This past summer fried my nerves. Managing a business behind the scenes, part-time work on the side, full-time motherhood. It took a toll on me. We had a nanny, briefly. She was great (a former behavioral therapist, not by our choice but by luck...the kids were becoming so good at saying "please" and "thank you" with her around). It lasted two weeks until she found a new job. My sanity screamed for help and I think I grumped about for two or three days (but it felt like an eternity). I had gotten used to having a bit of childcare help and I took full advantage of that break. I now feel like I can relate to moms with school-age kids and the thought of summer break stresses them out to the point of getting hives.
From January 1st through the 18th, we saw only 6.5 days of school out of a possible 14 days due to winter weather (we received 8 inches of snow in about 16 hours a week from last Wednesday - and now it's 55 degrees and sunny. Go figure!).
And, so, with the holidays and traveling via airplane to Minnesota with two young kids and with never-ending school cancellations, the last month has seen me at my worst since having a newborn: anxiety, sleepless nights, and a sore jaw upon waking because I seem to grind my teeth while I sleep. Yep, the kids were really stir-crazy from being cooped up. We seriously needed some warm weather and sunshine, and we finally got some. Don't get me wrong, I love a good snow. It's beautiful on the trees, the world appears to be at peace, silenced beneath a fluffy, crystalline white blanket, and the boys will go out and play whether it's 30 degrees or 3 degrees.
It's a novelty to them and I don't wish to deprive them of these rare experiences. But, dangit, school needed to get back in session before I lost what little I had left of my mind. Now, we've seen sickness that has kept them out of school for the past week. Not the nasty flu that's been going around, but something similar, I think. They both sounded like 80-year-old smokers coughing up a lung and Jacob would have explosive snot when he sneezed, shooting outward at distances exceeding 6 inches. Nobody told me kids would be this gross. My yuck tolerance increases daily.
Owen and Jacob are both enjoying school, finally. It was a real struggle initially. Because of their ages they were placed in separate classes. Up until this point they knew no other friends but each other. And, to be separated, with new people, AND away from Mom...uff da. Let me say, we saw lots of tearful drop-offs with Jacob. For the first two months, he boycotted art time. He wouldn't sit in circle time.
He just sat as close to brother as he could without leaving the classroom (can you see Owen in the opposite classroom? Oh, that sad face is just pitiful!). It was a sorry state of affairs, but Owen is Jacob's best friend and someone he has always idolized. I'm happy to say that he is now thriving, no longer sites in the doorway watching his brother, and loves to show off his art projects to everyone.
Having two children and witnessing their interactions, I am learning a lot about about the sibling hierarchy. I grew up the oldest child of four, so what was once my world to rule alone became my world to rule with underlings I could boss around. I thought it was great; I'm sure my siblings thought much differently. I was the one my parents learned how to parent with (aka the "guinea pig"). But, my clothes were new, my food didn't have to be shared, and bath time was a lonely experience...until January 1996 rolled around and my little sister was born.
When one is the second child, it seems as though you always get sloppy seconds, the hand-me-downs, the broken toys (which you didn't know were broken and played with them anyways), the ratty clothes, the cold and shallow part of the tub. But, you didn't know any better. You made the best of it and enjoyed it all. You happily take older brother's half eaten apple because you want to eat an apple like him. You hold it like he does, you fuss (like he does) one week that the apple is wet and needs to be dried off and then the next week you want it still wet so you can dry it off yourself.
I have observed these types of interactions between Owen and Jacob, and each little moment melts my heart and fries my nerves, but I take a mental picture to go in the scrapbook in my head and cherish it. The other day, Owen decided he was thirsty, so, of course, Jacob was thirsty, too. Jacob grabbed his water cup, stood shoulder to shoulder with Owen, watched him out of the corner of his eye, and obediently sipped when Owen sipped. Setting their cups down in close proximity, they proceeded to the couch to watch Minions. Owen yelled to me that Jacob needed to move over to his square on the couch because he "needs some space." We responded that his brother loves him very much and just wants to be close to him. Jacob adores Owen and we don't want to squash that love, but dangit boy, give Owen his space or else the angry tiger might come out and fight!
I guess my point of this whole brain dump is that I'm grateful for those people around me who help and understand a mother's life. Grandma's are amazing and our school teachers are incredible; both are severely underpaid and undervalued. If you didn't give your child's teacher a gift at the start of the year or for the holidays, be sure you do that (May 8th is National Teacher Appreciation Day). They do all of us a great service and I don't know what I would do without that extra little help in my life. Schedule