I turned on the computer about 15 minutes ago. I have my plate of half-eaten lunch next to me and my children ( who of course ate about 30 minutes before I even thought about eating myself ) are now playing outside, running off that “we-just-ate-and-have-fresh-energy! ” store that I hope will lessen in enough time to squeeze a nap in ( for them. Not me. Haha! That would be nice! I haven’t taken a nap on a weekday in years! ).
I was just taking a bite of taco, with an 18 month old climbing up my chair, crying to sit on my lap, my 3 year old crying because she wants to race with her sister, so I put the baby down for his nap and he is now banging on the wall in his room. Give him a few minutes and he will conk out. Thanks to our black-out curtains. I am in love with our black-out curtains. They give me a sense of hope that sleeping in on the weekend might happen! Is it lying to try and trick your children into believing the sun is not out yet?
These moments of calm or quiet don’t happen that often or without a lot of planning and scheming. In those moments it’s like I can hear the Hallelujah Chorus. Sort of. I’m not used to silence or being able to hear myself think! In fact this blog post originated because I was talking to myself in the bathroom. Yep. I have resorted to talking to myself in order to be able to think about things.
I read this amazing blog post written by another sister-in-motherhood of four, wherein she describes so eloquently what it’s like to having that many kids. It’s hilarious, you need to read it. ( here )I have thought of her often and how wonderful it is to know I am not alone.
I am not the only mother who literally has to hold it for hours before I actually make it to the bathroom. I mean, going to the bathroom isn’t really that big of a priority, until it is. Even then you have to basically get your kids permission or firmly lay it out to them that “MOMMY IS GOING TO THE POTTY! ” in no uncertain terms. And of course something ALWAYS happens in the 1.5 seconds that you’re allowed to go to the bathroom and you promise yourself that you will just wait till the end of the day to go again because it’s really just not worth it! Before you’re a mom you don’t even know that so much could be said about going to the bathroom. But when you do become a mom and you’re sitting on the potty and your child(ren) is/are screaming your name or banging on the door you will know that you have arrived.
Going to the bathroom is kind of like eating or drinking. You will forget to do either of these at some point. You are a good mom when you have trained your body in such a way that you will just not need to do any of those necessities. Mind over matter. When you can go throughout a whole day with just a bite of something or one sip of water you are winning. You will know when you have trained yourself, when you guzzle a glass of water before bed and it hits you that you haven’t actually had any water all day, though it seems you have poured cups of water ( and wiped up spilled ones ) ad nauseum. You will actually try to drink during the day but are unsuccessful. You will pour yourself a glass of water 5-6 times before your children all need some and you give them a sip of yours and by the time they are all satisfied you will have lost the motivation to get more for yourself. Just forget about getting anything, like a snack or a fun drink or cup of coffee just for the pleasure of it. As a mom you do things as a necessity and not before. This is the best way I can show you what it’s like…
I have pulled this muscle in my leg from doing that walk/run/powerwalk thing everywhere I go in the house. Because as soon as I start any kind of chore or job or change a diaper or whatever, I will always have at least one, or two, possibly 4 other little voices simultaneously calling my name. Remember when you just yearn for your baby to be able to say Mommy? Remember that day? I do it every time my baby is born and I just can’t wait to hear them say it. They always make up for lost time. Like now, my 18 MO just says “mommy” for everything. He loves to say it in a scream-cry. One cute variation he does is almost a British ” Ma Ma ” that he says on a loop as well. All while beating my leg to make a point. Poor thing. He has figured out that he has to do this to make himself heard above the noise and demands of his sisters.
I feel like I accomplished a good bit today though, when I think about it. I got out of bed (this is the biggest accomplishment, most days! ) I fed all the children, got all of us clothed, and out the door before 11 to go to our Library Story Time. I had that odd surge of adrenaline or something like it when I got home and I was thinking of all these things I wanted to write down on a list that I needed to do. I was trying to make lunch while I experienced this strange phenomena and managed to get out a piece of paper. I even got out a pen and stood in front of the paper like 5 different times but was always interrupted. Now I have no clue what I even intended to write because I never got the chance . *sigh* I guess it just wasn’t that important. I remember I was going to write ” Goals for Today” as a heading and it’s just apropos that it remained blank. At this point, I should just write:
Yesterday was not such a good day. I told my husband that I needed to just sit on the floor and forget about anything that I should be doing or needed to do, like laundry or dishes or cooking. If I had that freedom to just serve my children all day, answer their every beck and call immediately and take care of their every need without any thought to anything else and just play, I might not be so frustrated! It’s when the kids, that take up so much of our time and energy and attention, insert themselves on a house that needs cleaning or garbage that needs to be taken out or a dishwasher full of dishes that frustrations arise. I truly wish that I could just play and have fun and be creative with them all day but, I cant.
Then somewhere we get the guilt-trip that we aren’t good mom’s because we aren’t doing those things. We really are juggling so much, trying so hard, and should cut ourselves a little slack. Without God’s grace and a good sense of humor there is no way to make it through the day. It’s when I keep a record of how many interruptions I have had, or how many things on the list didn’t even get written down that I lose the will to go on.
Amy Carmichael writes that God “threads the minutes of our hours.” Elizabeth Elliot says, ” Not even the tiny dewdrop lacks the care and attention of the Lover of all. Shall I then think of any detail of my earthly life, even so little a thing as a minute of one of my hours, as without meaning? ”
I realized as I scurried about doing this and that, that when I am most upset or frustrated at how the day is going ( or not going ) I am so focused on myself and my plan or my picture-perfect-make-believe kind of day that I am bound to get upset when things go off the rails like they always do. Really, what I’m worried about is that while I bend over backwards to take care of everyone around me, no one will take care of me.
I mean, it’s a legitimate concern, especially when you can’t find time to brush your teeth or bathe, but besides that, we are constantly told to “look out for number one” and, “you have to take care of yourself first.” But when you make that your priority, you are only guaranteed to be frustrated and annoyed as well as raise perfectly selfish kids who have learned from our example. And really, that’s my greatest fear. That my sins and bad-habits will rub off on them and the viscous cycle will continue. So as I try to pull all this together, the more I worry about myself and my needs or wants, the more I will be frustrated and upset. And as Mrs. Elliot so rightly says, ” Frustration is not the will of God. Of that we can be certain. There is time to do anything and everything that God wants us to do. ”
Let’s hear that again:
There is time to do anything and everything that God wants us to do.
Wow. So if God has strung my minutes together and has given me the time to do all that is required, and if he is taking care of me like he takes care of the sparrow, will never leave me or forsake me, will give me grace that is sufficient, will not allow me to be tempted more than I am able and thinks thoughts of prosperity, hope and a future for me…what is the problem?
I guess like any rubber that meets the road, it hurts. It’s not easy or pleasant. It’s a struggle. I love the famous philosopher Jim Gaffigan who says,
That’s what it feels like! Drowning!
I say all of this tongue in cheek, because I don’t have to tell you I wouldn’t trade any of my kids for the world. I wouldn’t trade the chaos for the luxury of being able to do whatever I want whenever I want it. It’s not easy but I know my children are a method God uses to strengthen me and change me and mold me into His image. If you want to be pushed a little harder in your sanctification then I highly recommend having kids.
But more than that, it’s a great privilege to be entrusted the life of any other person than my own. I marvel all the time that God would bless me with any life let alone that of 4! ( 5 if you count my husband, whom, I sometimes forget, is NOT one of the kids! ) I know there are so many who would give an arm and a leg for the trials of children that I have been writing about, and my prayers are with them. They see with clearer eyes the blessing that children are. I don’t want to get so bogged down with the hurry and scurry of my kids that I forget to enjoy them. But it does take a good dose of just plain humility to do the parenting thing at all. And Christ does say, “whoever loses his life for My sake will find it…And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Matt. 10:39,42
” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11
I can’t say it any better than that.