Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Importance of Men

Too often lately the importance of men in our lives seems to be marginalized. Yes, it is possible to support yourself and raise children without the presence of a husband, but it's not ideal. It's not ideal for you and it's not ideal for your children.

My father died when I was very young. My mother didn't have a choice when it came to being a single parent. She made good sound choices regarding her personal life before she planned on becoming a parent (yes, I was planned.... scary thought isn't it?). The hand Fate dealt her changed her options. Once my father was gone she had to think very carefully before choosing to introduce new men into my life.

I am thankful every day for my husband. It scares me sometimes to think how little control I have over whether he will live to be an old man and share my entire life with me. He is not home for very many of the boys' waking hours during the week since he leaves early every morning to work and support us in the grand manner we've become accustomed to (hard to convince little boys they don't want to eat). On the weekends it's hard to get him to leave the house. Sometimes this is a little frustrating since I'm here at home the entire flipping week. Wouldn't it be more fun to leave home and go somewhere? Anywhere? Maybe watch paint peel on the old downtown buildings? Seriously though, aren't I lucky he wants to spend as much of his time as he can with his family?

Sam is so upset these days if Dave leaves for work before Sam wakes up. How dare Daddy leave him all alone with this chopped liver person he calls Mommy? His little eyes just light up when Dave's home weekend mornings and all the kids pile into bed with us. Chris waits to tell me everything that happened at school until his dad gets home. It doesn't matter how many questions I ask, there's always something he's held back specially to tell Dad. Jake will lay across my lap while I'm trying to nurse him (after he's followed me around the house for 10 minutes making "feed me" noises) and watch his father (while biting me!) if Dave walks into the house before I'm finished nursing the little booger.

As for myself, I would go insane if I were all alone raising 3 boys without the love and support (and midnight baby wrangling) I get from my husband. I can't imagine why anyone would choose to become a single parent. What deluded soul would imagine that childrearing, so intensive for those of us in a strong relationship, would be such an easy thing to manage all alone and around full time employment. There wouldn't even be someone taking turns cooking dinner or picking children up from daycare. I understand the strong feeling of need that comes when you want a baby. I think children feel that same level of need when it comes having two parents.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

School Days are Here Again

Today was Chris's first day back at preschool. He's been looking forward to getting back to school since about a week into summer vacation. Unfortunately, there are only two kids in his Monday Thursday class so far. His teacher assures us that as they complete screenings the class will fill out, but for now it's just the two of them. On the bright side this does mean lots of one on one time with his teacher and her aide.

Chris hounded me all morning to take his picture. That's him in the orange shirt with the backpack (you never would have guessed, would you?). Sam wanted in on the action as well. I picked the most "Sammish" of the photos to post. There are a couple where he's looking adorable and well behaved, but this one shows his true colors. Jake missed out on having his picture taken. I'll have to try and remember to get one tonight.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Goals and Ambitions

Somehow I seem to have forgotten who I am. Not forgotton in the sense that I don't remember facts but in that I don't frequently take the time to think about it. For several years now I have been someone's wife, someone's mother, someone's daughter, someone's granddaughter, someone's tenant, someone's 4-H leader... you get the idea. This is the manner in which I've been thinking of myself.

Another trap I've fallen into is defining myself by what I used to be: used to be a Loucks, used to be slender, used to be a good student, used to be a champion showman of sheep and rabbits, used to be a good hand with a horse, used to read everything not nailed down or splattered with bodily fluids I can't identify (either the fluid or what it came from).

I have set very few quatifiable goals the past few years. The few I set have been of the housecleaning sort and that is never a good way to define success. Laundry and dishes are a many headed Hydra. Just when they are all caught up, like the Hydra of legend, six new loads come into being where before, you would swear, there was just one.

Staying home with my children is important to me. Raising young children does not provide the opportunity for quantifiable analysis of your task. Sure, if they don't grow up to be serial killers and hold down employment, if they're not addicted to mind altering substances and don't abuse their families or dogs... you can consider yourself to have done an adequate job. If you've done a good job they will be productive, contributing members of society. They will raise another generation of children who will grow up to be productive, contributing members of society. My point is that our goals tend to be rather broad and hard to evaluate when it comes to childrearing.

I am a firefighter. All day, every day I put out small conflagurations. I cook. I clean. I kiss boo-boos. I hold hands. I read stories. I mediate disputes. I scoop puppy poop. The day to day minutia of our existence consumes about 25 hours of my day.

Being a student was great. I had a set number of classes per semester. My goal was to get an A (or C if we're talking math and chemistry). Career goals are always fun too. Parts of them are very quantifiable; money, hours, benifits (some not quantifiable like enjoyable work environment), location.

Being a mother/wife/daughter/granddaughter is more ambiguous. The ripples from the pebbles I throw today may not reach the edge of the pond in my lifetime. How do you evaluate that? What should my career goals be now? Is potty training a goal for me? Or for Sam? Does it count as my success once he's mastered it? Am I successful today because the four of us (three boys and me) survived the fair without losing more than a sippy cup? Did I miss my goal of teaching good nutrition by feeding them ice cream for lunch and pizza snacks out of the freezer (thawed, but not warm) for dinner? Did Chris helping himself to a snack out of the refigerator made of corn tortillas and spinach make that a goal attained despite the pizza snacks?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Do you ever wake up in the morning so excited you can hardly wait to jump out of bed? I vaguely remember days like that...a long time ago... before we had children... when we slept for more than 5 hours a night. I am the proud parent of three wonderful boys. Chris is 4, Sam is 2 (and very good at being 2), and Jake is 10 months old. I am always sleep deprived. When Sam was 6 months old I found out I was pregnant with Jake. The first thought that popped into my head was, "I'm never going to get a full night's sleep ever again," It's a good thing early morning is my favorite time of day because our day starts sometime between 5:30 and 6:30. Although I complain and moan and groan I can't imagine anything I'd rather be doing with my days.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room