One moment I feel that catch in my throat - something so tender I can't find words. The next I'm wanting to lock all my kids in their rooms so I can scream as Ioud as I can in the kitchen.
I am higher than high one second, lower than dirt the next. This might be the one thing mothers and drug addicts have in common. A polarized existence.
Extremes tend to heighten for me when a tax deadline is looming. Doug is burning the midnight oil right now, and when he's not around I have no one to spill to, vent to, share the funnies with, or offload some of the chaos to, and I get a little... crazy.
Does this bi-polar sensation lessen as your kids grow older? Do you find more consistency, more middle ground? Or shall I just chalk these last few days up as hormonal?
Yesterday I was mad as a hornet over a grape fiasco. Writing about it now, I think, Really? It was just grapes. But we have these delicious concord grapes growing in our backyard - so many I don't know what to do with them. (Do you live nearby? Come over and fill a bucket.)
But I didn't want to waste them.
So I decided to make raisins with my mother's dehydrator.
This will be fun, I thought. Everyone can pick grapes, pluck them from the stem, and place them on a tray. That should be easy enough.
Well, the kids fought over the ladder, elbowed for their turn, pushed each other around, and shook the ladder while I tiptoed precariously at the top of it.
So I took our two bowls of grapes and redirected traffic to the front lawn, where I gave every child a tray and a cluster of grapes. Everything was going as planned for a few minutes.
Then our plane took a nose-dive. The boys began stepping on the trays, flipping them over. I tried to play zone defense but they outnumbered me. Sami opted for squashing the grapes between her toes. (Wine press anyone?) And while Ali was walking with her tray towards the house to tell me the girls had strewn grass all over the remaining trays, she tripped. Her grapes shot like musket balls all over the front porch. Total bust.
I was frustrated. I sent two girls to time-out, carried two kicking boys inside, and left Ali crying on the porch. I spent the next forty-five minutes cleaning up grape innerds. This put us an hour behind for dinner. There was some spitting, hitting, and other unbecoming behavior while trying to ready the kids for bed.
My Mom arrived at 9 PM so I could go grocery shopping, but Eliza was still finishing her homework. So by the time I left the house it was 9:30. And at 10:45, I realized I'd locked my keys in the car.
Nothing is quite so irritating as staring at your keys through a locked car window, while your ice cream sandwiches melt in the shopping cart.
Today Spencer fell off the dryer and hit is head. Not because he climbed onto the dryer, but because I put him there (I know. I do have a rationale for this one.) But he fell right after Sami handed me a princess crown and said, "Here Mom. You can be the laundry queen!"
Yeah! Lucky me! I thought. And so appropriate, as I folded and sorted, and folded and sorted.
Some laundry queen I turned out to be. I couldn't even keep my people safe while doing it.
But after looking through a few photos tonight, I realized the highs far outnumber the lows.
When Sami came out of time-out, following the grape massacre, she was rather contrite. And she handed me this picture she had drawn.
"It's a picture of you, Mom" she said. "I even drew your green eyes." She told me she was sorry, then she helped me salvage some of the grapes. I felt my spirit soften and I held her on my lap.
Last Friday, Ali and Sami started preschool. They have the same teachers Eliza did, and I am happy about it.
I never wrote about their Joy School graduation. But here they are. Caps and tassels generously made by Doug because my to-do list had grown too long that day.
One afternoon after playing in the wading pool, the kids gathered around my lawn chair and I read them stories. Gordy refused to take off Ali's goggles. Wrapped in a navy towel, he sat there shivering, and I couldn't help but giggle every time I looked down at him.
My Mom gave me these garden gloves. They are absolutely divine when it comes to digging in the dirt.
So Saturday, while I was kneeling on the grass, working through the last flower bed, I heard Gordy walk up behind me.
"Hi Mama!" he said. Then his small arm slid around my neck and he tilted his head towards mine. With his curls tickling my ear, and our two heads touching he said, "I gi-you hug Mamma." And he stood there while I hugged him back. Then he touched my arm and held onto me for a few more seconds. It was love. Purely given. And it floated me along the rest of the day.
Finding Spencer in the clothes hamper - a common occurrence
Or snuggled into Eliza's arms. She likes to be the first to wake the boys from their naps.
Saturday morning, before Doug left for work, I caught these photos of him dancing with Ali. I wish they were better, but I didn't have time to fiddle with the camera. They were dancing to this song, and Doug was twirling Ali in a circle. I couldn't look away - couldn't ignore the sudden emotion I felt as I heard her dizzy laugh, saw her glowing smile. She needs him, more than most of my children.
The energy between the two was palpable as she kicked her head back and let Doug blow on her face. He was all hers for those few moments and I could have watched them a long, long time.
Then today, I came home from an errand to find this gift on my porch. It was tied with tulle and wrapped in this darling heart paper that Sami promptly made into an envelope for a friend.
It was from a woman I've been called to care for. Her name is Mary, and I am her visiting teacher.
But today, I was the one looked after. Mary's gift came on the down-swing of all those lows I mentioned, and her kind words, her expression of love, swung me quickly to the other side.
How did she know I wanted to start a gratitude journal? How did she know I need this new approach for examining my life? How did she know the date is set, I have a plan, and I will share it with you when I start?
She didn't. But her note made me feel like someone did.
Highs and lows. They are bound together. A somewhat unlikely companionship, but without each other, they would lose their meaning.
And so would I.