Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't just be a mom...BE a mom.

I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm a crappy mom most of the time.

Oh, sure, I feed them, wipe bottoms/noses/dirty hands, give baths (occasionally...what? They are frequently wet-wiped, making baths superfluous....), make sure they get some exercise, hold school for the elders, snuggle with the youngers. Oh, and I wash their underwear.

I'm like a maid.

But I don't play with my children. I think I lost the "play" section of my brain at some point, along with the "childhood dreams and ambitions" and "ability to fly" quadrants of my brain.

Maybe it's because my body is so big that playing becomes more of a chore. I remember being able to run forever when I was younger. I had the appetite and structure of a bird, and enjoyed the feeling of motion and freedom. Then I grew up and suddenly felt very heavy...Play morphed into something else... Maybe "play" has been redefined by adults as "exercise." Running used to be fun, see, but now it's more like trying to convince yourself that pushing a boulder up a snowy hill is fun and "good for you," and then your body tells you it would be more fun to sit on a chair and eat chips, and the battle goes on and on, and eventually you find your bottom firmly on a chair and your fist full of chips, and the other hand waving off the constant nagging in the back of your mind that you probably should get off your ever-expanding rump and, no, not exercise,

 Anyway, tangent, sorry....

Today, I set the children free on our daily walk, and trudged quickly (did that make your mind implode?) up the hill, my muscles screaming as I pushed Eden and Leah in the huge bike trailer/stroller. "This is good for me," I thought to myself. As I made it to the top of the hill, I stopped and waited for two stragglers. Lily just recently started walking on her own on our excursions, and isn't quite used to them yet and frequently stops to look at bugs or to have meltdowns in the neighbors' yards when I walk too far away. Joshua is a good sport and stays with her, and so they were behind us quite a ways.

As I waited, Eva ran off to the neighbor who happened to be out in their yard, proudly showing off her missing bottom teeth, and presenting Doni (the neighbor) with some grass-gone-to-seed. Lily and Joshua cut across the yard to see Doni, too, and I waited somewhat impatiently for them to wrap up their social visit, since she was attempting to do something gardenery in her yard and Leah was having a nervous breakdown in the stroller, and needed to keep moving.

Doni looked between me and my noisy entourage and said, "Never a dull moment, is there, Dara?"

"Nope!" I replied cheerfully. I always try and appear happy when people say things like this. Weeping convulsions aren't socially acceptable.

"You're a good mom," she finished, and we went our separate ways.

I laugh a sad, little, ironic laugh in my head when people say this.

We continued on our walk, frequently stopping for rock in shoes, rolly pollies, butterflies, "poison" berries, and whatnot, and Leah continued to vigorously sing us the song of her people.

As we made our way back, some children were zooming up and down the street on scooters and other mechanical toys I don't approve of because they don't require physical exertion or imagination (see? I'm a crappy mom...). Behind one of these kids was a little boy who had to be less than 2-years-old. He was trying his best to keep up with his brother.

It would have been cute if he hadn't been running down the middle of the road.

My Mother Senses began tingling and my brain was screaming to save the poor waif.

To his credit, the kid (who was probably five or six) on the scooter was trying to get his brother onto the sidewalk. Being very young, the tyke struggled to comprehend what was wanted of him, but was obedient to the order when shown where to go.

Joshua was very troubled by this whole situation, and stuck to the little boy like glue, trying to keep him on the sidewalk (Lily, too, was disturbed and I found her shepherding him along at one point). The little boy (Max, as we discovered from his brothers) walked next to Joshua until we had to cross the street. Max was about to cross with us, when he was redirected by his older brothers.

I didn't see how it happened, but Max ended up walking with us anyway (that's when Lily pitched in). One of the brothers kept telling Max to go home, but the little guy just didn't get it, so he turned to me and asked me to take Max home.

It's amazing how children just assume everyone knows where they live.

I informed Max's brother that I didn't know where he lived, and before he could tell me where he lived (which he eagerly attempted to do before I cut him off), I told him that he needed to take Max home. He ain't my kid (In retrospect, I probably should have taken Max home. Maybe having a total stranger with Max in tow would have startled his mother into keeping her tiny person within arm's distance...where he should have been...).

Max never did get taken home. He kept right on following us and his brothers down the street.

I don't want to be mean or judgmental to Max's mom.

Maybe she didn't know he was out. Or maybe the brothers were supposed to be doing a better job babysitting. I don't know.

But it made me think about being a mom.

So, instead of tossing the kids into the house today after our walk and making them play inside while I did my own thing, I pulled out the Slip 'N Slide and threw the ring sprinkler under the trampoline and watched them play and soak themselves to their hearts content until I had enough of them being crazy people in the yard.

Not quite so crappy a mom. I get 2.5 stars for that.

Joshua turned to me at one point, and said, "You're enjoying this, aren't you, mom?"

Yes, Josh. I enjoyed it very much.

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