In the eye of the storm

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Today, in an attempt to beat all the midday shoppers, I packed all 4 kids into our soccer mom van, clean, with hair combed ( no small feat), shoes on, fed and made the 20 minute drive to our nearest Michaels. It generally takes me about 15 minutes ( if I'm on my A game) to get all 4 kids out of their car seats ( yes, we have 4 in car seats) grab my bag, make sure everyone is holding hands and not running into the parking lot, lock the door and then walk at the speed of 2 year olds into the store.We hurry, hurry, hurry, to walk slowly pretty much everywhere. 

 I mentally prepare them for all this by telling them 5 minutes in advance what is going to happen and then playing a game called good guest, bad guest, where they have to tell me how a good guest would behave in the store and how a bad guest would behave in the store. This I've found helps bring to the forefront of their mind the good behavior I expect.  This is in addition to them being completely full of course and snacks stowed away in every orifice I have available. Is it always successful? NO.  Is it successful a lot? Yes. Anyway, back to the store. 

I'm delighted to find the store empty except for a few employees and we quickly start making our way down the narrowest aisles known to man in the smallest shopping cart in existence, which of course also has a huge pole that goes like 10 feet in the air so it cannot be removed from the store. Really Michaels? Like I want to steal the 3 paper clips that would even fit in to your small ass carts. Anyway, I digress. Continuing on. 

  The older set of twins are hanging on the sides or walking sporadically and the younger twins are in the cart....somewhat. I can see the store employees are nervous my son is going to fall since he is of course not sitting down.  I am quickly scanning the aisles for what I need, while also telling him gently to sit down so the older store employee will quit following me around and asking my older twins to stop grabbing all the fake flowers since they seem to think we need every color and style there. 

I find what I want and of course they do not have it in the color I want, so as I'm trying to figure out how to readjust my plan I look over and see my son squatting in the cart looking down at the rapidly forming puddle beneath the cart and all I can do is suck my breath in quickly in shock.We have been potty training and while I debated having them wear a diaper, they had done well in previous outings so I thought, let's give it a shot. He turns and looks at me, and very calmly says Mom..... I peed. All I could say was " I know.... but why? " At this point his twin sister is telling me he peed, one of  my older girls is telling me he peed and the other one is wandering around Michaels.That stalker-ish employee? Yeah, she's gone now. Coincidence? I think not. 

I find the nearest store employee and ask for a towel, then take everyone and everything out of the cart, walk excruciatingly slowly to the car (still at the pace of a 2 year old, but now one walking like he just got done riding a horse because he doesn't like the feel of wet underwear), make everyone put a hand on the car, put a diaper on him and some sparkly jeans that belong to my older twin girls since that's all that I packed and make the trek back to the store for round two. 30 minutes, one dry diaper and a whole lot of fake flowers later we were done.  Since I prefer to knock out as many errands as I can while in town, we then went to Target, where I will spare you the details of what happened in the bathroom, ( your welcome)  and the local grocery store where we were able to avoid any further potty incidents. 

As I relayed this story to my father later on in the day, he just laughed and shook his head and said, "I can't believe you take all of them to all those places." I laughed and said, " where should I leave them?  " How do you stay so calm and not just lose it? " ( for the record this is a question I get a lot.)  "Everything is calm in the eye of the storm dad. "  He just looks at me and laughs again. It's true though. I live in the eye of the toddler storm. I am surrounded all day by little balls of energy bouncing off each other, the environment, and anything else they can touch. The moments of calm and peace are few and far between but I also know it will be over soon, just a like a storm. Every age feels intense for us because we have all of our kids experiencing it at once. One of us has to stay calm to even see it happening. 

I do lose it sometimes.  I mean I'm human.  However I attribute my ability to make calm, concise and most of the time constructive decisions regarding my children to four simple factors. 

1.  I workout 4 out of 7 days a week early in the morning, so both my body and my brain are awake, alert and firing on all cylinders first thing.  I purposely do this because I know it makes me feel awesome. I know for a fact my  self esteem, ability to make decisions and level of confidence are going to be affected in a positive way and who doesn't want to that? I want to start the day in positivity, not panic. 

2.  I eat breakfast within 30-45 minutes of my workout, because a hungry mommy is a scary mommy. As a coach, one of my biggest principles I tried to get my athletes to understand was how important it was to eat and replenish your body's energy after exercise.  Water is not enough. Ideally a mixture of protein and carbs will get the job done and my breakfast of choice is some Fage yogurt, with vanilla, almond butter and a little granola mixed in.  If this is not something  you do regularly I highly recommend you start implementing it and pay attention to the difference in your energy levels as well as your overall mood.  It makes a huge difference. 

3.  I have and actively use my sense of humor.  If you have children and have no sense of humor, I'm not sure how you've survived. Mainly because kids are fun and everything they do can be made into something hilarious but more importantly because laughing can change the state your in, literally. I have had moments like most mothers when you are so angry, tired, irritated or just annoyed that you want to choke someone and the only ones around are your kids. And at those moments I flip a switch, and I laugh.  I laugh because I thought I knew what kind of mother I was going to be before having kids and I was dead wrong. I laugh at what my sisters and I put my mother through and how it's coming full circle. I laugh because I feel I've touched more poop than any other person on this planet and that's completely unrealistic. It feels true though. I laugh because I'm sure there will be days when I miss these being the biggest concerns I have. I  laugh because everyday is a real life comic strip and I couldn't have written a more perfect way to learn about who I am and what this life is all about. 

4.  I live in, cultivate and seek out a community of the most amazing women and mamas. Some I've known forever, and some have just come into my life, but all play an important part in helping me reveal who I am as a mother and supporting me as a woman. They get it and on the days they don't, they fake it and laugh with me.  To all the fabulous mamas out there, keep on keepin on. You truly are doing a really fabulous job.