Yesterday was one of those days in which I fantasized at some length about what it would be like to go back to work. I rolled out of bed already two days behind on schoolwork with Rachael and even farther behind on housework, which just doesn't seem to get done during the weekend. The children were still hyper from trick-or-treating the night before, and decided to release some energy by fighting tooth and nail, all day long. School was quickly thrown out the window due to attention and attitude problems, and even the stinking dog (and I do mean stinking, since Gene refuses to give him a bath) decided to whine all day. Yes, I lost my temper. Yes, I yelled. Yes, I sulked. I recalled with some fondness all of the days past when I woke up with no little feet in my back, drove to work listening to what *I* wanted to listen to on the radio, and then sat in my very own little box for hours on end, playing Spider solitaire and dealing with other peoples' nitpicky little tasks that went away at 5:00, banished until the following morning.
I complained on Facebook. I complained at greater length via email. And I felt like the biggest failure, the worst mother...even Milly addressed me as "bad mommy in the world" when I refused to let her eat Halloween candy after breakfast.
I have been accused on occasion...on many occasions, lately...of being somewhat of a Supermom. It's not a title I aspire to, or even like. In fact, my only true Supermom quality of late seems to be in the amount of running that I do...groceries, Girl Scouts (meetings and leader meetings), piano lessons, art co-op, Scentsy parties, random playdates and homeschool-related activities, church, church-related activities, library, blah blah blah. Since when are mothers applauded for having a calendar that's full to overflowing? I certainly don't see it as a desirable characteristic. In fact, our summer was so hectic that I just couldn't wait for fall and the new school year to arrive so that things would slow down a bit. Instead, just the opposite happened.
True, it's my own fault. Some things can't be ignored. Many of them could.
Does Rachael need to go to an art co-op once a week? No, but she loves it so much, and I do like having her in a large class full of other homeschoolers.
Do we need to do Girl Scouts? No, although again, there are desirable traits that Girl Scouts could help her learn. Leadership and whatnot. It wouldn't even be so much of a time drain if I hadn't volunteered to lead her new troop...and it's too late to back out now. I have a dozen little girls counting on me (and my co-leader, who I'd hate to leave to do it all herself.)
What about piano lessons? She's only six! Well, again...she loves it, and I'm just thrilled with how quickly she's catching on. Besides, studies have proven that children with early musical education tend to excel in math later on. And since I'm taking lessons with her, it's a nice opportunity to get out of the house with only my big girl for a little while each week.
So yes, I've brought it on myself, and each thing that we spend time doing is chosen because it benefits my family (usually Rachael) in some way. Hmm, maybe that does make me a bit of a Supermom...but then, I believe that most mothers (any that are worthy of the title, at least) want and do what they believe to be best for their children. So that doesn't make me "super" at all - it makes me quite ordinary.
What would truly make me "super", at least to my own mind, would be finding the time to actually stay at home with my children. To find time to both do school and tidy up the house in the same day. To bake cookies, to take walks in the woods collecting leaves and acorns, to build forts out of blankets and stay there all day with a pile of books. Sure, we do that sort of thing sometimes, but not nearly often enough.
And it stresses me out. I'm not a go-er; I'm a homebody. If I didn't have to leave my house for a solid week, I'd be tickled pink. I go and go and go and then I come home, exhausted, and am immediately stressed out upon walking in the door at the visual reminder of what hasn't gotten done because of all of our going. While I do the flight-of-the-bumblebee clean on the areas that are most visible, I fume over how far behind we are with schoolwork. And while we do schoolwork, I'm simultaneously teaching and typing, organizing Scentsy parties and networking events and Girl Scout meetings and yes, checking in on Facebook to see what everyone else is doing that sounds like a heck of a lot more fun than I'm having.
My super-amazing-wonderful friend Cathy recently wrote on her own blog, "There are some days that I feel like I am so far behind that I can’t catch up, but those days I try to take things extra slow. My kids will only be kids for a short period of time and I want to enjoy them. Everything else can wait." It was certainly nice to read that I'm not the only one who gets behind, although her house is always the picture of neatness whereas mine looks a bit like an indoor flea market that's just survived a tornado. I wish I had the presence of mind to slow down when things start piling up, rather than shifting into hyper-drive to try and get them all done at once. I'm well aware of how quickly our little ones grow and I also want to enjoy them as fully as possible while they're small...but get so caught up in the GOING that I feel like I'm constantly missing out on something bigger.So please...don't call me Supermom. I get done what has to be done (and I'm talking bare minimum here) and it still eats up my entire day. I feel like the jack of all trades who does a little bit of everything, but doesn't do any one thing well. I feel like an okay mom, most of the time...I have good days and I have some absolutely rotten days in which it's hard to remember what blessings my children are. There is absolutely nothing "super" about me.
As much as I would love to cancel absolutely everything and just BE with my babies, the busy-ness doesn't seem to be going away in the foreseeable future. With just a few short weeks until Thanksgiving and then the fast and furious slide into Christmas, it is undoubtedly going to get worse before it gets better. And so, in the spirit of self-preservation, I will be trying my hardest in the coming days, weeks, months to focus less on loathing my schedule, less on getting everything accomplished a time frame that exists only in my head, less on mentally beating myself to a bloody pulp every time I run out of patience with a squabbling child...and I will focus more on my own attitude.
Philippians 4:8-9 tells us, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
This was outlined in the book I'm reading, the one that my Wednesday night class (which just finished tonight - BOO) was based on, The Bathtub is Overflowing But I Feel Drained by Lysa TerKeurst. She brought this verse to life in mom terms...and I'm paraphrasing from the book here:
Whatever is true - it is a blessing to be a mom. So many women long for children and can't have them, and they would gladly take my place. Every mother has hard days and hard seasons, but it doesn't have to be my focus and it won't last for the entire journey. God will fill in my gaps as long as I am obedient to Him.
Whatever is noble - the word noble means "having or showing qualities of high moral character, such as courage, generosity, or honor." A noble mother recognizes that her children will learn most effectively by example. (Ouch.) My children will remember the way that they see me live my life.
Whatever is right - my job as a Christian parent is to make right choices that honor God. I can choose to yell or choose to count to ten (or twenty, or a hundred.) I can choose to fret over an undone chore or choose to read one more book to my baby (or two more books, or a hundred.)
Whatever is pure - if I want to see God in my home, in my marriage, in my children's lives, I must seek out purity in my own heart first. This doesn't mean trying to be perfect - I'd fail at that anyway. "It means that I must perfectly surrender my heart, my motives, my actions, and my reactions to Christ."
Whatever is lovely - do I have a lovely view of motherhood? What does it say for my view when I gripe about my children in my Facebook status? What is my knee-jerk reaction when someone asks about my children? Is it "they're being real snots today" or is it "they're such a blessing!"
Whatever is admirable - my investment of time and energy is admirable...to some, if not so much to me. The sacrifices I make for my children are admirable. My love for them is admirable. The author says, "while the world may not esteem you, and while your kids may not rise up to call you blessed today, God notices."
If anything is excellent or praiseworthy - being a mother is not a job, it is a calling. I have been given the unique opportunity to help shape a life (two lives!) for eternity. Thank you, God, for second chances and for Your mercies that are new each morning.
A positive attitude, unfortunately, does not always come naturally to me, but these are the things that I should think on. Not the dishes in the sink. Not the laundry multiplying in the hamper. Not the kazillion miles that I'll put on my van tomorrow. I need to focus less on the things that only really matter to me, and more on the big picture. More on what and who really matters.