What I have been mulling over in my mind is this idea that we can “over do,” and wanting so desperately to make it untrue. I would like to think that I can run around like a chicken with my head cut off, and just deal with it cause I am one tough mama! Sometimes when random people like to tell me that I have too many children, I want to say something like, yup, it’d prolly be too hard for you. You shouldn’t do it, you’re not as bad ass as me. But that would be conceited and not altogether true, if I’m honest with myself….so…..I just smile and share what a joy and a blessing my family is.
But the question goes unanswered. How far can we push ourselves? There were folks who came across the ocean from Europe, my ancestors, with very little good food or water, and had to tough out many a difficult and trying situation, and if they even made it here to the states, they were lucky. Those people were amazingly strong, and must have died young from all the stress and disease they were exposed to! I wonder though, how much of it was a simple hard-nosed determination that got them through. You’ve heard the expression, “mind over matter,” right?! Well, I think about that a lot, I tend to be a very positive person, but there are days, like today for instance, the kind of days I am beginning to refer to as, “the next day after.”
I know why I feel like crap, because I totally pushed myself on the day before last, did too much ( meeting for homeschool co-op 9am- noon, schoolwork with kids, atrium session at church 2-5:30pm, took daughter out to eat, husband picked up other children, car swap, atrium meeting, fuel meeting for daughter, pick up other daughter from soccer, drop off daughters friend, go home, watch bad sitcoms until midnight because I’m so wired I can’t just go to sleep, wake up on the sofa with fuzzy teeth and a cat for a pillow). Its not that the day after that suffers, but it does a little, its the NEXT DAY AFTER, that really sucks, because as soon as my feet hit the floor, I realize how wiped out I am, and I want to crawl back into bed with a book, and possibly never emerge. I feel justified in being tired. I have neglected to eat well, rest well, and take care of my poor old grand multipara self….and so I slump a little lower and complain a little louder, and boss my children around in a not- very- nice way….. After the coffee kicks in, I apologize if I was too hard on them and try to cheer up by snuggling with the baby and reading her Zin Zin Zin a Violin, because she always makes me laugh when she points out the expressions on the cats faces, and what the different musicians outfits remind her of…..
So I guess my REAL question is: how much is too much, for YOU? What is your limit for outside activities? How do you handle the demands of older children wanting to do many things combined with the natural maternal feeling of pregnancy and babies that makes you want to hole up in your home and bake something?
I think it’s probably different for each of us, right? And there are seasons for going and doing a thousand things, and there are times for rest. Times to recuperate from busy schedules and demanding activities. And times to make up more craziness just because we can!
Sometimes I get down on myself because I wish I could do more, I have so much love to give, and like the Little Flower, Therese of Lisieux said, when she was himming and hawing about how she wanted her vocation to be everything: the missionary, the priest, the nun, the mother, and a martyr. How wonderful it would be if she could do everything for Jesus….All those endless impossible desires ended up making her feel uneasy and stressed. We can hopefully find comfort in our individual vocation, and the calling of the moment.
“Then, beside myself with joy, I cried out: “O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! . . .”
― Thérèse de Lisieux, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
I am clinging to her words and the thought that I can “just be”. “Just be” a homeschooling mom, and let that “be” enough. I am hoping and praying that you can have the same resolve today. Hoping, praying for an inward smile at the life He has given us, together with all of our unresolved questions. To peacefully accept the day with a sigh and drink more coffee. I mean water. Drink more water. Yes. Amen.
Hello? Yes you……reading……can you come up with a set of guidelines? A suggestion for where I should invest my time? What should I let fall away? Feel free to give me those directions, okay?! Great. No one will stop you from commenting. Thanks for reading my blog.
Amen Amen Amen!!! I so so so relate to this. Even though I am not a do it all super mamma. I’m a single, work a busy full time job, fix up an old house, try to be best friends and stay in touch with all my people, do youth ministry for fun, visit grandparents and try to occasionally sweep up the dog hair before it drives me stark raving mad kind of person. Days where I crash (and crash hard) I always call my #superhumanfail One of my friends always reminds me that I am not, in fact, super human so it is okay to have a superhumanfail. Sigh. But I hate finding my limits and I battle heartily against those limits. Fr. Jacques Philippe’s retreat a few years ago was sooo good and one of the things I continue to hear echoing in my brain is to embrace the poverty. Wait what? Embrace the poverty of being limited. tired. And not just fight against it (my typical MO). And somehow, in embracing that poverty, surely we can start to find balance (I wish I had some really wise things to say– I don’t. I’m working on scheduling one night a week I am home and not going anywhere and I hoard my weekends to do the weekend warrior thing at home otherwise I feel totally frazzled at the state of my house and life.) Longest most scattered comment ever. Sorry. What I want to say is: YES! You hit the nail on the head. And I’m praying for you. And do see what you scale back so you can function and live a fuller life (not be scheduled more, but live more- whatever that is for you).
I don’t know what you’re talking about! You are always doing so much, you are super human!! I so appreciate the ways you serve your family and the youth, keep doing those things but always take care of yourself! For some reason I need reminders to take care more than ever. It’s like how can I possibly forget to shower?! There must be something wrong with me!! I think too, as we get older we need to constantly reevaluate what “care” for ourself really means. I need more healthy food and solid sleep than ever before. When I was pregnant with my first few kids I could easily pull an all nighter and then just resume activity the next day with more coffee. Now I suffer and fall asleep while reading to my kids….Gotta do what we gotta do, I guess! Love you Mo!
Awesome. I feel like that all the time and it was super inspiring thanks mom!
Thanks Judah Bug! I love you so much! Remind me to slow down, okay!?
Starting my married life in Italy was helpful in this regard – as my husband points out, the planners you buy over there come with two slots per day – morning and afternoon. And the general expectation is that that’s the number of things that can be done: Two. (Because errands takes more time, bureaucracy takes more time, and even *laundry* takes more time than any of it does over here; and because they don’t have the American obsession that *doing*/productivity is bound up with self-worth). Schedule more than two things in a day in Italy (whether things that are outside of the house or bigger projects) & generally something’s just not going to happen.
Without even explicitly intending it, I’ve transferred that attitude to my life in the USofA. Today, for instance? Grocery shopping (multiple stores, but doesn’t take all morning) in the morning; going over to my sister’s house to help her pack in the afternoon. I am an introvert, and an introvert on the low-energy end of the spectrum, so this approach definitely comes more naturally to me than to many (if not most) Americans, but it gives me time and energy margins that I just didn’t have when I was living a crazy-busy single life – before serious illness knocked me flat, and then Italy taught me how to live more peacefully.
I really like this, Heidi! We used to have a rule that we were a one- activity-a-day-family, and somewhere in the last couple years without a tiny baby and growing demands from the bigs, we have increased our level of activity, ummmm, significantly! I think it’s time to make like the Italians and chill out! xo
hey love! taking deep breaths help and feeling God´s peace surrounding you. i do a whole lot of explaining to my kids, why mom cannot fly and twirl in the air and make impressive cookies right now… and they do need to learn that we have limits and it´s ok to have limits, for their own sake and their own life…. and when a monster plan arrives. find helpers – reach out to the community and find a driver or simply choose to let go of some fun and take the next year around … most things return eventually….. grow your baby, snuggle on the couch and let the kids come to you – make some choc-chip cookies or new playdoh….. or play a game or two or three with them… quality time does not have to involve trips and endless hours in the car…. it will change again… time will be different again… energy levels will even out…. just you wait lill missy just you wait….. i love you!
Thanks Monay! I needed that. I have so many ideas that can really get in my way. I think you are right though. and learning to be peaceful at home is a grace I need to ask God for….I’m sure He will provide! xoxoxo Hey- and you take your own advice there, too! I hope you are resting when you can…
This is so exactly what I’ve been struggling with lately!God has really been working on teaching me to accept my limitations of time and physical abilities and to trust Him to fill in my gaps (I have so many!) It is frustrating, I want to do ALL THE THINGS. With good intention, I love serving others, teaching, praying with friends, being outdoors, cooking, making things and being creative, (not so much cleaningm but alas, I must) the list goes on! Trying to focus on a couple of those things and do them really well, and leaving some margin in my life is not easy for me, but I’m a work in progress. Realizing it is half the battle, right?! Miss seeing you and your beautiful family. Praying for clarity and wisdom in what you spend your time doing!!
Hi Donna!! I miss your beautiful smile!! This is all true for me, as well, so many interests, so little time!! But we do pour so much of that creativity into our little ones, so what a gift that God gave us such a big heart for this work!! Lots of love and ((hugs!))
This post made me smile. I’ve been there. I like Heidi’s idea. Everyone has a different limit. The fact that you’ve recognized that there is one is a very good start. You don’t have to do every good thing. When you start to not feel peaceful, when it’s become an occasion of sin….that’s too far. God bless!
Thanks Rosemary! I wonder, in your experience, did you limit your children’s activities? I would love to hear your suggestions! 💗
Right there with you Jen! Maybe I shouldn’t ask for pizza for lunch at co-op, unless I am willing to help? 🙂 I have been struggling with that recently as well. Between piano lessons, swim, basketball, co-op, all the chores on the homestead, it can be crazy to say the least. When you have figured out how to figure it out, let me know. Really happy I found out you have a blog!
So cool, Jeff! I’m so excited to read your blog, too! I know you have a farm… But wow! You REALLY ARE A FARMER!!! I am wondering now, how many secret bloggers are among us!! Lol! Now, about the pizza, I seriously think that would be a timesaver for all of us, let’s talk to the authorities and see if for next semester we can make that a reality!! 😃
As a father and husband I often lose sight of just how hard my wife works at all the tasks that make up her day. Thank you Jenny for write a post that articulates so well the challenges she faces. I have read or been told how differently the sexes approach their God given vocations, but that is His plan isn’t? A mother can’t fully fill the role of the father just as fathers can’t fully be mothers but together we are a team that is raising the next generation of Gods kingdom. It is a microcosm of each of our relationships with God. Without out Him we can do nothing but through Him all things are possible. I personally have been pushed in my life to do things both physical and mentally I would have thought impossible and have learned, or more factually I am still trying to learn, is that failing is ok. In fact failing is where most of my growth has come. I pray each day that I more graciously accept my shortcoming because they allow God to be more indispensable to my life.
Thanks Josh!! Yes, God blessed you with a beautiful and capable wife, you are a lucky man! I really liked what you said about learning by failing! It seems like pretty much everyday I have that experience, and I try to ask God to show me how I can do better next time. He is so faithful!! Take care Brother!!
new idea: let the older ones be in charge of their own trips… let them find car pools themselves…. i be thtey are capable of that 😉 love you – always…. ❤
I love it!! I have been doing this more and more!! Love you so much!! (((Hugs!)))