Estimated arrival date of baby number five. 🙂
Category Archives: All things mommy and daddy related
Back in the early months of my marriage, I made up an illness. It’s called “exhaustion disease”. Sometimes it’s clearly my own fault – when Mike and I were first married we often stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking and laughing, playing games and watching movies. There was one time after Jenny was born when we were so tired that we made up this whole story about people with pepper addictions, and how all of society in this fictional world was dealing with pepper addicts. There were different types of peppers, standard black, white, or exotic rainbow pepper. Sneezing would be considered the ultimate high, hence the pepper. Anyway, we found it so hilarious that we wrote up a whole page of ideas in a notebook (yes, we are geeks, thanks for asking!). We must have been up until at least two in the morning laughing hysterically at our oh-so-clever idea. And then, in the morning, when we tried to relive that by reading our notebook page of thoughts, it just wasn’t funny anymore. The only thing left over then was this terrible exhaustion.
Of course, having small children means that all too often the exhaustion is not really my fault at all. They have needs and desires and demands and Mama gets to take care of most of them.
After painting the living room on Monday and rearranging the furniture yesterday, I figured on today being a restful day. My mastitis is clearly not gone and my muscles ache and protest at nearly any amount of movement. I’m sure that getting a good night sleep would have helped this to some degree, but I was up past midnight anyway. Ben woke up just as I was going to bed after finishing a movie (Temple Grandin – if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it). He stayed in our bed all night and fed too many times to count. And then, before Mike had left for work, I got this strange feeling lying there in bed. I opened my eyes and there was Elias, sitting on our bed watching me sleep. It would have been creepy if he had not had a sweet smile on his face. But still, it wasn’t even eight o’clock yet! (I’m not a morning person…)
So today, I am suffering from exhaustion disease. I fell asleep sitting up in my rocking chair this morning. I had been holding Ben and then put him down and when I next paid any attention to what was going on, Erik was on my lap instead. Talk about confusion. So I moved to the couch and stayed there until after Mike went back to work after lunch. Eventually I managed to haul myself off of the couch to make lunch, but let me tell you, it was not easy.
I’d like to crawl into my bed, put some earplugs in my ears and a sleep mask on my eyes and sleep for at least twenty-four hours. I think that might just be the cure.
I know it’s been awhile. I think about writing something nearly every day, but I also think about doing laundry, washing dishes, sweeping floors, reading to the kids, reading to myself, making something…etc, etc.
The truth is, something changed after I had Ben. He is the kind of kid that makes you slow down because you have no choice. He clings to me half the day and the other half finds things to chew on that really shouldn’t be in anyone’s mouth. If I start any task, he seems to know and comes crawling, wimpering all the way to me, grabs my legs and stands there waiting for me to pick him up. Just now he’s doing this, although he stopped on his way over to put a dried black bean in his mouth (note to self: vacuum the floors, pronto). And then when I pick him up, he often freaks out anyway and acts as though he wants to be put back down. Of course, when I put him back down, he freaks out even more. I just can’t figure him out.
In fact, it’s a good thing that WordPress so handily saves my drafts automatically, because about three sentences ago, Ben crawled underneath the desk and hit the power button on the computer (note to self: buy a laptop, pronto). So good thing for those drafts.
Anyway, it’s not that I don’t have time to write, or time to do any other number of things, it’s that whenever I have the time, Ben decides that leaving me alone is really not a good use of his time. Humbug.
I should probably start blogging at night. It might work out a whole lot better for everyone.
I turned to my husband today and said, “One of these days my brain is going to melt and dribble out of my ears.”
I’m incredibly sleep deprived right now. Just figured I’d share that.
I asked the question, “Where do I start?” and the answer I got was, “Start small.”
The concept of starting small is nothing new, but it’s amazing how often I bypass it to try and tackle everything all at once. I start on one part of the house and get distracted and end up moving on to something that seems simpler, only to be distracted again. I end up with a dozen half-finished projects.
When I heard this answer so clearly (yes, I do think it was God’s voice), I assumed it only meant to start small in my house. Start with some small project and finish it and I’ll feel better about the big picture. When I sat down to eat lunch with the kids today, I realized that “start small” could apply to anything. I’ve struggled every day this week with my kids, trying to tackle everyone’s individual issues and not having much success at all. Normally, lunchtime is rough. I usually eat before or after the kids, and I don’t often sit down with them while they eat. Today I made us all the same meal and sat down just after they did. And it was better. It was just a small thing to change, but it actually made a big difference. They ate without throwing food at each other or on the floor (yes, my kids do that from time to time) and they all ate a decent amount of food, which doesn’t always happen at lunchtime.
It occurred to me while I was sitting there with them that this was starting small. I may not be able to prevent Elias from having a fit every ten minutes or keep Erik from screaming when anyone touches him, but eating lunch with them calmed them down for a short time. It wasn’t perfect, but it was different. I’ve seen this happen before, but for whatever reason, I tend to forget how much it helps.
After seeing this small change make a big difference, I turned my sights on Elias and his fit throwing. I suspect that this is a typical attention-grabber. If that’s the case, he may just need a little more positive attention from me during the day. Every time he started to have a fit this afternoon, I grabbed him and hugged him or had him sit with me for a short time. I talked to him calmly and quietly instead of yelling. This is very much against my natural response, but I think it might be what he needs. The trick will be getting Mike to respond the same way. There is a line that has to be drawn with Elias, and obviously, if he crosses it, he’ll have to be disciplined somehow (time-outs seem to be somewhat effective). My goal is just to respond as gently and gracefully as I can when he first starts to lose it. I’m sure I’ll have to re-evaluate if this doesn’t make a difference, but I have hope that it will work to some degree.
The big question right now is what area in my home can I make a small start on? There are so many things to be done, and maybe the best thing to do first is to make a list of small things I can do. I think small in my book is something that can be done in twenty minutes or less. So instead of cleaning my entire kitchen, I might just clean out one drawer or cupboard. Instead of tackling my entire desk (it’s a huge mess right now), I may just clear off one part of it. All I know is that something has to be done, and looking at it as a whole is downright scary. Starting small may not seem to make a big difference, but a dozen small starts may complete a big project.
It’s Thanksgiving this week in the old USA – we had our Thanksgiving a long time ago now…six weeks ago or so.
But anyway, I just figured I’d mention that I now only have one child in diapers. In my book, that’s pretty sweet, and something I can be thankful for.
Okay, so Erik has been wearing a diaper to bed and for naps, but he wore the same one for like three days without wetting it, so I think we can phase that out as well. And he’s only had two accidents in the last week and a half. Possibly my easiest child to potty train yet. Yay, Erik!!
Things are better. It turns out that it doesn’t take much to wake me up. I’ve started attending a Bible study with a few other girls. We’re studying the book of Romans. Last night we talked about living by faith and not being ashamed of sharing the gospel message, but being eager to share it. I realized how often I’ve heard God’s voice but because I’m not in communion with him, I ignore it because I’m afraid – or ashamed. I want to be obedient to His voice – in whatever He calls me to. I’ve seen before what happens when I’m obedient – God uses me and it’s pretty incredible.
I live in fear a good deal of the time. This keeps me from following through on things I think God may have spoken to me. I also live every day as a perfectionist. Last night I read Romans 3 before bed. The thing that jumped out at me was that all have sinned. Not just me – but everyone. This also means that no one is perfect. I have so many responsibilities and I tend to shirk them unless I can do them perfectly. The Bible is pretty clear on this, though – it’s not going to happen. We can strive for perfection but none of us are perfect.
I can’t keep my house perfectly clean, so often I go for weeks without doing much more than dishes and laundry. My floors get dirty, the sink in our bathroom looks like it belongs in a truck stop; clutter takes over. If I can’t do it perfectly, I just don’t do it.
I can’t keep to a perfect diet and exercise program, so I do nothing instead of making an effort to get what exercise I can and eat as well as I can. I can’t get to my “perfect” weight fast enough, so I figure – “why bother?”
I can’t be the perfect wife and mother – I read blogs and books about women who do so much better than I do and I feel like giving up. But those women (unless they’re fictional) have problems, too. They aren’t perfect, even if they appear as though they are.
I can’t be the perfect Christian so I don’t bother trying. I can’t read just the right amount of my Bible every day, keep regular devotions, have a prayer closet, go on missions trips, devote myself to nine different ministries within the church, etc. So I let myself drift away from God out of fear that I’m not good enough for Him.
Let’s face it – stay at home moms in particular must try very hard to make time for all these things. I’m not saying other people have it so easy, but we are overwhelmed by demands all day long. We sometimes put in a full twenty-four hour day, give or take snippets of sleep when we can get it. My typical day right now does allow me “time off” when the boys are napping – but I only really have free time if Jenny leaves me alone for those two hours. And just about every other day, I’d rather lie down and read a book or have a nap than do anything remotely productive. Is this wrong? I don’t think so.
But what is the answer? How can I find the right balance of housework, attention to diet and exercise, time with my family, time spent in ministry and time spent with God? I don’t know. I’m not there yet. I don’t want a written schedule but maybe I need a bit more structure throughout my day.
I do know that when we talked about living by faith last night, it rang true with me – “living” encompasses all my time, all my responsibilities and my time off. If every moment is lived by faith in communion with Christ, the details will work themselves out. Maybe at this point in my life I can’t read – and process – three chapters in my Bible every day. Maybe I don’t have time for more than one small ministry outside of my family. Maybe I don’t crawl into a closet to pray three times a day. But there will come a day when my kids are grown up and I’m left at home without babies to tend to and then I’ll be able to devote myself to doing things that way. I have to take what I’m given now and give what I have without sacrificing my sanity or my family. This is a one day at a time kind of thing. But that’s what living by faith is about – living one day at a time by faith. That’s as much as any of us can do.