Monday, August 30, 2010

Operation Smile

At the end of last summer while leaving our favorite park on a warm and fire-fly light night, I felt inspired by the beauty of the night and our high spirits to make my kids' childhoods perfect. Idyllic. It was all up to me; I could completely control it by simply being a perfect and idyllic mother. It was just a matter of taking it day by day. So exciting!

Well, a year later, that hasn't quite worked out as I hoped. My kids and I have been a little bit grumpy over this summer. There has been too much yelling, crying, threatening, writhing on the ground and even mild cursing around this house. The boys have been a bit grouchy, too. After watching Andrew melt down and throw an absolute fit over basically nothing, and just before I threw my own retaliatory tantrum (you know, to fix the situation, obviously), I decided it was time to turn things around and thought that maybe, just maybe, there might be a more effective response. I knew it sounded crazy, but I thought it just might work.

I decided to just plaster a huge smile on my face. Never mind that it was fake. My kids aren't that perceptive yet. I forced them into the car, we raced off to a park to blow off steam, and, after I was able to coax-threaten Andrew from the car, I put my plan into action.
As a short aside, Operation Smile has been floating around in the back of my consciousness for some time. I have come to realize that my face is not one of those that gives me away; worse, it is one of those that disseminates misinformation about me. I have had women apologize to me for expressing their love for the Savior or their goals to hold weekly family nights because somehow my face acted like it was offended by their admirable feelings and ambitions. I knew in the midst of one such humiliating apology that my face needed to shape up. I had another occassion to see that O.S. was necessary when reflecting upon some childhood memories of adults who always seemed, from the set of their expressions, tense or unhappy. I don't want my meaness of my natural slack expression to indicate to my kids that I am not having a wonderful time being their mom.

Anyway, O.S. worked immediately. Andrew turned to see if I was watching him on the jungle gym and I gave him my biggest grin. His face transformed into a huge smile. The same with Will (who was happy already anyway, cute thing). Within 5 minutes, Andrew went from out of control to happy and joyful. By the time we got back in the car, we were all genuinely in fabulous moods.
My kids are just tiny little human mood rings of me, reflecting back at me whatever mood I exude at them. Looks like it is in my power to be a completely perfect mother after all! (Does ignoring them while blogging count as an imperfection? Didn't think so, either.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Fastest Summer of My Life (and also the most stressful, unless you count my mission which I often don't)

I have a lot of reasons for having abandoned my blog for the last several months, but none of them are really worthy. For example, one of those reasons is that there are too many things that I want to remember. Sometimes an approximation is the best one can do, and it is certainly better than doing nothing. Looking through my photos also somewhat depresses me because I realize that I didn't capture quite enough. Those first few weeks when the baby is the tiniest thing, almost unrecognizable to what he will soon enough become, I have too few of those. Like many other things in my life, though, I must confront that failure and move on. That is what blogging is all about.

So here is our summer, in photos.
It was the summer of a tiger striped baby who slept in a side car next to our bed.He also came to the pool with us and slept. It was the summer that Andrew really legitimately swam. He even invented the Thumbs Up stroke.He also learned the dead man's float. It would represent a heart attack moment for the lifeguards (he stays under for an alarmingly long period of time) but for the fact that they pay attention only to one another.
(Awkward Family Photo suitable?)I also like this photo quite a bit. The only way to include Andrew's face was to await his surfacing for air and be quick to press the shutter.
It was the summer I really liked my bathing suit. It was also the summer that Will became frighteningly ill. I was horrified when I saw this photo. He reached a point where he could not keep anything down at all. It is one thing to lament that your child can only be fed by a machine through a tube; it is another to wish that such a treatment worked. Despair might be the best word to describe how Brigham and I felt during the most acute phase. But Will pulled through and we are ending this summer as the first time since he was a few months old that he is solidly on the growth chart.It is the summer that I got serious about doing Family Home Evening (this photo of Will is from FHE's water fight activity from last week.)

I also instituted another policy: Brigham Must Be Home By 7:30pm. This policy was born in one horrible moment of clarity during which I was rocking a wailing newborn whose reflux made it too painful for him to nurse while watching my grievously ill and sobbing 2 year old vomit up all over the rug the small amount of food I had Jillian Michaeled him into eating set against the acoustic backdrop of my 4 year old raising hell in some nearby corner of our filthy disheveled shameful home, knowing that Brigham would only be home in a few hours (it was 6pm) as a special favor to me so that I could attend a Relief Society function I proved too depressed to rally myself to attend.Brigham initially failed to comply with the policy but eventually got with the program that enabled a few of these types of moments, not to mention a sane(r) wife.

It was also the first time any of my kids arrived at the 70th percentile for weight. He has dropped back down to 50th, but I savored the chub for the month it lasted.

I am going to have to stop here because it is late, but here is one from just this morning. Stay tuned for the next installment featuring our beach vacation, crafting activities and Will's soccer skills.