9 Minutes

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook about how to be a better parent and it included the tip that there are nine minutes of the day that have the most impact on children: the three minutes after waking up, the three minutes when they return home from school, and the last three minutes before they go to sleep. I can’t find any articles that support this from a science or psychology perspective (just other blog posts), but I think it is sage advice that not only applies to parenting but relationships as well.

Have you ever answered your partner’s phone call with a perfunctory “what” or “yes”? Or as soon as your partner walks in the door asked them to immediately take care of a chore, like take out the trash, empty the cat’s litter box, or deal with the kids, instead of simply saying hello? Me. I am guilty of this.

When I saw that Facebook post about those nine important minutes, I decided to implement this not only with my children, but with my husband, and my co-workers as well. At work this translates to saying hi before launching into a rant, being deliberately pleasant at the beginning and end of the work day, and ending the week with positive words. At home this means I don’t disappear as soon as my husband gets home even though my inclination is to let him deal with the kids, who are inevitably cranky in the witching hour that is 5-7 p.m. This means saying goodnight, even if he’s working late and I’m feeling too lazy to leave our bed to climb a single flight of stairs to give him a kiss. In other words, I’m just trying to be a better human.

And with the kids, I’m trying to be more present, especially at bedtime. I’m trying not to rush through stories and songs and snuggles even though there are dishes and laundry and thoughtless reality TV shows calling my name. I’m not usually home when they wake up, or when Future President gets home from school, so I’m focusing my efforts on bedtime. I think it’s making a difference.

Happy Friday, friends.

 

Advertisements

We Forgot the Mommy

“We forgot the mommy,” Aaron said, as he wheeled the Playmobil cable car down towards the control booth. “Peter, fix it!” He yelled, moving on from remembering the mommy as the cable car careened and flew towards the plastic figures in the booth.

But I didn’t move on.

I feel forgotten when I do four loads of laundry and fold them in neat piles on our bed and there they sit, waiting for someone to put them away. Eventually it will be me.

I feel forgotten when I make two separate meals, one for the kids, and one for us, and the kids barely touch theirs, even though that meal means I haven’t sat down since walking in the door two hours ago.

I feel forgotten when I can’t – or won’t – tell my husband how bad my headaches are, and I suffer in silence, taking one pill and then another, until I reach a breaking point and can no longer function. I feel forgotten until I say screw it to the anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been on for 6 months and stuff my kid’s uneaten pancakes in my mouth and my husband is shocked. I haven’t eaten gluten in months and will pay for it later, but this is my little rebellion.

I feel forgotten until the tears come, and they finally notice how tired I am and how much I hurt.

“Let’s go back up to get the mommy,” Aaron says after Peter repairs the cable car.

“Thank you for the delicious dinner,” my husband says, and gives me a hug.

They notice me, I know they do. We are trying our best, most days. And we are all just making it up as we go along.

“Because Santa!”

Last night the boys tried on their Halloween costumes and when A noticed that P’s costume included nunchucks and a sword, he decided he needed a weapon of his own. Tasked with finding the sword that came with last year’s pirate costume, P came back with a magic wand. A’s enthusiasm at receiving this magic wand/sword was contagious. He flung the wand around as the boys ran around the house yelling, “Abracadabra, you’re a frog!” But P wasn’t having any of it. “No, you can’t turn me into a frog, I’m already a ninja,” he yelled back, and swung his plastic nunchucks in the air.

I almost booked a trip to Disneyland right then and there because my boys are ALL IN with make believe and magic. I’m already sad thinking about the day P realizes the tooth fairy is Mom and Dad.

A few months ago, P asked me if reindeers were real. Yes, I told him, remember when we saw the baby reindeer in person a few Christmases ago? “Nevermind,” he replied. “Of course they’re real. Because Santa!” Sound logic.

Sometimes P even uses his magnificent logic skills for more practical purposes. He brought home from school an optional worksheet and was struggling to sound out some of the more difficult words on the quiz section. He could read two of the multiple choice options, but not the third. Sound it out, I encouraged. “Actually I don’t need to, Mommy,” he told me. “The other two aren’t the right answers, so it has to be this one.” *Insert head desk emoji here.*

When my husband came home, I relayed the story to him. He beamed, so proud, and seemed to imagine P’s future to include high grades on standardized tests. I can get on board with that, because even though I was terrible at standardized tests, I still believe in magic.

Week in Review

My in-laws have been out of town on vacation and in the past week, we’ve realized we rely on them way more than we ever realized. They take P to school and pick him up every day, which is a huge help and we don’t have to send him to before or after-school care. It also means we can leave for work whenever we need to, which especially matters when you have court and a class to teach.

Anyway, we’ve survived with the help of friends and my mom, who arrived at our house at zero dark thirty on Thursday so G could make it to court an hour away. I was long gone by then as I leave the house at 5:45. V picked P up on Monday, he went to after-school care on Tuesday, and went home with the Fs on Wednesday and Thursday, and W took him to school twice. It seriously takes a village!

I took Friday off and enjoyed a coffee date with some friends and we took the kids to the park to enjoy what I assume is the last of the good weather this fall. A has given up napping (at least for me) and while I was exhausted after multiple nights up with him trying to get him to sleep in his toddler bed, we all managed to make it through the afternoon running errands and going to swimming lessons without naps.

Tonight we went to a Lego build event at our local Barnes & Noble. The boys loved it and I loved it because it was free.

I have a side job I’m doing for a couple weeks after the kids are asleep, so instead of reading or watching TV like I normally do on Saturday night, I’m planning to work for a few hours. But $ is $, and I have my eye on a Vitamix. (Hint, hint Santa!)

Weight loss update: -23 pounds! Yay me!

Friday Update

1) My car wouldn’t start yesterday, even with a jump, so today it was towed to the mechanic. The problem is that they can’t replicate the problem and it started just fine for them, so tomorrow it’s back in our care. I just hope it doesn’t happen again at work.

2) Out garage door broke a month ago and we finally got it repaired yesterday. It cost so much money for a 5-minute repair job that I briefly wondered (again) if I had made the wrong career decision.

3) A slept through the night in his own bed last night. A true miracle. Too bad I woke up 45 minutes before my 5:09am alarm and couldn’t go back to sleep.

4) A’s birthday party is tomorrow. My house isn’t clean and presents aren’t wrapped yet, but it’s been a long week, which is why we’re just having pizza and cupcakes from a bakery at the party. And by we I mean everyone else. I’ll make baked tofu and a salad.

5) Today I surpassed the 20 pound mark of my weight loss journey. Truly remarkable, and from what I’ve read, the amount of weight loss that other people start noticing a change. I can feel it in my clothes, but I’m not ready to buy anything new yet. I still have many pounds left to reach my goal weight.

6) Have you heard about the book Never Unfriended? I’m thinking about starting a Friday night book club with some friends so I can discuss it with someone. But then I think about how the last thing I want to do on a Friday night is clean my house and wear anything but pjs, so that plan doesn’t really work. But it’s a thought. I just feel really disconnected from friends, both old and new.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.

The Quarterly Update

I am currently stranded next to my son’s bed, and expect to be for the next hour or so. Last night it was over two hours, and then an hour later he wandered into our bedroom, slipped in between us, and when I woke up at 2am with not an inch to spare on the side of the bed, I realized I was being kicked by A and snuggled next to by the cat. Our queen bed is not large enough to accommodate everyone. At one point P tried to sneak into bed too, but even G, who is usually a pushover, said no.

Why is my previously great sleeper not sleeping? We converted his crib into the toddler bed version and apparently we did this too soon. I’ve read every recent online article about how to make this transition, and since I’m 100% positive we did it wrong with P, I’m determined to do it right this time. But is there an absolute right way? Of course not. I’m just trying a different plan, hoping it makes the transition easier.

So what’s the plan? It’s the “fade away” – sit by your kid’s bed for a few nights until he’s asleep. Then sit by the door, so he knows you’re still there. Basically, gradually increase the distance from the bed while assuring him with your presence. Except last night, every time I was sure he was asleep, I left the room and 30 seconds later he was up again. Hence the many hours on the floor next to his bed, starting the whole process over again.

This is probably the worst possible time for us to attempt this transition. I am slammed at work, teaching a new class on top of all of my other responsibilities. The good news is that I recently got a promotion, but the expectations are extremely high both from my bosses and of course, myself, and for the first time in my life I’ve had to work after the kids are in bed multiple times per week. The ability to leave work at work is one of the reasons I decided not to practice law and chose academia instead, and I know I should be grateful I still have a job in this legal climate, but man, I’m tired.

In other news, I’ve lost 17lbs on my Eat to Live diet. I plateaued for a few weeks but am finally making progress again. My goal had been to lose 20lbs by this weekend, but even though that’s not going to happen, I’m still proud of myself. It’s been very hard but I’m sticking with it for the foreseeable future.

P started 1st grade and is in a classroom with 6 of the 9 kids from his Kindergarten class. The rest of his classmates are 2nd graders. In other school news, I joined the school board and attended my first meeting this week. As a parent who can’t drop off or pick up her kid because of work, or volunteer in the classroom, also because of work, it feels good to be part of the school, even if it’s after hours.

Things I’m looking forward to: seeing Book of Mormon and Hamilton in early 2018; going to Boise in October for a work conference; and celebrating A’s 3rd (!!!!) birthday in a few weeks.

National Blog Posting Month is coming up in November, and if I’m still sitting by A’s bed at night, I’ll be participating for sure.

Around Here

Summer is almost over and it feels like it just started. In no time at all, P will start 1st grade then we’ll blink and he’ll be in high school. At least that’s what it feels like. 

Maybe I’m feeling the passage of time more acutely right now because my birthday is next week and I have decided this one feels like “almost 40” and I’m not taking it very well. 

Summertime has passed quickly because we’ve been on a lot of trips. Hawaii in April; I made a quick trip to CA to meet my new nephew in May and then the whole family made the trip in June; we had our 2nd annual friends trip to Sunriver the following week; and then the weekend after that I was in Texas for work for 5 days. 

On top of that, we adopted Poppy from my brother and sister-in-law, which meant a quick trip to Tacoma to pick her up, with a stop in Olympia to show the boys where Daddy is going to work someday. 

P also had basketball camp, the boys attended VBS, we had a lice scare, and somehow I managed to stay off Facebook. 

This weekend good friends from Utah are coming to visit, and my brother and sister-in-law are coming to say goodbye before they move back to Alaska. 

What’s coming up the rest of the summer? P has soccer camp, we’re going to a wedding, I’m planning a new class to teach in the fall, and we’re celebrating our 12th anniversary. It’s going to be a busy few months!