August 6, 2012

increasing the manageable

on saturday i took my kids out for the day and we had a pleasant outing. we spent a lot of time in the art supply store, bookstore, and toy store in what would probably be considered our favorite shopping center.

while in line at the art store, the lady in front of me said she was proud of how i'd handled some major sass coming from six year old pea. he was purposely being contrary and then asked for candy. i told him i really couldn't reward his behavior. when he started to get insistent i told him that approach would not work in his favor. matter of fact.

later, at the bookstore, i ran into an old friend who i met at the bookstore for the first time when i was pregnant with pea. she used to wear fairy wings in public and by opening herself up in such a small way she has helped many people in this area in the last seven or so years. it's no surprise then that we had one of our famous, serendipitous talks. she told me she sensed a new kind of confidence and peace about me { she is especially flattering } and that she liked how i was with my kids. because, you know, i was talking to someone else so they started acting like circus clowns. i assured her it wasn't always the case but that it was getting easier to be the pillar of patience and understanding.

yesterday i took them grocery shopping, attempting to replicate our experience the day before. we had to make three stops and the entire outing took about three times as long as it should have and the attempt was not successful.

our first stop was sam's. three year old sprout didn't want to sit in the stroller but didn't want to walk next to me, either. pea started behaving in an atypical (or newly typical?) fashion and started climbing up on the clothing displays and not just the shelves but the actual stacks of clothing. i had to repeat every request more than three times and on the way out he said he wouldn't enjoy the rest of the day because i didn't buy him a game for the wii. i was just like, wha? don't even, child.

the next stop was a natural grocery store. the kids were fed and our expectations for behavior had been set prior to entering the store. sprout was tired but refused to sit in the cart and i honestly thought we could get in and out, quickly and peacefully.

i was wrong. the place is pretty small and everyone that shops/works there is way mellow and even-tempered. my kids seemed like bulls in the china shop, they were talking too loudly, whining, touching all the things. i tried to maintain calm communication with them but the youngest was being a little wild and the middlest was bargaining with me, saying he'd behave if i bought him a treat. at one point i told my three year old he was embarrassing me. as the words were coming out of my mouth i was thinking 1. he doesn't even know what that means and 2. why am i blaming him for his behavior? he's three!

that trip ended up being kind of pointless. i bought four things and decided that we had to brave a larger grocery store with a better produce selection, chia seeds, and the homeopathic eye drops i so desperately needed. the next place had donuts, though. and saltwater taffy. and other crap i could bribe my kids with (i know bribing doesn't really work. it's no good. see above? it makes kids think they can bargain which makes moms a little nuts but then we get desperate and do shit like bribe).

so. i set expectations again. promise sweets. and go into a larger grocery store only to experience much of the same. this time sprout is confined to the stroller and i don't really care if people are looking at us. it's a bigger, louder, brighter grocery store and my kids' shuffles and complaints just sort of filter through the air of much the same.

until pea starts running through the liquor department while i'm in the health and beauty section looking for the elusive eye drops i so desperately need. damn it. let's go, i say. i'm sort of done.

later that night, when everyone was asleep, i had wanted to paint but instead spent the time stretching and releasing my painful hips/legs. i'd been feeling great for a couple of months and bam! this past week i am experiencing a level of pain that reminds me that i probably really don't ever want to be pregnant again. during the stretches, some wonderful things came to light and one of the most profound things was i don't like and haven't liked taking my kids "shopping" when i actually have things to accomplish, when my brain is required to compute things like what fits into our budget or even simpler things like not losing my shopping list, and that doesn't make me a bad mom. it makes me a smart mom. they don't like it, either. it's not fun, i don't give them time to lollygag and i don't want to hear them call me out when i stop at look at something not on my list because i'm not giving them the same luxury every 8 seconds.

i started thinking about the last couple of months. sprout has outgrown his daily, epic tantrums, we took a few mini road trips, and have experienced more things recently simply for the sake of experiencing them. it's actually been fun. i discovered that i like hanging out with my kids. even though the other day at the art, book, and toy stores, there were minor episodes of conflict or whatever, it was an overall a pleasant experience for everyone. i even let the boys play in the big power wheels on display, like my parents used to let me, and that's when it occurred to me...the difference is that day we had no agenda, no plans, no time-constraints. i didn't buy anything except lunch and some art supplies and they didn't whine or ask for anything { much } at the toy store.

yesterday, i was not relaxed. i wasn't even in sam's club for five minutes before i started to feel overwhelmed. i didn't express it in any way but i'm sure my kids picked up on my uneasy energy. i don't like crowds and of course everyone and their grandmother was at sam's yesterday. i tried to stay focused on the kids and the task at hand but i'm sure they were somewhat overloaded on the sensory stuff, too. then i expected them to switch gears and go from the sam's environment to one on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.

seems so obvious now. kids outings should equal more fun, less agenda.

i had been leaving the kids with awesome papa but still carried some child-shaped guilt with me every time i left, even if it just was to the grocery store. now i'm completely over myself and the silly notion that i must "do it all". it's not always beneficial, for any of us, for them to come with me. of course, it's not always possible for them to stay home, either, but now i see the difference in the manageable vs. the crazy making.

here's to increasing the manageable ;)

1 comment:

  1. I rarely take all of my kids on errands. One on one, it's not too bad, but overall if it's going to be boring for a child to be there, I'd prefer to go alone. It's too stressful otherwise.


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