Saturday, March 12, 2011

3 days

Three days. I would love three days. In my house. Alone.

Day 1 - decompression. literally just sitting still and staring off in to space and letting my brain and body rest. it is not an exaggeration for me to say that i'm experiencing a level of weariness deeper than any i've felt in nearly 17 years of being a mom. don't judge. ;) i'm being vulnerable here, and hoping that perhaps my honesty will encourage someone that they're not alone in their struggles.

Day 2 - work like a mad dog getting some unfinished projects done - like purging toys, sewing pillows, organizing school papers, and putting photos in albums.
**wait. who am i kidding? i'm so behind on home-managing at this point that it would take me an entire day just to get caught up on the ordinary cleaning and meal-planning.**

Day 3 - do something i *enjoy* doing, like read a book, take a long run, meet a friend for lunch, or go shopping when i'm not in a hurry, with 5 kids in tow.

BUT ..... "not my will, but Thine be done."

The Lord knows I'm an introvert. And he gave me 5 amazing kids and a house that's rarely quiet. ;) The Lord knows that it is a challenge for me to be 'on' as a parent from early in the morning until late at night. (and soemtimes beyond!) He knows that I struggle to maintain balance and margin in our schedule, while striving to find ways to serve and still fit in the opportunities that come with schools and church. He knows that teens need mommy, too - and often late at night, no matter if I must be up at the crack of dark to make lunches and get the middle two off to school. The Lord knows that the issues that come with parenting teens are so much weightier than with little ones. And yet I still have little ones. The Lord knows that just when I think my brain can't produce one.more.sane.thought, that my sweet 4yo will crawl in my lap and ask for a story. And the Lord knows the load I am able to bear. This is the job He gave me, because He knows that He will equip me to do it. It is only for me to submit and repent of my despair and 'do the next thing.'

And truthfully, I love it all. Every messy, exhausting, stressful, anguishing, repetitive part. I love that my 14yo still wants to listen to me read aloud; that my 16yo always wants to discuss something deep, like the ramifications of a communist world-view; that my precious nearly-12yo dd loves to cook with me every day, even when it would be easier to do it all myself; that my 6yo tells me, "Mom - I love it when you tell me all about things. I love learning all the things there are to know" and when he says, "Can you tell me all about school zones and how they work?" I love that my 4yo tells me every day how pretty I am and blows me kisses each time she sees me - even when it's only been five minutes. What a life! How BLESSED I am to be living it!

And yet, the struggles are real. It would be foolish to deny them. And meals in the crock pot are not the answer. (tongue firmly planted in cheek here - but seriously, i'm full of all sorts of organizational hints and handy tips. but sometimes life is bursting at the seams so that the answer is bigger than a new chore chart. and ultimately, those 'tips' can be turned into the tools of legalism and pride -if they work, or despair -if they don't. again, just keepin it real. the first thing people tend to do when someone says they're stressed is offer a new way of making a grocery list, LOL. ok. sarcasm over now.)

I have found some mesure of encouragement from brief chats with 2 other moms in a similar state -high school to preschool and everything in between. They both shared similar struggles. That helped, at least to know I'm not crazy. So what is a tired, stressed mommy to do?

I recently read Loving the Little Years. What a great book - even if yours are not so little anymore! The insights are ageless. I'm planning to write a full review when I have the time, just because I think every Mom should read it! At one point, the author says she realized (when she had 5 kids 4 and under) that she needed to strike the word "overwhelmed" from her vocabulary. That this is the job God called her to do, and she'd better quit whining about it and do it! I think that's where I am.

Jesus said, "without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5) The Lord has led me to a place where I can't do it - I can't possibly be faithful to everything I must do ... without Him. I tend to be a perfectionist, maybe even a bit of a legalist. But life has me over the edge right now so that I could know beyond a shadow of a doubt that His strength is made perfect in weakness, and that His grace IS sufficient! If I could manage all this on my own - I would be puffed up like a peacock and no help to anybody.

But because I can't do it - then I can be a clay pot, ready to be used by God for His purpose, and according to His strength. Philippians 4:13 for goodness sake! "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

That verse in John 15, it says: "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." That's the secret. The key to our fruitfulness as moms lies in abiding in Jesus! And that is what we must do - it's the only thing we can do - if we are to serve our families and grow in grace.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9. So I'm not giving up. I'm abiding in Jesus. And I'm stiking overwhelmed from my vocabulary.

What about you?

(PS - I could have titled this post "24 Hours Without Questions," an event which would also make me exceedingly happy. *wink)


anna said...

oh boy, great post - the other day I was thinking about how much I appreciate having my "day off" a month (a la Mother's Rule of Life), but what I wouldn't really give for a day HOME alone! So many things I would love to get done, so many projects, planning, cleaning - really I would just like my family to take a week long vacation without me :) I also know I will miss it all when it is gone too! Thanks for the book recommendation, I will have to check it out. Even in good years, it seems that February and March are always the times we hit walls the hardest, I hope you continue to find encouragement, and appreciate the words of wisdom you offer.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

thanks, AM. i receive much encouragement from you, too. :)

Kate said...

i keep telling myself 18 years with them is not enough! and look how fast it has gone by... the other day my man told me i was having "pre empty nest" syndrome as i was crying over how fast it has gone by!!
your post has encouraged me so much! and i'm striking overwhelmed from my vocab too! this is what i was blessed and called to do after all.

Andrea said...

"she needed to strike the word "overwhelmed" from her vocabulary. That this is the job God called her to do, and she'd better quit whining about it and do it!"

First - I want you to know that I am THE queen of whining. My parents didn't require true hard work from me and I'm having to learn through marriage and 5 young kids what it really means. I have all the 'head' knowledge that tells me that I am *supposed* to be relying on the Lord. But instead I whine about why I'm overwhelmed and look for those three days (which are never to come around here, if I'm truthful).

I feel like you and I are often in the same place. I waffle btwn looking for those 3 days and just trying another type of grocery list - lol! So often He has to give me so much that I am FORCED to remember that I can not do it on my own (as He did recently w/ illness, school, and a new baby).

I have found that I am the most happy and satisfied in the MIDST of all this, when I think upon all that I am GRATEFUL for, even as the baby is spitting on me & 4 other kids are talking AT me, my hubbs is trying to review the failing budget with me, and the meat is burning on the stove. That and prayer - prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer (....which I often push off instead while I try to carry my own load).

I thank you, for your honesty is an encouragement to the rest of us who are also in this place in life. Our beautiful 'babies' won't be under our wings for long and I don't want to waste that time whining over all the things about them that overwhelm me. I love my job and we are sooooo blessed to be moms! I too, will just 'do the next thing'!


ps.You will be missed on FB but your choice is completely understandable. I will keep reading and looking for more beautiful photos!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I have a friend living "my life" just one year behind me. Ok, so it isn't my life, but it is kids of the same age. We were just talking about the "life bursting at the seams" kind of talk...and I loved this:

sometimes life is bursting at the seams so that the answer is bigger than a new chore chart.

We were talking about the "quick fixes" that make us feel like we can control something or make it work, but ultimately we have to press into God, cling to Him and complete the task before us.

Thanks Jennifer. I hope to continue seeing you occasionally in this blogging world - you are a source of honesty and encouragement.

Thanks for the book recommendation!

Wendy said...

Funny that you mentioned that book. I just got it from amazon yesterday. Planning to start it today!