Sunburns and ice cream…AKA Summer vacation

Sunburns and ice cream…AKA Summer vacation

The school year is winding down and I have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, I am excited to have all of my chickens home all day so that we can just relax and have fun. On the other hand, I know that my first hand is a big, fat, impossible lie.

I will definitely love the slower pace of summer. I am sooooo looking forward to not having to drive everyone to school each morning. I am craving the laid back intentionally “unplannedness” of our summer schedule. But this is not my first trip to the rodeo. I know that my visions of happy smiling kids rolling out of bed at 8:00, to get dressed for the day and make their beds before they joyfully skip down the stairs to pleasantly and politely ask for breakfast is never gonna happen. Let’s be real. The much more likely scenario is as follows. It will be 5:00 am for some of the kids (the ones that really shouldn’t be awake and unsupervised) they will leap from bed ripping clothes out of every drawer and throwing them around the room, ( probably throwing clean folded clothes into the hamper because, well, why not??)  but never actually getting dressed for the day because they will be wailing that they have “NOTHING” to wear. You know, because the 800,976, 327 shirts in the drawer are not the one flourescent-yellow-covered-in-stains-smells-like-dog shirt that said child is looking for. Maybe because it is in the hamper because he has worn it for the last 4 days and you managed to steal it when he was in the shower last night and because you couldn’t light it on fire in the 7 minutes that your kid was standing in the shower not using soap and not washing his face or feet or any other gross and dirty body part, you settled on hiding it in the hamper under the smelly dirty clothes that you found on the floor of the bathroom 6 inches from the hamper from when the middle boys “cleaned” their room. (They obviously aren’t going to actually put them in the hamper…duh.) Anyway, the wild small child will wander down the hallway, wailing and gnashing his teeth because he can’t find anything to wear. You, unsuccessfully try to coax him into crawling in your bed so that you could maybe, possibly, PLEASE sleep until , oh I don’t know…6:00. Nope. Never gonna happen. So you bite the bullet and stumble out of bed. You blindly make your way to the kitchen where the magical coffee beans are waiting to infuse you with life. You throw some toast or cereal at the small child and they plop down in front of the TV. You stand there for a moment and debate over whether or not starting the day with Paw Patrol or UmiZoomi is really the best thing for you little guy and then you realize that while it might not be the best it is definitely going to buy you a few precious quiet moments to enjoy your coffee and maybe wake up a bit before the rest of the crew makes their way downstairs. And then you laugh at yourself for actually acting like you were ever not going to turn on cartoons.  Silly Mommy.

You enjoy the peacefulness for a few minutes. You might even get in some prayer time or a rosary and then you hear it…the low rumble that signifies that they are waking up. They will emerge, sort of like the nasty 17 year cicadas that are taking over right now.

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They will slowly make their way downstairs shedding their pjs much like the cicadas shed their skin leaving them wherever they may fall. They will eat whatever they see, their red eyes staring at you. You resist stepping on them and squishing them because, well… because you are a goodish mom. You just stay out of their way and let them do their thing. You cautiously back out of their way and escape to the upstairs, where you jump in the shower. You throw on some clothes, brush your teeth and maybe even a little mascara (if you are feeling extra fancy) and you are ready for the day.

Now begins the hardest part of the day…deciding what you are going to do. Is it a pool day? a trip to the library day? a we are not going anywhere kind of day? a we need to unearth the house from the clutter and crazy that has taken over sort of day? a make a trip to the grocery store for the 879th time this week because there is no food (again!) and it is turning into a Hunger Games meets the Lord of the Flies kind of situation? Or maybe the prozac has affected your judgement a little bit too much and you decide (insanely) that it is an ALL OF THE ABOVE kind of day???  You shake your head and clear away that nonsense immediately. You are a pro. That is a rookie mistake. Get your head in the game woman!! Your internal dialogue is starting to stress you out. You take a deep breath and walk down stairs to assess the situation. You can’t really make a decision until you feel out the kids, especially the preteen girls. Just keeping it real people. Those two can be the sweetest, most helpful little angel faces and then faster than the older boys can inhale a pizza, they turn into a medusa-like ball of hormones. The best thing to do in that case, is to avoid eye contact and back away slowly.

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You walk into the living room and look around. They seem to be content. They look full, they are not killing each other, they are…smiling. Woah! It has all of the makings for a good day. Ok. We can do this. You know better than to ask the kids what they want to do. They will never agree and then nobody will be happy. Nope, it is up to you to decide. You weigh your options and make the call. You know that you will still end up with a few unhappy kids but that’s ok. It is what it is. The goal is to end up with happy or at least happyish kids. Happyish is totally acceptable.

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And then the coffee finally hits and I remember a very important thing. I remember that I am their mom. I am not their tour guide. It is not my job to make sure that every second of their summer is planned and fun. It is my job to  make sure that they have food and sunscreen. It is my job to make sure that they are reasonably clean and that they don’t kill one another. Our summer vacation is going to include everything that I previously said. It will have trips to the library to get books for the mandatory reading times. (Isaac is already complaining about that.) More books, less electronics!  It will involve trips to the grocery store (a lot of trips). It will include cleaning. I will happily assign chores to kids.  We are going to try out all of the local pools. We are on a mission to find a good ice cream place and a good playground. There will be bike riding and walks. There will be playing with the neighbor kids and rainy day movies. There will be tents and fires and smores. It will be a summer of scraped knees and popsicles. I am sure that it will also have a fair amount of complaining and fighting. You know what, whatever. Fight. Complain. Be bored.  Summer vacation is all of this. Sunburns and ice cream. Staying up late and waking up early. Moms with mixed emotions and coffee.  Bring it on.

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A-May-zing Women

This is an old one, but still true!!

fullofgraceandwinedotcom

May is one of those crazy birthday months in my family. As most of you know,  two of my kids have May birthdays. Gianna’s birthday is May 5th, and Aiden’s is May1st. But the May birthday insanity goes beyond my little ones. My Mema, my mom, my sister, sister-in-law and mother-in-law as well as a nephew all have May birthdays too. CRAZY!! This blog is dedicated to three women who have been part of my life for as long as I have had a life. The first is my Mema. She is the matriarch of our family. She and my Poppy have raised 5 daughters and a son. (One of those daughters being my very own mom!) My memories of Mema go back as far as my memory does. I remember sitting on her lap with my head resting on her shoulder, thinking that I was in one of the…

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I look like a…. mom.

 

So this might come as a surprise to some of you, but I look like a mom. I was making my 732nd trip to the school to drop Isaac off at track practice and I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. Woah. Not pretty. I was absolutely shocked by the wrinkles and gray hair and just plain old momness of my reflection. I know that I am sounding incredibly vain. I guess that I am. But I was genuinely surprised. In my head, I am still 28. I still have a smooth wrinkle free face and I only color my hair because it is fun, not out of necessity. So you can only imagine my shock when a 40 year old looked back at me.  Yeesh.

I started to think back to what my life was like 12 years ago, when I was 28. For one thing, I only had 5 kids. Just a little over half of my kids…weird. Hannah was just 8 months old. Isaac would have only been 21 months old. DJ was just finishing up chemo. The twins, DJ and Coley were only 8. They had just received their First Communions.  And Jake had just turned 7. Jake was Aiden’s age. Again…super weird.

Twelve years ago, I was just a baby mom. Not only did I have babies, but I was only 3 years into motherhood. My life was so different. Life with 5 kids under the age of 8 is a lot different than where I am right now. My life revolved around the logistics of getting from point A to point B with 3 little kids, a toddler and a baby. Getting groceries was an adventure, and not in the fun sense. It was crazy and hard and I loved it. Because along with all of the struggles, there was also nap time and nursing babies that fall sound asleep in your arms and tea parties and little league. Life was good.

But the next twelve years were good too. They brought four more little souls into the world. Gianna, Noah, Aiden and Jonathan joined our growing family. There were more First Communions and tea parties and little league games. There have also been Confirmations and basketball playoffs. There have been driver’s licenses and graduations. There have been proms and volleyball. There has been college and track. There have been surgeries and new jobs. There has been a big move. In other words, life kept on happening. And as life kept on happening, I guess time has too. With the passing of time has come wrinkles and gray hair and if I am being honest, a little extra padding. But I wouldn’t change any of it. The last twelve years have brought me so much joy.

With this passage of time has come greater experience with this whole motherhood thing. I am no longer the “baby” mom in either sense of the word. My “baby” is now five and I have 15 years of practice behind me. I have learned that each and every child is different and brings their own gifts to the family. They also bring their own challenges and struggles. And as their mother, it is my job to figure out how to nurture their different gifts as well as to help them to overcome their struggles. It is also my job to learn how to love each one of them. One of the most difficult things about being a mother is learning the difference between being a mother to a child versus being a mother to an adult. I guess that you can attribute some of the wrinkles and gray hair to that lesson.

If I think back to my memories of my own mother, I don’t remember wrinkles or gray hair. I remember her hanging sheets out to dry on the clothesline and allowing us to lay on a blanket underneath and play in the “tent.” I remember the smell of her perfume when she was dressed up to go somewhere. I remember our house feeling like a home because of the love that she put into it. I remember thinking that she was beautiful. When I was in college, I remember coming home and sitting at the kitchen table just enjoying the chance to talk to her as she drank her coffee. (I wasn’t a coffee drinker quite yet.) I remember her genuine joy  when Brian and I got engaged. I remember her calming my nerves the morning of my wedding. I remember her face the first time the kids called her Mama. I remember the smile that happened each time a new grandchild was placed in her arms. I remember how supportive she was about our move to Ohio, even when I wasn’t so sure if I could do it myself.

I hope that when my kids think back to memories of me, they remember that I loved them unconditionally and that I was always there for them as my mom was for me. I hope that they remember that everything that I did for them, I did because I believed that it was in their best interest, even if they didn’t like it at the time. I also hope that if they remember the gray hair and wrinkles, they remember that I earned them. They are the battle scars of age and motherhood. So instead of being horrified at my reflection and the fact that I look like a “mom,” I will just embrace it and look forward to what wonders the next 12 or so years will bring.

But I am still going to color my hair.

 

Happy Birthday!!

As any mother can tell you, each child is their own completely different little personality. (Some personalities being bigger than others.) Even with nine kids, you might expect some repeats, but nope. Each and every kid has their own special little flair. Aiden Joseph falls into the eighth slot in our family. He has the bluest eyes and the fuzziest hair.( I always joke that his hair grows out not down. ) He has a sweet and sensitive little soul. And he is funny, like seriously funny. I remember the days leading up to his delivery. I was huge.( And I have had 6 pregnancies, with big, chubby babies, so I do not use the word huge lightly.) I had to give myself shots in my stomach for the entirety of the pregnancy and had about a zillion and seven NSTs. It was not an “easy” pregnancy. I was very much looking forward to the end of the pregnancy and I really wanted to meet this little guy. His delivery was tricky and I managed to escape a c-section by the skin of my teeth. To make things even more overwhelming, my Pappy passed away in the same hospital while I was in labor. It was just a very emotional day. Even now, 7 years later, the mixed emotions flood my heart.

But I see his sweet little freckly nose and hear his deep belly laugh and I smile. I know that my Pappy is here. I see him in the twinkle of Aiden’s eyes. I hear him in Aiden’s raspy little voice as he murmurs his prayers each night. I feel him as Aiden gives me a big bear hug. My Pappy passed away 7 years ago as Aiden came into the world. But I have been blessed to see him live on in my son’s heart.

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