Monday, November 20, 2006

And Let Us Run With Endurance

Yeah, this whole three kids thing is kicking my butt. I need for that to be normal and okay. That's why I make no promises about posting for now. Any post you get is purely bonus! I feel like a freak show. I always do though. How do other people accomplish so much? How do other people get places on time?! How do other people have two or three times as many kids as I have? How do people have twins?!!! You people driving your carpools with newborns, homeschooling multiple children, working while raising large quantities of children, sticking to any sort of plan and/or budget, getting a fabulous healthy supper on the table at a reasonable hour, dressing your children in "clean" clothes (just kidding, that I do!) you people are cut from a different cloth. Bravo, you people! I will continue to pine away for mere mediocrity!

I was a slow runner. Whilst everyone else tried to win races, I tried to finish races in a less embarrassing time. I was truly slow. My best ever three mile race time was something like 27 minutes. Yeah, 27 minutes. In a race. And that was at the end of my senior year cross country season after training for months with a girl on my team who placed 16th in the state (as a freshman, 3rd by the time she was a senior), not going more than two days without running for three and half years, top shape of my life, nine minute miles. Uh huh. I was working as hard as I could, for worse than mediocre. Such is this whole stay at home mom thing for me. Perhaps I will someday hit a period of motherhood that comes easy, or just easier, that utilizes my gifts rather than constantly stretching my naturally low resources. Hmmm, my gifts? When will my children ever be made from sugar, butter, and flour? Maybe someday baking will come in handy for parenting. Right now, all of homemaking (okay, except the baking, love the baking!) is a great time of being pushed and stretched and purged and sanctified. So I'm not complaining so much because I want it to be easier. Sure I do want it to be easier, but I can see that hard work is good for me. So that's not the problem. It's that I am genuinely trying and just not making much progress; the work is not producing a result. Mostly I'm just embarrassed or something.

It was embarrassing coming in last for those races. I was one time told by a former teammate "you need to really try this year; you can't just get out there and lope around the field this time." Another time, one of the guys on my team started walking beside me while I was running clapping his hands together saying "Come on, Abby! Pick it up! I can walk faster than this!" I told both guys to shut up, in my oh-so-demure way. But I knew that's what people thought, even though they didn't say it. My coach, still one of my favorite people of all time, was really encouraging and always pleased with my best efforts. In the end, I won an award, an award actually invented for me at our school, called the I Timothy 4:12 award. But I never won an actual running award (well, I did end up placing 29th, out of maybe 36, in our district my senior year- the first 30 got trophies! woohoo!) Likewise, my husband is pleased with my homemaking efforts. He says God is too, that God knows where I am and doesn't expect me to be Supermom (oh, but I am!). But I get that feeling, that feeling that people are walking beside me clapping saying "Come on, Abby! Pick it up!" And though no one literally is, you look around and see what others are up to and think they must think I am "loping around the field." After all, my kids were in pjs until noon today. Neither one had a bath for a four day stretch last week. Amabel knows the names of all the cooks on Food Network. We overslept for ballet last week- ballet starts at 11:00!

I really am trying. Just like I had nothing left at the end of a 30 minute race which some girls finished in less than 20 minutes, I have nothing left at the end of a day (and all I do is laundry and nurse a baby!) Maybe I should remind myself of that. When I am making such little progress, I become the guy clapping his hands shouting "Come on, Abby! Pick it up!" I'm not doing enough to please me. I, just like Rhett and Cameron (come on, Courtney, Jennie, Sara, you know you wanted to know who said that!) want to see results to believe the effort is really being made. Well, too bad, I guess. Too bad person that was upset because I was late. Too bad person that thought my children looked frumpy because I didn't have time to put Amabel's hair in a bow and forgot to wipe August's face after breakfast. Too bad person that doesn't understand that one fourth of all my waking hours are spent feeding a baby and that means a lot of things, like grocery shopping and cleaning, don't get done. Too bad person who thought Amabel should have a new smocked dress for church this fall. Too bad, me- most of those were me!

Well, one thing I have always had is endurance. I always finished the race. I may whine and cry and stink at what I'm doing. But I always keep doing. And I will continue to keep doing, though I may come in last! And be encouraged anyone (else) who forgot to brush their teeth today, who has piles of anything and everything all over your kitchen table, who still has not gotten a baby gift to one of your dearest friends whose baby is almost one now, who has no idea what you're fixing for supper tonight, and in spite of it all is exhausted, you are not alone!


Elizabeth said...

Hang in there friend! On Tuesdays and Thursdays(our homeschool days) ALL of us are often in our I do feel like you do when my kids go over to our neighbors' house whose children all wear designer clothes, and look perfect all the time, and I realize Caroline's hair isn't brushed and Jack's face is grimy and gross. And I go back and forth between thinking it's sinful of me to care, and it's sinful of me to neglect my children's cleanliness. All that to say, we definitely do a good job of piling the guilt on ourselves!

Anonymous said...

For what it is worth, Abby, you are in the season of life when I routinely asked myself, "Is this really a big deal?", about just about everything. I think that maintaining your sanity and pleasantness (as much as possible) is way more important to your kids right now than being bathed every night and definitely more important than having a clean house. You are no slacker. We would all be a lot better off if we just took on what we knew what we could handle on a given day insead of punishing ourselves by trying to get too much done. It just isn't worth it. My 2 cents.
annie :)

Aaron said...

Abby: I have no idea how my wife came across your blog. I think through some blogs i check out. I just wanted to say thanks for making her feel like she is not alone. We have one child, Levi. He is great and she is a GREAT mon. but like you feels like she hears people saying "Come on, Camille! Pick it up!"
thanks for sharing your world of being a mom.

Anonymous said...

this is my favorite post of yours that I have ever read. why? because I SO relate - - and i only have two!! I gave my kids a bath tonight out of sheer principle - it had been too long.

My youngest is 15 months and i am just seeing glimpses of myself showing back up. dare we ever have a number 3? scares my to death.

have a happy thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I will be happy to proclaim on the internet that our family looks just like your's, according to this post and I do NOT have a newborn and I only have 2 children. Here are all the things we have done this month or do on a consistent basis also:

-I forget to brush their teeth and mine.
-Brian has made more dinners than I have this fall
-Ellie goes w/o a bow often.
-We have slept in and been late to gymnastics, which starts at 11:30!
-Liam always has oatmeal stuck to his face because it's his favorite and it takes so much time and effort to get it all off.
-My kids are usually in pj's until noon when we don't have anything to do that day
-I have worn my PJs all day and then figured why put on a new pair that evening?
-I'm coming to a sad realization that Ellie won't have a smocked xmas dress this year, b/c i didn't plan ahead and find one in my budget! oh well, God will still be worshipped this christmas season.
-The kids have a 2.5 hour tv marathon on Thursdays so I can clean the house. (one of those things I said my children would never do!)
-Last Saturday we got up for the park and I insisted on Ellie having a bath before we go. Brian thought it was absurd b/c she was going to get dirty at the park. I told him I had to get rid of my mommy guilt b/c she hadn't had a bath since Tuesday!

I could go on Abby, but I don't want to embarrass my husband. Ha! I LOVED your post and we are happy to have as much as we can of you. :)

jennifer said...

Going w/o a bow?? Give me a break! When the boys were little, the pediatrician told me not to bathe them too often because they had eczema. Until just a couple of years ago, I took this as license to not have to bathe them more than once a week. I have been doing better at combing Charis's hair lately, but her hair is so curly, you really can't tell when I comb it anyway. I think that most moms are in the same situation as you. You just don't see them at home before they get the brood out the door. When Elspeth starts eating solid food, you'll start to feel better, though. Keep enduring.

Katherine said...

Hey Abby! I'm so sad I'm so behind on making comments, but I have to say, I only have 1 kid so far, and I am often overwhelmed. I think my whole 1st trimester with this 2nd one on the way, I thought, "I must be crazy! or insane! or both!" I think I'm going to end up like Becky, my younger one 15 months old, and just feeling like I'm getting my footing. The thing about having my whopping 1 kid, I have lowered my expectations way low, and I am learning to take comfort on my overwhelming days, that I am doing what I am able to do & God gives me the grace for the rest. Which is great, because growing up in a home of 2 perfectionistic parents (in different ways) and being the oldest, I never really got what God's grace was. I am so thankful to be learning & experiencing it!

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