Monday, May 18, 2015

It's About Time

It's been a rough month. Juliet is a perfect little angel, thank goodness. She NEVER cries, she sleeps 10-12 hours at night, and she naps most of the day. Sometimes I forget I have a third child because she's so quiet. Caroline is funny and spunky and a little crazy, but she is a people pleaser and she loves helping me with the baby, throwing away diapers, cleaning up toys etc. But she is also newly potty trained. Potty training her was a piece of cake, actually, but now that she is potty trained we have to plan our day around when she needs to use the restroom. But still, Caroline's pretty easy to handle. Charlie, on the other hand, is hitting a rough stage. He was doing so well with potty training, and then he got really sick and now he wants nothing to do with the toilet. Actually that's a lie, he's fascinated with flushing the toilet and climbing on top of it. Just not sitting on it. So he's back in diapers, which is fine. He's not even 2 yet. I'm afraid, though, that he's entering the "terrible two's" much sooner than I had anticipated. He's mastering the art of tantrum throwing with incredible skill. He's not sleeping quite as well as he used to, so it seems like he's always tired, and he only ever wants ME. On rare occasions he's clingy to Forrest, but he almost exclusively only wants Mommy. It's completely exhausting.

And then you put Charlie and Caroline together.. and sometimes I consider it quite a miracle that we are all still alive. My daily dialogue goes something like this:

Get down!
Be soft with the baby.
Don't play in the toilet.
Please get off the dresser.
Don't climb over the back of the couch.
Could you put all of the spoons back in the drawer?
Don't throw food.
Charlie let go of her hair!
Caroline don't bite!
Where are your glasses?
Do you need to go potty?
Get down!
Don't climb on the counter.
Where did you get those scissors?
What is all over your face?
Why is the floor all wet?
No, we can't go outside, it's raining.
Hopefully daddy will be home soon.
Please stay in your crib.
Don't push buttons.
Get down!

Just imagine all of that being repeated 1,000 times per day. Meanwhile the twins' dialogue:

Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. 
Oh no.
Ooh a puppy!
Bird! Tweet tweet.
Toot toot!
Slow feet... Quick feet!
A B C...
Mommy? Mom. Mom. Mommy!
Daddy work.
A baby! Hi JuJu.
I love you.
Apple! Nana! Snack!
Dressed? Tubby?
Brush teeth.
Ouchie! Hair!
Ouchie! Bite!
(Mischievous giggling as they move chairs to the counter and climb up before I can catch them)
No no no.
Roar! Woof! Meow! Moo! Monkey!

They are hilarious. But I think they could quite easily keep 5 adults hopping. I absolutely cannot keep them off the kitchen counter. I've occasionally had to resort to drastic measures to keep them safe. These include putting all of the kitchen chairs out on the back patio, putting Charlie and Caroline on top of the kitchen table and moving all of the chairs away so they can't get down, tipping all of the chairs upside down in the living room (but that doesn't really work, they can still tip them back over and move them), and finally just clearing every unsafe or breakable item off of the counter top and giving up on trying to stop them from getting up there.

I had a bit of a paradigm shift the other day. I was spending the late afternoon as I usually am, trying to make dinner and pick up the house before Forrest gets home. The kids were up to their usual climbing and terrorizing activities. Once I eliminated all climbing opportunities, the crying and tantrum throwing began. Mostly from Charlie, but Caroline was also joining in. I was just about to my breaking point (my ears were ringing from all the screaming and hollering), when I decided to sit down and read them a book. And then there was instant peace. Sitting there on the floor in our disastrous living room, one child on each side of my lap and reading "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" for the 7,659th time, I felt a sudden spirit enter our home where the contention had gone. 

Dinner didn't get made that night. I think Forrest ended up making us a batch of pancakes instead. The house wasn't spotless, or even sort of tidy. But I was happy and my children were happy. And most importantly, I was finally making them feel like they were more important than dinner and a clean house. And they are. No comparison.

Later that night I was listening to a few General Conference talks from sisters who mentioned how they wished they had spent more time playing with their children and less time worrying about the endless to-do lists.

Not that dinner and a clean house aren't important. They are important to me, and I know they are important to Forrest. And hopefully, most days I will be able to make dinner, have a clean house, and have happy children. But not all days. And on those harder days, I hope I always choose my children and settle for eating a bowl of cereal for dinner. 

You know those cheesy yet insightful Mormon-ad commercials where the dad is super busy and his son keeps asking him to play catch, and then finally the dad stops his work and plays with his son, and the commercial wraps up by saing "Family - isn't it about TIME?" Like I said, a little cheesy. But so so true. 

Here's to recommitting myself to being a better mom. To being more concerned about my family and the time we spend together than about keeping my home in perfect order. To giving my children more of my time. And to being happier because of it.