Thursday, April 28, 2016

Motherhood and Crying over Puffs

Loveys, how are you? I've been a little MIA lately. Last week was a doozy. I had one of those epic failure-at-motherhood moments. The kind where mommy desperately needs a time out. Seriously. The step-outside-and-take-a-deep-breath kind of situation (in theory, except it's forever snowing in this town so you can't step outside).

Here's what happened. We were running a bit late for school. I've just juggled breakfast for everyone and Ashtyn getting dressed and fixing her hair, Lily throwing half her breakfast on the floor so I've resorted to just giving her puffs, Lincoln being hyper. I need to run upstairs and find my purse so we can go. I tell Ash she can give Lily puffs. I run up the stairs, find my purse, and come back down . . . and there's already arguing and I'm losing it. When I ask what's happened, Ash hands me the puff canister, which was maybe a little less than half full. Now it's empty. She and Lincoln are arguing over each other as I realize that Lincoln has just eaten all the puffs, Lily's puffs--in the span of two minutes.

And. Now. I'm. Crying. And. Shouting.

Literally, crying real tears over puffs. The kids are just standing there as I'm sobbing and gasping and ordering them to the stairs for a time-out. Then I'm hollering to go get money out of their piggy banks because they will pay for puffs. They rush up the stairs. I'm standing there, breathing hard, and I keep crying and muttering incoherently. They come back down with money in their little hands. Lincoln gives me a handful of coins. He's obviously aware that Mommy is feeling crazy, but that doesn't stop him from looking at the money, then looking at me and asking, "Mommy, how much is that?" The boy wants to know how much he is giving up. Good grief.

I gather myself and load everyone in the car and drive Ash to school. On the way, I apologize for screaming (but they are still paying for the puffs).

I know it's a combination of everything. I was frustrated with Jeff that morning. Puffs aren't really expensive but they might as well have been because I felt like they were wasted by Lincoln (and sometimes they are the only thing Miss Lily will eat). I was teetering on an emotional edge and all the chaos pushed me right off and I cried.

I know it happens. My mother is a steady woman. She's also extremely capable. But I can think of a few times when she disappeared into the shower to be alone--and I know she cried. Those were days when she was overwhelmed. I know it happens to every mom, to every woman for that matter. While it's something that most of us have lived through, still, those are high-tension days and low-capacity experiences that drain us. That day drained me.

I am not a perfect mother.

That was one day in a string of busy days last week. This week, all my kids now have colds. Oh goodness. It's especially hard with Lily because there's not that much I can give her. And even though we're desperate for spring, it's been snowing all morning, lovey. I'm sitting here, feeling a bit chilled, and I can hear through the baby monitor Lily's little coughs as she sleeps (probably for another five minutes. I better type fast).

I will be honest with you--there are moments when I'd like to be alone. Just for an hour maybe. Complete quiet. And the truth about motherhood is that there isn't much alone time to be had. So . . . every now and then you cry over puffs and you go for a few days where you quit cooking and cleaning and you just exist. Then--sometimes slowly--you start to pick yourself back up and do a couple of loads of laundry (no folding, let's not go crazy here). You sigh and do the dishes because, well, they need to get done. You thaw out hamburger meat because your family can only live on Ramen for so long.

A friend and I were talking recently and I told her that I wasn't sure how I managed anything while I was working outside the home for so long. She just shrugged and told me that I wasn't home quite as much. When everyone is gone to work and daycare, no one is home making a huge mess all day long. You're not constantly using every dish in the house and loading and emptying and reloading the dishwasher. I thought about that, and I think she's right. There's still so much to take care of at the end of the day for absolutely every mom and dad, but all day/every day feels like snack time and play time for someone at my house, lovey. It's just common knowledge that a constant cycle of diapers and bottles and snack time and lunch time and laundry and dishes can make you start to twitch. (And what about moms that work from home! Double-edged sword, I know!)

And while I could tell Jeff that I need some alone time and I know he'll give it to me--I know he needs it too. So we have to help each other.

We're at the final stretch of school before summer, lovey. And that can feel crammed. Fund runs and Mother's Day tea and kid birthday parties and extra-curricular activities and on and on it goes. I'm SO ready for summer. But . . . for someone needing alone time, the reality is that for some of us, summer means all the kids at home every day.

I believe in self-care. A little goes a long way. An hour at a coffee shop by myself. Drinks with a friend. Maybe a hair cut. For Jeff, it was an extra night of basketball this week. He needed that.

Loveys, I'm not a perfect wife. Or a perfect friend. Or a perfect sister. Sometimes I cry over puffs and demand that my children give me money from their piggy banks (good Lord!). Crying and craziness are for sure indications that a little self-care is in order. I love my kids to the point of obsession, really. But it's so vital to recognize our own needs and do a little schedule-juggling in order to make room for healthy space to breathe.

And it's definitely okay to take a few days off from the constant chores. Let the laundry pile up for a day or two, when you're back to yourself, you can handle that. A few nights of frozen dinners or soup and sandwiches or even cereal is not a big deal. Put everyone to bed a little early, yourself included, and clean the kitchen tomorrow. One of the things that overwhelms me about housework is that it NEVER ENDS. (Insert twitching.)

Luckily, I'm not a perfectionist. Now, I start to go even more crazy if I live in complete chaos for long periods of time, but I can shake off the mess for a couple of days and just go to sleep early or hop in bed and read instead of clean up. We need rest and it's hard to come by. Honestly, I'm tired this week. The days seem long when the kiddos are sick (not to mention if the parents are sick! I'm praying Jeff and I don't catch this cold!). 

I don't like feeling as though I'm teetering on the edge. But I've been there enough to know that I'll keep breathing and next week will probably be better. The snow will stop eventually. I'll drink at least two cups of coffee today (maybe three) and Jesus will still love me.

Sometimes you cry real tears over puffs. Or whatever else. You just do.

Loveys, have you had epic-fail moments as a wife or mother? What do you do to shake things off and keep going?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Cleaning and Babies

Loveys, here's a crazy thing about me: I like spring cleaning. I do. I think it goes along with my tendency to want to move. I like the feeling of something fresh and new (or new to me, at least). Here's another thing: It's nearly impossible to embark on spring cleaning when you have a one-year-old who is into everything. In truth, it's nearly impossible to even go to the bathroom alone, much less clean out closets. I tried to go through Lily's clothes last week. It was a disaster. She kept emptying the box as I was filling it with too-small clothes. Very frustrating. I feel a deep need to purge the kids' rooms--throw out old, broken toys. Box up clothes that don't fit. Push aside winter clothes and make room for summer clothes. (I know. We're supposed to get snow all weekend and into next week. Don't talk to me.) But as I said, Miss Lily is into everything and I can't really leave the confines of the loft, where there are no marbles or small Legos or what have you. So here I am. In the loft, when I desperately want to be digging into the garage and throwing stuff away. Sometimes we're limited in what we want to do. And it's okay.

Honestly, there are so many mornings that I wish I could sit quietly with a cup of coffee and write. Or maybe read a devotional. Or maybe just do yoga and breathe. (Or go back to bed.)

I have a feeling those days will come, and then I'll miss the confines of the loft--and Spider Man on TV and baby toys all around. There's nothing wrong with a little bit of wishful thinking. A sigh and a thought of how nice it would be to have a little more alone time. But I would never want to wish my days away. I've been thinking lately that I need to be more disconnected from my phone. It's become such a part of my life. Checking Facebook, checking Instagram, reading forums, reading news articles, texting. It's such an easy way to connect with people, and I like connecting, but I know it can be an addiction. Like everything, it can control us and we need balance. I need balance.

Now that I've finished my freelance project, I'll work in spring cleaning around nap times and bed times. On top of my desire for cleaning out closets and throwing things away, I NEED to stop going to the store so much. For one, going places with kids gives me anxiety. For another thing, I feel like it ends up in wasting money. This might not happen to you, but I run in for tomato sauce and come out with ten things. It's not wasting money exactly, because I'm buying things we'll eat or use, the thing is, if I hadn't gone, I feel like we would have been fine anyway. So last week, I tried something. I did one big shopping trip on Monday and refused to go to the store for anything else. If I was missing an ingredient, I reworked the menu. If we were running low on something, I made it last until the weekend. Guess what. I ended up making meals I hadn't thought of before. So I'm trying again this week. I did a big shopping trip this past weekend and I'm holding off on going to the store for anything. One shopping trip per week means that I have to go back to doing meal planning. Which is fine because I think it's helpful anyway.

I'm always asking Jeff what he wants for dinner, and he'll say something like, "I just woke up, I have no idea what I want for dinner!" Easy for him to say! Since I'm the one who is home and I'm the one cooking, I'm thinking about meals all the time. So, I'm starting meal planning (but believe me, I'm flexible. I'm fine with deciding on scrambled eggs for dinner at the last minute). (Thinking of meals . . . pray my child gets some teeth. For real. Lily is almost 13 months with no sign of a tooth.)

I'm all about finding ways to preserve my sanity. Going to the store less frequently definitely helps with this. Saving money helps my family. Win-win. Spring cleaning helps me in the same way. I just breathe easier when things are organized, when there's not a lot of clutter. Taking boxes to goodwill and letting go of toys they don't need anymore helps my kids learn to let go. (Don't worry, I'm not a meanie. If letting go means crying and devastation, obviously we still love those toys and they stay with us. I've got a bin of Cherry Merry Muffin dolls and nineties McDonalds toys that I am NEVER letting go of.  Hello, sentimentality.)

What about you, lovey? Do you get the itch for spring cleaning? What methods help preserve your sanity?

I like setting goals. As summer gets closer, I find myself already starting goals for summer. What do I want to accomplish? What do I want to experience?  What do I want for my kids? What would I like for myself? A lot of my goals for summer involve making time for family. Immediate and extended. We've got family coming to visit and we hope to travel to see family as well. Jeff's regional meeting in the mountains. I want my kids to go camping. (Notice I did not include their mother in this. I'm thinking it will be a dad's weekend.) I'm hoping for dinner on the patio at La Sandia (who wants to go with me?! Margaritas!). I'm going to a summer Bible study for several weeks. We've already signed up Linc for swim lessons at the end of this month. I'd like to learn how to make a really good fruit salad with a cream cheese topping.



Living well.

Loving the people God has given us.

Choosing grace.

What about you, lovey? Spring cleaning?   

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tables and Turns

Loveys, how are you? I'm tired today. It was a great weekend and I'm moving slow this Monday. It's a little breezy and overcast and I've got a roast cooking in the crockpot, making my house smell all kinds of amazing and making me want to tear into that thing. We had small group on Friday, I had supper club (aka Nicole's birthday!) Saturday (and then Outlander season 2 premiere that night. Please, if you love Outlander, tell me and let's be friends). Sunday there was a birthday party to go to(I feel like we've entered the season of birthdays! Bring on the cake).

A fabulous thing happened this weekend, loveys. I got a pergola. I've wanted one for . . . a long time. I've already strung lights (well, technically, the Jeffster did all the work. He loves me. Seriously, I'm so lucky to have Jeff). And I'm desperate to sit outside on a warm summer night, under my pergola strung with lights, and drink wine and talk (preferably about Outlander, but I'll settle for almost anything! Girlfriends, come over!).

I keep stopping by the back door and just staring at it (and I keep hoping my neighbors don't think I'm creepy and staring at them). Because I've wanted one for so long. It's sort of like how I wanted a fireplace. And sweet Jeff kept buying me houses that did NOT have one. And we moved from one place to another and, sigh, no fireplace. Finally, he bought me a house with a fireplace. And the boy put up a pergola for me. I'll keep him. I am now ready for summer. Bring it.

As I said, it was a full weekend and one spent with lots of friends and time spent with people around tables. These are my favorite times, loveys. We sat around June's table on Friday night and talked and laughed and kept talking, and it was good. There's something about sitting with friends who want to be there with you. Who care about you for real. Who accept you as you are. It's a blessing to share perspectives, and food and wine, and just be yourself. Saturday night was supper club (and Nicole's birthday celebration!) and Shari did an awesome job hosting and it was so fun. Cheese trays and wine and chocolate and cheesecake. Really, all those things make me extremely happy, what's not to love? It was a good time. If you can talk about anything from breast-feeding to Harry Potter, you're set.

It seems to me that community looks different for us at different seasons of life. Pre-kids, the Jeffster and I joined a small group at our last church and it was great time of hanging out with other couples and growing together. I remember having people over from work, spending time with other friends, enjoying our time alone together--dinner and movie dates, cooking together at home, all that good stuff. As babies came into our lives, things changed of course. Now, with three busy kids running around, we still do things with other families, but often our time with community is in separate camps. Jeff plays basketball with his guy friends while I stay home and put the kids to bed. Or he goes out to watch the UFC fights with his buddies and I babysit. Or I go to supper club and he stays home and takes care of the kids. Or girls' night out or drinks with my neighbor girls. We take turns.

That is so much of what marriage is about to me. Taking turns. I need this. You need that. This is for me. This is for you. Give and take. Push and pull. Don't you think? How else can we make each other happy? I obviously don't rely on Jeff for all my happiness. He's not here to fulfill my every dream. This is a road we walk together. But his dreams matter to me, and mine matter to him. What he needs is a priority to me, just like I am a priority to him. And I know when we drop the ball on that (and it's happened so I know this to be true), someone's left feeling very unhappy. And when one person in a marriage is unhappy, the whole thing can go downhill quickly. Our home is a reflection of us. Our children are a product of us. Our life together is something that's all about the both of us. We take turns, lovey. You then me. Me then you. It's saying, tell me what you need and I'll help, because it absolutely matters to me.

When he finished the pergola, I was basically giddy with happiness, and I kept looking at it and then hugging Jeff. He just smiled and would hug me back. He's excited about it, too, of course. But, really, my happiness translated into gratitude for who Jeff is and all he does for me. And this journey we're on together. Sometimes, being happy takes effort, lovey. You work at it. You choose it. You take turns.

It's life. The effort is worth it. I want a happy life. There will always be hard times and moments of sadness. But I do think you can make your home a happy place. Where he wants to be. Where you want to be. Where your children can thrive. Where love matters the most. I think it takes both of you wanting that, working toward that, and when you do, it's good. (Sometimes it takes one of you deciding to start, and see what happens. And sometimes things don't work out, I know that as well. But you start where you are, lovey. And just see where your journey takes you.)

I've had about an hour of total quiet while Lily has FINALLY napped today. Honestly, I desperately needed this hour. A cup of coffee to go along with it would be fantastic, but I'm too tired to walk downstairs. So I'll sit here and talk to you.

We're at the start of our week, loveys. I know next week is jam-packed for us, so I'm hoping this week is a little more low-key. I need just a few quiet afternoons. Whether you need people and connection this week, or you need a little more rest, I think we could all use peace and happiness. I was thinking of my dad, which made me think of Fernando Ortega (my dad's favorite singer). I was thinking of the song This Good Day. That's how I feel:

This good day.

It is a gift from You.