It really is fascinating to see how interconnected we are as a family and how little things affect each person. For the last week or so, I've noticed several little things:
1. I've been edgy and grouchier than usual.
2. The kids have been more aggressive with each other (play fighting, but it occasionally veers into the real thing).
3. My proximity is suddenly of the utmost importance.
Despite (because of?) my prickliness, bedtime has become a fight of "next to mami" wails. This presents difficulties, because Elena has to be next to me, leaving only one other side open for Joel or Ariana. I've spent the last several nights flipping back and forth between whoever seems to need me the most. Both Ariana and Joel, who typically sleep fine through the night, are waking up and crying if I am not physically touching them. I feel like snapping at them, but honestly, when a child is crying to be near you, rejection seems awfully harsh. Argh! We took the kids to the movies to see Madagascar 2, and I was holding Elena while both Joel and Ariana begged to be on my lap. Awkward, to say the least. Their beloved Abuelita was with us and tried to help, only to be met with cold stares and the words, "I only want to be next to Mami." Ouch.
I finally realized that this all coincided to Carlos returning to classes after a month of being home everyday. Additionally, after missing church a couple of weeks from the puking plague, we had left them with some new workers. I was gearing up for my classes, too. No wonder they were getting clingy--they were already missing Carlos a lot, and probably worried that I was going to be leaving, too. And I am sure that some of my irritability was also from missing Carlos and adjusting back into our school-time routine. My grouchiness just added to their desperate need to reconnect with us.
I've come to learn that anytime I don't like the attitudes or behavior my children are expressing, it helps a lot to examine my own. The whole apple falling close to the tree thing turns out to be pretty accurate. It is also interesting to see how finding the root of the problem so often eliminates it, or at least makes it much less of a "problem". It is so much easier for me to move beyond my selfish irritation once I am aware of the motivation. It frees me to respond lovingly and creatively. I still get cranky, tired, and edgy some days, (OK, every day), but it helps to know that we are all in this together.