Halloween Grinch

I just don’t understand the adults of the world who dress up and run their errands in full Halloween regalia. It’s bad enough to have to get my morning cup of decaf from a grouchy witch without having to endure staring at the back of Frankenstein while in line.

I have never liked this holiday, and participate in it with great reluctance. You will never catch me donning a witch’s hat to hand out candy, and our porch light goes out promptly at 6:30 pm. I do not want my children awoken by ghouls and goblins who should really be doing homework or studying for the SATs.

Call me a Halloween grinch, but I will be the happiest person alive when the clock strikes 12 and we can resume our lives sans pumpkins, witches, and ghosts.

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Call the Guinness Book

I believe a new world record was set today in the brevity of grandparent visit category. The kiddos were in rare form, spurred on by the aftermath of daylight saving and the discovery of the Halloween candy’s hiding place. City Grandma and Grandpa arrived at 4:05 and by 4:45 the first noises were made about exiting our humble abode had been made. By 5:15, the only thing reminding us of the visit were the remains of cheese and crackers on the kitchen table and a house that looked remarkably clean for a Sunday afternoon.

I have to think it must be hard for City Grandma and Grandpa. City Grandma never had children of her own and married into the family during the teen rebellion years. City Grandpa, through circumstances including the death of his first wife and the nature of his job, was probably absent more than present when M and his sister were little. Even when you have faced the preschool years head on and survived, it must be shocking to be plunged back into it with no context or gradual warm up. If you have never really experienced it, it must seem like a war zone. Or a psychiatric ward, depending in your mindset.

M and I probably don’t do as good a job as we should of making sure his parents spend enough time with the kids. Shlepping them into the city is a huge stress for me between the drive, the traffic, and the many “look but don’t touch” objects littering their professionally decorated apartment. Having them out here is equally stressful as I have always felt like I need to prove that I am an adequate wife for their beloved son. I know I am not all they would have liked in a daughter-in-law, and I know they were strongly opposed to our move to the burbs (and this burb in particular), which was pretty much dictated by me.

I am also afraid that they are somewhat intimidated by my family, which on my Dad’s side is large and clannish, and on my mom’s is, well, omnipresent and overpowering. Tonight as City Grandma and Grandpa were leaving, instead of asking when he was going to see them again C asked when we were going to see Nana and the Maine house. I felt terrible, and tried to brush it off, but it was clear that City Grandma was hurt. When you ask him who his cousins are, he can only name Baby C (my sister’s daughter), who he has seen twice in his life. When prompted he can come up with Cousins L and N (M’s sister’s kids), but given how frequently he sees them they should be the first names on his lips.

I’m unclear on what my role is here. Although I don’t want my children to feel alienated from any one part of their family, I also don’t want to force a relationship that isn’t desired. While my in-laws clearly feel connected to C and A in some way, they don’t seem to have an interest in being hands-on grandparents. I’ve always been careful not to try to force them to interact with the kids, and have in fact gone out of my way to make sure that when we do visit that they don’t feel the need to take on responsibilities that they don’t want. But when they don’t offer up help are they demonstrating a lack of interest or a fear of overstepping bounds? I’m not sure. And I’m not sure how to determine that without hurting feelings.

As C and A get older, they will undoubtedly find their own way of interacting with each set of grandparents. Until then I’ll continue to host my in-laws as frequently as they would like to visit, and encourage C and A to draw them pictures and call them to announce important events or serenade them with a rendition of happy birthday. I know that despite differences in parenting and grandparenting approaches, everyone wants what is best for my kids.

The seeds have already been sown….

Today my in-laws are making a surprise and unprecedented 2nd trip to the burbs in less than a month. After a rushed morning trying to get everyone to church on time, I raced home with kids in tow and began a frantic dash around the house to make it look, well, in-law ready. As I was picking up the playroom C started pulling on my leg in an insistent way, and I finally took a moment to snap “What?”

C:” I need you to fix my tent and tunnel.”

Mommy:”I can’t right now, I have to put away all of the books and art supplies.”

C: “But Mommy, my tent and tunnel have to look their best when Grandma and Grandpa arrive. Please?”

I apologize to both C and his future therapist. I have apparently done a lousy job of trying to not pass on the perfectionism thing to yet another generation….

It’s the small things that make one happy

Although no one but me will care, I am now the proud owner of a slightly used but totally awesome bread machine for much less than a new lousy one would have cost. I love eBay.

A big shout out…

to ko-karma over at Whatever, Mom for introducing me to the best thing to hit my freezer since my mother cooked up a storm after A was born. A blissful morning was spent sipping coffee and putting together meals that someone else prepped and cleaned up after. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

I thank you, M thanks you, and my children might even thank you, although I doubt it.

Mommy Time

As I was trying to get C into his room for quiet time this afternoon he called out from his room: “But I need mommy time!” EXCUSE ME? This was a statement worth pursuing.

Mommy: “You need WHAT?”

C: “Mommy time.”

Mommy: “What do you mean by that?”

C: “You know. Mommy time.”

Mommy: “Why don’t you explain it to me, just to be sure I understand.”

C: (big sigh) “I’ve had a lot of playdates and soccer and school and stuff and I just need some mommy time.”

Mommy: “Well, that’s what you’re getting. Time alone in your room to play what you want how you want it.”

C: (big eye roll) “No silly. Mommy time means I get to hang out with you!”

Apparently Mommy and C have VERY different ideas concerning the definition of “mommy time.”

Revisiting a past life

This is the time of year that my old life tends to resurface. Lovely Boss at the consulting firm I did a brief stint at right before C was born starts ramping up projects and needs to staff them. New, Confused Grad Student assigned to my old projects at U of X finally finds my notes and tracks me down. Mentor, having been reminded of my existence by New, Confused Grad Student, gets antsy and places a call to see when I’m going to be done with this mothering gig and return to the fold. This year, a surprise late entry into the “make her feel like a waste of a life” contest was Psychotic Director who drove me from academia to the private sector.

Every year I sit at the kitchen table with M and rehash whether I made the right decision leaving it all behind. I am fearful that it will be impossible to return to that life after taking such a long break. I debate the usefulness of auditing a course or two at the not-so local university just to keep a hand in things, but fear I’ll get sucked right back in when I’m not yet ready. I dig up my old research to see if I still remember what used to consume my life (and sometimes to help out New, Confused Grad Student if she makes a particularly desperate plea).

The first year post-C I actually took a stab at doing some projects for Lovely Boss and Mentor from home, and realized I was incapable of doing it part-time. I couldn’t easily walk away when it was time for the babysitter to leave or when someone woke up early and wanted milk and hugs. Perhaps due to the fog of pregnancy, I made a second attempt right before A was born and again ended up incredibly frustrated. This year no one made much of an effort to woo me back, which sent me into a full-fledged panic attack. Up until now I think I could have walked back into any of my old positions and picked up close to where I left off. Since the birth of A I haven’t kept up well with the current research and news, and it shows. I am getting to the point of no return.

After dropping off C and A this morning, I raced home and pulled up the course catalog and job listings from the not-so-local university and tried to figure out how I could make it work. The answer was that I couldn’t, not without impacting my children’s lives more than I was willing to do. Leading me right back to where I always end up after one of these episodes, wiping tushies and serving up grilled cheese for two adorable children. This year though, that inner voice that always told me it was a temporary situation has been silent. Although I know there is an end to the tushie wiping, and someday the grilled cheese will be provided by a lunch lady, it is starting to dawn on me that I may not be returning to the life I used to have. And I’m not sure what to do about that except morn.

Daylight Saving

This weekend used to be one of my favorite ones. The clocks went back an hour and I could wake up, realize that it was much earlier than my internal clock thought, and happily snuggle back into bed. Unfortunately, I now live in fear of the end of Daylight Saving all year long. This is the weekend I LOSE at least an hour of sleep.

You see, no one tells the toddlers and preschoolers of the world that their internal clocks are wrong. And if you try to tell them that six is really five, they’ll laugh at you. I may have a glimmer of hope with C this year as he now knows how to read a clock, but A? Forget it. Her internal clock is already so hopelessly out of synch with the rest of ours I figure we won’t recover from this weekend for months. In fact, probably not until it’s time to turn the clocks the other way.

We’ve been trying to shift her schedule for the past several weeks with little success. In her ideal world she would go to bed at 6:30 pm and wake up at 5 am (which is soon to be 4 am). I just can’t. get. up. then. I can’t. Our attempts have led to nothing but an over-tired toddler and mommy. She’ll now go down happily at 7:30, but still wakes at 5. Not only have we lost an hour during the night, her already too short nap has dwindle to almost non-existent. Thankfully she’s a cheerful camper in the early morning hours, allowing me to wake up and get my bearings, but by 10 am or so the melt begins. I can only imagine that this weekend’s shift will lead to, probably many tears from me, several choice words from M, and a steadfast refusal to ignore her internal clock from A.

I can only hope that eventually her need for sleep will cause her to decide to change her waking hour but I’m very unclear on how long that will take. My guess is longer than I would like. In the meantime, I am seriously thinking about reintroducing caffeine into my life.

The Aftermath

I think we all needed today. I really do. I’m not a big “go go go” person, and while we are by no means an over-programmed family when compared to the rest of town, I still feel like we have too much. Between preschool, soccer and swimming, we have to be out of the house every day for SOMETHING. C loves soccer, so I would hate to give that up. He has to learn to swim as the in-laws are serious sailors and until he can tread water for hours on end I will be a nervous wreak everytime he heads out with them. Preschool is what it is, at this point I wish I had opted for the two day a week class, but hindsight is 20/20.

C was thrilled beyond belief to be home all day. Every ten minutes he asked: “We really get to stay home ALL DAY?” A was a bit more perplexed by the situation, and finally took to carrying around my keys and purse when it became clear that her standing at the door shouting “Go, go” wasn’t actually getting us anywhere. While I admit that an entire day of refereeing the sibling nonsense took its toll on me (Calgon, take me away), this was the first day in I don’t know how long that I haven’t been plagued by a heart palpitation. The cats, on the other hand, will be cheering as we rush out of here at 8:55 tomorrow morning.

And the verdict is

At 9:35 am we are out of our PJ’s. A messy art project led to the quick plunge of all sleepwear into a washing machine full of oxyclean. Much fun was had by everyone but mommy, however, which I suppose makes it all worth it. We are now moving on to watching the construction going on next door…

Gee I hope the paints really are non-toxic…you should have seen A’s mouth.