The winds of change…..are rank and fleeting

I sometimes daydream about what our household could/should run like. Obedient, polite children who only need to be asked once or even better, just  know what their responsibilites are and fulfill them dutifully. A beautiful, tidy home where our children’s friends love to come and visit and leave wishing their parents were as cool as we are.

Reality….there is usually at least one or more partially clothed or naked child streaking through the house at any given time during the day. If the house happens to be tidy in one corner, it usually means another corner looks like a bomb has gone off.

It seems to come and go in cycles. Especially since I started homeschooling Piper and Cabel, I feel an incredible need to keep the house tidy and stay up on the dishes. It’s not bad! I actually enjoy that the day is more structured. That change has been unexpected and sweet and I hope it stays. I feel more productive and like I am fulfilling my true potential as a mother. I am teaching them skills and watching them learn, grow in confidence and express their happiness and get the instant gratification of seeing the pride on their face when they are praised.

The other side of that is when you are forced to ask your lovely, beautiful, sweet children for help cleaning the house. Abruptly, they turn in to whiney, teeth gnashing, screaming, ogres. And when the husband is around to ‘help’…..*sigh*…..sometimes it is nice not having to be the naggy mom. Having him yell at the kids from his recliner isn’t ideal, but at least it isn’t coming from me for once! I think it’s important he see how hard it is to keep house with 5 (let’s say 6, who are we kidding!) little piggies running amuck. The whole point is consistency is hard! It absolutely would be ‘easier’ to just do it myself than try and train the kids to pitch in. If the day were 36 hours long and I were Mary Poppins. But Mary Poppins I am not and the wind that blows over here when mom an dad get fed up with lazy children is not sweet! I would like to think our efforts would effect a permenant change in their thinking….and ephiphany that if they did their little part each day, it wouldn’t take nearly as long or be nearly as terrible. The sweet irony is the one that was the most angry about having to help clean was my oldest, Anthony–the silent treatment, sullen face, beligerent attitude of a 14 year old. Even he admitted he was glad the house was clean(er)  when it was done–everyone feels better. I would like to think all the yelling tonight, grueling persistence, made an impact that will set a precedent from now on.

But let’s face it….the kids will be busy….I’ll get busy…..the house will slip back and so will the new rules. I do dread the cycle that mandates I get fed up with being everyone’s maid, the eyeball develops the telltale twitch and I begin muttering to myself while I angrily scrub at dishes in the sink. You can almost smell the change of the wind…..at the first whiff, the kids get a little cagey and over affectionate like they hope they might be able to escape the impending whirlwind. But no one is safe! To be perfectly honest, I am aware that if I were only more consistent in those rules, I might not have such a terrible time. But I don’t know if I have it in me to be that relentless. Which is why the winds of change will remain a bit rank and fleeting around here!  The end of of a long night, I kissed all my babies goodnight and thanked, thanked them for getting it all done and thanked God for our five little blessings.

I like the gray…..

Do you ever have the realization that you don’t really know that much about yourself? Perhaps it is a midlife crisis. One’s teenage years are so dramatic–everything is a big deal. So many life altering decisions in prepearation for the long awaited adulthood. And then it comes….ADULTHOOD. Issues that you theorized about in high school are very real and much more difficult to navigate. People get hurt. People get mad at you. You get mad at other people. I very much like the gray. It’s like that old shitty sweatshirt you never get rid of covered with stains, tattered sleeves and worn out spots but you love the way it feels, like a security blanket. It’s so comfortable. Why does everything have to be so black and white? Why do I have to take one side or the other? Why do I have to have an opinion that will make one person mad, the other dissappointed, and yet another scoff at my lack of backbone?

Here’s the problem. Children. I want strong, confident children. The realization that I could no longer avoid religion came crashing down when my first born questioned why he had to be good. ‘Because I said so’ was just so weak. And inadequate. Because I want you to go to heaven one day. Because I want you to be a strong moral character. I want you to know Jesus in your heart. I want you to be saved even if I doubt my own ability to be saved. With a Catholic mother and a father who claimed to be athiest, religion has been a little confusing. But I can’t be gray for my children. I had to decide.

Today I started homeschooling my two children. My 7 year old did well in school but this year really struggled with 2nd grade math. Her teacher kept saying she lacked confidence, which blew me away. This is the girl that doesn’t want to get off the stage at her piano recital. Who on the fly sang a solo in front of the entire church. Confidence?! We had so many conversations, her and I. She felt like she was just falling further and further behind. And she wanted to do well! I was unprepared for the passionate response. Everyone had an opinion. Everyone knew what was best for our children. I had no idea people would be so upset. She is my kid, after all. It was incredibly uncomfortable for a person who didn’t like to be in the spotlight at her own wedding. But for someone who is secretly slightly uncomfortable, still, admitting I believe in God, He always has a way of intervening that leaves little doubt. About to call it quits after the first couple hours because I couldn’t get my crap printer to print, the UPS showed up at my door with a brand new printer from the homeschool program. Three days before any of the other supplies are supposed to get here. And then after submitting my daughter’s math assessment, despite reaasureance from the public school that she was ‘on track’ and would be fine by the end of the year, it was decided that she needed to start at the beginning of 2nd grade and repeat the entire first semester in math. That’s it. I am no longer in the gray. That was confirmation of my fears and worries and validation that she needed intervention lest she become another child not left behind, and that I am doing right be here as her mother. The uncomfortable feeling of being judged by other’s no longer matters.

It is hard to look in the mirror and be left with a feeling of…..lacking. The gray has been my comfortable home for a long time. It is a place of non-decisions….safe emotion…..devoid of real commitment. But for my children, if I want to be the mother of my heart, I have to leave the gray behind. I have to address all those horrible passion filled issues that were just theoretical in high school. And I have to choose. Choose not to be a wall flower. Choose to stand behind my decisions. And that’s so scary cause even though I know that’s what I need to do for myself and my children, I still like the gray….