Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On Feeling Defeated

I cried in front of my kids today.
The past 2 months have been a struggle for me.
I have been trying to find a rhythm and thus far, my rhythm is still a ways off.
I have been trying to eliminate some of the things in my life that felt like they were weighing me down--and trying to focus on the things that matter most.

Some of the things weighing me down were tangible--like the clutter in closets and drawers, in Aaron's studio, in the laundry room, and in the garage.
Basically everywhere.
I have tackled one space at a time.
It feels like it is taking forever, but I have to admit, I am pleased with the results.
There are a lot of people in this not so big house, and we have to be really practical about fitting us, and all our stuff in here.
Turns out, we need way less stuff than we have.
And the less stuff we have, the less we have to pick up and put away, and wash and fold, dust and wipe, and find room for.
Less of that stuff means more time for living.

Other of the things weighing me down were not so tangible--like how I organize and spend my time during the day, trying to add more of the things I and the kids love into our school days, keeping better order in my home so I am less frazzled and cranky, and finally, spending more time with my husband.
All this has meant a lot less time for blogging.
And that has been hard for me.
I love to blog.
In the past, when Aaron would ask to play a game of cards  (crazy fun card game, by the way) I would want to finish up a blog post first.
He was second, my blog was first.
This has been changing and it is good.
Very good.
But, also, I am not afraid to admit, hard.
At the end of the day, I crave me time.
But when I chose we time instead of me time, (how cheesy does that sound!) I am happier.

Those other areas have required some adjustment as well.
For example, if the kids and I get the beds made and do a 15 minute sweep of the house right after breakfast and before we start school, then the day is instantly off to a better start.
This means that I can't laze around with my cup of coffee and peruse a few blogs after breakfast.
I like to do that.
But a smoother start to our morning, and therefore day, has proved to be better than that time spent with my coffee and reading blogs.

Also, I'm making an effort to put things away, right away, every time.
It's the only way those closets and drawers aren't going to become overwhelming again.
It also means that I have to teach my kids that this is the way we do things around here and actually make them do it, instead of grumbling about all the work they make for me, and then doing it myself.
Over and over again.
It means calling them back inside when they've left art supplies strewn across the floor of the school room and saying, "you have to put them away before you go out to play."
It means training them.
It means work at the front end.
But I have high hopes that someday they'll require less of me reminding them.
(maybe when they're married?)

By restructuring our school day, doing the grunt work first (math, reading, copy work) we have more time to spend on the subjects they adore.
We have more hours to spend reading all the amazing books on our reading list.
Every time we read, James says to me, "Mommy, I love it when you read stories to us."
Right now we're reading The Tempest (from this book), A Tree in the Trail, Leif the Lucky, Joan of Arc, Little House in the Big Woods for Lilly, Stuart Little for William, and James and I are starting Robin Hood.
It's a lot of reading.
But they all love it.
Just like they love art.
And nature study.
When we can make it outside for the afternoon, to paint and draw, to swing on a rope swing, in our backyard or somewhere else, to collect wild flowers and hunt for owls, then we are doing the kind of schooling that we all long for.
The kind of schooling that is the very reason I home school.
And the kind of schooling that wasn't happening nearly enough because I was getting weighed down by so much of the stuff in my life.
And some days, like the day in these pictures here, we do it and it is amazing.
And I feel so good.
I feel inspired.
I feel on top of the world.
I feel like I am doing the very thing I was meant to do.

And then there are other days.
Days like today.
Days when I feel defeated.
When I have finally caught up on the gigantic pile of laundry--the take 6 people camping pile of laundry--and decide it would be a good day to wash the sheets.
And then the kids have a water fight and there are beach towels to wash, and then there is poop on the shower curtain (yes, poop!  what the heck!) and suddenly, my empty laundry basket is spilling out onto the floor of the laundry room again.
When we rake the backyard of avocado leaves, and sweep the driveway, and hose camping sand from the patio and put all the backyard toys away, and an hour later, those same toys are strewn about everywhere, along with dishes from lunch, and some candy wrappers, and it all looks like nothing was ever cleaned up.
When we're doing math, and Lilly interrupts, and climbs on William's chair, and he yells at her to get down, and I yell at her to sit still, and James is trying repeatedly to get my attention, and Davy woke up too soon from his nap.
When we miss yet another family dinner time because of baseball practice and the kids are eating hot dogs and getting into the tub when they should be getting into bed.

Yes, sometimes, I feel like this is all a big waste of time.
What am I even doing?
"Lilly never eats the bun, " I tell Aaron while I'm feeding Davy his dinner.  "Just cut up the hot dog for her."
"But I wanted it like Wiiiiiiiiilliam," she cries when he sets her plate in front of her.
"Here," I snap, "have William's other half.  He's full."
She takes the plate, promptly pulls the hot dog out of the bun, and begins to eat.
I look at Aaron and say, "sometimes I feel like my life is an exercise in futility."

And you know what?
Parts of this life are just that.
The sweeping up of crumbs, the washing and folding of laundry, the cooking of dinners and the washing of dishes, are always going to be there and are always going to be done again.
But the other things, the reading of good books, the time spent making art on our comfy quilt, the playing of cards with my man, the training, the discipling, the loving them as best as I can, and the real living of life together, those parts are not futile.

When I cried today, I told them I was frustrated.
They knew it already.
And they said they were sorry.
It wasn't their fault really, but they said sorry anyway.
Because they love me.
Then later, when I cried again, and told them I was sorry for being impatient and not treating them with kindness, they said they forgave me.
Because they love me.
I could walk away from that feeling defeated.
I could tell myself that I messed up again--that I had to apologize for being a jerk of a mom.
But I am not defeated.
I am thankful.
I am thankful that my children keep me humble.
I am thankful that they are daily examples to me of grace.
I am thankful that tomorrow is a new day.
I am thankful for six hundred and fifty-fourth chances.

The hymn we are memorizing this month is, Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?
The second verse feels just perfect for me right now:
"Are you walking daily by the Saviour's side,
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucifed,
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?"
I am thankful that I don't have to do this on my own power, because then I would be defeated for sure.
Instead, I need to rest each moment in the Crucified.
(for an awesome blue grass version of this hymn, go here)

We all, at times, feel defeated.
Maybe in our marriage, our job, friendships, at school, with our weight, our habits, or in so many other parts of our life.
It's not just mothering that leaves us feeling that way.
And, so, as I walk these days, I cling to this verse: 
"In this world you will have troubles, but take heart!  For I have overcome the world."  John 16: 33.
Take heart, my friends.
We are not defeated.
Love from,

*All these pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, when we spent the afternoon at one of our favorite spots, Gum Grove park.  
The wild mustard was all in bloom and I felt like I was walking down a road in heaven as we walked the path lined with it.  
We saw our owl friend and found one of his feathers.  
We found a new rope swing and tried it out.
It's much higher and faster than the old one, and William scared himself silly on his first ride, but he was laughing when he finally came to a stop.
We laid out the quilt and drew pictures of the owl feather and the wild flowers we picked.
We listened to a symphony of bird calls and watched hawks and hummingbirds circle over our heads.
It was the perfect kind of day.
And I am forever grateful for the memories made on days like this.

School days 2012


Pam... said...

I know.
About that blog draw and about wondering if what I am doing counts...
About trying to let go of me and choose God and family...
About decluttering and trying to keep the good habits...
About how wonderful the days are when I let go of 'my agenda' and walk in Him and theirs...
and it becomes mine.

I know about falling in the dirt and (by God's mercy)getting back up and learning from it. That humility looks better on me than pride, and meekness better than anger. God is teaching me that too. We are learning the same lessons, praise God for his patience and gentle spirit.

Alicia said...

girl, if i could fly over there and give you a big ol' hug i would in a heartbeat. i hear you loud and clear here. can i just offer a little encouragement? 1. look at your kids. they are all in prime-time busy stage! i hate that feeling of, "ahhhh, it's all clean." then five seconds later, "oh my gosh!!! it looks like i did nothing!!" hate that. but they're busy. you'll never regret this time with them. 2. it's may. it's the end of the school year. we're allll iching for some summer. 3. one thing i do to get some me time (which we all need desperately) is get up before the kids. i always have a better day when i'm up a good hour before them. now my kids sleep til almost 8. so if your kids get up at 6am that might be difficult...but even if they do, i'd tell them to stay in bed till 7 :) for real...i'm mean like that.
ok. that's my mile-long comment and some encouragement for you. you're a great mom. it's just hard. don't be hard on yourself :)


Katie @ minivan diva said...

I always relate to your posts and feel like you are experiencing similar things that I am as a mom. I think most moms are in the same situation, but it is just hard to be honest about it. Thanks for your transparency.

Anonymous said...

I love that you are human. It's OK to cry in front of the kids - they realise that you are human, and they are amazingly resilient. Several years ago I had a similiar day and just could not cope after I went to the bathroom and came out and my 3 kids had thrown their dinner all over the table and floor (hamburger meat - we all it mince - a real pain to clean up). I'd had a long day and just reached my end and I cried. But I didn't just cry, I had to take it up to another level. I literally threw myself on the floor of the dining room and sobbed laying there. The room went totally silent except for me crying my heart out....then suddenly they all burst into laughter and laughed till they cried. It's been about 3 years since then - and every so often they all say "remember that day mum threw herself on the floor and cried" and they still laugh. At the time I thought I'd be scarring them for life - but instead its a funny family moment of when mum was human and acted like them (when they least expected it). At least they have a sense of humor. Hang in there - laughter will come.

angie said...

So nice to read that I'm not the only one with a ton on my plate. There is no me time or for that matter family time. I always feel that the days go by too fast and that there is way too much to ever accomplish. Reading this was refreshing... I needed to know that other moms yell (hate, hate it when I do that to my kids out of frustration), have kids going to bed way too late (even missing bath because of how tired I am)and picking up constantly when I should be spending time with the ones I love. I hope you're able to find balance. Thanks.

Mommy Tam-Tam said...

I can't tell you how reading this just now touched me. I feel like I'm in this same place. I cried in front of my son today too. Seeing your faith working in your family encourages me so much.

thank you for being open, vulnerable, and beautiful.


UnlazyMom said...

I love your blog. Thank you so much for your honesty. I too feel defeated many times. It is so easy to beat yourself up about everything, but at the end of the day, the fact that I'm home with my kids and teaching them and learning with them means so much to me. And I know they love it too (most of the time). You are an inspiration.

Julie L said...

I have been having many days like this. My life is full of love and joy with my husband a 4 little ones, but sometimes the chaos and clutter get in the way. I feel like I am so far behind in the daily chores and up keep of our home- it seems so unorganized- it can be very frustrating. I often find myself procrastinating by reading blog after blog, pinning ideas of things I want to craft, sew or crochet. I really struggle with wanting me time to be creative.

Thank you for sharing the real you, it feels good to know I'm not the only one who feels this way and who sometimes cries in front of her children too.

Thank you for posting your photos too, it's given me inspiration to plan a nature filled outing with my family- maybe this weekend. That would be really nice for Mothers' Day.

Happy Mother's Day Greta!


by the way my youngest is about a week younger than Davy and he is waving too. So cute :)

Betsi* said...

I get it! My prayer now in the chaos is "Father show me what you're doing. Right here in my mess and desperation" And he is faithful to answer. Just as I am training my kids to be life long learners, I am trying to be more in tune with the great Teacher.
But sometimes I still cry for frustration too. <3

Adrian said...

I really enjoyed your honesty in this post. I have had too many a day like this recently and I have had overwhelming feelings of defeat. I appreciate that you wrote this because sometimes I feel like all the other moms have it so together and I'm just a mess. I know these rough days and moments will pass but it's nice knowing someone else has them too. Thank you for sharing.

meg + andy said...

Oh greta, i just love your blog. I got all teary reading it because you are just SO relatable. So many of us are experiencing the same frustrations and struggles, highs and lows and sometimes it just gets to be too much, but i SO love your perspective and example. It doesn't dwell in defeat but gets back up and tries again. Thank you and here's a big hug for you! :)

Four Flights said...

I love reading Greta; I wish i had more time to sit down and reply, but just wanted you to know that i just sat here and read of your last posts on both of your blogs and even though our journeys with schooling and such are different, our journey of mothering is the same. Much love, Andrea

kim said...

Greta, thank you for such a heartfelt post. I am almost in tears. I can completely relate to what you are going through and I so admire your honesty and perseverance. Especially after I just read another home schooling blog that made me want to puke and made me feel so worthless.....her kids are reading way above grade level, never fight, the house is clean, and she knits her baby's underwear (just kidding). Thank you for being so genuine and inspiring. Hugs from Montana!

Jeanette Frump said...

i have nothing to say that hasn't already been said by you, or the other commenters. All I want to say is, Thanks! Thanks for being transparent. Thanks for making your readers aware that not every mom on the internet blogs are perfect and have no troubles...it's a common misconception! Everything you wrote, struck a chord in me...something I've been struggling with! The words of encouragement were much needed! God Bless You

Anonymous said...

I was just sitting at my computer at work, thinking, I'm feeling defeated. So I googled "feeling defeated" and came across this post.

Thank you, Greta, for sharing.