Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Lessons *Take II

* Oops! Didn't mean to post quite yet. Just added/edited a bit. :S

This time of year is one that brings out the reflective nature in people, causes them to examine themselves and their life. We take a closer look at our family and loved ones, and our relationships with them. Goals and attitudes are given the once over. People seem to generally (of coarse there are exceptions) be kinder and more generous. The world can cluck all they want about how you don't have to celebrate the "reason for the season" but it seems to me that reflectiveness is the affect of the one who came to save us, bringing grace and forgiveness. Santa sure doesn't do that for me.

Here's a couple things I learned over the last few days.
  • When you strip everything away, all the plans, the fancy food, getting dressed in your finest, Christmas eve service, the big family gathering, when you have to lay that all down and it's just "you", (you know, cuz of the pukies), you realize how much you love your family, how blessed you are, how beautiful are your children, and how all that stuff doesn't really matter - what matters is what's right there before  you. You miss your husband like crazy who was still hard at work, you take a deep breath instead of getting caught up in the hustle and hurry of all that must be done, and you take pleasure in those little beings buckled tight into carseats for a last minute trip to Wally World for milk. Not that I don't normally think of my children as blessings, but I was brought to tears more than once on our car ride home, just listening to them and seeing who they are.
  • Reindeer really do talk, it's just "growl-ish." (Complements of George)
  • God is so sweet. So gentle. And He can even catch the attention of a busy scatterbrained mom.
I have been really selfish, self-centered, and greedy lately. Lacking in the grace I so proudly think I sport. Man, did He get me. And so gently pointed it out to me. Not "in your face". Not in church. Not with some great bible verse or awesome song on the radio. Nope - in the kitchen, cleaning up the remnants of whatever meal, while all was quiet. I saw my own self flashed before me, brought to my attention. It wasn't early shattering. It didn't, at that time, drop me to my knees in shame. It was just quiet. Quick. Uneventful. But I saw it. Yuck.
At the cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And since then, I have been reflecting on my self, my attitudes, my words, my affect. After taking a moment to think on it, it's not hard to notice my selfish bad attitude, so lacking in grace, sticking out like a sore thumb. Not everyone can see it (thank GOD) but I do. Even my husband did.
I forgot to have grace when I so quickly judged everyone else's motives. I forgot to look at who they are, how they feel, and who they have been to me (a blessing). I failed to stand in their shoes, and be thankful to even know them. I forgot to see their struggles and remember I am exceedingly blessed, despite my own life's struggles or challenges.
At the cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words
So lost in love
I am sweetly broken
Holy surrender
What a great Christmas lesson, eh? But really, it is a gift. The sweetness. The love that comes with being broken. The freedom you feel in that correction. Weird, but true.
  • My baby loves me... a LOT. Oh wait. I already knew that. But still. He's just happiest with me. And I'm perfectly happy with that arrangement.
  • A glass of wine is a wonderful idea after a tour of the wall marts on *Christmas Adam.
  • When your neighbors know you're a mom of five little kids, they will go out of their way to find you a corkscrew when yours mysteriously goes unexplainably missing. Even in a snowstorm. They will search in boxes untouched for five years, they will drive to other neighbors and bring one back to  you. My neighbors ROCK.
  • Small children puking is a real buzz kill.
  • My long-time habits of procrastination and being unprepared are very much alive today.
  • There are not enough brain cells to remember all the funny things your kids say.
  • Children think McDonald's, drive thru even, is a great Christmas eve supper.
  • I have no guilt (ok, a little bit) taking my kids to McDonald's on Christmas eve.

*Christmas Adam - the day before Christmas Eve. Courtesy of Jason and Taya Gray.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh, it's gonna be a memorable Christmas

Know what the great thing about puke is? Nothing.

My 2 littles (baby excluded) began the fun puke-a-thon at precisely 11:37 pm tonight. Or rather, yesterday. I would have been asleep but I was still nursing an apparenly ravenous baby, and when I tried to wrench myself from him (to do things like go to the bathroom, take out my contacts, eat supper) he just screamed bloody murder. Like he did for about 25 minutes while I was helping Cheeks and Boots deal with their barfed on selves, and beds, etc. I managed to get it all over myself, even in my hair, so I had to take a shower before I could even go pick him up. Poor baby. But I really don't want to infect him, if at all possible. Now he's in la-la land, blissfully unaware. I wish I could join him but I'm still walking that line of "are they done puking yet or not." So I wait. We're going on round two of ToyStory.

I'm actually surprised they haven't fallen asleep yet. They're just so mesmerized by the tv, it's odd. Even as they're hunched over a bowl, they try to keep their eyes on the tv. I guess it's an ok diversion from the really sucky part of dry heaves. Except, it's not really a diversion. They're still painfully aware that it's no fun at all.

It always works out that the Kong isn't home for this stuff, either. He's got a crazy work schedule this winter so anything home related falls in my lap. Except the snow shoveling. He's done all that. But the regular stuff, plus Christmas shopping and now barf-o-rama, that's all me. I'm not sure we're gonna make it for family stuff tomorrow. We probably shouldn't do family stuff. You know, to keep the germs contained.

So fun.

I just wanna sleep.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When the kids are grown...

When the kids are grown the house will be clean.
'Til then, make a path.

I love this saying.

I came across it about 7-8 yrs ago, I think. It suites me.

I'm not completely domestically challeneged. I mean, I can clean and be tidy and I like to be organized... but I'm a FAR CRY from the obsessive compulsive cleaner my MIL is. My mom wasn't a bad housekeeper, but 'anal' would not even make the top 100 in words I would use to describe her home-keeping qualities. I wasn't raised in that sort of magazine quality tidybowl wonderland. My dearest hunka hunka burnin' love, Kong, however, was. The kind of clean where you scrub the kitchen floor on hands and knees kind of clean. (I remember my mom doing that... once... when her anal housekeeper mother was coming for a visit. She hand-waxed the kitchen floor. I don't recall any other time she did that. Not to say it didn't happen.) And, his mother is also very gifted in the crafty/home decorator department, so everything always looked beautiful, and back then, she wouldn't probably have let you in the door even if you were on fire or being chased by an axe murderer if there was one thing out of order. (She's a bit more relaxed now.) Given the differences in our upbringing, my hub had different expectations. Expectations of me and what our house "should" look like. Since we, um, cohabitated dated for 3 yrs before marriage, he knew that it wasn't going to be like that with me. That didn't change him wanting it that way, though.

Ah, how much has changed. lol

Not to say that I don't strive to be clean and tidy and clutter free (a MAJOR issue), but some people just seem to be gifted in this area, and I am not one of them. It's harder for me, not automatic. I think it stems off my procrastination tendencies - the whole "I'll deal with this later" pattern. But I digress. Actually, having many monkeys is probably challenging me to be better, work harder, at achieving and maintaining domestic blissdom. (Thus, the entry way project that I almost but not quite demanded pre-baby.)

I will forever deal with piles and putting things away now rather than later (when multiple small people are screaming for supper, it's easier to pile up all those things on the table in one fell 3-second swoop and set it aside for "later" than to take 15 minutes to "deal" with it all, in effort to curb the madness). It's a bad bad habit. Worse than nail biting. But I have grown and improved, and I do that to "please my hubby" and to challenge myself. It just feels good to have a clean home.

Though I'm sure it would feel even better to have a home that actually has storage. Like closets. And cabinets. And with an upstairs bathroom. But I'm happy I have a home at all. Some don't. So I count my blessings there.

Today, I recalled this saying, after my 2 babysitters, 3 of her sisters, and her mom, showed up unannounced, to see the baby. (Boy am I glad I had clothes on.) And there we stood, them looking upon my as-is house, with laundry piled 2 feet high, taking up chair and couch. Dirty diapers on the floor next to the garbage can (I will never be a basketball star). Toys strewn from here to kingdom come. And my ever-cluttered entertainment center that is the bane of all catch-alls. Nevermind the counter full of dishes etc. I am who I am. Tidy is not my strong suite. I have 5 children, one of which is in the "major time suck" stage, suck being the key word - as in suckle, not aweful. Another who is busy, naughty and 2, as if that needs any more explanation. And a third who just loves to play her heart away and leave a path of her creative juices fancy dresses.

So... when the kids are grown, or at least all in school, the house may, or may not, be clean. Til then, you'll just have to love me for who I am, and make a path to the couch. I sort of promise there won't be anything dangerous or gooey there. I would say it would be Lego-free (cuz every parent knows how much it hurts to step one one of those things) but that would be last week. This week, it's a complete dangerzone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In what should be a FB status posting...

 The good thing about Danskin moisture wicking apparel that you never thought of before is...

... the shirts are good not only for keeping moisture off your body, but it also does a mighty fine job of not displaying such moisture. You know... like sweat... or breastmilk leakage.

You're welcome.

A very handy characteristic when you are at your childrens' school "Holiday" program, baby in sling, and about 20 admiring adults are swarming, and checking out your baby, which consequently, is resting right next to your, um, leakage.

And you clearly see why I didn't post that as my FB status. Seeing as a certain riot of sorts errupted the last time I mentioned breasts or pumps or things of that nature.

Have a good day. My ever-ravenously hungry boy is calling. LOUDLY.

Oh, and thanks to Heather for the shirt. I can already tell I'll be wearing this one a LOT.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Full Circle Moment

I had two conversations this evening, in which I had opposite perspectives, that collided into one great defining and teaching moment for me.

I love those. It's like a big fat HELLO! from God.

I was talking to my mom on the phone about another family member. I was remembering how, growing up, this person was a great listener, and that was something that impacted me positively. I always knew that I could go to them to talk, and be listened to, that what I had to say mattered, my thoughts and feelings, there was no judgement, no "parental"-like argument about what I should/should not do. It gave me the chance to think through my own thoughts and come to my own, maybe slightly guided, conclusions about life, love and all that lay in between. There was no need on the part of the other person, as my mom eloquently stated, to be the professional, the fixer, the solution finder. Instead, they offered love and support in the form of a listening ear.

At another point in the conversation, my mom made a statement about remembering who we are in Christ, that I am a child of God, and that's where our identity lies, not in our profession or status or whatever marker society has flagged for us.

Fast forward about 20 minutes when I put the kids to bed. I had lost my temper, George getting the brunt of it, in my frustration over last-minute "I'm hungry's" and the never ending stalling about going to bed. After rescuing Mr. Huggyface from the dreaded couch pillow that attacked him while I was upstairs (poor guy was wailing something fierce), I retreated back upstairs to re-check on things. Girls were tucked, Koko lovingly reading a story to Cheeks, Boots was zonked, and George asked why I had come into his room. This just led into him getting a very sad lip, and I knew I needed to apologize for my temper and hand out a few hugs to smooth over then jagged edges my flare had left behind. Boy, I just didn't know what was coming.

George has never been a fan of school. There are a million and one reasons why, all valid, but as a parent I get tired of the whining and complaining and obstinance in regards to all things school related. Undeniably, my listening skills go flying out the window; I just don't want to hear it anymore. And the same applies to "mama's time", when all kiddies are supposed to be in bed, and one trots down with reason #547 as to why they should stay up or can't fall asleep, etc. The last thing I want to do is listen to more kid stuff. I want to be selfish and have "me" time and relax, do what I want, have a nice snack, etc without interruption, without someone demanding/needing something from me. I do not want to hear about how he hates math or whatever the case may be. But tonight, I knew I needed to sit, hug, and listen.

There's nothing that pulls at your heartstrings more than when your child, alligator tears streaming and sad lip protruding, says he doesn't have any friends, no one likes him, and no one will play with him. My first inclination was to ask why, and what can you do, etcetera and so on. You know... FIX. But this became a very circular conversation, in which I eventually just said, well, sorry and go to sleep. Loving, eh?

So down I trotted, babe in arms, to have as much "me" time (on FB) as I could, dismissing the complaints of my eldest child. But as I sat down at the computer, the mommy guilt set in. What did I do? What could I do? What was it that we may have done wrong in parenting? Were we not rich enough? Cool enough house? Fun enough parents? Have we failed at providing good examples of friendship relationships? Is there something wrong with my child? Was this because I was not a "popular" kid in school? Was I passing my "misfit"-ness along to him, to suffer the social torment I experienced from third grade on?

Such heavy questions.

It was a comment from a Facebook friend that zinged in and hit the bulls eye, smack on center.

"Just hug him and tell him how much u love him and remind him how much God loves him too!"

Listen, affirm his feelings, remind him of the truth, love. Do not fix.

Not that as a parent we can't do things to help, but ultimately the best thing is to let them figure out how to "fix" things themselves.

By this time he had come downstairs to continue the argument as to why I should let him stay up late and skip school. So I got up and went to him, gave him another hug. I told him that I was sorry he had hard times at school, that people saying mean stuff to him hurt my feelings too because I knew what a great kid he was, and I love him so much, and so does God.

And then, he went to bed with not much arguing.

A very big reminder to listen first, love more. But don't rush in to "tell him all the stuff he needs to know in this life lesson." He'll figure it out, I'm sure. Life has a way of working itself out. My ability to listen to him, to offer my attention and my love, to teach him who he IS, that he has worth in my eyes and in God's, speak more to his heart than any grand schemes at play dates and friend making I could conjure up.

Bingo. Past and present unite. And I just reminded myself of what kind of parent I want to be.