Monday, November 30, 2009

i am the weakest link

I've written before about my desire to be home, full time, with our children.

But sometimes - I wonder how well I'd really do. Sometimes, I wonder if the arrangement that we have right now, isn't truly the best situation for our children and for me?

More and more, I think that Charlie is the best one for the job.

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Take this past weekend for instance.

We had a wonderful four long days together. But the kids? While I love them with every fiber of my being, they tend to drive me a bit bonkers at times. Like when we go in to a store and I tell them to keep their hands on their elbows, they instead discreetly touch whatever they can. And in the process of trying to sneak in a touch - here and there - they knock something down.

Something fragile.

Something breakable.

Do I not go in to a store with our kids?

Can I not take my children anywhere public - except a park?

At what age do kids learn to STOP TOUCHING EVERYTHING and just CHILL?

I know this much.

It ain't five.

Charlie took Elizabeth to her speech therapy session today and while he was talking with the therapist, William was playing with one of the huge electronic doors that leads to the lobby. He was pushing the door open, then trying to stop it before it closed. Charlie told him to stop. And he did. But only after he pushed it two more times because the kids don't grasp that STOP means STOP RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT.

Turns out, William jammed the door. Which Charlie had to unjam. Which took a solid five minutes, and although that may not seem bad, it is an eternity when you have four children that you are directly responsible for supervising.

Kids.

You tell them, "Please come here." And although they are making eye contact, they just stand and stare at you. And you can't tell if they are aware of what you are saying or absolutely oblivious. So you say it again, a little sterner. "PLEASE come HERE." And they just continue to stare at you and so you start chanting, "HERE HERE HERE HERE PLEASE COME HERE HERE HERE HERE HERE!!!"

(After a lot of field testing, I've determined it would be easier and less painful to give myself a root canal than take children on a day hike.)

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("I can't walk. I'm sooo tired and need a nap!")

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And unless you raise your voice and threaten bodily harm, there is a good chance that they will continue to just stand there. Staring at you. Staring in to space. And you might think that they are totally unconscious on their feet until their sibling wanders in to the room carrying one of their toys that they haven't played with for three months and suddenly, they have a meltdown of epic proportions.

Yesterday afternoon when we were at Costco, Elizabeth is fiddling with the ATM/Credit Card machine at the checkout and I ask her to stop because it is registering my total and I'd rather she not hit the button for $100.00 cash back. So I ask her to stop again and she glances at me with a look that very clearly says, "What are you going to do if I don't?" So I grit my teeth and start shooing at the little hands and just then Carolyn pulls at the rubber-coiled lane divider (which are absolute magnets for small children) and it snaps and hits William and crying, nay - wailing ensues.

Out of nowhere, I heard someone yell "SWEET BABY JESUS, SAVE ME." And then I realized it was me and all the eyes for two lanes in either direction, packed with people on a busy, busy Sunday afternoon, were turned in my general vicinity looking at the messy-haired mother who looks like she might go psycho at any moment. Henry is screaming about something that he saw and wants from the back of the store and OMG I need a tranquilizer.

Charlie hardly ever gets upset. He handles everything in stride and is absolutely remarkable. He is a superstar father and has the patience of saint.

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(Although I did catch him hiding in the garage a few weeks ago, sucking down a beer in the middle of the day.)

Maybe I'm an incurable control freak?

Why is it that he doesn't mind when the house is flipped upside down?

Why is it that he doesn't need to clean out the car every time they return from an outing to make sure that wayward shoes and clothing items and sippy cups are recovered?

Why doesn't he care that the kids go out of the house wearing clothes that don't match and hair that isn't brushed with jelly smeared on their faces?

How is it that he just takes everything in stride and I go so batty?

My husband will lay on the floor and wrestle with the kids. When I'm home, I'm busy vacuuming and sweeping and making beds.

We are a dichotomy. And yet, we totally jive.

Charlie is the fun dad that is an awesome cook and helps keep mommy balanced. Mommy is the strict disciplinarian that scares the hell out of the kids and hides in the closet to eat chocolate.

At some point soon, I want to discuss other people's children and why it seems that everyone has got an excellent handle on their offspring - when out in public - except for us.

I'm thinking that perhaps they put them in electric shock collars.

COME!

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HEEL!

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SIT!

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STAY!

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27 comments:

  1. "Like when we go in to a store and I tell them to keep their hands on their elbows, they instead discreetly touch whatever they can."

    They are just seein how much they can get away with. Didn't YOU do similar things when you were a kid?¿? :D It's just them tryin out their independence.

    ~Cindy! :D
    ..

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  2. Amazing--almost like reading a snippet about life at my home. I have often thought that my husband would do better at staying home than me.

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  3. Did you enter my brain? My husband stays at home with our 2yr old and I have told him over and over that I don't know if I could cut it. He is so patient and you are right - messes don't bother him.

    Is that a male trait?!

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  4. I have three boys and they are anything BUT controllable in public. No, they aren't that bad, but seriously, you aren't alone. Although I don't have triplets, I feel your pain when it comes to taking kids out in public. You just have to "roll with it." (uh, easier said than done!)

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  5. Your children are like everyone else's children. Except the one with the perfect children, perfect house etc. who lives in your neighborhood. But we don't count her.

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  6. oh boy, been there. I will say they do stop touching things by 12 and 14, but they still don't always listen! My youngest though, she is the "good" one:)

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  7. Michelle M in TX12/1/09, 8:48 AM

    Jen, God love you, I totally get it. I was the same way, just get out-of-control crazy momma. You want to know what I did to fix this? Went to my doctor and got on a low-dose of anti-depressant. The D.O. called it a mood disorder stemming from pregnancy/nursing hormone imbalance that affected my brain. I just needed a reset on the chemicals in my brain.

    Think about what your body has been through in the past six years or so. You've been thru IVF (me too, by the way). Then you had a multiples pregnancy, then nursed three babies, then got pregnant again, then just quit nursing. That's a lot for one body to do. (Then add on all the exterior stressors - full-time job, relocation uncertainties, housing equity decline, etc.) Sometimes our hormones get a bit wacky and they just need a six-month reset w/some, say, Celexa or Zoloft.

    I know it sounds like a cop-out to take drugs, but I cannot tell you what a difference it has made in my family's life. I feel like myself again. I am not always angry and irritable. I am much more even keeled. My DH was totally against taking drugs, but even he has admitted that it has definitely helped me.

    I can give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just being irate at what I deemed injustice or a slight. I can let things slide that used to put me in a tizzy. I still feel happy and sad, blue around my time of the month so it hasn't just made me falsely happy all the time...it's just given me back my normal self.

    Anyways, I just wanted to say that Charlie -- while an amazing man, husband, and father -- doesn't have to deal with the hormones that you are dealing with...so give yourself a break. I think you're a great mom! :)

    Blessings!

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  8. Greg is fun dad too. The only difference between Charlie and Greg is that Greg is a homicidal maniac and if the kids act up, I only have to threaten to sic their father on them and they become obedient. He's fun until he's NOT.

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  9. Let me tell you (and I'm sure all singleton parents will agree), your kids do not look NEARLY as bad to us as they do to you. Any time I see a mom with multiples (and any other siblings in tow), as long as the kids don't set fire to the store, I am very very impressed. I mean, come on - you take them in PUBLIC. All of them. Some days I can't even muster up the oomph to take my two girls to Target. So don't worry...you're doing much more awesome than you know and I always extend a lot more grace to parents with many (especially many the same age).

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  10. This is my biggest parenting problem too. I have to ask 2, 3, 4 times before my kids listen. If I figure out the solution, I'll let you know. Right now, though, I'm in awe of teachers who ask their kids once to do something in a classroom and, whoa, they do it.

    That's what I strive to receive.

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  11. Thank you for being honest. I too live with the thoughts that perhaps my children are the only ones that completely ignore my requests. Daily. Every moment unless I unleash" the mean mommy". :) Thanks for sharing!!!!!

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  12. I am crying. I am laughing. I SO love this post. I've said many, many times that I really want to be home with my boys instead of working FT. But I seriously go nuts sometimes with them on a simple two day weekend. WTH? How would I cope with them as a FT SAHM???

    I think you got into my brain and wrote down my words, just with your kids pictures inserted. God, I am crazy, aren't I?

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  13. LOL - with you, not at you! Now I know that we're not the only ones who have talked about the zapper collar for the kids. We have one for our rascal terrier and it's made all the difference.

    I've been working PT for the past 8 months and I have come to realize that even though I'm busier, I'm happier, and a better mommy to our twins, when I'm working. I adore them, but need some time away to recharge my mommy batteries.

    And I so hear you about the differences in mommies and daddies. It's exactly the same in our house.

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  14. OMG ... you totally nailed how I've been feeling lately about my kids. Now - I love my hubby, but he isn't the superpatient/rockstar that you have described, but he is great. But my kids ... MY GOSH. They look at me like I'm stupid. My 22 month old will throw his sippy cup at his 7 yr old brother, bloody his nose and say "Mime Out", knowing his little butt is going right there. I have little faith in my parenting skills right now ... Why are these kids so UNRULY! But ... they do say please and thank you every time ;)

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  15. No one, no matter what they say has absolute control over their children in public at all times, and that's just the parents with a singleton. I'm positive the numbers descend quickly on a sliding scale as your multiple numbers go up. I am not an expert and I tend to lose it. My problem is with myself not my children. I have zero patience. That isn't a child issue, it's a me issue. I have to wake up every morning and pray first and decide to have patience. I have to decide how I will react. I know what pushes my buttons, so why do I let myself fall into the same trap?
    If you want them to stop touching things or come and you know they won't, you have to see what works best for them. Do they need you to touch them physically? Do they need you to ask for eye contact? Do they need to understand the consequence for disobedience beforehand? My youngest is a yes to all of those. I have to touch his arm or leg and ask him to look in my eyes to get him to actually listen to and not just hear me. I have to explain what will happen if there is disobedience. That consequence has to make sense and it obviously can't interrupt our purpose for being out in the first place.

    My husband is also infinitely better at the patience thing than I am, but he is a "get through it" kind of guy, where I am a "lets stop and learn something" kind of girl. Kids need both.

    You are doing a good job and you have normal children, the difficulty is just amplified by the numbers.

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  16. Seriously, find a school for them ASAP! Start after the holidays. Shayna is a totally different kid, since we started her in Pre-K.

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  17. Thanks for this post!! Helps me feel like what I'm going through is normal, that really they aren't out to get me and other peoples kids act the same way. Even tho I never see them in the stores ever...but I can read about them here and it helps me feel like I'm not alone.

    What is it with the not listening...over and over again. The touching everything...hands everywhere all the time!!

    Thanks for your honesty! I appreciate it more than you know! Keep your chin up...as everybody tells me so lovingly...they are only little once. But some days seem SOOOOOOO long.

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  18. No way are your children the only ones acting out in public. It must be a figment of your imagination when you're caught in the middle of a stressful situation while out with all 4 of them.

    I frankly think you are extremely brave to go so many places with your children. I simply don't have the nerves to handle it. I have a 2 year old and 10 month old and firmly believe that doing ANY kind of shopping with both of them in tow is absolute torture and I avoid it like the plague. I buy just about everything I can online, including groceries (God forbid I ever move to a part of the country that doesn't have an online grocer!) and when I absolutely HAVE to do some shopping that requires that I leave the house, I will only do it when my husband is around on the weekends and can stay with our girls.

    So no, it's definitely not only your kids and you're definitely not the only one who cares about a clean/organized house, matching outfits, clean faces, etc., etc. I'm the exact same way, I can't help it and it/I will never change. Maybe striving for cleanliness and order is a way to try to get some control over a situation (i.e. raising young children) that is inherently out of control most of the time??

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  19. I have a son a little older than Henry and an 8 year old. The 3 year old is crazy in public with the WANT WANT WANT! So your not the only one

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  20. Don't worry... I think every parent has moments when their kid is the worst-behaved in the room.
    Here's my secret plan for not having to deal with them at shops: I try to do all my shopping when they're at school, or else leave them home with my husband on the weekend. Going to Costco is not a fun family outing :-).

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  21. No not the weakest link, just the one your adorable children know how to push your every last button.

    I know I could never handle what you and Charlie handle on a daily basis and perhaps you're right your current arrangement in the best for all of you.

    My personal feeling is that you need your brain stimulated in a different way than Charlie needs his. Work provides the type of stimulation you need.

    Because as much fun as it would be to hide in the closet and eat chocolate I'm not sure it's sustainable as a means of child rearing : )

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  22. My husband it much like your husband. On Thanksgiving he allowed one of my sons to wear summer sandles that are a size too small with a pair of socks. I was all you are really going to let him wear that his response why not, it makes him happy. It's not hurting and it's just family. Ugg, I gave in partially and let him wear them in the car but he was to put on his other shoes when we got there. Thankfully there was no fight from him because he decided they make his feet too hot. I thought about it later and really what was the big deal, it was my image I was worried about not his. Although he did look silly, no one would have cared.

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  23. Jen, I'm with Geology Chick. Now again....."why" don't you want to send them to Pre-K????

    P.S. Adorable photo!

    XOXO AM

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  24. I think you forget that you have 3 children just minutes apart in age.
    Tell them the story of the child who was walking and there was a snake in the path and the children did not mind the parent and stop.
    Then, let them run and play and get out all the energy--they are kids. When they are seventeen, they will listen---maybe!
    Mom

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  25. Amen!

    Sometimes I think I will go crazy if I have to go to work one more day.

    Sometimes I think I will go crazy if I have to stay home with my kids for one more day.

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  26. It has to be a phase right???? The 2 thru 18 year old phase? We had to drive around the Del Mar Holiday of Lights 1 and a 1/2 times before all the kids stopped bickering (and that included a 17 y.o.) this past weekend.
    I have 4 other friends whose husbands have the more flexible work schedule and the wife is the primary bread winner with an amazing job. One of Dad's I want to follow around and learn his parenting and household chore techniques! (He has a 2nd grader, 1st grade twins and a 4 y.o.) They really compliment one another. It seems that you and your husband compliment each other as well!

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