It’s been a rough autumn for us over here at the Mello household. Things have been, well, not so mellow.
This weekend I am banished to the bedroom to rest my voice and body since I am on my second round of laryngitis and the coughing has been doing something really painful to my insides. Even the simple act of breathing is a chore (lungs are fine though). My last round of sickness lasted for almost six weeks and so we are being extra careful this time that I don’t over-do things so I can get better faster. (I’m not going to lie though – this staying in bed all day has been the best vacation I have had in years.) I’m so lucky that the Mister has a good job and can take time off work to help me get better, especially since we don’t really have anyone else to help us out. Having three children aged 5 and under is crazy. Having three children aged 5 and under when you have no voice and are sick for weeks on end is enough to almost break a person.
So, what can I say? Fionnuala is 3 and driving us nuts. We pulled her out of preschool and out of dance because she is going through a phase where she can not stand being away from Mummy for five minutes and really, why would I want to stress her out? Just because Mummy needs to be away from her does not mean that she is ready which is a hard lesson to learn and accept. She just turned 3 when school started and is still so young and having a Mummy who has been so sick must put an unknown fear into the hearts of children that they can’t fully understand. I think my illness has been hardest on her and so she lashes out at me.
Every day I learn so much by being a parent. I just wish many of these lessons didn’t come with daily tantrums.
On the other hand, Fionnuala got over her fear of Santa:
Be afraid Santa. Be very afraid.
Heh. I miss my happy, easy-going Fionnuala but I have to hope she is still in there somewhere.
So between my illness and Fionnuala’s crazy we have scaled back on a lot of things. My main responsibility this autumn has been to take Moira to school and back. That means I have to shuffle all three kids to school and back which is a lot of work in the winter (it’s -16oC right now). I fear this is going to be a long hard winter but at the end of it Fionnuala should be out of this stage, Oonagh will be weaned and walking and Moira will be just that much more mature. I try not to wish my days away but some days it is hard. (I realize it isn’t technically winter yet but I live in Alberta which means winter starts in October.)
The good news is that my goal of having all of my Christmas shopping done before the first of December was achieved and I’m really looking forward to Christmas. I will admit that I am a little nervous about Oonagh vs The Christmas Tree but it should make for some good photos if nothing else.
In an effort to make conversation tell me what you are most looking forward to about Christmas this year? I’ll tell you mine in my next post – which I promise won’t take me months to write.
Fionnuala had her first day of pre-school today. It was a short staggered entry day with only half the class including their parents. I guess it went as well as could be expected. I know Fionnuala is excited about school and about her teacher (Moira was in this class two years ago) but there is a lot going on with this kid right now and it’s hard to tell what is going through her head. She refused to smile or look at me when I took the above photo.
It was a hard day for Fionnuala over all. She was in a fighting mood this morning which resulted in her wanting to just sit in her room by herself both before and after school. She also had a tantrum after school because she forgot to say goodbye to her teacher and she was screaming at me to turn the car around so we could go back to school and then I almost had to carry her out of Moira’s school (kicking and screaming) because she was refusing to go home. So yeah, one of those days.
However, when she was talking to her daddy tonight about school she was a lot more positive and I’m hoping things will improve. Hopefully she won’t freak out next week when she has to stay at school with out me. That will really be the first day of school – today was just a little test.
She isn’t shy though. I’m pretty sure she talked more in the short class she had today than Moira did for her entire year in junior pre-school. The teacher agreed.
So unlike two years ago when I took Moira to her first day of pre-school and she cried and cried. And then cried the next time. And then there was the time with the bout of hysteria where the teacher suggested we try again the next week and it wasn’t until two months later that Moira was okay with me leaving her there. I think she barely said two words to her teacher the entire year.
Today was all smiles and excitement and outfit changes (because the first one got dirty – the problem with having to wait until the afternoon to go to school). Sure she gave me lots of hugs and kisses and hung on to me like a monkey a little bit – but she does that when I announce I’m going to the basement to do laundry so it isn’t anything unusual. I’m so excited for this adventure she is starting and it is a great feeling to know that she is too. She has already informed me that she talked to her teacher today. First day! She’s so grown up now.
In other news; guess who got Oonagh to herself for a while:
Moira starts Kindergarten on Wednesday – or 40 hours and 16 minutes from now, depending on how you look at it. A good friend – and self-professed helicopter parent – asked me if I was nervous/worried/sad about Moira starting school this Fall. The answer is a big resounding no. In fact, the answer is really a F***k No! but that just sounds rude so I keep that to myself.
What I am looking forward to is getting into a new schedule. I’m looking forward to getting out and walking more (to and from schools) and being down to one child for 2 whole hours twice a week while Moira is in Kindergarten and Fionnuala is in Preschool. I’m looking forward to Fionnuala making friends of her own and hopefully getting over the hump of whatever developmental leap she is torturing us with right now. Mostly I’m excited to see what this new year will bring for all of us.
And yes, I know they are so young and I am supposed to enjoy Every Single Moment but how can I enjoy all these moments when they are around all the time? I need them to go away and stop distracting me from my enjoyment of them. I’m sure a least one of other mom is sitting there nodding her head.
Ask Oonagh if she is looking forward to school starting this Fall?
I met the Mister in 1991. That was 22 years ago. He was 14 and I was 15.
Here we are in 1992 on a choir tour in Scotland (15/16):
He likes to point out that I am standing as far away from him as is possible while remaining in arm space. I don’t think that’s true but we definitely weren’t dating at the time. I really love this photo since it just says so much about us. I’m wearing the choir-issued fanny pack that we were required to wear on the tour. I hated it but wore it anyway. The Mister hated it and refused to wear it. It never occurred to me not to wear it. He was just smart and defiant like that while I still followed the rules.
The Mister likes to tell people it took him 10 years to convince me to go out with him. When we were on that tour he tried to kiss me and I freaked out because I had a boyfriend and then I was torn because I didn’t want to lose my good friend either. It never occurred to me that he would still want to date me after all those years of being friends. It never occurred to me to actually date him.
Until the day it did.
We started dating in 2002 and got married on this day in 2004. Nine years of marriage. The Mister says it is our perfect square year. I think it’s going to be a good year.
Here we are in 2012 at a children’s Christmas party. I was feeling hugely pregnant with Oonagh at the time and sick (as I was for the rest of the month).
I’m pretty sure that in those 10 years the Mister spent wanting to date me he never envisioned the end result (thus far) would be a house full of little girls and a wife who might be certifiably crazy some days. This is what I mean when I say be careful what you wish for.
Of course, I never expected a house full of little girls either nor did I expect this cute & smart friend who had a little crush on me would become the love of my life and my very best friend. I find it physically painful to be apart from him for longer than two days and am so glad his wish came true because when his came true so did mine and the whole world changed for the better.
A good friend of our family who used to live in Calgary sent me an e-mail today asking how we are doing. This wasn’t the first e-mail I have received from concerned friends so I thought I would post my response here.
Thank you so much for your concern. My little family is doing more than okay (and so is my brother and his wife). It is hard to believe that only 6 km away from us the city is under water and yet to look out my window you would never know that anything is going on. Our little 1955 bungalow sits on top of a hill and has never had any flood damage so we knew we would be safe. My day today was surprisingly normal: Moira and Fionnuala played with a friend while Oonagh lay in a puddle of drool and practiced her rolling over. I worked on making cashew smoked tofu burgers and raw brownies. (Ah, the life of a stay-at-home quasi-hippie mom.)
All of my interaction with the flood have either been online looking at photos or talking to friends on the phone to make sure that the ones who did need to evacuate had a safe place to stay. Not surprisingly none of them wanted to stay at a place with three children five-and-under and only a crappy futon to sleep on.
This isn’t to say that the flood hasn’t effected us. We were supposed to leave for Kelowna, B.C. yesterday for a family vacation but the highways are washed out in many places. The Mister has cancelled his vacation this week because the power to downtown is out and will be for a couple more days. That means the I.T. infrastructure is down for his company (and every other oil & gas company in the vicinity too I expect) and he will be needed to bring it back online safely. But these are all small beans compared to what other people in the city are going through and when we compare our flood to Katrina, well, there isn’t much of a comparison. We are a rich city full of resources. Calgary has a well established emergency response infrastructure in place – we need to with all the oil and gas wells in the area.
We also have a wonderful mayor in Naheed Nenshi. I’ve been getting a lot of my information off of his Twitter feed and at one point the citizens of our city were demanding he go home to have a nap.
It must be heartbreaking to have ones home wrecked but there is so much help out there and so many places for people to go if they need the help that hope has never been lost. I’ve been asking around about what I can do to help and so far the best answer is to stay home and out of the way so the first responders can do their jobs – so that is what we have been doing. I have seen photos of one of my old apartments buildings being well underwater on the first floor and I am having a hard time tearing myself away from Twitter and Facebook for constant updates.
At this point we just wait and see what happens and bask in the feeling of gratefulness that permeates our home. In a way I’m glad we hadn’t left earlier for our vacation. Even though there isn’t much I can do right now it still feels good to be here just in case my city needs me.
Even our date nights aren’t just to two of us these days.
What I should be doing for Father’s Day is reading through and editing the Mister’s thesis but I couldn’t resist taking a moment to tell my small corner of the world how much this man means to me. And so his Vacuum Brill Gravitational Waves in Spherical Polar Coordinates will have to wait upon my red pen for a couple more minutes.
Not only has he blessed me with three beautiful daughters he totally understands me when I want nothing to do with them. He works so hard at both his demanding day job and on his thesis in the evenings as well as agreeing to do tutoring out of the goodness of his heart. On top of all that he makes sure he is home every day at 5 p.m. as often as possible so he can get some time in with his daughters before they go to bed – and to prevent me from losing my mind.
I think this year for Father’s Day the Mister would have liked nothing more than to not be a Dad for a day but the best I could do was get the girls to be as quiet as possible for a while and he managed to sleep in until 8:30 a.m. I’m the one who got to have a nap this afternoon.
It often feels as though we have gone from zero to 100 mph in the last five years as far as children go. Where once he only had one woman to deal with the Mister is now mired in a house of estrogen. Little girls screech. A lot. Even Oonagh is finding her voice and goes back and forth between sounding like a Skeksis (her happy sound) or a Banshee (the stuff of nightmares) depending on her mood.
Someday these girls are going to realize something I have known for a long time – that they are damn lucky to have this man for a daddy. By that time they will probably have all have left home and I will get to have him all to myself again. I’m already looking forward to that day.
(Something they will probably never realize – their dad is really freaking hot. Trust me, I’ve seen the other dads at the playground. Their dad wins.)
Today has been a good day.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing and other than the usual morning altercations with the girls (they like to push all the limits before 9 a.m. it seems) things have been running smoothly. The Mister is home because he was parent helper at preschool this morning. This afternoon Moira and I went to her new school to meet the Kindergarten teacher. I’ve been for two long walks. Fionnuala asked for a nap(!). The stars aligned and I’m sure we will find out that peace was declared in the Middle East come morning.
Right now the baby is sleeping and the other two are watching Scooby Doo (they love that show). It feels nice to have a piece of quiet to sit and write.
Yesterday it was like the black cloud of gloom had descended upon me. I hadn’t slept well in days and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. I would have given the girls to anyone walking by who wanted to take them (hyperbole is my friend). I was crying over the fact that I didn’t have family close by who cared enough to help out and feeling rather sorry and pitiful the whole day. Even though I kept trying to talk myself out of my mood, “I am the parent here! I can take control of this situation and bring us out of this funk!” Nothing worked.
It was a long, ugly day.
Of course in the end I did make it through the day. I always do. Being with the girls all day can be isolating and some days I rely a little too heavily on the Mister to come home and pull me out of my funk – or at least take over so I can lay down or hide away for 20 minutes. Some days the cacophony of little girl voices – be it fighting or playing – makes me want to rip my hair out and some days it sounds like sweet music (okay, not the fighting bits).
I think being a Mum is making me psychotic.
So many great comments on my post about motherhood I thought I would keep talking about it – what else do I have to talk about these days.
I would like to state for the record that I don’t actually feel guilty about not wanting to do crafts with my children and that I really do believe it isn’t my job to be their friend and I’m not bothered by that either. Yes, I sometimes feel kind of bad for them but not in a way that it is going to change anything. Kerry said children are fascinating but boring and I think that is a very apt description of them. I am fascinated by my children but am often bored by doing child-centered things.
Melinda said spending all day, every day, with her children would deplete her and I think that is another very apt description. I do find spending all day with these children depleting. However, I still think staying home with them is the best decision for us right now – even if I am sometimes counting down the days until they are all in school.
Of course the morning after I complained about doing crafts this happened:
They made necklaces from the graveyard of broken necklaces and they had so much fun they made bracelets again the next morning and I had to do very little except set them up which is my kind of craft. As Andreae said, I’m a facilitator: set them up and let them loose with as minimal supervision as you can manage. I think I probably base my child rearing philosophy a little too much on what Ma Wilder would have done even though there are absolutely no similarities to our lives.
The Mister and I read a National Geographic article years ago that talked about a mother in Africa who had to walk for a couple hours to get fresh(ish) water and then walk a couple hours home to her hut. She did this twice a day and left the four-year old at home to look after his younger siblings. When I think about this article it tends to put things in perspective. Sometimes I find myself saying things like, “If my not making playdough is the worse thing that is going to happen to you today you are having a really good day!” to my five-year old. I will admit that isn’t my best moment in parenting but it doesn’t make the statement any less true.
And since I have been thinking on it; here, in no particular order is how some of my views on motherhood have changed in the last five years:
- I used to think it was cruel to subject children so young to all-day Kindergarten. What 5-year old child needs to be away from their parent all day? This year I was lamenting the fact that the Alberta Government’s promise to start instating all-day Kindergarten in our province hasn’t come through yet. There are a couple of schools in the city that have it but none in my neighbourhood – and believe me, I checked. I have my fingers crossed that it will happen before Fionnuala is ready.
- I used to think that if I had children in daycare and had a baby at home I wouldn’t keep them in daycare. I’m home! I thought to myself. Why would I pay for someone else to look after them? Now I know why: it is a break for both Mum and children.
- We still don’t have a TV but we do have movies. As much as I would rather my children not be watching something every day if the battle is between Mummy losing her shit VS an hour watching 101 Dalmatians for the 101st time I think we know what I am going to pick. Fionnuala stopped napping before she turned 2 and is a mess during the afternoon most days. Movies save us all a lot of grief. I’m not sure what Ma Wilder’s stance on movies would be but if we ever meet I will be sure to ask her. I suspect she would have an unhealthy addiction to HGTV if given the chance.
For those in the trenches: in what ways have your views on parenting changed?
Like all things Pym, I learned about this from Kerry over at Pickle Me This. Kerry could very well be having a baby right at this moment and yet she is still much more of a committed blogger than I am these days. (That last sentence has nothing to do with Pym and everything to do with my awe of Kerry.)
Anyway, the Barbara Pym reading week is in honour of Pym’s centenary and is hosted by Thomas at My Porch and Amanda at Fig and Thistle. I’m already late to the game but obviously anyone can play along if I’m naive enough to think that I could read a novel within the next week or so. These days all of my reading is done on my phone and in the dark while either nursing and/or settling a baby. Any other attempts to have a book in my hand are looked at with scorn by the other girls who seem to take it as a personal affront when I try to do anything for myself (they are learning though, I’ve even been showering by myself lately).
In a fit of optimism on Saturday we walked over to the nearest used books store and I picked up Some Tame Gazelle and Quartet in August. I will be happy with myself if I can read the first couple chapters of Quartet in August this week – I managed to get a couple of pages in this morning but it seems as though my book has been stolen and is now in hiding somewhere. I won’t find it before going to bed tonight which is going to happen in the next 10 minutes even though it isn’t quite 8 p.m. yet. Maybe tomorrow I will have more reading luck.
However, if you are interested do go and check out all that is going on for the Barbara Pym Reading Week because if you are a fan it is a lot of fun and if you are not – well, maybe it is time you were.