Tuesday, August 27, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

(31 weeks in the first picture...27 weeks in the second)

I stumbled into my home yesterday- bleary eyed, exhausted, and feeling 1,000 months pregnant. Stumbling in beside me? Two weary toddlers, high on "please keep quiet even though you can't get down" cookies, and liberally doused in airplane germs.

I'm not sure who was more glad to be home- me or them. Perhaps it was a tie, broken quickly when their bedtime occurred considerably earlier than usual. (hey, the day started at 3am)

It is good to be home.

We needed to take this trip. Needed to spend time with family. Needed to get out. Needed to taste freedom while we can before #3 joins us in a few months and we are thrown back into the infant stage.

Also? I needed to remember that there is a world outside these four walls colored by errant crayons and coated in sticky by small fingerprints. I tend to get stuck in day-to-day toddler nonsense and my own inadequacies. It was amazing to escape that and observe and learn from other mothers in the same stage but doing things differently- better. Mothers with strengths where I have weaknesses.
I went to my friend's wedding and saw another friend enjoy the wedding WITH her two toddlers, not that different in ages from my kids. I tend to err to the side of "I can't go unless I have a babysitter because it would be too exhausting to take my kids and then I wouldn't have any fun." (This means that I don't go a lot of places.) My friend Katie, had an amazing time WITH her kids (who were admirably behaved.) She laughed with them. danced with them, enjoyed all those moments WITH them. I really learned from watching her. To me she was integrating motherhood into life far better than I do. She didn't view them as baggage at a fun event. She saw them as participators alongside with her. And because this was obviously a frequent practice of hers? They were the best behaved toddlers I have ever seen and everyone had fun. I observed and learned in this area where I need to grow in my motherhood.

We stayed with my sister- who is a far better housekeeper than I am. I watched her consistently clean, wash, and pick up around her toddler and six months old. And her house was clean at all times. Even with my kids added to the mix. Whereas my attitude is often "I can't keep up because of my kids" I learned from her strength in this area. Instead of pouting in my house about how I CAN'T do it all, I went to live with her for three weeks and learned how it CAN be done. It was an amazing learning experience. And we laughed and celebrated strengths that I had that she didn't while talking about the strengths that she had that I didn't. We acknowledged each other's strengths in a non-jealous way- and learned where we could. I NEEDED that.

I learned from my sister-in-law's gracious adjustment to her newborn alongside her toddler. I learned from conversations with her about breastfeeding, going back to work, and a thousand other things that make up the day-to-day. I learned and broadened my mind from a different mothering circumstance and perspective.

And also? I learned from watching my littlest sister prepare for the big step of engagement/wedding/marriage. I remembered how I was there not that long ago and how badly I wanted to be where I am now.

It is so much harder to parent away from home. But sometimes extremely necessary for myself to not get stuck in a rut. I don't get to travel as much as I used to before kids, but when the opportunity comes? I learn from it and soak up the experience even if it's not always comfortable because of the extra work with the kids.

And the kids learned things of their own.
The flight back (although still not easy) was so much better than the flight there. This is 100% because Aaron was with me, and we could sit and work with the kids one-on-one instead of me alone chasing both of them opposite directions on a crowded plane. Aaron was a HUGE help and allowed my level of anxiety about the whole ordeal to go down a notch or two. After Carter fell asleep next to Aaron during the first flight, Aaron unwisely suggested to me that he obviously had more "success" flying with toddlers than I did because of how my flight alone with them went. While clenching my fists together to keep from strangling that smug look off of his face, I pointed out that MAYBE the fact that we were manning them one-on-one had just the TINIEST bit of impact on his high level of success. He reluctantly agreed. (I mean...seriously????? I almost ditched the next flight and found a luxury solo flight a few hours later so that he could REALLY show off his level of toddler-flying-success with the two of them alone.) I will say- I am thankful he gave up on some days of work to fly out and accompany us home. I think if he didn't do that- we probably would have had to rent a second home in WI because I was NOT FLYING ALONE WITH THEM AGAIN. (love you babe and thank you for coming to get us.)
So yes- we are now home. Wiser. Tireder. Hungrier. Fatter. (I speak only for myself on that one)
The railing to the deck was finished by the deck fairies while we were gone (thank you, thank you!) so today included a lot of relaxed outside play where I didn't have to worry about the kids dashing for the road every ten seconds.
Today was low key. The kids laughed and played together. Things were cleaned. Clothes were washed. Stories were read. Food was prepared in my own kitchen. Children slept and obeyed. Pretty much seemed like the easiest day ever after these past three weeks. Perspective is everything, I guess.

Thank you to my family for an awesome visit and to everyone who made this trip possible! Now? Time for Addison to start school, for some specific behavior things to be targeted before new baby, and for a house cleaning/organizing to prepare for said baby... The party just continues...

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