Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Peak

I have a little piece of paper that hangs on our refrigerator that I try to refer to daily. It is a passage, written by Chuck Swindoll about "Attitude". It goes like this:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important that appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company ... a church ... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in certain ways. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes. "

The importance of having a positive attitude in life cannot be over emphasized.

Especially when you are a parent.

It's the honest truth that sometimes, I am emotionally, mentally and physically drained. And I haven't even gotten out of bed yet.

There are some days, I would give my right arm, minivan, unopened bottle of Jack London 1994 Cabernet 1/2 gallon of Rocky Road ice cream to stay in bed until 10 AM and watch back to back re-runs of Bridget Jones's Diary on Bravo while I painted my toenails. The most challenging thing that I would have to deal with is determining whether I would wear my shorts or my sarong to the pool, where I would sit all day and read a book, with a frozen cocktail in my hand that was magically refilled.

As much as we love our children and even after all that we went through to become parents ... the shots, the surgeries, the psychological rollercoaster, the tens of thousands of dollars shelled out over 8+ years ... there are moments in time when we wish the only responsibility we had ... is to take care of ourselves.

One of the biggest adjustments for us, after having been married for 10 years before children, is the giving of ourselves completely each and every day. There is no doubt - the happiness that our children bring to our lives is immeasurable. But so is the amount of work that is required to care for and clean up after them.

During a recent dinner with our triplet group, I sat next to a new mom. She looked exhausted and at one point, leaned over to me and in all seriousness asked "When will it get better??" As I was about to respond, another triplet mom chimed in and said "You think what you're going through now is hard?! Just wait until you have three toddlers that are in to EVERYTHING and are an absolute danger to themselves!"

At first I felt like saying "Ah ha! validation! I'm not alone!!" But when I looked at this new mom and the expression of horror that spread across her face, I felt compelled to say something positive. So I added "It doesn't get easier, per se ... it gets different. You will be a lot more capable of handling the challenges of parenting triplets when your babies are sleeping at night, and that will happen soon. More than that - the JOYS that you get to experience with three babies are exponential."

I must not have been very convincing because she went on to order vodka ... straight up.

On Saturday, we attended church again. After the service, a mother with 3-year old triplets came up to me and said "This sermon [on patience] was so timely. I was at my wits end. I actually called my husband and told him to come home because I couldn't spend another moment alone with 3-3 year olds."

Giving her a stern look I asked "I thought it got easier at three? Someone TOLD me it got easier when they were three!! Can't you reason with them?? Can't you just have them color quietly while you paint your toenails?" Her husband sensed my anguish and chimed in "It doesn't really get easier, per se ... it just gets different..." Before he had a chance to finish, I looked him square in the eye and said "I was born at night - but not last night. You go tell that to someone who doesn't know any better!"

Yesterday, I took down all the baby gates and let the children have free run of the house... moments before I stepped out the door to go to work. I'm good that way.

But I figured since Charlie's Los Angeles triathlon is this coming Sunday, an increase in his aerobic regiment would be welcomed. Besides, maybe we are being too restrictive on our children. Maybe they do need to explore more...

When I called home a couple hours later to see how the kids were doing with their new found freedom, Elizabeth was scaling the bookshelves, Carolyn was standing on the dining room table playing with the chandelier, William was hiding beneath our bed and Charlie's heart rate had been sustained at 180 for the past two hours. I think he'll do just fine this weekend.

As far as I'm concerned - we are at the peak of how challenging raising children can be. If you'd told me last week that THIS week was going to dish out new obstacles I'd never considered (trying to flush the remote control for our television down the toilet; figuring out how to unscrew the child-resistant cap for Maalox; unlocking and opening the backdoor), I wouldn't have believed it. It's nearly impossible to imagine our lives being any more chaotic than they are right now ... but I suspect they will be.

So what it comes down to is ATTITUDE.

At some point, each day, I usually have to remind myself that these moments with my three children are fleeting. They are growing up so fast. Our standards for the immaculate house we once had - have been completely shot. Our standards for the hours upon hours of "me" or "us" time we once had - have been completely shot. In their place are a messy house ... children hanging off our legs ... hugs - kisses - and laughter.

There is little doubt, these are challenging times and TODAY we are at the peak in raising triplets. But these are also the best days of our lives, and from this perspective, the view couldn't be any better.


  1. What????? You took the gates down? ARe you ok? :)

    I loved this post. thanks :)

  2. You have me laughing so hard I almost spit out my drink. After reading your earlier post I discussed it with my mom. I contemplated allowing my kids to have more freedom, but then I started listing what could happen (and would.) I keep hoping it gets easier, then I read your blog, sigh.

  3. well said.

    look forward to hearing your stories of life after the gates.

  4. Put the gates back up! :-) We still have a couple because it just helps to limit the trouble they can get into.
    Seriously, there is so much truth to your post. I think it comes in cycles.. A few months ago, I was pulling my hair out, feeling completely overwhelmed and the last several weeks have been awesome. I know it will all come back around.
    But when I hear their little voices, hold their little hands or watch them swell with pride when they learn something new I cannot bear to think about them getting older. Hang in there!!!

  5. Oh Jen, I so love your posts!! You are such a great writer! You put things into words so well, I have often sent friends and family to your blog to help them understand what I am going through since our trips are the same age.

    People ask me all the time if its getting any easier and I respond the exact same way.....its just different.

    We do let the girls have the run of the house and have baby proofed just about everything....that is until they show me something new I need to lock up or put away LOL. They seem to enjoy it and have not abused it too much so far.

    As I am yelling at them to get out of the dog dish (we have that same dish :)) I really do need to remember what is really important. Sure they are spilling water all over themselves and the floor, but they are laughing and having a great time. Somedays I just need to take a step back and enjoy these moments because it is going toooooo fast.

    Mom of Eryn, Maya and Kyra-almost 23 months

  6. You write such down to earth stuff and it is SOOO true!

    The truth is that no one can tell you what to expect at what age! Everyone says terrible twos...I never experienced that with Brittney, it was the age of 3 that she almost didn't live through. Who knows?

    The only thing I can agree with is that it never gets "easier". With each age there are new challenges and you just learn to adapt. Think of the worries you'll have when you have 3 teenagers dating and DRIVING!!! AAAHHHH! I don't even want to think about that!

    Hang in there!

  7. Great post. Attitude is so important, and so is perspective - look how far you have come and how much you have learned so far!

  8. Another well written post! Jenna, you are reading my mind! BTW, are you guys going to be bringing gates with you this weekend? Just kidden' - gates... we don't need no stinkin' gates!

  9. William in Dad' shoes--I love it!
    How wonderful that they like water-I see some Hydrogeologists brewing. What fun you are having right now! Live in the NOW--remember if you Live in the Past--you die in the present. They are progressing with such curiosity.
    Wish I could be there to see it and the Blog takes me there. Love it!

  10. What an awesome perspective!
    I think I'll bookmark this one to read when I am ready to jump off the Redondo Beach pier. That happens...daily.

  11. I love reading your blog!

  12. Jen,
    I'm a Writer/Producer at KABC, and fellow blogger, and I'd love to talk to you about a story I'm working on about keeping in touch with family. Part of the piece will focus on blogging. Please contact me -- or check us out