“in between”

Last weekend I was struck by how big my kids are.  Even though I call them my littles, they aren’t so little anymore.

light2

Looking at this shot, I realized that – there is no pause button on this crazy train of life.  No matter how hard I try I cannot slow it down.  These kids keep growing and we are basically holding our breath trying to hang on through each new stage.  The diapers and the diaper bags have left the house, the crib has been disassembled, and finally we have freedom from the sippy cups that loved to hide under the van seats.

Life has taken a new turn, around the corner from 3 and under, and headed down the street towards “mom all my friends have iPod touches”. We are in the “in between” stage, where my kids are not quite preteens – and the scariness that comes with middle school is a only couple short years away.

Babies and toddlers are so darn hard and so deeply exhausting at times.  Most of the time it feels like the mothering never stops.  Never.  Ever.  The nights are long with the rocking and soothing.  The days are sometimes longer with 5 page books on repeat, wiping of the runny-nose-faucet, changing of the diapers  and round the clock snack service.  Its amazing the strength we have as mothers to accomplish all of these things not only daily but on “freaky friday” repeat day in and day out.  Thank goodness they are so cute!!

Whether or not I want to embrace it, I am on the other side now.  The side where you wonder how many more times your “not so baby boy” will embrace you with a hug and a occasional kiss on the blacktop before school.  The side where you have to explain to your kids that you don’t know why people are mean and why some don’t include you.  The side where your mothering gets tested in such an intense emotional way that you would give anything to go back to the physically intense part of mothering where your 14 month old having a stuffy nose was the worst part of your week.

kids2

When I hold my 3 month old niece, it is as if my uterus is contracting, trying to tell me– I need and want to go back.  But I am slowly realizing it’s ok to not go back.  We put the hours in and thank the Lord- he has filled my mind with a magic filter that allows me to look back and see that it was all worth it – and it was all good.

The long nights that taught me I was the mother they needed.  The longer days showed me how important my job was.  And the bouts of toddler tantrums reminded me I did have enough patience.

Life is funny how you can’t always see the goodness shine through until you take a couple steps back and wait for the fog to lift.  The welcome sign is lit for the next stage of life, and I will walk forward, contracting uterus and all.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 7.06.55 AM

screamer in aisle 4

If you haven’t seen me in Shoprite and experienced my precious 2 year olds screaming fits, you’re in for a treat. She holds nothing back, she can literally produce a long piercing yelp without even stopping to breathe– she just lets that baby out with all her might.

The other day she was super angry I had her in the front of the shopping cart and really wanted to sit in the back. So trying not to be dealt a melt down, I stick her in the back sacrificing any room for the food which is why we are there in the first place! Long behold the adorable little child wants to not just sit in the back but stand up like she is on an amusement ride.

I used my nice inside mommy voice and told her (begged her) to sit down or she would have to come back to the front.

Of course she would not listen and the ever dreaded move back to the front happened and by the time I got her feet through the holes, her scream was already louder than the man on the loud-speaker and her hands were pulling towards anything around her, my shirt being the easiest grabbing point.

It had happened, she was erupting with fury and there was no turning back.

I mustered up all the peace, gentleness, and self-control I had and rounded the aisle to the cold section and noticed that there was literally an explosion of elderly women choosing their dairy goods for the week. Now my experience with the elderly is they either are super sympathetic or are overly annoyed with how the culture is failing and current mothers are no longer doing their job correctly.

As I catch a glare from one woman I force a half smile and say, “She’s a screamer!”  Hoping she would respond with some nice words of encouragement.

Nope!

She looks at my daughter and then at me and says, “Obviously”.

–Insert completely mortified face–

Knowing I have at least 4 different aisles I have to go down still , I look up and my eyes suddenly see the “mommy get out of jail” end cap display coming up, stacked with goldfish and other snacks. I am suddenly in a major moral dilemma. I stand there for a minute, wondering what it will look like and how I know better, but somehow my arms reaches up, grabs a bag of goldfish and opens it in one quick motion. Handing it to her, the screamer suddenly goes silent…she has won.

Goldfish

Yes you should never reward a screaming child

Yes I am creating a very bad habit

Yes I know I am feeding a negative behavior

I know the rules, I read the books, I have two other kids

But I didn’t do it perfect then and I won’t do it perfect now

Sometimes the rules need to be broken. Sometimes our own mental health needs to take precedent to all the maybe outcomes that could happen if we break away from the perfect mommy rules for one second. That two dollar bag of goldfish helped me get the rest of my shopping done and kept her quiet for the car ride home.

I love all my kids and of course I want them to be well behaved children, but sometimes I wonder if my expectations are just so unrealistic. That they will never be able to achieve who I think they should be. I don’t want them to feel like I am constantly disappointed in them but more that I am always amazed at how they are blossoming into their own person.

Parenting is hard. No question.

One of the hardest parts might be that no two children are the same, even within your family. Sometimes parenting is like being a GPS, where it’s constantly changing its path trying to get to the destination of a well rounded child.

I know my littlest won’t still be in diapers by kindergarten and she’ll learn to sit nicely in the shopping cart, but more importantly I want her to grow up with a mom who laughed at the days where she pulled her shirt down in front of 20 elderly women in the dairy aisle.

I am constantly reminding myself to not let the small things become big things and rid myself of the insanely high expectations I have on myself as a mother.

In the end its God who will ultimately direct their path, I need to just love and guide them as they walk it.

For the mothers out there, there is no judgement from this fellow mom as you grab that bag that goldfish, do it, its liberating!!!

-Tiffany