It's astonishing what I see in a day. There are so many moments that leave me scratching my head and debating my options. I mean really, what is the only sane person in this room to do?
Curl up in the fetal position in the middle of the kitchen floor?
Get in the car and drive far, far away and pray that the offspring are still safe when their father arrives home in T minus 5 to 10 ... hours? Because let's be honest his children (yes, I'm don't claim them in the moment) can be bat-BLEEP-crazy!
And yet, when we are out and about, typically at the grocery store, not one ... not two ... but no less than 5 sweet souls who have clearly crossed over into the "I have forgotten everything about the daily grind of raising a feral gang whose soul mission from sunup to sundown was to undo everything I had done" are so quick to remind me that I'm "really going to miss this."
Well you know what sweet little old lady buying two chicken breasts, a single crown of broccoli and cat food (can you imagine how QUIET it must be at her house)!?
You are ABSOLUTELY right. I am going to miss this.
With every part of my tired, surrendered body, I know I am going to miss this. I am one of those moms who knows - to her core - that this gig is HARD and that it is okay to be honest about just how hard it is. But I am also so keenly aware that it is a blessing beyond description to be entrusted with 5 little souls to nurture and corral. I'll be honest. This is a really contradictory place to be. So what then are we to do, depleted mommas around the world who long to savor the moments but find it immensely challenging in the face of our demanding reality?
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Often, in order to start seeing the beauty, we need to stop. Stop what we are doing. Dishes. Laundry. Paying bills. A side business. Your full time job that comes home with you. Grading papers. Pulling weeds. Looking at your phone. Trying to rationalize your toddler through the fit she is throwing. Attempting to engage diplomatic tactics when WWIII ensues between the older kids. Just STOP.
And for 15 minutes try one of these instead ...
Let each kid pull a favorite picture book from a shelf (yup - even the big kids have picture books they remember and love), cuddle on the couch and read to them. It is the most magical potion in our bag of tricks. I promise.
Pull them close and tell each of them about the moment the two of you first met. It's like a balm to their soul and yours to be reconnected with that moment of love at first sight.
Put them to work. Look around the house, and delegate a job for each and every child. When you're the only one pulling the weight, it's easy to let resentment reign. But when you put them to work, your load lightens. And another bonus? You see that you didn't just create a lot of work for yourself when you had kids, you also created a work force for your benefit!
Put on a big sun hat, a baseball cap or anything in between. Let you kids know that when mommy is wearing that hat, she is off limits. If you have little ones, let the big ones know its their job to keep the tykes under 3 entertained and sustained. Train them that the hat means "don't mess with mum." You'll thank yourself.
And then there are times that in order to see the blessings, we don't need to physically stop as much as we need to mentally stop.
Stop feeling guilty for not always liking your kids. Yup. You will not like your kids 100% of the time. That is an unrealistic expectation. You will always love them. But believe me, if you have a moment (or many moments) where one or more of your children is driving you up the wall with their hurtful or obnoxious or relentless behavior and you do not enjoy them in that moment - that does not mean you don't love them and that does not make you a bad mom. That makes you a normal human with limits. We all have them.
Stop obsessing over their behavior. Don't think that your 9 year old son who appears to only think about himself 89% of the time will be a grown adult male who only thinks about himself 89% of the time. He might. But odds are he is just a child. Showing very childish behavior. You are a great mom who is doing her best and his childlike behavior (because, um, he's a child) is not a reflection of who he will be when he's 43. Take a deep breath, and trust that time (and maturity) is on your side.
There are a few days every month when you really need to be aware your thoughts. My best advice for "that time" - don't trust your thoughts. Easier said than done I know. But if you are able, dismiss your worries, anxieties and obsessions during that window. Take them captive. Picture yourself physically snatching them up, putting them in a little jar, tightening the lid and placing them on a shelf do deal with in week. If you need to, write them down so you can come back to them when your mind and body are more able.
And finally, keep the big picture at the forefront of your mind. When I'm
running around the kitchen while everyone else sits and eats dinner sitting at the dinner table, and chaos reigns around me, I picture my Thanksgiving table in 20 years. The joy that fills me is indescribable. It makes the hard work of the moment worth the reward that is yet to come. And during those many moments when I feel like I brought a wild circus rather than a family to church or the park or co-op or the doctors office - I picture the rejoicing that will happen in heaven one day when my party of 7 spends eternity with Jesus. That image reminds me that my day to day struggles are temporary and a glory I can't imagine is on the other side of them all.