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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Friends

How do you know a friend is a true friend? How do you decide when they have earned your trust? When do you divulge details of your life that you wouldn't just ramble out to a complete stranger? I struggle with this. I am an open book. Sometimes I wonder if I'm too open...do I scare people off? My husband thinks I read too much into other's actions. For example, if I meet another mother and our children are the same ages, I feel like this is a good reason to have a playdate, yes? And when we schedule this playdate, I try my hardest to follow the courteous "rules"...if we are at the other person's house, I always have intentions of cleaning up after my children and bringing food and snacks for my children - sometimes even enough for their child(ren). However, we all know what can happen with even the BEST of intentions! The truth is I have a lot of kids. They are small kids. They are not the best behaved. We have a pretty regular routine which includes eating at regular intervals and napping at close to the same time each day. We don't plan more than one thing a day...it just gets too complicated. So, when I say these things out loud and openly to another parent during planning phase, I feel like they should be respected, right? I will bend over backwards to be in a position where we are hanging with another family...mostly because I CRAVE adult time. I love to talk about "the way we were", I love laughing about pre-kid days, I love complaining about my husband.

All of this being said, lately I have been on some "playdates" - let's say in the past several months - and never heard from the other again. "Never" is a harsh word. I usually see these people around somehow...and maybe there are words exchanged of how "we should get together soon!" Unfortunately, any attempt of mine to schedule something is usually countered with an excuse of being out of town or something else is already scheduled, etc. Shaun thinks I'm being sensitive. On one hand, yes, it's the summer. People vacation often in the summer. Well, some people do. Lucky them. I realize people have family members come into town during these months, too. It's just....well, I don't honestly know what "it's just". I want some friends who I am comfortable with! I want friends who WANT to hang out with me and my kids! I want friends who will say out loud to me, "Yes, I would love for you to come over. Anytime." And MEAN IT! A standing weekly playdate would rock my world. Someone who's parenting tactics I relate to and agree with...someone who's children get along well with mine...someone who doesn't mind switching off hosting and guesting.

I don't know who (if anyone) reads this and I would hate to offend someone or hurt their feelings, so I'm going to try to be very vague. I had a friend I felt met these qualities, but just 2 playdates resulted in me finding out some "deal-breakers". Another friend has issues at home which prevent me from being comfortable over there. I met a couple of women through church who I really felt connected with, but had one playdate with each and have heard nothing since. I've made an attempt or two at setting something up, and all have been met with an excuse as mentioned above. I understand the excuses, but I feel like people would offer an alternate date if they were even interested in hanging out again.

Sigh. I did run into an old friend recently and we really had a great time together when we made time to hang out a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, a later look at our schedules showed us her "perfect play day" is the opposite of my perfect play day. Awesome.

Are there people who would rather just hang out at home with their kids and NOT be around other adults? Is it the fact that I have 3 or sometimes 4 kids with me that is intimidating? Is it my kids? Is it me? I understand people not wanting to come to my house because it is rather small and we have only one bathroom and we have severely weeded out the toys due to the space constrictions, but I am almost always willing to venture OUT rather than always being the type who invites people here.

I feel like I veered off up above...I usually don't re-read, but I did this time and I didn't connect my thoughts very well. What is happening is I feel as though I'm being avoided after just one playdate. It's happened a couple of times...leading me to believe it's me. Maybe I should just keep the conversation to "about kids" at first. Maybe I don't need to tell people that Shaun and I fight. Maybe I need to keep my mouth shut and not offer up any advice for disciplining/raising kids. I think, instead, I would just appreciate honesty. If someone doesn't think my personality is appealing to them, I do believe it would hurt my feelings less to be told that rather than all of my attempts at getting together being thwarted. Hmmm. Maybe there are some people in my life I should start being more honest to and see if it comes back around. When did we all get so concerned about hurting feelings? The friends I mentioned above are not people I "dislike" for any reason...there is just one reason or another that I feel getting together with our children involved is not a good idea. Maybe we could be friends later when my life is more MINE and less MOM. Maybe.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Morning

So far this morning we have had numerous breakdowns, several tantrums, scrambled eggs and grapes, cleaning, playing with blocks, 3 poopy diapers, throwing blocks, 2 timeouts, and 1 hour of working on getting the baby down for a nap. It's 9 am. What does the rest of this day hold?

I have been struggling with discipline pretty much the entire time I've been a mom. Spankings? Time-outs? Talking tos? Ignorance? What is the answer? I literally go in circles trying different things. Different combinations. I know consistency is key, but I honestly feel the most important part of consistency is being consistent about what is and isn't allowed. Time out is not always convenient or even possible. Spanking is sometimes only to make myself feel better - when they are REALLY in trouble. You know the rules are clear when they break one and look right at you in anticipation of the response. This leads me to believe sometimes ignoring the behavior is best. Unfortunately, ignoring isn't always easy either. I've heard and read such a range of theories from toddlers' brains being comparable to cave men to using "love and logic" works best. Is there an answer? I don't think so. I think you just have to set ground rules, respond to them appropriately for the infraction, and make sure "downtime" is full of obvious love. When they aren't crying or whining I shower them with affection and praise. When they get cranky, I try to "solve" it or just ignore it. I'm not saying this works for all kids, but it's what I am hoping will work for mine.

While I was typing this (literally 5 minutes), we had quite the show here in the kitchen. Jack got up on the table. I ignored this. Henry got up on the table. Still ignoring. They began to mess with the cord to the light, so I pulled them both off the table and went back to typing. While I pulled them down one of the chairs fell and they then had a fight between the two of them about who was going to pick the chair up. Really? Necessary? No. I was content to let them yell it out, but daddy came in and broke it up. This resulted in everyone crying and whining...until they realized I wasn't picking them up because of it and now they are playing "robot". I just described 2 minutes of our day. 2 minutes. Jealous? I didn't think so.