Our normal school mornings go something like this: the big boys wake up around 6:30 and head downstairs and turn the tv on. I stumble down bleary eyed (after staying up too late and getting joined in bed around 3am by a four year old) and head straight for the teapot. (English Breakfast with milk and sugar.) I usually find a handful of granola bar wrappers and applesauce pouches strewn about from the snack the boys have helped themselves to. I make them oatmeal then go upstairs to put on my makeup. I stop to pull some clothes out for Bennett (he doesn't mind at all if I pick his clothes but if I go tell him to get dressed, he comes out in his favorite tank top and flip-flops.) then yell downstairs for him to come get dressed. Stop to yell at him at least two more times because he "didn't hear me". Go back to putting on my makeup and getting dressed but stop ten more times to remind him to stay on task (ie: stop fighting with his brother/watching tv/playing legos/making faces at himself in the mirror) and tell him what he needs to do next. And there's almost always a frantic three minutes where I realize he still hasn't put his socks and shoes on and he's about to miss the bus so I'm grabbing coat/gloves/backpack for him while simultaneously asking him what the heck he'd been doing and pushing him out the door. I'm stressed and he's extremely unhappy and possibly in tears.
Please tell me this sounds familiar.
I've read Love & Logic, which is all about giving your children responsibility for themselves and stepping out of the way. I knew I wasn't doing Bennett any favors whatsoever. There was one time that I printed out a checklist for him that I was going to laminate but I think that was half-way through the previous school year and I never got around to it. You see, there's this thing that happened to me that took away the last remaining shred of organizational abilities that I had and it's called a third child. (Well, to be more specific, when said child turned mobile.) In case I wasn't completely sure that I was failing my children, I got this card from Bennett at Christmastime. It's taken me this long to get up the guts to share it because it's that bad.
"Dear mom, I hope you have a great day. I wish I could change your life to a happy life."
I felt like I was punched in the gut.
I can't even explain how convicting that was (although I'm sure every mom out there can imagine). My grouchy mama self wasn't just peeking out here and there. She was hanging around enough that that's who my six year old saw me as. Let's just say for the past fifteen months or so, I've been a little off my game. A LOT of single parenting plus a very difficult season of marriage plus a toddler who is very clingy and fussy....
This is a common sight these days:
and two half-grown monkey boys who tear the house apart daily in record time does not bring out my best self. I've been trying a lot harder since The Note to laugh more and be silly more and play more with them. But there are still the rushed school mornings and very rough evenings when I'm single parenting.
Yesterday morning I handed Bennett a to-do list and a pencil. It included everything in detail that he needed to do before school (including put yesterday's dirty clothes away, which without a doubt were still on his bedroom floor.)
He grabbed the list without even a whimper of complaint and..... drum roll....did it all. In a rather timely manner. And he was out at the bus stop in plenty of time with a smile on his face (and on mine!!). Also, since I wasn't having to stop 32 times, I was actually dressed and ready way earlier than usual. And, *gasp*, Dawson was early to preschool. Like, so early he was in the building, with his hands washed with about 3 minutes to spare. I was standing around with the other early parents thinking, "Huh. So this is normal for all of you." I kind of felt like someone should have started a slow clap for me. The whole morning was SHOCKINGLY different. It was almost laughable. Why in the world did that take me so long to figure out??? Well, whatever the reason, I am singing praises that the morning battle is over for the foreseeable future.Jen Hatmaker's book, 7 (which is only $2.99 for Kindle edition, by the way). I was looking forward to this one because I knew my "boundaries" (I had some but didn't really follow them) for my phone use were not working. So I set my phone aside for a full week. (The first few days I found myself checking the weather app multiple times because I didn't know what else to do.) I got a lot more done and I played with the kids way more than usual. I also went to bed earlier.
women's conference in Dallas at the end of this month. I really wasn't willing to give it up completely.
I had the idea to delete the app when I'm not using it. If I get on once in the afternoon during Channing's nap or to post a photo, I'll delete and reinstall it once the boys are in bed and then delete it again after that (by 9pm!! I'm putting that out there so you people can hold me accountable). It sounds like a pain but it actually only takes about 20 seconds to install and another 20 seconds to log in. It has completely removed all habitual mindless use of it. It's really working for me and maybe it'll work for you too.
I also read a great blog post by one of my favorite IG'ers (@kristinrogers) but I can't find it right now. The great takeaway I got from it was to quickly snap the shot, then put your phone away and rejoin the moment. You can edit and post it later. No one cares or knows if they're all latergrams! I really liked that idea. Probably seems obvious to some but I hadn't thought of it before.
Motherhood is hard, folks. Like, crazy hard. I hit my bed every night like I spent the day in basic training for the Army. Physically exhausted and emotionally drained from three tiny drill sergeants in my face all day long. But I want those little drill sergeants to remember a peaceful, happy home and a mom who laughed way more than she yelled. I'm thankful for God's grace and forgiveness in my own life and I'm so thankful that every day is fresh in God's eyes and in my children's eyes.
I'm weary, Lord, but that's where you step in. Let me love these boys in a way that would point them back to you. Let me choose my words and tone of voice carefully in order to build them up. And let me selflessly give up time and energy to serve my family, rather than myself. And may I stick out the remainder of this wretched winter with grace and dignity. Amen ;)
That one glorious 50 degree day.....