Monday, December 3, 2012

Instagram Effect

The other day I was getting ready in my bedroom and heard Jude yell "Uh oh, better move out da way Swee-Pie, dere's shoes falling down!"  It sounded a bit odd to me so I took a peek in his room and saw a half-naked 2 year old, standing on the top of his bunk bed, about to spin his ceiling fan, the blades of which were laden with shoes.  Meanwhile Julia was sitting on the floor applauding his efforts.  So I did what any concerned mother would do.  I grabbed my phone and took a picture.

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Ok, so maybe that wouldn't be everyone's first response.  And actually, a few years ago that wouldn't have been my first response either.  But, as in so many other areas of my life, social media (and multiple small children) are changing me.

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You see, my kids are a little crazy sometimes.  They do things that I would never even think about doing.  They keep me hopping all.day.long.  And when one of those wacky moments occurs, I have a few options: I can scream, I can cry, I can laugh ... but usually I just take a picture.  I'd like to think that social media is making me less self-centered, because now I think of all of YOU.  My parents, the aunts and uncles, the friends ... who I know will get a good laugh, perhaps even at my expense.  I could get upset, I could worry that my two year old is going to fall off the bed, or that my 14 month old is going to get pummeled by a falling shoe, but instead I like to think "This could make a funny post for Instagram." 

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I'll never forget the first time I picked up on this lesson, the first time Jack did something really "wrong" - when I caught him tossing my coupon collection into the air all blizzard-like. It's funny now, because stuff like that happens every day around here, ofen more than once a day. Take Thursday evening for instance. I was putting Julia to bed and brought a watering can full of water up to her room to fill her vaporizer. I set it down to open the vaporizer and in .5 seconds our Lil Bolt of Lightening had grabbed my cell phone off the bedstand and dropped it into the watering can. I squeal-moaned, fished it out and ran downstairs to dismantle and dry it off. Halfway through this process I realized I had left her upstairs alone with a watering can. I ran back up - too late, she'd already dumped it all over her floor, her stuffed animals, her Raggedy Ann doll with the red yarn hair that kinda "bleeds" when it gets wet... For the first time in her 14 short months I could feel myself teetering in the "red zone" with my sweet little girl. So I quickly dropped her off in the bathroom where Jon was giving the boys a tubby and went to finish giving CPR to my phone.

I completed this process by leaving it in a bowl of rice to dry it out. By this time the boys were finished with their bath and intrigued with my efforts. They suddenly remembered their boxes full of rice and small toy animals that Nonnie had made with them during her visit in September. Boxes that I had kept hidden in the back of the closet because they're best restricted to outside playtime. But the boys were insistent and had both boxes out on the dining room table before I could open my mouth in protest. And then Jack went to crawl up into his seat, slipped and fell face-first into his box of rice. Which flipped the box and sent rice EVERYWHERE. I covered my face with my hands and started doing this laugh/cry thing I've never experienced before. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Stop overreacting, take a picture, TAKE A PICTURE!" And then I'd remember that my phone was probably dead forever and had to stifle a sob again. I spent the rest of the evening sweeping up rice and then discovering a "kernel" or two that I missed well into the next morning.

And that was just one hour on a Thursday.

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Certainly there are instances where I have to bring things to a screeching halt, particularly when safety is involved. For instance, when we found our 2 year old stuck on top of the garage roof (Daddy had left a ladder leaning against the garage while he went to do something in the front yard). Eek! I did not get a picture of that one. But I find that in most cases, if I step back, take a deep breath, count to three, and snap a photo, it's really not so bad after all. Did my boys create a giant mud puddle with my rain barrel last week and get covered, head to toe, in dirt? Yup. Did they track a pile of mud into my dining room? You betcha. Did I have to do an extra load of laundry that night? Oh, yeah. But they also played outside for the first time in a while, were laughing like crazy together and actually got along for once. What's the harm in a little extra dirt? I now have a picture of their grinning, muddy faces.

Does it drive me crazy when my kids insist on helping me measure the flour and mix the pancakes? Uh huh. Do I panic when I turn around to find Jude randomly dumping half scoops of cocoa into the brownie batter? Yeah, definitely. Does Jack ever crack an egg without getting a shell in the bowl? Nope, never. But do I love that they want to help, that they enjoy spending time with their Mama, that they're eager to learn? Oh yes.  And I have the pictures to prove it someday when I can’t pull them away from their video games.

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He asked me to take a picture because he "decorated the stool."


Does having Jack help me wrap gifts take up extra time? Does he waste half my tape on one box? Do I have major zig zag lines on all my rolls of wrapping paper? Ugh, yes. But did he do it with a smile on his face the whole time? Has his cutting improved just in the past week? Is he learning about the joy of giving? Yes, and yes, and yes. And I will always treasure the snapshot of the first gift he bought and wrapped for his mama.


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The reason Jude's so eager to give him a push is because one minute before Jack had him try this same stunt out first, just to make sure it was safe.
I can be a bit of a perfectionst.  I love a clean house, an organized kitchen, a fresh smelling bathroom.  I like my presents to be wrapped neatly, my kids shoes to be lined up by size in their closet, and my recipes to be followed exactly.  But more than all that, I like to enjoy my kids.  I want to see the beauty in each moment.  I want to smile in my self-defeat today, and laugh over it in the years to come.  And for me, the best way to do this is to step back and capture that moment for all of time.  My kids won't be small and crazy and messy and wild forever, someday the pictures are all I'll have. 

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Heaven knows we have plenty of pictures of Julia eating black beans.
So there you go, take a picture, it will last longer.  And then post it on Facebook so we can all have a little more humor in our lives.

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