A Year of Habits, no. 41

For the past few weeks I’ve had a steady stream of thoughts before sitting down to write this weekly post but as soon as I type the number all those ideas fly right out of my head leaving a question in their place:  Have I learned anything yet?  Have I developed useful habits yet?  I’m running out of time!

In my dream life, I would allot a certain block of time each day or week for work on all the habit’s I’m seeking.  Week after week I’d report on progress in each area and see steady improvement as the months passed.  In my real life, I allot time to work on things but then reality sweeps in and often sweeps me away.  A day’s plan can only maintain a certain amount of its intended shape in the face of needy toddlers, tantrum throwing five-year-olds, a dozen homework assignments and several hours of driving.  I’m not seeking to excuse myself, but to discover a healthy middle ground between living purposefully and responding gracefully to the insane curve balls that invariably come my way as a mother to eight children.  My whole reason for the goals in the first place is to become a better wife and mother, a better person, and the only way to really do it is in the face of daily life.  It’s just that daily life is so grueling sometimes.

So tonight I’m wondering… how am I really doing?

Do I have a great housekeeping routine in place?  No.  I still go for the Maintain and Reclaim approach much of the time, but there’s a lot that’s not getting done.  As far as all housework and personal projects go, all progress stops at 2:30 p.m. when I pick everyone up from school.  From 2:30 on, it’s downhill.  Honestly, there are days when the daytime climb doesn’t even get us back to where we started 24 hours earlier.  I have a lot I’m still envisioning but it’s not in place yet.  Miles to go….  but are we better off than we were a year ago?  I think so.

Personal health.  This one weighs heavily on me.  Have I done as well as I thought I would?  Far from it.  But I’ve made progress.  I’ve dealt with surprise challenges and feel like I’m moving the right direction.  It’s just that I’m moving so slowly.  It’s been a year now since I quit nursing my baby, and I admit I thought it would be much easier to lose weight and recover than it’s been.  Kindergarten and early morning seminary have thrown exercise out the window for now, but eating well is always an option.  I had an on and off week (again!) and I will have a great week this week.  That’s a promise to myself.

Creativity.  I pictured myself doing a lot of dabbling, trying some of this and that.  As it turns out I spend much less time in my studio than I would like, but I’m also recognizing more opportunities to be creative in my role as a mother.  For instance, tonight I tried two new recipes.  I spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen but it was a creative experience and I enjoyed myself.

Service.  In this area we get flying colors this week!  I have been prayerful about service for the past couple of weeks and while I won’t list specifics here, I feel like I was guided to do specific things at specific times.  I also watched my husband and children performing acts of service that warmed my heart.

Finishing.  I’m getting better at it.  I’m also getting better at saying no to things.  I’m learning to AVOID starting things that are unnecessary.

Reading.  The past few weeks have  been so busy that I haven’t read much, but I have read four or five novels for young adults.  I try to pick them up here and there so I know what my kids are reading and can talk more with them about it.  I finished a book of my own several weeks ago and have picked up Middlemarch again.

A Soft Reply.  Last night I was so discouraged about kids and homework I wanted to cry.  I looked around and wondered how I could be working so hard and getting nowhere.  I do think that I’m being more careful, learning to laugh more easily, holding my peace more often, sincerely trying to listen and understand before seeking to be understood.  Will I ever be able to say I’ve mastered this one?  I hope so.  But while I can’t say it yet, I can say that I’m better than I was.

That discouragement last night lasted a little while.  We got the younger children in bed, got our oldest son off to his haunted house with friends, got our daughter going on her homework.  I blinked back some tears and got to work planning menus for next week.  Somehow my husband and I both relaxed and had a great night with our daughter, joined later by our son.  When the four of us were laughing like crazy around the kitchen table at midnight I thought back four hours and shook my head in wonder.  I’m glad we held on because we ended up having one of those nights when you go to bed knowing that what just happened was healthy.

The children have a couple of days without school at the end of the week and I have high hopes for them.  There is a mountain of yard work to do and I’ve got literally hundreds of bulbs to plant.  I always feel better when I get to spend time in the yard.  I need to get the yard squared away so I can turn my attention to holiday projects and other deadlines.

I am grateful I get to learn these lessons.  I’m grateful for how hard it is to manage the affairs of a family this large.  I know it will teach me important lessons and that, in the end, I’ll be a better person for it.  It is such a privilege to be a mother.  I am hopeful.  Hopeful that I’ll learn what needs learning and become the mother I long to be.

Have a great week!

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