As I struggle to find a new normal in my days (new job + new house + new baby + hubby twice to Mexico in 2 weeks + all 3 kids taking turns getting croup = whaaaa??!)... I find myself falling into bed feeling like a failure most days. Things I'd wanted to accomplish--half-started, or totally forgotten. (Why do we remember everything the moment we lie down?) If I am feeling even a little "together"--all I need to do is walk into a different room, see the disaster, and be reminded of how very little I have together!
This is not a post begging for help or looking for pity--I have a thousand other things I've been dying to write... But, this. This is the post I must write. To myself. A lifeline, when I am flailing to keep my head above water. When I am feeling like nothing is going right.
And, word to the wise--it is not a well put-together post. The rambling and lack of organization is a reflection of my mental state these last weeks.. but I hope you can find the sense of it! ;)
The first several weeks post baby, I felt my attitude slipping. Especially towards everything "not baby". I would snap at my older children--not giving them time or grace to be themselves. Playfulness had flown out the window, and in it's place came a snarky, sleep-deprived woman who demanded silence, immediate obedience and the understanding of an adult.
Thankfully, I felt God's voice halt me in my tracks... and encourage me to stop taking myself and my feelings/emotions so seriously. Yes, I was exhausted. Yes, I was cranky. So, what? It would pass. What wouldn't pass were my children's memories of these days. The hurt I was so carelessly inflicting as I cut them off in their excited sharing (not enough time!), as I shut down any inclination towards creative play (messy!), as I told them to laugh quietly (too loud!)... as I myself forgot to smile, and to laugh. I began laughing first at myself. I am a pretty funny thing, actually. And, really... the less sleep I get, the funnier I get. (Bumping into walls, putting socks in refrigerators, completely forgetting appointments THAT ARE WRITTEN ON THE CALENDER). Why not just laugh about it? As opposed to letting it all build and build until I explode all over my loved ones? This perspective helped me to find time for play with the kids... Car rides are now crazy times of silliness and sharing. Love it. It helps me to stop what I'm doing and listen--with corresponding facial expressions..!
So, playfulness and engaging has returned. But, I now struggle with the HOUSEWORK. I don't naturally adore housework. It doesn't really fulfill me. BUT. I do enjoy a clean, organized house. And, I do feel intense pressure to keep it that way. I feel that weight each night as I go to bed, surrounded by piles of clothing and projects that are half-started. I feel embarrassed--imagining someone popping in: "They will think I do nothing all day!"
I also began feeling the crushing pressure yesterday, as the kids and I began decorating the house. I began feeling that our decorating wasn't that great and picking things apart. And, then I stopped.
You know what?? WHO CARES? Who cares if these decorations are the ones we've been recycling the last several years? Who cares if they aren't placed in the most perfect way? I then began to feel the need to rebel against the weight... What if---I didn't spend another cent on decorations? What if I just let it be?
I began thinking about what REALLY matters to me. What I REALLY want my kiddos to learn as they grow.
And, here it is... (incomplete... but here):
--I want them to learn creativity and imaginative play. Which, in my world, means allowing messy. Allowing paper scraps, allowing blanket forts, allowing digging in the dirt.
--I want them to learn helpfulness and how to work. Which, in my world, means allowing them into MY space. Not shutting out offers of helping me cook dinner, fold laundry, sweep the floor, organize a drawer. EVEN WHEN I WANT TO. Even when it takes 10 times longer with them "helping".
--I want them to learn responsibility and family cooperation. Which, I my world, requires leaving certain things undone... so that they will do them. (like: Their bed). It requires me to be more organized and to think about what they are capable of doing... and it requires me to HOLD THEM to it! It requires that I hold myself back from doing things that they can and should be doing (cleaning up after themselves, helping out).
--I want them to feel the home is their home. Which, in my world, means displaying their projects their artwork... and even (gasp) letting them lend a hand in decorating it (and even leaving it the way they did it!). I don't want them to learn, "Hands off, the only one whose creativity counts is momma's." I want them to learn to dream, create--and to do so cooperatively. I want my home to reflect the people who live there--not a snapshot from a magazine.
--I want them to learn respect and kindness. Which requires that I am tuned into how they play, how they interact, and how they respond.
--I want them to learn about God, and His plan for them and how He is a part of everything in our lives. This means I need to both plan ahead for teaching times... and take the time for spontaneous teaching times. I need to utilize different ways of getting the message across--whether through conversation, games, crafts... which all takes time.
What do you think? Do you notice what is glaringly absent from the list? "I want them to learn that the only good home is a clean, model home ". Not even there!
Also, this list was a huge reality check. ALL of them require time, flexibility, time, connection, engagement, time, follow-up and a sort of open-handedness. And, time. Which means... none of these priorities spell "Clean, magazine-worthy house".
All of this is not to say, "Don't stop by my house. Is a toxic landfill." (Hopefully not!) ;) Nope. It's just a reminder to me that if that list above is really a reflection of some of my top priorities for my kids... Then, that's the list I should be running through my mind as I lie in my bed at night. I need to allow myself to feel the joy of the deep conversation about God that my son had with me, or the compassion I saw displayed by my daughter, or the laughter shared by all at dinner. These are my standards. These are what matter to me.
What about you? Are you able to just focus on your family's priorities... and let all the other crazy expectations run out the door and bother someone else? ;)