A Year of Habits, no. 6
Well, well. I don’t know what to write. I’m half tempted not to write at all. Here we are, six weeks into the year. Far enough in that SOMETHING should be taking form, right? At least, that’s how I thought it would be. Instead I find myself wondering if I have even a single good habit left over from any part of my life. Does having good intentions count as a habit?
I remember my first post of the year, outlining what I had in mind, how I said that my heart wants to fly, to rise above the daily stresses and soar. Well, if flying is the goal, then this week might be labeled “Crash and Burn.”
My patriarchal blessing tells me I have the gift of patience. I still remember the day I got the blessing. I was walking to the car with my Mom. I remember how the Sunday sunlight filtered through the air. She commented on the patience thing and mentioned how humorous it was to her. Clearly it was a gift I had yet to develop. In the years since I’ve had times when I felt I was able to summon incredible amounts of patience and persistence. I felt that I had, at last, developed this gift.
Not anymore. All traces of it seem to have evaporated with the year 2010. I want progress, and I wanted it yesterday. I’m tired of exercising, eating 7 servings of fruits and vegetables and drinking tons of water so I can read the exact same thing on the scale from week to week. I’m tired of being up in the night with children. I’m tired of sitting down to read a book at night but falling asleep before the first three sentences make any sense to me. I’m tired of wondering how many years it will take for my children to stop fighting with one another. Yup. The only attribute I seem to have today is tired, and that’s not a good sign.
Yesterday my littlest one came down with another fever and I groaned inwardly. Seriously? Is that all we’re going to do for two straight months… be sick?!?
My three year old is currently running what I call “Night Time Drink Olympics.” She takes a two hour nap, then wakes up to go potty. Fifteen minutes later she wants a drink. Fifteen minutes after that she needs to go potty again. Repeat this every fifteen minutes for several hours. For the first hour I’m pretty sweet. The second hour it gets really old, and the third and fourth hours are just plain ridiculous. It doesn’t matter if I give her the drink or not… she continues her pace. Then, finally, at 3 am she tries a new one, “Mommy my ear hurts.” A few nights ago I kept saying to her, “Lay down and close your eyes. Don’t get up again.” But she didn’t close her eyes and she did get up. And then she was a monster all day long.
But you live. Could that be another habit? To simply live through it?
And then my baby reaches for me. I pick her up and she lays her head on my shoulders, clutching me tightly around the neck with her little arms. I whisper to her that I love her, that I’m sorry she’s not feeling well, and a little piece of my heart that is far too busy shouting about being tired quiets down and thinks that maybe, just maybe, it will be worth it someday.
And as I struggle to find something positive to write about my complete lack of both effort and success this week, my three year old joins me on the chair, tucks her arm through mine, lays her head on my shoulder and quickly falls asleep. The soft rise and fall of her chest combined with the quiet whisper of her breathing and the tapping of keys on my laptop makes me want to close the computer and take a nap with her. I must admit, being tired is much better if you have a three year old to snuggle with.
Sometimes I wonder where I got all my ideas about being a mother. I was never into saying things like “I will never…” or “I will always…” but somehow I did pick up a bunch of assumptions that were, shall we say, false. Many of them held up through babies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Not so with 6, 7 and 8. Everything I’d assumed about motherhood no longer helped with the great big group.
But if I underestimated the exhaustion, work, noise, confusion and stress I also underestimated the relief of having a baby who will still hug me when my teenager lists all the reasons he wishes he’d been sent to a different family. I underestimated the sting of tears in my eyes when my eight year old sees me folding a mountain of laundry and quietly asks, “Would you like some help?”. I underestimated the comfort of watching my daughter in the kitchen baking cookies for the family, and the unexpected hug from a four year old boy ninja.
I hope someday to fully conquer the temptation to feel discouraged. It seems to be a daily visitor to my heart. And in spite of the many moments when I feel like a total failure (and there’s nothing like feeling like you’re botching everything and knowing it will hurt 8 children that you love so dearly) I hope that someday I can make this claim: I did not quit.
I can’t claim progress this week but I haven’t relinquished hope, either.
Oh, and I designed my 2011 Christmas cards. How random is that? I’m trying to learn from my mistakes, make them early, and send them out on time this year. Nine months ought to be enough time to get them finished.