Friday, 5 December 2014

What Happened to My Norman Rockwell Moment?

Do you hear that delicious silence? You probably don't hear it over your gaggle of children but, currently in my house, I can actually hear the clock ticking on my piano. That's always an indicator of how quiet my house actually is. It's such a pretty clock, isn't it?

Alleluia for Grandparents

The reason it's quiet here right now, at this very moment in time, is because my children are spending the afternoon and evening with my mom. God bless her for taking them for a few hours so I can just suck in the glory of my house without children ransacking it and filling it with their polluted sounds of fighting and complaining. My children really are lovely... with other people... most of the time. Lately however, when they are at home, they just sucks every morsel of life and energy I have. I'm thankful for this few hours to refuel and refocus. Shout out to grandparents!!!

I'm also thankful that my mom came with us to the mall today to see the big man himself, Santa Claus. As she told me, "I haven't done this in 30 years." I'm glad I could help bring back those warm and fuzzy memories for her, living the excitement through her grandchildren's eyes.

Not What I Pictured

I always have these huge plans for these picture perfect activities for us to do as a family. In my mind, I always imagine everything running like a Disney movie - the perfect setting, a lesson learned, and beautiful memories I can put in a box with a pretty bow, and store in my mind until I'm old and grey where I will relive them as I sit in my rocking chair with my grandchildren on my lap. Sigh... The life of an optimist....

The reality is that almost none of the activities I plan for us to do, no matter how awesome and exciting they might sound, ever turn out like the rosy pictures I conjure up in my little head. Never. Ever. I personally blame the three-year-old with an attitude.

How It Plays Out

We're not even out our own door and the always-cranky baby B (who is now 3) exclaims like he does every 3 hours, "I am so mad!" By the way, he got that line from an episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood where Daniel Tiger's teacher, or mom, or somebody tells Daniel, in sing song of course, "if you feel so mad, that you want to roar, take a deep breath, and count to four." Great advice from the show but the only part my son retained was Daniel Tiger saying "I'm so mad!" at the top of his lungs. Thanks PBS. You're awesome.

Once I've convinced him to put his boots on (usually by bribing him with food or a toy), I get him and the girl and the husband into the car, ready to roll. But wait... The husband forgot his phone, or keys, or wallet - it can be any of said items or a combination of said items. Considering I have to remember everything else, it'd be nice if I didn't have to take care of the other adult in the house too. Just sayin'.

The car ride is usually a nightmare with cranky baby B screaming at his sister for looking at him funny, or my 8-year-old daughter Z complaining that she doesn't like the music on the radio. I yell at them to be quiet. They do not make an effort. I'm irritated. Can we go home?

We get to our activity, let's take visiting Santa, since that's what we did today. The kids are starving because they haven't eaten in 20 minutes. So we have to get food at the mall. Because they are dressed in their Christmas outfits to have their pictures taken with Santa, they inevitably spill ketchup and wipe fry grease all over their brand new clothes.

We take them to the bathroom to clean them up. Baby B, who has just learned to go potty, pees on his pants because he does not know how to control that male appendage of his I just don't get. (Why does it shoot in so many directions?) I clean him off as best as I can and hope that Santa doesn't get pee on his lap. (I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time anyway. Poor Santa!) Z is filthy so we have to hose her down from top to toe, and tuck her hair back into the braids I meticulously spun before we left.

As we are walking to see Santa, which is in the centre of the mall, we pass by stores that are calling my kids' names. They see all the shiny and flashy objects and get distracted so we keep having to get them back in line like sheep dogs herding their flock.

We finally get in line to see Santa, and the two of them just can't sit still. My kids have a lot of energy and never stop moving. Plus, kids and lines just don't go together. Ever. They shuffle around the line in the area we're standing in, just hyper with excitement as they can see the top of Santa's hat around the corner.

We finally get to the front of the line and cranky pants Mr. B. does not want to see Santa. So I drag him a little, bribe him with yet another treat (Santa's candy cane), and wait for the magical moment when the nice picture lady can snag a shot of them sitting up on Santa's lap. Well, they were sitting. And their clothes look sort of clean. Baby B looks constipated, and Z looks drunk but we got the picture, I guess. Another family trip over. Another dream of a perfect outing crushed.

Life Is Never Picture Perfect

I know life is not the perfect pictures we see in movies, and that it's super messy, and hard, and some days, down right shitty. It's not my kids' faults that things don't turn out the way I imagine. It's my OWN fault. My creative, overly-perfectionist brain has a way of concocting these scenarios that no real family could live up to. I have to learn to lower my expectations, and just live in the moment. Because when I'm old and grey, sitting in my rocking chair on the front porch, looking back on this picture of my two babies, I won't remember the chaos that took place getting them to that moment. All I'll remember when I look at those pictures are those two beautiful kids and how they were, and will always be, the most magical part of my world. And I'm very lucky to have them in it.

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