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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Email of Frustration

I am feeling much more composed and in charge of my emotions than I was a few hours ago, so I'll share with you today's trivial tribulation, expressed in an email written to a friend this morning. It sounds trivial, I know. But it felt monumentally devastating at the time.

"I have to vent for a second, I'm glad you wrote. In a nutshell I had an emotional breakdown this morning, tears streaming and everything. I am so hesitant to do stuff with the twins because there are 2 of them, I can't control as much if it were just one 2 year old, so I never take them places alone without another adult who has free hands. This morning I decided to just suck it up, stop sheltering them, be brave, let them experience something new, and with my other two I always brought them to a local library preschool story hour, I figure just clapping, dancing, read a book or two, maybe some coloring.. I thought we could do it. I packed them up and we drove to the library.
I got there and we went straight into the "reading room", I could see a bunch of moms and their kids swinging and dancing to the music while the young woman led the group in a fun song. The boys went right in, all smiles, and started dancing around immediately.
I've never been there, I don't know the routine. So after the song is over, we all sit down to listen to a story--except my boys. They just keep jumping up and down, moving around the room. I don't know what to do. The other moms each have their child plopped on their lap. I grab the closest twin to me, and try to hold him on my lap for the story. He doesn't sit still for more than 15 seconds, and struggles and whines to get out of my grasp. I let him go and try to grab the other twin, to do the same. But the same thing happened. After 5 minutes she's done with the story, and she says lets stand up and play another song! So everyone gets up, starts dancing and singing, and the twins are happy again.
Needless to say, this repeated. Of course I was embarrassed, I'm very pregnant, and I have two little boys I can't really control. They're not making much noise, they're just not sitting down listening to the story. I'm clearly trying my best, I am not still, I am trying to grab one at a time and teach them to sit during her story (which is not very engaging, btw), but right as she was about to start the 3rd story she looks at me and says, 'if they can't settle down I'm going to have to ask that you leave".
I quickly am like, "ok sure!' with a smile, but I feel the tears coming. This girl is younger than me, probably no kids, most likely no twins, telling me to take my boys out. I was so embarrassed and hurt. I grabbed one boy, who immediately starts to wail, and take him out of the room to strap him in the stroller. I come back in for the second, my face as red as a tomato, and disappear. I don't even make it out of the library before I lose it, I start sobbing.
I'm compelled to write the library and complain about this woman, to write the local paper, how can you say 2-5 year olds are welcome when what you really mean is well-behaved, 2-5 year olds who have already mastered sitting down for a circle time or story are welcome? Or better, 2-5 year olds are welcome, except twins, unless you have two adults to accompany them?
I couldn't decide if I was more angry or hurt. This is exactly why I don't take them anywhere, exactly why they don't know how to do these things other 2 year olds know how to do. I don't have a chance to teach them because I'm scared it will go badly. Now my fear turned to getting embarrassed, called out, or kicked out of a place.
As I'm crying and praying and driving home, I told God I trusted Him to lead me in this, to guide my emotions. I told God I'd do my bible study before calling my sister to cry or whining on facebook. And so I did that. I'm still super upset, but now I'm reminded, and I know this isn't my battle, like Jehoshaphat, I just need to recognize my inadequacies in this, I can't do this alone, I need Him to lead the way, show me how to take my position and stand firm with the twins, but trust that He will give me the answers.
I suppose I will not write a letter of complaint about this woman's tactics. But as far as I'm concerned, she sucks."

It's been a few hours and I've gained control of myself. But when Ryan came home for lunch I was a disaster again, explaining what happened and my frustrations. He knows where it stems from, and who better to sympathize with me than the father of my twins? (except perhaps another mother of multiples)  It is a mixed bag. I know it is disruptive to have those two in a reading time, and the other preschoolers were all sitting on their moms, quiet and attentive. I'm VERY SORRY for putting these innocent people through my attempts to teach the twins attentiveness, I truly am, can't you see that in my face as I try to chase them in my flipflops with my 6 month pregnancy hanging in front of me? Can't you hear my erratic breathing as I try to whisper to them to listen to the story?  The tears come because I feel guilty that I haven't been the same mom to them that I was to Luke and Juliette. I have failed them, I haven't taught them how to sit still, be attentive, obey my commands, listen to the story. The tears come because I am angry that a stranger would reprimand me in front of other mothers because she can't read her stupid boring story in complete silence. I'm perplexed that this monotone voice coming from her is in any way captivating these other kids.  The tears come because I feel alone, very few people can relate to the joys and struggles of having two babies, two toddlers, and now two preschoolers at once. The tears come because I don't know how long it will be before I'm brave enough to try anything like that again. The tears come because I am ashamed that I can be so easily rattled. Where is my peace? Where is my joy? The tears come because the thought occurs to me, this is just a small taste of what other mothers go through with special needs children, trying to mainstream them, give them experiences to help them learn and grow, and they are shunned and shut out at every turn. Who am I to cry over this?

For those who are curious, wanna know what my bible study was today? II Chronicles 20:20...King Jehoshaphat, surrounded by a vast army ready to attack, knowing he had no way to defend his people, fixed his eyes on God.  King Joe (I like to think more affectionately known as) fixed his eyes on God, and admitted to his complete inadequacy in finding a way to win. Then God speaks and says "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you...Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you."

So needless to say, I know I need to take a cue from King Joe and remember where to fix my eyes. Not on my emotions, or that stupid lady who shamed me more deeply than anyone has in a decade, but on Him. I am inadequate on some level with regards to these boys and their self-control, I need guidance and a game plan.  And even though I REAAAAAAAALLLY don't want to ever try new experiences with the twins ever again, I will do it. I will not be afraid.

But maybe I'll take a few days to lick my wounds and build my dignity back up.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Individual Updates

Behind the scenes in the McLean house, January 2014:

Jackson/Lincoln have been saying "help" and "ducks", respectively. Jackson still loves to color and will say "more" in sign language, Lincoln still loves to build and play with dirt, and gets mad at me when I ask him to sign "more".  We've attended 3 short speech therapy sessions thus far. They are not fans, and I'm not sold it's making much of any difference right now. If any extra money presents itself we would consider putting them in a 2 year old class twice a week, just to see if a new environment would get them talking more. Facebook allows me a glimpse into other two year old development, as friends post videos of their 2 year olds and even one year olds speaking and communicating more than my boys do. Facebook also shows me pics of beautiful homes being purchased and built, splendid vacations and cocktails, updates on everyone's exercise successes, and lots of puppies I want to adopt but really shouldn't.  Facebook is my frenemy.  I am still learning the lesson of contentedness.
Back to the twins...they are the cutest thing this side of the railroad tracks, and I am still amazed every time I see them together that they both grew inside me at the same time, and came out so beautifully healthy and strong. It's hard to believe they've already been in our family for over 2 years.  Lincoln has shown consistent resistance to the morning nap as of late, so we shifted both boys to a lunchtime nap instead, finally saying goodbye to our afternoon nap. I'm sad they are moving out of that schedule because an afternoon quiet time gave me a perfectly calm opportunity to start dinner and straighten up the house before Mr. McLean came home.

Juliette still goes to dance class once a week and loves it. She is showing quick progress with reading recently. We took her to see the Nutcracker last month and she whispered in my ear during the first act, "How old do you have to be to be in this?" We'd love to find a theater production for her to participate in soon. She talks to my belly and comes up with new name possibilities each day for number 5.  I never knew how much I'd appreciate her girly tendencies, until now when I'm faced with a bright future of dirt and worms in raising 4 boys. Her unique private school experience will probably end after this year. She is in a prek class with only 4 other preschoolers, but the school combines grade levels at times, so the Kindergarten class joins hers for a few hours each day, adding another 4 kids who are 6 years old going on 7.  Three year olds are also welcome in her class, if they're potty trained, and Juliette told me that a new boy started in her class this week who is 2. I know Juliette is thriving anyway, but it irks me that she's not getting a traditional prek experience because there are so many different levels needing specific attention.  I guess I'm still holding on to the dreamy experience that Luke had in PreK while at the Key West Preschool Co-op. We've given Juliette and Luke a small chore list to be completed before dinner each day, and although the jobs are small, it's helping me a lot. Luke cleans and straightens the bathroom, puts all of his school items away, and makes his bed. Juliette cleans up the living room rug and makes her bed. (She also helps me throughout the day with small assignments, but she enjoys them.) Lately I've been explaining more about my sorority experience to her, and am happy to see visions of kites dancing above her head. She likes the idea of a having few thousand sisters, and me becoming one of them.

Luke is signed up for baseball and attended his first cub scout meeting in vero last week. He's excited about both. Proud of him for taking high level AR tests last week on classic Wizard of Oz books we read together as a family, and he passed with high scores! We just started Tik-Tok of Oz, which is the 8th novel in the series by L. Frank Baum, written in 1915. I am so happy that he and Juliette can enjoy these books as much as I do.
Luke is so sweet and sensitive, and I miss him for the 7 hours he's gone each day for 2nd grade.  At home, he would play his DS or LittleBigPlanet on the playstation all day if we let him, so we are careful to limit his time with those things. He would also read all day if he had all the books he wanted at his disposal. We are having to bribe him to try and practice riding his bike, he is not a fan of falling or failing. He wants to take martial arts classes, which I've expertly avoided thus far. I'd rather us spend that money on swimming lessons, which seems much more practical to me. But if he presses, we will reconsider. I cannot consider everything Juliette is interested in doing, because she has mentioned cheerleading teams, gymnastics classes, tball, soccer, theater, and swimming. She wants piano lessons, singing lessons, and a flute.

I am watching my belly grow, and grow. I am 25 weeks and am as round as a beach ball already. I believe I will have to work harder than ever to build up some of these ab muscles that have been stretched to the max in my baby baking experience. This baby boy is moving around all the time kicking and squirming. April will be here before we know it. We have not thought about names yet, we have no baby equipment left after I so wisely gave it all away last year, and I am quickly growing out of my wardrobe, but I'm not worried. Provisions always come when needed.  I look around at our larger than normal family with crayons and animal crackers crushed on the floor, rice flying across the dinner table, dishes piled high after having just done a load, laundry baskets overflowing,  and have mixed feelings that range from "I am so beyond blessed" to "I am so beyond crazy".
 I keep the option of homeschooling in my mind because this community has a great support system in place for it.  I'm asking questions about it here and there, wondering if it's something I'm called to do for my kids, finding homeschool pros and quizzing them on how this actually works in a big family.  I don't enjoy the idea of it right now, but I don't know what the future holds, so I'm telling myself to be willing to be open to the possibility.
I started and finished Francine Rivers' "A Scarlet Thread" in two days this week, I was so thirsty for a good book! It was a fun read because anyone who grew up on the Oregon Trail computer game could appreciate the journal entries strewn throughout the novel,  kept by a women going through the trial of the trail, death by rattlesnake, broken ribs, bears, dysentery, no more candles, no more water, Indian attacks, etc. Good times, good times.
I just started my first Beth Moore book and hope to finish it this week as well. I'm participating in a bible study for mothers and have been to one meeting, where I met about 17 other moms who I know I will be blessed by in the months ahead as we share with each other the joys and pains and hopefully wisdom of motherhood. I know attending this study will be a highlight in my week.  I'm also looking forward to church choir starting up again after having had a couple weeks off, and also starting a Sunday School class with Ryan now that the twins are able to stay awake in the morning without needing their nap right at 11am.
  I'm happy to have had my mom in town for the last 2 weeks, even though she has been reserved as Brandi's personal assistant since Brandi can't drive for a couple weeks after having Nathan. I've only seen her a few times, but my turn of having her to myself will come in April! Thankful for her and her willingness to be so helpful.

Ryan is quite the company man these days, going in early and leaving later than he ever did on key West time. He's learning a lot and enjoying tackling new challenges. Sometimes I hear him getting out of bed extra early to get a quick jog in before another crazy day overtakes him. I love him for always coming home smiling, happy to see me, happy to see the kids, jumping right into the mix, wrestling with kids on the carpet, leading them outdoors to kick a soccer ball or shoot some nerf guns while I finish dinner. He will help Juliette waltz in her reenactment of Beauty and the Beast, or toss a toddler in the air to keep him happy.  He'll ask how everyone's day was, while spooning food into the twins' mouths.  He'll bath the twins and do the dishes before I know what happened. This big happy family just doesn't work without participation and love like that. 
He's working on the ford fairlane in his "free time" and is close to getting her on the road for a test run.  One vehicle for our family can be tough, but if he got the Fairlane running it would give us more flexibility with our schedules.

Health and happiness have followed us into 2014, and giving thanks comes easily right now.   In the next installment of the Mediocre Mom Blog, I hope to announce a language explosion from the twins, a son who can ride his bike, a daughter debuting in her first show, a continuing healthy pregnancy, and a fixed Fairlane.