Here I am at the end of my first week single-parenting it while Daniel works out of town. The weekend went by altogether too fast and so here I sit, wishing he was home.
I feel like I need to document this season so I can look back at how I've grown as a parent, what I've learned through this journey and what it has been like as a family.
This week I worked extra hard to keep the TV off. I recently read that it is now scientifically provable that people who watch less television are overall happier - so it has been really important to me to try to keep the TV off as much as possible. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I noticed that we are more prepared for the next day when we don't spend the night before on the couch. Funny enough though I have still managed to stay up too late nearly every night this week. Usually eleven o'clock just catching up on Instagram & Pinterest. This week's goal: spend night time on editing photos and going to bed early.
What we have done a lot of this week: painting
and we watched Frozen again.
I wrote earlier that this week dragged on and on and on. It was rainy and cold. I felt overwhelmed and exhausted and I felt no need, whatsoever, to sugar coat it. This week I have not tried to find a silver lining neither have I looked on the bright side. I have looked head on at this week and said: This. Is. Hard. Whenever someone asked me how I'm doing I've said "I'm overwhelmed. I'm exhausted. This is hard. But we're going to get through this." I felt like it was important for me to be honest. To not put on the "Everything is fine" smile and pretend that this isn't a hugely difficult transition for our family and that I have an exhausting-in-every-way road ahead of me.
But then Daniel finally came home.
The weather turned bright and sunny.
And all was right in my world.
We spent the weekend bouncing between doing stuff as a family and getting some down time for these two exhausted parents. We watched Saving Mr. Banks - totally understand now why it is rated PG-13 - so emotionally exhausting/intense and the end was a major sob-fest. This will most definitely be my go-to movie when I need to cry. So like, tonight. Yeah, I might be watching it again tonight. Except that all I want to do right now is slide into bed and get some sleep.
We went to a beautiful nature reserve called Phinizy Swamp. We went there awhile ago and it was nice to visit again. It is one of the most beautiful places around here. It's not anywhere near as busy or developed as the Savannah Rapids. It's just developed enough though. There are boardwalks and walking trails and it's just lovely. We saw trees that the beavers had felled, which is actually quite a remarkable thing to see in-person. We some some "actual duck-dynasty ducks!!!" aka Mallard Ducks. We spotted a few long legged birds that I'm guessing were a white heron and a great blue heron. Awesome stuff.
The sun was shining and there was a great breeze blowing!
Some other random thoughts about this week: I've been a bit of a momzilla. I've been stressed out, tired, overwhelmed and when the kids have been difficult or had an attitude I have found it hard to be compassionate. I have been thinking about this a lot this weekend and I don't want to let my kids make me act like someone that I don't want to be. I want to be a gentle and compassionate person and so I am going to find a way to be a gentle & compassionate parent too. Obviously there has got to be discipline but it doesn't have to be hard and loud to be effective. Right? Somebody, please tell me I'm right.
I am trying to do better at taking care of myself. Since it's just me all week loooong I have had to take care of myself, nobody is going to do it for me. I have tried to do a good job with what I'm eating. If I can exercise self-control at the grocery store then I'm good. Otherwise it's doughnuts, ice cream and coffee all the way, and surviving the day on the leftover scraps of the kids sandwiches until I'm so hungry I could eat a pint of ice cream by myself. I know you know what I mean. I bought a huge jug of green monster juice since I haven't done a good job of making green smoothies lately, and calling it better-than-nothing. If I need a nap, I take it. Or at least snuggle with Eli as he's laying down for his. I'm reminding myself that I have to eat. I spent time this weekend to go out to a movie with a friend. I'm remembering that my kids need me to take care of myself so that I can do a good job of taking care of them.
I've been trying to keep a mental list with one thing I want to do each day and a running list of what I'm not going to worry about. Like today I'm going to clean my bathroom but I'm not going to worry about the kitchen or the kid's rooms. It was the one that was making me seriously wince. Once I got the bathroom cleaned I was free to clean the kitchen. I had a mental list of things I was going to try to do this week and things I was going to do next week and things that could wait till the week after that. Having the house cleaner than normal has been nice but I don't expect that I'll be able to keep it up. I think I clean when I'm stressed, or something. Because my house is super clean. And I feel super-stressed.
This coming week I want to shift my focus. I have reminded my kids to be grateful that we at least get to see Daniel on the weekends - more than lots of families get. Time to remind myself.
Daniel and I were talking this weekend and we realized that we probably wouldn't be seeing each other much even if his office were five minutes away, just because he has been so busy with his new job. While we talked I realized that this separation is also a forced compartmentalization for Daniel. While he is in Atlanta he can focus 100% on work without the tug of needing to be home for dinner but he is forced to block out two days to come back home and while he is home he can focus more on just being at home with his family without the temptation of running out to do a quick quote or inspection. It's not even an option. So that part is good. I'm grateful for that.
This coming week I want to do more yoga (2 - 3 times this week is my goal) and be more intentional with my time (especially my nights). Spend more time at the park with my IRL friends and less time on my phone. (Even though I'm doing better about not checking Instagram and Facebook all day long I could do better.) I have a couple things I'd like to wrap up this week and I'd like to start gearing up for another in-person photography class. I want to be intentional with what music I'm listening to - not the same worship playlist on repeat - some instrumental hymns would be awesome too! I want to clean out my kids rooms this week too and take advantage of this nervous energy while I've got it.
Something I'm not worrying about: cooking every night. We haven't relied on fast food but we've been living in the cereal & sandwiches zone 24/7 lately. Eggs and toast tonight. Probably spaghetti tomorrow night. With a nicer meal here or there. If I plan ahead enough. Those are awesome too - just not super high on the priority list right now.
My verse for this week is James 1:4 (italicized below) here it is in context:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. NLT) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (ESV)
This week my overarching goal is to let this trial have its full effect and to let this season do it's work in me. It might be painful, it might feel stressful. Somehow this season is here For My Good. I'm going to believe it. I'm going to live like I believe it. That internal shift is going to make a big difference in how I handle that panicky feeling I get when I miss Daniel with every fiber of my being. And when the kids are driving me so crazy I really truly want to (and sometimes do) scream.
I told a friend recently that the pressure of this week has felt similar to the pressure after I had my third child. It was intense. I felt like I was going to collapse under it but ultimately it made me a stronger, more confident mother. That's happened in other seasons too and in other way. It was the pressure that produced character. I believe that something beautiful can be birthed within me out of this season if I let it have it's full effect.
So here I go - heading into week 2.
I'll let you know how it goes.