Mother Road Warrior

DSC00604That’s right, I’m not afraid of a little snow.  I just returned from a harried, slippery, 4-wheel drive jaunt to the High School.

Real clothes?  Who needs them.  I’ve got my kid’s student council sweat shirt,  complete with coffee splash, to keep me warm.  Bedhead? Check.  Bra? For the weak.  Travel coffee mugs are for wimps.

My sixteen-year-old daughter’s assessment of my “First Snowy Day” look?

“Poor White Trash Clown”

Glad the car didn’t break down.

Five Times My Kids Made Me Cry…Incident #5

This incident involves all five children in a craven act of destruction and sibling solidarity.  It also involves me and the telephone – a bad combination when paired with parenting.

It was an ordinary day.  I sent the children to the basement to play while I cleaned up lunch. Sometimes it’s lonely in Mommy Land so I decided to call my friend for a few minutes of adult conversation.  I guess I lost track of time.  It was getting along towards nap time and I hadn’t seen or heard a kid for a while. Better check on them.  With my friend still on the line, I went down the basement stairs and landed in three inches of standing water.  I’m not sure, but I think my friend heard my scream without the aid of the telephone.

The children, squealing with glee, didn’t even see me. Two were having a water fight with bathroom cups. One lay with her arms and legs in the water doing the elementary back stroke.  One ran in from the other room, flying feet first through the air and landing with a splash on his butt.  And the final insult … one was sailing a boat.

The bathroom faucet was running full throttle with a sock plugging the drain.  Water spilled over the counter and into the hall.  Splash and play time! Who needs a water park when you can make one in your own in your basement?

Thankfully, their beds were above the water mark and they spent the afternoon on high ground.

Motherhood is filled with life lessons.  That day, I learned to use a shop-vac.

Five Times My Kids Made Me Cry…Incident #4

While on vacation this past week, my mother-in-law reminded me of this repressed memory.

One of the kids outgrew his shoes and needed a new pair. Grandma was out for a visit so we loaded up the kids in our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon for a trip to the mall.  (The Vanagon alone is sufficient material for a future post. Stay tuned.)

I wheeled the baby and the two year-old in the double stroller and the other three kids, seven and under, held on the to sides of the stroller as we made our conspicuous way up the mall. The nice lady at the shoe store fit my six-year-old with a gleaming new pair of tennis shoes.

This intolerable turn of events was unacceptable to his four-year-old brother.  He took one look at his brother’s fantastic new sneakers and let out a howl that stopped the mall traffic in their tracks.  He proceeded to throw a screaming tantrum of epic proportions.

“ME get new shoes.  Me no WANT him’s old shoes  ME WANT NEW SHOES!!!!”

With the exit door in my sights, I continued my slow and steady procession towards the Vanagon.  I could see the glares, the shaking heads, the tsk-tsking in my peripheral vision.  I pressed on.  Finally, we made it to the parking lot.  As I strapped and buckled the kids into their assorted seats, I noticed the perp wearing one shoe.

“Where is your other shoe?”  I asked

“Me thwew it away” he said with pride

I refused to be defeated by this brilliant yet diabolical move.  I squealed the Vanagon around and sat rattling at the curb while Grandma entered the mall on a search and recovery mission.   She successfully secured the sneaker from the third canister.

This child is now 6’6″ and a college track athlete. He receives an endless supply of new athletic shoes which he frequently gives to his older brother, further proving that God has a sense of humor.

Five Times My Kids Made Me Cry…Incident #2

Syringe 5 with drops.

This one’s a doozy.

One morning, I returned home after a PRAYER MEETING (this fact gains significance after you hear what my kid did) to find my ten year-old daughter sitting on the couch.

“Where’s your brother?” I ask

“He’s out riding his scooter” she replies

I think this a bit strange as it was 40 degrees out and not the best scooter riding weather, but whatever… he’s a kid right?  So I go into the kitchen to do a little cleaning.  As I am taking out the trash, I see the scooter leaning against the wall in the garage.  Hmm.  I go back to the couch-sitting daughter.

“When did you last see your brother?” I ask

“I don’t know.”

Detective Mom springs into action. Let’s see, I left for my meeting at 8:30am, it was now 10:30am. That means he had been MIA for 2 hours.  I started to feel a little nervous and called the neighbors to see if he was there.  Nope.  I rode my bike around the neighborhood calling his name.  Nothing.  I called Hubby at the office.  After some heated deliberation, (my crying, him saying “he’ll turn up”) we decided to call the sheriff.

The deputy took a full description and requested a recent picture of our son. They instructed me to stay at home by the phone.  My neighbors and their kids took to their bikes scouring the neighborhood and nearby library.  My husband, dressed in his suit, walked the small paths in the woods as the police cruiser drove up through fields and open areas.

I sat on our front step, praying, trying not to imagine the worst.  In 1989, Jacob Wetterling was abducted while riding his bike in a town just north of us.  He was never found.  Jacob was eleven, our son had just turned twelve.  I felt a rising panic.  I didn’t want to become a news story.  After an agonizing two hours, the sheriff called.  They had spotted our son walking along the highway near our neighborhood.  He was on his way home. I cried with relief as the police car pulled into our driveway with our son in the back seat.

The story he gave us was that he had decided to go for a hike.  He planned ahead and packed his school back-pack full of water bottles. Hydration is important, right? After a stern lecture from the cop, yelling from Mom and Dad, laughter from the neighbors, and sneering from his sister, we resumed our daily life.

I returned to the kitchen and noticed my calendar, open on the counter. A large SHOTS with the perp’s initials was clearly written in for 1:00pm.  It was now 12:45pm and we could just make it.  As I mentioned this fact, the perp went ballistic.

“NO, NO!!! I DON’T WANT SHOTS!!! NOOOOOOOO”

Ah, now it all made sense.  He had hatched this diabolical, yet poorly executed plan to avoid getting his shots. Well, not on my watch, Mister.

I hauled his sorry little butt to the car and turned up the radio to drown out his cries. I dragged him through the lobby of the clinic and into the exam room, ignoring the wide-eyed stares of the other mothers.  I sat, reading a magazine, as he quivered and pleaded for mercy. Innocently, I asked if they had a few more shots they could give him.  Unfortunately, the perp was up to date.  Too bad.

This incident inspired me to form a new calendar code system.  Now, no one knows what’s about to happen but me.  It’s better this way.

Sweating The Small Stuff

This morning, I wrote down the first memories that came to mind about each of my parents.  Here they are:

Dad

  • Making a little fire by the side of a fishing stream so I could dry my boots after falling in the river.
  • Taking eight-year-old me backpacking with my teenage cousins and bragging that I caught the biggest fish.
  • Tying ropes around my sister and my waists and letting us scoot down a steep hill and laughing while pulling us back up.
  • Letting me drive the car around in a horse pasture on Mother’s day and not getting angry when I scraped an old heap of farm equipment in the middle of the field.


Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Mom 

  • Taking us to the lake with a big cooler of sandwiches and drinks.
  • Serving as my Girl Scout leader, sporting a kelly green, polyester pantsuit.
  • Showing me how to mix up a very smelly fish solution to pour on her beautiful backyard flowers.
  • Making me grilled cheese sandwiches when I occasionally came home from school for lunch

So, there you have it, not very earth shattering.  But, those simple memories bring tears to my eyes.  I guess the small stuff really matters to kids.  I wonder what my kids will remember about me?

Nap Time – One Mother’s Story of Survival

Study of a Sleeping Child

It's a beautiful thing

I had five children in less than eight years.  That’s over four years of being pregnant. That’s one or two in diapers for 10 years.  I used to joke that if you were born into my family, you took a daily nap from 1:00-3:00pm.  I really wasn’t joking – the nap was my life line.

Parents often comment that their little darling gave up their nap when they were two.

I usually smile sweetly and think, “That’s when you gave up their nap… not them.”

I have yet to meet a two-year-old who isn’t much improved by a daily nap.  Try this sociological study.  Take a trip to the local shopping mall any day at 2:00 in the afternoon.  I guarantee you will see at least one glassy-eyed screaming toddler accompanied by an exhausted and frustrated mother. Every one of my two or three-year-old kiddos bucked the nap rule at least once.  One little guy, my chief testing engineer, got up to wander the house every day for a week; needing a snack, a drink, to see what I was doing, etc… Don’t be fooled parents! They still need a nap.  Outlast them.  It’s for their benefit, not just your own.  It’s really good for a child to learn early that “just ’cause they feel it, don’t make it so.”   An excellent life lesson – easily taught when they are knee-high.  Not so easy when they are teens.

I had some selfish reasons for wanting this nap.  I was TIRED!! It’s hard work parenting little people, especially when pregnant.  Some days my date with the couch lasted 2 straight hours.

By the time the older ones really outgrew their naps, around five, they were in such a daily habit that we transitioned from sleeping to “alone reading” or art time, while the younger ones slept.   My kids shared rooms; three boys in one room and two girls in the other. Trying to entice your brother to join you in your “alone” time was not included in the rules.  You can guess who tested this rule … many times.

The best benefit of nap time?  My children had a happy mother for the other eleven hours of their day.