I love my children. I love my children. I love my children.
Do you like my new mantra? I find myself chanting it silently, in my head, in the times I need to, you know, recenter. Calm down. It helps me stay patient when the kids are telling me they’re bored (again). Or when they’re asking me for things, one right after the other. Snacks. Something to do. TV. Playdates. Pool dates. Movies. More TV. Personal entertainment. Cruise ship program directing. I told them this morning that I don’t think they actually talk to me anymore unless they’re asking for something. Saoirse apologized for doing so. Quinlan asked me for a snack.
Cian is still potty training. The poop thing, he’s got. He goes every day. He’ll even declare his intentions before he heads into the bathroom. He’ll poop in any restroom, anywhere, anytime. He’s the happiest pooper in the East. It’s awesome. It’s the peeing thing we’re having trouble with, and I mean major trouble: he won’t recognize the need, won’t go to the bathroom if he feels it coming, fights us when we ask him to go to the bathroom. He just…pees. In his pants. And then walks funny while it dribbles down his legs and into his shoes. The kids were in the childcare area of the grocery store today while I shopped, headphones in, listening to James like some teenager trying to avoid the world (read: full-time mom). I was happy, alone with my thoughts, when, over the song in my ears, I heard the words a mom never wants to hear while in the middle of a public place: my name. Over the loudspeaker, as I was called to the childcare area, where I found my youngest child happily playing, oblivious to the puddle on the carpet at his feet. My car smells like a city alley on the hottest day in July. Actually, I’d probably pay to stand in that alley instead, because at least I don’t have to clean that pee off the ground.
It’s halfway through the summer now, which is right around the time every year I really start regretting my vehement abhorrence of over-scheduling. My friends know that I normally tend to go all hippie my-kids-are-gonna-have-a-70s-summer when the springtime sign-up frenzy rolls around (because they know what’s going to happen), which I immediately regret about one week after school lets out (which they knew was going to happen). This year, though, I signed my kids up for nothing. Do you hear that, world? NOTHING. I. am. insane. But here’s the thing: you know that we send the kids to Catholic school. You don’t know that the tuition for this upcoming school year went up about a billion and one percent. So while the money that most families use for fun stuff for their kids (like, I don’t know, summer camps?) is instead appropriated for good ol’ faith-based education for ours, and this year the camp opportunities disappeared completely, a fact I’m sure our children will be grateful for one day: “Hey, Mom, remember those times we didn’t go to drama camp and soccer clinics and fun stuff like that because you wanted to send us to a school where we went to mass all the time? THANKS SO MUCH FOR THAT, MOM. We sure do appreciate it!” But that’s the way it rolls around here. We get a pool membership, and my mom has been giving us Christmas gifts of season passes to the local amusement park, so it’s not like the kids are desperate for outdoor fun.
There is an upside to all this hippie living (can you still be a hippie while living in a subdivision and sending your kids to a church school? Can you at least pretend?): we’ve been exploring a lot more than we ever have before. We’re pretty much on a mission to find every water-filled natural resource (creeks! lakes, where the water is truly as green as you feared! more lakes and creeks!) within an hour’s drive of our house. They’re reading and playing together and only fighting about half the time, rather than three-quarters of it. They’re good travelers, and like adventures, and are happy to do something that’s even just a little bit new (even dive into a lake that’s the same color as an avocado peel). They do chores with glee. They offer to fold laundry, wash windows, put away clean towels. (It’s mainly because they’re bored. This is not a bad thing.). They’re catching up with friends they don’t normally get to see during the school year. This is all good stuff. So, really, it’s the kids that are having a great summer.
I love my children. I love my children. I love my children. And you know as well as I do that when school rolls around in a few weeks, when I’m shopping for Saoirse’s new shoes (so much bigger than the year before), and sizing Quinlan for a uniform for the first time (*sob*), and dropping the last baby off for his first day of preschool (no, no, no), I’m going to be crying into my peace and quiet. But right now? Halfway through summer? Let’s just say this: I sat down to my computer just now to try to get some writing done (I’m trying, Agent Katie, I’m trying!), and Saoirse asked me for a snack. It is exactly five seconds after she finished off a bowl of popcorn (which I’d prepared, over the stove, because it’s summertime and I’m a suburban hippie and I love my children so, so much that I tell myself those words several, several times a day). I’ve let the summer swallow me up whole. I’m not complaining about it, really, because I do cherish these days. I get a kick out of having them all together without having to rush off to one activity or another, and know that I’m going to miss the days I was hosing the creek mud off of them behind our house.
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