If you haven't had your daily dose of caffeine, you may want to grab that cup of coffee or sweet tea before you read this. In fact, you may not really want to read this at all because I am finding myself most wanting to write on days that I feel tired, defeated, discouraged, confused or frustrated. I don't only write when in that frame of mind, but I definitely do write when in that frame of mind. It must be some sort of release valve for me. So, as with so many of my posts, this one is more for me than anyone else.
I've been trying to establish a new routine of putting myself to bed by 11 pm and waking consistently by 7 am each morning. I know for some 7 am would be a dream as your morning comes much earlier. For a long time, I would have felt guilty that I have to make an effort to wake up by 7 am knowing that in the vast majority of 30 something year olds' lives, 7 am would be considered sleeping in. I no longer feel like a slug about this. I am seeking to live unapologetically a life that pleases God which, for me, includes waking up when I do. for now. And, obviously by having to write an entire paragraph about this, I am clearly walking in absolute freedom about this fact. Or NOT. HA!
ANYWAY, I didn't wake up at 7 this morning because I was up past midnight enjoying my hubby's company on our first "in house date night." Given our children, at ages 9 and 6, still do not seem to grasp the meaning of "GO TO BED," they are put to bed close to ten times or more before they actually STAY in their room. Falling asleep does not happen until around 10 pm, and that is on nights we mandate they turn their lights out, stop reading, playing legos and/or talking! So, LA and I do not really relax until they are asleep.
Parents of teens, I am so sorry. When must you ever get to spend time together? I know harder days are ahead, and you are just laughing at me right now, not feeling the slightest bit sorry for me. It's ok. I know I'm pathetic.
I did wake up before 8 am, which was good because we had agreed to meet friends at Chic-Fil-A by 8:30 am for their promotional free breakfast this week. Morning chores were not entirely accomplished before we had to head out, but we were at least all dressed.
Arriving to Chic-Fil-A first among our small group of friends, I ordered our free breakfast, a bagel for each of us, and had a jump on my kids eating before friends arrive. For my children, socializing takes priority over eating any day. I suppose the apple does not fall far from the tree on this one. Although, I have to say that as I age, I think I am beginning to turn the corner on this one and may just enjoy eating more than socializing much of the time, which may explain the extra 10 pounds I have amassed over this past year. Unfortunate true story.
First to arrive, first to leave. I told the kids we would have a limited amount of time for breakfast and playtime with friends because we had to have a focused effort at school today given we had a dentist appointment after lunch to scramble to and errands to run after that. Giving them the heads' up was a good move; grumbling was minimal and I don't believe any tears were shed or threats made. Success.
Walking in my house, however, at 9:30, to see the pencil, paper, sweatshirt on the floor, legos on my console (my spot of beauty that is NOT to be adulterated by the kids' stuff), random pencil on the bench in the kitchen, empty baggies on the counter, just STUFF strewn here and there, a little bit in a lot of places...sent me to a place of angst and anxiety. Immediately, my blood started flowing a little faster and my mind was racing. What do I attack first?
I knew I had to keep the kids on a short leash and get them started on school, but I also want them to grow in picking up after themselves, in seeing the little trails they leave behind them everywhere they go. I kind of freaked out a little bit. I basically asked my kids to bow to my idol of order by saying, "Mommy cannot think straight with all this stuff strewn all over the place. My house feels a little cluttered, so my mind is feeling a little overwhelmed. Can we take 2 minutes, move as fast as we can to get all these little things put back into their homes?"
My children have heard this oh, once or twice. They knew what to do. We all sprang into action, took a little more than 2 minutes, and had a "fresh palette" from which to work.
Deep breath. I truncated our typical morning school routines by omitting our bible story but not neglecting prayer. We needed to pray. We always need to pray here. I could tell it was going to be an uphill kind of day. Kids had presentations to work on, challenging writing and grammar work this week and a Math test that may or may have not gone so well. I didn't know for sure because I still had to grade it.
I set the kids to work on research for their presentations on a famous artist. Tucker and Bella worked together on Carl Linnaeus; Judah read about Rembrandt. I graded the boys' math tests. One boy did great on his test; one did not do so great. Many errors, about half the test, prompted a little conversation with said boy about reading the problems before jumping into calculations. On top of all else he had to accomplish in our shortened school day, he also now had to re-take his test.
After about 45 minutes, two of the three were pretty much finished with their presentations. One was still writing, writing, writing about his artist, watching videos, looking at pictures, tediously putting together his presentation for co op next Monday. While I love to see my children really pore over information or give themselves to a project, I often feel a tension with the time it takes to go deep when I feel we have to go wide in this season of education. It's a tricky balance to find as a homeschool mom.
There is so much more that took place within those 3 short hours of school today, but I am already tired of rehashing every last detail of this painfully, long day.
Broad strokes include a tedious time teaching Bella about graphs in Math, helping her through words like "picturesque" and "clique" (hello, she's in first grade already!) in Reading, waiting for her to figure out that she wrote her "p" backward in the sentence I dictated to her (I think it took more than 10 minutes and I finally just told her that it was written backward), and correcting her poetry recitation when she missed the small, insignificant-to-me-but-not-to-poetry-memorization words like "the" and "but." Nevermind the umpteen times I had to "check in" with the boys to make sure that all that ruckus I heard from my bedroom where I was reading with Bella was really them quizzing each other on their Grammar charts.
Oh my dear Lord, by lunch time I really wanted to quit the day, go for a run, hide in a corner and eat chocolate chips. I was so spent by our 3 hours of "hurry up and get school finished", and I still had to get through lunch, dentist appointments, grocery shopping and dinner before I could come up for air.
I could go on to write about lunch with my children, who for whatever reason just do not like to eat when it's meal time; they do not like to sit still and eat a meal that is put before them. They take 4 bites and feel like their tummy is going to explode. I kid you not. I am trying to keep them from eating snacks in between meals, but they still balk about eating "a lot" in one sitting. By a lot I mean a full sandwich, 5 carrot sticks and a chocolate chip cookie. That was today's lunch. I had one who ate the carrots and cookie and left his entire sandwich but for one bite. Whatever. I had to get them to the dentist. I didn't have time to fight today.
The dentist was probably the best time we had all day, ironically enough. No cavities; the hygienist and dentist were efficient and gentle, and Bella placed her own x-ray slide in her mouth for the x-ray technician, thoroughly impressing all the staff. Yup, that's my fiercely, independent, "Do not help me" girl!
3:00 pm. I have been going for 7 hours at this point, juggling the needs and demands of my three kids, working through conflicts with them, taking care of the physical needs that home management requires--all while giving cursory attention to the tens of thoughts, ideas, and questions running through my own mind each minute. If you have ever spent some time with me or my children, you know we really like to talk. We have the capacity to talk a mile a minute. And, while that is true, what is even more true is that our minds go at even greater speeds. My.mind.never.shuts.up! Unless I am hiking or watching 'my birds.' Thank you, Jesus, for my bird feeders and the woods that I now call "home."
So, I am about an hour into this post, and I have made myself even more tired than I was when I started.
What was the point again?
I think it was this.
There were so many moments in my day today when I heard a myriad of statements in my head:
I cannot do this.
I am so tired.
Why am I a mom?
Why do I homeschool my children?
We need to be a part from one another more often.
I just have to make it to 5:30 when LA takes them to Tae Chuan Do tonight. They ARE going to Tae Chuan Do tonight no matter what.
Just do the next thing.
You can make it.
I cannot lift my arms, I feel that exhausted.
And at one point--I think it was when I was finally driving home after running our grocery store/bank errands--I thought, "Wow, I haven't felt this way for a while."
Today reminded me of a season when my children were younger and I felt like this every.single.day. And, when I was there, I thought I had been there from the time my kids were born and that I was never going to feel any different about motherhood and being at home full time with my kids. But, today, in the midst of feeling this way again, I was reminded that I don't feel this way all the time. I did come out of that "fog" of sorts. It did not last forever.
Motherhood is still really hard for me. It still feels like I'm a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I do question my choice to be at home full time and homeschool my children most days. But, something HAS changed. I HAVE grown in stamina for these long days. My thresholds for mess, chaos, noise and ongoing refereeing of youthful conflicts HAVE increased. I am giving of my time, talents and emotional capacity more readily, more second nature. The need still outweighs my capacity. I still am crying out to Jesus in desperation much of my day. But, I have grown. Jesus has grown me. The daily sacrifice of "doing the next thing" has brought about change and growth in my life and heart.
I love fitness, so I liken this to doing a new exercise routine of any kind. Let's take push ups for an example. If you have never done push ups, your first goal is just to do ONE push up in right form. So, you do that ONE push up in correct form everyday for a week or more. Eventually, with consistency, one push up becomes easy, too easy. You decide to try for five push ups. Again, giving it consistency and time, you find yourself capable of doing five push ups without breaking a sweat. You move onto ten, then twenty. Some people can do 100 push ups. That is not you. But, you are also not the person who isn't able to do push ups at all. You can do 20 now because of consistency and time.
So, all this for the "take away." If you are a new mom or just new at something, any new 'role', you may feel awkward and weak and sure that you will always feel this way. But, you won't. You will grow; it will change. Give it time. Give it consistent effort, consistently doing the next thing, consistently laying your heart and hands before the Lord, asking Him to establish you, establish the work of your hands, establish your heart in steadfastness, faithfulness and love for what HE has called you to. And, at some point in time, imperceptibly, things will change. And, you will have a hard day, a day like mine, when you feel like you do now. Only it will be an out of place feeling because you will have moved on from that emotional place you are in now. And, it will remind you of how far you have come, how far God has brought you.