Making the rules isn’t that big of a deal. We’re parents and parents make ridiculously conditional rules all the time. (Just yesterday I told Oak there was no feeding Bear cell phones while I’m trying to make supper.) It’s the fact that you can’t make these rules up ahead of time that makes them such a problem. You have to wait until someone eats (or poops) a piece of drywall/carpet fibers/nails or chops through a newly painted wall with a crowbar before you even think to say it’s against the rules.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that They (the kids) have the advantage in this game. All you can do is yell loud, run fast, and hope the renovations get done soon.
The past week was a busy and, at times, unproductive one. That’s the way it goes, right? You decide to do something and suddenly nothing and no one want you to do it.
Where there’s adversity there’s also opportunity. Last week was full of chances for me to reconnect with both sides of my family.
- On my Grandpa Smith’s Fourth of July (which happened on the third), I got to spend time with the whole right side of my extended family tree (to clarify, I consider the right side of a family to be the maternal side, so this was my family, not Josh’s), including my aunts and uncle who I almost never see.
- Josh’s brother and his girlfriend flew up from Texas for the holiday.
- Josh’s uncle and cousins drove up from Texas and arrived the day Matt left. We were able to spend some time on Friday talking to his uncle about what we should know before buying a houseboat.
- On Saturday, Josh took care of Bear and Mom and Dad took Oak, so Emily and I got to hang out at the lake sunburning (mostly me) and talking.
- Saturday night, Josh and I went to his sister’s house and played cards for the first time in at least a month.
- Sunday, Josh’s boss and wife invited us to go out on the (other) lake with them on their pontoon boat. That one was mostly a getaway for me and Josh. It was great.
Day 5 really tried my patience because Oak was starting to feel better, but not well enough to be in a good mood for more than a few minutes at a time and definitely not well enough to stop wanting to be held. Just when I thought I was going to have to pull my hair out (Although, what good would that do? Then I would be frustrated and bald.), I remembered the point of this 30 Day exercise is to focus on them, not on me. Oak wasn’t crying and whining because he was trying to make me mad, he just needed someone to take his mind off of feeling sick. So I laid down on the floor and we wrestled and played until both of us were laughing so hard we couldn’t remember who had been screaming or why. I count it as another victory that I got Josh to go to bed at six-thirty that night, even though I missed spending time with him and he felt bad about leaving me holding the babies alone again. As hard as they’ve been working at the shop this week, he really needed the extra sleep. I was really dying to write, so I stayed up after Bear’s three a.m. feeding and got some work done, foolishly thinking I didn’t need sleep.
On Day 6, yesterday, Josh treated me to writing–meaning I paid my sister to watch the boys while I went to Pickler’s Famous to work on my comic book script. I think that did us all some good. Oak got to play with his Aunt Emmy and I got to feel like maybe God isn’t asking me to give up writing. And later that evening, while Josh was playing with Oak, Bear and I had a nice, long conversation. I worry sometimes that Bear will grow up missing out on some of the things Oak got–for example, my undivided attention–just because Oak is the squeakiest wheel in the house, but I’m starting to realize that all it takes is making the time to give Little Bear those things. And it doesn’t hurt to have a husband who will play with your older child. Thank God for Josh! I honestly don’t know how single parents of multiple children survive. (Or, maybe, how multiple children of single parents survive?)
Today, Day 7, my mom came up and we went to the farmer’s market, grocery shopping, and got some lunch. I don’t remember if I mentioned that reconnecting with my extended family was part of this Rebuilding Jerusalem exercise, but it is. My mom is central to that phase for this reason: when I was a tween-teen I went all awry and stopped being my mom’s daughter. What does that mean? It means I not only made things awkward between us, but I made it hard for Mom to talk to me or even be around me. My dad used to yell at me because I never told Mom anything and it was hurting her, but as a non-parent I couldn’t grasp just how painful that might be. Imagine putting so much time and emotion into raising this little thing that thinks the sun rises and sets because you tell it to and one day that little thing won’t even talk to you. No reason, no explanation, just–poof!–full embargo. (Kids are dicks.) I’ve known for some time that I needed to get back together with Mom, but today was the first time I made an effort to not be awkward or stand-offish. Honestly, it’s not easy undoing something you started work on in your tweens. It’s going to take more than one farmer’s market and lunch, but it can be done as long as I don’t give up. Luckily for me, Mom never gave up, so I don’t have to start over completely.
Bear just peed on me, so I’ve got to go. Day 8 is my Grandpa Smith’s Fourth of July celebration, so I’ll have a whole group of extended family to reconnect with.