Friday, January 23, 2015

Enjoy Them

I had only been up an hour, but the thought was a recurring one.

When my 9 year old daughter popped her head in my room and whispered to the stirring toddlers snuggled next to me - "Rosie and Pete! Come on, let's go get breakfast! Do you want cereal or toast?"

When my three year old requested to be wrapped in a blanket while eating his breakfast, and heaved a sigh of "ahh!" when I tucked it around his shoulders.

When my 21 month old said "Thank you, Mama. You welcome," when I handed her a drink.

When my 11 year old cracked a joke while we worked a math problem together and we both laughed.

When my 5 year old excitedly told me a story, his eyes all lit up.

When my 7 year old lay on the couch, her unbrushed hair splayed in all directions, reading, unprovoked.

"I really, really, really like these kids. I just do."

It's not all about noticing what they do right. Sometimes it's just enjoying where they are right now in their lives. The 3-year-old-isms. The tip of her tongue sneaking out the side of her mouth while she concentrates hard on a word. His sense of humor. It's just so good. It's just so human. It's just so precious and fleeting and all of those things that we always tell ourselves.

Being home with them day in and day out gives me a unique opportunity to view bits of them I might not get to if we were separated, but it also leads to potentially missing it in the ordinariness of it all. They are regular kids and we'll get in regular scuffles and there will be sibling fights and pouting and consequences doled out today. That's life. But it would be a mistake to notice only that, skimming over the great bulk of who they are, which is just wonderful people. People I'd be happy to know, even if they weren't mine. People I'm proud of.

Our new baby taps me from inside all day long and I can't feel anything but so thankful for each of them - from 1 to 7. After a couple of rough days, and even waking with a headache today, I'm feeling intensely grateful for the kids in my life, and thrilled that today I get to enjoy them all over and over again.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Today I'm OK

It was like the scene out of a sitcom, and looking back it's almost like I should have seen it coming. A good day of getting housework done and school accomplished. An evening reading on the couch followed by an early bedtime. I turned to my husband as we were turning in and said "I'm not even really tired." He said the same.

A pretty perfect day followed by what we assumed would be a perfect night, then another good day, and on and on. You never expect life to come barreling in, no matter how many times it does. She knocks on our door. "Mama, I think I'm going to throw up."

The next twenty minutes saw three kids succumb and we laughed at ourselves because, right? Instead of snuggled up in bed, we were hauling laundry to the basement and cleaning bathrooms at midnight. I would come to rue the words "I'm not even really tired" long before my vigil was over. By the next morning, I was tired, I was sick, I was an emotional mess.

He brought home pizza and I hear my oldest ask - "Do you think Mom will get out of bed tomorrow?" And I feel like a failure. Like somehow not being able to keep up with the previous day's accomplishment defined my worth.

I do that sometimes. I'm a doer. When I'm on a roll, I rattle it off via texts to my husband like a list means anything at all. "Today we got school done by noon! Babies are napping, laundry is done, I'm just finishing mopping and then I thought I'd make this for dinner and then..." He affirms as best he can, but what is he really affirming? I want him to say he's proud of me, I'm amazing, I'm killing it. But what about days where I can't get out of bed? Days where my eyes are raw with tears and the best I've got is reading toddlers books in my bed because I can't bring myself to haul out of it? If I define my worth by what I do, where's the worth in that?

I'll admit, I tend to see it as a wash. Worse, as a step back. Truthfully, in a family this size, if a Mom takes a day off - it can be. Yesterday's chores don't just disappear, they pile onto today's. Still, living right now as it presents itself is not a failing. Sometimes that's just how it goes.

Sometimes I'm a pregnant, tired, emotional, sick Mama. And the only thing for that pregnant, tired, emotional, sick Mama to do? Is to let the rest go. To refuse to to attribute worth to what I do, or leave undone. To embrace what needs to happen today.

There's no failure in that. No shame.

Today, I'm not supermom. My kids are playing video games and watching movies, recovering themselves. I'm attempting to re hydrate myself, to rest up and get strong again. My baby is kicking and I know I'm just right where I should be. Today, I probably won't do laundry. My house won't be clean. Dinner is a mystery that I'm sure will sort itself out somehow.

Today has a purpose. It's never a wash. Worth is never found in what we do. That's a hard truth to remember, but imperative. There's grace for sick Mamas and dishes in the sink. There's a peace in just letting it be, just for today. There's rest in knowing that, however today goes, it will be OK.

Today I'm OK. And that is just enough.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Like It's Your Last

My husband and I went out on Saturday night for our anniversary.  12 years have passed since we left that church together, and life has gone in ways we could have never anticipated on that night. While the kids were tucked in bed by our wonderful babysitting cousin, we savored dinner and the ability to talk - really talk - for the first time in a while. This life of ours doesn't slow, quiet or calm down much for adult conversation of any depth. We covered a lot of ground over two and a half hours. One question we both thought on and eventually answered was - if you knew you'll die one year from tonight, how would you live this last year? A macabre question, perhaps, but an important one.

The older I get, the more I realize that living a joyful, contented life relies heavily on the ability to hold the good with the not-so-good. When I was younger, I would mentally throw in the towel on a day that went wrong, or be content to simply wait out a tough season until a better one came along. So sure that there would always be another year, another chance, another try at this whole thing, and maybe that time it would all go according to plan. According to my plan.

But each day has enough trouble and triumph for itself. I thought about it while giving my two littles a bath the other night. Kneeling in our tiny upstairs bathroom, knitting and watching them play. They remind me so much of my oldest two, a boy/girl pair of the same distance apart. I was a different mom back then, always pressing on to the next thing, impatiently. When the two of them were the same ages at Pete and Rosie, I was pregnant with my third. Tired, overwhelmed with two toddlers and convinced that if I just rushed through this season, a smoother one would be behind it. Life didn't really work out that way.

Our family grew and our house seemed to shrink and I suddenly find myself here. In some ways, in the same exact place. Bathing two little ones in a too-small bathroom. But something has changed.

I dry these little people off after a long period of splashing and playing because you're only little once. I tuck them in bed in the small rooms that hold their four older siblings that we somehow make work with each arrival. I'm not thinking of waiting happiness until I have the house I want, or until the exhaustion and discomfort of this pregnancy passes. I've seen how the years flip on by, how babies grow into preteens when you're waiting for life to really begin. Somewhere, along this road that I would have never planned going this way, it has become more than I could have possibly imagined.

You can wait to live your best life until everything falls into place, or you can live it today, right now. Even if it doesn't follow your plan, or your preferences. The trick to living in joy is gratitude - because that always leads to contentment. Acceptance. Ownership.

My goal is to live a life of joy. Not because it's perfect. Not because it's smooth. But because when I hold it all together, this one-chance-is-all-you-get life is good enough. In fact, it's wonderful.

When I look ahead at this new year and think what I'd change if it was to be my last, I can see what matters the most to me. While there's nothing wrong with long term plans and goals and, yes, we need to be mindful of the future, I can see that my highest priority in life is and will always be love.  And what a privilege it is to be able to live that, every day.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to future posts.  Thank you.