Archive for the ‘expecting the unexpected’ Category

When I reach the melt-down point boiling point with one of the kids — and one in particular — my brain starts to spin out of control. My body starts to fall into itself, the physical crash after an adrenaline rush, but my soul — because I don’t know what else it could be — swirls around like a tornado faster and faster

anger fear frustration inadequacy powerlessness

whipping around, rising

Until it stops. If I am still long enough, the emotions are stopped by that ever useful boiling-blood – brain barrier. The cyclone that tried to blast out through my arms and legs and mouth is contained in my head.

why how what why why why where have i failed?

Then my brain flings out frantic search beams into the cloud of memories, anecdotes, stories, books, advice, hearsay, logic, illogic; begging these diverse bits of information and theory to fall into some kind of semblance of direction.

It doesn’t. They don’t. I still don’t know what to do, and am too tired to search. But the whole hot mess subsides and I start to breathe again. Nothing is resolved, but we have survived another crash. We have made it one step further. We recover. I gather my strength. I know that whirlwind of negative emotions is indeed my soul, the core of my being, because there is neverending love at the collective root.

And it hits me that this whole wavelike thing feels familiar. I’ve done this before. This is labor. This is giving birth. This is maintaining and pushing through the peaks of pain of frustration. This is gathering strength in the moments between contractions. This is knowing that they are going to keep coming,

the contractions are going to keep coming,

until they stop.

They started when he was ready to leave the safe space of my womb, and they stopped when he achieved it.

Pain and doubt and anger and fear are then literally flooded out by love and pride. I can still feel the rush of that flood through my veins.

I can do this. I have to do this. No one else can do this. Each contraction pushed him farther from my womb, into my arms, always in my heart.

Where are these contractions pushing him?

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So these conversations happened today:

#1 (Me, three boys, and the kitten sitting in a ring on the rug around a bucket of LEGOs)

Me: So, Karel, I hear that you’re starting to sound like me lately. I mean, yelling at Emil to stop doing things. I’m going to try to stop shouting. Because here’s the thing: it never works.

(Thought but not verbalized: UNLESS you have the element of surprise on your side, in which case it DOES work.)


#2: (In the car on the way home from little-kid-gymnastics, with all three kids, during which the middle child was a screaming hyper nightmare blatantly doing the opposite of all I asked, including but not limited too: running away from me while laughing like a hyena and exerting that maddening magnetic pull he has on his younger brother.)

Karel: Mama, I was wondering if you could do something.

Me: What, honey? (just lightly tinged with dread, hopefully unnoticeable)

Karel: Well, I was wondering if you could be a little more like me. Like maybe not being so angry at Emil and scaring him by saying you are going to leave him.

Me (sighing at the sweet injustice of being lectured on parenting by a 7-year-old) I know sweetie. I don’t like to get angry. I don’t want to scare Emil. I would never leave you behind. But you are seven and Emil is five, and you know what the right thing to do is… etc. etc….listen to your parents… keeping you safe… What AM I Supposed To Do?? when Emil runs away? I can’t leave Cai Ruben, because he’s only two. He could run off and I wouldn’t be able to find him…

Karel: Because he’s so small.

Me: Yes. (And because he is a lightning fast fearless maniac). So sometimes I just have to walk away to show you (ahem) the right way to go.

It’s so frustrating.

Karel: Oh Mama. I understand.

My boys are highly distractable, highly independent, incredibly difficult to motivate unless it’s something they themselves want (read: practically unbribeable), and are deaf to all sounds in parental-voice decibel range.

BUT it seems, friends, that if nothing else we at least have an empathetic listener on our hands . If only you could have heard the tone with that ”I understand, Mama. I really do.” Seven going on seventy.

Please excuse me while I finish my scotch.

p.s. The kitten is a real thing. Also a boy. I would write about it now except I need to eat some ice cream.

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Here are the things I need to remember from the past weeks/months/year before they change:

  • That Emil Birk says ”godteri” instead of ”batteri” (that’s candy instead of battery) and ”bandasje” instead of ”massasje” (which is bandage for massage). This leads to very sweet sentences about the toy train needing more candy and asking me to bandage his back at bedtime
  • That my oldest son has calmed my anxious mothering spirit. We were sitting at the table talking together after Bjørn had come back from a business trip of several days. It had been a rather loud and fractious several days for those of us at home. So I said as much — ”This time when Pappa was gone wasn’t so greit (okay)” Karel: ”Really? I thought it was greit.”  (eyebrows raised) Kim: ”Well, Mama was pretty crabby.” Which was true. And maybe an understatment. Karel, dismissively: ”Yeah, but moms are just like that sometimes.” A simple statement, but it felt like absolution.
  • That Cai joins in the morning franticness of getting out the door by diving in and pulling out his boots from the massive pile of footwear in the entryway to try to get himself ready, but then reaches both arms up with an urgent ”Uh! Uh!” for goodbye hugs to the departing when I tell him he’s not going with today.
  • That Emil and Karel MUST hug before Karel goes to school even if they’d been antagonizing each other seconds before.
  • That Emil plans what he’s going to make with Perler beads at barnehage the night before. It’s his new obsession. I love it and am very happy to keep it a barnehage-only activity.
  • That Cai Ruben, almost 20 months, does stunts like this: 

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I’m projecting right now. Projecting to 15 years or so down the road. I’m assuming all of my boys will be potty-trained by them, but motherhood by necessity fosters delusions, so we’ll see.

Anyway, in my projection, Christmas-time 15 years from now, my boys are healthy and content, secure and gracious. They are funny, helpers, teachers, ruckus-makers, and forgivers. Our mealtimes are noisy, but everyone remembers to sit on their bottoms and keep their feet off the table. In my projection, I haven’t screwed them up too much, and there is still a glimmer of the complete trust that fills their eyes now.

Why do we project, class? As a verb, not a noun?

To remind ourselves of the goal when the way there starts to become overgrown.

To clear our brains and refocus.

Last but not least, we project when the here-and-now looks pretty much nothing like the goal.


Don’t get me wrong — I love the here and now. I don’t get the ”it goes so fast” comment so often, but I did this week on the plane. It doesn’t irritate me, that comment. I know this stage is going to go by fast. It IS going by fast. I like the chaos. I’m probably going to be sad when my ‘normal’ no longer includes a dinosaur head on our bedroom floor and the toilet paper roll on the 3rd step. Who doesn’t want a tiger in boots the size of a 5-year-old waving goodbye at the airport? The visual lunacy of a house  with small kids is what gets me through the day. I should probably start taking photos and then compile them for a coffee table book to browse through when our coffee table is no longer a race track or a lego building site or a boat or a hiding space. Maybe life is going to be too easy when no one takes 10 seconds too long to finish their snack and now the baby is awake and the phone rings and shouts of ”Mammmmaaaaa can you wipe me??” coincide with tired hungry 3 year old screams. What’s the fun in cooking when I won’t have to clean up the milk in the fridge that I spilled (saved in a cup from this morning’s breakfast when it was demanded but not drunk) and then half the beaten eggs off the floor, tipped out of the bowl by an eager helper? How much weight will I gain when I actually sit and eat the sandwich I started to make instead of being sidetracked by the dirty dishes? But if I have the time to eat the sandwich, maybe there won’t be so many crazy searches for chocolate throughout the course of the day. Huh.

How will we cope with all the sleep we’re going to get when there are not two small rocket ships richoceting around the bedroom, saying things like ”Noooo this rocket ship can’t land!!” How much more t.v. am I going to have to watch when the live entertainment moves out?

What will drive me to prayer like the attention seeking statements, or the complete lack of statements, or the midnight crying and congested nose? Please, God, help me know how to help them. When do I wait-and-see? When do I act now?

One day at a time, not counting on the promise of tomorrow…but really really hoping for it.

Ummm, speaking of tomorrows… if anyone is tempted by the wildly entertaining, inventive redecorators that live here, we’re game for a barter. For the small cost of a couple of hours of sleep, you too could have a dinosaur head on your bedroom floor. Just think about it.

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Recently I’ve been lamenting/bewildered by the boys’ complete CRAZINESS and total lack of manners when we’re out. Honestly, the way they’ve been behaving when we’re guests makes it look like they’ve been trained to sit on (not at) the table, eating with one hand and reaching for the farthest possible item with the other, with food bits dropping from their gaping, talking mouths.


After a couple of (failed) rounds of hissed instructions I just give up and accept the judgement.

This morning, however, I felt a glimmer of hope as I was standing with Karel in the bathroom, he on the step-stool facing the mirror and I behind him.

K: ”Mama, can you please move to the side?”

me: ”Okay…” (well, THAT was nice asking! yay!)

PPPPPPFFFFFFFFFffffffffttttttttttt. (That, friends, is the phonetic spelling of a grown up sized fart.)

K: ”I had to gas.”

me: ”Did you ask me to move out of the way so you wouldn’t gas on me?”

K: ”Yeah.”

me: pause. ”Thank you.”


Happy Friday, yo.





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