Saturday, December 26, 2009

Please Tell Me I Am Not The Only One

Going to be painfully honest here. Sometimes I really do not enjoy my children too much. Is it okay for me to say that? I get annoyed with them quite easily. Just for needing me. Needing me to make them food, get them a drink, take them to the potty, mediate their arguments, look for missing lego pieces, look for blankies, clean up the milk that they spilled because they were rolling a ball on the table.....AGAIN!

Motherhood is so incredibly demanding! And lately I feel like maybe I should hand in my resignation. At least for a day or two.

I know that the enemy wants me to feel isolated and alone in seasons of struggling with being a mom. I know I am not the only mom who feels this way. I know there are other moms out there who struggle in the same way. It is just hard to find moms who will write with gut level honesty. You start feeling like you are doing something very wrong.

I have found myself asking Mark so often lately, "What are we doing wrong?" This always comes after something I seem to think other people have mastered. Why do my babies get up all hours of the night? Why do my toddlers whine all day about everything? Why do my older boys get into such intense verbal disputes? Why do I yell when I so badly want to respond with grace and love? I then say, "What is wrong with me?!"

And you know....I don't think there is anything wrong with me except that I have these expectations that are just simply unattainable. I am human. I am going to have bad days. I am going to have days that I wake up a little "off" and have a hard time getting myself back on track. Same as my children. I have days when I want to whine about my life. Kind of like my toddlers. I have days where I want to stomp out of the room and lock myself away for time alone. Just like my boys. I have days when I want to sit and cry. Kind of like my toddlers.

But.....I need to learn to overcome my feelings and being to teach my children that emotions cannot rule my life. My goodness though - it is so darn hard!!

I did lock myself in the bathroom the other day - if only for a minute. It felt nice though. Just me. Alone. Solitude.

It only lasted a moment since Eden figured out where I was and began pounding on the door and I had to hurriedly open the door for fear that her pounding and yelling would awaken Heidi. But that moment was tasty!

I know this seems like a strange post when everyone else is all happy, jolly and Christmasy. Just where I am at this Christmas.

I love my children to no end! Wouldn't trade any of them! I know I am walking out God's plan for my life! I also know that when I am feeling completely depleted that I have decided (unconsciously) to walk in my own strength. Oh how miserably I fail!

So...on this after Christmas I am more grateful than ever that a baby was born who made it possible for me to fall on my face in front of my Father simply to say, "Help me! Save me! Extend Grace to me! Carry me! Enable me! Bless me!"

It still would be nice to know that I am normal. Anyone?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How Do You Do It?

Rhetorical questions. They somehow follow me. Maybe they follow everyone. I am often asked, "How do you do it?" I interpret that to mean, "How do you stay sane with 5 children especially when you have three children age three and under."

Well...just for the record....I sometimes question my sanity. I jest of course...I think? Some days I feel far from normal. But again, what is normal? Who do I allow to define normal in my life? Is it possible that my normal may look different than your normal?

When people ask me how I do it I often look at that same person in amazement and wonder how they do it. You see, we have simplified our life a lot. Our children are our life. Our family, our marriage and our relationship is our life. So many people we know are running all day long - dropping kids off at pre-school, picking kids up from pre-school, running kids to activities, picking kids up from activities, going to sporting events....I know we all know folks like that. Some of you reading may be folks like that. I am not pointing the finger. One thing I have learned is that we all have different perspectives. One persons life isn't better than the next - it may just be different. We have just made the decision that our kids are little only once and they will have plenty of years ahead of them to be involved in sports, music and activities.

The boys have been in gymnastics, kick-boxing and swimming. They enjoy it but are just as happy being at home riding bikes, riding four wheelers, playing in the woods.....being kids. After we finished up kick-boxing we talked and they were okay taking a little break from activities. I was feeling a bit drained trying to corral the other two munchkins as well as keep Heidi happy while they were at gymnastics or kick-boxing. Judah has been asking for art lessons and Shane for drum lessons. I am fine with the art lessons and with the drum lessons - one will just require ear plugs. Or maybe they both will require ear plugs depending on the frustration level that arises when art work isn't to Judah's standard.

My point is I think when people see us with five children they try to imagine how they would fit five children into their current schedules. Because their schedules with 2 or 3 children makes my head spin and spin. I really am a simplistic person. I do not mind being at home. I am ok with the fact that my van may not move out of the garage for 4 days. I could find something to do or someplace to go. I just don't have this insatiable desire to be on the move.

I have realized though over the past 2-3 weeks that there is another area that we need to slow down and take a break. Even though we are home a lot we entertain very often. We enjoy having family and friends here and I love baking and cooking to feed people. But I am starting to feel a bit burned out. Getting the house presentable, bathrooms cleaned and food ready is starting to create a level of stress that is making me cranky. If I was operating and functioning at full capacity it would be fine. But being up 4-7 times every night is creating a lower-functioning human being. I know I said I wouldn't complain about sleepless nights but come on people!!! Can the baby sleep already?!!

Now...if you have been someone who has graced our home with your presence over the past few months do not start wondering if you made me cranky! You didn't! I have had a hard time slowing down and a few things are making me see the necessity. The most glaring and obvious thing being the fact that I have not been enjoying my children very much lately. I am always in a rush to get something done, something made, something cleaned - you name it. Secondly, my husband has a tired wife from the normal demands of life without taking on so much extra work. So....we talked about it and decided that after Christmas rolls around we will take at least a month off from entertaining - possibly two months! The thought makes me almost giddy with anticipation!

Although being home with the kids can bring about a whole level of stress by itself. But that is for another post!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Festive Fun

I have a few random pictures I have been meaning to post. I realize it has been quite a while since I have posted pictures - just takes too long. :)
Here are Eden and Aunt Joyce taking a nap on Thanksgiving. I snapped one picture and the flash jolted Eden awake. This is the second picture I took and I love her one eye looking at me. Sleeping beauties........
Heidi hanging out. She is still just army crawling but is extremely efficient in getting from point A to point B. It is fun to watch but makes me a bit sad at the same time. She seems to be changing a bit too quickly for this momma.
My oldest sister and her two daughters came for a little visit. Judah and Shane made these beautiful gingerbread houses with their cousins. They were very lovely! The girls and the houses! We actually just threw away what remained yesterday because they were the gift that kept on giving. Giving pieces of icing and remnants of crumbs all day long! They thoroughly enjoyed making them and consuming them. Please don't tell them but I snuck a few pieces of candy here and there!
Shane and Caitlyn working hard on their decorating

Judah and Ashleigh's finished product.
Shane and Caitlyn's finished product.
A little sweetness in the mix here. Heidi has this little love affair with her dad that is just precious! Her face lights up when he walks in the room.
Our tree almost completely decorated!
The first little bit of snow we got last week the boys decided to go out and play. Really???? Where are the snow pants, coats and hats? At least they have boots and gloves.
One of the advent "thingy" activities was to paint ornaments for the tree. Tristan and Eden haven't painted very often so they were thrilled!! I was a little less zealous over the cleanup.

Today we had a snow day and Judah was home from school. The activity for today was to make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and then rolling them in bird seed. Again...a little messy but lots of fun.
Last evening we had a party to go to. They were calling for snow and freezing rain but we decided to go and just keep checking outside to make sure we didn't run into trouble. I should have trusted my gut but felt a little silly since it didn't seem all that bad - just a bit of snow. As the evening wore on and the precipitation starting I had this gnawing in the pit of my stomach. Not like me at all. Driving in snow doesn't freak me out usually. But we had stopped to pick up Mark's truck on our way to the party since his salt spreader was being installed yesterday. This meant we would both be driving home.
We skipped out a little early and figured out real quickly that the roads were not going to be very fun to navigate - especially without four wheel drive. Fortunately, Heidi fell asleep all most immediately upon getting into the van so she wasn't screaming. The roads were horrible!!! We almost didn't make it home. At one point the van refused to budge up a hill, I slid to the side of the road and we switched vehicles. Mark worked for about 10 minutes and finally made it up the hill and very cautiously drove down the other side. Needless to say, our babysitter spent the night since we saw vehicles stranded along the road. And we almost had to ditch ours and just take the truck.
Moral of the story - trust your gut!! I was so annoyed with myself for not leaving when the gnawing became almost nauseating. Oh well.....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas is arriving

It seems to me that lack of sleep over the course of weeks, months and years makes a persons brain turn to mush occasionally. I am in a mushy state of mind these days. Hence the lack of posts recently. Just don't seem to have the energy to form coherent thoughts that another human being would find interesting.

It seems as though for some reason God has seen fit to give us another cherub who either thinks sleep is overrated or that nighttime is the best time to get quality time with the mother. I don't mind the sleepless nights as much as I mind my lack of patience with the kids and lack of perspective with life the next day.

Eden has come through her sleepless nights beautifully, Tristan is sleeping finally after 3 years and now we just have to conquer the babe!! In time, right? I don't mean to sound like a broken record. I am very well aware that if I were to read back over my blog I mention sleepless nights more than anything else. How dismal. On to something much more fun and celebratory.

The festive days of Christmas are in full swing at our house. The boys drug out their fake trees last evening and we decorated the night away! The stockings are hung all in a row. I am buckling under the pressure this year. I have always been a white light only decorator and wanted nothing gawdy. But really....what fun is that for little kids? Think back to when you were a child. What grabbed your attention? The wonderfully, hideous colored lights (no offense to you colored light lovers) seemed to spark much brighter. I have been able to convince my kids to remain with white lights but we will have lovely green and red candy canes that will adorn our sidewalk. Can hardly believe I am admitting this! Yes....we will have some otherwise ugly decor this year but the smiles on my children's faces will be more than worth it. The tree isn't up or decorated yet but was purchased today. I am not sure how this is all going to go - Eden has already broken some pieces from my beautiful and favorite nativity set.

Something new we are doing this year is a homemade advent calendar thingy. I say "thingy" because my attempts at being crafty leave a lot to be desired. Some examples of activities are game nights, movie nights, baking cookies, possibly visiting a local shelter with the two older boys (still working on this one), taking our neighbors Christmas get the idea. Last night the boys picked out what World Vision gift they wanted to purchase. Both boys, upon receiving the World Vision gift catalog, offered to give $10 of the money we would have spent on them for Christmas. We told them we would do the same so last night they spent time looking through the catalog and making their "purchase." Shane spent his half of the money on soccer balls for children in Africa and Judah spent his half on emergency medicine for children and infants in Africa. It was fun watching them "shop". Shane was so torn - he thought it would be better to purchase mosquito nets for a family yet couldn't stand the thought of the kids not having soccer balls to play with.

We really want to cultivate in our children and ourselves an awareness of what this season really and truly signifies! Not an easy task in such a consumer oriented society. I would love to hear how other people celebrate with their children and families! Anyone care to share?