Where the *&$^ does the time go?!?!

I had to take a “where the time goes” assessment for my orientation to the online program at Arizona State (Go Devils!). Every mother of five wants to intemperate and  have in black and white how little time they actually get to themselves.

“On average, how many hours a week do you spend with friends, going out, watching TV, going to parties, etc?” was where we had to put in family time. However, do I put homework help, bathing, laundry, walking to and picking up from school etc there or do I log that under “errands”.

The end result is that I get -18. Negative eighteen hours per week to myself to do homework, sit in lectures, read etc. And I rounded an average of six hours a night for sleep.   I laughed. Loudly. It woke up the baby. My god. I need an entire extra day in a week according to this generalized bs.

Sometimes there is no balance. Sometimes I listen to Three tell me about her project while I make dinner, sort laundry and helping the baby get his hand out of the shape sorter hole. (yes that was a real example). Sometimes my husband is home and I can tag him in on stuff… especially dinner making. The man can cook *swoon*. However, with his responsibilities outside of home I can’t be sure to have him here… I have been lucky for the past 6 years but we are 98% sure he will be going away for a bit coming up here soon. Being the sole day to day person is daunting but FaceTime is a really nice bandaid for extended Daddy absences. I will cling to that 2% uncertainty but I also know it is what is right, best and needed.

BUT ANYHOW…

There is never enough time in the day. You really cannot do it all without sacrificing something. Multitasking is all good but what task should get more attention that just can’t give it? Work? Family? Yourself? For a long time I “sacrificed” my younger dream and became a stay at home mom. It took some mental adjusting but looking back on the past 9 years: BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE.

There is a lot that is sacrificed when becoming a parent. I really thought I could do it all as gracefully as a movie character. But there is no simple way. There is only personal grace. Accepting that maybe the kids won’t have perfectly braided hair. Or that dinner might be cheese, crackers and a fruit spread with a game of “what was the funniest thing you did today?” because honestly you forgot to think about it until 6 pm and the kids are “literally” wasting away from hunger.

Grace in forgiving yourself that it isn’t magazine quality clean. Grace in forgiving yourself that you napped on your lunch break. Grace in forgiving and embracing the limitations of being human.

And also late nights and too much caffeine.

We know I am all about that over caffeinated life.

 

A past that Haunts: America & Racism

This is just MY personal opinion. Based on MY personal experiences.

I grew up pretty normal. An American kid. In a southwestern town. My parents aren’t perfect, we were poor and they had issues they overcame in order to provide for their children. We are also a family that check {caucasian} on every bubble sheet or document. My siblings all have a white name. I did not. As the child of a previous marriage I carry the name of a man I never met. It really was a beautiful name. Also, I look white, my natural hair is an auburny-brown, fair skin with lots of freckles… I never stood out by any standard. However, after 9/11/2001 my world changed drastically.

Because of this I have an interesting take on racial profiling.

I was placed on the FEDERAL NO FLY LIST. I have had difficulty getting my passport when all I want to do is sit on the beach in Mexico with my husband while One through Five splash in tidal pools. All because my maiden name. Because it is persian. middle eastern during a time that our country is at war with the middle east. I was called terrible things by the parents of friends. I was physically harassed by TSA agents, Police officers and many others. All of them said the same thing to me “But you look so white.”

I LOOK WHITE. They wouldn’t have harassed me if my name had been that of my siblings and the man that actually raised me: because it is generic and that makes me not a threat.

I cannot even imagine the terror that people of actual color, people that cannot change how the world looks at them by getting married. I changed my name for a number of reasons but mostly because it is so white. Like the Scottish version of Smith. My husband has seen the difference between how a white kid in Louisiana and a black kid in Louisiana are treated for resisting arrest. Louisiana has a history of killing based on race (please refer to the police killings following Katrina)

There are GOOD police officers. I have met them. I know them and they literally rescued me after a car accident while my husband was away when I was 200 miles from home.

There are bad police. My very own Maternal Great Grandfather was a bad, racist police officer.

Good officers do not deserve to be hung for the crimes of the rotten ones. They need to be held up by our nation as the example. GOOD Cops that picked up the badge to protect and serve. Good officers deserves to work with officers that are there for the same reasons they are: the greater good. To help rescue those in need from those that are preying on them, to be role models for our children and who we as Americans can turn to with out fear, no matter our race/religion/creed, for help.

Good police officers do not deserve to be sniped out by an angry man like what happened in Dallas.

BECAUSE NO BODY DESERVES TO BE MURDERED. IN COLD BLOOD. DUE TO PRECONCEIVED IDEAS.

But the BAD cops, that are crooked and scared and racist and violent, need to have consequences within the realm of the laws that they swore to uphold but bent to their will, tried by the people they promised to protect but betrayed and not get away with murder of unarmed People over and over.

Racism in this country… It is ugly. It is there. It is heartbreaking when that racism causes people to FEAR for their lives. for their children. I am white. I happened to have a name that was middle eastern. I feared for my safety. I feared for the safety of my muslim and middle easter APPEARING friends after 9/11. I have been called horrible names. I have had my life placed under a microscope and was told that I should just accept it because it was for the greater good of the nation to have my Constitutional rights infringed on (and yes you can always tell when your phone is tapped, mail is intercepted and when you are disproportionately pulled for “random” checks). I was able to hide from that as soon as I became married.

People of color cannot and SHOULD NOT EVER have to hide for fear of preconceived ideas about themselves. Not every Black man is a thug. Not ever Muslim is a jihadist. Not every Mexican is illegally in this country.

Black lives matter movement is important because they are American lives that even 70 years after the Civil Rights Movement still have to stand up and say “Hey, we are here and we deserve to be equal.”

I don’t see the BLM as just for black people. They are the voice of every oppressed person in this country. Black, brown, muslim, LGBTQ. Of every marginalized person in this country. We should all stand up because this is America and we are free to have our voices to point out unfair treatment. To voice out when we see infringement on the rights of the people around us.

To the people that think that a group standing up and requesting the same civil liberties and basic human rights as you are asking for special treatment (IE the right to get married…) then you need to maybe go out your front door and find a little empathy.

Because if we don’t we are no better than the people that turned their heads to oppression in the past.

Motherhood Rising

My heart didn’t know it could love this way until I was already up to my neck in motherhood. Love is exponential and never ending. Love, it grows and ebbs because it is alive, it needs to be nurtured and it needs to be recognized for it to thrive.  Mother’s day has many people thinking about their mother’s, about motherhood and how to be a better mother.

I didn’t want children. I wasn’t raised in a open and affectionate childhood. My mother loved us in an amazingly practical way. My mother is ever practical and also reserved in her affection. It wasn’t warm and it had some truly dark moments. My parents are human and have truly human flaws (you can read a bit about it here)

My mother loved us the best she could and at the time it was painful. Painful to see the love other mother’s poured into their children that was so tangible and physical. My mother loved us by working hard and in that had to be absent. She loved us by giving us what we needed and sometimes that pushed a hug or eating a meal together aside. My siblings and I have varied paths on how to deal with the emotions from a childhood where we clung together to emotionally survive.

But because of this jaded view on nurturing I didn’t want kids. I had no idea of what my spirit was capable.

Everyday my cup spills over.

I knew that being a mother and a partner in parenthood with my husband was a great gift.

Number One and Two are lights in the world. Opening my eyes to the love that can be given and received. I am so blessed to be a part of their growth. For all it is worth I give thanks every day that their biological mother brought these 2 amazing young men into the world.20151013_112617

My biological children… Three, Four and Five: my knowing each of them begins before they breathed this air or felt this sun on their faces. Each a private conversation for 40 weeks (41 for Five). When a woman is pregnant there are moments of turning inward, of a small psychic connection between her and her child.

Sometimes, Motherhood is exhausting. It is hard and painful and emotional. It is never perfect. But in it’s challenges and moments of frustration there is a lesson. There is an never ending reward of helping this amazing combination of you and your love become an adult. The reward is the journey. The reward is watching them grow into adulthood, seeing their successes and their failures. Not to solve every problem but to nurture them to be able to solve their own problems.

Motherhood is the gift that I never knew I needed. This mother’s day I thank the universe for giving me these humans to watch, teach and learn with.

 

 

Hard Work and Dolls

This weekend I fullfilled a long dream of Three. And I won’t lie. A life long longing of my own. We went to the American Girl Doll Boutique. It was delightful. A little overwhelming because ALL THE CHOICES but Three was absolutely in little 8 year old girl heaven. And I was over the moon, too.

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Samantha. My favorite.

I alway wanted an American Girl doll. I poured over the catalogs. I read the books that the dolls inspired… inspiring a life long love for historical fiction. Samantha, Kit Kittridge, Addy!

I really loved the costumes. However, my mom had a bunch of us to support on her own. There was no doll for me.
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These dolls are expensive. They cost a pretty penny. They are quality dolls. However, as a family of 7 with a scrambled together income while Dad is finishing his degree it isnt something we can just do.
So, we made a deal with Three. If she saved her allowance and could pay for 1/2 the doll her aunt and mom and dad would pay for the other half.
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Teaching these five humans about working hard and making good choices is really important to us. Starting in kindergarten they get one dollar per school day, payable at the end of the semester after graded come out.

These are the stipulations:
Must attend the entire day.
Must complete homework.
Must complete work day chores.
If they have below a B they owe us 10 dollars.
If they are caught: lying, stealing, cheating or other infractions they lose that weeks allowance.

They have to keep track of their cash flow. They each have a balance book. If they take out an advance for book fairs, special snacks and Christmas shopping that is up to them. (They always take out money to buy eachother gifts and it makes me smile)
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They must save up for a goal.

Three accomplished that. She set her goal and worked hard to achieve it. We are so proud of her.

The store was amazing. Every thing she dreamed of. She knew what she wanted before we walked into the door. But as soon as she walked in she was like a kid in… a toy store.

After an hour and a half she decided on Lea Clark. Lea is from Missouri. The state we lived in for nearly 4 years while Daddy served on active duty in the army. She travels. She loves animals. She is brave. She has the same hair color as Three.

Lea is just right for Three.

Three is still a sweet innocent child despite suddenly being picky about fashion. Despite what the world around us seems like.

And I am thrilled for her. I am thrilled to be able to have this moment with her because honestly despite the world around me. In my heart, I am still that eight year old wishing and dreaming over a catalog of dolls

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Lea and Bunny reading while their girl is at school.

Twenty Bucks Will Get You Four Boxes

It is Girl Scout Cookie Season. Thin mints. Somoas. Tagalongs. Sugar on sugar on sugar all available from adorable little girls that really just want to go to camp. Available exactly 2 weeks into your “New Year, new me.” shtick.

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That time of year that Three really hones her skills as a sales woman… she will sell ice to Eskimos let alone a Trefoil to a diabetic. Where my ethical compass becomes jammed and much like a crack dealer I will sling cookies to anyone that glances at me twice. I will pop the back hatch and sell cookies in the drive thru at Starbucks. I. Do. Not. Give. A. F**K.

HOWEVER: this is her deal. She is a third generation Girl Scout and it is super important to me that SHE, THREE, does the leg work. She brings her order slip to school. She calls family, friends, neighbors. She carries cases around at the soft ball field. She counts the money. She sends the Thank You cards. She sorts and when available delivers the cookies. THIS IS THREE’S BUSINESS. This is the 1st taste of working with costumers, planning and setting goals.

People can poo-poo the Girl Scouts. I applaud it. It isn’t just camping and sewing. It is about learning the skills to succeed. Confidence. It is about exploring the things that interest you. It is about building lasting friendships and making SWAPS.

I am proud of the person that is blossoming. Three is my 1st born. My tiny little perfect human. She is sweet and kind and organized and everyday I see the baby melt away a little more and the bones of the young lady below appear. She takes my breath away.

Since joining Girl Scouts 3 years ago (she was the cutest little Daisy I have ever seen!!!) Three has found her voice. Moving from shy to soft spoken but fierce as hell. I am so glad that she gets the opportunity to hear no. To develop her skills as a future business owner.

Also… she has some cookies if you’re interested…

 

 

String Cheese Incident and Parenting

joyful sound

My baby screamed for an hour. From midnight to 1:15 am. one fifteen in the morning. I held him. I nursed him. I laid him down. I held him. I walked miles (a basic guesstimate) in a circle in the living room. He screamed until I laid down with him and he finally fell asleep.

Five thrives on human contact. On physical reassurances when he is having a difficult baby moment. Cuddles and the warmth of love is how he is soothed. (Totally different from the others) Last night was filled with lots of 9 month old difficulties. Teeth and growing and maybe a little stress from face planting while walking around uneven surfaces.

This is sooo hard. I am exhausted. Husband is exhausted. One to Four are wide awake. They slept like logs. Getting up this morning was painful; my eyes burned. Five had finally fallen into that deep floppy baby sleep at 6:30. Which is ten minutes after I was supposed to be up getting the other kids ready for school.

Exhaustion can lead to a snappy crab Momma monster. Coffee can keep that beast lulled. But there is really only so much coffee.

Today, after a long and painfully sleepless night, after running the older kids to their respective schools: Four and Five made my heart soar. They were playing together, Four showing Five how to use the little xylophone he received for Christmas and she would dance. The dancing, the music, the laughter. It filled the morning air. Playing together without bickering or crying or any of the other things that constitutes “playing together” when you have siblings. Just making joyful sound.

Moments like this make me remember the lyrics to one of my favorite songs by String Cheese Incident:

Can I lay down tonight
Without feeling regret?
I know the love that I give
Becomes the love that I get

The small moments when they are in the world all alone are moments that rejuvenate me as a mother. Honestly, as a human, these moments giving me faith in the future and that maybe I am doing ok. Even when I accidentally forget to make sure they all of jackets when we leave the house. The love of my family lights my way and grows exponentially… even when I haven’t slept in 10 months.

Life can be trying but sometimes we just need to have a moment where we dance to a feel good song.

 

 

 

Peek-a-Boo, Fool

There is nothing like playing peek-a-boo with a teething baby while trying to shampoo my hair to really bring my life into perspective. The other 4 are currently screaming at each other through the bathroom door about who needs which Lego (I think that is what they are saying). I have no privacy and no dignity.

11201841_10207735839057150_1908224425333868708_nEvery so often I have a moment of “Huh.”; a moment that makes me stop dead in my tracks and think: How did I get here? A bit of an existential crisis.  Especially since I was sort of thrown into it headlong. Which is what happens when you fall head over heels for a person with children. But how could I not fall head over heels for One and Two? They are absolutely amazing little guys and I am in awe everyday about how very lucky I am to GET to be their Momma.

However, I really miss privacy. Quiet. Sleep.

Because I am a human I sometimes think what our lives would be like if we hadn’t had children. If we had somehow met earlier in life and neither had the relationships we had before this. What if and could have been flood my mind while looking at the screaming 5 year old that happens to look exactly like my sister lays on the floor of the cereal aisle. Should haves haunt me when I am cleaning baby food off of my ceiling.

Life could be… Quiet. Smaller. Probably with a lot more BIG adventure. Probably more opportunities for “romance”. BUT  “romance” is why we have 5 kids. Four is a statement to the truthfulness of “just once”. But what if we had chosen no kids.

Maybe. Or we would be as big of train wrecks as we were at 20 and 21 except a decade older. We weren’t exactly the most pulled together humans when we first met. Basically we found another person that enjoyed us despite the demons we were dealing with.

Then I look into the eyes of these tiny humans. These people that are developing into doers and shakers and jokers right before my eyes. That have their own interests and hobbies and personalities despite genetics and parental guidance. (Three is very organized and persnickety… Husband and I cannot figure out where this trait comes from). I’m in awe. I am suckered into parenthood over and over again by these hooligans.

If I had to choose even in moments of my absolute selfishness (oh sleepy lazy mornings how I miss you) I would choose this path I took. Over and over again. I would leap head long over the cliff, having faith in the arms and the potential of the broken man I fell for. I would open my arms and most importantly my heart and soul to One and Two. Discovering how faceted love can be. I would choose singing out of tune “peek a boo!” with a screaming 9 month old with shampoo running into my eyes. I would chose phrases like “Work it out or the legos will all belong to MEEEEE!”

Every single time. Because this is heaven. And who needs sleep, privacy or dignity while in heaven?