Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Alone Time Unicorn

It's happening.
I'm actually having
wait for it


Quiet, blissful, rare as gray hair on a baby alone time.

Well, if you remove the dog's weird reverse breathing that she does it's quiet and blissful.
She only does that when she gets excited, though, so maybe she's loving the moment, too.
Her giant Boston Terrier eyeballs bugged out with glee.

The baby is in bed, the little girls are finally sleeping, Justin's at work, and Alena got invited to go see The Hunger Games for the sixth time down at the ghetto three dollar theater.
The theater that hasn't been vacuumed in about 14 years.
That's why they can charge so little.
They save on things like cleaning supplies and fresh paint and warm water in the bathroom sinks.

Also, Alena's at the age where it doesn't matter what it is or where it is as long as it's away from home and it keeps her from having to go upstairs and get something for me.

I don't even know what to DO with alone time any more.
I always think I want it and I'll use it doing spa-like things.
Soaking my feet or painting my nails.
In reality I watch things on YouTube, stare at my reflection in my magnifying mirror and sigh, or scrape dinner leftovers into the trash while the dog drools giant saliva bubbles beside me because she wants some of the brown rice.

All glamor
all the time.

I feel like there's so much I WANT to do with alone time that when I get it, I get so giddy trying to decide what to do first that I spin in circles and hyperventilate and before I know it, the girls are standing in front of me asking for snacks all over again and I've wasted it all.

Back to reality.

It seems magical, this alone time.
Like a unicorn.
Powerful, mystical, and never ever seen.

I needed it, though.
Those brief moments of silence.
This has been quite a week.

I have endured so much whining this week I deserve some sort of prize.
At the very least a mylar balloon.
I picture the Pope kissing MY hand.
The girls have taken turns crying like they're in a relay race, passing the baton of terror, and the time-out chair has stayed perpetually warm for days.

It's getting to the point where I'm trying to figure out new consequences for them.
Bigger than taking toys away.
Bigger than going to their rooms to "think about their behavior."
(see: Scream bloody murder and kick the walls)

Like - Den of lions,

I might have even considered posting an ad for them on Craigslist if I could ever remember my stupid password....

And it's not only been the little girls.
I'm seeing in Alena this week the beginnings of what other parents of teenagers have warned me about.
Here I thought I'd get by without dealing with it.
She was so sweet. So innocent.
Now I see the look.
The, "I will be mortified if anyone knows we're together" look.
The look of distaste in anything remotely related to family time.

I could set her up with a week at a chess camp and she'd be like,
"I don't play, but I'm there. As long as there's WiFi."

We got invited to a baseball game in a suite last night that had 18 seats available.
She waited to see where we were sitting and then chose her seat.
If we had been seats 1-4, she would have been in seat 18.
Across the aisle with the other group.
The group she'd never even laid eyes on in her life.
Then she spent the whole time casting mournful sideways glances at us then slowly returning to her book.
I tried taking her picture and she'd just make lame faces on purpose to ruin the pictures.
They were already bad enough from that far distance.
All grainy from the zoom I had to do to try to capture her that far away.

Then the girls cried tonight about VBS.
They don't want to go tomorrow, they said, because today they'd been separated and they "don't like being apart."
You could have fooled me with the daily torture and drawing of blood they try on each other.
Most days I think they'd as soon hit each other in the temples with rocks than play nicely together.
Now they can't be apart?
Go figure.
I guess that's just siblings for you.

I SUPPOSE I was that way.
I mean, I did tell Branch Roth to remove my brother from the trash can he was sticking him head first into in high school.
Even though I agreed with Branch that wearing a matching sweat-suit and transition lenses was grounds for trash can dunking, I didn't want anyone to do it other than me.
We stuck together when we were in public.
We saved the flogging for at home.
Well. I DID.
Darren just laid there minding his own business eating his microwaved burritos.

On top of all this week's crazy, I've had a sick baby and daycare kids, birthday parties and trips to the city. Father's Day and shopping trips. Return lines and grocery stores.

I just never get a moment's peace.
Whatever happened to laying all afternoon on a Fun Island listening to Bob Marley in the summer?
When is a girl supposed to tweeze her eyebrows?
How does one stay on top of their DVRed Master Chefs?

I deserve some down time now, right?


I did.

But now it's over.

Alena just walked in.

I think I'll make a memorial bumper sticker for my car window.
"In memory of Alone Time 2012.
Gone, but not forgotten."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wake Up Call Barbie

This morning it came to me.

I wonder if I could use the same technology they use in race horse gates to build a bedroom door for the girls that won't allow them out until the buzzer sounds.
They'd be in there pawing at the ground - eyes on the prize - until it was at LEAST past 7:00 before theyd be released.
How in the WORLD do they have so much energy?!

They wake up at 6:00 giggling and within five minutes they've dressed up in costumes, built something out of foam blocks, logged on to the computer dismantled 2 rooms and gotten in a fist fight.

I've been wondering the last three days why I'm so tired.
eighty year old, supportive shoes and soft foods tired.

But then I realized that's just how one FEELS with four kids.
I seem to keep forgetting I'm not 20 anymore.
The WORD twenty feels like a foreign language when I say it, actually.

I still feel the same inside.
In my mind.
It's my body that isn't keeping up so well any more.

I mean, I WAKE UP tired.

That's just wrong.

And it doesn't help me ease into my day when the first thing I see with my sleepy eyes is a naked Barbie that just has to be dressed this very second.
Who cares that it's still dark out?
This, apparently, is Nocturnal Barbie.
Haven't you heard of her?

And have you ever tried dressing a Barbie?
It requires the focus and skill of a vascular surgeon to get their arms in those sleeves.
Every single Barbie outfit we own is shredded by the cuffs because those blasted hard, pokey thumbs just

I am completely convinced that whoever designed them actually hated women.
They wanted not only to give them messed up body images, but they wanted to completely infuriate every sleep deprived mother who'd ever have to help dress them.
Doing it without contacts just by feel while your kids laugh at how funny your hair looks is not exactly top o' the day material.

And my body aches now.
All the time.
I thought I'd be at least 50 before that started, but boy was I wrong.
I've had a stiff neck for so long now I'm forgetting what good mobility feels like, and that has me turning around to look at things like my spine has been fused.

It's made backing up the van pretty hard.
I just pray a lot and try to do it fast so that my window of possible time I could spend backing over someone is a smaller window.

I'm basically completely falling apart.

Unable to look behind me.

And the kids.
They're so ENERGETIC.
And unappreciative of all that energy, too.
The things they have to complain about are that their hair band is too tight or their sock seam is funny.
They don't even know how good they have it.

I used to ride my bike miles a day to visit my friend Katie across town.
Now that much riding would put me in traction.
I used to think the cereal pieces in Lucky Charms were just there to make the bright colored pieces you REALLY eat stand out more in the bowl.
Now I have to think about fiber intake and if I ate that much suger my heart would jump out of my chest.

In the last few days alone the girls have run and climbed and swam and jumped and chased and spun and all they have to show for it is some sun on their noses.
I almost need Hospice tonight.

Chloe acts like her growing pains are enough to earn her an AARP card.
Just wait till she's my age and she realizes she's spent over 85% of her day daydreaming about a foot rub.

The mental space that used to be taken up by thoughts of My Little Ponies and coloring pages will be replaced by fantasies of deep tissue massage and a well fitting Dr. Scholl's gel insert.

Oh. Sleep.....

Life just GOES FAST.

You never really understand that when you're younger.
Summers stretch out forever.
Time stands still.
I have childhood memories that, in my mind, were 40 hours long, but I know now were probably mere moments.

Maybe realizing this is what has made me really want to just spend time with the kids this summer.
Crafting, baking, creating.
Living vicariously through them. Remembering what it's like to stay out as long as the mosquitos will let you.

And good thing I have Pinterest.

I have prepped crafts like a crazy person.
I've used so much food coloring there's probably some sort of government surveillance on me.

I guess there's my answer to why I'm so tired lately.
It's probably some sort of food coloring toxemia.
It's probably some rare thing that nobody ever gets, but with my luck, I would.

I mean really - What person in ONE YEAR gets Lyme's, a rare serious reaction to a medication, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, a life threatening blood clot and goes into A-fib?
Now a day when I get sick I just assume it's probably the most rare random thing. That way, when it's not, I'm pleasantly surprised.

I've learned to push on, though.
To try harder to enjoy each day as it comes, because there are no guarantees.
See your friends and tell them they're important to you.
Hug your kids even if earlier in the day you used those same hugging hands to pull out clumps of your own hair.
Be kind to your family even if it's easier to take them for granted.

I guess I shouldn't complain that the girls wake me up at 6:00.
At least I have them to wake me up.

One day they'll be gone and I'll get to sleep as late as I want.
Or as late as Justin's Hoover powered snoring will let me.
Instead of buying 4 pairs of new tennis shoes, I'll be able to buy that deep tissue massage and I'm sure
while I'm laying there in perfect peace I'll miss it all.

I'll miss Barbie's dagger hands.
I'll miss wiping down the ENTIRE bathroom after their bath because there was so much splashing.
I'll miss cleaning up the ice cream bar that got left on the coffee table for a half hour and melted all over the shag rug.

Maybe not that.

I just want to enjoy every day as it comes.

Even if it comes at 6.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Peace Speaker

I was dreading today.
Dreading grabbing the lab slip that the pediatrician had filled out for Chloe when I took her in yesterday because for a month now she's been telling me her legs feel funny.
Like she's
"going to fall."
She's complained of dizziness, too, so I thought better safe than sorry and I took her in.

She's had bloodwork before, and actually did amazingly, but I still wasn't too excited to have to explain to her that they'd be poking her again and that she needed to be brave.

The nurses looked scared when they realized we were there for a blood draw.
Like they wanted to shout, "1,2,3 Not it!" and scatter, but we checked in and they showed us to the waiting room and told us we'd have to wait at least 20 minutes.

"Do you want to watch something on my iPad, Chloe?"
I asked her to try to distract her.
I saw her swallow really hard with tears in her eyes and say,
"Yeah. I want to watch that show where tgfggfgfgfgfgfhyhe kids dress up and their parents buy them fancy dresses."
I thought for a minute.
"Do you mean Toddlers and Tiaras?"
So we watched it.
She commented that those moms seemed crazy.

Every time anyone walked by, she looked up. I could tell she wasn't really watching it.
Her mind was too focused on if they were coming for her.

And then they did.

"Chloe Green?"

She looked up at me with the look that every parent hates most.
The look that says, "Help me."
But you can't, and you have to be strong and show that you're brave so they can be, too.

I took her hand and told her she was going to to so so good, and we walked in together.

The room seemed cold and overly white.
Four phlebotomists stood staring like a row of sheep at us and Chloe decided to bolt.
I had to go retrieve her and literally pry her hands off of the door handle as the tears started.
Then came the screaming.
The total panic.
She had absolute TERROR in her eyes.
I've almost never seen anything like it.
I'm sure all four of the phlebotomists have asked for a raise now.

She pulled my arms around her body and screamed at me not to let her arms go. She was shaking, violently, and begging to leave. She didn't want to. She didn't want to. Please let her go. Please! PLEASE!

I tried reasoning with her. I tried talking more sternly. Then more gently.
One phlebotomist said they didn't think we'd be able to do the draw.
It was fear as intense as I've ever seen it. And I've SEEN it.

It went on and on for probably 15 minutes until finally I decided just to
pin her against me.
The phlebotomists took my cue and before long there was one holding each arm, me holding her toso, one holding both legs and then another one ready to do the draw.

It was a nightmare.

I had tried everything to get her to calm down and hold still.
At this rate there was no way they'd even CONSIDER trying to poke her for fear they'd seriously harm her with all her writhing.

All I had left to do was pray.

Now I know some of you aren't praying people. I know this might be the part of my story where you stop reading or roll your eyes, but I AM a praying person and I know what I have experienced in my life and I know that God is real.
He has met me in places no one else would go and I felt like I'd done all I could do on my own.
And that's the thing I've found about God - That's the moment when He really likes to show up.
It's almost like He's saying, "Are you done yet?"

As I struggled to pin this child that felt like, at that moment, had the strength of 3 adults, I whispered a prayer too quiet for her to even hear with her head pressed against me. Her screams were muffling all other noise.

"Father. PLEASE. I need you to be here with Chloe."

And in that space between that last period and quotation mark, He did just that.

INSTANTLY she was quiet.
The tight balloon that was her body deflated and as I clung to her every muscle in her body relaxed almost like she'd been drugged.
She offered her arm to the tech and sat. Still.

It seriously kind of freaked me out.
My own firey furnace moment.
And if that moment had a sound effect, it would have been,

2 seconds later the draw was done.
She was smiling.

I wasn't.
I was crying and totally unable to talk.

It had been palpable - the answer to my prayer for my child.
The most important prayer a mother can pray.


Today I was reminded that God cares about the things that matter to us because WE matter to HIM.
And I was also reminded that maybe next time I should START with the
prayer instead of trying to do it all alone.