A Year of Habits, no.8

Wow.  Here we are, eight weeks into the year.  I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to spring.   I’m excited to spend time outside, plant a garden, see my neighbors again.  I hate the way winter makes you feel like you’re the only people living on your street.  I’m also a little bit panicked about it because it’s soccer season, which means that I get nothing else done for 8 weeks.  I’m running behind!  Why is it that I don’t simply adjust to “behind” schedule?  I wonder if my life would be less stressful if I expected it.

Really, it was a wonderful week.  Full of both expected and unexpected events, as I look back to evaluate I’m a little bit amazed that we fared as well as we did.

Are you ready for a disjointed summary?  Here goes:

Monday:  President’s Day, children home from school, husband started a new job, my Dad flew to town for a funeral, went out to lunch with a friend, attended the viewing with my Dad (these last two were wonderful, but they also meant several hours away from my family with my 12 year old watching the younger six).

Tuesday:  My dad left, five hours in the car driving children around.  Baby finds a fresh jar of jam on the kitchen counter (she now pushes chairs all over the kitchen just to check out the scenery overhead) and bathes herself, the counter, my cabinets and the floor in strawberry jam.  Big brother was “babysitting” a few feet away, but she’s learned how to go on “stealth” setting.  She gets really quiet when she’s up to no good.  Really tough experience Tuesday evening.  I was tempted to feel hurt and offended but I fought it off.  After I cried.

Wednesday:  Baby on disaster setting.  Into everything .  Favorite activity is climbing on the kitchen table to eat or break everything she can find.   Blue and Gold banquet.  Spontaneously took a friend out for ice cream while my huband took all 8 children home to get them ready for bed.  Yay for an understanding man!

Thursday:  Gone all day and all evening.  Had to take a second lunch to school for the daughter who lost hers, errands to run, copies to make, post office to visit.  After school brings gymnastics, etc. plus  Parent/Teacher conferences at the junior high.  Made dinner for the younger 7 children in seven minutes flat.  It was all the time I had.

Friday:  Three hours spent at the school for daughter’s spotlight and elementary grades Parent/Teacher conferences.  Friends come home with some children; others go home with friends.  One hour spent driving around delivering everyone to where they need to be.  45 minute date with my husband for a quick dinner at Rubios.  Long talk with an emotional daughter about life, standards, growing up and so forth.  My brother calls to see if he and his boys can fly to town the next day to stay with us.  Sure, why not?!

Saturday:  Son and husband snowboarding.  Stole a few minutes of sewing before I had to turn my office back into a guest room.  Clean the house.  Someone makes a sandwich and leaves the mayonnaise (brand new container) out on the counter for the baby to find.  She tastes it but decides it would make good lotion and I’ll leave you to picture the greasy mess that resulted.  My brother and his boys arrive.  Another brother shows up unexpectedly.  I wonder to myself, “why did I not start dinner 30 minutes earlier so I could just feed everyone right now?”  My brother leaves for the evening to go on a date and we watch the boys.  My other brother leaves.  Daughter plans a party at our house with her friends and invites them to come over in one hour.  Dinner is made, ten children are fed, six children bathed for church in the morning.  I race to the store for junk food.  Daughter’s friends show up.  I can hardly believe how loud 11 and 12 year-olds are.  Teen-aged son invites a friend over too.  My husband supervises downstairs while I go upstairs to get eight children to sleep while the older ones party downstairs.  The baby flips out and won’t go to sleep, but she also flips out if any of the kids downstairs look at her.  Two and a half hours later I get my nephews and sons to sleep (no help from my ten year old when he pours water on his five year old cousin’s face, pajamas and pillow just to be funny).  We get the baby to bed.  At 10:45 all the friends have left and we feel like we’ve run a marathon.  Somehow the tooth fairy managed to visit our six year old in the midst of it all.

Sunday:  By some miracle we get 13 people up, fed, dressed for church and out the door by 8:45 a.m.  I even managed to make a lunch for my brother and nephews to eat on their way to the airport after Church.  Baby throws tantrums at church (what’s new?).  Kids are totally wired and overtired all day but we don’t want them to sleep until bedtime.  EARLY bedtime.  Three year old falls asleep eating dinner.  We end the evening shaking our heads in wonder at the curve balls teens and tweens threw tonight.  Can I please raise my children in the 80’s?  This internet, cell phone, texting, Facebook world is a lot to worry about.

Too much to read?  Sorry.  I want to have it written down, though, so I can read it down the road and remember weeks like this.  There’s another reason for writing it all down, one that I’m slightly amazed by.  I spent more time than usual outside of our home for various reasons, which meant only a fraction of my usual time went to housekeeping.  I had only a few minutes here and a few minutes there.  Usually that means the family survives and the house falls apart.  It’s that price tag that has haunted me for the last four years.

This week was different.  For the past few weeks I’ve had three words as my housekeeping motto:

Maintain and Reclaim
.  Every day I spend my time quickly maintaining any areas I was able to clean the day before, and whatever time is left I spend reclaiming some area of the house in need of help.  Tonight there is a bit more clutter all over, which is usual for Sunday night, but really the collateral damage is minimal .  All the areas that were clean a week ago are still clean, and they have been every day.  I think it might be working.  I just might have found a simple plan that works for my house and my schedule at this stage in life.  Time will tell, but I’m encouraged.  And an encouraged mother is a happy thing.

In a few minutes I’ll sink into my bed with a sigh of relief.  Yes, there are countless things I didn’t get to.  Yes, there are an infinite number of things I’d like to do.  But I feel like I did what needed to be done this week (with one exception:  exercise.  Totally blew it on that one) and managed a few extras.  My husband and I faced some parenting worries head on and we’re working on them.  It feels good to do that.   The oldest ones get lots of attention by virtue of their place in our family.  We had a lot of sweet moments with our little ones and spent focused time on the middle ones too.  My learning curve is still steep.  I still have a lot of moments when I feel like I’m being crushed by it all.  There is a quiet desperation that often squeezes my heart.  But I am going to do this.  I will not give up.  I will keep working at this.  I am going to learn how to care well for this family, to care well for our home.  I am going to learn how to thrive.

God sent me here to succeed.  And with His help and through the grace of Jesus Christ, I will.


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