids and so much going on!
  • One kid accuses their siblings of being annoying all the time - in a very mean way. One kid cannot take any correction from anyone without tears coming on. One kid yells out in pain whenever any of their siblings even touches them. One kid wants to read all day every day. One kid has to be begged and bribed to read most of the time. 
  • It seems that we're always out of cups and glasses. Everyone seems to be using about 10 glasses each every day and by dinner we don't have anything clean left to drink out of. We actually have a LOT of cups and glasses but they end up sitting all over the countertops and sometimes they're randomly placed around the backyard and in other parts of the house by the end of the day. I keep meaning to write people's names on some plastic cups so everyone can keep using the same cup all day. But I keep forgetting.
  • Some of the kids have quite a bit to do on their summer goals and $50 is on the line for each of them to get their stuff done but some of them are amazingly un-motivated, even with all the offers of help and gentle reminders I've given. 
  • It's hot. It's just hot, hot, hot everyday. The kids are hot and sweaty and more grumpy for it and so am I. We've got good air conditioning but my frugal self has it set to a higher temperature than is actually comfortable and I keep forgetting to ask Jared to reprogram it so that we can all be a bit more comfortable. The kids are still spending a lot of time outside (other than Ashton who has to pretty much be bribed to get outside...) but it has to be early in the morning or late at night so we're not getting quite the sleep we need.
And yesterday was just plain hard. It started off great - nice run and chat with a good friend. But then the day sort of went downhill and picked up momentum. Kids were in bad moods and so was I. I was trying to gently motivate the kids to get the rest of their summer goals done but everyone seemed awfully slow-moving and lazy. I tried to get work done while everyone else was supposedly working on their "daily must-do's" but my work was feeling overwhelming and when I went to check on the kids, a couple of them were watching TV instead of doing what they'd said they'd do. And when Eliza wanted help with her violin practice and I decided to be a good mom and put aside my work and really focus on her the first time she asked and have a nice bonding experience with her, she got offended at every little suggestion I made and ended up in tears (even though I was really being very kind and helpful and encouraging - moreso than usual!)

Then we had to get to some back-to-back orthodontist consultations (time for braces on a couple kids, it seems) at the same time we were supposed to pick up a new girl and get her and Liza to Activity Days and at the last minute I realized I had to bring the twins with me because there wouldn't be anyone at home to babysit them but they were COVERED in dirt from playing in the backyard.  I don't think I made a very strong first impression heading into that orthodontist's office LATE with one very reluctant and greasy haired 13-year-old (who promised he washed his hair that morning but that really didn't seem possible and who loudly declared he was NOT getting braces), two super-dirty little boys with crazy hair, and one happy 12-year-old who's been begging for braces. The proposed cost for the braces the orthodontist recommended was a LOT. So I had that on my mind the rest of the evening.

After the orthodontist, we came home and I had the boys try on all their school uniforms from last year so that we could see what we could take to the uniform exchange at back-to-school night last night and see what they were needing to buy. Somehow Isaac has more shirts and shorts than any kid could ever need, Oliver and Silas have a few decent shirts including some new ones I bought them but only one pair of shorts (they kept wearing their uniform shorts as play shorts this summer - oops). And Ashton has grown out of EVERYTHING (thus Isaac has tons of hand-me-downs). The kids were NOT thrilled about trying on all the clothes for me so we could do the assessing that needed to happen but we finally got it done. Then I realized I was late to pick up Eliza and the new girl at Activity Days so I flew out the door for that, leaving piles of clothes everywhere and asking the kids to PLEASE not mess up my sorted piles!

Then we had to come home, grab the boys, grab the clothes for the uniform exchange, and get to the school (throwing some carrots and bread in our mouths since there was no time for dinner). Jared had meetings so he was only able to join us for part of the time (which was enormously helpful) so it was mostly up to me to get five kids to 21 different teachers for brief orientations, supply lists, information on curriculum for the year, etc. (Ashton, Isaac and Eliza all have a different teacher for each subject this year - thus the high number of teachers.) Plus the sweet lady who'd agreed to be in charge of the uniform exchange was in desperate need of help since other helpers didn't show up. And since I was in charge of it last year and knew what to do, I felt like I had to help with that for a while. It was craziness since they'd stuck her in a tiny area in a hallway instead of in the cafeteria where we've always done the exchange.

Somehow we made it through and didn't loose anyone for more than a few minutes. And the kids seemed very excited about their teachers (other than a couple kids who have a teacher each that they struggled with last year and were sad to see they had again this year - but just for one class out of many). It was fun to see them see some good friends they haven't seen all summer. And it was good to get to know the teachers a bit.

But wow, I came away overwhelmed with stacks of papers that need to be read and processed and lists of supplies we still need to get.

Anyway, even though I was feeling frazzled, I thought it would be fun to take the kids out for dinner (we were all really hungry by now) and talk about what they were most excited for about the new school year as we ate. We went to a pizza place they've been wanting to go to and ordered and I launched into the short but fun and meaningful discussion I'd envisioned. Needless to say, it didn't turn out as planned. The twins wanted to crawl around under the table. Ashton wanted to point out every little annoying thing everyone else was doing (tapping a fork on the table, humming, playing around with a napkin, etc.). Eliza really wanted to fully answer the questions I threw out and got really offended when others tried to interject their answers or randomly brought up their own random thoughts that had nothing to do with the question I just asked. Oliver and Silas took turns interrupting what I was saying by asking me a question (they do this all the time - can't quite understand that I can't listen WHILE I'm talking). Eliza had some great advice for the twins about the teacher they'll have who she's had in the past but they were not being good listeners. Ashton had some helpful advice for Isaac about his teachers and I was so excited Ashton was actually being nice to Isaac but Isaac was messing around with Silas and not listening which offended Ashton and me.

I said some stern words to Isaac and got pretty upset with everyone. "Why do I try?! I'm really really trying here to make this a special, nice night for all of us but you guys cannot stop bugging each other and interrupting!" I ordered everyone into the car and we rode home quiet and sad. I was wasted. So were they.

But we had prayers and I tucked them in with hugs and things are better today.

I know that the hard stuff is necessary and to be expected and we're all just fine and hopefully learned something from last night (I know I learned to set my expectations of quality discussion with the kids lower - especially at the end of a long day). I guess I just want to record this because it's real and it's important to remember just like it's important to remember the happy and nice things I've been posting about a lot this summer.


Pam said...

You seriously described how I feel. I just had a day like the one you described the other day. It sounds like your kids could be my kids. I thought "did she come to my home and witness this?" Keep up the great work you do! And thank you for sharing!

Camile said...

Wow! What a day! Although my kids are younger (4 - 9), I can TOTALLY relate to almost everything you experienced (maybe not all in the same day though). It is so frustrating when you try to make something special and it is ruined. Motherhood can be such a challenge - definitely rewarding and wonderful and worth it - but it can be HARD!

Eyrealm said...

So sorry about this! Some days/weeks/months are just plain hard!

Driving three Prince Girls said...

Such a refreshing post. Of course, we all know how lucky and blessed we are with our full lives and wonderful families. But man some days are just hard. It felt good to know that I am not the only one. :)

Brooke said...

Thank you for sharing your hard moments. It really does help us other mothers to know that even the moms we view as "having it all together" have the same kinds of bad parenting days as us. It takes courage and humility to share that and I'm so grateful you did. I had such a similar day yesterday. Hope both our days are better today!

Bethany said...

Yesterday, my husband was late coming home from work. In that time, I was making dinner while my kids were entertaining themselves, never a good combination. I had to make dinner right then because I had a meeting that night and needed to run a couple of errands before hand. Suddenly, I heard the lovely sound of my 18 month old in the bathroom. His 3 year old sister had left the bathroom door open and the toilet unflushed. He had soaked himself and the entire bathroom with water and soggy toilet paper. I put him in the bathtub, ran up to the kitchen to turn off the burners (dinner would now have to wait), went to start the bath only to find that there wasn't any hot water. Our pilot light had gone out the night before and apparently there is something more serious wrong. Little boy got a cold bath. I scurried to finish dinner and had it on the table just in time to grab a burrito for myself on my way out the door. My saint of a husband addressed the messy bathroom while I was gone.

Thank you for your honesty. I love seeing into your heart, the good and the bad. Knowing that mothers I respect and admire also have those bad days makes my hard days much more bearable.

Cheryl said...

It is SO refreshing to hear that everyone has hard and frustrating days in the trenches of Motherhood! I can't even tell you how much this helped me! It's been a crazy week getting ready for school to start. Kids are nervous, excited and stir crazy!

Anonymous said...

I have to echo everyone else, thanks for posting about the hard days, too!

I don't know if you take requests, but I'm curious if you could write a little bit about how you balance your Power of Moms website business (and the pre-school curriculum business? do you still do that?) with your home life. How many hours a week do you spend doing work for the website? How do you keep everything organized at home? Do you have a home office? A filing cabinet? How do you and your husband prioritize your work and his work?

Just curious, as I'm considering working very part time from home and wondering what I'm getting into :).

Natalie B. said...

THANK YOU, Saren! Love this so much. I think the most frustrating times are the times we are actually TRYING the hardest and somehow seem to miserably fail. I sometimes want to be like a child, stomp my feet and give up when my kids don'g respond to my best efforts the way I "envisioned". So refreshing to hear that others have these moments too. Makes us all realize maybe we are not doing things so just doesn't always go like we want it to. Great message!

Cathy said...

I'm glad to know I'm not alone in having such crazy and difficult days sometimes! I just wish I had more time to write it all down. Thank you for sharing!

Josh said...

My nose itches like that too! We must be related! It always itches when I'm flossing. It's so weird!


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