Thursday, June 19, 2014

Relationship....Not Rules

The house is quiet, save the whirring of 2 bedroom fans, and the almost 7 week old who's grunting and nursing in my arms. The summer sun is already streaming through the windows, hinting of the heat to come, but we are officially on summer schedule.

 JT's evening practices are stretching past 8 now, and then the boys have to show him their block creations, or tackle him a few times. I've been saving their allotted tv time for evening as well, and we all watch Aquaman's favorite netflix show....Atlas 4D. The child who is terrified of all Disney movies and half the PBS shows doesn't blink at the sight of a real erupting volcano. I find that amusing. And amazing.

Greystoke slept one 6.5 hour stretch and another 4 hour one last night, and we are both feeling very good.

Thanks to touching base with a friend who has a baby the same age, I restarted swaddling him yesterday, and he has been very pleased. He doesn't like the same kind of tight swaddle the other 2 boys liked, so I discontinued it a couple weeks ago. But I seem to have found a looser way to do it now...and yesterday for the first time in weeks he started taking the pacifier again, which is a relief on a lot of levels.

All that sleeping, and pacifier sucking, when your infant is breastfed however, comes with mixed feelings. I woke up in a lot of pain this morning, and spent 30 minutes trying to wake him up to relieve it.

He is a sleepy boy, and after the other 2 who were NOT, I often find it unnerving, though also quite relieving. And I also find myself desperate not to screw it up. Now having a child who seems to follow the books a little better, I am on the hunt for methods and formulas to make our lives easier.

But I am also all too aware of the dangers in that.

A new baby and summertime have been a tiring mix, as much as I wanted it this way.

This is the first year of really experiencing how much Aquaman relies on the stimulation of school.

Though he tires of the academics...of the sitting in a chair, and is really very interesting. They're always moving from one activity to the next. There are many different people he encounters each day. He is always learning something it a game or song or how another 6 year old acts. We ran into a boy who sat at his kindergarten table at the park a few days ago, and though he often complained that this boy was bossy and aggressive, he begged me to ask him to come over to our house.

In some ways, the boredom has been good. Stuck in the house with a frequently napping 6 week old, the boys have been forced to be creative. I think that's what summer is all about.

I've been a bit appalled by the fact that Aquaman has been driving me a little crazy these past few weeks. And then it hit me this week...wouldn't ANY person that I spent this much time with every day be driving me crazy? I mean, babies are different, and even 3 year olds.

 But Aquaman is a boy now. A boy with very strong opinions that he needs to be recognized. A boy who never ever stops talking. I find that more exhausting than all the couch jumping in the world.

I've also been frustrated by his behavior, which I have been interpreting as terrible. He argues with me, and with his brother, about everything. If he starts doing something he absolutely cannot stop until it is completed to his liking. Even if that means crying hysterically while he completes whatever he is making with his blocks.

The Dude hasn't been much better. Entering the 3.5 year old disequilibrium around the same time that he is also realizing that Greystoke is not just some temporary joke, he is here to STAY, has him struggling for a foothold. And he can really dig his nails in.

Thank goodness that 2 weeks ago I caught the end of a Focus on the Family broadcast about the strong-willed child. Cynthia Tobias was discussing her book: "You can't make me (but I can be persuaded)". I reserved it from the library, hoping I'd find some methods for how to deal with all of it.

I read it cover to cover in 2 days, and what I love about her as an author is, I didn't find a method. I found God. And I remembered that parenting, like our relationship with God, is a relationship, not a rule book. I know that. But sometimes, especially when I am tired and insecure, and adjusting to a major life event, it is easier to fall back in to looking for a quick fix. A formula that will magically solve our problems.

Aquaman was sent almost 6 years ago to humble me and remind me of this. I found out early that often the same thing with him would never work twice. The only thing that DOES work is love. Acceptance. And my own humility.

The book reminded me that a child is not wrong just because he is different from his parent. As a rather compliant person myself, it is often hard to understand why everything has to be so hard with my first two.
But it is simply how they are wired. It's not easy, but this week I have been better about letting things go that are not a matter of physical safety or eternal consequence. Though sometimes, in the heat of the moment, I still freak out about the mess on the floor, or the door left wide open, mostly I've been taking a breath and just cleaning it up. The result? Less arguing. Less fights, even between the two boys. Crazy how a little patience rubs off on the whole family.

Aquaman is up now. JT is heading out the door to his beach practice, and we will all be following close behind, as we have a couple other times this week. It's the perfect way to start the day...7:30 am...a way to burn energy early before the sun is too intense. Starting the day in the fresh salty air. Sometimes I think our outside time is as much for me as for my active little boys. But when I watch Aquaman venturing farther out into the waves...facing them down with determination...I appreciate more that strong will. That will allow him to overcome the fearful nature that I understand far too well, for I struggled with it too as a child.
I love to watch JT, weighed down by a 30 pound vest named The Dude, and how he never treats our little boys like nuisances, even in his busyness.

My seemingly more compliant child is kicking in the nap nanny at my feet. The Dude is now in my lap, passing gas, and wiping his nose on my arm. And today I'm going to throw the method books out the window. And love my boys just as they are. The baby who likes routine, but likes snuggles even more. The 3 year old who needs imagination and creativity and lots of activity. The 5 year old with the scientific mind who just needs to be heard.

I'm grateful the God loves us each how we need to be loved. Grateful that He shows us how to love each other the same way.

Thankful for one more week of maternity leave, for returning only 2 days a week when I go. For 2 sets of grandparents, one set who is just returning after a long 6 weeks, and boys who are so excited to see them. For a first gymnastics class this afternoon, and how differently each of my sons will react to it.

For a baby who, in the midst of the chaos of monster truck bridges, just quietly drifted off to sleep.

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