I gave you all I’ve got

Sleep deprivation…it’s killer.  It makes me feel like I’m crazy or lazy or out of my mind at times.  Recently, I’ve had a glimpse of the “real” Kelli.  After Owen slept through the night for 2 nights in a row, I woke up feeling refreshed for the first time in 18 months.  I made plans to start exercising…and I actually exercised!!  I completed some projects around the house, I felt like a new woman, or an actual woman again rather than a zombie woman.  I’m desperately praying that I get more of that.  I’m desperately praying that Owen will begin sleeping through the night regularly as well as sleeping later than 5:30am!  I honestly fantasize about sleep, how lame is that?

I hate to admit but I haven’t handled sleep deprivation very well this past year.  I’ve gained more weight than I care to confess and I have acted in grumpy, frustrated, irritated and bitter ways towards my husband and my kids.  I let it get the best of me, I let it consume my thoughts and made me feel sorry for myself.  But what I realized about 6 months ago was I don’t want to look back on this time with regret.  When the boys are 16, I don’t want to look back and think, “yeah, i should have handled that time better.”  I don’t want to have to apologize to my teenage boys for being irritated with them when they were young because I was so stinkin’ tired.  I have friends that remember their moms when they were young being irritable with them all the time, it sticks with you.  I don’t want my tiredness to stick with my boys.  I want my playfulness to be what they remember.  I want them to say, “yeah mom, i remember you chasing us a lot and playing legos with us for hours and cuddling with us on the couch while we watched Mickey Mouse.”

Instead of living out of guilt for what I’m NOT doing, I want to be satisfied with what I AM doing which is giving all I’ve got to being a good mom and a good wife.  I can’t do it all, I don’t have energy for all of it, something has to take the back seat for right now.  But I refuse to let my relationship with my husband and my boys take the back seat.  I wish I was super woman and, on little sleep, had the energy to exercise regularly, make the freshest and healthiest meals, make love more, have a cleaner house and sit down to write.  I’m not super woman, I don’t have enough for all that.  But what I do have, I’ll give, I’ll give all I’ve got.  I will fail, I will disappoint, but I won’t curl up in my bed (like I often want to do!) and check out.  I will keep loving my family and my church, I will keep playing with my boys, I will keep connecting with my husband, I will keep giving myself grace, I will keep asking God for help every step of the way.

Because truthfully, I’ve got very little, and with each night that I lost more and more sleep, that dwindled more and more.  My only choice was to depend on God to make up the difference, and He has, He does, He will.  I want to say to my boys one day, “I came close to losing my mind but God kept it for me.  I came close to shutting down but God opened me up.  I came close to giving up but God said He would  give me all He’s got.   Out of his great love for me, He did.  I know I’m not a perfect mom, I know I made poor choices at times, I know you learned how to ask for forgiveness by watching me.  But I hope you know this one thing, out of my great love for you, I gave you all I’ve got.”

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Courage in the Ordinary

My husband sent me the link to this blog post by Tish Harrison Warren, timely encouragement that was very much needed.  Last night this is how dinner went at our house:  I prepared a meal I knew both of my boys really liked, only to have both of them eat a few bites and be done.  Dustin and I spent our meal scarfing down our food as we tried to coax them to eat more of theirs.  I also played defense with Owen as he likes to put his fingers in my food and crawl on the kitchen table (he wasn’t strapped into his seat because Gram insisted Owen sit on the bench for dinner and Gram sit in the big chair…I’ll never do that again!)

Literally, this was the ONLY conversation my husband and I had during dinner:

Me: “Did you get a lot done today honey?”

Dustin: “Yeah, coming along well.”

That’s it.  That…is…it!!!  Quite a dinner, let me tell you.  These days I feel exhausted- tired from not having a full (6 hours?) nights sleep in almost 16 months!!!  Tired from the repetition and consistency that’s required when raising little ones, repeating over and over again “No fighting over doors!”  “Please don’t growl in Owen’s face, Gram.”  “Owen, don’t put that in your mouth.  Stop playing in the toilet.”

I have another post for another day about the joys of this summer, but for right now, I need more coffee.  Right now, I’m trying to be satisfied with my greek yogurt, blueberries and granola breakfast because what I really want is a donut, many donuts.  Right now I’m trying to get excited about picking up the house (for the 1, 278th time this week) and playing chase with the boys (also for the 1,278th time this week!)

What I wish I was doing was picking up a book for the 1,278th time this week and reading, or laying in bed to sleep for the 1,278th time this week.  Those are my daydreams these days.  Nothing super exciting, just rest and time to myself.  Simple, quiet moments to myself is what I’m missing these days.  The boys get up early…very early…like 5-6am early.  I wish I had just a few quiet moments to myself before the house arose, time to prepare for the day before the breakfast and dishes and clothes and play and diapers and laundry start.  I wouldn’t mind getting up early before they do if I had a nights sleep to feel a bit rested as I arose early.  It’s just a no win right now.

I hope I’m not coming off whiney or ungrateful or lame.  I sure don’t mean to be.  I want to be honest, but not feel sorry for myself.  If I have learned anything from being a parent, it’s that everything is a phase, all hard stages eventually give way to…a different hard stage! Ha!  But at least it’s a new challenge, something different with hopefully more sleep, that’s the stage I’m ready for.

This morning in my devotional reading (done as I watched the boys play in muddy water), I was encouraged by this:

“Jesus sees us, too, but not in a casual, indifferent way.  He feels our pain and He knows our struggles.  You can take comfort in knowing that as you walk the sometimes difficult and painful path of parenthood, His heart goes out to you as well.  Remember that you are not alone.  He is walking alongside you this very day.”

Thank you Jesus for keeping me company every day.

Moms and Monks

I stumbled upon the Momastery blog a few months ago and was immediately grateful for Glennon’s honest writings.  Her posts have encouraged me on multiple occasions.  However, it wasn’t until I read her explanation behind the term Momastery, found here, that my heart was sold- sold on the importance of women sharing our experiences and inspired to strive to regularly share my own.

Glennon writes that motherhood is like a monastery, that while we live in community with other mothers, repeating the same tasks day in and day out, we often feel alone, solitary in the midsts of poopy diapers and temper tantrums.  And while our kids are different, our schedules are different, our philosophies of parenting are different, our fears and joys are universal.  “Momastery is a place to get lost and found. It’s a place to love and be loved. It’s a touch stone. It’s a place to listen and be listened to. It’s a place to make mistakes and say I’m sorry. It’s a place to practice forgiveness.”

I’ll admit, since reading the idea of how being a mom is similar to being a monk, I’ve found a deeper level of meaning to my days.  I’m striving to look at the repetitive tasks as spiritual discipline, as a way to practice love regardless of how I feel at the moment.  I’m striving to look at the mundane afternoon of playing legos and monster trucks as God with us, innocence shared and the simple enjoyed.  While my days are far from glamorous, they are beautiful and completely mine, given to me and for me.

And so at 5pm tonight as I look in the fridge for what to make for dinner, as my kids pull at my legs and whine that they are hungry, I’ll think about all the other moms who are doing the same thing.  And I will think, “I am not alone.  We are in this together.”

Why I don’t hate Mother’s Day

I read Anne Lamott’s thoughts on Mother’s Day entitled, “Why I hate Mother’s Day” (http://www.salon.com/2010/05/08/hate_mothers_day_anne_lamott/).  And I both agree and disagree.  I agree that the way our society celebrates it is…missing the point a bit.  I agree that chocolate and flowers are nice, but if you really want to appreciate me then clean my house!  And definitely don’t wait for this 1 day a year to show the love, give me hugs and kisses throughout the year.  Thanks.

I agree that the act of mothering should be celebrated in addition to mothers themselves.  That those in our lives who have nurtured, loved, and cared for us should be celebrated on this day, regardless of if they are male or female, mother or not.

But i don’t agree that those who aren’t mothers know what it’s like to be a mother, for i surely didn’t.  Upon becoming a mother, I have apologized to friends of mine who were mothers before I was.  I apologized for not realizing what they were going through- for not understanding what a truly sleepless night was and then having 5 of them in a row!  I didn’t realize how unselfish I would be called to, even though many times I have clentched teeth while doing it…but still I do it…and damn it, that should be celebrated.  Because even though I love my kids more than anything, there are days that I want to run away.  There are days that I want to curl up in a hole somewhere and hide and sleep!  There are days that I want to say “F off everyone, I want to do what I want to do!!!”

But I don’t.  Many of us don’t…and for that we should be celebrated.  Not because we are superior beings but because we are doing a really hard thing, unnoticed, and we need encouragement.  We need one day where the world recognizes what is asked of mothers, the sacrifice and exhaustion and worry that comes along with the responsibility of raising another human being.  Sure there are those who we might call “unqualified” that raise kids, who don’t deserve our congratulations.  But regardless of our qualifications, it is by God’s grace that any of us have survived and thrived.

And even if our Mother’s Day sucks, even if we spend the day ignored and wiping poopy butts,  atleast we can say we live in a world that wants to celebrate mothers.  A day that reminds us to celebrate those motherly folk in our lives and a day that hopefully reminds someone else to celebrate us.

I don’t want to hate Mother’s Day.  I want to love it, I want all mothers to rise up and stay- to not run away from our responsibilities, to not abadon those that depend so deeply on us, to resist that urge inside us that says “forget it, I can’t do it, I don’t want to do it anymore.  I want out.”  Cause I know there are millions of us every day who do choose to stay- who choose to let love reign in our hearts and lives one more day.

And for those whose mothers chose to leave, I say God will never leave you.  I say remember to trust the One who was the very first Mother, our Father in Heaven.  I desperately say please believe Him when He calls you His beloved child.  Please believe that.  And choose differently than your mother did.

Because regardless of how great or awful our mother was, we all depend on God for our every breath.  Regardless of how present or distant our mothers were physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is God who sustains us.  It is God who sustains our children.  We are stewards, a responsibility we should take seriously and yet one we hold with an open hand.

And so for all you mothers out there, for all you who want so badly to be a mother, for all you who being a mother is the furthest thing from your mind, for all you who choose to love and care for someone in your life, I say happy mother’s day to you.  keep on mothering.

 

New beginnings…I need them…regularly

I love reading about the Year of Jubillee in the Old Testament.  It was God’s way of giving the Isrealites a new beginning, a time to set straight whatever might have gone crooked, it was hope.  The year of Jubillee communicated to the Isrealites that they would be able to start fresh again, that they weren’t to live trapped by their mistakes or life’s circumstances forever, they would get a second chance.

This is the year of Jubillee for Dustin and myself.  We have been married for 7 years, and it’s time for us to start fresh in many ways.  So much has happened over the last 7 years.  We moved across the country, we are serving in a new church community full time, we have had 2 kids and we bought a house!  Wow.  We have experienced blessing upon blessing.  In fact, we have experienced blessing in the midst of poor choices.  And so, we start fresh.  We accept God’s hope of beginning again and we embrace change.

We begin again with our food choices, our lifestyle choices, and our financial choices.  We are planning for change with intention, thought, prayer, discipline and hope.

I both love and hate change.  I love variety, but laziness often keeps me from true change.  I often dread the thought of making major changes within myself.  However, this year, I am really excited about the long road in the right direction.  I know change is hard at times, but I anticipate the freedom and empowerment I will feel when sticking to our plan.  I fully expect this time next year for my life to look different in some ways.  And honestly, I will be really discouraged if it doesn’t.

So I welcome you, 2013, let’s do this!

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing”
Annie Dillard