It's 4:00 P.M. I'm done with work for today, for the week, and I'm counting down the minutes until David gets home. My life is now arranged in segments of time. The hour and a half between the time I'm done with work and the time David comes home is the longest frame of time in the history of time itself. I just said "time" a lot.
I'm in the office with the lights off. I feel like it makes it quieter. It doesn't, but I tell myself it does. The twins are in the playroom watching Dora (nervous twitch...arriba up abajo down.) Sutton is in his crib chattering away. He's starting to squeal...half just to hear himself and half because he's getting fussy/demanding. Harper just walked in and asked for a sucker because her "froat" hurts. Piper Lee is asking to wear her cupcake panties. And all I can think is, "QUIIIEEEEET! I'M TRYING TO WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT HOW MUCH I ENJOY BEING YOUR MOM!"
It's been a long week. Well, 3+ years. Man, times were easy before kids. At least once a day (hour), I ask myself, "What did we used to fill our time with? What did we used to get stressed about? Why were we ever tired?" We don't sleep very much now. It's hard to take them to church sometimes because 9 out of 10 times, the twins get sick. Our hands will be raw and bloody from washing them, trying to keep Sutton from catching it. I've been cursing work from keeping me from taking care of and spending more time with my kids. I've been cursing the kids for distracting me and keeping me from creating incredibly inspired designs for the job that I truly enjoy. I've been pouting. I've been feeling sorry for myself. I've been snappy. I've yelled at the twins. I've said, "Duuuuude, come OOOOON," way too many times to Sutton. I've literally cussed at the weather. THE WEATHER. For inconveniencing me.
And then I'll read a news article or Facebook post about a child who has a brain injury after he fell at church, or a mom still in a coma after having an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter...and I'll think, "Ruth...wow. You are selfish and a big fat pair of whiney pants. Do you even kind of realize how incredibly blessed you are? SO BLESSED." And then I'll cry and calm down and hug each of my three perfect crazy tiny people and tell them I'm sorry for being grouchy and then I'll vow to myself to not yell or ever lose my temper again.
Three seconds later, Sutton is furiously jabbering about something and I run in to find the twins wiggling his legs up and down trying to "teach him how to dance." And then I yell through my memorized speech about NOT TOUCHING THE BABY FOR THE LOVE.
I'll talk to David later about how horrible I feel for raising my voice at them. I feel like a failure as a mom. I'm doing the best I can, but it's not good enough. All those people that say to "enjoy every moment, cherish this time" and I'm not. I don't enjoy every single moment. What's wrong with me? (And how are those people's kids so freaking perfect? Are they robots?)
And then I read these posts...shared by my sweet friends--Erin, Jenny, and Allison...written by real women who can verbalize things so much better than me. If you have a chance, do read them. (That sounded British.)
Don't Carpe Diem
Christian Subculture and the Stay at Home Mom
I Yelled At My Kids
And I thought, "PRAISE THE LORD, I'M NOT ALONE!"
It's so easy for us to not want to share things with others, especially other moms who are probably going through the exact same thing. Someone paid me a huge, huge compliment one time. They said I always look like I "have it together." I about melted on the spot. Truth is, I can fix my hair fairly quickly and put on a smile and look mostly "together," but most days, I feel like I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown. A lot of days, I WANT to cry, but I'm physically and emotionally too tired to. And I know that's okay. I know I'm okay. I know my kids are okay. I know I have the best support system from my husband. I'm not a failure. I'm okay. I'm going to make it. And it's okay to admit that I'm FREAKING OUT some days.
I'm not a perfect human, not even close. I make lots of mistakes. But I am doing the best I can and that's good enough for my kids. They don't seem to mind my faults. They forgive so quickly. They have the most generous spirits and I am so grateful to them for that.
Sometimes, I send the girls outside, all excited, getting them pumped up to "Go outside! Yay!" And then, the second they're out, I lock the door so they can't come back in. Just for 5 minutes of peace so I can eat a sandwich. I know they're okay, the yard is fenced in, I can see through the windows. But those boogers come in and out and in and out and I'm starving.
Sometimes, when we're in the car, I'll tell the girls to "look for bananas running across the road!" just to keep them occupied long enough so I can have a two-minute conversation with David.
Sometimes, when I'm rocking/feeding Sutton, I don't look ever-so-lovingly down into the depths of his lusciously long eyelashes, gazing upon his sleeping face...shoot, I'm on my phone reading these blog posts, trying to stay sane! I'm also ordering things off Amazon, checking the weather, texting my sister telling her I was glad she wasn't running in the Boston marathon, paying bills, comparing streaming devices for the TV, shopping for the kids' clothes, looking through my brother's pictures of Laos, and maybe I've also fallen asleep myself.
I have a horrible tendency to try to be that picture-perfect idea of what a mom is supposed to be. And then I feel so guilty for not matching up to those silly expectations I've set for myself. I'll read what someone else did that day, all the things they accomplished, all the outings they took their kid on...and I didn't even come close to that. Those people are not making me feel bad...I'm doing that to myself.
CONFESSION: I have never (post kids) cooked a meal for my family. I work during the day, wrangle the kids until David gets home, do laundry/dishes/etc., and then someone feeds and bathes Sutton while the other fixes the twins' dinner and bathes them. David and I fix our own meals after the kiddos are in bed just so we can eat in quiet. Everybody is fed and happy, but I feel bad for not preparing this big fancy dinner. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? No, it's not. It's okay TO do that and it's also okay not to.
The twins are picky eaters. I've read articles about how kids aren't actually picky eaters, the parents make them that way. Yes, I purposefully did this to myself. Thankfully, the twins are finally coming down off their high thrones to eat with the commoners, but even if I did bake us all some tilapia and asparagus and called it "chicken" and "baby trees"...you know they ain't gonna eat it.
I question our methods of discipline. Are we doing enough? Too much? Why are they so crazy? Can we legally give them a Benadryl IV? And then I remember, they're three years old. They tell us all the time they love us. They give us endless hugs. (I'm obviously talking about the twins here...Sutts is still just kind of a ball of sweet cuddles that makes noises sometimes.) I think we're doing okay.
I'll turn on the TV and situate all three of them in front of it to entertain them so I can use the bathroom. And then I take credit when someone compliments me that I've taught them to count by 10's. Mickey Mouse did that.
I give them LOADS of chocolate to keep them quiet just long enough for me to make a phone call. And then later I'm like, "Why are y'all so hyper?!?! Oh...right."
I get frustrated with them for still being utterly terrified to poop on the potty. And then I remind myself, once again, that they are three years old. And I mean, who's to say there ISN'T a giant snake monster that lives in the toilet? It's a valid concern.
I hang my head in dismay, shoulders so heavy, when I walk out of my office to discover every single toy is out of its proper place, covering the entire playroom floor. I know I'll have to do most of the cleaning. (Did you know that asking children to pick up the same toys they earlier got out is THE END OF THE WORLD?) I ask, "Why...girls, why did y'all pull everything out like this?" And they respond, "Mama, toys sad. We play with them all." (Thanks, Toy Story). And I mean, you can't help but experience the joy in their huge, beautiful imaginations.
I literally hold my breath for a minute when I see that they've covered their bodies with a black Sharpie that I didn't even know we had. And then they present to me a perfect, yet slightly creepy, representation of our family in a field of flowers that they so carefully drew as a gift to me.
We pray over them every night. We pray for their future spouses. We pray for their salvation. We pray that the twins will go to the same college and room together because that would be sooooooo much more convenient for
I know I'm a good mom. I'm trying to be. I tell my kids I love them constantly. And then sometimes I stumble and think, "You are a pain in my bahonkus, Tinsley," when one of them asks to changes outfits for the 200th time that day. But they don't care about my homemaking skills, or lack thereof. They don't care that I'm still in my pajamas at 5:30 p.m. They don't care that I can't sew a lick. I CAN french braid, though. *dusts off shoulders* They care that I put together puzzles with them, play Mommy Dog and Baby Dog with them, dance at the Princess Ball with them, look for cheetahs and hippos in their ears (yes, that's a thing we do), color with them, tell them they're the most beautiful girls in the world, tell them they're special and so very adored.
They won't always have home-cooked meals. I won't always have super adorable crafts for them to make that day. I won't be able to read them a bedtime story every night. I'll still raise my voice. I'll still lose my temper. I'll still worry I'm not doing something right. Satan will whisper things in my ear...telling me I'm a failure as a mother. Gyah, he knows just the things to say.
But if I give my children over to God and pray diligently to Him to help me raise them in a way that's honorable to Him, that's all I can do. And I feel good about that. And that's enough for me.