August is a Strange One

Pardon my absence, but August is a strange one.  August seems to be the month that challenges me the most.  I feel rushed and scatterbrained all month; I still have the twinges of my pregnancy woes that come back to haunt me (August of my pregnancy was one of the most stressful times of my life which only worsened my ante-partum depression – written about HERE).

My baby boy has turn 18 months old, and while I still love motherhood with all my heart and love the ways he’s learning independence (he can walk down three stairs unassisted, can help prepare pizza and tacos and his favorite words are now Cow and No) the beginning of the toddler phase is proving a challenge.  There have been moments where I’m not the mother I want to be, mainly because we’re in the limbo of wanting to communicate and not being able to.  This will pass and I will learn how to better control my own feelings when things start spiraling down that path.  It feels good just to write that. 

And I can still say while experiencing all the ups and downs I look forward to the day we really start planning for our next child – I know he (maybe she) is there, just a little out of my grasp right.  There are the little, “baby things” that we come across and put behind us that make me pray that this is not the only time I get to experience little clothes, little shoes, little hands needing to be held just so and cuddles in your arms that fit so securely.

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But, enough of the mopey stuff.  August is a strange one and apparently so I am.  While discussing family life with a coworker I had quite the reaction when I assert my opinion that I will do all within my power to keep my families schedules and lives from conflicting with things like family dinners and healthy quiet time.   My coworker (who I usually see eye to eye with and who is the mother of two college students and a high schooler) was quick to tell me how this is “against the norm” these days and that I need to be ready to be “different” if this was what I was going to try to do (not to mention it would be darn well impossible).

I ended the conversation around that point the best I could, but wanted to point out that we’re already quite different.  We live on lower incomes and tight budgets.  We believe that good food costs good money.  We believe in empty closet space.  We haven’t hooked up our TV to even get the local channels yet and are often the only family on the block out in our yard.  We read books that are still printed on paper and few to none of my sons toys run on batteries.  Are we prepared to be “different”?  Yes, I think we are.

While I won’t deny my children the chance to explore things that interest them or delve into activities at which they excel I still believe that they don’t need to do everything, nor do their parents, just like I don’t believe they need every toy or every new outfit.  I don’t want to be a chauffeur for their entire lives and I want to give them ample time to unwind and be a kid (or a teenage).

I hope my children experience different sports, clubs and activities (and I will encourage more activities as the child ages and is in more control over their schedule); however, that doesn’t mean that their schedules need to be packed from the age of 3 to do so.

So I guess I am different, quite the strange one after all.

Just call me August.

11 thoughts on “August is a Strange One

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  1. Daniel and I were JUST talking about that last night. A coworker of his drives several hours every weekend so his son can be part of a travel team for soccer. Unless Benjamin reveals himself to be the world's most amazing 7-year-old soccer player or something, there's just no way that we're going to do that. As a ballet teacher, I see so many tired, pale faces in my classes. They've been at school all day, then it's straight to ballet, then off to softball, then dinner, then homework, then practice for tomorrow's piano lesson. What?! I mean, I am all for nurturing your children's talents but these little gals are just exhausted, overscheduled, and truly stressed-out. One of the reason's we're homeschooling is because we want our kids to have the opportunity to be involved in extracurriculars but we're not willing to sacrifice family dinners, etc to do so. We live slow. And we don't have a hooked up TV either. Sometimes we watch Netflix on the laptop we share, but that's it, folks. My parents were a little against the grain: no cable, eating at home every night together, etc., so it doesn't feel strange to me, but I know we seem bonkers to most people.

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  2. Sorry Ladies, I can't “reply” directly with the computer I'm on.

    Nikki – exactly, when did being a child and enjoying childhood become so strange!

    Haley – Exactly! Activities were one of the first things we discussed when Henry was conceived. We have plan to allow three things at once (until the kids are teenagers and can make their own decisions on how they want to spend their time and possibly drive themselves) and it's a three at a time rule – basically 1 music lesson, 1 sport and 1 club (boy scouts, 4H or the like) thru elementary school. That would give them something to attend about 3/4 nights a week which feels more than enough, particularly now that it's common for first graders to have a hour or more of homework each night!

    We have our TV hooked up to our computer so we can watch movies via netflix and still watch our movies, but that's all and most days it doesn't get used!

    And you hit on the big one this is how I want my family life to be structured because this is how we did it – we didn't “suffer” for lack of things to do!

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  3. I have a different family too 🙂 We eat dinner together every single night. On the weekends we have all three meals together. This is very important to me. The only extra circulars I did up until middle school was youth group (like CCD). Once I was in middle school I did band, choir, and tried the sports. High school came and I added in speech, drama, FCA, and a part time job. This kept me plenty busy. Sasha (a first grader) is doing soccer right now and she is soooo exhausted. I feel bad for her. We have more books than DVDs in our home. We have only 1 TV with no cable, but we do hook up our computer for Netflix. My children are happy. I doubt they will look back on their childhood and wish they played more video games or did more extra circulars. They are only in my care for a short time, a time that seems to be passing at the speed of light, I want to enjoy that time with them in our home not rushing from activity to activity or zoned out in front of the screen. I am thankful my parents were “different” and I hope my children will be thankful for the way we raised them.

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  4. Yes, yes and yes! I believe you are my kindred spirit. 🙂 I too believe that kids really do need time to be kids, don't pressure them for anything, mom & dad don't need to live through their kids, dinner time and quiet time are not negotiable, and batteries are of the devil. 😉 You keep doin' what you do mama, “strange” is the best way to raise kiddos.

    The bad days come, there's no denying that. And they do get easier. Two and Three is hard, but I am having such a blast with my 5 year olds and they explore more, and understand more and create more. (And I keep telling myself that when I'm having a “moment” with my three year old.) Just step back and breathe, and make sure you get some of that quiet time too. *hugs*

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  5. I agree – extracurricular have their place in the junior/high school level (it's great to be involved in a number of things at that age), but I just don't see the point under the elementary age. I have friends who already have their 18 months old enrolled in “gymnastics” and while a part of me thinks it sounds interesting, the other part says “can't he do most of that outside or in a cleared off part of the living room?”

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  6. I'm glad to have kindred spirits out there!

    I find I'm loving “quiet time” right now – sometimes if we're just too cranky Henry goes into his crib with a book or a train for 15 minutes or so I have a snack or something and we regroup. I'm loving this age for so many reasons, I'm just having those difficult moments because we're not quite to the stage of understanding “cause and effect” or a little more reasoning so I can't quite use the discipline methods I want to (which often leads to tempers flaring, etc.). He's an amazingly well behaved kid 95% of the time, follows instructions, etc. So other than a melt down every couple days because of a communication thing I can't complain at all! I still want five more of him (i'm sure you know how I feel 😉 ) I think this week I'll be getting my Dr. Sears books out and review the logic/reason capabilities of an 18 month old and readjusting my game plan.

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  7. Hi Molly-
    haven't commented lately…but must say… I know how you must be feeling about 'being August'.

    I'm the same as you. When we moved here to the country, my youngest was 5 years old…the others were 6,7,8! Wow! long time ago.
    We moved from a nice brick home in the 'burbs, with central a/c and a taupe colored house with roughly the same floor plan and color as every 3rd house on the block, with a postage stamp sized yard.
    When we moved here we lived without a telephone for 11 months! Notice I said telephone. No cell phones either.
    One of the first things I did was hang a tire swing in the back Oak tree in the far back pasture.
    I tightened the spring on the front and back door …so to hear the children coming and going freely! I stocked up on good literature at yard sales, as we also home schooled…and trips to the Library weren't always prudent.
    We walked the property regularly, with brown paper sacks …and collected things of interest and spread them on the picnic table so we could observe them more closely and compare at leisure!
    One of the first toys I bought on a trip to Walmart…a plastic bag full of plastic farm animals complete with corral fencing and a bag of Cowboys and Indians. (not the politically correct parent that my peers were!)
    I let the children play make-believe (what they called FAKE-LIKE) to their hearts content.

    I don't regret one minute of it!
    Have fun Mommy August!
    Pat

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  8. I totally agree with you on limiting the activities – kids shouldn't be stressed out! when we were little (I have 4 sisters, including one twin), we were allowed brownies/girl guides (girl scouts), and one other activity, which for me was piano lessons, for my twin it was speech and drama class or children's choir. That was it. On the day when we had activities in the evenings, we had “make your own” dinner where we could all cook whatever we wanted (with the older ones helping the younger ones) on whatever schedule, which let us eat weird things that no one else wanted to eat! (pancakes, fried eggs, ramen noodles, whatever). Other than that we had dinner together every night. On the topic of gymnastics, my nephews did go to gymnastics when they were about 4 or 5, and one of them still goes. They live in Ottawa, so it gives them a chance to get some really strenuous exercise when it's cold out (in addition to skating, which they do a lot of, and sledding, and snowballs). They also really really enjoy using all the various structures and equipment, which you can't get at home, and learning fun stuff from the teachers. But definitely, they weren't ready for it until they were at least 4. Might be something to consider in a few years though if Henry is climbing the walls in wintertime!

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  9. We didn't play sports, we weren't really part of any club and we never watched cable. We also always had family dinners and lots of play time. Our lives were full and happy! It was filled with making forts in the back yard, playing with the dogs, chickens and sheep….reading in the quiet of our room or playing street hockey with the neighbors. We also learned to play and get along with our siblings which I think is something kids don't do these days. Maybe having 11 of them helps but so does not being aloud video or computer games. We learned to love playing with each other. The simple live is definitely the good life. 🙂

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