WTW: A Quote

I have a little book of quotes I started keeping when I was in high school. In preparation for this post I looked through it, trying to choose a favorite or extra meaningful one. There are some real gems, many of them with special memories or big life decisions or insights attached to them, and it was really difficult to choose just one.

But lately, a lot of wisdom from other moms has been coming to mind. Probably more than anything, this four word question catches me in a hectic or despondent moment and helps me put things back into perspective and smooth my ruffled feathers:

Does it really matter?

I first learned about this question from a grandmother, who had raised six children of her own - three of whom were exuberant and - ahem - creative, busy boys. She said at one point early in her work as a mom that she was having a particularly trying time with her children and it seemed the house was in perpetual commotion and things were a mess and the kids were always in trouble. She went to church one day and the Sunday School teacher passed out little refrigerator magnets with this question on it, explaining that when things seem out of our control or our problems seem insurmountable, or even when we are beset by a million little complaints or inconveniences, we should ask ourselves, "Does it really matter?"

This grandmother said she kept that little question posted on her refrigerator for years, and when things came up, she would pause and ask herself, "Does it really matter?"

In many ways, it helped her choose her battles with her kids. For example, did it really matter in the long run that her boys wanted to have long scraggly hair? (Something that parents tended to freak out about then.) Not really. They were good kids making generally good decisions - they would grow out of fashion statements eventually and she could leave that issue alone.

At other times, asking herself this question simply helped her to pause long enough - when something really did matter - so that she could decided on a wiser, more kind or effective way to communicate why it mattered to her children or to her husband. In this way, she was more often able to teach and guide instead of nag or condemn. She was able to ask, "Does it matter enough to make my child feel small or hugely guilty, or to drive a wedge between my husband and I that I'll feel sorry about later?"

I've come to love this question. Truly, there are so many things that we as women and mothers consistently beat ourselves up over. We try to keep the house just so, we want our kids to look clean and smart and obedient all the constant time, we want them to be happy and so try to orchestrate their activities, responses, choices...And sometimes when things don't go according to OUR plan - which they often don't, seeing as how there are other human beings involved who don't have the same plan and who like to make their own choices - we get all bent out of shape and tend to think our life work is just going down the toilet.

At least I do. Sometimes.

But asking myself, "Does it really matter...

...if Calvin has one more popsicle?"

...if Henry insists on wearing his sandals on the wrong feet?"

...if the laundry doesn't get done one more day?"

...if I stay up and rock Henry to sleep instead of making him go to bed on his own like I know he can?"

...if Cal stays home like he wants to, instead of being dragged to soccer/preschool/swimming lessons today?"

...if the boys touch the windows/mirrors/walls one more time with their little grubby hands?"

These are all small, preschool age type things, and eventually I know there will be things that I will have to lock horns over and assert my point. There are absolutely things that matter in the greater scheme of life, and it's my job as a mom to teach and enforce certain standards - but how refreshing it is to be able to let go of the little things.

And how nice when my kids want to come to me, and talk to me, and confide in me, because they know that not every word that comes out of my mouth is going to be a command or reprimand. That, to me, is something that does matter.

(Now, click on over to My Many Colored Days to see what Lei and the other Woman to Woman participants had to share this week!)


The Castaway At Home

I started thinking it might be time for David to go back to his real job when he came in from the backyard this morning, unshaven and redfaced, and Calvin said to him, "That was some goooood squirrel fighting, Dad."

(In his defense, the squirrels have gotten obnoxiously aggressive toward my boys, and do things like attempt to come inside whenever the back door opens. Yeah, that's about the last thing I need - a glorified rodent running around in my house...But apparently today was the first day of David's one man campaign to "reinstill the fear of human beings into the rodent population." I'll let you know if he suddenly wants to rename our baby "Wilson.")




When We Say Nothing At All

Things might go better if I keep my mouth shut. The whole, "My older boys are sleeping through the night," thing, I mean...

Calvin came in last night after his routine bathroom waking and crawled in bed to snuggle, went back to bed, came in a little later to "help" when he heard Charlie cry, went back to bed (well, actually we found out later that he "went downstairs to rest a while"), then came back in at 4 a.m.

David didn't say or do anything, but I knew he was frustrated - he will personally admit that his patience fuse is a lot shorter than mine, and it is nonexistent in the middle of the night. I could tell he was already sure that Cal's helpfulness would become a nightly occurrence if we didn't take action NOW, but I could also tell that Cal was needing a little TLC.

Since David was keeping himself in check, I took the risk that Cal would go back to bed sooner with a couple minutes of cuddle than he would with a stern reminder that it was the middle of the night. So David doodled Charlie a minute while my lanky 4yo first baby in footie pajamas crawled onto my lap.

"What's up, Cal?"
"I just love you, and want to be with you all the time."

Oh, brother. He was working me over after all. But I rubbed his back and talked to him a few more minutes. We watched David rock the baby around the room and everything got quiet. I almost thought Cal was falling asleep, then he lifted his head and whispered to me conspiratorily, "Dad's trying not to care that I'm here."

I couldn't stop giggling the rest of the night when I thought of it. The kid doesn't miss a trick. Or a nuance. Or a mere sentiment, even when Dad says nothing at all.


The Milk Truck Has Arrived

And I think it ran over me. Happens every time, but always sends me through the roof. Cantaloupes Watermelons come to mind. Frequently. Let's just say LaKisha's got nothing on me.

What makes it even more exciting is latch-on difficulty (has also happened every time). I'm a huge believer in breastfeeding, but I will be the last person on earth to tell anyone that it's a beautiful, natural bonding love fest from the first moment.

My bit of learned wisdom on the matter is to not be alarmed if it's awkward, painful, exhausting and exceedingly frustrating - that just means you're busting one more of the motherhood myths, that if it's not perfectly lovely all the time, you're doing it wrong and should feel like a failure. So I'm trying to take my own advice and chill out a bit this time.

(I do still think La Leche League is evil, ever since their consultant told me when it happened with Calvin that the solution was to walk around shirtless all day, keep the baby in a sling, when he got hungry enough he would take it, and no matter what, don't give him a bottle because he would get confused. Yeah, not what I wanted to hear when I already felt like nothing but a walking pair of bawling breasts. And definitely not good for him, since he started peeing crystals before he got hungry enough to breastfeed right. Besides the fact that Calvin's about the last kid on earth who would get confused about anything...)

I had great hopes with Charlie because he was the first of my babies to immediately start rooting upon birth with perfectly flanged lips and the whole bit, but alas...cantaloupes watermelons can really be problematic when it comes to figuring out how to suck juice out of them. So I've got (LOTS of) milk and cream, he wants it, but we can't make it work without a lot of blood, sweat and tears.


I did score a fabulous breast pump on craigslist - $250 value for $40, it's in near-new condition and could really be considered a life support system right now. (Charlie was down to a meager *wink, wink* 8 pounds, 14 ounces yesterday.) Plus, I'm just pleased that I thought to look for a bargain before spending big bucks in desperation.

This is the first hardest part of a newby for me (aside from the emotional/hormonal train that hits at about six weeks), but we'll get the hang of it and things will settle down in a week or two. I hope.

One great thing is that the older boys are sleeping through the night wakings, even sleeping in a bit in the morning, which is a relief - I was sure we would have at least one child up at any given moment all night long every night. But so far so good.

And Charlie? Best infant ever. So not only am I incredibly well-endowed at this point, I'm one lucky mom of three.


If You Give a Man a Password...

...he'll get all blog junkie on you. Thanks for supporting his new habit with all your wonderful comments and kind wishes. Now he knows how fun it is being Code Yellow.

I'm home again, and we're doing fine...

Aside from Charlie's remarkable weight, he has beautiful dark eyes and velvet thighs, and really seems to have a very pleasant disposition.

Calvin is completely smitten, but we're having to temper some "I like Charlie better than Henry" attitude. It will probably pass, but Henry's feeling it and since he worships Calvin's every breath, that's where the sibling challenge comes in. Both of them are very tender and gentle with the baby (so far).

Apparently the boys were beside themselves without me. That's kind of a nice feeling, although the unprecedented drama can be overwhelming. (Calvin wailed at the hospital, "It's just not the same without you!!!!!!" and Henry burst into tears just upon hearing my voice on the phone today before I came home.)

I'm so happy that David will be home for a few weeks - we've never had that option before, because the births of the other two both happened right before or right after David started a new job, so he couldn't take much leave at all. He is a tremendous help and it feels good to be close and to work on adjusting to the addition together.

Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on laundry, trying to get into a little groove with the new baby, and working out some sleep whenever I can. In general, I feel pretty good, although I have to say that a cough and an episiotomy don't really compliment one another.

And I will be eternally perplexed as to why I can birth ten pounds in child, another however many pounds/ounces in fluid, placenta, etc., and still only weigh four pounds lighter the next day. Although it's becoming increasingly clear that it just might be to do with breasts.

The postpartum fun begins. You all may be wishing for the bloggity husband to come back again soon...


These Cheeks Were Made for Kissing

Code Yellow Dad here again. I thought you might like to see a few photos of our newest little bubba. Charles (Charlie to those who know him) was born yesterday at 3:45pm after 21 hours of labor. He weighed in at an impressive 10lbs even and is 21 inches long. He is pretty mellow and quiet. The nurses had to really rough him up to even get a half-hearted little squeal in the nursery. We will see how long that lasts when he comes home the loudest house on the block.

Calvin and Henry are miss their mom and think the doctors are mean to make her stay at the hospital for 2 whole days. They have been showing off the baby holding skills that they learned in their sibling class a few weeks ago.

Yes that is what a 10lb. baby looks like in the arms of a 4 year old. Calvin can't get enough of Charlie, but they need to find some bigger blankets because his feet keep popping out.

Henry likes Charlie too, but not as much as all the cool buttons on mom's bed. They are way cooler than a baby!


Code Yellow Dad here...

The anxiously awaited day has finally arrived and Code Yellow Mom is laboring away to convince BBNT (baby boy number three) that his lease is up. The nurses and doctor are guessing 9 1/2 to 10 1/2lbs...


A Quiz

Select the event that did not occur during a 45-minute visit to Wal-Mart today:

a. Henry opened a pump of Dial soap and squirted and rubbed it all over his hands when we were at exactly the farthest point from any running water.

b. Both boys squealed and giggled in high-pitched cartoon voices incessantly, when they weren't bamming each other in the head with various items in the cart.

c. Henry bit the *@$% out of Calvin's hand because Calvin called him a baby.

d. They broke open a bag of flossing picks by bamming each other with it, then spilled it three different times (after I took it away and concealed it three different times), and then the clerk spilled it at the register, after I told him that it was opened.

e. Calvin figured out how to open the Shout stain remover and nearly squirted it in Henry's eyes.

f. Calvin asked me why I was crying and I told him I wasn't crying, but I was going to if they didn't stop acting like idiots. And a lady looked at me like I needed to be hauled away.

g. A lady stopped me to ask where I find maternity clothes because she has a daughter who is a big girl like me and all she can find are tiny clothes for women with toothpick thighs and little basketball bellies.

h. While we were in the bathroom, Calvin had to use the toilet but didn't tell me until I had already sat down, so I told him to crawl under the door of "our" stall so it wouldn't have to be unlocked (I know, germ city, but desperate times...) and find a stall. But instead of going under the door, he started under the wall into the next stall, where another lady was sitting.

i. Henry started crying huge dramatic buckets of tears when I told him we were not going to ride the dinosaur or get a bouncy ball from the machines by the door because he had not behaved well in the store. ("IIIII'lllll beeeee niiiice, nowwwww, Moooooooom! IIIII'llllll beeeeeeee niiiiice!") And more than one person looked at me like I was the harshest disciplinarian in the world...or at least like I should just let him ride the #$^% thing so that he would be quiet, for crying out loud.

j. I left feeling extremely sweaty and immensely irritated, but strangely pleased that I had gotten everything on my list in only 45 minutes, with a vow that I will not return there with children any time soon.

k. None of the above.


Another Kind of Antsy

We bought an ant colony in February, and we have been waiting for the ants to come in the mail. The weather has been too cold for them to be shipped, but they finally arrived on Monday.

Calvin is in heaven. He seriously watched them for thirty straight minutes after we first dumped them from their little tube into the gel, and has spent subsequent half hours, including when he first woke up this morning, watching them work.

He also likes us to read little facts from the booklet and then tell anyone and everyone about his ants whenever he gets a chance.

I have to admit the ants are pretty fascinating, but I love most of all to watch Calvin's interest and wonder, and to listen to the things he says:

"There are twenty-three live ants and seven dead ones. I think riding in the mail was too hard for some of them."

"They all look exactly alike."

"I don't really feel like naming all of them. It will be too hard to tell them apart."

"There are treellions of ants all over the world."

"We can't shake them or move them around too much because they are working so hard and shaking them will make them even more tired and sick and they will die."

"I wish they had a queen."

"I think they are working on taking care of their dead friends before they start making tunnels."

"All those little speckles are what they have dug up to make their tunnels!"

"Whoa! They already made a tunnel all the way to the bottom. They are working sooo hard!"

Basically, I'd say this is the best $20 I've spent on a toy, ever. ($17 for the kit, $3 for them to send the ants.)

This Is Me, Due Today

Minus make-up. Yikes.

I also have what David thinks are allergies, but I feel is a nasty cold. Complete with raw throat. And if labor doesn't cause the bottom hatch to fly open, I am certain coughing will. Lovely feeling, really.

However, to keep it all in perspective, in the process of turning around yesterday, I whapped Calvin in the head with the belly and when I said, "Oops, sorry Cal," he shook his head slowly, rolled his eyes, and said, "That baby is just getting tooo big, Mom." Then Henry, bless his heart, chimed in with a clearly incredulous, "But his feet will only be this big!" (I had him recreate later for this picture. When he did it for real, his hands were cupped, but his pinkies were up like he was drinking from a tiny teacup.)

Oh, to have those tiny feet from beneath my sternum.

But there is only one way for that to happen. Yikes again.

To think that sometime between now and the 15th (dreaded day of the pit drip), um, I will be giving birth...

I mean, of course, but there's nothing like absolute imminence - and coughing incessantly - to make one feel a little like wetting her pants.


Reasoning Gone Awry

We've been concentrating a lot around here lately on the whole idea that if you make a mess, you clean it up. Mostly because this really is a learned behavior, and a child is never too young to get this concept.

There's also my theory that if a parent consistently addresses it when they are little, it's less likely that it will be a huge battle of wills when they are sixteen. Or at least when they are sixteen their uncleanliness will be conscious disgustingness, which is normal, rather than not knowing any better, which is really just sad.

Plus, I need some extra little hands, as mine will only be increasingly busy. To that end, these are the things we say regularly:

"You ate the popsicle, you put the stick and wrapper in the trash."

"You took the blocks out of the bin, you can put the blocks back in the bin."

"We won't get the play-doh out again if you don't want to pick up the pieces you drop on the floor."

"Don't bring all the bedding and pillows downstairs for a fort if you don't want to carry them back upstairs later."

And so forth. I am not opposed to helping clean up messes, because I do understand that the motor skills to pick things up and put them back appropriately are a little more complicated than the motor skills required to dump, spill, drag and scatter all over the house. I am also not opposed to adding a spoonful of sugar every now and then to make it more fun. But I'm the mom, not the maid.

The boys are getting better at following the rule, and Calvin has even starting to think just a little before they start a huge play project, and sometimes decides if the clean-up is worth it.

Of course my real clue that they are grasping the concept of "You did it, you clean it," is when the 3-year-old can use it on me:

Me: OK, buddy. You're all clean now. Take your diaper and put in the trash. (This is also an attempt at convincing him that diapers are not where it's at...)

Henry: No! Yuck! It's poopy!

Me: I know it's stinky, but you need to take it to the trash. You know, if you learn to go potty in the toilet, you won't have to carry diapers to the trash anymore.

Henry: No! You take it!

Me: It's not my diaper. You pooped in it, you take it to the trash. (This is also a little of me being a grouchy lazy pregnant mom...)

No! You took it off me, you take it to the trash.

Convoluted and brilliant all at once. And I don't even have to wait until he's sixteen to encounter this kind of thing.


Hanging In, Hanging Out, Hanging On

One night of irregular but pretty good contractions, a couple nights of questionable sleep, but no baby yet.

So...here are some things we've been up to in the meantime:

Climbing on heavy equipment. A town near ours has a public works day each year and they let the kids come climb into the big tractors, buses, dump trucks, etc. Greatest thing ever. There really should be a park somewhere that just has heavy equipment for climbing...Of course, guess what Calvin said when he saw this picture? "It's me!!! In my soccer shirt!!!" Because he is the consummate soccer player, you know.

Being stalked by squirrels. This one was literally clinging to my drivers side window (how do they do that?!) immediately after I closed my door the other day. I turned to grab my seatbelt, and there he was, through the pane about two inches from my face. Creeeeeepy. And what is more is that he could have landed on my lap, had I not closed the door just when I did. Made me jump out of my skin. And then he would not leave the mirror. And then jumped to the windshield. And then was peaking down from the roof of the car, and I was afraid to back out, envisioning a Stuart Little-type adventure for the rodent when I hit twenty or thirty miles an hour. Or worse, the sickening kathunk-thunk should he fall and land in my driving path. They are rodents, but they are living, after all. He finally left me alone and I was able to go to my doctor in relative peace.

Filling water guns. The pocket change I spent on these little guns was totally worth it if you count the hours of entertainment they have provided in the last week. At first I was questioning the purchase because I seemed to be required to refill them - and since they are so small that they only hold four squirts of water, that was a lot of refilling - but of course it was no time at all before Henry had it all figured out. And those fat little hands filling that tiny little water gun? Priceless.

Learning how to big brother a baby. We took Cal and Henry to a little class at the hospital today so they could learn all about what a baby does. "Cries, eats, poops and sleeps" is Henry's summary. They were shown how to change the baby's diaper, how to swaddle it, and got to pretend to feed it a bottle. Among other things, the nurse who taught explained two very important rules: 1. Never pick the baby up without Mom or Dad's help, and 2. Never feed the baby anything without Mom or Dad. I am especially grateful for those instructions, coming from an official person and all. They also gave the boys official doctor hats and took all of us up to the maternity ward where we could look in the nursery window and they held up the most perfect little newborn. Even Calvin was impressed with the tiny-ness. The boys also got certificates of graduation and "big brother" buttons with their pictures on them to wear to the hospital when they come to visit after the baby is born.

Which may be soon, and may be not...Of course, labor and delivery is all that is on my brain, I feel like I'm eight weeks overdue and my due date hasn't even come yet.

I don't necessarily want to subject you, Dear Internets, to that kind of obsessiveness, so I might not blog unless I have something non-gestational to talk about.

Or a new baby son to show off.

Until then, no news is...no news.