Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good Enough: Blahdeblahblah in defense of laziness.

Trinity Lake, California. 2003.  I fell on my face.

This past weekend I slipped away for two days (and two nights!) for the OCEANetwork Christian Home Education Conference.  My husband (who took a day off work to make this happen) watched all three kids while I wandered around trying to resist shiny half-price books, and sat soaking up the wisdom of experienced homeschoolers.  It was fabulous.  I have a treasure in my husband because he will always work with me when I want a break, even if the distance from the floor to the laundry hamper is totally insurmountable for him.  *wink*




Yellowstone National Park, 2004. 

Grand Tetons, 2004.  Freezing and snowing.
  As I started the second day of the conference, I could tell my brain was already on overload.  So many great ideas and new techniques and routines and not to mention all the exciting materials in the exhibit hall. . .I started to think it might be good for me to skip a session and sit and just digest what I had been learning.  There was a part of me that immediately sprang up and said, "But but but. . .there's more!  You could learn so much MORE! And make bigger, better changes in your home!  MORE!"  Lucky for me, I'm pretty lazy, so it wasn't too hard to talk myself into sitting quietly for a while, but that little experience is quite telling about my personality.  And maybe for all mothers?  I should be doing more.  I should be learning more.  My kids should be better behaved/able to sit for long periods/winning gold medals by age 13. . .whatever.  Yesterday I accomplished everything on my to-do list.  Say what?!!  My instant thought was that I must not have put enough on my list!  And then I was kind of pissed at myself because here I finally get everything done that I planned, and I'm still unhappy with my productivity.  (A psychologist would have a field day with me, eh?)

South Sister, post-puking, 2005
I write this mostly to myself, but also to you because I've talked to enough women to know, we all do this.  Even Martha Stewart-in-training next door who made four kinds of lovely, coordinating cake pops for her daughter's birthday party.  (By the way, why do we need cake pops when there's already a birthday cake??  I see this all over pinterest and it makes me nutty.  Cakes are enough freaking work as it is.)  A few months ago I started going to a postpartum depression support group called Hope for Mothers.  This group is fantastic.  The group is small and just getting started, and frankly I'm surprised how much just going and talking helps, but it does.  Immensely.  I really could have used this kind of support group during the black hole after Wyatt was born when I was so paralyzed by depression and anger that I would sit in my car and feel pinned to the seat for ages before I could force myself into action again.  But anyway. . . one of the things we have talked about is expectations and how mothers can make the challenging time when children are young so. much. harder. just by expecting everything to be a certain way, or expecting yourself to keep up with too much.  Good enough, is good enough, as the saying goes.  I always kind of thought this was my mantra because of the laziness I have previously mentioned, but the years have revealed I'm much harder on myself than I realized.  I say that like I'm eighty, but it has been a gradual process.  I do let things go, which you know full well if you've ever been in my house on, say, Sunday through Saturday, but I still have that inner thought warp of "I should go abc. . .I should do xyz."  Sometimes I say it out loud even, to no one in particular.  What kind of crazy is that?  One of the group leaders from the Hope for Mothers shared this saying, and I can't remember if it was hers or someone else, but it goes something like this: "You think, "I should, I should I should," but if you're not careful, soon you're "shoulding" all over yourself."  So ladies, don't should on yourself.

Bend, Oregon.  New Year's Eve 2005.

I'm pretty sure I've lost my point in all this.  But if you're still reading, I do think I've found some balance lately. I've redoubled my efforts in chore training, which only works if one is willing to accept "good enough."  For example, Wyatt and Ava put their clothes away and do some folding, but I never go look in their drawers.  If the drawer closes, I'm fine with it.  I'm more carefully guarding my time during the kids' afternoon rest.  I'm also trying to relax about their behavior.  I work very hard at training my kids, and work even harder to be calm and gentle about it because that does not seem to come naturally to me.  And really, they are very good kids.  Still, at a recent event, I spent a good week stressing out about how my kids MIGHT act because someone else I knew would be there and her kids sit calmly through anything.  My kids start to look like they need a good dose of Ritalin and weighted vests when compared to these other kids.  After wasting way too much time feeling nervous and incompetent, I finally got myself in hand enough to say, (yes, to myself again) "stop it!"  For starters, we only see a glimpse of other people's kids, and it's simply stupid to compare based on those little glimpses.  The question is not whose kids are better behaved; rather it is whether I am doing everything God asks of me in my child-training efforts.  Not whether I am doing everything humanly possible to produce perfectly obedient children, but whether I am seeing the hearts of my children and working in a diligent and godly manner to lead them into Christ-likeness.  It is simple and subtle, but this is a long-needed shift in my thinking.  I had allowed (as one speaker at the convention called it) a spirit of harshness to seep into my mothering, and I have not been enjoying my children very much.

playdough creation, 2012.  photo by Wyatt.  Good enough.  :)

But His mercies are new every morning, and change can happen just that fast.  Examples: I have been praying and refocusing on the training that matters the most to God for our kids right now, so that we can have more room in our lives to enjoy each other.  I reorganized our morning routine to attack basic jobs quickly and together.  I am working to accept a baby crawling over me and a toddler riding his dump truck back and forth while we read the Bible and I just pray that at least a few words sink into their hearts.  I am resting during the day; trusting the Voice that is reordering my priorities.  And God has led me sweetly back to a softness for my children, and they feel it.  We spent half an hour cuddled up on the couch yesterday morning, just because they wanted to be near me.  (Ok, Ava sat, and Wyatt bounced on and off every five minutes, managing to stick an elbow or foot in my stomach each time).  Ava got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom last night, and on her way back, she came into my room, wrapped her arms around me and said, "I love you so much mama."  My days are still plenty crazy, because this mothering requires every bit of me, but my heart is more settled than it has been in years.  Peace that passes all understanding, and I am fervently grateful.

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