The previous post was written over a month ago. I just published it. That’s how things seem to work around here. I rarely get to finish what I’m working on, and not because I’m absent minded but rather because more important things step in. Writing this, I realize, I’m really proud of how well I step aside from projects to help people. For years a favorite quote from a favorite man was posted by my computer:
“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.” – Thomas S. Monson
I’m a focused finisher by nature. I like to start early, end early and think through all the details. These tendencies are often a thorn in the flesh as a mother. Interruptions are continual, and change is the only constant. It’s is why so many Mom’s say they are “loosing their minds.” I never lost my keys before I had kids. But now it’s becoming an all too common occurrence. I’m forever lugging too many bags, holding a toddler by the hand, and balancing a baby on my hip all while trying to finger keys. Too often setting them down for convenience, only to forget where that “convenient place” was. I’ve found them twice in the carseat with Chiara- after looking for 10 minutes.
That aside, tonight my heart is very full. And I have some mothering moments I want to record.
When we decided to put Chiara in the guest room, I was concerned that the room couldn’t fit a chair to nurse in. I guess I’ll just sit on the bed, I’d thought. Looking back it couldn’t have been a better decision. I never nursed lying down with the boys. So, I didn’t realize the luxury I was providing myself by having a queen sized bed in the nursery. It’s become one of my favorite parts of the day, lying there, cozily with my daughter in the morning, her breath on my chest. I run my hands through her thin silky hair, or we play with each others fingers. She’ll break to chat and smile and then continue with grateful contentment. Nursing is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Doing it lying down removes any sense of duty or chore. It’s a time of powerful bonding. Sometimes Anders will join us, cozying in under Chiara’s “soft blanket”- the quilt I made her with the minky backing. He’ll rub my arm and whisper sweetly in my ear “I love you so much, Mom.”
The woman of focus and finish that I was six years ago could have never imagined the joy of these morning rituals. So while I mourn that girl who rose early to run three miles every morning before studying her scripture for an hour, I’m pleased to be a mother who savors her children.
I’m trying some new approaches with homeschool this month. In December, Scotter and I were both pretty burned out. There were several rough weeks, and the suggestion to send Scotter to public school in January was discussed. As Tom and I considered the problems I realized I was stripping Scotter of much of the things I kept him home for- more exploration, more free play, more outdoor time. So I’m trying to restart with more playfulness. Last semester, I skipped a lot of the supplemental activities in our reading book, for example- feeling they would take too much time. This week, we had a blast playing the version of pictionary suggested. Instead of getting up-in-arms when Scotter wanted to change the game, I went with it- which resulted in a more writing, reading, and drawing from him (which is the goal!) We had a blast making a book about parties- he dictated a story, drew coloring pages, and proudly added it to our bookshelf “So anyone can pick it to read!” I happily allowed him to pick some 30 early reader books from the library. He began pouring through them as soon as we got to the van.
I’ve approached my new role as “primary educator” like I would a new job. I’ve poured over books, blogs, and podcasts seeking advice and ideas. It’s had it’s rough patches, but I must say I have been thrilled with how much I have learned these past few months. I feel more confident and fulfilled. Thanks to homeschooling, my boys request “Story of the World” (A world history text we have on audiobook) as soon as we get in the van. Scotland finds ways to teach Anders. Just yesterday he was giving him a tutorial on how to draw people- which Anders quickly followed. Anders is enthusiastic about “reading” to me and working hard to learn his letters. He’ll often jumpstart our review of famous paintings or start singing the days of the week during breakfast. The boys like to compete over who will finish first the verse of scripture we’re memorizing that month. Most importantly, the boys have bonded in deep and beautiful ways, and their adoration for Chiara only grows.
I’m still trying to figure out the best way to mother an almost six year old. Scotter doesn’t engage the way he used to. He often skips our story time before naps, (a favorite time of mine to cuddle my boys). There is much less physical contact between us now, and I think that might be contributing to the emotional distance I feel from him too. Both Scotter and I like to be in charge, and lead out. That’s why we butt heads. He likes to do things his way. I like to do things my way. I feel justified because I’m the mother. I get frustrated when he won’t just listen and obey and he gets feisty when I direct his life too much. Scotter thrives on a situation where he can teach himself, and only get help if he asks for it. It can be frustrating as his teacher. I worry he isn’t learning enough. Then, the other day I started to list all the things Tom has taught himself: electricity, plumbing, coding, book making, car repair, etc. I see many similarities between the two and it gave me peace that if I provide a rich environment Scotter will do just fine. He’s inquisitive and determined when something captures his attention. The struggle is being willing to go along with his whimsy! (“Let’s build an entire city! We’ll use LEGOS, duplos, magna-tiles, blocks, the train tracks, the play mobile stuff. . . Let’s try to build a bridge from the TV to the couch!”)
We spent a week in Utah with my family after Christmas. It was a wonderful trip, and the boys were in cousin heaven! I was grateful for the chance to spend some one on one time with many of my nieces and nephews and siblings: building snap circuits with Keiton and Rhyse, painting with Brecklyn, playing water basketball with Landen, Bryce, and Talia; reading to Coleman and Brielle; playing cars with Miles, playing in the snow with Brielle and Sam. I was surprised by how jolly and affection Anders was. He went around giving everyone hugs, would crawl up on anyone’s lap, and clearly felt completely at ease. He’s that way at home, but I guess it surprised me by how completely he accepted that all these people who he rarely sees are “family”- to be loved and cherished. I hardly saw Scotter. He was all too happy to be in a constant state of play. I could hardly drag him away to eat! Scotter said over and over that the thing he wanted most for Christmas was to be with family. (And by family he meant extended family.) I’m SO grateful to my parents and Dantzel who drove us down. Not having to drive and help my children was such a blessing, and it was a treat to get to spend more time with them.