This morning, in the amount of time it took to crumble a pound of hamburger into the pot for tonight's chili, Blake and Miles discovered the drawer filled with sugar and flour.
In less than the five minutes my back was turned, they had each emptied several scoops of flour and sugar onto the floor.
Yesterday I left them finishing their lunches while I ran to pick up the kids from school. In the ten minutes between when I left and Tony came upstairs to check on them, they had completely destroyed the kitchen. We had chicken nuggets and fries scattered across the entire counter. Worse, though, was the sprite they had dumped all over the floor and were walking through, spreading the stickiness from corner to corner of the kitchen. Unfortunately, Tony had clean up duty on his birthday.
They are busy. Oh.So.Busy. They don't intentionally try to make messes. I know they are just curious, and creative and playful. They don't understand how frustrating it gets to never have a clean house for more than five minutes. They are blissfully unaware at the constant mess that surrounds them.
And today I am grateful for those little messes. Grateful for toys underfoot, dirty little faces, fingerprints and sticky spaces. Because it means they are here. They are alive and healthy and busy making messes as they learn about their world. When I think of how often I pined and prayed for these little babies, it would feel ungrateful to begrudge the little incoveniences they cause. How I love my little boys, messes and all.
Finally finished my year end post on Miles. You can read it here.
I have one written on Blake as well. Just need to find the time to edit and post it.
I'm sad that the craziness of my life has caused my blog to be put on the back burner. I don't imagine anyone is reading this anymore, but I miss having a regular record of our life, even if it's only in short blog entries.
Here's hoping things settle down once the kids start school in two weeks.
This afternoon, I found you at the kitchen counter, intently playing with Play Doh. Playing so intently, in fact, that you had wet your pants. You turned to me before I had a chance to notice the accident and sweetly inquired:
"Mom, are you nice today? Are you?"
It gave me pause. It humbled me. So many times over the past year I have raised my voice to you in anger or frustration or sheer exhaustion. It saddened me that you, so newly potty trained, expected that short temper from me, rather than the patient, loving mother I aspire to be.
Little Man. You have had quite a year. So much growing and changing in the year from two to three. And it hasn't been an easy year....for either one of us.
In the weeks before your second birthday, I became increasingly alarmed at your lack of speech. So much so that I had Jordan School District come out to assess you. Although you could sign easily over 50 words, you rarely voiced your needs. Through the assessment we discovered that you were in the 90th percantile in all categories except for speech and for that you were less that 5th percentile. Weekly speech therapy and intensive parent interaction was strongly recommended.
But the timing wasn't right. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and exhausted. But more importantly, my dad, your grandpa Bill, was in the final weeks of life and I just couldn't muster enough strength or momma energy to put one more thing on my plate, and so I held off.
In the six weeks between Grandpa's funeral and your 2nd birthday, when I worried the grief might never lift, when I found myself more often in tears, than not; a miracle occurred. The words just started flowing from your mouth. Like my tears, once the words began, you couldn't stop them. And boy did you have a lot to say. Your sentences became stories and my loneliness was abated by sweet conversations with you.
You, my boy, made my pregnancy fly by. I reveled in one on one time with you knowing all too soon another babe would occupy my time and attention. The last eight weeks of my pregnancy were very difficult and I was as sick as I have ever been. Kidney stones, kidney infections, pneumonia, strep throat, toxemia. We were confined to the house and mostly on bed rest. So many afternoons you would drag your books and cars and toys to my bed and contentedly play right by my side. At some point each day, you would snuggle your body as close as you could to my ever growing belly and we would nap in the comfort of each other.
But then your brother Blake was born.
It would be an understatement to say his birth was difficult for you. Our little master of the house had been completely knocked off his throne. The tantrums began innocently enough when the doorbell would ring with visitors to see the new baby. Even from the deepest sleep you would wake with a scream when the doorbell rang. You wanted to be the one to answer the door. At.All.Costs. I remember well our kind next door neighbor coming one night to bring us dinner. I made the mistake of answering the door before you, which began the downward spiral of your emotions. Our neighbor went so far as going outside and ringing the bell again just so you could answer the door. But you were too far gone. You were inconsolable and my recent C-section prevented me from lifting you in my arms to hold you and soothe away your sadness. Soon I was crying right along with you.
I felt so inadequate as your mother. It seemed a constant battle trying to find a way to please you. If I was feeding the baby, you wanted your own space on my lap. If I poured you apple juice, you insisted on orange juice. And so it went. Control of opening the door was only the first of many things you wanted to own. From which clothes you wore, to buckling your own car seat, to which shoes went on which foot (and typically you wore them incorrectly). You made it clear that you didn't much care for me or the new little guy garnering all the attention in our home.
Yet, your dad and I were determined to provide consistent discipline and boundaries for you even though your will seemed so much stronger than our own. Many times after issuing several warnings to you, in exasperation we would tell you "if you do that again, you are going to your room". And you know what? You simply turned and went to your room, slamming the door behind you. No one was going to tell you what to do, but you would certainly do it on your own terms.
Just before your third birthday, I took you in for a check up, hoping the pediatrician could give me some advice on handling your fierce independent spirit. While I loved your tenacity, I simply wanted to direct it into more productive avenues than tantrums and control. His advice to me? Give up some of my need for control, and hopefully you would follow suit. Tough to do...especially because I was desperate to potty train you. And you my little man, you were completely determined NOT to potty train, simply because it was something that I wanted.
So I let you wear your shoes on the wrong feet. You often wore your football jersey four days in a row without washing, and you frequently ate ice cream for breakfast. But you seemed a little bit happier. I was certainly learning to pick my battles, but I was still determined to get you into big boy underwear.
Just days before your third birthday, we went to Palm Desert for Thanksgiving. I put you in underwear and let you pee outside to your hearts content. I was happy for dry pants. You were happy with the freedom to run around naked. Your grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins were cheering you on at every turn. It was a win win for both of us. Within just a few weeks you were completely potty trained and I, well I was stunned. I couldn't believe you so willingly and so simply relinquished your control.
And with that accomplishment came a confidence and a happiness in you that had been missing since your brother was born. It was another miracle. My little Miles was back. Almost overnight, the tantrums stopped, the power plays were over. I dare say you began to enjoy my company again. And finally, finally, you adored your baby Blake and delighted in being the big brother.
I look at you now and I can hardly believe you are the same little boy. I've been a mom long enough to know that you will surely go through another difficult stage. But I can honestly say, this has by far been my most difficult year of parenting. There were days here and there where I really didn't like you. But I never stopped loving you. In fact I loved you with a fierceness I have never known. I hated seeing you struggle. I felt so responsible for disrupting your beautiful little life with a new brother. But I learned so very much this year, probably at your expense. I'm a better mother for weathering this storm with you. I'm so grateful for the knowledge and patience I gained this year. But most importantly I am completely confident in knowing that when the going gets tough, love never fails. Remind me of that when you're a teenager, will you?
The day after Christmas, we received a phone call from the director of The Dance Club, wondering if you were available to come in for choreography over the Christmas break.
Soon after the texts started rolling in..."Can Rach play after choreography?", "Would Rachel like to sleepover after dance on Tuesday?". And so on. At first you bemoaned the long day at the studio over the sacred two week break. But as I was pulling your hair into a ponytail Tuesday morning and packing you up for a series of play dates with dance friends, you admitted that you were really looking forward to a day of dance.
Dance, moreso this year than in years past, has become your life. It is not only something that you love to do, but has become a steady source of confidence and a constructive outlet for your endless energy. Often times, after a hard day of school, you will express your desire to just go and "dance it off". I am so grateful that you have this in your life...not only for the confidence it gives you, but also for the social opportunities, and for an incredibly effective physical outlet for your stress.
Earlier this year, you were invited to join a team of dancers aged 12-13. This invitation came a month after placement auditions, and was totally unexpected. You were comfortable on your existing team and were in the enviable place of team leader, dancing front and center, the go to girl. Moving up to Company meant not only dancing with older girls, but also committing to 12-16 hours, four days per week. It was an incredible opportunity, but one that came with a great deal of worry and trepidation for me as your mother. I was concerned about the time away from home, how you would fit in socially, how you would maintain your school work and frankly, I worried about your ability to keep up. I knew in my heart you would be going from top of the heap, to bottom of the barrel, and I worried how it would effect your confidence.
What I didn't expect was the backlash we received from other parents and dancers when you were chosen to move up over them. It was a very difficult few weeks after the change was made. I felt like every time you walked into that studio, you had a target on your back. There was a lot of gossip and back biting and down right tantrums from dance moms upset that a younger, less experienced dancer was moving to Company ahead of their own daughter. Every day I worried that we had made the right decision. Every day I prayed for you as I wiped tears away from my eyes each time I dropped you off. You seemed so young, so innocent and vulnerable, and I felt as if I were sending you into the lion's den.
But you, my sweet girl, never looked back. "Mom", you would say "I didn't ask to be moved up...they asked ME. Obviously they think I can do this".
And you were right. I have never seen such poise and grace from such a young child. I was, and continue to be, humbled by your quiet confidence. While I grew angry and felt the need to defend you and retaliate with clever comebacks and putdowns, you simply went to work. Steady, determined, tenacious; you were all that and more. Not for one moment did you let the naysayers bring you down. You held your head high and just danced.
In October, you attended your first convention and competition with your new team. I was amazed at the growth I witnessed. Not only in your dancing, but in the maturity you possessed among the older girls. How they adore you. Awards fell on Halloween, which made it difficult for me attend. I was stunned to hear you'd won a scholarship which is a very prestigious honor. Yet, when I finally spoke with you on the phone to offer up my congratulations, you downplayed it, not wanting to hurt the feelings of the other girls in the car. Again you taught me the best way to behave.
The only downside to your dancing is the void I feel in your absence. I miss you. I miss your laughter and kindness in our home. I miss the twinkle in your bright blue eyes as you twirl around the kitchen telling me the details of your day. I miss your constant, unselfish help with the little boys. I miss you wanting to learn how to cook every night as I make dinner. I miss watching TV in my bed with you. I miss our girl time, and girls only errands, which may or may not include frozen yogurt or pedicures. Mostly I just miss the light and love that is my Rachel.
Some may say you are missing out on your childhood, but when I look at you and all that you have gained, I have to disagree. Not only are you growing more talented in your dance, but you possess a rare confidence that enables you to be kind, and loving, and refined. Your uncommon grace has touched me and you have taught me. The only person you compete against is yourself, always striving to become better. My wish for you my dear daughter, is that you can continue to have this gift your entire life. So much time is wasted when we worry about what others are doing or saying. How lucky you are, how brilliant you are, to figure this out at such a tender age.
And when you come home late at night, with callouses and torn skin upon your toes. I will be here waiting and watching you with love and admiration.
Today I dropped you and a friend off at Snowbird for a day of skiing. You weren't too sure of your way around the mountain, and you were skiing on loaner skis as you've quickly outgrown your skis and boots and we just haven't found the time to get you new gear. I watched you suit up, remembering very well the many days your dad had to buckle up your boots for you.
With twenty dollars and a cell phone in your pocket, you were off to conquer the mountain, carving turns with your buddy.
As I drove off, I couldn't help but wonder how we arrived at this place. I am amazed at your independence, at your confidence and bright spirit. You are quickly growing from boy to man and though I hate to watch it happen, hate to have you taller than me, I am so very proud of the man you are becoming.
This has been a year of firsts for you....first girlfriend, first heartbreak..albeit shortlived, first kiss (I kissed a girl and I liked it..sung Katy Perry style over breakfast), first time shaving, first summer cutting the grass, first solo sleepover summer camp...quickly followed by first solo airplane trip. First year of junior high, first voice changing squeak, first out of state lacrosse tournament and first time you've really ever given dad and I cause to worry. I suppose it's all part of being a teenager.
A few of my favorite memories of you this year....
Sitting by you at the Draper Temple Dedication and watching the Spirit touch you. I could almost feel your budding testimony well up inside of your chest and make your heart pound. Witnessing sweet tears pool in your eyes as you recognized the feelings of the Spirit and the truthfulness of blessings found in the house of the Lord.
Watching you take responsibility for breaking the window at the Presbyterian church while playing wall ball. Pastor Lee told you: "On the outside, you look like just a boy...but you act just like a man". You developed a nice friendship with Pastor Lee over the summer. He welcomed you each time you came to play and you enjoyed learning about Hockey and old cars from him. I was so proud of you for having integrity, for owning up to your mistakes and making the effort to set things right.
Having you ask me "Do you know what today is?" on the fifteenth of each month. I love that you remember and miss him as much as I do. It touches me when you share a memory with me or point out something that he would like or that reminds you of him. I love that you never complain about getting up at six in the morning on Federal Holidays to place flags in our neighborhood...you honor him by doing that, you know how he loved the American Flag and all it represents.
Watching you become a leader on both your lacrosse and football teams. I was particularly proud of you in football this fall. Almost all of your friends were put on the same team together, while you were placed on a team where you didn't know anyone. I worried about your ability to fit in. I worried about your friends leaving you out. I think you were a bit worried too, but by the second week of practice, you had formed new bonds, created new friendships that still exist. I see the same thing as you play lacrosse for Team Utah. I admire your ability to make and keep friends from different schools, different backgrounds, different religions. This ability to accept and appreciate others, to enthuse them to good works, will serve you well your entire life.
There are so many things that I love about you, so many moments which have touched my heart this year. It seems silly to try to wrap it up in one single blog post. But I don't want to forget you at this age. I don't want to forget what a great big brother you are, particularly to your little brothers. How tender you are with them...and silly. I don't want to forget how you make me laugh every single day, how you are incredibly quick witted, yet kind in your humor. I appreciate that you don't make jokes at the expense of others. I don't want to forget how affectionate you are with your mom, how you give me strong hugs each morning and night, how you still say "love you mom" when I drop you off at school each morning...regardless of what your friends might think.
Dad and I laugh that you still get excited to go to the zoo, that your favorite christmas gift was your pet frogs and star wars legos. You are growing up my sweet son, but you are still just a boy at heart. How I love you.
Life is crazy. It never slows down. For one such as myself who doesn't thrive in the midst of chaos, I am still slowly adjusting to the new reality of four little people depending on me. I have not abandoned this blog. Journaling has become my new source of sanity...but the jumbled notes kept in the notebook in my purse rarely organize themselves into a sensible blog entry. I will do better...in the weeks and months ahead, I commit to do better. For I do want to remember this crazy time in my life and I want my children to remember that though often frazzled, usually on edge and tired and constantly in motion, I loved them and was utterly devoted to their well-being.
In the meantime, I am ever so grateful. Grateful for my beautiful life filled with an amazing spouse, talented, spirited children, a kind mother and sweet brothers. My incredible nieces and nephews, supportive friends who keep me in laughter. I am blessed. Today and Every day.
Yesterday as I was changing his diaper, Miles looked up at me, brown eyes shining. Dark, curly lashes blinking, framing his innocent face. Sometimes when I look deep into those beautiful eyes, my heart almost skips a beat. I am overcome in love for him. And then:
"Momma, I don't like you anymore".
It stung. Probably more than it should have given his temperment of late. We are deeply embedded in the terrible twos. Tantrums and tears have become the rule rather than the exception.
Then today as we were leaving Kindermusik:
"That was awesome, Momma."
"It was awesome Miles. You were awesome."
"I was a rock star Momma".
"I wuv you Momma.....so much."
And so it goes. I know his moods are dictated by his need for control. Apparently that includes the right to change his mind.