Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My last update

For the last six weeks I've been writing weekly updates on how our time without Daddy has been going. Daniel has been working Monday through Friday 3 hours away in Atlanta. He has been working long hard hours, and it has been tough for all us.

In one of my first posts about this new season I wrote "I am open to the possibility of a miraculous turn of events that results in us not leaving..." and I have had various friends continually remind me that they are praying for just such a "miraculous turn of events" and then suddenly - it happened.

Two weeks ago Daniel sat down on the couch next to me and said "how would you like it if I didn't have to go back to Atlanta tomorrow?" Needless to say those were the best words I have heard in a very long time!!! 

There are a lot if details, a lot of things that happened all at the same time to change Daniel's heart and provide a way for Daniel to come back home but he is home!!!! 

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us through this tough season. 

Yesterday morning he sat in the living room, studying for his new job, while the girls were getting ready for school and it made my heart want to explode with gratitude. Daniel woke me up the other night talking in his sleep and I couldn't help but just laugh because it is so very good to not sleep alone. 

Here we are, half-way through Daniel's first week back home. All I can say is I am so happy to not be moving and above and beyond happy to all be back together.

Daniel's mom came and visited last weekend. We went to Phinizy Swamp for their Earth Day celebration. It felt SO good to get outside, even if it was awfully hot.

The kids have just about four weeks of school left!! Not that I'm count in the days or anything :)

The Momzilla in the Mirror

Yesterday I did a big-time clean-out of my girls' room. As I slid under their bunk bed to retrieve random socks, candy wrappers, rainbow loom bands, a large family of stuffies and general junk that had gathered or otherwise been stuffed out of sight by my girls, my inner Momzilla was pretty near surface. Thankfully there were no kids withing yelling distance, so it was just me and the mess. Which gave me an opportunity to think a little bit more deeply about this moment of Momzilla.

Nine times out of ten when I get to the heart of my Momzilla moment it has something to do with fear. Which is crazy, because it doesn't show up looking like fear, it looks like raging anger, the kind of which I didn't know I was capable of until I had kids. 

When my oldest two were really little, and I first started experiencing Momzilla 
moments, a wiser older woman told me this: when I feel the anger, look for the fear. And usually I find it, hidden back there under the anger, out of sight. 

In this case I think my fear is saying something like "these kids are never going to learn to take care of their things!! They will always be disorganized and careless and it will ruin their lives!!!" Or, you know, something like that.

If I can look this fear in the face and put it into words I almost want to laugh! This is preposterous. My oldest is only 12, which seems really old sometimes, but honestly when I was twelve I left my room a huge mess too, in fact I am not sure I ever kept my room very clean, even as a teenager. 

There is another layer of mom-fear, the fear that I am a failure, but that one is so huge and deep it needs it's a post all of it's own... (to be continued)

These unreasonable expectations lead me to another layer of my Momzilla rage.

Behind the fear, under the surface of my anger, sometimes I am surprised to find self-righteousness and it goes something like this: "how could my children be so careless with keeping their room clean! After all I've done to teach them and all of the hard work I've put into setting a good example for them! How dare they leave their rooms in such a mess." 

Yes, this is my heart, like I'm too good of a mom to have kids that leave their room a mess? There are three girls in one room. I hauled three big black garbage bags of stuff out of their room and gave it a time-out in the garage. There was no way they could have kept it clean on their own. 

I have just got to get rid of the junk in my heart of false-pride, unreasonable expectations and self-righteousness if I'm going to be able to deal with the issue of teaching my kids to deal with their junk. Which leads me to my next point.

Lack of self-control
My anger often comes back around to my own lack of self control. If I were to look honestly at the example I have set for my kids I would see that their messy room is pretty consistent with my own mess. If I'd helped them tidy their room every night, instead of sitting on the couch watching MasterChef until five minutes before bedtime or sending them to do it unsupervised before computer time maybe we wouldn't be in this position. 

I find myself in situations where it comes back around to a lack of self-control or self-discipline all. the. time. I find myself with a toddler in full-on melt-down mode because I'm wandering around Target too close to naptime or during a mealtime. My kids come bounding in off the school bus asking "what's for snack?!!" only to be met with a deer in the headlights look on my face, like this is the first time they've ever asked for such a thing, even though this happens Every Day. I will let my kids have too much screen-time or too much sugar but am still surprised when they start bouncing off the walls. I let things slide until they snowball into something out-of-control and then act like it's this huge surprise.

Yeah, it comes around to self-control/self-discipline a lot for me but I am a big believer that all discipline should start with self-discipline. That before I point the finger at my child I take a second (and a deep breath) to see how I contributed to the mess. It doesn't always happen, but that's what I aim for.

So here is the last thing I want to say about the heart of the Momzilla in the mirror:

In my Momzilla moments I am more aware of lack then of provision and strength. I am more aware of my lack - my lack of time, energy, resources, etc. - and I am almost totally unaware of the grace, strength and provision that is made available to me. That I already have. In this Momzilla moment I'm more aware of this mess than of the moments that really matter, when I taught my kids compassion, when they showed strength of character. I am totally unaware of how loved I am, that I have a veritable army of help behind me if I just speak up. In my Momzilla moment I feel alone and inept for this overwhelming task.

In my Momzilla moment I forget that I am a good mom. I forget that my kids are great kids and that they have already blown me away with their ability for kindness, wisdom and love. They have also blown me away by their ability to complain, be mean and generally Drive. Me. Crazy. but that's normal life. Right?

I love my kids. I fail a ton, but I also have loved them a lot and in the end I believe this: Love Wins.  

I believe I am a good mom. I believe when I keep a good balance of carefulness and confidence - careful to not slide into laziness but learning and growing as a mother but mostly confident that I've got this I avoid some of the causes of my Momzilla moments.

I don't have to be afraid that my kids are going to totally screw up their lives. They might, but that will be their own choice and not because of my failures because I am just a regular person, who sometimes makes mistakes, just like everyone else. Sometimes I make good choices, sometimes I make bad choices (Just like my kids.) Sometimes I act out of love, sometimes I act out of selfishness. Sometimes I make mistakes, sometimes I am lazy (Just like my kids.) Usually I am able to recognize my mistakes and do what I can to make it better. I apologize, re-focus or whatever needs to happen. Because I am a good mom and God's grace for me is more than enough.

So this is me. I am learning and growing, often by making mistakes along the way. I am learning that love and gentleness are more effective than yelling. I am a Momzilla. But not all of the time. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 5

This post is brought to you with boys crying in stero just five minutes ago. Not really that unusual of a thing to deal with, it's just been hard because it feels like it Never Lets Up. There's nobody to snuggle up to. Nobody to listen to snore as we watch American Idol, or whatever.

But you know, then there is a moment when it's okay. We're okay. I get a sliver of perspective and take a deep breath.

Monday was the last day of spring break. We went to the Library & ate cookies at the cafe.

Tursday the house felt so quiet and lonely. Eli and I spent my favorite part of the day snuggling, listening to the rain. Missing everyone else.

The rest of the week went by really quickly. I have a huge stack of library books I'm trying to get through. 

I read "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green, I get that it might not be for everybody, but 
I ate it up. Can't wait for the movie! 

I read the last book in the Divergent series (such a tear-jerker!!) Now I'm looking for some non-movie related novel to request at the Library. Most of the other books I've read a chapter or two and then given up on. Like "State of Wonder" I know it's supposed to be so good but I couldn't get into it.

I also worked on writing some... right here with Eli in my bed snuggled under covers. I am all tangled up on myself at the moment, but giving myself permission to write whatever is good for me. Nothing brilliant (yet) thoroughly avarage & annoying, but just practicing. Plugging away. Seeing what comes out.

This weekend was both wonderful & tough. Daniel & I were both stressed out and exhausted, but also extremely grateful to be together. 

Eli has become totally obsessed with "washing dishes" just like Beth at this age.

So we have had some tough moments this week, when I felt like I was going to Loose My Mind. But we have also had some beautiful moments. Like this afternoon. Everyone sprawled out in the Living Room doing their own thing semi-together. I'm reading a book from the Library. Beth is reading a Sherlock Holmes story on the iPad, Emma is working on writing something for school. Eli is beside her, pencil and paper scribbling away at his two year old version of homework. Josiah alternates between writing & drawing with Emma and playing on the computer with Katie-Abigail. 

Okay, that's all for now. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 4 update

It's Sunday night and today has been a long boring day. 

Daniel is gone again and everyone is grumpy.

These posts are so therapeutic for me though. Thank you for reading this and thank you for your encouraging notes and Facebook messages.

This was our Monday and start to spring break...

It poured rain!! And it thundered almost all day. We stayed home all day and the kids drew pictures for their cousins and played together surprisingly well. It was the first day of a pretty low-key spring break, spent mostly at home, but so much better than I thought it would be!

We went to visit my sister in Atlanta this week. It was such a good visit, so worth the drive!! She has a bunch of chickens, which I attempted to photograph on my phone. 

We went to the Library twice this week - mostly because Beth has been reading at a rate of about a book a day. This book that she is reading is one that I picked out for her, it's a real life story of a boy from Honduras trying to find his mother who was in the U.S. At first Beth said she didn't want to read it, but I told her she should at least read the first three chapters, since she didn't have any other library books to read, and then make up her mind about if she would read it or not. She read the entire book in one day. She read another book today that she didn't think she'd like since it was a novel written in poems, after I said that she had to read one chapter, she finished it in one day as well.

So many books from the library!!

I requested a bunch of books too. One of my favorites in this stack is "This is the Story of a Happy Marriage" by Ann Patchett, which is a collection of nonfiction essays, mostly (so far) on the subject of writing. I've loved it. 

We made up our own version of Cutthroat Kitchen, like on Food Netweok. It's one of Emma's favorite shows and she & Beth figured out how to play it using Monopoly money and the power of description.
Josiah being silly with a piece of a broken cheap plastic watch. My Dad said it looks like he is turning into a Borg. (Now that is a throwback!!)

One night when I couldn't sleep.

This week has been easier in some ways. 
In some ways it was harder. 

I was with all five of my kids all day every day without any break all week long. I thought it might almost be too much to handle, but it wasn't. I loved having the kids home all day. 
They got along well, for the most part, they were great company, and we have enjoyed our week together pretty well.
I didn't feel like the weight of missing Daniel was about to crush me, like in the last few weeks. 
I loved not having strict bedtimes or our typical early-morning routine. 
I loved the company. 
I loved how quickly the days went by. 

This week I had time to lay down on my bed and read my book while the kids watched a movie from the Library. I stayed up late writing. I drank a lot of iced coffee. 

This weekend one of my dear friends came over and watched my kiddos so that Daniel and I could have a mini-date-night. We dropped by a friend's housewarming party, grabbed coffee at Starbucks and then bought some snickers ice cream bars (amazing) and a movie from red box. That was really nice. We were both exhausted from our stressful weeks but those few minutes away from the constant interruption of being with the kids was precious. Of course now I miss Daniel like crazy. 

Goals for next week:
Pay attention to what I eat. I'm noticing more and more the connection between my mood and my diet. When my diet is higher in carbs I'm more sleepy and irrationally grumpy. When I have a lot of coffee I'm jumpy and quicker to over-react. 
Yoga I didn't even try last week. This week I want to try for the 2-3 times a week goal. 
Spend time reading & writing because it makes me so happy. And if mama is happy, everyone is happy. 
Spend time with IRL friends this shouldn't be too difficult since I already have one playdate on the books!
Do some more cleaning because I noticed how much overall happier I was when I was cleaning a room and accomplishing something most days. This week I'd like to do a bit of purging in the kids rooms. Their rooms are clean(ish) but they are drowning in clutter. Also finding that time in my day to clean my kitchen and run the dishwasher makes everything else easier. This past week I didn't worry about it much during the week - but it's time to get back into healthy routines!! 
Keep focusing on gentle consistent disciplines because I am not going to turn into screaming Momzilla again. It's been tough but I feel like I'm continuing to make gradual progress in this area. It is going to be a tough week because my kids are going to be tired as they re-adjust to the school schedule, and are stressed because G-CRCT standardized testing is coming up and they always get keyed up for those. 

I feel like I've posted a link to this song before but here is is again "better than a hallelujah" (don't worry about the video - just minimize it and listen to the song) 

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