The Sick Donkey Noise and Frozen Corn.

I have no food in the house.

It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and I don’t think any of us have eaten lunch. We did eat eggs and toast (well the boys ate toast. I have yet to find a gluten free bread that I can swallow without gagging. I think I’ll try and bake one myself…) at more of a brunch time so I suppose we’ll make it till dinner with a little snack.

Except I don’t have any snacks left.

Better have Husband pick something up on the way home.

It’s a rainy, dreary week outside and we’re all going a little stir crazy.

The little squish has figured out how (or been taught by his hero, and older brother, Captain Ezra) to climb onto my favorite dark teal green armchair, the one I found on Craigslist and dragged Husband all over Orlando the week we moved here to try to find the owner’s house, and it nearly didn’t fit into the car, but that’s another story for another day… so they climb onto the chair, hold their arms out to the side like wings, and free fall, face first, onto the mattress that Captain Ez sleeps on. Well, he sleeps there when he’s not climbing into my bed and sleeping with his feet in my face. When that happens, Husband sleeps on the mattress on the floor, under the pirate comforter. Much to his chagrin.

The problem is that Captain Ez is almost four years old, he has refined his falling technique. The little squish is not as refined in his falling skills. He wobbles, one foot on the seat, one foot on the arm of the chair, and he looks at me for approval while he falls blindly, usually ending up on the mattress, sometimes the floor next to the mattress, in a position that looks as if he will require medical attention. He’s usually fine, giggling hysterically at his incredible talent, and probably also at the new gray hairs that spontaneously pop up on my head every day, and does it again. And again. And again.

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This was right after a face plant on the ground, with some help from his big brother. He’s okay now, and jumping again.

It’s cute to talk about, but the reality is that I cannot get anything done while this child is awake. I turn my back and he is playing inside of the dryer. I make eggs and he has somehow retrieved a handful of butter knives from the silverware drawer (note to self: install better child locks). He thinks that couches are mountains to be climbed and that their summit is to be jumped from. The other morning, Husband let me sleep in. I staggered into the living room, still groggy, to his cheerful, “Good morning. Hudson ate his own poop.” Fantastic. While trying to cook he usually entertains himself by bowling with potatoes and onions. He likes to pick up babies, which turns into more of a tackle and then a barrel roll, with said baby in his arms, since he is not as strong as he thinks. He has quite an impressive throwing arm, unfortunately he thinks that most things were invented just to be thrown. Oh and while he does all of these thinks, he squints his eyes, looks at you sideways, and smirks. I swear it’s true.

Mischief is this child’s middle name.

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But oh my word, those blue eyes and those blonde curls and his sweet, sticky, fingers wrapped around your neck in the tightest embrace. How can he be so wonderful and so exhausting all at the same time? How can I not get enough of him but also cringe just a little when nap time is over? How can I dream of the day when this tornado child stage is over, but also not want him to ever outgrow his irresistible troublemaking?

And then there is his role model, the famous Captain Ezra. He’ll be four this summer. FOUR! And, much like his brother, I adore every single hair on his head, his preschool humor has me rolling on the floor in hysterics, and his imagination routinely takes me back to the magic of my own childhood.

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But the whining! Oh the whining! Not to mention the selective hearing!

Throw in the tantrums and I’m helpless.

It started a few months back, we like to call it The Sick Donkey Noise. Not a very creative name, but it should give you a pretty good idea what his favorite whining noise sounds like. To get a better understanding, make some donkey noises. Go ahead. Do it right now. As loud as possible. Now keep making those noises but also groan like you have a horrible stomach ache as well. Now morph those two noises together. Excruciating right? Now imagine hearing this noise A LOT. Like A LOT A LOT. Like every day, dozens of times each day. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. It’s become his go to response, for everything. He doesn’t ask, “Mom, can I please have some milk?” He starts making his Sick Donkey Noise and then in between groans he whines, with every bit of whine he can muster, “MILK!!!” So it goes something like this…

The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!!, The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!! The Sick Donkey Noise, MILK!!!

and on… and on…

Now before you question my parenting techniques. I do not get him what he’s asking for when he’s whining like this, I speak with him, I make him ask me the polite and appropriate way, which he does immediately, proving that he KNOWS how to ask, he just has some weird habit of speaking like an animal when he wants something. The best part of it is that his little brother, who wants to be exactly like his big brother, routinely goes over to wherever The Sick Donkey Noise is coming from, observes and then assumes the same body position as his big brother, and begins making the same, horrible, noises as his big brother.

The Sick Donkey Noise. Times two.

Oy vey.

Now, I don’t like to complain. And the reality is that when this happens I can usually be found turning my head away to hide my laughter because the situation is highly comical. Most of the time. But then there are the days when I have cleaned up potatoes and onions off the floor too many times, I have rescued my 19 month old from six precarious situations, I have gotten zero things accomplished from my very important to-do list in my head, and I am still wearing my pajamas at dinner time, and I get a tiny bit cranky.

And then, before I can stop it, out it comes.

We all have one, we know what it sounds like, but we can’t always stop it.

My ugly voice.

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Ezra hangs on my back while I’m changing Hudson’s diaper and instead of asking him politely to get off my back while I change the baby, and tell him that we can cuddle in a minute, I snap at him to get off right now!

Ugh.

Or Hudson, deceivingly agile and strong at his mere 19 months old, climbs the sofa and begins hitting the television screen with a dinosaur, or toy hammer, or his hand, and instead of walking over to him and distracting him with another activity, I yell his name from across the room, louder each time, until he stops. It’s rarely effective, and it’s always bad parenting.

Sometimes I get stuck in an ugly voice funk. It can last days, embarrassingly even weeks. I hear myself when I talk to my kids, I feel the sharp edges, I see their hurt eyes, I observe them using the same tones when they get frustrated, then I tell them it’s not okay to talk that way.

Then I see it.

I see them emulating what they hear.

And I feel so gross.

I think we’ve all been there as parents. Or as anyone who ever took out their frustration on someone they love. It’s a strange phenomenon, that tendency to put our best selves on for strangers and acquaintances, yet with those we love, those we hold the most dear, when stress overwhelms we let our words carry a sharpness, our tone far from loving.

Ezra asked me the other night, “Mommy, why are you being so mean today?”

Oh my heart.

I felt like looking in his eyes and using the old break up line…

Don’t worry. It’s not you. It’s me.

What a cop-out. In any scenario. You are causing pain to someone you love and then telling them they shouldn’t be upset because it isn’t their fault. So what? All that matters is that they’re hurting, no matter whose fault it is.

What if Jesus was stressed out and overwhelmed by all of the problems he deals with on a daily basis? The real problems. World hunger. Orphans. A hurting world. People rejecting him. Broken families. And on and on. The burdens that our Jesus carries every day are far heavier than any stress or mild frustration or even personal crisis that I have ever had to deal with. He has every excuse in the world (literally) to lash out, groan at me in frustration, or use his ugly voice to reprimand me.

Yet he never has.
Not once.

Deep breath.
I can do better.
I must do better.
My babies deserve better.
Their future babies deserve for them to be taught better.
The creator of love demands that I am better.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

This is my heart’s desire, anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that to be true. But the truth is, I can love better, I think we can all love better. And I believe that love will change the world. And it will start right here at home.

Oh and I found a snack. We’re all eating frozen corn out of the bag that I was using as an ice pack for Ezra’s head after he took a dive and knocked it pretty hard. Medicinal AND nutritious (well not actually that nutritious…), multi tasking at it’s finest.

I love them.

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And the best part is that they love me too.

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From Ugly to Giggly.

I know that as parents we all have those days where we feel like we cannot do anything right, in fact any random person off the street could probably parent our children better.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I was exhausted, and my anxiety was winning, I felt weak and irritable and every little thing was frustrating me. Ezra just wanted to be a little boy and play but I was impatient and talked to him in a tone of  voice that I swore I would never use with my kids. After one particularly ugly moment when I was telling him not to push his little brother over (which was a legitimate thing to ask him not to do, but I could have said it differently), he looked at me surprised and then his face broke and he dissolved into sobs.

Through his tears he said, “I’m stupid, Mommy.”

What? No!

Enter my ashamed and broken heart.

I scooped up my not so little boy and I held him and I whispered over and over again how much I love him and how good of a boy he is and I told him all of the wonderful things about him. How silly he is, how smart he is, how creative he is, how kind he is, how much I adore him.

Chances are that Ezra has pretty much forgotten that horrible moment, but I can safely say that I never will. And as embarrassing as it is to even put that memory into writing, I want to remember it because I know that I will never be perfect. I will have more ugly parenting moments, but I want to learn from each of them and I want to teach my kids that even their parents will mess up, but we will always apologize, we will always learn from our mistakes, and we will always do better next time.

When Ezra woke up this morning he looked at me and said, “You’re the best girl I’ve ever seen in my whole life, Mommy.” Then we sat in bed together and giggled while Lola licked us.

It seems that he has forgiven me. I guess I should forgive myself.

I hope that someday Ezra reads this blog, and reads about this moment and can look at me and say that I truly have kept my promise to always love, always cherish, always apologize, always learn, and always grow in this journey of parenting. It is not an easy journey, and every family’s road looks different, but be encouraged that your kids see the best in you and you should see the best in yourself as well. It will make you a better parent.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Carol Buchner

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Cherish the moment,
Kelsey