In the evenings when the kids go to bed, I load the dishwasher, put clothes from the washer to the dryer, fill up my water cup, and walk upstairs with the baby. All day long I crave the coolness of my sheets and the warmth of my blankets as my head hits the pillow. But I don’t go straight to sleep! I change the baby’s diaper, sometimes her clothes, sometimes we take a bath together, and then I feed her. Many nights I end up in bed at 7:30 pm but I don’t make it to sleep till 3:30am! I spend a few hours watching T.V. with my husband, then when I finally lay down to go to sleep, everyone decides to get up for water, potty breaks, feedings, diapers, teething, or bad dreams- sometimes all of them! Last night while everyone was sleeping, the room was dark, I laid there nursing my baby and watching her little eyes stare back at me. I felt like the most blessed woman in the world! Eleven years ago when I was standing in a court room, petitioning the Judge for a restraining order against my soon to be Ex- I thought I would never have my own family! I thought my life was destroyed and there was no coming back! Today I am the mother of seven beautiful girls, and wife of a loving Godly man who adores me. I would have never thought this would be my life and I’m thankful for all of it; the hard parts, the easy parts, the days that end in me crying, the days that end in all of us crying, happy days, sad days, unbelievably crazy days- I’m thankful for all of them!
I think sometimes it’s hard to be thankful for such things when you’ve never experienced the feeling of loss. I think that losing everything and everyone in my life at one point has given me the determination, strength and love for my family to get through the hard days. Knowing that there was a time that my hope for having children was taken away, it really makes me appreciate and savor each day that I have with them. After all we only have 18 summers together and then they will be off on their own! It’s only a blink of an eye before they are adults! While I may write about our crazy days together- I do it with love, and with the hope that it may encourage others in their parenting and never with a angry, or resentful heart! At the end of the day when everyone is sleeping but me, and my newborn is looking into my eyes while I’m feeding her, there is nowhere else I’d rather be- sleep deprived or not!
This past Friday, we finally were able to celebrate my husband’s birthday that I neglected a few weeks ago due to our newest addition. I took the big girls to the dollar tree and they excitedly picked out Spiderman decorations for him (haha!), we ordered pizza (his favorite), made ice cream caked (Duggar style), and got him a few treats (candy- also his favorite). I dropped by the RedBox and grabbed a few movies for us for when the kids were sleeping- The Amazing Spiderman II for him, and Mom’s Night Out, for me. I probably should have known better than to get such a emotional movie right after having a baby while I’m still weepy because I probably cried through most of the movie!
I felt like I was watching a movie about myself. From the Pastor’s wife to the main character Allyson- mom of three- I could physically feel each characters emotion and identify with their struggles. Two month ago I painted our foyer, I went to the hospital to have a baby and when I got back there was a beautiful scribbling mess all over the wall behind the door! There was purple crayon everywhere!! Drawings on the girls bedroom walls, and even on the hall closet door upstairs in the hallway. Across from the closet door, there was another crayon drawing on the wall in the hallway of a secret door- which is completely my husbands fault!! When we first moved into this house he would go into our walk-in closet and knock on the wall, which connected to the hallway wall, and he would say, “HELLO, help me!” The kids were flipping out and believed that there was a secret door in the wall. Well- not long after that the drawing of a door appeared in our hallway! After the time they drew a treasure map on the carpet in their room with a marker- I have fought long and hard to keep the crayons/markers put away from the kids so this doesn’t happen again- but when mom is away they have a little more freedom! I’m still finding random crayons- three weeks later- in their beds, under the couch, in the cushions, and the crayon box in the playroom. On days when I find a crayon in a room it isn’t supposed to be in and am able to put it back in its correct spot, I feel like I have conquered the world!! You may actually hear me whisper, “take that you nasty monster” as I slide the misplaced crayon back into the box!
My kitchen counter is constantly cluttered! I clean it off on Monday’s and by Friday it is piled high again! It took me a few months to figure out why it gets that way! Here I thought my husband had been putting things up there the last several months but I’ve since discovered that when the kids do their chores, instead of going all the way to the playroom to put their toys away, they stick them on the counter in the kitchen! Piles of my little ponies, pencils, books, figurines- all over the counter, behind the coffee pot, on the sink, in the sink. It makes me crazy, not necessarily the mess, but what unravels me the most is feeling like I have to repeatedly do something over and over again and there is no way to conquer it! There is NEVER a different result! It feels so great when I get the counters cleared off, wiped off and they look amazing- for a day!!
We are ALWAYS missing a shoe! YES just one, and never the same one, and never for the same kid….but always JUST ONE- and sometimes its even MY shoe!!! This is enough to make any mom insane! I often find during times like these I become possessed by my mother. She takes over my mind and body and she I hear her words flow from my mouth, “how many times have I told you to put your shoes away! If you would put them where they go we would not have to go through this every time we want to leave the house!” I dread winter because not only are we always missing a shoe but we get to add in a coat too! Just yesterday we were trying to get everyone in the van to run some errands. It was pouring down rain!! Normally I wouldn’t go anywhere in the rain but we had too! We couldn’t find ONE shoe, and ONE jacket, and ONE of our 18 library books that we were taking back! The Jacket was in the van and the one shoe eventually turned up and so did the book, but it took us at least an hour to find all items. It’s even worse when we are on time for something, yet we have to take time to find that one shoe, then after our thirty-minute search we load into the van and discover – we are out of gas!
Like Allyson- I am hard on myself! I never feel I am enough for me. My house is not clean enough, I’m not gentle enough with my kids, I’m not consistent enough, I don’t discipline them the right way, they don’t have enough scripture memorized, I’m not teaching them good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not sweet enough to my husband, I yell, I constantly put things off, I don’t do detail cleaning, I get bossy and irritated when I’m stressed, and I am not spiritual enough, creative enough, fun enough. I hold myself to such high standards that I can’t meet them and I constantly make myself feel like a failure of a wife and mother! I play things out in my mind- I can’t ask for help because I hear them saying in my head, “can you believe she has the nerve to have that many kids and then ask someone to come over and help her!! She asked for that many kids and she should have to deal with it herself!” I can’t ask people to come visit because I hear them saying in my head, “wow you should have seen what a mess her house was!! There was peanut butter on the bathroom sink and the light switch downstairs! Can you believe she has all those kids and you can’t eat off her floor- no wonder they get sick!” I am my OWN worse enemy!
I’ve learned that I have to pride myself in the small victories of my life like: finding a lost crayon, keeping the books on the book shelves, keeping the kids on a schedule with their school and chores, making dinner each night, keeping the laundry and dishes done. Being able to have these small victories daily have made me feel like I’m on top of the world. It’s amazing what being able to keep something clean for more than a day can do for you sanity! It’s also amazing how having friends who say, “I don’t care about your mess- I’m here to visit with you” helps calm those annoying voices in my head! It helps even more when those same friends invite me to their house and when I get there its a mess and they don’t care! lol Don’t ask me why that is comforting but it just is!!
And then in the middle of a week of craziness we have ONE amazing day! I can tell the kids are having fun, they are learning, getting along well, not fighting, no escaped crayons. I actually take time out of cleaning, bills, planning, scheduling, and changing diapers to play with my kids and I feel like the best mom in the world!! This day carries me over- through the lost shoes, the cluttered counters, the dirty floors to the next amazing day! Then in between during the hard times- I try to savor the small things like seeing the joy on my Kindergartners face when she reads a word without anyone teaching her, watching my third grader read to her sisters, my first grader speak kindly to the babies and love on them, the small notes I find from my girls laying on my computer. These are the things that make being a mother great! Yes the ONE amazing day a week is amazing but knowing that each action, choice, and decision that your children make has come from something you taught them makes these tiny gestures they make worth all your sacrifice. The best and most powerful line in the movie is when Allyson’s husband tells her that her job is important! I think most of us forget that. Everything we do from hugs, kisses, snuggles to diapers, meals, dishes, floors, and just spending the day playing is important! We as mothers have the power to guide these little beings and mold them into amazing God fearing women and men! We have the potential to train our children to be loving and compassionate and loyal to their future children and spouses. What we do is not always noticed, valued, and it is a lot of work. Being a mom is HARD!! It is also amazing, joyful, fulfilling and something most of us can not ever imagine NOT doing! Our job is important and we need to make sure that we remember that!!