Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Togetherness

by Susan Sey

Ah, the holidays. That hallowed week between Christmas and the New Year.

Vacation.

Now I'm a stay at home mom, so when I say "vacation" I'm actually talking about my husband. Because while he's taken the week off from work, my job is a 7 year old and a 4 year old, & even if we travel for the holidays (which we are this year--hello, Grandma & Grandpa!) I sort of have to take them with me.

My experience of this time of year is so far from vacation it's laughable. You could say this is actually my crunch time. This is when my momming skills have to shine. Because, seriously, let's take this situation apart.

We're away from home, which means we're away from everything familiar: our usual food, beds, toys, friends, routines, etc. There is no fall back option. No play date option. No "go entertain yourself" option, because they don't actually know how to do that here in Grandma's house.

Things break here. There are strange adults here with rules mom doesn't enforce. Or who let them do things mom would never allow but seem incredibly inviting when she's not looking. Like eating a Rice Krispies treat as big as your head or consuming ill-advised quantities of M & Ms. (That last one taught Grandma a very colorful lesson about how while my kids did inherit our sweet tooth they did NOT inherit our iron clad digestive abilities.)

Also? Daddy's here. All day. The kids know what to do with that for a weekend, but an entire week? Seems strange. Makes every day seem like something special should happen, & when it doesn't, kids get pouty. Difficult to please. Whiny. Which is bad because my family sees my kids, what, once or twice a year? We have to make a good impression, or I'm a bad mom.

I know I'm not really a bad mom but this is me momming in front of my mom & sisters. The pressure's on, you know? This is one of two annual opportunities for me to make my family think well of me. And my kids insist on acting like...well, like children.

You know what would make me feel better? If your kids/dog/husband/loved ones are currently behaving worse than mine. Are you the visiting team or the home team this year? Share!

29 comments:

Jane said...

We're boring, so nothing ever happens that's worth mentioning. Most of the family live close by, so I guess we're all the home team, but we don't usually handle the big dinners or parties at our house.

Nancy said...

Jane, congrats on the rooster!

Susan, we're the home team. The dh is off this week, but the boy is old enough to take that in stride. It's nice for me, having both guys around with nothing on our plates that has to be done.

I don't envy you the travel. Having your kids away from home is an unending series of challenges. The younger the kids, the bigger the challenges. As you said, the usual amusements are not available, routines are totally disrupted, and the rules are different.

In some ways, traveling on your own is easier than visiting relatives. Strangers seldom bother to approve or disapprove, and either way, you're unlikely to see them again.

I can assure you that this, too, shall pass. When the boy was little, he was a very fussy eater, which some of our relatives openly disapproved of. He also had digestive issues, which travel exacerbated, that sometimes delayed us in arriving at one home or another. This was another cause of great and overt disapproval.

However, while I believe in being polite, arriving when you're expected, and honoring household customs, I also believe that young kids who have been pulled out of their environment and away from their routines deserve to have a certain amount of slack cut for them. The younger the child, the greater the slack.

The boy no longer needs (or wants) us to amuse him, considers himself entirely capable of entering into adult conversation, and is no longer so picky about what he eats as he once was.

He reluctantly agreed to go with me to see Unstoppable, the runaway train movie with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, because I asked him to and he knew I didn't want to go alone. However, he confided to his dad that he really would rather not watch a movie that the ads imply consists mostly of stuff crashing (Where did I go wrong?!).

So his dad has nobly offered himself on the altar of movies with stuff crashing.

This is the extent of our debate about what to do and when this week. So you can anticipate someday having a much more laid back kind of problem to look forward to.

Meanwhile, hang in there! It does get easier.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hey Susan -

Now that my kids are grown, I can tell you - these are the years memories are made. With all the unfamiliar rules and circumstances, someone is bound to make a mess of something - kid or adult - and it will be remembered whenever the family is reunited - not as an example of bad parenting, but because after all the embarrassement passes - it's funny. Whenever the cousins get together, someone says - remember that time at Uncle Mike's when such and such thing occurred? And we all laugh at the memory.

My husband and daughter are working this week though both will be home on Friday. We've finished our entertaining/traveling for 2010 so it's coasting time this week. Wishing you a safe journey home to sanity.

barb said...

congrats on GR Jane

My kids are grown and have their own now.... we went to DD and family for Christmas Day and DS and family came there..... we then went home and DS and family came and spent a few days with us as he lives away from here..... they have 1 son and he is usually good but like all kids they have their moments.

Helen said...

Well done Jane have fun with him

Susan

I agree with Donna you are going to have so many memories from these times when they are young and I am getting lots of great memories from my Grandkids at the moment. We Grandparents like to spoil our babies LOL but I am very fortunate and see mine a lot they all live close by I don't think I could cope very well if they weren't LOL.

I have just had Jayden and Hayley over for dinner and we had left over turkey pork and ham with salad and of course Master Jayden doesn't like that and refused to eat any then asked me for ice cream but I did say no because he didn't eat his dinner Hayley does love salad and ate a small amount then wanted a handful of lollies and I was strong and said no again so they wnet home not too happy from Nana's tonight doesn't often happen that way. Just remember kids will be kids and this time is a fun time

Have Fun
helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Look at it this way, eventually when they have grown up you will be the one they are visiting with the little ones and you will have the opportunity to see how well they do with the same situation. And you will be the one that gets to say yes instead of no. In the meantime, they are out of their element and I agree with Nancy, they deserve slack and lots of it. One of my kids I could reason with and explain that though we were in a different situation she still had to abide by home rules, the other not so much.

Margay said...

I actually had a quiet holiday at home with my girls this year and we ended up getting snowed in so not a lot of visitors. Everyone behaved except for the cats, who kept trying to get the ornaments off the tree!
Margay

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I'm sorry, Susan, but I had to chuckle at this, particularly your last paragraph about hoping someone's kids, etc. are behaving worse than yours. :)

I don't have the kiddos, but I can relate to some of this. We are always the traveling team since we live in a different state than both of our families. So we not only travel out of state once, but twice in December. This is the reason I despise inclement weather so much. Ugh.

My hubby almost always takes off the last two weeks of the year, so I just know that that's the time I need to catch up on everything that is not writing. I can write when he's here, but it's much easier to just do all the catch-up things around the house, work on goals for the next year, do promo stuff, etc., than actual writing. But next week I'll be cranking out the pages.

flchen1 said...

LOL! Susan, you aren't alone by any means. Thankfully we are NOT traveling this year, and traveling with kids never seems to be easy. My youngest is five now, and while the mechanics of traveling are becoming easier (they can pack and carry their own entertainment, for instance), the bickering seems to have stayed the same or increased. That part drives us all up the wall!

Thanks, all of you with older kids--it's good to be reminded that whatever stage we're in hardly lasts forever ;)

Have fun with the GR, Jane!

jo robertson said...

Cute post, Susan. You should've been here yesterday. We had 2 year old Emma, as usual, but for some reason Pops thinks she'll be more entertained if we invite the other grandchildren over to play with her.

Since we have 16 grandchildren, this is on the catastrophic level of Chernobyl. They were NOT well-behaved or quiet or still, and Emma acted like she'd eaten twelve tons of sugar.

Gotta love them even as you're pulling your hair out!

Christie Kelley said...

Sorry, Susan. We're home so the kids are fine. Except of course the fact that as teenagers they believe they should sleep until noon every day and not eat decent meals.

But I totally understand because I went through the same thing when my kids were young. They were always so bored at my mom's house. We did make sure we got out of the house a few times. A movie or ice skating...something to keep them entertained.

Cassondra said...

Jane, congrats on the rooster!

Cassondra said...

Oh, Susan, I have no way in which to empathize with you in depth, as I've never birthed anything except stories.

Our dogs, however, are behaving abominably. We don't take them when we travel, and we hardly ever travel at the same time. To do so is a traumatic experience. You really can't take two (very large) dogs, two cats, a dove and an extremely fiesty crow with a god complex with you when you travel. It just isn't done.

Well, maybe if I had my own Lear it might happen....but until then, we're not traveling together.

And getting somebody to watch that many varied creatures, each with his/her own quirks and tricks--well...you begin to see that we're a lot like dairy farmers and spend our vacations at home.

It's just easier that way.

And when I consider how bad I would have been as a mom, I probably would have done the same thing. Just stayed home. *grin*

I admire your fortitude to travel with the wee ones. That's gotta be hell.

TerriOsburn said...

When you put it this way, then I actually am on vacation. My kiddo is with her dad until Saturday and has been since before Christmas. However, I do have two demanding cats who are filling in for the pre-teen quite well. Demanding little buggers.

I do remember past trips where kiddo was tired or cranky and my sister or dad would tell me how I should let her do stuff I wouldn't ever let her do. I'm a mean mom, so the rules held. Mostly.

Pat Cochran said...

Honey and I have been on the visit-
ing team since our family reached
its current size. Our children now
take turns as the home team. DS2
most often hosts since it means he
doesn't have to carry his several
children to other houses. You are
so right on the challenges faced in
traveling with children, even if it
is just to Uncle Joel's house!

Pat Cochran

catslady said...

My kids are grown but the husband has been underfoot lol. I remember when I worked out of the house how much I looked forward to time off. Moms don't get time off lol. Holidays do mean a lot more work and stress that you never appreciate until you do it yourself. We got to add a dog to my 4 cats (use to have 7 lol) when my daughter visited in-laws. That's always a huge challenge lol. But when it's all over, I'm glad I knocked myself out.

Anna Sugden said...

Great post, Susan! Big hugs on the disapproval - you're a great mum and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

We're always the home team on Christmas. Comes from too many years of too much travel for business and too many family sagas. Anyone is welcome to join us for the festivities, but we don't go anywhere.

Sadly, no human kids to help you out with their antics. My furry babies have been surprisingly well-behaved. I think the snow has curtailed their hunting and CC has found that shallots are much more fun to play with than ornaments. I think it must be their uneven shape which makes them fun to bat across the floor. Jersey Girl has explored every gift bag and open box and is now settled on top of the presents with a gleam in her eye.

BJ said...

I'll make you feel better....My hubby works during the week...he leaves the house by 330am and is usually home around 630pm eats and goes to bed by 730pm, so he doesn't get to see the now 3yr old and 13 yr old at the fullest. This past week he had off Wednesday-Sunday, My daughter, Indigo, actually threw a fit because of something I said she couldn't have, stomping her little feet and crying her head off...yada yada yada...he actually look at me and asked "Is that normal...does she stop?" I couldn't help but laugh...He's forever telling me "when I was born angels sang, I was a perfect child". I always threaten to call his mom!
Don't worry just think back when you were younger...did you mom ever tell you..."Wait till you have kids"?
I'm sure you are doing an AWESOME job, I mean we're moms, we're the BEST in their eyes!!!!

Joan said...

My "kids" might be classified as acting worse than yours. Have either of your darlings climbed the Christmas tree???

:D

A mouse on a stick race track. That's my solution. Maybe it would work for you?

Savannah Rose said...

I was on the visiting team this year. Traveled to Ohio for 6 days of fun in the snow. Coming from the South this was not my ideal weather. But I did enjoy spending the holidays with my husband's family.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hey all--I'm so sorry to be absent all day! It's a very
Long story & I'm typing this on my phone at
A gas station 30 miles from the mi/in border. The
Check engine light is on & we're still 3 hours
From where we're supposed to spend the night.
Pray for us, & I'll check in again when
Todays disaster allows. Sorry again, everybody! This
Was not my plan for today.

Jill James said...

We had everyone at our house this year and mommy had the meltdown, not the kids. I had my two minutes of crying, turning in a circle, not knowing which way was up.

Joan said...

Oh, Susan!!!

Here's sending a prayer that all is well and you're back on the road in record time. Try to take your mind off it.

Fuzzy mouse?

jo robertson said...

Oh, Susan, so sorry for the car trouble. That's about the only thing that really causes me to panic. I'll send good vibes your way for automobile wellness.

Nancy said...

Susan, I'm so, so sorry about the car! Just what you did not need.

Fingers crossed that it's fixed fast and cheaply.

gamistress66 said...

Dog & went to visit mom for the holiday (a small 1 bedroom apt means 5 nights on the couch w/ my brother sleeping on the recliner -- makes for a long visit). Still a little sore & tired but have returned to my place. Brought mom home with us for a couple week visit (she gets her own room & plenty of room to spread out). Only bad so far was the dog getting a little sick Christmas afternoon but wasn't anything much and only the once. Sorry, can't help you feel much better than that but just remember it all goes back to normal in just a few more days :)

BJ said...

Susan, I hope you got to where you all needed to be safely.

Jill, Mommy meltdowns are so much worst than the kids...reminds me of the movie "Overboard", Where Goldie Hawn gets thrown into the water barrel by Kurt Russell after she has her meltdown.

And OMG Joan-Tree climbers?? Wow...That's all I can say.

Kim in Hawaii said...

We are the home team to my visiting inlaws. Plus we hosted their friends who "hopped" over from Maui.

And Hawaii is the "home team" to the visiting Obana family. Hickam AFB (on the leeward side) is hosting Air Force One while Marine Corps Base Hawaii (on the windward side) is hosting family outings to the beach, bowling alley, and golf course!

Susan Sey said...

Thanks, everybody, for the good car vibes yesterday. We limped home around midnight, check engine light still on in the freezing rain. It was not our finest road trip. Off to the mechanic today instead of the zoo. Le sigh.

Sorry again I fell down on the job yesterday. I'll do better next time, I promise!