Some Days …

I accomplish big things. Like finishing up a several-week-long freelance project. Planting a garden. Vacuuming the entire house (which may not seem like a big accomplishment until you understand that I have to pick up everything in every room before vacuuming).

And then other days, like today, I accomplish this: Finding Owen’s shoes, which have been missing for almost two weeks, in his closet.

(What is wrong with me?)

“Do not let your grand ambitions stand in the way of small but meaningful accomplishments.” —Bryant H. McGill

Those. Stairs.

Getting out the door with all three children is tough, especially in cold weather. I refill the diaper bag. I check diapers. I remind Sophie to try to go potty. Again. And again. And again. I find six socks. I put on six socks. I find six shoes. I put on six shoes. I find three coats. I put on three coats. Two out of the three want to zip them on their own. I unzip. One can’t zip on his own, gets frustrated and starts to scream. While I’m solving that matter, another one takes off his shoes and socks. While I’m putting those shoes and socks back on, I’m informed that someone has a stinky diaper.

With the wrong attitude, it can be maddening.

But it’s oh-so-much easier than it used to be. Now I can leave pretty much regardless of the time, without thinking about breast milk and pumping and bottles and bibs and feeding times. Now, if they’re hungry, I just pack snacks. And water bottles. And, of course, my favorite Trader Joe’s organic lollipops for any unexpected meltdowns.

But then there’s the run to the car, and by run I mean they love to run the square of sidewalk/walkway/driveway in the front of our house over and over and over until I’m using my yelling voice and hoping the neighbors don’t think less of me. And then everyone wants to climb in “all by myself I CAN DO IT! all by myself.” And then everyone wants to buckle “all by myself I CAN DO IT! all by myself.” (But they can’t.) And then there are tears because someone wants to push the button so the sliding door closes and then opens but they are already buckled in. And then there are tears because someone else wants the interior lights off even though I explain, again and again, that they turn off automatically when all the doors are shut. And then, when I figure out how to manually turn off all the interior lights regardless of the status of the doors, there are tears because someone else wants them on.

Again, with the wrong attitude, it can be maddening.

But I see a hint of light. Sophie, for example, is in a booster seat. Often, she buckles and unbuckles herself. This brought me such unexpected joy. To think that someday all my children may climb in the van and buckle themselves in …

Even as things continue to get easier, though, something changes. Like where we put on shoes and socks. Lately the boys have insisted that we climb to the top of the stairs for this activity.

I learned early on I must choose my battles. This one, I don’t fight. It’s not worth it, when we’re trying to get out the door. I don’t know why they insist on it, every time. Again, again, with the wrong attitude, it can be maddening. With the right one, I like to think of it as extra exercise. Extra exercise, with a heavy sigh.

“My mom used to say it doesn’t matter how many kids you have … because one kid’ll take up 100% of your time so more kids can’t possibly take up more than 100% of your time.” —Karen Brown

An Early Spring

It’s cold tonight. This should feel normal—it’s March—but it’s not normal. Not this year. Sophie’s birthday is Friday. In my very first blog post, here, I wrote about spring. It arrived while I gave birth to Sophie. But this year, it came early.

It’s a gift I’ve gladly welcomed. I like winter. I like seasons. But this winter has been so mundane. Chilly. Rainy. Slushy dustings of snow nowhere near enough in volume for a snowman (this, despite Sophie decorating our front door with snow-themed stickers in an attempt to make it snow).

Early March I found myself in the attic, digging through bins for summer clothes. Fearing it would get chilly again I haven’t packed the winter clothes away. As such, every bedroom is filled with boxes and bins, and the closets are becoming a mis-match of seasons. The boys still wear different sizes. And both wear smaller pant sizes than they do shirts. So I’m dealing with four different sizes, lots of hand-me-downs (which I’m so grateful for) and numerous seasons. The task to sort it all out has become so daunting that I’m avoiding it, which is just making the entire situation worse.

The flowers that graced our backyard trees eventually fell. To there.

And here.

And everywhere. Some nights, at dusk, I watched my children play as a warm breeze blew petals around, as if soft pink were falling from the sky. It was so idyllic.

I mean, at one point they were sliding down the slide into a pile of petals. 

A gift.

The previous owners must have loved birds for there are gorgeous birdhouses all over our backyard.

All three of my children love to feed the birds. They each take a turn with a small, metal bucket and spill seed all over the feeder, Tucker and grass. And laugh.

Lately Sophie has perched on top of our play set pretending to be a bird. She tweets, loudly, talking to them.

We found this lovely nest. There are two cardinals that swoop low while we play outside. I love that. The children love that. Tucker really loves that. Sophie recently found two red feathers in the yard, which I later discovered she decided to store in a plastic container full of M&Ms. “So the boys wouldn’t take it.”

Of course.

Today was chilly, though, as was tonight. The boys, however, played outside in their sandals. They had no choice. Last week I took all three children to Stride Rite for summer shoes. Another woman was there, with a daughter a little older than Sophie, twins a little older than my boys and a newborn. (I can’t imagine.) Every time the salesperson asked any one of the six children to run around the store to try out a pair of summer shoes, the five remaining children followed suit. It was loud. Totally chaotic. And there were boxes everywhere (in part because I asked the woman to kindly try several different sizes/widths for each child considering the boys will only have one pair of shoes each and they’re expensive and I want them to be exactly right). I know. They had to hate me. Anyhow, as I was rescuing tights hung on a wall from James while simultaneously stopping Owen from going into the back room, I noticed the salesperson collecting our boxes. I had assumed she put the boys’ winter tennis shoes in them. But that wasn’t her job. That wasn’t her responsibility. And frankly, she was probably exhausted from the 30-minute chaos before. So I paid for the shoes. Left the store. All three children rode home in their new sandals. Sophie’s winter shoes somehow made it into a box. The boys’ did not. And the boxes sat, in our entry, for two days before I opened them and realized what I had done. I called the store. They were there, with dirty socks still stuffed in them. And I still need to pick them up. But the idea is kind of exhausting to me. So I haven’t. But I should. I’m sure the boys had cold toes today. And I’m sure the people who work at Stride Rite don’t need two random pairs of shoes, and dirty socks, lying about. Tomorrow. I will tomorrow.

New sandals. The wisteria is blooming. I’m (slowly) cleaning out winter-ravaged leaves from beds. Open windows have allowed us to air out the house. The children are happier. Dirtier. And the inside of the house is cleaner. Calmer.

A gift.

“Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.” —W. Earl Hall