Thursday, August 17, 2017

Scrambles and Scribbles ~ Herd Control

When I babysat for a living years ago I experienced what I called "Black Thursdays" This was the morning where I had two extra kiddos bookended with an odd and very socially awkward mother who dropped them off and picked them up. She always handed me a check with typed in details and payment to literally the second. I don't know what would have happened if she arrived a minute early. I guess she'd sit in the car. As weird as she was, she was not the reason for the title of the day. The mornings were intense because all six of the children I watched were in the 18 months to four age range. Four (or 3.92 ) hours of food and preparation, then clean up, then diapers and potty time, then short play times with redirection of fighting children, cueing up the hungry whining cycle...and rinse and repeat. And then again. And again. Breakfast, snack, lunch. Oh, the glorious nap time Thursday afternoons. Where I did all the dishes, and made the snacks. Ha. 

Sometimes I experience a tiny taste of Black Thursdays when I'm around the whole expanse of my grand babies. Even though they aren't all in that range of age, some of our interactions feel very much like that cycle of craziness. 

When we first got the three kiddos they were ages 3, 5, and 7 I was a zero to three grandma and everything felt new and different. What in the world do you do with a three year old? Then their baby sister joined the club.  Then Connor came along. As a new grandma I was overwhelmed by the sheer energy and whirl of activity that came with kids when I had been out of the kid business for so long. Just the three alone for a few hours would make me sleep like a baby when bedtime rolled around. With Connor and the baby sister the whole change in baby world from when I'd had babies was intense. Car seats and monitors, strollers and sleeping dos and don'ts have all changed pretty impressively. 

Last Saturday, after a week away at the lake with our daughter and five of her kids, we went back to school shopping. Three stores. A three year old, who had an accident and gets hangry almost hourly, a one year old who weighs as much as the three year old and who does not like to be held, but can not walk, an eight month old who gets crazy wiggles and the ten year old and eight year old who need to try on school clothes, and the six year old who is having attitude issues came along for the ride.  The only one missing was the two year old she has most weekends. 

At each stop the van exploded like a clown car. The sound volume in the van was maxed out. My daughter has grown extra arms since beginning the foster care journey. And I am able to hold two babies and shush a sassy six year old while waiting for her to grab a second cart. And now I can actually stay up past 10 p.m. on evenings I've spent massive amounts of time with her flock/hoard/cluster/herd. Maybe it's like riding a bike. This kid wrangling thing. Black Thursdays helped prepare me to be a grandma of many. And maybe interacting with odd folks. Life skillz. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Seasons

I think I just realized that I have fully entered a new season in my life.

I don't know if it's weirder that I was just able to identify it or that I'm there. I think I've been considering this a temporary place. Of course it's temporary. They all are. Seasons, like people and circumstances are changing constantly. And this particular season is one I'm not hoping to move along any faster than it already is.

You all know we went from zero to three grandkids overnight three years ago. Our number has now swelled to four forevers, one on the way to forever and five in varying stages of semi-permanency in our fold.

I would not trade the sweet, sticky kisses or the silly laugh-a-thons for the world. Every minute I spend with any combination of my brood is a precious blessing. Exhausting. Sometimes frustrating even, but a blessing.

I had entered a point in my life four or five years ago where I was able to plan my life on my terms. That is a joke, of course. We've all heard the phrase, "Life is what happens when you make other plans." And life did. A mere three years ago I was taking music lessons. I had coffee dates with friends, I was able to have conversations with my mom and friends on a regular basis. I was blogging almost daily and creating recipes like a beast. I had hours of quietness in my day. Hours.

Somewhere in that quiet we said yes to two beagles. And our daughters and son said yes to fostering children, or growing one the old fashioned way. My kids' journeys are their own. And I get to watch from the sidelines. But two of our kids are single parents and circumstances and realities have put my sidelines kind of front row. Maybe even standing in the middle of the playing field on a regular basis.

On Saturday I actually had nothing until 5:00p.m. This is kind of a very unusual thing. And it was glorious. I cleaned in silence for part of the day. My Roomba was the only sound except for occasional stereo barking at a loud truck or car heading up the street. I paid some bills. Threw some stuff away, threw a couple things in a giveaway box. I was able to actually do some plotting on the book I'm supposed to be writing. Michelle is free to write after the 1st of the year after two years of constant contract fulfillment. I'm the foundation and stick builder of this second book. And it's August. Just a few months from now we need to be putting in pipes and wires, hanging drywall, and making that sucker turn-key. So Saturday was fabulous and needed.

At 5:00p.m. I took my almost two-year-old to my other mama bear's house and we loaded all those kids into her mini-bus aka 12 passenger van and we headed to church. Crying, whining, laughing, talking, music, a voice from the back shouting that all the seats were filled. We moved into the church like a hoard of locusts. The noise at least, no one was eating vegetation. That I'm aware of. When I am with them I constantly count heads. Sometimes forgetting that number six or seven is in my arms. It's a small church so we take up a full row even with seat sharing. I felt the eyes on us, there is no graceful way to enter a small sanctuary quietly with eight children, three of whom are under two.

Sunday was a small family reunion requiring food, both mamas and seven kiddos joined us. And Monday was a softball game for the ten-year-old. Wednesday, after another long day at work where I trained in yet another clinic, I babysat five while their mom and the oldest were available to answer questions for a foster care training class. Two hours. Two bottles, dinner for the eaters, two diapers, a three-year-old needing potty help, keeping beagles from begging/snatching food from waving fingers, crying, turf battles, a riding toy that kept hurting the rider tantrum, the "mine" whines, a lost tooth celebration. (Praise the Lord I didn't throw away the plastic bag I found when prepping the meal because said baggie that appeared to be empty actually contained the tooth!!!! Mercy!

I began this post on Monday. I've written on and off in my early mornings every day this week. My early mornings start around 5:00 a.m. Sometimes, like twice this week, I spent a little interaction time saying goodbye to my house dwelling daughter and boy-boy. Feed and potty the dogs, maybe get some marketing for Out of the Frying Pan done, get sucked into Buzzfeed or Facebook for a spell, do any financial transactions that are required. And realize it's time to hop into the shower and then get on with my day.

That all said. I'm so grateful for every one of these people and things. So grateful. But the tradeoff is the freedom I did have to chill and chat holding full conversations at a time, or write blog posts, or play music. I know I can still carve out times, like Saturday, where I can do this. Or that I could have some shifting and moving of life. Like the "Writing Thursdays" where I head to my daughter's house at the kiddos bedtime to help make that happen smoothly so that we can keep each other accountable to focus on writing and write for an hour or two. (This has happened successfully a few times.)

In the meantime, I will be content to get something posted in Dregs sometimes. And if that doesn't happen, I know that Blogger will wait for me. And I'll hope you will, too. If nothing else, there will be more activity someday. Because life and seasons are constantly changing. I do know, based on the rate of growth and change in the children in the past year, that one day, too soon, they won't be carrying plastic bags containing a tiny tooth to Grandma's so excited to show her that it finally fell out! Instead I might get a mumbled awkward teenager greeting and maybe a hug of thanks after handing over a gift at birthday or holiday gatherings. The unconditional love shown by a grandparent needs to stretch and twist and remain strong through those times when peers or media are more important than family in kids' lives.

While it is right here in front of me. Ripe for the picking and enjoying, I am embracing all that is grandma right now, because this is going to end up being my sweetest season.