Wasn't Jesus the original hippie? With his sandals, dress and kind, compassionate, tender, joyful nature? What a loaded word that is! I am oftentimes called a hippie – in some ways, I am, some not. I am an Older Mom with Young Kids and Older Kids, Four in All – Remarried, Striving to make a Step Family with Love and God's help.
That is what he told him to provide for his sons.
Room and Board.
‘Just give them a room in your house.’
Okay, I suppose there are LOTS of parents who treat their children that way which is why our juvenile detention centers are full and probably why all these horrible shootings, mass killings, rapes and other crimes occur.
It is NOT something I would advocate.
WHY being a Stay at Home Mom (or Dad) is the Hardest Job in the World.
Because there is such a VAST DIFFERENCE between just providing ‘Room and Board’ and providing love, care, energy towards making a thoughtful, compassionate caring participating human being.
‘Yea, Mom made us go to her Japanese Gardens. She talked to her friend while Michael and I watched the girls. Then we came home and went swimming. It was fun until Mom let Lili swim, so then Michael and I got out, and Mom swam with them.’
That is how my 10 year old described our day.
This is how I would describe it.
First let me back up, and say that it recently occurred to me from my astute observations, shocking in its simplicity, that the kids I like the most are the ones that at least one of their parents spends a lot of time with them.
Wow. There’s an eye opener. Who’d of thought.
At my 12 year old baseball game, I have my two girls (1 year old and 4 years old) and am trying to take some pictures of my son so I am far enough down to where the protective foul ball covering will not interfere with my pictures. Unfortunately, this also puts me right in path with the outfielders warm up.
For two innings, I just take care during their warm up to watch if the child misses the ball as if he does it is going to smack me in the forehead. Yes, I could just move, but this would involve moving my precariously occupied young ones and their respective toys and they are doing moderately well if I ignore the marker drawings all over my 1 year old so I tough it out.
When my son’s newest friend Joe is sent to the right field, he intentionally moves toward the first baseman so that the trajectory of their practice catch is moved away from me and my little ones.
‘Thanks, Joe.’ I tell him.
‘No problem,’ he responds.
I don’t know the child very well yet, but I do know this. His mom is at home with him and his brother.
This story in mind and other instances where I see the reverse – ill-mannered, unthoughtful actions from children who should know better but are R&B children (Room and Board), make me determined, that no matter the cost to my sanity or energy reserves, I will spend as much time as possible with my 10 and 12 year old this summer.
‘You’re going with us to the grocery. Get in the car,’ I tell my 10 year old.
Against my better judgment, but he is sitting in front of the computer with the latest I-something in his hand.
‘They can’t eat anything in the store‘ states my 10 year old about the 4 and 1 year olds. ‘One, you have to pay for it, Mom. Two, they should just wait until we get back in to the car.’
Okay, right. In theory … but … as any mother of young one knows, the best bet to get through a shopping trip with young children is to keep them occupied. And the easiest way to keep them occupied as they’re ogling Dora-this and Princess-that, Corn Syrup laden, ‘have-to-have’ items at every corner is to … keep them eating.
I’m not proud of this, but I’m just saying.
And yes, I should pay for everything ahead of time, but this is adding to my precious window of opportunity. That window where I have the time and energy to pick out and plan reasonably healthy, inexpensive meals for the family. Some days, it is an awfully small window.
And they know me at the store. I am there spending an inordinate amount of money frequently, and I always pay for everything – the donut that has already been consumed, the yogurt drinks that have one missing, everything … .
But I humor my 10 year old as he is right in theory and this is the behavior I want to model, so I get a few cinnamon rolls and 3 small cookies and go to the line to pay for these and obtain my ‘red sticker’ showing that I have paid for them.
Of course, this ensures that both of my young ones want nothing to do with the cinnamon rolls nor cookies. ‘Mom, I want one of those yogurt drinks, I don’t want ones of those.….’
Deep breath, Karen. You can do this.
When my children are trying my patience, I have started saying the rosary in my mind. The rote prayers calm me down and remind me to hold my tongue from saying things I will regret.
I can tell how the day has been by how many rosaries I have said at the end of the day.
‘Our Father, who Art In Heaven …. ‘
‘Jeez, Mom, why are you getting that crap’ … ‘Are you serious, that, too … no wonder we never have anything good to eat.’
‘Look at her face – oh my God, she has yogurt all over it. It is so disgusting, can’t you clean it?’
I get to my second Hail Mary listening to my 10 year old critique every single item I pick out.
‘ENOUGH. That is it. I am going to get what I am going to get. You are NOT going to share your opinion of each item. Keep your mouth SHUT. ENOUGH.”
‘…. the Lord is with you. Blessed are though among women ….’
Okay, pep talk #2, ‘I can do this’ I think to myself – almost done.
Although I am not almost done. Far from it … as I have to bring all the groceries home, get all the groceries inside, put away all the groceries and then feed all of them lunch as they are all starving and oh, my God, you would think we never feed them from the percentage of the shopping trip that they all four instantly inhale. And THIS is why the shopping items only last a day or two.
Exhausted. I make it upstairs for an early nap. My 1 year old is transitioning from two naps to one, and I am reminded through the error of the past two days that I need to get her an early nap; otherwise, she ends up taking one in the car or stroller around 5pm and then is up until 10pm.
I take her and my 4 year old upstairs for an attempted nap or at least some quiet time.
Yes, dear husband, I do get to ‘nap with the children’. But yes, dear husband, most times this consists of my year old sitting on my neck, reaching for my $500 cell phone which she already drooled on and broke within the first month, and/or trying to get whatever is currently occupying the 4 year old.
Yes, if they were in their room in their own respective crib and/or bed, that would not be a problem.
But they are not.
So it is.
I am, at least, off my feet for a good 20-30 minutes. Neither child is anywhere near asleep, and it is getting close to the time I have agreed to meet my friend at the Japanese Gardens.
The 1 year old can nap in the car.
I tell my 12 year old to get ready. I am taking him to the batting cage, but he will have to come with me to the Japanese Gardens first.
Lengthy tirade of why does he have to go to my dumb old thing ensues. He is not even ready to go to the batting cage.
I tell him I do not want to hear his opinions, but that if he wants the ‘Mom-Cab’ to be ready and willing next time he asks something of me, he will remove his butt from in front of the video game and come with me … in silence.
I end up dropping the boys off at the batting cage first as my 1 year old has fallen asleep, and I need to run home and get my book and cellphone – right, like I will have time for either one, but I can always dream, right?
Plus I need to get drinks and snacks, because my 4 year old has hiccups and I have forgotten Mom Rule 101, you should always have snacks.
So now I have picked them up from the batting cage, and they are tired and hot and … complaining.
About everything. About having to go.
I tell him that it is, here’s a switch from normal, it is FOR ME. I want to go. I enjoy the Japanese Gardens. I want to take a picture that I had noticed but did not take when I was there the prior week. It is motivational for me.
‘Motivational? Like that crappy video you did. Boy, that was crap – how stupid. Did Jake (step-Dad) ever see it? Bet he didn’t like it. It was Dumb, Capital D.’
‘ENOUGH. Enough. Stop it. Shut-Up! I told you, BE QUIET. This is FOR ME. You must come and KEEP YOUR OPINIONS to yourself.’
Second decade of the rosary … ‘and blessed are though among women.’
We get to the Gardens. My friend is there having a picnic with her 2 ½ year old and baby. My sullen boys are definitely going to interfere with her Zen experience of the Garden.
‘Feel free to go ahead. You don’t have to wait on us.’
That is probably a good idea.
It is hot, humid. Add to it, my 1 year old in a sling, a heavy camera, my 2 complaining boys, a four year old girl who has not been getting a lot of attention … you get the picture.
We are on borrowed time. Let’s get going and enjoy this.
It is beautiful. It is peaceful. It is … ‘UGGG. Shit!!! A Dead BIRD! Gross, it’s got flies all over it … MOMMMMMMM, Come take a picture!’
Okay, deep breath number 123.
‘Guys, you can’t be screaming, people (namely me) are trying to enjoy the beauty and peace.’
I snap my pictures … while keeping an eye on the kids, reminding them to return to path, keep off the rocks, don’t fall in the pond, snapping amidst my 1 year old grabbing the camera. Yes, half the pictures are out of focus.
‘Let’s go home. Let’s go swimming.’
‘Yea!!!’ is the resounding chorus.
But first my friend asks if my 4 year old can walk through with them, and I tell the boys to go get their gloves and ball from the car and have a catch.
And I have it.
Ahhhhh … the Mommy Minute.
It is quiet. The trees are pretty. My 1 year old has a pair of sunglasses that she is occupied by and looking darn cute in.
Those minutes that make all of the rest of it, worth it.
Which is good as it gets me through the next part of my day. Getting them home and into the pool. Finding swimsuits. Complaining and arguing. Exhaustion.
Neighbor girl coming by and asking if 4 year old can play.
Quickly weighing in my head if that will be more work (which I am completely not up to) or a help to keep my 4 year old occupied. Deciding on the latter, but not realizing that it will tip the scale for the boys who decide they no longer want to be in the pool.
OMG, Rosary Decade #4. “Holy Mary, Mother of God ….”
I JUST NEED MY TWENTY MINUTE DISCONNECT. My twenty minute ‘put my head back on’, don’t have to worry what dirty, messy, chaotic dangerous thing my 1 year old is doing, what the 10 year old is doing to the 4 year old or vice versa, how much time the 12 year old has been in front of the video … my 20 minute, disconnect, breathe deeply, put your head back on and jump back in …
‘No, I have to go return these shoes to the outlet mall.’
‘No, you just can’t hand the kids to me after I work all day.’
‘No, Joe told me that you just went to the Gardens and had them watch the girls while you talked to your friend and then went swimming, isn’t that what you did?.’
Yea, sure … yea, sure that’s all I did.
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