i have two sister-in-laws. they each have three kids. and as of last week, all three of their kids are in school from 8-2 at least three times a week. are you serious? i'm seeing the same sort of thing on instagram as my mama friends have all this new time by themselves. sure, they're working from the house or busy with other important things, but they still get to be alone for a good stretch of time each day. can you imagine?
i found myself a little bit jealous, to be honest. not in a terribly ungrateful way, but just imagining if i had that much time to concentrate on work, blogging, designing, how much i'd get accomplished.
the other day as i drove home from preschool with my sweet girl, i really pondered it. i have never been one to wish ahead to the next season. sure, in a moment of frustration i'll do it, but for the most part, i try to embrace and love the season that i'm in. even the hard ones, even the painful ones. to really experience and embrace life as it comes at me. as much as i do look forward to the day where both my girls are in school and i have hours to be a real grown-up woman without spit up on me and meltdowns and teething and diapers?
i still want to finish this leg of the race strong.
i don't want to skip ahead to the day where someone else pours into my kids for hours at a time. i want to make sure i'm setting as firm a foundation as possible in these first years, and enjoying everysinglemoment i'm given with them. everyone doesn't get to stay home with their babies. and everyone doesn't want to either, i know that. but as someone who wants to, i forget sometimes what a privilege it is to actually do that.
when i look back at the last three-ish years i've been a mom, i can say i was pretty satisfied with the first 18 months. even the first two years. but the last year, from the time i got pregnant until now, with a 3year old and 7month old? this year has been my worst year as a mother. sure, there have been really good days. i've been extra patient. i've been understanding. i've had compassion and i've really stopped to see my girls. that does happen quite a lot. but when i go back in my mind, i can see too much yelling, arguing, reacting, frustration, impatience, intolerance for silly things, making huge deals out of things that shouldn't be huge deals. when things were going right, i was fine. when they went wrong, i'd react.
something hasn't been right. and i know you all will give me the benefit of the doubt, you're too encouraging and understanding not to. oh aly, you were tired through your pregnancy, then you were getting up every few hours with a newborn, you had to learn how to juggle two kids, you have a husband who works a lot, you're doing the best you can, don't beat yourself up...
i want to assure you that i'm not beating myself up. that's not my purpose here. my purpose is to share my heart and to tell you that i mess up. too much. for a while, it felt like there were more bad days than good ones. i was in some kind of a rut in my motherhood where i just parented on default mode, reacting to situations, rather than being proactive in my approach. do you know what i mean? i think some of you probably know exactly what i'm talking about.
for awhile i just felt directionless. like we were just getting by and the next day was quickly approaching and we'd just do it all over again. like groundhog day. how boring and meaningless is that kind of an attitude, right?
so the past few months i'd been feeling convicted to really take a solid look at what's working and what isn't. not for the purpose of shaming myself, because i know that God's grace has covered every single ugly moment... but that's still not an excuse to sit around and do things the same way, when you know you could do better if you just tried a little.
i mean, i could've sat there lamenting that i'm a terrible mother and that it's probably the area i fail most and feel least successful in... but here's the thing: i am doing the job of mothering almost every hour of my day. since i'm human, and i'm going to mess up throughout the day anyway, it just happens that what i'm usually always doing is being a mom, so i'm bound to mess up motherhood more often than any other thing that i don't spend as much time doing. does that make sense?
that little equation gave me some good perspective, and hope. and then it all came down to this:
i'm the grown-up.
i can only control my own self.
i will never get these years back.
so [in the comfort of my own head] i began operation "figure-it-out-already, aly":
1) i needed to nail down why i react to things instead of proactively directing and managing the day and whatever situations may arise? well, for me it can be any of the following: i'm tired. i'm distracted. i'm busy. i have too much on my plate. i'm preoccupied with my shop/marriage/blog/personal issues in my mind. i see them as an inconvenience rather than my priority. i'm concerned with everyone's opinion around me instead of their best interest.
a few practical solutions:
• go to bed earlier
• have stuff ready before I go to bed. lunches, dishes, house picked up, etc.
• do shop/blog/other stuff when the kids are asleep or occupied, or at least HOLD IT LIGHTLY. it can actually wait, if i get interrupted. nothing is an emergency.
• have my morning quiet time as often as physically possible
• have worship music playing in the house. it calms my spirit, keeps me focused.
2) and then i knew i need some clear direction, i almost needed to attach a clear definition to what i was trying to accomplish with being their mother, you know? so i started reading Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. and by the end of the first chapter, i had laughed and cried and nodded and taken crazy notes and already jumped on board with a total overhaul of my mothering. i will give you some more insight later, when i've really gotten into it, but i would suggest that if you are a mother, and even if you've already read it, you need to read Grace Based Parenting.
until next time...