Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fantasy Land

  I have so many amazing intentions. In my ideal world, my alarm goes off at 4:45am, and I get up, nurse the baby, chug some water, take my vitamin d and probiotic, get dressed, and then exercise. Reality: My alarm goes off at 4:45, I shut it off and go back to sleep until the baby needs me or my husband's alarm goes off. Except for the two days a week I meet my running partner. Then somebody else is relying on me and my commitment to them gets me up and at 'em with bells on. Maybe the key is having some one waiting in the living room to exercise with me on my non-running days? Now to get my brain to realize that ME- the one needing attention, strength, and health- is waiting in the living room Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
   The next steps in my days are meals. Let's pretend my family gets amazing breakfasts each morning. Something I've planned and have prepared for them with love. Reality: When I drag myself out of bed(or chipperly skip out of the shower on my running days), I stare into the fridge and figure out what goes together as a cohesive meal in the time I have before Husband leaves for work. I try to make it a before-bed practice of writing on my small white board the meal plan for the next day. That helps, but I only remember MAYBE two days a week. Coincidentally(or not), those days are my running days. Hmmm.
   Follow up breakfast with chores- kids cleaning, me cleaning, pets all groomed and cared for, then we're on to school work. So far this year (so far) we've been great there, but hey- we're only 3 weeks into the school year. There's plenty of time for monotony to take over and failure to enter. Reading, writing, and 'rithmetic(plus art, ASL, music, then Bible co-op class in town once a week) later, and it's usually lunch and a repeat of the breakfast method.
   After lunch, we clean up, play, do any errands or skipped chores, then it's rest time. I try my hardest to get all five kids sleeping at once. On running days, I nap. On all the other days I try to exercise then. It's the getting all five kids to sleep that's key. Well, it's actually getting the baby to nap that's key. When he doesn't, I spend that 1.5 hours in the glider rocking, singing, or nursing, while reading, scrolling social media, and/or answering emails instead.
   Dinner time is usually more thought-out than the prior meals because I have had all day of playing the "stare into the fridge" game for things to have jumped out at me and given me ideas. Husband comes home and we relish his presence, have family dinner, then begin our end-the-day routines. Some nights he has commitments outside the home. Every once in a while I have a commitment. But usually him. Because when do I ever get asked to leave the house without the kids? Ha! Never, save for one sweet friend who notices my rising angst when it gets so bad it shows, and can relate as a fellow homeschooling mom who loves her kids dearly but also needs some mom time when she can get it. Then begins the slow tick-down to bed time. Then it's final chores like picking up toys, showers or baths for whomever needs them, putting away any laundry I've managed to fold throughout the day, hugs, kisses, and lights out for the older four. After that, it's just a matter of time(and rocking, singing, nursing, and swaddling those chubby little arms down so he stops waking himself back up by swinging them) before Little Mister is asleep and in his bed as well. If that's an early night(and not a running day the next morning) I am able to stay up and accomplish things- detail cleaning, connecting with friends who have been put on my heart, lesson planning, meal planning(theoretically), and catch-up from the day. If I'm on my game there, I can knit or sew until I'm ready for bed. The time for bed is rather arbitrary. It's when my eyes no longer stay open or I cannot see through the frequent yawns. Those latter occasions are so rare. I sometimes catch myself on Ravelry(a knitting community online) or Craftsy(likewise, but for all crafts) or Instagram ogling crafting supplies, fabric, yarn, patterns, or the finished projects others have completed, and I remember how it used to be. I had a very successful online business knitting and sewing clothes and things for babies and children. I loved it. It not only supplemented our income, but it gave me a creative outlet that filled me with joy, kept my brain active, and lessened my stress and anxiety. It also helped fill my kids' closets and drawers with clothes. Now my kids' clothes are largely clearance grabs from Old Navy, Gymboree, and Target, and they're lucky if they have a single handmade garment in their wardrobe at any given time. The younger kids have more because they have hand-me-downs. It's wonderfully, completely thrifty and adequate, but it makes me sad to not only not be able to put the love and effort into the garments, but to not see my children enjoying it all so much. Most weekends when my husband is home all day with us, I am able to spend a few hours in my sewing room because we are able to make teamwork out of running the house. It fills my heart so much! But is that it? Am I limited to just a little time on the weekends until my kids are grown? If so, I will accept it as a season with other great joys, but it will be hard to swallow.
   In my fantasy world, I have time and energy to exercise each morning before the house is awake regardless of who waits for me, my family is fed well and it doesn't stress me out, I have the daily quiet time I crave that us not dependent on what else is going on when I need to nurse the baby, my house is maintained(I don't aim for perfection, just function and clean), everyone has clean underpants, and I still have time for my creative outlets. I love my life and those in it. I don't want to sound ungrateful. I am so grateful for every bit of it. I'm just struggling with balance. To care for and nurture my husband and my children is utmost. I am a close second, yet I neglect myself greatly. I'm seeking out what wastes my time each day, and how I can change those habits to change how my time is used. Perhaps if I excise all the time-wasters I can work back in the other things that bring me such joy but have been dropped by the road side along the way. I don't want to be the mom who does everything. I don't want to have it all. I just want to have joy, peace, friendships, health, and fulfillment, and I'm trying to figure out if that is a matter of changing my attitude or changing my routines and commitments.