Sunday, November 24, 2013

Moments that hold us.

Winter is here. The outside temperature has not risen above 25 in the last three days. Snow is not melting. It will warm up again before it settles down to these frigid temperatures again for months. But for now, winter is here.

There are other signs of winter besides the cold.

There are sniffling runny noses, headaches from the wicked temperature changes, long dark evenings that leave everyone searching for something to do-inside. There are people inside this house who are constantly wrapped in at least three layers of clothing and can be found, when time allows, covered up under a ginormous blanket in the living room where it is supposedly warmer than elsewhere in our baseboard heater heated house with old, single plane windows that are not weather proof.

We have cabin fever already. The summer was spent outside. We lived and breathed it. We let the laundry and the dishes pile up so we could be adventurous. So now, when we need to be heading in around 4:45 because the sun is coming down we are left with a restlessness to get back outside and explore some more, play some more, run free some more. We are left to turn the house into our adventuresome escape instead of the wild mountains. The toy box becomes a boat. The kitchen floor becomes grass on which to sit and picnic. The couch becomes a mountain that must be scaled. The top of the mountain must be jumped off of to catch the bear who is running away.

The pent up energy is released. In part.

The other part is released in whining. When the 'bear' doesn't do exactly what the 'captor' wants. When the picnic blanket is not perfectly laid out. When there is only room for one in the boat, but two want in. Whining happens. In loud obnoxious amounts. Fighting happens. Hair pulling happens. Pushing. Shoving. Sometimes biting happens.

This doesn't happen outside. Not where there is enough space for everyone.

The playing is encouraged. The imagination pushed to limits not otherwise thought capable 'What if we make another boat out of this rug and then there are TWO boats and Bubs can help you sail away from the crocodiles?' 'What if Bubs is just trying to start a dance? Could you get up and dance with him?' 'What if you take turns being the 'bear' and the 'captor' so then you can do what you want?'
Most of the time 'OH! That's a great idea! I like it.' is what I hear in response to my attempt at opening the imagination.

Daddy is working long hours. And lots of them. We don't see him for days in a row. And we MISS him. Daddy is the only one who can kiss bloody hands. The only one who can comfort and play. The only one that this posse wants. Which is wonderful.

But it is still exhausting. The colds, the fighting, the darkness, the longing for a person who is not here.

So yesterday when I heard 'Momma, my belly hurts. I just want to snuggle with you on the couch for quiet time' I put my 'I am the mom. I make the rules. You don't get to manipulate me by being cute' hat to the side. I scooped that girl up. I held her and snuggled her. She breathed deeply, soundly, rhythmically. I thought she was asleep-which has happened ONCE before in her tiny life. She cannot fall asleep with anyone holding her-she needs her own space. YES. Even as a two week old.
She looked up and said 'I just love my daddy'.
Looked back down and actually fell asleep.
And for the moment it was just me and her.
Just like before. In the womb. No words. Only touch. The deep deep knowing between a mother and child. I know her. She knows me-in a way I'm sure I do not know myself. I dozed off. And we slept. We breathed.

The moment held us. No thoughts about the next fight. Or how she would elbow my face and stand on my stomach and refuse to dress herself (even though she is entirely capable) and spill dinner all over herself and the floor and the struggles we would face this morning trying to get out the door.

These are the moments that I cling to. Our parenting journey has been a wild ride. One, that honestly, we wanted to hop off of in the beginning. It was moving way too fast and way too intensely. But we are coming down from that stage into a new one. It's still intense. It will always be. But we have built up so many of these moments. Moments that have held us and reassured us and spoke to us and whispered and built. And when things are ugly and intense and generally unpleasant (a great majority of the time) there is this pensive of sorts we have to draw on and remember who we have the pleasure and honor of knowing and parenting.

(although I really do wish I had an ACTUAL pensive because that would be amazing!!! And so helpful.)

We will face this winter like every other-get outside during the day as much as possible-play hard inside as much as possible-and make moments to remember for when things get ugly.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Warm Wyoming

This morning I walked outside in the T-shirt I was wearing to throw Bub's dirty diaper some trash away. The sun was shining, clear Wyoming blue skies, and I could not see my breath. That was at 830 this morning!

I came in and exclaimed 'It's going to be a beautiful day!'

We got dressed in the stop and start fashion that is our normal. 'But MOOOOOOMMMMMMM I neeeeeeeeeedddddd you NOOOOOWWWWWW. Where is my wand?' or conversely 'Do NOT touch soap. We don't need it right now. I said -DONT EAT IT!! Get it out of your mouth!' And so it goes as the posse and I do this uncoordinated dance of clothes, hair, make-up, teeth, socks, shoes, and coats. But I was feeling good about today because it was nice out. Winter comes in fits and starts up here and I will take all the sunshine and warmth that I can get before it starts and doesn't let up until April. At which time we all plan to be leaving the state and come back when it has settled down a bit. Thank you to my sweet and ever so thoughtful cousin who is getting married in April and is giving us a perfect reason to GET OUT.

We put vests on, and I put a jacket on. Not coats. It's going to be too nice today for that.

We go out to the car, and it's a little colder than I remember but that side of the house is super shady. There is still snow from our last snowfall three weeks ago. As I herd my posse down the steps and to the sidewalk I take note of the pumpkins leftover from Halloween that someone smashed while we were vacation last week. Thanks a lot. Every time I walk by I think 'I really need to clean that up'…and I still haven't done it.

As a lot of cars do these days, ours has a thermostat. And after we are all buckled and are headed down the road I finally think to look up. 36 degrees.

Yes. I thought 36 degrees felt warm this morning. And at first I thought I was crazy, but then I remembered that I was just in Missouri and it was that cold one morning. And the sun was shining, like it was here…but it felt colder. 36 degrees in Missouri is colder than 36 degrees in Wyoming (with the sun shining).

So all you people that think you couldn't hang up here because it's 'too cold'…I would like to disagree. It starts snowing earlier, and it snows later, but the sun feels warmer (we are closer to it!) and is out much more frequently than winter elsewhere.

However, April is actual really terrible. If anyone wants to go on vacation with us in April..we are totally up for it. Every year from now until we move from here if we ever do. Anywhere south of here will do.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Smooth Sailing

Having 3 bedrooms has been amazing. We sleep! We are happy!

I hear about people who intentionally put their kids in the same room so they learn flexibility. I wish that was us. I wish that having the posse share a room was what worked for us, and that my inflexible-plan-in-her-mind child would have learned from that experience. It really would make traveling and life that much easier.

But, alas.

If anyone wants any sleep. If anyone wants to enjoy the trip/life. If anyone in the family wants to continuing liking other members of the family-we need three bedrooms.

Really, Sis just needs her own room.

We have just come home from vacation. It was so nice to be away. From the posse. From normal life. To rest and run and play and hike and antique shop. (Totally not my idea…seriously. NOT my idea).

Traveling was not nice. But it was the most nice that it has ever been EVER since having the posse. We drove. We flew. We drove again. It took 12 hours to reach my hometown. And Sis did great. Given the circumstances-great! I thought maybe it was because she had something to look forward to at the end of traveling-Grammy and Pop Pop's! So I was a bit more nervous about coming home. But once again they did great! Given the circumstances-woken up early with colds, not eating breakfast until after checking in and going through security, etc.

Instead of the usual cranky posse for the ENTIRE trip with little spurts of calm, we had a calm trip with little spurts of cranky-easily calmed by Peter Pan or a snack. (Peter Pan was the new movie of choice for the trip and they have fallen in love. Currently there is a flying competition going on in the living room while the movie is playing in the background-its the only reason I'm able to write this at the moment)

So we've learned a few things. Particularly about Sis.

1. They/she are growing up!

2. Sis needs PREPARATION. For weeks before our trip we told her in exact detail what was going to happen and what we expected of her. I let her pick out her 'airport clothes' so there were no fights about that. I packed a million snacks-although that was mostly to get rid of food that would have gone bad while we were away.

For the trip home we did the same thing-told her in detail what was going to happen. And when things didn't go as we had prepared her for-she got upset. Like when I had put her 'airport shirt' away and had gotten a different shirt out for the flight home. (not sure what I was thinking! That was the shirt she is supposed to wear at the airport-where we were going!). Or when we were supposed to be getting drinks and a snack at the airport while she went potty but they didn't arrive as scheduled because someone left their wallet in a bag that was in the bathroom with the rest of us. But (I think) bc of all the preparation and the constant reminders of 'You just need to listen to momma and daddy and have a good attitude. That's the most important thing right now' she was easily calmed.

She quietly watched Peter Pan on the drive home from the airport .

It seems that since she has had her own room again that she is actually learning to be a bit more flexible. The nights she doesn't sleep well are the days that are really rough. If she's sleeping than everyone is happier.

So maybe, having kids that will sleep in the same room is not the only way to teach flexibility (although it makes staying in a hotel much more convenient) Maybe having a kid who NEEDS to sleep by herself can also aid in the flexibility teaching-OR maybe she is just teaching us to be flexible-to get her what she needs to be happy….OR no one is learning to be flexible, only that we have to be really prepared and we need  a lot of sleep in order for things to go smoothly.

Hey! At least we are figuring out what allows for smooth sailing :)