Summer with 3 kids at home

Kids–Wine and mojitos have gotten me through the summer so far. With the first baby, I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for over 2 years, counting pregnancy and breastfeeding time. With the second, I had a few sips here and there. And with this third child, I have to admit that I’m drinking a couple of glasses a week.

     Last year at this time I had a newborn, attached to me at all times, and a carousel of family in and out of the house. Staying over for 1 to 8 hours with me. Bringing food, cousins and entertainment to keep me sane. It’s all a blur, really, and I can’t believe that now I have a wobbling, walking 1 year-old with four teeth and a spirited temperament, along with a 7 year-old daughter who acts like a hormonal teenager and a 4 year-old son who is still working out his intense feelings about having a brother.
     You might remember a post I wrote about parenting without yelling, and doing an Orange Rhino Challenge (where you say “orange rhino” to your kids every time you feel you are about to lose it and yell at them. This hopefully reminds you to NOT yell, pause, and come to a creative solution.) Well, that challenge has been lost this summer.
    Coming back from getting yogurt and groceries with the kids yesterday, we were about to get out of the car, already at home, and my 4 year-old starts screaming: “See, now I have yogurt all over me! It’s your fault!” What?!!? I said. How is it my fault?? I asked him to stop yelling. But he was crying and super upset. Instead of PAUSING, understanding, hugging him and getting over it, I started yelling too. “So everything is my fault, right? Get out of the car. I’m sick of it! Always my fault! Whether I do something or not! Let’s gooooooo!”
    And there you have it. After MONTHS of not yelling, I lost it. All this pent up tension had nowhere to go but to ooze all over my poor boy. We went inside, and I sent them both to their room while my one year-old looked at me in shock. He could feel my anger. Yes, I am an exemplary parent.
     So what triggered me that much? My little guy knows how to press my buttons better than anyone. Because that is what I always tell myself, that it’s MY FAULT. Whatever happens. I must be at fault because my baby won’t sleep. I’m doing something wrong because my daughter gets so mad. It’s definitely my fault that dinner is now burnt because I tried to bathe the kids and cook at the same time. Sometimes, mothering makes me feel worthless. And unless I work out my feelings, insecurities and issues, I will continue to dump on them and yell at them unnecessarily.
     I haven’t put them in any camps until this week. It’s been crazy, really. June has come and gone and we’ve had our share of viruses, cat-fights, time-outs, and brother-sister competition for my attention. But we HAVE managed to find special moments, like when we go on a morning walk and feel connected and rejuvenated. Or when we make cupcakes and get the frosting all over ourselves, or stay in our PJ’s until the afternoon on rainy days, or put on music and dance in the kitchen, or turn on the sprinkler and giggle in the backyard. My kids are intense, but also tender and understanding and patient.
     I have never put them in camps during the summer for one reason or another, but this week, they went to their Montessori “summer school” program. It’s been an adjustment. Wednesday morning at drop off, my daughter started crying, saying she wasn’t getting out of the car. So then my son said if she wasn’t getting out, HE wasn’t either. Then he started to cry and then the baby started to cry!!! And then I wanted to cry. I just wanted to get out of the car AND RUN. Run free, as if I were on a deserted beach, sun on my face, running fearlessly towards a margarita. Hair loose, no spit up on me, no sore boobs and shoulders from nursing a 25-pound toddler. But then I snapped back to my reality. Three screaming kids. I pulled away from the drop-off line and into the parking lot. I got the baby out of the car seat and handed kleenex to the other two. We sat in silence for a minute. And by God’s grace I remained calm. I told them what our options were. That I understood their nerves, and not wanting to go to a new place with new people. But that I believed in them and knew they would have fun if they just went in. (And I also bribed them a little, with promises of pool time and toys). We talked for about 20 minutes and they were convinced. We went in to the school. Problem solved. Now ready for the next challenge.

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