Thursday, February 26, 2015

Can I give a 4-year old Coffee?

Curtis is not a morning person. He is not. This is becoming more and more apparent in his old age. I mourned the day we had to switch him to share a room with his early-rising big bro, because he used to sleep in late. Though he does not wake up grumpy, it takes only the most minor thing to upset him in the morning. And by upset him, I mean, send him into a screeching, wailing, inconsolable crying fit.

These things include, but are not limited to: any one of his brothers talking to him. Any one of his brothers touching him. Me not letting him play with my phone (which he is NEVER allowed to do in the morning). Having to pee. The dog touched him. The dog looked at him. The dog might look at him. Sponge Bob is on TV. Sponge Bob isn't on TV. He has school today. He doesn't have school today. It's cold outside. We are out of milk. He doesn't know which sock goes on which foot. He wants to wear "scratchy" (athletic) pants. His drink is in the wrong color cup.

At times, this is extremely inconvenient and aggravating, but mostly, I feel for the guy. I have always been in a fine mood in the AM, rarely, if ever, waking up "on the wrong side of the bed". So, I have no idea what it must feel like to wake up and be pummeled by 2-3 siblings, a loud TV, dogs, parents, school prep, and breakfast all while really wanting to sit and hear nothing. I try to keep this in mind, and give the guy a break. Talk a bit quieter with him. Have some patience before frantically expressing we have to get dressed and eat and leave by 7:30am. So, this morning, when we finally got dressed, made it downstairs and he had begun eating breakfast, it was extremely distressing to turn around and find that he had removed his socks! When did he remove them. Where are they now? But most baffling, and what I needed to know at that instant, was WHY!?

"Curtis!? Why did you take off your socks??"

He just looks at me, sheepishly. Not going to fly.

"No really Curtis, why did you take them off!? We have school. You need your shoes on. Where are they!?"

He is still silent and has now looked down.

"Curtis, why did you take them off?"

And then comes the little pouty lip. Oh no. Oh geez, poor sensitive Curtis. He is 4. He has no idea "why" he does anything 99% of the time, let alone, why he decided to remove his socks this particular morning. I try to stop the tears.

"Curtis, it's fine, we can put them back on, just don't take them off before school." I say, in the most loving, sympathetic, yet still authoritative voice I could find.

I wasn't enough. The sad, sad tears started. He felt so bad. He is so sincerely sensitive. Curtis very much dislikes tension, and even more does not like to be the root of causing his mother to be upset. His little brain could come up with no reason as to why he removed the socks, but he was so very sorry that he had.

I continued to try and reassure him that I was not angry, just confused. I hugged him. Put on his socks. Gently reminded him not to do it again. And have proceeded to feel guilty all day. I cannot get the image of my happy little boy's face turning to such sad tears.

Brock, in this same situation, would gladly have given me no less than 8 reasons why he took off his socks, and defended each one. He would have owned his decision. And for me to get him to feel bad about it, I would have had to yell, and scold and perhaps even cry myself (which I don't, this is just for comparison.) I would never feel guilty for sternly asking Brock "Why he removed his socks". I would have forgotten the incident ever happened...seeing as it happens, CONSTANTLY with him, and we all just get over it.

It is so absolutely true that parents treat each child differently, but their personalities require it. Curtis has a fire burning inside of him, but it could so easily be squelched because of his need for acceptance and love of peace. Brock's fire often gets stoked by conflict. He also, is extremely social, but is missing that need for others to accept him. Don't like it? He moves on (or obsesses about it with you until you give in and join him just to get him to shut up.) I simply cannot discipline the 2 oldest children in the same manner. It wouldn't work. I hope they don't feel their childhood "unfair", and I try not to make the parenting differences obvious. But someday, they might be...

...until I figure out what to do with my little morning angel, Curtis. Can I just start giving him some coffee? In whichever cup of his choosing?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's not a competition.

Last Saturday, which is a "whole nother story", Matt was shooting a 1st birthday party for a friend's nephew at the country club. I had all the boys at Chick-filet for a birthday party. Long story short, I had to stop by the country club to seek out Matt, momentarily to get some keys. The friend's mother saw me, of course, and we chatted for a bit. I should add, this friend was a former competitive swimmer, so they know me and my "winning" personality all too well. I believe the first thing she laughingly said, was: "Matt said he's trying to convince you that number of children is not a competition you have to win."

Now, I have to admit, this thought has crossed my mind. I've had multiple heart to hearts, with myself, in which, I am trying to understand what exactly it is that compels me to have such a large family. And the best I can come up with is: it's complicated.

On the surface, it's easy to say these things: I'm competitive. I LOVE all things miniature. And cute. Especially if these things are living! (Though, I like the inanimates as well.) I enjoy chaos and am bored by simplicity. I dislike predictable schedules (again, boring). I really like my husband, and am apparently very fertile. I grew up in a large family, and it's simply what I am accustomed to, enjoyed and feel my children will benefit from it. I LOVE newborns, how they help me to relax, to stop and smell the roses, to cherish life; they ground me.

When I dig, I mean really dig, I believe it all comes down to one core value, which I have held for as long as I can remember; do not waste your gifts. In 7th grade, we were encouraged to begin a journal. I went to Catholic school, and this journal was to be between you and God. One of my first and longest entries was all about gifts, talents, in essence "why were we put on this earth". I intensely felt that we all had a specific purpose. Why else would every human be so different, and possess such different skill sets and abilities? I felt it our duty to discover our greatest talents, strengths, or gifts from God and refine them. Practice them. Perform them to THE BEST of our ability. It infuriated me to see people waste their good fortune. Intelligent classmates perform poorly on tests. Artistic classmates putting no effort into their artwork. Athletic classmates goofing off in gym or at basketball practice. Great singers not trying out for the school musical. I simply did not understand. Why would you ignore this beautiful thing, handed to you. Yours for the taking and making. Yours to share with all of us who do not possess that same talent. This mindset, I'm certain, is why I have done all that I have thus far in life. I simply cannot ignore my gifts and talents, and must pursue them as much as I am able.

It's obvious I took this mission very seriously. I achieved nearly the highest level possible in swimming. I achieved one of the highest levels of education. Then, once I began child bearing, and discovered I was blessed with the ability to conceive and carry a healthy child to birth with relative "ease", I felt, this too, was a gift I have been handed. Matt once got very upset with me for mentioning that "maybe the Duggar's aren't that crazy." I simply meant, I can see how easy it is to view not only every child has a gift, but the ability to continue to reproduce them as a gift as well. So, if we go back to my initial value: "do not waste your gifts", how I can I simply stop having children at some arbitrary number?

My body has yet to show signs that child-bearing has become dangerous, or detrimental to my health. My, now 4, children are all still well-fed, bathed, dressed and happy. Sure, it's possible my husband might be reaching his max capacity, and perhaps I am as well. Also, I do know that at age 35 things do, statistically, become riskier. My logical brain very much understands that there is a limit. A limit that we may have already surpassed. But my passionate, theoretical brain, says, "how can you just ignore this amazing, beautiful gift, and perhaps even, purpose for your life on earth?" If I've ever questioned my path in life, or had doubts about my career or decisions, it's only that I've wondered, did I choose the path meant for me?

I try not to get too into existentialism. It gives me a headache. Especially, because, there is a possibility that we really have no true purpose. But, it seems I have always operated off the idea that I should not ignore my strengths and continue to maximize their potential. I refuse to be a hypocrite. I will always be overly passionate (obsessive, perhaps even a bit compulsive) And I will never stop pursuing my dreams or refining my skills. So. Here we are. At 25 weeks pregnant with number 5. And I am just ecstatic. I am not worried about how she will fit in with us, nor how we will manage with 5 children under 6.5 years of age. I realize it's not a competition (against other people, anyway.) But, I'm not sure the reason for my competitiveness was ever to prove anything to anyone but myself. It's not about being better then other people, but being the BEST of MYSELF. I view it as an opportunity to fulfill one of my many gifts and duties in life. One that I am so, so honored to have been bestowed. I don't care how many children you have, you never stop viewing each one as a beautiful, miraculous blessing. What a wonderful gift I have been given; motherhood.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Freedom at 30 Degrees.

I felt like during residency, despite working up to 100 hours a week, I always managed to get outside with the boys. Go to the zoo. The pool. The park. Play in the snow. Ride bikes. Walk to Starbucks. Everyday, I was off of work, seemed to be a playday. Now, that I work roughly 35-50 hours a week, just depending on my Urgent care shifts, I feel more bogged down than ever. I have up to 3 days off a week, and they just zoom by, before I know it, we're brushing teeth and going to bed.
I've thought about it, and mostly, this change is because of our move. We doubled our house size, and have 4 children. On my days off, I feel obligated to unpack, at the very least, 1 box. Not to mention, laundry and dishes still exist. Furniture does not just appear at our doorstep. I spend hours and hours shopping, which is something I did not do before (despite what Matt might think.) To put it bluntly, I feel trapped. Trapped inside the house everyday. Going outside in the snow means getting out all the Winter gear (that I have just recently even unpacked and found a place for in the house), changing clothes (more laundry), cleaning snow covered floors when they come back in, and reorganizing all the gear! I hate that this is my new mentality. Doing ANYTHING that {in my mind} makes us take a step backward in the home organization, gets almost automatically rejected. This simply, is NOT me. And I don't like it.

Now, I cannot pin it 100% on the house, probably more like 85%. The other 15% includes Brock being in Kindergarten and going to school everyday, with assignments. The other 2 are in school as well. It is Winter, which inherently traps us in the house due to nature. I am pregnant, which inherently makes me lazy, or, less motivated, however you want to word it. Lastly, there is this weird part of me that suddenly becomes less productive when I have more time. In residency, a day off was NOT to be wasted in anyway. I packed everything into that day, humanly possible. Now, I can feel a little bit of that "there is always tomorrow" attitude creeping in on me. Again, that could all be due to tends to do that to me. This year has brought many changes, and they all seem to force me inside.
Well. Yesterday. I overcame my dread of the Winter clothing. The mess it would make. The productive hours it would suck up (it helped that Matt offered to make dinner and put away the groceries and be my extension of productivity inside the house.) after several meltdowns about boots being uncomfortable, gloves not fitting right, and various other clothing "catastrophes" as well as multiple threats that we are "no longer going outside", we did it!! We walked out the front door with the intention to build a snowman. Something I have never done, on my own, with the boys. 
The snow turned out to be too frozen, beady, crunchy, whatever consistency, not compatible with snowman building. Alas, perfect for sledding. We ran, slid, got thrown off the sled, climbed walls, and enjoyed the crisp snowy evening. Now, THIS. This is me. Free. Spontaneous. Fun. Engaged. It felt really good to be outside with my boys. I am refreshed and inspired. This is exactly what I needed.
We finished outdoors, undressed, and walked into a warm home. Filled with the smell of a fresh pot of chili on the stove. And my little, bed-headed baby up from his nap, smiling and happy to see us back home. Yes, next to the front door, is a large stack of various boxes and items that need to be carried to the basement (which needs to be organized, but so does the garage - which to do first!?) And now there is a pile of wet, snowy clothing. And a really messy kitchen, because, well, you need every utensil to cook chili, right!? But there are also 4-5 really happy boys, and one glowing, a bit sore, and extremely satisfied momma.