This little guy loved having his grandpa in town for the week. He followed him around, insisted they sat next to each other to eat and read the same book over and over again. He skipped his nap most days because what grandpa was doing was far more exciting. And it finally caught up with him – he was tuckered out. He doesn’t fall asleep easily – and never does he fall asleep outside of his bed.
But tonight he couldn’t keep his eyes open. I asked him to grab his pajamas while I fed Briggs and put him to bed. I came out to find him snuggled up with Hallie’s blanket on the couch. He was screaming at me just an hour earlier because I took a bite of his bread. And now in a dim room with some light from the kitchen spilling over, he was quiet and still and I was filled with gratitude for this spunky kid.
Motherhood is exhausting and yet pulls through with amazingly redemptive moments!
Briggs had a hard time falling asleep. I knew he wasn’t feel well, so I entered his room, scooped him out of his crib and cradled him in the corner chair in his room. We both worked to get comfortable in the chair. He laid on my chest as I slouched to rest my head on the back of the chair.
Briggs turned his head from the left side, to the right and back to the left over and over again. His wiggles slowed – he was awake, but still. I had one hand holding the back of his head and the other hand rubbing his back slowly.
He suddenly seemed really long; his head was on my shoulders and his feet were digging into my legs. He didn’t curl up the way he once had. Instead his legs dangled. As I was mentally lamenting his size, my back rubbing hand had stopped and my hand on his head started to massage.
I gently pulled the curls on the back of his head. His hair is getting long. I want to cut it, but part of me only wants to cut the top so I can keep his baby curls. The minute I cut his hair, he really won’t look like a baby – then again as I snuggled up to him, he didn’t feel like a baby. Not anymore. So maybe a haircut to match wouldn’t be so bad.
Hunter is notoriously known as the teaser in the family. If I hear someone scream in our home, my bet is placed that Hunter had something to do with it. I’m right more often than not. He kids, he jokes, he teases…relentlessly. He has some siblings who handle it better than others, but there’s often tears involved. I tend to get frustrated with his never ending tactics – although sometimes he gets me laughing. When he jumps out of my shower to scare me, I laugh. When he places a rat in the cereal bowl, I laugh. Anytime it’s not at someone else’s expense, I usually laugh.
The rest of the time, I’m on his case to be kind and loving. And just when I think I’m losing the battle with him, I see his playful nature come out in all the best ways. I was weeding outside and I heard Briggs belly laugh. I turn around to find Hunter playing with him. Hunter was running across the yard to Briggs and then wrestling him. He did this over and over again. He was getting the response he wanted from Briggs so he just kept at it.
Nikon d750 | 24-120 Lens | Shutter 1/320 | F 4.0 | ISO 100
I witnessed Hunter’s pure adoration for his little brother. All joking and teasing aside – just his loving playful nature and Briggs wouldn’t leave his side. Two buddies playing in the grass on a Saturday afternoon. I want to bottle their giggles.
Earlier this week I found myself at the kids school at lunch time for a birthday lunch with Hunter. And since I was going to all the effort to go grab food and go to the school, I figured I would stick around the lunchroom a little longer so I could enjoy lunch with Bennett and Hallie as well.
Here are a couple observations from Monday’s lunch experience.
The lunch room is loud. When I first walked in, it was just two kindergarten classes and grew progressively louder the more kids that entered the space. I didn’t realize just how loud it was until I stepped out for a minute and walking back in hurt my ears. I don’t think it was any louder than most cafeterias but I’d forgotten how chaotic that space is. And I love that there is not a teacher in sight in that cafeteria – that means they’re getting a much deserved break! Instead, the cafeteria was being manned by a few classroom aids and some lunchroom workers and the saint of a man who was going behind all the kids picking up trash and cleaning up their messes.
There is so much food wasted. This is just my observation, but those that brought their lunch seemed to eat the majority – those that purchased food ate a fraction. Like one bite out of the hamburger and didn’t even touch their fruit. So much food was thrown away. I kept reminding kids that they didn’t have much time left and they better eat – they looked at me like I had horns. My persuasion did nothing, they threw away the majority. I wanted to take a picture of every plate and send it to their parents! I’ll become the crazy volunteer lunch mom – policing the eating behaviors of kids. I was told by the aid in Bennett’s class that he eats his lunch the same way every day. He takes crackers and pepperoni and he stacks them up – and takes a bite out of the whole stack. I told the aid, “That’s not good – I’m sure he makes a huge mess every time he does that.” She agreed and she came up with the solution that he could eat over his lunch box so all the crumbs are contained.
There were too many little kids eating alone. I was drawn to the kids that were sitting by themselves at the end of a bench and I couldn’t help but wonder why they were sitting alone. Do they not have friends? Do they have anxiety in chaotic environments? Do they really enjoy reading and would rather read than talk? I asked Hunter about a girl one table over. “Does she sit alone every day?” He shrugged unsure as to her eating routines. Then I realized, kids often don’t notice everything going on around them. They need to be trained and retrained to notice things such as a kid eating alone. They need to create buddy benches in cafeterias just like they’ve done for recess. If you don’t have someone to eat with, sit at this table which signals other kids you need someone to eat with. Did I mention I need to be the volunteer lunch mom?!
Kids enjoy their parents visiting for lunch. I keep thinking Hallie is going to grow out of it, but she still enjoys it and her friends love on her little brothers that tag along. Hunter’s eyes lit up when he caught my eye across the cafeteria and he rushed over, and his friends were right behind him. And Bennett…oh Bennett – everything is still so new to him and this was the first time he’d seen me at lunch time and he was so excited. He was a little crazy, he was so excited. He kept leaning over and hugging me and telling me he loves lunch. He was pointing out all his friends and all the funny things they’ve ever said. He wanted to share everything with me.
It was serious effort to get out the door with the two littles, grab food and sit through three lunches (with time to spare in between) but it was worth it. And going to school always teaches me something, even when I’m not the student.
I’m always seeking help and advice from those I love and trust on this journey we call motherhood. Sometimes its out of growth and other times out of desperation. And every time I’m left with the same realization: There’s no way to be a perfect mother. Have you met a perfect mother? I haven’t. There’s plenty of women I admire as mothers, but they’re not perfect. Yet when I look at myself as a mother, I tend to hold myself to a higher standard. I expect more of myself. Which of course just lends itself to disappointment.
Instead of perfection, I’m working on being a good mother – even a great mother! A mother who prayerful and deliberately makes decisions for and with my children. I often remind my children that I’m doing my best and that they didn’t come with a single set of instructions. Even sippy cups come with instructions! But I love them more than anyone else and that makes me a good mother. Usually they agree with me – although there has been an occasional, “You are not a good mother to me” yelled as they ran up the stairs. It’s usually in those moments that I’m reminded I’m doing something right!