It ain’t over when you think it’s over

The scent of the morning air, fresh and crisp after a rainy night, hit us the moment we stepped out of the house.

Never mind the fumbling around earlier, scrambling to get together cream cheese on toast, banana apricot cake that I thought we’d better eat up before it got bad, and bottles of water. Never mind Piglet clamouring around my feet in the kitchen, trying to reach for – what was that? – a piece of paper sticking out of the rubbish bin. Hey, butt-scooting baby No. 3, it’s time to hang up the trash.

It was going to be a great day.

Everyone was up earlier than usual so I planned breakfast in the park, hoping to catch the morning dew. Food, ball, frisbee and a spare nappy for Piglet in a bag, we were good to go.

We were early enough to catch the hive of activity at the park. There was a large group of line dancing women, mostly in their mid-50’s, jiggling their booty on the basketball court with pop music blaring away. Happiness! We seated ourselves at the edge of the court and I handed out slices of toast. Puppy and Lamb couldn’t sit for long. They were soon up on their feet, eating and staring at those ladies.

Nearby, a band of elderly folk were doing qi-gong. A pair was playing tennis. I was bent over, trying to negotiate toast through Piglet’s mouth when Puppy cried, “Look! Fans!” I turned and saw a group of elderly women doing some slow moves with crimson coloured fans. After a few minutes, they used swords! Faint, mother, faint.

“What’s that they’re doing?” the bunnies kept asking. I didn’t know.

Toast and cake done with, Puppy and Lamb started playing basketball on the empty side of the court. Puppy was delighted to get quite a few shots through the ring and Lamb was just plain happy, bouncing away and throwing some. Piglet sat contentedly on my lap, munching away. I drank in the sights, the breeze, the laughter, the music, the smiles of joggers passing by. We didn’t have kindergarten to rush to, we had all the time in the world.

Well, almost.

After lots of basketball, some frisbee, swings, tunnels and slides, the sun climbed higher in the sky and the groups began to disperse.

I wish I could’ve said that everything ended as well as our morning trips to the park usually do. But at the end of our happy hour, I had on my hands a squealing Lamb who’d bruised his shin on a step and a rather squirmy baby who kept wanting me to walk some more. I scooped Lamb up with my other free arm and tried to calm him down.

(Ask me about arm wrestling, I can beat any average man now. It’s just something I fancy thinking, so indulge me.)

We got home pretty smoothly, but all hell broke loose at the bathroom.

Tell me how to persuade a sweaty, dusty and screaming 3 year old to let you clean up a wound. Tell me how to stop his older 5 year old sister from screeching because she’s mad at you for trying to torture her little brother by cleaning up his wound. Also, the butt-scooting baby’s started wailing because his older siblings are bawling at the top of their lungs.

Anyway, all that finally got sorted ….. kind of.

After a mid-morning snack, poor Lamb again received the short end of the stick.

It happened this way. Piglet finally fell asleep after I spent 20 minutes putting him to bed. I went downstairs and was only 2 minutes into school time when he started crying. I rushed upstairs to settle him, but Lamb soon appeared at the bedroom door, pushing it open and shut numerous times until the sound woke Piglet up for good.

I yelled. “Why did you do THHHAAAAAAAAT???????”

Apparently, Lamb loves seeing me.

Tons of guilt, apologies and hugs later, Lamb tells me, “I’m so happy, Mama.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Because I have a Mama,” he says, and reaches out to squeeze my hand.

The crimson fans, swords and dancing ladies are quite the bomb, but my kid surely takes the spot.

Tomorrow, I’ll be doing it all over again. Trying to feed Piglet in his high chair while someone calls out for a butt wipe after a poo, and another bunny requests tooth-picking services because she can’t continue chewing her lunch with That Thing stuck in her teeth. And, because I’m lucky, it’ll all happen at the same time.

Remind me to draw a deep breath. I’ll smell the fresh morning air and think of my Lamb with a Mama.

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Change

It seems to me, one thing certain about life is change. Change propels us forward – whether we like it or not.

In the past 5 years, a lot has changed for me. I’d dare say the first word I think about when I think about change is:

1. Uncertainty.  You can never simply tell.  Things change.  People change.  For the longest time I always said I’d never be a stay-at-home mother, but here I am.  Mothering by the seat of my pants.  The children are growing, and in some ways I have to grow up a little more – before they do.

In the midst of uncertainty, is the ever-present pressure of …

2. Decision.  Who knows what change will bring?  How can I know?  And yet, I must decide.

Sweet holy sauce, I can think of a million possibilities.  That makes me chew on my lips.  Because decisions involve …

3. Risk.  Change and risk walk together, no?  When I chose to become a hands-on parent, I knew we’d struggle on a single income.  There is a risk our children will never get the opportunities that some others will.  Good education is costly, food is costly, don’t even get me started.

I figure, though, that you can’t put a price on a stay home parent.  My kids looked at me blankly when I suggested I might go back to work, once.  They began shaking their heads slowly, then violently, and I had to say something different very quickly to quieten the howls.

4. Loss.  With any kind of change, there is loss.  I miss my high-pressure job – somewhat.  Kidding!  Mostly, I miss having adult colleagues.  Here I am, trying to find some company in blog land, something I once thought (very foolishly) a nebulous thing.

And guess what?

5. Gain.  I’ve found some great company.  When I can’t blog, I wonder about the people I “follow” and yet have never met in the flesh.  And as far as being SAHM goes, I can now cook and teach a science lesson at the same time, vacuum while nursing my baby in a sling, and not break a sweat whenever I go out alone with 3 little ones aged 5 and under.  I impress my hitherto anti-SAHM self.  (Girl’s gotta have a healthy sense of self-respect.)

Also, I love how our homeschooling family is closely knitted together.  I love that last week we went on a baking spree and made mini muffins, chocolate crackles and raisin bread.  I gorged myself on 10 chocolate crackles in a row and felt happy because I can still fit into my 8 year old Levi’s jeans as a result of tandem nursing all these years.

There is no loss without some great gain.

6. Perspective.  I’ve always felt that change – uncertainty, risks and decision-making – can be uncomfortable.  But it can make moments of predictability so much sweeter.  The Bunnies are the easiest to be with whenever there’s an afternoon nap, and as often as I’ve grumbled about the routine, I’ve welcomed the time of quiet as an opportunity to rest.  I don’t get much, but any bit helps when there are 3 little ones about.

Speaking of 3 little ones, there is a lot more to upkeep around the house.

7. Rough hands.  You do get these, after so much cleaning.  The good part?  Sweet Man recently felt my callouses and must have felt poorly, because he remarked next, “You deserve the new iPhone 5. For working so hard.”  Now, for a gal who doesn’t have a camera that doesn’t drive her mad let alone a phone with internet access, hearing that is like having my secret drawer stashed to the brim with my favourite dark chocolate.

(Whether I will actually be getting an iPhone is anybody’s guess. I can’t look beyond this Sunday when the 2 trees in my back garden will finally be felled and I can put on my farming clothes to till the land.  As if I had the time!  But one can dream of organic vegetables …..)

8. Hope.  Okay, so I am the baking, cleaning, homeschooling (and hopefully organic farming) Marm.  But that isn’t all I am.  And life as a family doesn’t remain static.  There is always so much movement and change.

Over the past few years, we’ve invested our time in Harvest Centre.  Lugging along 3 little ones is no cupcake, I can tell you.  But loving and learning with others, seeing our lives blend together, is teaching our family how to be grateful for every little bit we have, and to find meaning in discomfort.  It is also amazing to see hope in the midst of desperate situations and how it is a strong force for change.

9. Love.  It’s hard to change without love.  Love is like the net that catches me when I make mistakes and fall, because it makes me want to get up again. Looking back, I think Sweet Man taught me that best.

When a man – your husband – makes you apple pie on a downer-day, you know you’ve struck the jack pot.

10. Certainty.  Someone once said that the only thing certain about life is uncertainty, death and taxes.  I don’t really feel that way.  I feel certainty that comes with the love that is around me and in me.  There is certainty in truth.

Some things like these never change. They give me a kind of steadfastness.

And they make changes all the easier to live with.

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Linking up with Lovelinks #23, Stasha of The Good Life and thanking Deborah of MaNNaHaTTaMaMMa, for inspiring the theme of this week’s Monday Listicles

Also, living the Be Enough Me feeling this week!

Link up an enough-themed post in the Be Enough Me for Cancer campaign. For every 20 linked up posts, Bellflower Books will provide a memory book to a woman fighting breast cancer through Crickett’s Answer for Cancer, and help bring a smile to courageous women giving it their all, every single day.

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