Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Thaw

One of the problems I face raising so many children, is getting into a parental rut; like not varying the menu or not thinking to expose my kids to a type of art work because for me, I’ve done this six times before. The tone I use with the three pre-schoolers cannot apply to older, nor can the ironic humor used with teens be salted in conversations with pre-teens. If you only eat Nutella, you forget other chocolates like semi-sweet have a beauty that’s worth appreciating. Drinking only one type of wine or hearing only one kind of song will ultimately become dull. Parenting the same way with everyone is a guaranteed recipe for failure. As of late, the sheer numbers had resulted in my engaging in mostly triage style parenting, fixing what needed help the most and trying to just muddle through the rest.

Playing ball, the kids began a rhyming game and I had to marvel at how quickly my older children molded their behavior to keep the younger ones engaged. I conceded, I had been an all work and no fun parent as of late. Fortunately, my daughters and sons keep providing me with their fresh perspectives. Without their everyday examples, I’m not sure how one could rediscover experiencing toddlerhood the eighth time around and continue to recognize that a day spent scribble scrabbling through an entire ream of paper is much better time spent than even a few minutes agonizing over a difficult Sudoku.

The other day, my daughter put out the paper and crayons as soon as breakfast was over and had the toddlers make periscopes so they could play pirates. The project lasted all of 20 minutes but the joy was contagious and soon I had swabs running about the house saying “ARRR” and “AVAST” with lots of giggles, whereas boring old me would have cleaned the table and handed out the crayons and paper without the additional prompt.

How long had I been sleeping? These effortless acts that for some reason had for me, taken effort, were all around me. The children needed me to have new eyes too. A mental wall came down, making me wonder when I first put the darn thing up and why?

Suddenly, there were all sorts of possibilities. I could already foresee, reading the lyrics to rock band, our first grader would getting additional reading time and mentally planned a band session for the next day. That week, times tables were an issue for my baseball player, so we’re worked on drilling them as we played catch. “Pop fly Pop Quiz. Seven times Seven.” He had to catch, throw and give the answer. I told him it was just as hard for me without the math. After watching me drop a few routine flies, he agreed.

The calendar may say only March 8th, but the first signs of a real spring are here. For me, parenting is and will always be like listening to opera, watching a movie with subtitles, visiting a museum or hearing baseball on the radio. The experience itself is more pleasurable than the idea of the experience, and I need to not be put off by the concepts which often sound dryer and duller than the reality. The thaw of my hibernating fun parent has begun.

Yesterday was beautiful so we went outside. One daughter had too much homework, but in keeping with the new policy to squeeze in a little fun, she dribbled the basketball under the table as she worked on her geometry. The old me started to mess with it, after all, she was in the house, it was loud, what if the toddlers try to do this…visions of messes threatened to create six more weeks of winter. Then I remembered myself in a desk. Even in graduate school, my leg was always bouncing, I never sat still. Even in tests, I’d be almost twitching to get out of my seat and my notebooks were illustrated with dragons on every page whenever a lecture was taking place.

I made myself smile and ushered the younger ones outside to bike a game of red light green light, but before leaving, I drew a dragon on her worksheet. "Keep up the good work." I added.
“Cool Mom.” and she kept on dribbling. “Look, with my left hand too."

P.S. There are lots of lessons I’m taking in from this most recent child’s brief life, not the least of which is, whatever I’m currently worrying or obsessing about, it isn’t important. Life raising nine children suddenly seems a lot less difficult than I previously thought it was, and thus I am grateful to this little one for bringing with her, the gift of perspective.


MightyMom said...

aaahhh, the creative tide came back in!!

gotta love when that happens!

I see a lot of myself in this post...well, 1/3 of it anyways ;-)

I remember the day the fog broke, after each pregnancy. I believe it was around 5 months post pregnancy. I do believe that fog is hormone induced.

and yes, savor each day! perspective is a fabulous gift.

JimmyV said...

great story.

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