I've felt a little bogged down lately. I'm not so sure it really even was the holiday season that has caused it. It's the day-to-day parenting and motherhood that has been zapping energy from me.
My dear in-laws invited ALL five of our children to spend New Year's Eve with them. When we received the invite a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled beyond measure. I threw out all sorts of fantastic ideas that Mike would surely want to do with me on New Year's Eve.
New Year's Eve day didn't quite go as planned (likely due in part to my bogged down feelings), and thus our evening wasn't exactly what I had envisioned in the days leading up to it. But enjoying the company of just Mike with no interruptions beat any other grandiose plans.
Mike and I sat down to review 2012 and make a few plans for 2013, and before I knew it I was writing as fast as I could to keep up with all of Mike's ideas and plans for this year. I so appreciated all he had to say, because the ideas he was rattling off were the type of things I often wonder if I'm alone in thinking about, and too often don't have the energy to implement/carry-out.
Our plans just may whip us all into shape and rid ourselves of some of the bogginess we've had around here lately. We shall see.
We then spent New Year's Day cleaning, organizing, and cleaning and organizing some more. We were both amazed at how much we were able to accomplish without five children interrupting us, and/or messing up the newly cleaned spaces. It was one of the most enjoyable few hours I've spent with Mike for a long time. It wasn't that I don't love the games of Scrabble around our kitchen table, or the long chats on the couch, or the dinners out together. It just felt so good to be anxiously engaged in a common goal together. I think we each felt a little of the renewed efforts we had discussed the night before, and were trying our best to get our little family off on the right foot for the year.
Mike squeezed an extra hour out of his parents for us to finish up some last few closets, areas and spaces. Bless them. Bless them. Especially his mother.
The children returned home too early for me to really have had time to miss them, despite them being gone for 24 hours. The return home didn't go as smoothly as I'd envisioned, due mostly in part to the incessant tattling I received from each child about one particular child's behavior at Grandma and Grandpa's house.
I'd already heard it from Mike, via his parents, and it all added to the bogginess I was trying to rid myself of for the beginning of a new year. I felt embarrassed that my child would act this way despite hours and hours of deliberate parenting efforts in manners and behaviors. I also felt mildly irritated at Mike that my children all have such strong personalities and as of yet, none have exhibited traits of passiveness, calmness, or submissiveness.
(I incorrectly or correctly put most of the blame on my children's undesirable traits on my husband. Judge me if you want, but it's pretty fair to blame him. Ask his parents about his childhood/teenage years. Ask my parents about mine, and you'll see I'm RIGHT. Love you Mike xx)
I know when all is said and done, these more passive traits aren't really the traits I want my children to have, but I do daydream about them exhibiting them for at least a few hours at some point in their lives.
Regardless of all the undesirable parts of New Years Day evening, we did have a few moments to sit down with the children and share together some of our goals and ideas for the year. One child was sent from the room at least twice. Another child was yelled at, at least once. And they were all threatened at least thrice.
It wasn't exactly the start to the new year Mike and I had dreamed of. I ended up crawling into bed after sending an apologetic, yet thankful email to my (worn-out) mother-in-law for her graciousness in hosting my five children, and sending a vibe to Mike that I'd never forgive him if my children are not invited to sleepover there again.
About that same time, Mike had to climb out of bed to discipline a few disobedient children down the hall, and I tried to resist the urge to pack my bags and begin a move to a foreign country far away.
Instead I turned off my light and laid in bed. I knew it was no consequence at all that a scripture from the Bible came to my mind in that moment, and I have opted to take it on as a personal theme for the year. It was clearly an answer to a yet unspoken prayer, and I was reminded in that moment, that Mike and I do not parent alone.
I woke up this morning with a more clear understanding of the bogged down feeling I've had now for a few weeks. You all know as much as I do that I love being a mother. I'd even go as far as consider myself a cheerleader for motherhood. But that still doesn't mean it's easy. Motherhood feels so big and huge at times. There are so many responsibilities, from making sure a child doesn't incorporate the word "stupid" into every interaction with somebody on the school bus, to making sure one particular child knows they don't walk around burping at their grandparents's house. Or making sure another child understands the principle of commitment and a good effort, and helping another child learn that toys don't go in every square inch of the house. Or making sure another child doesn't freeze when they go to feed the chickens in snow boots, a coat and... underwear when the temperature outside is 11 degrees (Fahrenheit).
No lie. I wish I had taken a photo.
By the way, it was not the 3 year old.
Regardless of attempting to teach my children to wear pants while feeding chickens or that burps are only acceptable at home, there are moments when I am able to forget the hugeness of this task I've embarked on.
The moments like sitting on the couch this morning reading books to my two little boys. Or a few minutes later, sitting by the tub watching them splash and play together. While watching Joshua and Drew bathe this morning, I was reminded of a couple of weeks ago when Drew "baptized" Joshua in the bath. Before dunking him under the water Drew's short baptismal prayer consisted of, "Joshua, welcome to the church of Jesus Christ." And with that Joshua went underwater.
While the boys bathed, I suddenly remembered this photo I had on my cell-phone.
I laughed out loud. And I mean, really laughed out loud. There was Drew, dressed in an Elmo costume (of course with no pants), clutching his monkey stuffed animal in one hand, while holding a yellow star-shaped plastic wand in another
Those are the moments that make the long days bearable.
And those are the moments I'm going to focus more on in 2013.
Happy New Year.