Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Mother's Day

I have been trying to write this post for over a week now.
But every time I have sat down to write, nothing came.
Or what did wasn't worth keeping.
And so, this unintentional break from writing has just kept on.
Maybe I have just needed some space.
Space for a lot of little things, and especially space to think.
Being a mom has been hard for me lately.
Maybe you've met those moms who say things like, "I just can't leave my kids.  I love to be with them so much."
And they never seem to tire of all the pawing, and pulling, the "mommy, look at this," and the endless needing that is mothering.
Well, I'm not that mom.
I dream of a whole weekend to myself.
Where no one is pulling on any part of my body.
Where no one asks me to look at them.
Where no one needs me for anything.
Because sometimes, I get tired.

You can think I am a total jerk now.
It's OK.
Because I know I love my kids.
I know I love to be with them.
I love them so much I choose to keep them home with me ALL THE TIME.
And I love home schooling them.
Honestly, the further along we're getting in school, the more I love it.
Teaching my kids is the most interesting, exciting and creative thing I have ever done with my life.
But that doesn't mean that sometimes I really, really need a break.
It's just that it's hard for me take one.

And so, I had big plans for Mother's Day.
It's the one day I can ask for a break, and not feel an iota of guilt about it.
It's ridiculous, isn't it?
This guilt we feel, as mothers.
It's especially ridiculous given that I am married to a man who would give me a break anytime I ask.
Or even if I don't ask.
There have been days when he comes home from work, takes one look at me and says, "I'll feed everyone and put them to bed.  You need to get out of here."
And yet, I feel guilty for taking off.
Because we should all be together.
We should have more family time.
Davy needs me.
Let me just help you get every one's teeth brushed before I go.

I went back and forth with my plans for Mother's Day.
I really wanted to go somewhere by myself.
Terrible, right?
But in the end, I wanted to be with my kids more.
How could I look at them and say, "thanks for the cards kids, and now I'm taking off!  I just don't want to be around you, the people who made me a mom."
I couldn't do it.
I'm glad I didn't.
Because the time we had together was very sweet.
And, like every older mom who saw us together that day told me, I know I need to enjoy it now, because they'll be gone before I know it.
It won't be nearly so hard to read a magazine from cover to cover in one sitting then, will it?

Unlike the imaginary plans I made, the day was far from perfect.
I stayed home from church with a sick Davy.
And instead of his long morning nap, he took a short one.
My leisurely breakfast and magazine reading came to an early end.
When the Aaron and the big kids came home, I made everyone lunch.
We fed the kids first, so we could have a slow, quiet lunch while the kids played.
When we sat down to enjoy it on the patio, all the kids, plus a neighbor kid, crowded around asking for bites.
The kids bickered.
Something Aaron said triggered painful memories and I cried.
Then we got in a fight.
It was totally my fault.
Davy took an extra long afternoon nap to make up for his short morning nap.
I saw our time to do something fun together dwindling away as I "mad" cleaned the house.
The kids made a water park in the backyard while they waited for Davy to wake up and made a muddy mess.
I wanted to storm off and enjoy my Mother's Day.
I deserved some time to myself, dang it!

But thank God for that still small voice that said, "the day doesn't have to be ruined.  Ask for help.  Say you are sorry.  Stop being so proud and stubborn."
There are many things about being a mom that I am thankful for.
But at the top of the list is how having all these kiddos in my life has forced me to acknowledge my imperfection.
What I mean, is that I have had to let go of the illusion of control that has governed my life for so long.
No matter how I strive, I cannot achieve it.
The perfect world I construct will fall apart.
Circumstances will let me down.
My husband will let me down.
My children will let me down.
I will let myself down.
Being a mom has forced me to come face to face with my own frailty.

When everything goes just how I want, it is easy to think I've got my life under control.
I don't need help because I can do it by myself.
But there are 4 little people who daily hinder things from going "just how I want."
Because they want things to go just how they want.
And that's when I want to throw my hands up in the air in defeat.
Sometimes I do.
But then I remember.
I am not alone.
That's when I fall on my knees in acknowledgement of my utter weakness.

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  
11 Corinthians 12: 9-10

My weakness brings me to Him.
I am grateful for that.
I am grateful for them.
I am grateful for a day redeemed.

So here it is, a Mother's Day in lots and lots of pictures.
I'm so very glad for these lives that have so richly blessed mine.

On Mother's Day:
I woke to kisses, hugs, sleepy Happy Mother's Day wishes, and cards.
Each one hand drawn and very precious.

On Mother's Day, my husband got donuts for the kids,

and scones and lemon curd for me.
And my favorite magazine.
He is an incredibly thoughtful man.

On Mother's Day this boy with the runny nose kept me home from church.

And he woke up early from his nap.

He wanted to play.

And I thought, "this is the only Mother's Day I'll have with this Baby Davy.  
Next year he'll be big."
So I got on the floor and played with him.
We had fun.

On Mother's Day I made lunch using lettuce and arugula from my Mom's garden.

It was the perfect lunch.
The kids all waned bread and salami and brie cheese.
And I remembered, they just want to be with me.
So I shared with a smile.

On Mother's Day, the kids made a water park in the backyard.

2 buckets, a bench and a sprinkler.

And lots of laughter and squeals and utter happiness.

I love these crazy people.

On Mother's Day the kids asked, "can we go to that place we took you last year for Mother's Day?  It was fun."
And I said, "yes!"

On Mother's Day I let them play some arcade games, even though I despise arcades.
And they loved ever second of it.
And they crowded into a photo booth with me.
Because it was Mother's Day.
And then we rode the Ferris wheel.

"Remember last year, when the bar almost didn't fit over your belly, Mommy?"
"Remember last year when Davy wasn't here yet?"

On Mother's Day we took the ferry across to Balboa Island.

Because it is my favorite.

And the light was golden.

And the boys pretended they were Navy Seals, running an obstacle course across the sand.

And this little girl would not be left out.

She ran behind them the whole way, singing.
She never gave up.
She makes me smile.

On Mother's Day I found a wall that was perfect for pictures.

We wandered the main drag.

And we wondered, which one is best?

On Mother's Day I didn't make dinner or clean up dishes.
We got pizza.

And we ate it next to the water.
And Lilly dropped her pizza in the sand.
And Aaron ate it instead of me.
Because it was Mother's Day.

We stayed until dark.

And my photo booth pictures really only show me and various bits and pieces of my children's heads.
But I love it anyway.
Because I look so happy to be with them, my babies, on Mother's Day.

Love from,

PS.  On re-reading this post by the light of day, I realize I make it sound like I don't take time for myself.  
That's not true, I do.  
I know that getting out and having time to be me without anybody attached is helpful for my sanity. 
And it just makes me nicer.
But that doesn't mean it is easy for me to do it--even if I know it's good for me.
I don't really like to go out at night and leave my husband.
I haven't seen him all day and I miss him.
And on the weekends, I enjoy us all being together.
Aaron's been gone all week and I miss our time as a complete family.
Is this not normal?
I think it is.
It is the tug of motherhood.
We long for a break, and yet.....we love them so much we can't help wanting to be with them.
There is no easy solution.
All I know is that I am glad I chose them on Mother's Day.
And that I am still dreaming of that weekend away.
Palm Springs would be nice.


annieglan said...

I think mommy time is super important. Don't be afraid to go out. I go to bible study once a week, and have a girls night once a week. The hubs and I have a date night at least once a month. And, he puts the kids to bed every night. I don't feel guilty about this. I think it makes me a better mom. Don't forget you :)

lifeaspam.blogspot.com said...

I love the saying "I choose you." God says it all the time. Moms say it, and wives, dads and husbands. Little ones say it when they think they want to marry their moms and live with them forever.
And I think, maybe it's ok if sometimes we say it to ourselves once in a blue moon at least.

Tiffany Joan said...

the conflict between personal free time and family time is always an issue for us homeschooling mamas. your not alone in this. yes, the hardest part of parenting is dying to self just like marriage is. it is also hard because it reveals our true selves. ouch. I speak for myself :) don't grow weary in well doing:) before you know it your kids will be 6 mo to a year older and these rough patches will barely be remembered. keep up the good work:) sorry this was long :)

Annette said...

Thank you so much for this post. I too dream of alone time, only to turn it down/go and feel guilty about it when my wonderful husband offers it to me. And Balboa is also one of my most favorite places! <3

Betsi* said...

My mothers day was a bit less than what I expected at first as well. We all got ready for church but had to take a miss when my boy had a horrible meltdown. In the end we got to go to lunch at my parents and do a wee bit of shopping. I still got mom guilt because I got frustrated at the boy and had a cry in my room in the morning. But the Lord redeemed it all and I ended the day snuggling him and reading Little House to the boys.

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang said...

I think you are great. Your love for your children always pours out of your posts!

Rachel Reeves said...

Our Mothers Days were similar.

I feel you.
And think your post was just perfect-even without the clarification. We all get you <3

melissa said...

I am only just beginning my journey into being a mom. I'm pregnant with my first. Thank you for your honesty about motherhood. I can see myself returning to your words in the future. Isn't God wonderful when He speaks to us and changes our hearts? I probably would have thrown in the towel after lunch and ran off to pout somewhere. I'm so glad you got a chance to enjoy the day instead and with the people you love.

Liberty said...

Love this post. This is always a struggle for me as well. Such an inspiring read.

I love all the special places around LA that you share with us! If God continues to open the door, it looks like we will be making the move to your stomping grounds this August. I am keeping your blog as an archive of all the different places we need to visit.

Thanks for your ministry!