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She's Lost That Lovin' Feeling

I never wanted to be one of those moms who only sees their kids an hour or two every day or overloads them with extracurricular activities to the point that we have no down time as a family.  I didn't think I was... but I caught up on a friend's blog last night and it got me thinking... She knows her kids so well - inside and out. She is incredibly blessed (and I rarely use that word) to be a single, working (for her own company) mom with the means to spend her days with her kiddos, for which I will be forever envious. She just might be the best mom I know on the face of the planet. Seriously.

I know my 14-year-old daughter well enough to know that I don't want to spend my spare time with her, sadly. She drives me batty because she is so all over the place and her general outlook on life - even her worldview and basic belief system - seems to change from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. Hopefully that's something she can work out in counseling, which we were finally able to start last night, thankfully! The thing is, she had some traumatic very early years and today she has no idea who she is. I don't know who I blame for that, but that's another blog. She and my husband push each other's buttons and raise their voices so quickly, it's almost annoying to me for us to be all together very often.

Our son, however, is doing so great (I know, I know, I say that every time), but he is really just a joy to be around. When our daughter came to live with us when she was 10, I'd pull up from work and steal 5 or 10 more minutes in the driveway before even opening the garage door, so as not to alert any humans or dogs to my arrival. Now I pull up from work and hop right out, excited to hear how the kids' day went, get hugs, start dinner, help with homework, etc. I was afraid I'd feel that same smothered, suffocated feeling from him that I used to feel from her, but I just don't. Is it me? I am older and a bit more grown-up now, and parenting has become part of my daily life over the last four years. Or is it still just her? Was it ever her?

In my friend's blog, she takes photos and writes little snippets about her kids running through fountains, the family having a mud fight, spending a whole weekend day in a chair-and-comforter-built "fort" in the living room, etc. My first thought was, "I want those kinds of moments with my kids, too!" and "We don't even have the right kind of kitchen chairs to build a fort - I've robbed my kids of a childhood because I thought it was so important to have expensive leather chairs (which I may or may not still be paying for)! I want chairs like hers - normal chairs! I love those chairs!" and "OMG, I would have to do all that laundry..." and "The dogs would totally destroy the fort." OK, so most of that is completely irrational, but the point is that I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for opportunities to have more tender moments with my kiddos. Do you get so blindsighted by life that you feel like you never get those little moments that make it all worthwhile? It can't be just me... and what's the answer? Cut out the one or two activities my kids do outside of school? One or two extracurriculars per kid sound reasonable - and even healthy - for them. Stop scheduling things on weekends? Find a different job which allows me to be here more (sometimes I don't see them from Tuesday night to Friday night due to press days at the newspaper I work for [not the Star-T]). What's the answer for more peace and a more tightly-knit family? I guess I should start with the chairs...