The FAN

In our house, we have a not-so-silent war going on. All around the house, the sound can be heard- sometimes right in your ear, sometimes from the front porch, sometimes whirring thought the wall as you think you have stolen some quiet in the bathroom. It follows me from the living room to the kids room, to the bedroom, downstairs into the playroom, even from the ceiling in the stairway… I cannot escape the whirring, humming, spinning, blowing of the FAN.

My husband is hot. Now, I think he is pretty attractive, but that’s not what I’m talking about. He is just plain hot, no matter what the season or the weather, he is hot. Shorts in the winter, the car windows rolled down in February, take the trash out barefoot in the snow, turn the A/C on in April, he is hot.

There are electric fans in about every room of our house, and if the temperature rises above about 65, he has them on. All of them on. The windows are open, the fans are on. If it goes above about 80, the A/C comes on, and the fans. He points them all right at himself, creating a vortex and mini-hurricanes and tornadoes all over the house. Under a blanket I huddle on the couch, trying to find a corner of the living room where the wind isn’t blowing, but it’s impossible. Papers blow off the ‘fridge, the magazine turn themselves, petals blow from the flowers on the table, and my contact lenses dry out.

The most horrible fan is the one on his nightstand. Yes, he has one on his nightstand- it’s not enough to have a general fan for the whole room, he must have a personal blowing device, aimed directly at his head, a few inches from said head. So when I climb into bed, the vortex whips over the mountains of his body, roars through the valley of the comforter between us, and whips right into my bed territory. My hair swirls around on my pillow and my eyes begin to dry out, and I can’t breathe. He is snoring heartily, so I gingerly reach over and click off his personal wind tunnel, and he snorks and smacks and stirs to life. Grumble, grumble, mumble… grabing his pillow, he heads off to the couch, where he can re-establish his wind tunnel and personal comfort level. I hear the snoring within minutes of the start of the fans.

So I’m on a mission. I am looking for a small, powerful, and silent fan, with a very narrow blow area, that I can point just at him, and we can both be comfortable. I love my hot husband. It’s just that I’m not so hot myself.

Happy Mother’s Day

I posted this at MMW also this morning. Thought it was pertinent enought to post here, too.

I’m feeling rather soft and squishy about my children tonight. Somedays I feel I am the one learning and they are the teachers. Not necessarily the older wiser teachers, but the harder, tough teachers that you never forget the lessons you learn from. Ever had any of those? I’ve got three of them here under my own roof.

The woman I used to be was independent, a world traveler, a career chick who had a really fun job, cool and interesting friends, a convertible, nice clothes and a good dye job on the hair. I relished my freedom and independence, I sat in bed on Sunday mornings reading the paper and writing self-indulgent things in my journal while my dog slept at my feet. I had friends over for fancy meals and to try out new, gourmet recipes. I spent my free time with other bohemians who were equally self-indulgent and submerged in relative luxury. Luxury of time, of money, of place and weather. Luxury of friends and career’s and choices and plenty. Luxury of museums and concerts and sunset cruises on the Bay after tiny bistro dinners in the City… Ah, I can still feel it, and on melancholy days, I might even miss it a tiny bit.

The woman I am now… Ah, the woman I am now is so much happier than the woman I was. The previous life sounds glamorous and full and fun- and at times it was. But it was also a whole lot of hollow- years of looking for what I felt was missing. Years of writing in that journal, wishing for a family of my own, wishing for my eternal companion (even though he was right under my nose), wishing for children, wishing for a home, wishing for everything that now occupies my days and often my nights.

From my children and my choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, I have learned more than I ever imagined possible. From the moment Jeffrey was born, he has been teaching me- starting with his body sliding into the world… Came the stunning realization that there really is a God. Nothing in my life has been as impacting and as sure as that moment. From Eric’s birth I learned that my heart could expand indefinitely, that love was not something metered out or finite. From Abby’s birth, I learned my capacity to cope and deal with pain reached far beyond what I thought were my boundaries, and I came out not only alive, but thrillingly so.

Each day, as I watch my children grow and change, visibly metamorphosing, the same thing is happening inside of me. My life is not about me anymore, but the irony is that I am more alive, more myself than I ever was when it was all about me. Motherhood has given me confidence in the face of opposition, a knowledge of my personal resources and how deep they might actually be, lessons in patience repeated over and again, a solid sense of what is really important, the ability to discern and trust my intuition, and faith. Oh, most of all, Faith.

How could any of us mother without faith? How could we get through the long nights and exhausting days without faith? How could we do what we do, over and over, without faith?The Lord gave me the greatest gift when Jeffrey was born. I had been searching for years for answers, but it was not until the very moment his warm, wet body was laid on my stomach that I knew, knew with all my heart, that God was there, that God is real.

As mothers, we walk around in the world watching our hearts live outside ourselves. Tiny bodies holding our very lifeblood toddle off into the great blue beyond, and the vulnerability would be unendurable without Faith.

So today, I thank the Lord for answering my questions in unmistakable ways, and for giving me the gift of these little teachers, who stretch and grow and push me toward my eternal destination. I pray that I am enough of a mother to do the same for them.

Happy Mothers Day to all of you. Go kiss your mother!

Iron Mom

There’s a lot of posts and musings on motherhood out there right now- undoubtably due to the looming of Mother’s Day this Sunday (don’t forget, anyone!). It got me thinking about my mom, and how my perspective on her has changed over the years since I have become a mom.

Now, I’m not allowed (sic) to write anything specific about my mom, under threat of persecution, and believe me, the woman can persecute. And for all my issues with her, I do respect her request to remain anonymous. But I think I can wax and muse on her as a mother without revealing anything personal that might lead you to her door or her mailbox.

My mom isn’t perfect. But as I bumble and stumble through motherhood myself, she makes a whole lot more sense to me that she did once-upon-a-time. There were very rocky years for she and I, years where we had a hard time being in the same room. And I’m not talking about spats and disagreements, I’m talking really ugly, nasty stuff. During those tumultuous years, I was judgmental and critical of certain decisions she had made- decisions about my life, and about her life that directly and indirectly impacted me.

Looking back, (isn’t hindsight marvelous?) even those grim times garnered pearls. No matter how things sucked, communication was never closed between us. That says something about her mothering. There was never a wall of silence, and the welcome mat was never pulled. That says something about her mothering. No matter how much or what I accused her of, she never turned her back on me. We fought- we fought terribly- but looking back, that was her loving me when I was very difficult to love. That says something about her mothering. Having a mother who gives her opinion and never shuts down and doesn’t hide things from you- has turned into one of the biggest blessings of my life.

As I grow up, my perspective changes, and I see families who do hide things, who don’t talk about the uglier parts of life, who shut down and clam up, and I find myself grateful beyond measure for a mother who would never tolerate that- even when it would have been easier. And (gulp) I find myself cultivating those very qualities in myself.

There is a lot to admire in my mother. Once, I could never have seen that, but now it’s easy. When I hear her voice coming out of my mouth, as I deal with the ups and downs of having three kids under five, I laugh. As I struggle with the realities and challenges of being a good parent to hard-headed, strong willed, stubborn, prideful, creative kids, I find myself thinking “What did mom do?”, and it helps me find my footing.

My brother Dumber and I were talking the other day, and as we look back at the kids we knew whose mother’s tried to be their best friends, we see people floundering, or who lost their way, or who made strings of bad choices- and we both commented how Iron Mom really did a pretty good job. As my brother’s and I ponder our own parenting, we realize we had a really good teacher, and because of her, we have a roadmap to follow.

More than anything else, I know I can always count on her to be herself. She never changes, and she will tell you that if you give her half a chance. Aggravating? Sure, but oddly comforting, too.

Our relationship now is much happier, for the most part- maybe because I’m 1000 miles away- certainly the moderating influence of my step-father has something to do with it (Thank the Lord for the mellowness and calming influence of that man). We are friends- we talk daily and even though she still drives me nuts about some things, I don’t know what I would do without her. My children love her to pieces, and it’s been a kick seeing her mellow into “Grandma”, though she is still far from mellow. She is an awesome grandma.

My mom doesn’t read this. She is adamant about the fact that she doesn’t read it. But somehow, I suspect this one will get back to her… So, thanks mom, for being strong and reliable and consistent and for loving me even when it was difficult. Thanks for being mean when you needed to be, and for setting limits we didn’t understand. Thanks for not letting us ‘hang-out’ at the mall or anywhere else, and for checking up on us. Thanks for knowing our friends and their parents, and for making us work at home. Thanks for not letting me play with Kiki and not letting me go to Jr High dances. Thanks for grounding me when I peirced my ears the second time, and for never letting me lie- ever. Thanks for tucking us in every single night of our lives, and for saying “Mommy Loves You” each of those every-single nights. Thanks for teaching me how to me a good mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

It’s All In A Day

Why oh why do I sabotage myself? Why, when I write about such a happy day, does the crap then hit the proverbially spinning object? We went from singing Sunshine on My Shoulders and skipping through the tulips to grinding out a dirge and wanting hurt myself with a KFC Spork in the matter of two days!

I am considering buying a shock collar for Jeffrey- the kind you put on a dog- and I’m only mostly kidding. The last two days have been a study in “What Can Go Wrong in a Family?”. The boys have pulled out all the stops. Eric being your classic two-year old, with the tantrums, flinging oneself wildly to the floor in spastic palpitations, and general orneriness with a side of whining and his favorite word, “NO!” But that is all typical and handle-able.

Jeffrey on the other hand, had delved to new depths to come up with some of the crap he has flung at me. I like to think we are pretty careful about how we parent- we are far from perfect, and some days do more yelling than I care to admit, but we try. Really hard. But what do you do when your previously sweet and adoring four-year old tells you, as you are feeding your newborn, and he is ticked because you cannot do what he wants NOW, that “I am going to get a mommy gun and shoot you until you are dead!”??? I was dumbfounded, and kind of surprised at the tears that immediately sprang to my eyes, and supremely grateful that DH walked in from work at exactly that moment. Maybe it’s not forward thinking of me, but I think there are some things appropriate to hand over to Dad, and this was, hands down, one of them.

We are not a house of guns. We don’t have war toys. The closest we come to weapons is a few Star-Wars type things. We monitor what we let them watch on TV, and our videos are hand picked. So where did this come from?? School? Friends? I’m at a loss. And while this was easily the worse thing we have heard from him, his mouth has been threatened with soap more than once lately. He is obstinate, disobedient, mean to his brother, and I don’t have any idea what to do to correct this. Time outs and loosing priveledges isn’t working- he’s only four, what kind of priviledges does he have? No TV? Already there- What else can I do??

I feel like I need to go back to “Go” and start over. Maybe take a parenting class or something… Just when I thought I had it all (ok, pretty much) figured out, I get the wind knocked out me. Anyone with any good parenting suggestions or books they got help from? Anyone else had a four-year old like this? Help!