{reallife} the bathroom was soaked

I started working on this post a few days before Christmas. I didn't want to post it during the holiday season, of course, so there has been a bit of water under the bridge since these difficult days. Just so you know. :)

Picture the bathroom -- SOAKED with water, from the mirror to the walls to the toilet paper to the two inch puddle on the floor. And the so-over-this mommy who warned the little boys twice NOT to get water on the floor. Boys who have been banned from bath time before for this very same reason and were getting a special treat today, if they would only be careful.

It certainly makes me wonder how the gentle parenting experts would handle such a situation. "I see a wet floor." Yep. "I see boys who didn't listen." Sure thing. "Your natural consequence is that you are done having fun in the bath and you must get out now and soak up the water on the floor with your towels." You bet.

That's the calm, collected mom speaking. The other exasperated one is shrieking -- "I told you not to do this and you did it anyway!!!!"

I might have done some of both.

How does a parent come right out and say it was a terrible day and there were tears all around? Lately we've had our good share of cabin fever and grumpy, tired fits and Mr. Ungrateful and there-is-nothing-to-do... I gave two similar speeches in one day last week -- #1. There are starving children who would be happy to have all this and #2. Shall we give all your toys away to children who REALLY don't have anything to play with?

The question begs to be asked -- why can't I be the fun mom??? I'm so so tired of all the training and discipline that is necessary to come out with fine young 10 year olds. I know it'll be worth it, but BOY HOWDY it is exhausting in the meantime. We often go through hard phases, push through, figure out solutions and then find ourselves in an easier stretch for a few weeks. Then it hits again.

Lately our solutions have centered around making new habits to replace old ones and encouraging helpfulness and independence.

Morning Jobs List -- he can read well enough to be able to work down this list without too much nagging. The mornings when he finishes up and asks what his mama task is? GOLDEN.
Tooth Brushing Stars -- it worked so so well the first week...now the brushing is still going pretty well, but they're forgetting to color their stars.

Let Them Work it Out -- instead of coming crying to me with their "he did this" and "he won't let me do that", I've been encouraging them to work things out on their own. Peter needs to tell Ezra what he CAN do to offset all the can't do's. Ezra needs to ask before grabbing. They both need to be more careful during horseplay. I've seen progress. Eventually, their play will be much less volatile.

Less Food, More Recognizable, More Often -- meals have been stress.ful. lately. I've been making too many soups and casseroles and they prefer to see exactly what they're eating. In it's natural state. Applesauce. Bread. Oranges. Cheese and crackers. So we're simplifying things greatly in order to avoid the "I'm not going to eat that!" and "but I'm hungry {one hour after a meal}". Their stomachs are full much faster than mine, so we're eating four smaller meals each day, a bit closer together.

Art Projects -- with the lousy weather, it's been crucial that Peter find something interesting to occupy himself. He's been drawing and coloring a bit, but mostly designing very long and detailed mazes. They are intense! I need to get a picture of one. We colored and cut out this made by joel nativity scene a few days before Christmas. Cute, eh? It occupied them for a few minutes. ;)
I realized one evening while I was spilling all over to my husband, telling him how disappointed I was with myself -- it is VERY HARD for me to admit that I don't know what I'm doing. I especially don't like admitting that in front of the kids. 

His response? Wise. He said "would you want Peter or Ezra to appear faultless in front of their kids? and try to keep up that false image of perfection?" Wow. No.  I remember one day as a kid realizing that my parents weren't infallible, and being supremely disappointed. I thought to myself, "how were they going to raise me to be perfect?" and decided then and there that I'd have to do it myself.

Born perfectionist. Now recovering. It is important for our kids to see our weaknesses. To see how we fight for what's best. To see us communicate, compromise, share emotion, and Not. Be. Perfect.

I'm learning.

And one way I've found that really helps mommy seem like a real person is to share "mommy stories"
with them before bed. They LOVE it. I told them about the time I wet my pants because I was laughing too hard. I told them about my skinned knee from riding my bike to fast on gravel. Tonight's story was about slipping around in my boots on the frozen pond not to far from our house and playing stick-and-soda-pop-can hockey with my mom. Good times. Now they can picture me as the kid and grandma as the mom and all of a sudden I'm relatable and maybe even normal. 

More than just the one who says "lean over the table" and "pick up all those cars before you get the train tracks out". That is the hard part. Hopefully all that will turn them into responsible human beings but instead of the hard stuff, they will remember the games of Memory, the silly songs mama sings and the rollerblade trains we made together.