Monday, November 28, 2011

parenting with headaches

It's 4 pm and I'm on my own for dinner and bedtime tonight. I had plans to go out with the kids this afternoon - Clark needs socks and Old Navy seemed a fun adventure - but then my friend and neighborly headache appeared and plans changed. Now we're going to spend the whole afternoon at home! Yay for a low key afternoon! Granola bars and hot chocolate with mini marshmallows! Hype it up as much as you can!

This minute I'm sitting on the couch with the kids watching Gnomio and Juliette, bemoaning my fate and blaming my headaches. Seriously. I would be a much more enjoyable human being to be around if there weren't hot nails behind my eyes. My poor kids. Oh well. This is simply their fate, their story; to have a mother who suffers from headaches. I've been having them every afternoon / evening for what feels like weeks running. No idea why. The botox didn't take as fully this time, no idea why about that either. Even back on my old diet, and still they linger.

Frances has been off today, from the moment she woke up. Everything's upsetting her to the point of tears. I was telling my friend H about it earlier, then later in the conversation I happened to mention Frances has her 5 year molars coming in, and it wasn't until I said it then that the connection occurred to me. Gave the girl some tylenol and - ta da ! - much better. Pain is an amazing mood killer.

I beat myself up a lot about my inability to be a sane human during bedtime. Yesterday (and maybe even earlier this morning) I had this fantasy about doing bedtime by myself all 3 nights Mitch is out of town, but at this moment (and not even dinnertime!) it's clear to me that is simply silly, an unwise discounting of my limitations. Limitations are bullies, you know; it's best to respect them.

Next botox treatment in a couple of days. Counting the hours. I wonder what kind of parent I'd be without them, and I wish I'd stop wondering that. They are what they are; I am who I am; my children will weather this too. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

thanksgiving report

Wellll, being with only us on Thanksgiving turns out to feel a bit lonely. It was lovely though, and the food was fabulous (though it did feel a bit wrong to simply spoon the food into serving dishes to warm in the oven). Indeed we dined by candlelight, and spent the rest of the evening that way too, playing charades (which is really a game of "which animal am I?") and taking a walk in the dark with our lanterns.

The funniest thing to me about it was that I was dead asleep by 8pm. I guess electric light really does mess with our circadian rhythms.

And onto the next holiday! Today our silver tinsel tree may go up. Yay!

Friday, November 25, 2011

a just us thanksgiving

Wrote this yesterday afternoon. Follow up forthcoming.

For Thanksgiving this year we are not traveling, nor is anyone coming to us. This means a quiet meal, just two adults and two kids. I didn't think I wanted to cook a big meal for just us, so we ordered our dinner from the fabulous and incomparable Wegmans. I'm getting ready to go pick it up now.

I do sort of wish I were making simple things like the mashed potatoes or stuffing, so the kids could help and see the progress as the food goes from raw material to piping hot casserole dish. Oh well. Next year.

I put up a tree on the wall of the living room and the kids and I watercolored some paper, then cut leaf shapes out of the paper. We've written things we're thankful for on the leaves and stuck them to the tree with a little glue stick. So far Frances is thankful for Mama, Daddy, Clark ("because he's my brother so I'm not alone"), her stuffed kitty Tootsie, our real cat, our real dog, Thanksgiving, Christmas, her camera, balloons, the weather (I asked if she was thankful for specific weather - sun or rain or snow for instance - and she said no, just all weather), clothes, her room, our home.

Clark, however, is thankful for only a few things: Mama, superheros, supervillans, and pillowfights. We've been doing 2 leaves a day and after the first two days he could only say he's thankful for Mama and superheros. Not even Daddy, even when I suggested it. I didn't repeat leaves but if I had, we'd have lots that say Mama and superheros.

But the big way we're taking note of the holiday is to be electric lightless. When it gets dark today (which it does about 4pm), we're not going to turn on any lights. I'll plant candles in all the rooms so we can light them when we go in. Dinner by candlelight. I hope it will be lovely. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

aaaand onto the next thing

Things are changing around here. Clark decided he was missing too much possibly exciting activity when he was napping, and though he loved his naps greatly, he has given them up. We are in transition, that amorphous space between this routine and that one, and in fact we don't know yet what shape that one is going to take. That's okay; working on it, waiting patiently.

By patiently I mean I've pretty much given up cooking and doing laundry in order to spend all my time with or near the kids. When they played outside today in the driveway I rearranged the garage, and when they moved to the back of our yard I abandoned my garage project and took up raking near them.

I am trying to establish the best routine for us. The key seems to be the balance of big activity to quiet, high energy to low, as well as the quantity of group time vs individual time. I'm hanging out near them in order to feel out when they need more, when they need less, and when we should go inside for story time before Clark swings a baseball bat at Frances because she won't stop mimicking him. I believe fully in my investment now and the benefits it will reap later. When Frances was first having quiet time, I committed myself to her for a couple of weeks, teaching her how to play quietly. Now she can do it - and in fact longs to do it - all by herself, and I'm completely free to cook dinner and facebook. I wonder how long I'll have to commit this time?

The kids don't have to be alone for individual time, they just have to be spending the time inward. Today, for example, while Clark was spinning on the driveway with his beanie kitty tied to a long piece of rainbow yarn, Frances was pushing her baby around the yard in the stroller, singing to her and showing her the dead flowers in the flowerbeds. The kids were within 15 feet of each other for ages, but didn't interact. The key with it is figuring out how to keep them in this alone play space for enough time to recharge, rather than turning from their own play to engage the other in who-can-say-the-funniest-poop-phrase, a favorite game around here.

Today as I worked near them, I was really on my game. Frances had moved from the dead flowers to the path through the brush at the back of our yard - we call it the enchanted forest - and found a tree branch where her baby could nap. When Clark was sufficiently dizzy he wandered to the back of the yard where he put his kitty in the now empty stroller. Frances got all bent out of shape about the stroller, so I suggested the baby would probably really like to sit in the sling, be close to her mama. Frances disappeared into the house for a long time; no idea what she was doing in there, but since she was having alone play I didn't care. When she came back she was carrying the baby in the sling and feeding her a bottle. At snack the baby sat in the doll highchair and I brought her own food on a tiny tea set plate. Frances informed me it was the baby's birthday, so we made cake out of graham crackers, peanut butter, and marshmallows, with cream cheese frosting. She had two candles and we lit them and sang. It was lovely.

Monday, November 7, 2011


We're having control issues around here, particularly that Frances would like all of it. The other day as she hollered in frustration, I asked her, "What is it you want?" With a wail of deep sorrow and tears dropping into her lap she said, "I want to be in charge!" That's about all if it, from what I can tell.

I've been perplexed for a while, because she'll ask for something - like a smoothie when we're leaving the gym - and I'll pause and think and say okay, but then as she sucks down her smoothie she asks for gummies, and cookies, and a trip to the toy store, and on and on. When I say no pitches a fit and acts like she never ever gets anything she wants. I stop and point out to her that she did indeed get just the thing she asked for and why is she so upset?

Conversely, when Clark asks for something like gum in the grocery and I say okay, he thinks it's the best thing ever. It improves his mood immediately, and he hangs onto it well after we've left the store, chirping from the backseat, "I just love my gum, Mama."

The tiniest thing will placate him. A dollar pack of army men, a 50 cent gumball toy. If I say yes to her to the 50 cent gumball toy, then she wants two of them. She wants that and candy too. She wants chocolate milk and why why why can't she have M&Ms?


On one hand, I don't want her to feel powerless, could try to contrive some situation in which she makes all the decisions. On the other hand, she's never ever actually going to be in control (oh the fools children are about adulthood!), and the sooner she learns this morsel about life, the easier it will be.

I do sympathize with her. Control would be lovely. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

the older sister always knows the games

The other day Clark had his very first playdate without a parent- his friend Cole from school - a very exciting thing. Frances has, on average, 2 playdates a week, and has for about a year, but she did not have one the day of Clark's. On the way home from school she wailed, it's not fair it's not fair! My. The drama.

When Cole got here Frances was immediately upon them. Cole you stand here, and Clark you stand here, and this is what we're going to do. After a few minutes I called her into the kitchen to help me make sandwiches. "But Mommy, they NEED me," she said. "What do they need you for?" I asked. "They need me because I know all the games and they don't," she said. "You don't think they can think of things to play on their own?" I said. "NO! Okay, I'll help with the sandwiches, but I'll listen for them and if they call me or if they get hurt or if they argue, I'll go to them."

I wish I could include inflection here in the retelling.

The next day I asked Clark about it, asked if he would have liked to play with Cole more by himself, and he said no. "I like Sissy there," he said. "It's like a playdate with her." Yes, yes it is.