Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 6

Note:  if you're not interested in the pictures, but want to read about our not-so-great week, just skip to the middle section of this blog.  Anywhoo...

Last week started out with a family wedding; one of my cousins got married, in the church that I grew up in (this aisle is the one I walked down when Geoff and I married almost seventeen years ago).  It was a lovely wedding, and we all had a great time; we were able to introduce Seth and Lizzie to a lot of extended family, which was special.  While Geoff and the two younger kids stayed in the nursery at the back of the church, watching the wedding from a distance, Matthew and I saw in the pews.  Matthew was so excited to be able to go to a wedding - he's been wanting to for a long time already.  The day after the wedding, he told me that he was often more interested in "girly things" like weddings and romance than in "boyish things that most boys like, like bakugan and stuff like that."  He then announced that he had a "romantic heart" and that his favourite part of the wedding was when the bride and groom kissed!  Sweet, sensitive kid that he is!!

The bride and groom (my cousin is the groom)

In addition to getting this great family shot (which I posted last week, but which I can't help but post again)...

...we also got a few of the kids that I really enjoy.  After getting Lizzie dressed up, she wanted to look at herself in the mirror.  I asked her if she liked her dress, to which she answered a resounding "NO."  Of course, pretty much everything gets a "no" answer these days, so I don't know whether she meant this one of not.  She's not really a frilly, dress-up kinda girl, so I wish I'd had my camera when I saw her running around in her dress carrying a toy drill and that's would have been the perfect picture of my girl:  pretty dress and power tools!
My parents, with Lizzie and Matthew...the kids all adore their Grandpa and Grandma.

After the weekend festivities, we went into a rather hard phase of the week, unfortunately.  Monday through Thursday were, frankly, terrible days, and I struggled quite a lot with feeling like things would never get better.  I felt like a lousy mother most of the week, and found myself too harsh and unsmiling many Matthew ever-so-thoughtfully pointed out.  I found myself in tears quite often, trying to cope but wishing I could run away for a while.  I think the worst moment was on Thursday when, after a while of cuddling one of the kids, that same child head-butted me and caused my nose to bleed and my eyes to see stars for a while.

It didn't help that I didn't have any chance to get out of the house by myself last weekend, so by the time this weekend hit, I'd been without a break for two full weeks (with one kid getting up at 6:15/6:30 every morning, and the last kid falling asleep at about 10:30/11:00pm every night).  The end result? This week was not a model parenting week for me.

Seth seems (for now) to have put behind him some of the big and horrid rages of previous weeks, but has moved into a very defiant and wilful stage, in which he seemed/seems determined to test and challenge every single parenting skill and boundary that I have.  It's like he's passing through ages two through four right now, and all at once.  If I said "black" he said "white."  If I pointed out a "big truck" he said "no - little car."  If I told him not to hit me, he would proceed to hit me again and again...until I would have to hold on to his wrists to prevent being hit...only to have him resume the moment I let go.  If, after over an hour of holding him, I would attempt to pick up Matthew or Lizzie, he would throw himself onto the floor, shrieking at the top of his lungs (for an hour) and throwing things - which meant that I would have to manage him instead of providing the affection or attention needed by the other kids.  One day, fed up with his unrelenting defiance and refusal to listen, I kept Seth at my side for over two hours while the other kids played with friends at a splash pad; we spent virtually that entire time in a battle of the wills.

Those four days seemed without end, and had it not been for Friday's surprisingly great day, I think I would have reached a point of despair.  On Friday morning, just before breakfast when the difficulties usually begin, I saw Seth about to launch into another tantrum.  Just as he was about to throw something (and I could see the screams building up in him), I said to him, "Seth, Mommy loves you very much, but you will learn to listen.  Why don't we do things a little differently today.  Can Mommy hold your hand so that we can go to breakfast together?"  I'd just been holding him for the past hour (with him plastered to me), and maybe it was the offer of continued physical contact, I don't know...but he looked hard at me, for a solid five seconds, and he finally put down what he was about to throw, and held out his hand to take mine.  In that moment, I felt a glimmer of hope that he understood that there are things that I simply will not back down on, and he accepted it.  Maybe I'm hallucinating by thinking that, but I needed to believe that at the time.  It was the defining moment of what turned out to be a stellar (and fun) day.

I want to say at this point that my family was very gracious and supportive this week, knowing that I was having a hard time (not hard to guess when I seemed to break into tears whenever they phoned!).  My Mom surprised me by dropping off dinner one day, and both of my parents took me and the kids out for lunch on another day.  My brother called a couple of times; and my sister took Matthew for a chunk of Friday, to take one of the kids off of my hands for a while and give Matthew a chance to play with his cousin.  A number of friends emailed or called me, offering encouragement, and two friends dropped by with friendly words (and, in one case, bags of clothes from her kids to mine, and an amazing gift for our family!!) and a chance to get my head out of my own navel for a few minutes.  I was grateful for all of it...and I think that all of this support prevented me from having to buy stock in Kleenex!


Fortunately, during a mostly-difficult week, we still had a few high points.  One of these was a visit from our niece on Geoff's side; we hadn't seen her for a couple of years and she had never been to our home.  It was lovely to spend a few hours with her, and introduce her to her newest cousins.  We're hoping she travels this way again soon!

Of course, the kids played with a local cousin as well; below, they are eating mango outside, while resting around the slide and a kiddie pool.  They have such fun back there!

On Friday morning, our one good day last week, the boys had a blast playing their 'new' game: bumper trikes!  They climbed onto the little trikes (Matthew looks so huge on them now) and chased each other around the driveway and garage, ramming into each other as hard as they could.

The thing to notice in this picture is what Seth is wearing on his hands:  baseball gloves.  A while before this picture was taken, Matthew ran inside to get his work gloves, because he found the handles of the trike slippery.  When Seth saw that Matthew had his gloves on he, too, ran inside to look for his gloves.  When he couldn't find his work gloves, he came up with another solution...the baseball gloves.  You can see him focusing hard here, trying to steer the darn trike with the big, awkward gloves on his hands.  It was hilarious!

And, of course, there's always lots of emotion flying around here these days; Lizzie is bound to land a job in the theatre some day, I'm convinced!  

The facial expressions this girl's unbelievable.  Every day I see new ones that I wish I could bottle and preserve...she's just so expressive.  Her teenage years are going to be a lot of fun, I predict! lol

Finally, a highlight for Matthew and Geoff was going to a local fair and rodeo this weekend; Matthew has wanted to see a rodeo for some time, and was thrilled to be able to see the bull-riding, calf-roping, and barrel racing competitions, as well as to try out a few of the rides.  I can't believe how much junk food Geoff let him eat that afternoon/evening...but I'm working at letting go of that issue!

All in all, it was a very mixed week, from my perspective... some certain highlights, but with a lot of downer days.  I was exhausted by the weekend, and was very thankful to take Geoff up on his suggestion that I get a pedicure on Saturday morning.  My feet are still thankful, and I can finally wear open-toed sandals again!

I hope that week 7 starts out well.   But whether it does or doesn't, you can be sure that you'll hear about it here!

Blessings, friends!



  1. Oh ruth, that really sounds like a rough week. Really glad to hear that Friday was better - I really hope that this week will follow that pattern!

  2. Sorry to hear about your tough week, Ruth! Not fun at all. We always found that after going somewhere different, the kids would have a tough few days after. Even now, with B struggling, it's the same thing. Makes it hard to do those fun things outside of the regular routine.

    Praying that the 7th week is much, much better,
    Michelle Q

  3. I wish I lived closer Ruth--You've been a good friend to me online, and I just wish I was there to give you a big hug, and then take you out for a 'girls day'!--Maybe someday!
    Thank you for being so honest in your posts, I think for me, it's been a BIG reality check that it's not all Rainbows and Lolly Pops!--Job will be coming home when he's about 1, and I sometimes feel like 'okay, because he's younger, we won't have issues'-HA!--Your words have made me brace reality, doesn't matter what age they come home at, it's an adjustment for both the children AND for ourselves. Thank you!

  4. Oh man! In case hearing this again helps, it gets better. So much better. Honest.

    One thing that worked for us when we were about at the stage you are at, when the behaviours were still there, but there was beginning to be some comprehension was singing. Not your usual singing. When one of the kids would hit me or scream at me or refuse to do something or tantrums or..., I would plaster the best smile I could on my face and very loudly and cheerfully sing something like this "Mommy loves Sedaya even when she hits. Mommy loves Sedaya even when she screams. Always and forever. Mommy loves Sedaya. No matter what she does. Mommy loves Sedaya even when she bites." etc. or "Elijah is my boy. He always will be. I will never stop loving him. No matter what he does to me."

    It worked (most of the time). Sometimes, it would annoy them and make them more angry. But most of the time, it worked. And the words start to sink in after awhile.

    If they would scream even louder, sometimes, I would sing the song softly and they would scream more quietly to try to hear the words! I hope it works for you even just a little.

    The testing phase (which is what it sounds like Seth is in) is a really tough one, but it's actually a positive sign. It means that he is beginning to trust you, but he wants to see if you really mean it. If you are really going to keep him even if he is defiant etc.