Struggles of Last Week

I have no idea what I'm doing.  I feel like my kids deserve so much better.

Currently I am struggling with behavior from all three of them, plus having a hard time making the mornings look like I want them to look (ie, I can't wake up before them to save my life, and they wake up acting like children! The nerve! and I can't want to deal with fighting while my eyes are still closed.)

Josh will be home soon.  Less than six weeks.  I know that's quick.  But on the hard days (like last Friday and the three days that came before Friday.  And the two days before that...) I remember that even once he comes, he's just going to leave again, and I can start to feel really (really) overwhelmed.

Especially when I think of #4 who will be here in less than twelve weeks.  I can barely handle the three I've got-- between not listening, tantrums and the energy it takes to not only care for them, but act as both parents, emotionally I'm wrung out.

All day long, everything I do, is for my kids.  I feed them, I homeschool them, I entertain them, I read to them, I give them boundaries and rules, I listen to them, I feed them again, I take them places, I teach them things, I make them dinner, I do their laundry, I bathe them, brush them & put them to sleep.  In fact, since Josh left, I have only had my mother-in-law put them to bed once and that was because I was at the hospital to check on Carly (all is well, thankfully) because she'd been giving me what felt like contractions all day.

I am grateful to get to sneak away to book club once a week after they're asleep, and that my mom, sister & mother-in-law are always willing to have them for an afternoon here or there, for appointments and whatnot, but nothing is the same as having your spouse there.  To have him walk in the door and be able to say to him, "Hey babe.  It's your turn. I'm out."

When he was here, he'd bathe them, make their meals and read their bedtime stories.  It was so lovely.  Even though I was always still here (I wanted to be with Josh as much as they did) it was nice to just sit in the rocking chair while he put them to bed.  Or relax in the family room while he made their dinner.

I laid with Wyatt the other night.  It's been a long time. Too long, since I did that, and it was transformative.  It reminded me that if I'm so busy doing, I can all too easily forget to be.  And so I wrapped my arm around his middle and he snuggled into his sheets, a huge smile spread across his face, and he fell asleep, holding my hand.  If I can slow down my days, my parenting, just the tiniest bit, those pieces of joy will float softly down to me, filing the edges off the hard parts.  If I can remember to smile, to laugh, to enjoy the boys; their fights, their tantrums & their behaviors suddenly become more tolerable.

That night, after Wyatt was asleep, I had a parenting epiphany.  I have been, since Josh left in August, bashing my head against the proverbial brick wall.  My number one goal since he left (which I have met no more than six times) was to wake up before the boys.  I believed that morning time makes the best quiet time, and that "good moms" wake up before their children.  Where these ideas came from, I'm not sure.  And as I sat down to examine them in the quiet solitude of my room after bedtime, I realized that they are not in fact truth, but opinions.  

I can just as easily have my "quiet time", to gather my strength and prepare for the next day, in the evening!  My children are generally in bed asleep before 7:30pm.  That leaves plenty of time for lesson planning, goal setting and to-do-list accomplishing.  I also decided that just because an idea has settled in my mind (ie that "good moms" wake up before their kids) doesn't mean I have to let it stay there.  So I sent that little judgmental gem packing!  I can wake up when the kids do and still be a good mom.  Shoot, I can keep sleeping while they play in the morning and still be a good mom!  Coming to these two conclusions took a lot of the pressure off.  

The reasons don't really matter... but waking up before my kids didn't work for a lot of reasons.  Our sleeping situation is one in which I have to go through the boys' room to get to the bathroom (or anywhere else in the house), and since my bedroom is off their bedroom, if I were to light a lamp in my room, they would see that I was awake and perhaps not get all the sleep they need to make for a good day.  I also wouldn't want to go downstairs, where my in-laws have their morning routines established, and have my boys wake up and potentially fight with each other because I'm not there when the light turns green.  For all these reasons (and that I'm seven months pregnant and just kinda tired all.the.time) I decided that I don't need to pressure myself into waking before the boys.  Eventually I know that I would like that to become my "normal" but in the mean time, it's all about doing what works.  

So I will turn night time into MY time and prepare for the day that way.
And I think it will work just beautifully.



Tabitha Studer said...

Shelly! I've been thinking about you so much recently! you've just been on my mind and i loved reading the end of this post. I'm trying to live the mantra of doing what it takes to survive. I also carry a lot of self-pressure about what I think 'good moms' do and so many times I just can't reach it (like bedtime routines, we are the WORST), but I am trying to remind myself that this period of life is short and right now I need to survive, and more than that - I want it to be a happy survival! hahha, so be damned the toys cluttering everything, the extended bedtime routines, the loudness (dear Lord), the non-stop questions, the early mornings, the late nights...someday our houses will be quiet and clean and i'll sleep in on the weekends as long as I like.

I am so proud of you and inspired by you. I know exactly what you mean the difference it makes to have your spouse there and I'm sending you patience and love everyday. When i was a teen, I used to go over to a neighborhood mom's house (she had four kids) and I'd play with them a few afternoons a week while she stayed upstairs and got things done around the house (chores, or did nothing but sit in silence, who knows?!) but it was fun for me and probably soul-fulfilling for her (something I only know now as a Mum, hah). just a thought because i love you. and wish i was close so we could get together and throw the kids outside and drink hot chocolate and talk about books. xxoxox

Holly Parlier said...

Hugs Shelly. I also don't try to wake up before the kids, but I do generally get up with them. When the new baby comes, I won't. I also often feel like a failure and that my kids deserve so much better. Life is just hard, but like a sweet little blogger once said "I can do hard things!" ;) seriously that has stuck with me ever since I read it here a long time ago!

Rox said...

I love this! What works for one family may not work for another. What works for your own family at one time may not always work later on. I like to hear you being nice to yourself. Because you are so nice to everyone else. :)

Petersons said...

I like this too. We all have different seasons in our lives and need to adjust to them accordingly. Don't worry about what "good moms" do. There are different ways to be a good mom anyway. Just do what makes sense to you. It sounds like you are!