Monthly Archives: May 2008

Bunches of Gripes

Okay.

So I have to gripe here, for a minute. Just lay it out. Just so I don't, you know, say it out loud, or something like that. Although maybe I should. . .

I have one parent that called me at three pm today, saying she was getting off work early, so I didn't need to pick up her kids from the after school program. Okay, well, Marty already went to get them, so you'd better just meet them here, because he's going to show up any minute.

Okay, she says, sounds good. I'm going to make a stop or two first.

Fine.

It is now almost ten o'clock. At night. And not a word from her. Is this where I call CPS?

Gripe number two.

Boy is supposed to show up at five in the morning. Which means I have to be up and showered, etc, by then. So I'm up, clean, dressed, door's unlocked, all that good stuff you want to do at four in the morning. She doesn't call, doesn't come–UNTIL THREE PM.

Oh, hey, I say to her. I thought you were working at five.

Yeah, she laughs. Me too! But they changed me to the swing shift yesterday.

(And you didn't call????!!!!

You think I get up at four for fun, and then I stay up until midnight when your oh-so-amusing shift change has run it's course?)

You know what? The thing that gets me is that I didn't think or say any of that at the time. I have to be relating the story to someone else for the indignity to really register. I just take it, and take it, and here I am, at your service, twentyfour hours a day, six days a week. Fifty two weeks a year.

Gripe number three, four, and five. All from different families. 

You don't show up for a week and a half. Then show up again, without any explanation. Or say you washed your cell phone. Or the kids were sick. And just expect me to be here, waiting, with an empty spot for your child. 

You show up, then on your way out the door, say, oh, she vomitted this morning, but I think she's fine.

You call me and accuse me of ridiculous things, horrible things, because your child has symptoms that your doctor has told you, repeatedly, are in consequence of your own behavior and parenting style.  And then you show up two days later, sweet as sugar and expect me to have just swallowed the accusations, to stand here and keep smiling at you and your child, welcome them back in, no questions asked. You tell me what the doctor said, what dietary changes we're going to make, that I already suggested, and no appology for your behavior. Act like we never had those one sided phone conversations.

Because I do.

I smile at you when you come in, seven hours now, after your shift ends, and I ask you how your day went. And did you find any good deals at Fashion Bug? Yes, that's a great shirt. I sit here, my hands poised over the blog in which I am lambasting you with such venom, and I smile at you and make small talk about your night on the town.

Hypocrite, me. Don't trust my smiles, my good will. You don't know what lies beneath.

Am I?

Maybe the real me is the one who takes the crap and just bounces back. Maybe the me that's typing this is just the tired, disillusioned mortal talking. Because when I smile at you and take your baby off your hip and talk to you about your day when my own has been unspeakable, when I don't point out all your thoughtless behavior–that feels right to me, when I'm doing it.

It's just all such a contradiction. That I can see how ridiculous and thoughtless people are, and yet not let it bother me enough to do anything about it. It seems like I should. But then when I imagine doing anything, it just seems as ridiculous as their behavior. Moreso, because I know better.  

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Memorial Day

Six days ago!

How has it been six days since I wrote. See, this is why I always lose my journal–I think I just wrote in it yesterday so it has to be right . . . here. And I can never find the thing. Pretty hard to lose my computer.

We went up to Leavenworth–a little Barvarian village Northwest (ish) of Wenatchee–for Memorial day. Not too bad of a drive–if you disregard the child who had sulfur burps. You know what I'm talking about. How that much gas can come out of one animal is a mystery to me. Incredible. All the way up, all the way back. You couldn't even talk to this kid without wincing. And then you'd feel bad because of course everyone was on them, every time. Oooh!, they burped again! Open the windows! Poor kid, not like they had any control over it.

Went up Icicle creek/river/canyon, whatever it's called. Aunt Sandra says it's a great place to swim. I think she probably meant some time during the month of August, not during May flooding. It was beautiful, though, and we hiked around. Marty even took the kids up some seriously big cliffs that had me more than a little on edge, so they could look down on the raging torrent below.

I thought, seriously, if somebody falls, we might as well just get back in the van and drive into town, start making funeral plans, because they aren't going to survive. I uploaded all the pictures to facebook. Well, not all. But some.  

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Why?

Kimber, what are those buttons for?

Well, this one washes big pots and pans, this one (now imagine trying to describe in minute detail to a four year old all the workings of your dishwasher, at five o'clock in the morning)

Why?

Well, then I don't have to wash them in the sink.

Can you read me the buttons again?

(Repeat, several times.)

What's this for?

That's a mixer.

What does it do?

It mixes things.

Like what?

Whatever you want to put in it.

Oh, I get it, so whatever I want, I just turn it on, and it makes it.

Well, no, it's a mixer, not a maker.

What if you put a banana in it?

It would probably get mushy.

What's mushy?

Soft. Squishy.

OH! (jumps on the couch) Like this cushion. How would a banana get as big as a cushion?

Mmmm. Well, mushy means soft and squishy and wet. Gooey.

Ooh. Yuck. Will this loaf of bread get mushy if you put it in?

No.

What will happen?

It will turn to crumbs.

How do you know?

I just do.

Where's the kids?

In bed still.

Why?

They live here. This is where they sleep.

Why?

I'm their Mom. This is their house.

You're not a mom, you're a babysitter.

I'm both.

Why are you their mom?

Because I love them.

Why?

That's what Moms do. They love their kids.

But what about that big giant girl? Why are you her mom?

Wow. All I can say is, wow. He never stops. All day, why? Why? When? How? They say this is a sign of a scientific mind.

It amazes me how different children will act for their own parents. They can be angels (noisy, messy, obnoxious, but angels) all day and then their parent comes in the door and it is immediate meltdown. They want their shoes a certain way, or their socks unrolled or whatever it is, and they throw these gargantuan tantrums. Why is that? Do they just not trust me enough to be themselves here? Or do they just know I'm going to ignore the bad behavior? Not sure, but there are a few that really have their parent's numbers, I tell you what.

 

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Pocket full of Pollys

Naptime. Everyone is laying down. Grace, who is four, keeps getting up and messing with something in her pocket.

Me: Grace, why do you keep getting up, what are you doing?

Grace: When I lay down, they keep coming out.

Me: What keeps coming out?

Grace: The roly-polys. Maybe I should take them outside.

She had eight live potato bugs in her pocket. Plus various other bits and pieces of ones that didn't fare so well.

Charles sits up. Lets me know that he smashed all his, so he "wouldn't have to carry them anymore".

Ahhhh. And I thought they were playing some kind of money game with bits of gravel. Now we use bugs for currency.

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Epiphany

Siiiigggghhh.

Everyone is gone.

The laundry is almost done. Speaking of which. I'm not all that convinced that these new (really expensive) laundry machines are all they are cracked up to be. That or I just need to learn to use a new machine.

I could go to bed.

I had this epiphany tonight, however. I was washing off the table with one hand. I know you've been there–bending at the knees to reach the table, trying to keep the baby against your shoulder.   Winslow is in the tub, two hours after bed time, having a grand experience. All the beds are stripped still from laundering.  

I consider asking someone to make up the beds–but I know I will end up doing it anyway. So I ask someone to help Winslow get out, get his pj's on, and brush his teeth. This, of course, is heard as a request to simply relay the message that Mom says it is time to get out and brush teeth.

So I am putting mattress covers and sheets back onto beds, baby is crying, and Winslow is hollering at me that his pj's are not in his drawer, so I find them. Now they are inside out, will you fix this, etc.

First of all, why do I just stew over it, and then do it all myself? Why can't I say, hey, I asked you to do this thing for me. I really need some help. Or maybe. Would you rather put these sheets on, or hold Dustin, while I help Winslow? See, that would be a good way to phrase it.  But I don't. For fifteen years, I've just done it myself. 

So now that I'm finally saying, hey, I need some help, how can I really blame anyone for not getting it? They have no clue what I really mean when I say clean your room or get the kid out of the tub–I've always done it all, and made it look easy, because I'll be darned if I'm going to let you see that I'm ready to crack, that I'm so tired I want to sit down, right here in the middle of the Walmart parking lot and cry because I don't think I can get these carts up the incline to the van. (Do all Walmarts pave their lots that way, or is it just Moses Lake?) 

Honestly, it's not pride, so much as. . .

I don't want to criticize, you know? I don't want to be that wife or mother that's always nagging, or complaining, ordering people around. Peace at all costs.  I don't want you to think that it's your fault that I'm exhausted, or that I'm upset with you for being thoughtless; so I pretend like you're not, even when you absolutely are. And so you think I like this–doing everything my way, on my schedule. You think you are being helpful by staying out of the way. And here I am, smiling at you, praying fervently for the strength to love you across such a vast distance. 

I realized that I tend to not ask people to do things until I am desparate–until they needed doing ten minutes ago, and then I get uptight when the person doesn't jump off like a shot and go and do. After all, if it didn't need doing RIGHT NOW, I'd do it myself. Poor planning on my part does not constitute an emergency on anyone else's part, I know, I know. I also realized that I don't ask people to do the simple things that would help so much because . . . it isn't THAT much harder to do it myself. Like. If you were running a marathon, and you asked someone to carry you the last three yards. You wouldn't, even if you were staggering and blinded with exhaustion, you'd go those last few steps, because you've come all this way yourself already, right?  Now that's pride.

And.

Should I wake up tomorrow and the floor was mopped, the laundry folded, and you'd brushed your teeth. Would I let on how huge a relief it is for you to have done such a thing? Do I throw my arms around you and burst into tears, and let you know that I wasn't sure I could drag myself one more step until I saw what you had done for me?

No. Because . . .

Because . . .you might feel bad that you don't do it more regularly? You might know that I'm not sure I can make it even one more day, and you might feel bad for letting me carry this load alone for so long. And so I'll smile and make light of it, and thank you, but not too profusely, and you will feel cheated, because you wanted to make a grand gesture, you wanted to be needed, and now you know, you're just as inconsequential  as you expected.  

I don't know, people. I think I've dug myself quite a hole. Even recognizing this thought process for what it is, I don't think I have the will power to change it. Tomorrow, I will be making a bottle, and the phone will ring, and someone will run out of toilet paper, and you will be sitting in the only chair in the room, with your feet in the air, singing a song, and I will not ask you to move. I will wedge the phone between my left shoulder and my ear and straighten out the insurance mess while I tear open the TP package with my teeth, replace the roll, and wipe the behind with one hand;  I will sit on the floor while I feed the baby, and I will ask you how your day went. And I hope you will know that I really mean it. Even if ten people interupt us, and the phone rings six more times and the baby vomits and I have to get up before you get to the punchline. I want to know that you're happy. And I'm sitting on the floor because I want you to be so comfortable in my chair, that you never want to leave, that you will  stay there and talk to me all day if you want. Because I love you, and if I don't make you feel needed, or wanted, it's just that I don't know how. That's who I am. And I'm sorry. 

  

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The Frisbee chair

I have an idea.

Why doesn't someone invent a sort of hovercraft to sit on that zooms into place at specified times during the day, then zooms itself over to the sink for a quick rinse off, then into the cabinet until the next meal? Brilliant, I know. If only because if you didn't come for dinner when called, you might not have a seat when you finally get around to showing up. Hehehe.

Mom wouldn't have to sweep or mop around 36+ legs three times a day. Nobody could tip them over, or climb onto them to reach things they shouldn't. They would automatically adjust for height. I'm telling you, the American household would never be the same.

  

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Hmmmm

You know, I've never had to test the theory, but I have always thought that if anyone I knew died, ANYONE, I could look at that death and say, hey, they are in a better place. Lucky them. Logically that makes sense to me.

So why did Mirra's funeral affect me so profoundly last night? I sat there just trying to breathe, through most of it. And afterward, I wanted to sit there in the parking lot and cry–sob, like I was thirteen years old.  If I was alone, I probably would have. As it was, I put on my sunglasses and tried not to vomit.

There is this thought. Very little to do with the maelstrom I successfully repressed last night. But has been niggling all day.

When a child dies in infancy, it is enough to say you loved them, that you felt their spirit, and loved them. People get that. Your heart and your mind get that. You are overwhelmed and awed and dumbfounded by the depth of it.

But.

What if this child died ten or thirty or sixty years into his life, what then? Is it still enough to say, I loved him? Or do I want to say he made me laugh or mowed my lawn every week when I was sick, and blush to consider his faults? Do I love him less, because I know him more? Has his value decreased because he has grown and progressed and his skin has outgrown my own and shelters secret joys and pain and longings I cannot comprehend?

I think I have been trying to love grown and semi-grown people because of what they do for me, or I for them. Or what I hope they one day will do. 

Why do you love the ones you love? Really. I haven't been able to define that for myself. But it's bothering me. 

Not as much as the fact that I haven't been able to use the bathroom once today because Dustin gets hysterical if I set him down. Well. That's not true. He's hysterical right now, because although I have him on my lap, he does not have my undivided attention. So I could concievably set him on the floor and let him be hysterical there instead, while I use the bathroom for thirty seconds. But his mother has been due to arrive any minute for the last hour, and I, deciever that I am, do not want her to walk in while he is hysterical and by himself on the floor. It's all about appearances. And kidney damage. 

.

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Out on the town . . . kind of

Quinton's teacher called me yesterday. Thinks I should get his hearing tested, because she has a hard time getting his attention. Are you SERIOUS? The kid inhabits another planet. He only leaves his husk here on the third rock for refueling.  Trust me, it's not his hearing. But I did my own little test, here at home–hey, I was an audiology major for several semesters–crude, but telling. He can hear just fine. We just all speak a different language than he does.

Darrin and Anenome (no, that's not her name, we just call her that) left four hours early again last night, so I got to bed by ten.  Seven hours of sleep in one shot!  I didn't even nod off once during scriptures this morning.

Folded the laundry mountain while the kids took turns reading, and asked everyone to put their own away. So Quinton (almost 7) comes down the hall with a wadded up ball of clothing in his arms. Not a single folded item left. I don't know if he was checking to make sure each shirt and pair of jeans was really his, or what. Why do I bother???

My sister called right after the bus left to tell me there were deer in the neighborhood, just in time for us to look out and see them wandering past. Doe, a deer, two female deer. Right in my front yard. Grandma would say that's not a good thing, but hey, in the 'burbs, people get excited about wildlife.

Got a new fridge today. Harvest gold and older than me, actually. But the not leaking thing, that's new. I had two men in my house, trying to get the "new" fridge through the door, and it wouldn't fit, no matter what they did. I was all for Plan B, which entailed buying a smaller (white and younger than me) fridge, and sending Goldie home with the delivery man, but Marty applied all of his creative genius to the problem and now she is moaning and groaning in the place of honor as we speak.

We also got a new washer and dryer. New as in–front loading, steam cycle on the dryer (think Quinton's balled up clothing on Sunday morning), holds a kingsized comforter–new. We were going to keep the old ones and find them a new home, but the haul-the-leaky-fridge-off guy informed me that blackish-yellow goo that has been oozing all over my toes for the past year and a half, that's transmission fluid. Transmission fluid? Did you know your washing machine has a transmission? And apparently it has enough fluid in there to keep up a steady leak for a good eighteen months.

Only seven kids again today, five asleep and two already gone. I could get used to this …

Headed out to Mirra's funeral this evening.  I don't even want to know what it says about me that my first date with my husband in three months is a funeral, but I am looking forward to it. 

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Disabling the Delete Key

Mandy says to start simple.

So.

I've been writing for 45 minutes and this is how far I've gotten. So here's my deal with you. Whoever you are. No more editorializing. This is me, this is what I have to say. Love me, hate me, click that little "x" up there. I just disabled my backspace key.

I started out at 5:30 this morning. Standing in the middle of my room, just trying to keep my eyes open. Read my scriptures for half an hour. Okay, so I tried to read. Sometimes I had to go back and reread because I was dreaming with my eyes open.

Got my six kids out of bed so they could come into the apartment/daycare center and take turns waking up to read a page of the Book of Mormon. Actually, most of them were awake through the whole thing this morning. Meaning we got done before six thirty. Our Stake asked us to read the whole thing before conference in June. We are about four pages behind schedule, but I think we'll make it.

Shower. My scalp is falling apart this month. I don't know why. My thirteen-year-old enthusiastically informed me the other day that Head and Shoulders just came out with a whole new line of shampoos, some especially for women. I assume that was a hint. I didn't tell her that I have six bottles of bogus dandruff shampoo in my shower, right now. My gaze just kind of slid away and I changed the subject. I realize that this is how I deal with things that make me uncomfortable. I just change the subject. Cowardly Kimber.

Is it my diet? Am I getting old? It really is a problem, when your hair is as dark as mine. Maybe going grey wouldn't be such a bad thing. . .

Came down to give the apartment the once over before any parents showed up. My oldest two left as four more youngsters showed up. Waffles and oranges for the eight. Four off to school. Three more arrive. Four under the age of two. Seven total. Not too bad today, and three more just left. One to preschool, one to Grandma's, one with Marty along for the ride. 

I just ran down to the van to buckle them into the van, and ran back up to the house, then ran down to the van to find the keys that Marty swore were not there, then ran back to the house, then ran back to get the mail, then back to answer the phone (it was yet another mother, looking for infant care–I told her I didn't even know if I had room, I'll call you back) I am sitting here panting. Reminds me of a really bad poem about a childcare provider. It had one good line about you can call me anything you want, but "do not call me sitter, because I never get to sit"

But here I sit. All four are asleep right now. You have no idea what kind of feat that is. The other day I had nine children under the age of four all asleep at the same time. I know. I should have documented it. Taken time-stamped photos as evidence, or you'll think I'm writing fiction. 

Is this the best use for my time? Hmm. I can think of all sorts of things I could be doing right now. Preparing Sharing Time for primary. Reading my scriptures while I'm actually awake. Logging the day's attendence and meals into the computer–yes, I have to log in and out every child, and what they ate and in what quantities and when–organizing the disaster my files are in. Files? Did I say files? Drawers full of paper that should be in files, clearly labeled for the IRS or the State DEL, or USDA inspector should they chose to drop in and take a look.  Cleaning, oh, you don't know how many things need cleaning. Finishing Quinton's quilt I started like. . . last September, or something like that. So close, but still sitting on my kitchen table. Laundry. Dishwasher–Mandy! I'm so glad you got a dishwasher!–Does it really help to make a list? I'm making this list, and you know, I do feel better, because none of them really sound all that important right now. Not really. Sleeping though. What if I were reducing my sleep debt? That could be a really good thing. Problem being someone would call–Nena just did, and she won't be the last–or someone would show up early to drop their child off for the evening shift, or show up early to pick up a child. Making dinner. Now that one would help out a lot. Because making it while Dustin (12 months) is awake is insane. And he's here 12 hours today.

I let him cry himself to sleep this afternoon. Bring it on, CPS; I just couldn't take it anymore. He would get down off my lap to play, but if I stood up, or picked up a book or another child, or even answered the phone, he'd get hysterical; screaming himself hoarse until I picked him up. My attention had to be on him, undivided, all morning. By noon, I had to just put him in the other room in the crib and shut the door.  He fell asleep. Then woke up at the slightest noise. Fell asleep again. I don't even want to open the door to check on him, for fear of starting the cycle again.

Went over to Becca's last night on my way home from dropping Dustin and his mother off at home (she walks here after ten hours of minimun wage work, nine p.m., then has an hour to walk home with a one year old, a purse and a diaper bag–count your blessings) since Mowry's left early, and I didn't have any daycare kids at all. Stopped by when I saw the light was on. She was up with a friend, planning the funeral for her baby Thursday. Had all her pictures spread out. Foot and handprints the size of  . . . what? What do you compare that to? The size of the hole in her mother's heart. Tiny, but immeasurable. I sat there, listening to her stories about the baby, about the kind nurse, and I wanted to reach out and hug her, and I didn't. I sat there and I looked back at the pictures and said I was so glad they'd been able to have those pictures done. COWARD!  I even pulled over, on my way there, pulled over and backed up off the road out of traffic and I prayed that I would have the spirit with me, would be able to say and do whatever might help her, if there was anything in my power. And I just sat there. 

The day before the baby died, I thought a hundred times, "Call Becca". And I'd look at the clock and think, well, right now, she's feeding the baby, right now is probably care time, right now I can't hear myself think.  "Call Becca." And I didn't. She hasn't called me, she's probably swamped, I don't want to intrude. "Call Becca." I will. Tonight. Oh, it's too late. I will in the morning. In the morning I get the call that the baby has died. God forgive me.

God forgive me all the lifetime of hugs I never gave, all the tears I scolded away, all the pain I shrugged past in this life. Make up the difference that I seem too backwards to make myself.  If I have to rely on my strength and compassion alone to raise these kids and to be the friend and teacher I should, we're all in deep.  

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