Changing my Expectations and Opting for Preschool-Mom Sanity!

Daniel's adorable drawing of Grandaddy

Daniel’s adorable drawing of Grandaddy. Don’t worry. Those things under his nose are supposed to be Grandaddy’s mustache. 

While working on improving the blog and sifting through my old work, I came across this OLD post that I wrote in 2013. I emphasize that it’s from 2013 because I do not want any of you to get all excited and start thinking I’m expecting a baby. There’s no baby. I’m so sorry to disappoint you. Ha!

Such a 'special' phase of life...Waiting in back rooms to keep children quiet during ceremonies....missing things......nurturing your children so they turn out to be good people

Being a preschool mom is such a ‘special’ phase of life…Waiting in back rooms to keep children quiet during ceremonies….missing things……nurturing your children so they turn out to be good people. It is hard, fun, but hard.

I’m sharing this because I want every pre-school mom I know to read it. 

Some of you are like me, and you are busy, busy, busy with those little ones, and you are disappointed that you are not out there saving the world. Or you know, at least serving on the PTA. Ha! Because that’s the same right? But why run yourself ragged? Yes, be involved in the community. You need that to stay sane, but once it gets to the point that you feel worn and empty, start cutting things. You can pick them back up later.

Okay, so here’s what I wrote at the time:

2013

It seems I will really never catch up on my housework now. I had booked myself too full of appointments and such the rest of the week to get much done. Alan is fantastic about helping, only Alan is too busy now to do much either. He had work, cub scouts, and baseball coaching this week. We both did our best, but the fact is that we currently have more work than capable working hours.

toddlers

You know what I think? I think God is preparing us for having four children. Four children, and not one over the age of seven. We need to learn our lesson now to stop signing up for activities, especially leadership roles (that’s Alan more so than me). Most all of my activities are physical maintenance and child rearing (like constant doctor visits). I did sign up to help my friend Margret with Staff Appreciation Week, and I haven’t even been able to be an effective helper! I do feel quite badly about that.

One thing that has been great this year is that I’ve met several more moms in the my neighborhood that also have preschoolers at home. Here I am beating myself up because I cannot do all the things that Joshua’s friends’ moms do with the PTA and volunteering at school, when that is simply not the phase of life I’m in yet! These moms are a few years older than me, with no preschoolers left at home. The fact is we have different roles right now. Daniel and the baby that is soon to arrive (we do seriously plan to name him eventually) are a full-time job.

I had the privilege of walking to my Yoga class (oh, yes, I did sign up for 1 yoga class/week) with Monica yesterday. Monica has a daughter in Caleb’s class. Monica also has a three-year-old, and she said some things that really made sense to me. She said something like, “I just figure for now, while I’m taking care of a little one, I’m just not much use to anyone for much else. Even when it’s not nap time, there’s only so much I can do. You never know what her needs are going to be, or what mood she’s going to be in.”
Oh, yes, never were truer words spoken!

I’m going to finish out the things I am currently committed to (well, as best as I can), and then I’m done. Of course, the Yoga class and the Fitness in the Park class I actually consider to be for my health. There are lots of negative health effects to gaining 50 pounds with each pregnancy, believe me! I’m still not convinced I can change that either though, but ugh I’m so tired of even thinking about pregnancy weight!
I even turned in my resignation for my Sunday school class a few weeks ago. I’m going to do it until the baby comes, and then I’ll just be home for a long time. When I finally go back, I will be attending Alan’s class, since he’s actually going to be teaching an adult class, starting in June.
Gradually, I’ll add back in nursery duty. When you’re breastfeeding you spend a ridiculous amount of time back in the church nursery feeding your baby anyway!

I’m not cutting everything, but it’s time to give my family a little extra grace and time and space to grow in. Reasonable expectations are a rewarding thing to have.
Praise the Lord for our sweet little boys. Can’t wait to meet the new one!

Have you ever gone through a phase where you simplified? Did you see a huge difference? I  certainly did, and I’d love to hear about your experience too.

 

When We Met Matthias: Story of a Military Family

I’ve kept a tiny secret from my blog audience. Well, not all that tiny…8 pounds of secret at least…

military families

Oh, yes! Please welcome little Matthias!! (But no, he’s not mine. I just got to hold him for a while. I’m done, people. Remember?)

No…I didn’t have another baby. I did better than that. We brought this baby home with us, but we haven’t taken leave of our senses. We brought his mama home with us too.

military families

Emma and Matthias

hehehe Aren’t they precious?

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We even took Emma to my favorite place in the world, Point Lobos, a couple of days before she had the baby.

It was just a few weeks, a few of the fastest weeks ever. See, Emma’s husband is a friend of ours, from church, and he is in the military. Church family is real family because many of us don’t have the luxury of having family anywhere nearby.

When you’re in the military, you aren’t the only one making sacrifices for your country. Even your spouse makes sacrifices, yes, most of us realize that. But people often forget who else makes sacrifices…

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living the patriotic life already

Our babies. Our children. Our teenagers. They sacrifice having their military parent there for birthdays, for Christmas–ouch! Christmas, and God forbid, even sometimes for births. Not to mention the service members who never return at all, leaving whole families motherless or fatherless, not just for months or years but forever.

But don’t worry. Emma’s husband, Richard, did actually manage to fly in for 3 days. He was there just long enough to be there for labor, delivery, and a little of the hospital stay before he flew back out again. Babies come no matter what orders dictate. And you can’t plan a family around the military. We decided that long ago. It’s too uncertain. You just pray for the best.

military families

Richard enjoyed his cereal that Saturday morning, as Emma braced herself through the contractions of labor.

God greatly provided for this sweet, new family. I can’t imagine giving birth without your husband there, but it does happen to military families all the time. So glad that wasn’t the case here.

Well, Emma’s labor and deliver went beautifully. But once the baby is born, the work doesn’t end there. And to compound the situation, this young family was also in the midst of moving. We were so happy to get to be a part of it. We simply moved JD in with Dan, and believe me, they loved that, and we made the nursery back into a nursery again.

When I moved into this house, I thought, “Wow! 5 bedrooms! Wow!” It’s a gift to have so many rooms, and gifts are meant to be shared.

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.”  Proverbs 3:27

military families

me and Emma at her baby shower

And of course, Emma and little Matthias blessed us more than we blessed them. It was such a pleasure to hold a newborn again. Did you know that rocking a sweet newborn baby is good for your heart? Oh, it is. They kept giving us thank you gifts, but we didn’t need gifts. This was a wonderful thing to be a part of. I am so thankful. Y’all know I love to be the hostess.

But yesterday morning I drove these two to the airport because they are flying overseas to be with Emma’s parents for a couple of weeks, and then Emma and Matthias will reunite with her husband and move to their next duty station. Matthias is literally gong on tour first to meet all of his people.

military families

Emma said, “Let’s wake him up so he will sleep on the airplane.” Smart momma.

military families

sort of awake

military families

totally unaware that he’s about to fly across the Pacific Ocean

There are no lengths that a military family won’t go to to see the grandparents. It’s such a unique lifestyle. Matthias is 3 weeks old, and he has more stamps on his passport than most of us! Yes, he even has a passport!

military families

Y’all this girl is so brave. She has taken all of this in stride: first baby, husband being away, flying overseas, and moving…Shew! That’s a lot! Her positive attitude was such a blessing.

 

military families

“Wake up, Matthias.” “Ehhhh…”

 

Matthias has gotten a quick introduction into the strange lifestyle that we lead, as military families.

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And in only 4 more weeks our not-so-young-and-little family will also be reminded, as we up-root yet again for our 9th move. Yep. 9th. 

But it’s a great adventure. And I say bring it on. God bless, Emma! Thank you for sharing some time with us! We will miss you all!

Matthias

Bye-bye, sweet baby!!!

 

 

We are not polar bears.

 

polarbears

Being a mom these days feels sort of like trying to accomplish the impossible. Clean the house, feed the people wholesome well-rounded meals, wash the clothes, make fun and elaborate lesson plans, teach the children, exercise, and still look beautiful for your husband when he gets home. Or maybe those are just my issues…

As a stay-at-home mom, one can even be tempted to think that she must do all of this for herself, by herself. “I have no job outside the home, so that means I have to do it ALLLL. This place should look like a magazine, even while children are running all over it.”

Well, that makes no sense whatsoever. Children are exhausting. Toddlers are especially so. They are wonderful and adorable, and I love them so much that we had four of them, on purpose. However, by 3pm everyday, I sometimes look like a pile of emotionally wrought mush, sitting on my sofa, saying things like, “Okay! Who wants to watch a movie!!??? Pick a long one…”

Then I feel guilty when my husband arrives home, and I practically fly out the door to go take a walk by myself.  There’s this one lady I see on my walk, every time, outside playing with her three little boys. What a great momma. She probably thinks I don’t have a clue. Ha! I am so with you, sister! You just only see me when I’m escaping!!! I would tell you that, but I am surprisingly shy.

I thought about this guilt thing yesterday morning, as I was still in bed, and yet I could hear my amazing husband, returning from the gym, and getting John David out of his crib….at 5:30am.  Sometimes I wonder. Is Alan just a way better person than me with infinity more energy than I have?

He exercises at 5 am. Sometimes JD or Daniel, or even both, wake up that early, and Alan puts them in the double jogger, and takes them with him.

Why can’t I do that? Will you ever see me out jogging at 5 am, with two babies in a jogging stroller?

Don’t hold your breath.

Then Alan comes home and even makes those little ones breakfast! Okay, I’m starting to feel super lazy…  But do you know what Alan DOESN’T have to do?

He does not stay home with them all day long every day. After all, someone around here really should go to work… 😉 He does not have to mediate their every dispute. From morning until evening, he is free of diaper duty and meal supervision. He does not have to write their lesson plans. He does not have to teach them reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Nor does he have to make them say “An element is a basic chemical substance defined by its atomic number (number of protons) and atomic mass.”

Daddy does not have to listen to four children take turns crying, falling, whining, or complaining all day long. Oh, that might make my darlings sound bad. They are NOT bad. They are FANTASTIC, lovable children, but they ARE children. Children are not miniature adults. They are more like larvae. They have lots and lots and lots of needs, and whoever spends all day trying to meet those little larval needs will 100% guaranteed be very wiped out by the end of the day.

That’s right. Hug your childcare provider. Seriously. It’s draining.

This is why there are two parents. Some people aren’t that lucky. Many times you can’t help it. There’s only one parent, and you do the best you can do to get by in that situation. That is insanely hard. Every single time Alan deployed, leaving me alone with our children for months on end, I packed my kids up and lived close to family. That whole village thing is no joke. No one should have to raise children alone.

So ideally, there are two parents, and that is by design. We are not polar bears.

Mrs. Polar Bear and her cubbies.

 

What am I talking about with the polar bears? Well, my first-born son obsessed over all things animals for several years. We watched these two polar bear documentaries over and over. I can tell you with great confidence, “Be glad that we are not like polar bears.” Polar bear cubs are raised exclusively by their mothers. The fathers are too mean. They steer clear of the father. If they don’t, he could actually attack the cubs, so it’s important to just stick with mama. Mama Bear does it all.

People aren’t like that. Mama shouldn’t do it all. That’s why Daddy is there. It’s a shared job. I’m so thankful I married an especially great one. I was so extremely careful about who I even dated, for that very reason.

Alan cooks breakfast every morning for whoever is up early with him. Alan gets the laundry started many days. He packs his own lunch. He cleans up in the kitchen. He earns allll of OUR money.  When Alan comes home at the end of the day, he knows that I will probably have supper made, but he also knows that I will be desperate to get out and go for a walk, just to have a little silence. Alan is our number one boy hair comber and toothbrushing supervisor. He is also better at keeping up with Caleb’s medication than I am. We take turns cleaning up after supper. We take turns on a lot of things. We put the kids to bed together, every single night, and we always have.

I’m SO thankful that I have Alan. Taking care of babies and toddlers is a special kind of exhausting. Thankfully, that’s getting a little easier here. Daniel is almost 4!!!  JD is 18 months and is sleeping a little better lately.

Mothers of little ones, hang in there. Enjoy those hugs and cuddles as much as you possibly can, and never feel guilty about your need to hand over those little ones and have alone time. Seize it! What we are doing is something that is bigger than ourselves. It is a selfless but necessary job, and it is so incredibly important.

No one person can do everything. I figure it’s more important to be happy than to do every single thing that “needs” to be done. I guess it’s easy for me to say that since I am not really much of a perfectionist. Writing is something I’ve done for therapy since I was eight years old. Find your therapy. Cling to every bit of good that you can find in your life.

Before you know it, those little ones will be big ones. My oldest is nine now, and he doesn’t need me all the time anymore. He’s actually a pretty good helper. All that work is starting to pay off for me!

Here comes Dan. He still needs me about every 5 minutes. He decides when my fun time is over….yeah, it’s over. Oh well, I suppose I should cook supper too. Let me go see if I can find Alan…. 😉

So thankful for this dad!!

So thankful for this dad!!

 

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