Monday, January 5, 2009

A day of packing - and packing, and then, we packed some more!

Usually I would have at least half packed at this point before any trip - but with Christmas coming up and having the kids around for the petit vacances, I just hadn't done it figuring I had all day Friday, right? Bad move. We told the kids - you just got all these new toys from Santa and various new DVD's - take care of yourselves today! Well, they did a pretty good job all morning long playing with toys, and we put on a movie after lunch but around 3pm they wanted mommy and daddy again. (who can blame them?) Well, we were still packing with no end in sight. It is always suprising to me how long it takes to pack for these kind of things - what is the big deal?? And, no matter how carefully I plan, there are always some things I forget, and things that I bring that I don't need (like Zander's homework - I mean, will we really make him do it instead of sledding down some mountain?)
Poor Zander - he came over to me as I was packing something and said "Mommy, I want you." This is a big accomplishment for him. It is very hard for Zander to use his words to say what he wants and needs - usually he just starts either breaking something or hurting his sister. Trying to honor this progress, I praise him, drop what I am doing to say, OK, let's do something together! We decided to draw a picture of us together. Well, about one minute into this project Griffin starts to scream, I go to take care of him and then remember I had to pull some more socks off the seche linge and pack up some cereal and put away the toys etc... etc..., completely forgetting about Zander. About 1/2 hour later he showed up and, without comment, handed me this picture - Mommy the big giant, Zander the insignifigant dot.... I put it down in the art room and he later ended up sticking it on the wall, backwards....I think this entire episode may figure prominently in his therapy sessions as an adult....
It is hard sometimes, you just can't do all you wish you could as a person or as a parent. A big part of the reason I came to France was to make it so I had more time to just be with them. And I do and I really enjoy it. But it seems like there just is never enough time in the day. It is hard to figure out what to value more - which activities to choose and what to let go. I have been getting Family Fun magazine for years, and feeling guilty about not doing the really fun activities in there - and we have been doing some of them lately (like the salt dough ornaments) and it is great! The beginning of this petit vacances was tons of fun with them. We had been playing and spending lots of time together. This made them (and me) pretty happy - though I fell behind on my blogging and other routine jobs...but it was worth it.
As a mom, I do a lot of multitasking and I actually like it. Sometimes it makes me feel proud - do you realize I cooked and cleaned 3 meals today, did laundry, went for a hike, blogged and did art projects all before 4pm?? That takes talent, baby! Sometimes André gives me a day off and he always has a hard time managing everything - I think I am good at my job - and I really like it most of the time. But I worry, sometimes, am I valuing the right things? Am I choosing to do what will help them become useful future members of society? Am I doing enough to discipline them in the right ways, am I giving them enough space to be who they are, without that becoming hurtful to others? I also sometimes wish for more time for myself. I am definitely better off now than I was at this time last year - I was often in despair when André was in NYC and the kid were at such radically different stages of development - it seemed there was very little we could do together that all three would enjoy and now that is much less true - they love to do alot of things together with me and even, sometimes, without me. Their favorite thing is to play imaginary games together as a group like playdoh, or forts or kitty family or pirate treasure (and let's not forget the ever popular - try to strangle each other - a perennial favorite).
My problem is that it is sometimes hard to multitask when I am working on something more complicated (like food, clothing and activities for a week for a family of 5). How can I pack and get ready for the Alps, and play toys with them? Sometimes I tell them, I will play with you later - but later never comes - and other times they say, but I want you now and they just can't have me then. I usually try to use my best judgement to give them what they really need when they really need it. But sometimes their needs are in conflict with mine, and with each other's needs. What a challenge! Also, I always think we can fit in more than we can, that we can squeeze in just one more quality activity - and then kids end up dissappointed. Well, I hope we have time to play in the Alps - I am really looking foward to that.

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