Empty Nest

I’m not going to say I want the last kid out of the house and into school. In fact when that moment comes I will be utterly heart broken. Little Silver is a breath of fresh air but she really wants more than I can give her now. I feel her need to be out playing more and having lots of little people around to engage in her madness. I can only be partly mad with a side of “oh shit, I gotta get dinner ready” not that fun a playmate when I disappears to do boring adult things. Last week I put her name on the entry list for school…eeeek. Am I ready to receive the mountains of paperwork and then hit her up with a multitude of injections the kids around here must have to walk through the school gates and into their allocated class.

The injections alone are costly but the tears that they cause will be the real heart breaker. This girl really knows how to make my heart to bleed. She works all the angles, has the face of a baby koala that makes you want to snuggle her in tight and protect her from the world but she’ll bite your face off at the same time.

Luckily School start time is still six months away so I have time to prepare for this. Emotionally for me, I do wonder…Will I get empty nest syndrome? Having spent the past +nine years with a child holding my hand everyday will I find it hard to let go of the last one? Will I automatically need to be impregnated so that I have faith in the fact that I am actually needed by someone all day long(probably not!) Or, and this is a big or, will I enjoy my time and figure out my life. I’ll be safe in the knowledge that all three kids are in a great school, playing with good people and learning from lovely teachers. Why should I worry? I know she will be totally fine going to school, she’s been walking to this school pretty much everyday for two years now. Most of her friends are a year older and go to class there, for her it feels good and she just can’t wait.

For me it’s a real toss up and it could swing either way. The one thing that I have been pretty good at in life so far is mothering. I was once told by an old flatmate (when I found out I was pregnant with #1) that I had the mothering skills of a firing squad…bloody proved him wrong! Turned out I learned from the best and deep down I had it in me all along. As most people do, it’s called human nature an instinct to keep your children thriving. The ability to adjust your sense of self and let them learn real values. How to trust people, who to trust, how to listen, when to listen and having respect for everyone and everything around you. I think the one big thing I want to give the little’s is how to respect and love themselves, at the same time realising that they are not more important than anyone else and no one else is more important than them. So many people live in fear of pissing off someone they deem to be more powerful than them, whether it be a bully at school or a boss later in life. Sometimes they throw their respect and love the wrong way to someone who really couldn’t give a crap about them. Respect is a two way street and should not be based on fear.

I think I’ll start counting the weeks so I know how much time I have left with my baby at home teaching her all the things I think she needs to make it through. I know this time shall slip away so quickly, I’ll blink and August will be here with another lunch bag to fill. However when I look into her eyes and she talks excitedly about going to school. What else can I do but smile and let her go however much it tears my heart.

 

 

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Frightened Heart.

I have it pretty easy when it comes to the bedtime routine. Yes, I repeat myself endlessly and sometimes have to step out the room to count to ten. However, it’s guaranteed that between the hours of seven and eight my mini me’s will be in bed and quiet. But something changed a few weeks ago, the littlest one become scared of something and was constantly get up or screaming “Mummy” from beneath her sheets. To say it got my back up a little would be an understatement, she was really cutting into my adult time. I have some classy (crappy) TV to watch. Does she not understand I’ve been with her all day and need to tune out?! It’s not like she’s alone in the room, there are two other kids there….she is not alone!

I finally caved in and decided that I would stay in the room, but with no contact – don’t want this to become a thing, right? So I lay on the floor doing some yoga, a little plank here and there, stretching myself all over the place. Until that moment where I would look at her from the corner of my eye to check she was asleep, then I would bolt out the room straight to the sofa via the kettle.

But it hit me, she’s scared, she’s little, she’s mine, and I’m the one who makes her safe. What the hell was I doing? She needs me!

She needs me fully present, laying next to her. I don’t go off the clock, that’s not what being a mum is all about. I ease her frightened heart, her overactive brain and it is me who will quell the nightmares. I give her peace from the scary monsters that could jump out from beneath her bed(and they might due to my lack of cleaning skills!)

This is not about me, how did I even make it about me?

This is about her needing comfort, I should be dropping everything to embrace that embrace. Will it really make much difference to my life if I watch one less episode of Buffy? Or will it make a real difference in hers if I am holding her, stroking her hair and making her feel loved?

There is only a small period in their lives that they will actually need me to do this, so why am I fighting it?

When you first give birth, you stare at the little squished up thing every minute of the day, wishing you could bottle every single second. Every smile, every smell – well maybe not every smell! You think that it will never end. Then suddenly without any warning you’re sighing at the moment they wander into the living room when they should be in bed.

I know there are all the theories on self soothing and the old ladies telling you not to spoil them. But can you really spoil a child with love and attention? or is this just total crap so that we can get on with our own lives, leaving them to become a hardened mess.

When they were babies, I always went in for the bed sharing, I practiced baby led weaning. Wore them in a sling until my back was giving way. Taking parts of my parenting from the continuum concept and enjoying all the moments I could. What changed?

ME!

Tonight, I lay with the littlest. Stroking her hair and listening to her breath becoming deeper, staring at her beautiful skin and watching her eyes blink slowly until they were so heavy that she couldn’t open them. I didn’t stop there, the other two were still awake, the eldest reading and the beautiful boy just looking into space. I sat next to his bed and repeated my actions, stroking his hair and wondering where my little boy went. I rubbed my nose against his, he looked up at me and smiled then fell into a deep sleep. I moved onto the big girl, clambering up into her bunk. While she was still reading, I gave her a foot and leg massage as she gets growing pains. She put her book down, cuddled into me and told me how much she loved me before closing her eyes.

This is so much better then any damn TV series. What was I thinking? I have three children who have gone to sleep knowing that in a world with so many unknowns, they can always count on me!

I stayed an extra five minutes just to hold the moment close.

 

 

Spring Break

School is such a buzzkill. I know that in reality we can’t have an eternal Spring break and that actually I would probably go totally insane having all three kids with me all the time, but this week has been sort of magical. Even though Jacob has been missing for some of it, we totally made up for it at the weekend.

Our Easter week started with a bang. That bang being a friend (Rebecca) and her two kids arriving from London. Summer and Rebecca’s eldest were in the same class in London so they were super excited to see each other and talk about who was a bit naughty back in her old class and who was the funniest person ever.

Our apartment is not really the best for having seven people staying in it but we made it work. I now quite like the idea of having a wife or living in a commune. Seriously things just got done. We worked well around dinner, cleaned up after with such synchronicity that in next to no time we had all the kids in bed asleep and were sitting out on the balcony with a cocktail. Not once did I have to ask for anything to get done, it was just done. Beautiful!

We started the week with a trip to Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is also my first trip to one of the local museums. Summer went here on a school trip a few weeks ago so she was really happy to show us around. In true London style we got on a couple of buses to make our way there. Not really sure why everyone uses their cars all the time here as it was super easy, although I’m sure it would be hell getting out to the beach on a bus…must google that!

The outside of the museum was pretty amazing, lots of room for the kids to run around. Inside the various buildings were photographs, paintings, sculptures…everything you would expect from a Museum of Art. It was not the most child friendly of museums, lots of marshalls around telling off the children for being too loud or fast. One fella said that art was not interactive and also not for children.. Not sure I agree with that one! However, they did have a children’s area where the kids could paint for a while and we could relax a little.

The next day we decided to go to Universal Studios. We had originally said we should go to Disney but it takes 15 min on the bus to Universal compared to a two hour drive to Disney, so it was kind of a no brainer with five kids in tow. We arrived at the park nice and early to make the most of the day. The older children wanted to go on all the rides, while the younger kids either couldn’t or wouldn’t. So Rebecca took the older kids while I took my young ones for a walk around. After a while of walking, Phoenix, Silver and I decided to take the studio tour. It could not be that frightening, right?! Hmm. Turns out that after 15 minutes of sitting on a train looking at various famous street sets you enter a dark tunnel. Then – in 4D – dinosaurs start attacking the train, spraying water and rocking the carriage back and forth. Phoenix and Silver both start screaming and shaking uncontrollably, fighting over who is going to be closest to me. I hung my head in shame for taking them on the tour…I could see the glares from the old biddies!

Next up was the famous animals show. I double checked with a steward that there was nothing remotely scary in this show. Apart from a few pigeons flying over head we were totally safe. Phoenix and Silver loved it, especially when one of the dogs from Beverly Hills Chihuahua came on stage. Oh, what a treat that was!!!

Then lunch and a run about in the water fountains and onto the next show, Waterworld. Seriously amazing. I love this stuff. Explosions and water flying everywhere. A crappy plot line. It’s so cheesy and fabulous…next time I’m going on my own and sitting in the splash area!

We caught a couple more shows and then it was time to head home with five tired kids –  and two even more tired Mums.

The rest for the week was filled up with kids arguing, winding each other up, then laughing and chatting. Kids are so amazing, I do wish I could wear my emotions on my sleeve the way they do.
Poor Jacob arrives home, tired and Jetlagged and I get him straight back into family life. Best way to get over the lag I say!

I had the weekend planned. It is Easter and we must find somewhere amazingly American to do an Easter egg hunt. Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark was going to be the place. So with a picnic packed we headed over to the land of oversized egg baskets. We hunted for sweetie filled eggs in a hay covered field and avoided the rather creepy looking Easter bunny. Really, what more could you want. Well, a little less sun, as being deep in the valley it was baking. We were baking. Being the pasty Brits we are (with the exception of Jacob) I was slightly fearful of us looking like “Brits on holiday” – you know, the lobster look. We did manage the whole day, taking a sun break in the hillbilly ranch style cafe and seeking trees to hide under. It was a perfect way to spend a family Saturday.

Easter Sunday arrived and we were going to a friend’s potluck lunch. I baked my Spanish Omelette just in time. The kids were all ready and off we went. Not really knowing what to expect as the friend (Tiffany) who invited us is really a new friend. Jacob and I actually met her the day before we got married in Vegas a couple of years ago. She was a gorgeous maitre d at the Paradise Cove in Malibu. She gave us her email and lots of advice on the different areas in L.A to live with kids. But on an actual day to day friendship level she is pretty new. Turning up at her house in North Hollywood for Easter Sunday was so fun. Her family and friends are just as amazing as she is. All gorgeous and welcoming. I felt like I had known some of them for years!

The Kids played outside. Summer playing catch, Phoenix running around with a boy his age trying out skateboards and Silver became the doorman for the day (or door person – don’t want to be sexist).

The Holidays are always so special, but this is our first one in Los Angeles so maybe that’s why it was extra special. Or maybe it was the friends visiting from the U.K or even the new friends making us feel welcome. What ever the magic factor was I don’t want it to end. Maybe I should home school. Maybe I should try unschooling, maybe I should go set that alarm.