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!
They say you never know for sure that you’re done having kids, but chances are you know in your heart when you’re done and both Steve and I felt that with Briggs.
We also let the kids know that this baby with be the caboose to our family. Which is why Hallie more than anything was hoping for a sister, she knew it was her last chance. Her disappointment was visible and it was heartbreaking to see her having a hard time. Shortly after we found out another boy would be joining the family, I made it a goal to go through the bins of girls clothes we had stored in the attic. I had been hanging on to this clothing since Hallie was a baby. Never did it cross my mind, in my young and naive state, that Hallie would be my only daughter. Obviously, I wouldn’t have held on to that clothing for that long had I known otherwise.
I went through bin after bin of clothing and aside from a few special pieces, I donated the contents.
One afternoon, Hallie came into the laundry room and saw me drowning in pink clothing. She recognized some of it from pictures we have of her wearing the clothing. This is how our conversation went down:
Hallie: What are you doing?
Kara: Just going through this clothing so we can give it to someone who needs it.
Hallie: But what if we need it?
Kara: Oh honey, we’re not going to need any of this for a boy.
Hallie: But what if we have another baby?
Kara: I don’t think that’s going to happen, and even if we did – chances are it would be a boy too!
She looked around the room and left. I started talking to her as she walked away and I could tell she didn’t hear me. I went to find her and found the bathroom door shut. When she walked out a minute later, her eyes were red and swollen.
We talked. The fact that this baby was a boy cut her deep and she was having a hard time accepting the fact that she would never have a sister. I asked what would make her feel better. She asked if she could go through the clothing with me and keep some of the clothing to give to her daughter someday. It was a great idea.
I probably went through 7 or 8 bins of clothing before Briggs was born, knowing very well there was more in the attic I hadn’t touched.
This week, I completed the task. I went through the last 5 bins of girls clothing. And out of 5 bins – this is what I kept:
A couple dresses I made and a few other pieces that Hallie can remember wearing. There were moments of nostalgia as I touched each piece checking for stains before being donated. I could picture Hallie in almost every single item of clothing and we’ve got more than enough pictures as evidence. It was quite therapeutic for both of us to sift and sort and talk. And now we’re done.
We kept a little, we donated a lot. I now have stacks of empty pink bins and a lot more attic space that needs to be used!
I love seeing her at the piano. However, she doesn’t love being at the piano. She started lessons a few years back and loved them for the first year. As the songs grew harder, she didn’t like it nearly as much. I saw myself in her. I played piano as a kid and the older I got, the more I fought my time at the piano. Yet, as an adult I wish I was much better. I wish I had stuck with it. Isn’t that always the case?
Hallie stopped taking formal lessons (it’s hard to keep paying for something when you know your kid isn’t loving it) and I started going through the songs with her on my own. We’re moving at a much slower pace but we’re making progress. The hard part is she’s good. She’s got the rhythm and she picks up the songs quickly. I think that’s why it’s so hard to see her not love it. And she does enjoy it – once she has the song down. It’s the process of learning the song (which is a day or two!) that she doesn’t enjoy. But she’s being a good sport and still going through the books. I keep telling her years from now she’ll be sitting at the piano with her daughter who wants to quit and she’ll encourage her to keep going. With a smile on her face she replied, “I sure hope I don’t do this to my daughter!”