Through Their Eyes

This particular day, I had been asked 2347983345ddfa234879 questions.

(yes, there are letters in the middle of that number.  It’s a whole new high number that was just discovered the day that many questions were asked of me).

Every single one of these questions was begun with either “Mrs. Sluiter?” or “mom?”

And all of them ranged from slightly tinted with whine, to being drenched to the point of dripping with it.

I had calmly answered all of them.

(Calm being subjective.  On the outside, I never snapped.  There may have been twitching, but no snapping.  My insides, however churned fervently.)

For those wrapped up in getting their questions answered and their “needs” met (needs also being subjective here and really would be better defined as “wants”), nothing was different.

I was just a means to an end.

A grade question.

A make up test.

A missed assignment.

Absent work.

A sounding board for complaints.

Chocolate milk.

Mickey Mouse via Tivo.

That rattle over there that can’t be reached {yet}.

Doing all the things that aren’t allowed.

They didn’t notice the weakening in the wall…the cracks running up from the base all the way to the top, slowly splitting the foundation of the calm exterior.

That which was whole and safe was moments from crumbling.

But no one noticed.

I sometimes wonder if these fault lines would be detected if I was around friends or family or my husband more than I am during the week.

If Cort wasn’t gone three nights a week he might see me weakening.

If I reached out to my mom, maybe she would recognize the tell-tale signs of a wobbly foundation.

If I was around more friends during the week would they notice the chips and cracks?

But adding “people” to my already jam-packed week is more stressful than relieving.

And so the foundation quivers.

And the cracks deepen.

At first I speak uncalmly.

Then I speak unkindly.

And then I do not act out of love, but out of frustration and anger.

My boys cry.

Out of sadness?

Out of fear?

Out of hurt?

Probably all of them.

I don’t hurt my children ever.

Not with my hands.  It never comes to that.

I would rather die.

But I know my sharp words and harsh tone and surprising volume pains them.

They bear the brunt of it because their wants and needs happen last in the day.

All day my bucket is emptied into others’ buckets and there is precious little left for what is most precious in my life.

The ones who deserve the most of my bucket get the least.

As soon as a chunk of my wall falls, I immediately work to patch it up.

Fill the hole with plaster.  Sand it down.  Paint over it.

All is fine.

Fix it.

It didn’t happen.

I’m sorry. Mommy is sorry.

And every time they forgive.

There is love and hugs and…understanding?

But after everyone is put to bed and the house is quiet and all I hear are humidifiers humming and the heaving breathing of all the boys slumbering…

when I lie there and try to quiet my brain–and heart–I wonder.

What do they see?

What does mommy look like to them in a fit of rage and weakness?

And what does mommy look like as she immediately humbles herself and makes herself vulnerable before them?

What effect will this leave on their impressionable hearts and minds?

How will this mold their view of me, of women, of family?

And I am left to pray for a fresh start, a new heart, and a stronger wall tomorrow.

summer ending: a letter

Dear Eddie and Charlie,

Over the past 5+ months we have developed a routine for our days.

In the beginning, it was just me and Charlie.  We spent our days napping between feedings and diaper changes.  But as he grew and Eddie started staying home most days, our days grew more full as well.

Charlie, you are still usually the first one awake, calling for me with your little yells through the monitor around 7am.  You greet me with a smile each and ever day, like you are SO happy that I came to get you up.  No matter how tired I am, I melt a little at that wide smile.  And once you know I am there for you, your tears immediately turn to coos as you play with your feet, my hair, anything you can reach while I change your diaper.

We migrate to my chair with a warm bottle in hand and watch the first hour (the only one really worth watching, in my opinion) of The Today Show.  Many times you are dozing off an hour after you originally woke up.

Eddie, that is when you usually make your appearance for the day.

Each day that you don’t have daycare you come slowly creeping up the stairs and peek your face around the corner and say, “hi mommy!”  I love it.  And I love that Charlie is usually back in bed so that I can scoop you up in the chair to me and get a big, sleepy hug.

We spend the next couple hours watching TV, playing cars, and eating breakfast.

By that time Charlie is usually up again wanting to eat.  This is when one of two things happens.  We either get dressed and head out for an adventure, or you head downstairs to play by yourself while Charlie helps me do a lot of nothing with whatever the day’s chores are.

Lunch is usually around noon and all three of us love to listen to some tunes while Eddie eats.  A dance party has been known to break out and Charlie has been known to screech-laugh.

Eddie, you like to watch Calliou.  I am just going to tell you. I hate that damn show.  Calliou is a whiny, weird child.  But you love it and it winds you down for nap, so I let it fly.

Charlie, you wind down during this time too.  Sometimes you pass out before daddy comes home for lunch, sometimes you wait until he leaves to go back, but there is usually about 30 minutes or so of nap overlap.

You would think I would use this time wisely.  That after almost 6 months, I would try to squeeze every second out of this time.  But the truth is? I usually waste it online.  Not even accomplishing anything like meeting a deadline or doing any promo.  Nope, I just dork around.  Oh and I usually try to eat something. Maybe shower…but that is pushing it.

Eddie, you usually get up between 3:30 and 4:00 to me and Charlie just hanging out watching TV.  I have been big into Friends re-runs this summer.  I have no idea why, well, other than the show is awesome.

Once Ed is up, we usually change it to Tivo-ed Loony Tunes until daddy gets home around 4:45.  Then he takes over while I get dinner ready.

It’s a nice routine.

It’s comfy.  We are all used to it and the number of meltdowns have great decreased because Eddie, you know what is coming.  And Charlie just does what he does.

But guys?  This week all that we have known this summer comes to an end.

Thursday you will both start going to Renae’s house full-time.

Eddie, you love it at Renae’s. The biggest struggle for you will be adjusting your sleep schedule.  You REALLY hate to be woken up, and prefer to do a slow wake up on your own.  And you’ve been going to bed around 9pm this summer, so that will have to change.  I expect some crabby evenings/mornings for a week or so while we get on this new schedule, but then you will thrive because you love to play with your friends.

Charlie, you are always so good when you go to Renae’s from time to time.  And I know you will do great.

I, on the other hand, am already starting to cry about it.

Each time you lay your head on me because you are getting tired, I tear up thinking of you doing that to someone else.  Each time you giggle at how crazy your brother is, I catch myself getting jealous that Renae will get that every day and I will not.  Every time you smile at me when you wake up from a snooze, my heart counts down one more thing I will miss each day.

You are on the verge of sitting up.  I want that to happen with me.  I don’t want to miss milestones.

I don’t think I missed any with Eddie, but Amy Jo was very good about not telling me if I did.

You boys need to know I love my job.  I love it.

Working with other kids is what I was born to do.

Plus I am just a better version of me when I have a purpose other than our home and family.

But I love you two MORE.

And this summer has been so good.

It is the first summer since becoming a mom that I realized that I can do this.  I can DO this mom thing AND do it well.

We had fun!  We did adventures: zoos, parks, beaches, play dates, library trips, errands, and endless cake pop/coffee runs.  We had dance parties and made parking lots with cars.  We put all the toys in the bounce seat with Charlie.  We played with legos and trains.  We swam and ran through sprinklers.  We ate outside and went on walks.

I very rarely said no to invites to do things because, well, I wanted to make up for the last two summers of doing nothing because of my anxiety.

But now I have to go back to work. I have to.  Both because we need the income/insurance coverage and because to be the best version of me I need to think about more than diapers and toddler lunches.

I am a little excited, and a lot sad.  I have no desire to be a stay at home mom, but I do miss you both fiercely when I am away.

This mom thing is way harder than I ever expected it to be…

…but also way better.

So pardon me if I cry over you a bit the next week. And kiss and hug you after everything you do.

I am just trying to soak up every little bit about each of you.

So I can take it with me to get me through the days until I see you again.

Just promise to act excited to see me when I come to pick you up from Renae’s, Ok?  For me?

I love you,


Yes, this was our life the summer of 2012.