I love motherhood

Dean’s been gone to a professional conference since Friday morning and gets back tomorrow morning.  I’m (as you may have already figured out) pregnant, and also it was my turn to conduct the meeting in Relief Society yesterday, and I’m also in charge of the Relief Society PFHE dinner tomorrow night, and also overseeing the installation of a new furnace and air conditioner in our house today and tomorrow, and . . . probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting or ignoring.  (For instance, the fact that I have four young children to care for.  Thank goodness for PBSKids TV and fast food.)

When Dean’s out of town I try not to mention that fact on my blog, because I don’t want big bad guys to find out I’m alone and come to my house, and get ripped apart by our pit bulls and blown to bits with the Uzi I keep in the front hall closet.  (Consider yourself warned, bad guys.)  (I totally stole the formula for that joke from *mary*, the funniest person I (virtually) know.)  But anyway, I only have to get through a few hours before Dean gets back, so I think the odds are in my favor of not having to kill anyone tonight.

Sunday I was determined to find a way not to repeat my last experience taking the kids to Sacrament Meeting as a single parent.  That experience included chasing both Rose and Henry around the back of the cultural hall during the Sacrament hymn, with Rose shrieking and laughing, and Henry clomping loudly until, looking over his shoulder to laugh at me, he ran head first into a brick wall, after which he was screaming with pain.  I did get Ike to help me with the chasing, but my pregnant, be-heeled chasing was pretty ineffectual, and by the time Isaac and I had captured both kids, the hymn had ended, and then Rose needed to go potty, and I left Henry in Mabel and Ike’s care, and, when I came back with Rose, I heard that things hadn’t gone too well with Henry while I was away.  And that was just the beginning of the meeting — the rest is a blur, although I do remember about twenty minutes I spent sitting on a folding chair in an empty classroom with Rose on my lap, trying not to get too badly bruised as she kicked and screamed.

So, this time I was determined there must be some way not to repeat all that.  I planned to be a few minutes early, so, well ahead of time, I made sure everyone had both shoes, everyone had their hair combed, all our necessities were packed, everyone was fed, and I even made sure Rose and Henry got a mid-morning nap.  All my preparations paid off, and we did arrive a few minutes early, got a bench near the front (risky, but I was hoping my kids would feel more confined than in the cultural hall,) and I was able to ask kind neighbors to take over with my other kids should I have to carry any one of the kids out of the meeting.  Things started out pretty calm, and then escalated some:  Henry grabbed an entire handful of Sacrament bread, Rose escaped from me to go potty a few more times than could have been physically necessary, (but I just let her go — yeah, I know, it cost me credibility with Rose, but also made less of a scene,) and Henry got a blood smear on his forehead that turned out to come from his slight bloody nose, and when a lady behind us proffered a Band-Aid, he ripped the wrapper off, dropping all the paper bits on the bench and floor, and applied the Band-Aid to his ankle.  Also, during one of Rose’s escape attempts, someone across the aisle managed to capture her (I vigorously nodded my assent to this assistance,) and throughout the meeting Henry put on multiple applications of lotion and hand sanitizer.

So, overall, I thought our Sacrament Meeting attendance adventure went pretty well.  I was exhausted afterwards, but I still considered it a great success compared to last time.

This evening, I was hoping the kids would forget about Family Home Evening.  No such luck.  Then I tried to convince them that going to Grandpa’s house last night counted, but they weren’t buying it.  Then I told them I really needed to go to Target after they were in bed so I could buy diapers for Henry, and if we did Family Home Evening they’d surely be late getting to bed and I’d miss my chance to go to Target.

Of course they talked me into taking them to Target with me for our Family Home Evening.  Henry was already in pajamas, but Ike said he’d get Henry dressed, and he and Mabel helped Henry and Rose get coats and shoes on.  We made a plan that the kids would look at toys while I shopped, with Mabel supervising Rose, and Isaac supervising Henry.

Once we were at Target and the kids had headed to the toy department, I remembered I might have some Target coupons in my purse, so I sat down on a bench by the pharmacy to look for them.  I started weeding out the many expired coupons in my purse.  The helpful young lady pharmacist asked me, “Can I help you with anything?”  “No.  I’m just sitting here.”  A few seconds passed, and she asked again, “If you needed –”  Slightly irritated, I interrupted her, “No, I don’t need anything, I’m just sorting out some old coupons.”  She said, “It’s just that if you were looking for a pharmacy coupon I have one you can use.”  “Oh.  That’s for new or transferred prescriptions, right?”  She:  “Yes.”  Me:  “Yeah, I don’t have any prescriptions to transfer.”  There’s another pause while I finish my coupon-weeding.  Then I look up and say, “Actually — I think I might need a prescription re-filled.”  She asks for my name and birth date, and the name of the medication, and confirms that, yes, it’s ready to be filled, and, yes, I can come pick it up in a few minutes.  I add, “Um, is there another one there?”  She still has my information up, and quickly confirms that there is indeed another prescription “being held for you.”  Me:  “Oh.”  Pause.  “Is that from mid-October?  I think I might have filled that before I went on vacation and then forgot to pick it up.”

So I finish my shopping and go to collect my children.  I find Mabel and Rose holding hands in the doll aisle, and Isaac and Henry enjoying the action figures, where Ike also shows me a Nerf gun his friend recommended, which he’s saved enough money to buy for himself.  My beautiful children are the vision of calm, contented childhood.  But, as they wait for me to pay for my prescriptions, the image starts to fray.  By the time we make it to the front of the store, they’ve morphed into the image of unruly, ill-behaved rapscallions.  While I’m checking out, Mabel, Rose, and I go into this well-rehearsed routine:

Rose:  Misbehaves, runs away, etc.

Mabel:  Corrects Rose by grabbing her arm, threatening time-outs, saying she won’t be Rose’s friend anymore nor let Rose play with her toys ever again, etc.

Rose:  Tries to break free of Mabel; shrieks at air-siren pitch.

Me:  Shouts at Mabel (the only way for her to hear me over Rose’s shrieking) to leave Rose alone, reminds Mabel that I’m the parent, that she should tell me if Rose is doing something she shouldn’t do, and should let me do the disciplining.

We go through our routine three or four times while the cashier rings up my stuff.  We head for the car — and I realize I forgot to use my coupons, so, while I get back in line for my $1.50, we do the routine a few more times.  On the way out of the store, Henry breaks free from Ike and runs at top speed, stopping just short of the road as, at the top of our lungs, Mabel and I shout for him to stop.  Mabel chastises Ike for letting Henry get away from him, and I tell her Ike was doing his best and to leave him alone.

In the car on the way home, Mabel threatens Rose some more, I scold Mabel some more, they both call each other names, and I make them both say they’re sorry.  I repeat to Mabel that, except for when I’ve specifically put her in charge of watching Rose (I had released her from that duty after I picked the kids up from the toy area,) that unless Rose is doing something dangerous she should just tell me about it, and let me take care of it.  She says, “She was doing something dangerous!  She was going to run out of the store!”  Me:  “I don’t think she would have gotten very far before you had time to tell me what she was doing.”  Mabel:  “Yes she would!  She would have gotten all the way to The Little Gym before you heard me.  FINE!  Next time I’ll just let her go to The Little Gym!”  With wrenching agony, she adds, “I’ve only gotten to see Rose get in trouble about THREE times in my whole life!”

I’m glad it’s dark out so Mabel can’t see me stifling laughter.

So we make it home and it only takes about an hour, and a whole lot of cajoling and negotiating, for them to get in their pajamas and get to bed (I made things take longer, too, by catching them up on several weeks back-allowance and helping them figure out what goes into tithing and savings.)

And now they’re sleeping like the little angels they are, and I’m getting my motherhood pay-off by telling tales.


Oh, I totally forgot the best part of Sunday’s meeting.  A recently-returned missionary visiting our ward, who’d served in Argentina, talked about how much he’d loved his mission — how the church members were so poor, but would provide such abundant lunches that, as they served him and his mission companion second helpings unasked, they would think “Crap!” about having to eat all that.  And then, as he ended his talk, he said that he was one of 14 children, and that his mother “birthed every one of them,” and that she hardly ever yelled at her kids and was one of the greatest people he knew, and that he was especially grateful she’d had all 14 kids “because I’m the very last one.”  I loved that.  (Even if I was privately wondering if she’d started out yelling more and just run out of steam by the time she got to the end.  But that’s totally not fair; I’m sure there are some much quieter mothers than me out there.)


AND I forgot to say that, after church, a sister in my ward asked me “Can I help you?” and when I said, “With what?” she said, “With whatever you need.  For a long time I’ve been feeling like I should offer to help you out — I’m great at scrubbing toilets — or I could get to know your little ones and maybe be like another Grandma to them.  Whatever you need.”  I was surprised, and a little embarassed that I’m so obviously needy, but mostly touched and grateful — and I WILL find a way to take her up on her offer.

This entry was posted in I think I'm funny, Meanwhile in the real world, My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Parenting, Taking self-deprecation to a remedial level. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to I love motherhood

  1. Jessie W. says:

    Oh my goodness, sounds like you have your hands full with these kiddos! And I know they were being naughty and all, but they are still incredibly funny and amusing, at least the way you tell the story! Maybe that makes it easier since they’re so cute? And then they go to sleep and look like angels which wipes their slate clean every time!

    I truly respect you and all mothers for what they go through with their kids. Sacrament and Target sound like a real dream, lol. You poor woman! Hope you’re not too overworked Zina!

  2. Melanie J says:

    If we stop with the two we have now, this will be the reason why. This post is better than birth control.

  3. mary says:

    I don’t even know what to say, so I won’t say anything; I’ll just type.
    I really thought that as kids grew up they became better behaved, but now I’m not so sure.
    You’re such a fancy mom for taking your kids to Target at night, I’m still a lower class Walmart mom.
    One time my little brother and I were playing catch with a baseball, and he threw it at my eye. So I ran to the bathroom crying. When I saw that I didn’t have a bruise I was so disappointed. I wanted my brother to get in trouble so bad, so I got a black marker and smeared it under my eye. Then I started crying (I was an excellent fake crier) and went to my parents and told them what happened, minus the black marker part. My brother got in so much trouble, it was the happiest day of my life.

  4. Jennette says:

    Now that just tops all…..or at least, I’m just so glad to know that I’m not alone. Sometimes I think that I’m the only one who gets frazzled and yells and has naughty rotten kids (until they go to sleep and remind me of what perfect little angels they are). I hope Dean comes home soon to give some relief.

  5. You always know it’s bad when you get the offers for help. And—-you know how most Targets sell that cheap popcorn at the front? Think how much more fun your Target trip could have been with popcorn added to the mix. That’s when you really start looking like Hansel and Gretel, as there is a popcorn path following you throughout the store. I always tell myself in these troubling times, you are just helping with job security for the employees. As long as there is popcorn to clean up———there will be jobs at the Target. Sorry about everything—–our kids have been on one, which is why we had Family Home Evening warning, rather than Family Home Evening last night at our house. I am glad noone killed you—-especially the kids:)

  6. the MomB says:

    Laura, FHE warning sounds brilliant. What is it?

    Mary, I was an excellent faker too as a child and I am very impressed with your skills. Maybe someday a post of Zina’s will segue into telling my fake vomit account.

    Zina I have terrible pangs over being such a bad grandma that someone in your ward was moved to volunteer for that role. And yet I still adore all your stories.

  7. American Yak says:

    You have no idea how important this stuff is. I’m not kidding in the least. I just came from a screenwriting class where people were laughing over a completely, utterly obscene screenplay somebody had been working on (we had to read it in class), and everyone was encouraging the writer to finish it and throw everything bad into it. It made me ill.

    Then I come home and read about honor, diginity, sacrifice, trial, love, all with a twist of good ol’ wry humor, and I think, THIS is what goodness is. It is still out there.

    So thanks for sharing, even though I know just how it can be.

    (By the way, class is usually really fabulous, etc., etc…it’s just that one bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch.)

  8. the MomB says:

    Oh, T knew instantly what Laura meant, and the rest of you pro’ly did too, instead of an activity and lesson, you have a warning. Duh. It’s been a long time. LOL

  9. zstitches says:

    Jessie, thank you! I think most people are overworked, no? But I honestly do love my job.

    Melanie, I know what you mean: It’s hard for you to contemplate having more kids when the odds are so slim that you’ll get kids as awesome as mine are.

    Mary, wow. So even your brother was fooled? What a happy childhood memory.

    Almost the only time I shop at Walmart is if I want to buy fabric or sewing notions after the other fabric shops close. And my anti-Walmart stance isn’t even really a moral one, I’m just spoiled; Target is closer to my home and always so shiny and happy. But after I saw my tab at Target this last time, I was thinking I really do need to humble myself and go do my shopping at the Great Satan Store.

    Yak, I KNOW, my blog is SUCH better writing than a screenplay! Someone should pay me for it. And put it on TV.

    MomB, ack, please don’t feel panged. My first reaction really was “Are you kidding, I’m doing great, (comparatively speaking,)” but on the other hand, any mom of young kids pretty much could use almost an infinite supply of extra help (even just considering only the laundry.) I’m definitely NOT looking for a replacement grandma, we’re very happy in that department; I just also don’t want to turn away someone who feels prompted to do something kind.

  10. Pilcrow says:

    What a sweet offer from that lady. It’s almost harder to follow direct impulses like that than to relegate our services to prescribed callings and the like, prolly because I’m afraid of being misunderstood, seen as overbearing or overfamilar, etc. When I was a missionary I was never afraid to offer anything, but that was clearly my role – this reminds me it’s just one of the blessings of being a saint, being in frequent positions to perceive needs and offer. Thanks Zuh.

  11. Virginia Wood says:

    Dear Zina,

    Didn’t someone tell you that there is a genetic marker for kids with Rose in their name? It carries what I call the spice trait. Rose-Ellen was the spice in our family mix. What would a mix be without spices? Your grandmother had it too. See, I’m right about this. People with spice become the most creative, caring, lively, interesting spouses, mothers, and friends. It is sometimes hard to let the product raise and bake and you just want to poke it down sometimes and start all over. Just hang in there. The other kids in the mix all want to throw out the spice from time to time! I think a family lecture(I always did mine in the car) w/o the spice present is sometimes needed. Kids need to know that they all can’t be treated in the same way all the time. As a child, I personally disliked the story of the repentant son who swilled with the pigs. I was mostly a “good” child (my siblings might disagree) and as a child I was always very sorry for the willing son (as opposed to the swilling son). As a parent, I now totally understand the father. There is so much joy in seeing children embrace home, family, and God, especially if there have been significant bumps along the road. “Good” children need to be repeatedly told how much you appreciate their goodness. Badness occupies so much more of a parent’s energy and time through sheer necessity. Children instinctively know this, but it does build resentment and they love to see an offender’s come-upance. This is only natural.

    Are you crazy? You should TOTALLY take up the ward Grandma offer! My children survied their teenage years mostly to caring, fun, other adults who loved them, hiked with them, played with them, complimented them, corrected them, and listened to them. Anybody who can give your kids a moment of undivided attention deserves your undying gratitude and encouragement. I can’t tell you how much Joyce Bennet (your Senator’s wife) did for Rose-Ellen’s self-esteem and life-skills blessing. I will be forever indebted to her. She gave Rose-Ellen flute lessons and life advice for more than a fraction of what she charged all those flute-playing kids at the Suzuki Institute in D.C. Whenever she asks about Rose-Ellen, now she says, “How’s our girl doing.” She is right about that!

    Aunt Ginger

  12. zstitches says:

    Well, I will say that all my kids are pretty spicy. Rose kind of dominates the stories on my blog lately but Mabel was quite a handful at that age, too. Isaac may be my most compliant and mellow, but he still has his moments. I guess we don’t ever have to worry about lacking for flavor at this house.

    I do keep trying to think what I could have done differently the other night (other than just not taking them with me.) I think I may try to persuade Mabel that if she stops interfering so much she might get to see Rose get in trouble a lot more often. I don’t know. I know Mabel and Rose and I are in a strong behavior pattern and that I’m going to have to be the one to break the cycle; I’m just still pondering HOW.

  13. zstitches says:

    By the way, I know I’ve said this before, but Rose and Mabel LOVE Rose-Ellen. 🙂

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