Saturday, July 5, 2014

Single Purpose

This post may have to be pretty short.
JT and the boys have gone out on an overdue "adventure" this afternoon.
JT has been beyond busy as the climax of competition season is upon us. Practices are often twice a day. Days off are filled with fundraisers and organizing details. Not to mention trying to just relax for a few minutes.
But today's car wash was cancelled (turns out, it was never actually scheduled), and the boys are off to do their boy stuff.

Greystoke is tired.

He's been trying to take a nap all morning, but hasn't been very successful. The first nap, as soon as he fell asleep, I bustled us all off to the pool. But the people who clean the pool area were working in the shade where I left him to sleep and his nap only lasted about 10 minutes.
Then we came home and The Dude wanted to watch the wiggles in our room, and Aquaman was playing in his bunk bed fort in the boys' room, and Greystoke was left to try to take a nap downstairs in the nap nanny...and then Aquaman moved his fort playing to the couch.
As soon as the others were out the door, Greystoke and I went upstairs. I changed his clothes, which were still damp from my bathing suit, and bundled him up, and while he is usually perfectly content to be placed in his crib when his eyes are all sleepy like that, I lay down next to him in the big bed instead.
His whole face lit up into a grin.

We haven't taken a nap together in a long time, because 1) there's no time 2) even if there was, I'd feel guilty since he is now consistently sleeping 7 hour stretches at night, and 3) he's been on a pretty steady routine of Eat, Awake, Sleep, and I know that's supposed to be a good routine. Eating and sleeping aren't part of that routine. But today I didn't care. Today, I just lay down and snuggled and nursed him and ruined his schedule.

He is beautiful, in case you're wondering. He's just beautiful when he's sleeping there beside me.
I watched his eyes flutter, and the way his lips that are so much like mine fell slightly open. His hair so light and fine (and basically nonexistent).
I don't know why, but my eyes suddenly filled with tears, and since we were alone, I let them fall. I'm not really sure what kind of tears they were. They weren't sad tears, about how quickly these days will go. Or overwhelmed mommy tears wondering how I will have the strength to do it all. I've cried all those tears before. They were just tears. And I enjoyed feeling the way they slid down my nose and filled the room with color.
What an encouragement he has been to me as a mother, and I think that is one of the things I have thanked God about the most since he was born. Yes, it's nice to sleep. It's nice to not have to pace the halls with a fussy baby, or wonder if he is in pain, and it's amazing to not have to be in a sweaty panic to get to him when he starts crying lest he get himself so worked up that it takes an hour to calm him down.
But mostly what is nice is the realization, which I tried to convince myself all along, but which I always secretly wondered about anyway...that I wasn't doing anything wrong to make my other babies fussy. That I didn't do anything to keep them waking up all the time or not able to maintain a routine.
With them, no matter what I did, they could never stick to a routine, and they were never just going to be content self soothers.
With him, it doesn't seem that there is anything I can do to STOP him from basically sticking to the same routine every day and sucking his fingers for a few minutes if he can't get picked up right away, or just drifting off to sleep if he's tired.
It's amazingly freeing.
I mean, we have a huge responsibility to teach our children a lot of things, but one thing that we cannot do is change their nature. Their bent. That's why we train up a child in the way THEY should go. Their natural bent.
Aquaman and The Dude needed more mom soothing in order to learn how to soothe themselves.
I have no idea who Greystoke is going to be. Just because he is an "easy" baby of course doesn't mean he is going to be an easy 2 year old. They all have their weaknesses and their moments. But he is such a reminder of how we should enjoy each of our children and the uniqueness in which they are made.
I'd like to think I have done so with all 3.
They have each all taught me such different lessons. They have so much more to teach me still. Even in all that I have to teach them, I hope never to stop being a student of them.
This week I started back to work 2 days a week.
The first day was really really hard. I felt sick and didn't sleep much the night before.
I missed all 3 of my babies, but especially my littlest one who still needs me so much.
The 2nd day was a little easier, and then, just like that, my work week was over. Pretty crazy.
It was hard to go back. The juggling and guilt of childcare, especially since it's summertime. Falling more behind on housework, waking up at 5:30 am just to get the car packed up, and still forgetting things.
I enjoyed my leave immensely.
But, when I got back there...when I started sorting through my 400 unread emails, and caught up with all that had been going on in many of the families that I work with, when I talked to several mothers again, and with my wasn't so bad to be back there either. Especially only 2 days a week.
2 days a week still leaves my main focus at home, but gives me something to strive for outside the home as well, and I think that's ok.
If I was home all the time, I think I would worry more about the house. I put more pressure on myself to keep up with it and it was always stressing me out. I think it's because we all need some way to measure our productivity.

Raising children is insanely productive. It's vitally important. But to be honest, some days it feels like you accomplished nothing. The 5 year old complained all day, the 3 year old didn't listen to anything you said, you didn't read enough to them, you didn't play enough, you didn't talk enough, you didn't listen enough. I suppose when it comes down to it, I am a ruthless supervisor of myself.

Working 2 days a week puts things in better perspective for me. Being separated for a couple days reminds me that having a few crumbs around the house is really not of eternal consequence. That the kids are not acting up because I am doing something wrong, but because that's what kids do. It's a chance to appreciate the opportunity to be available. Maybe I can't always fit in as much reading as I want, but I can guide them as they learn to navigate their own problems. I can teach them how to handle their feelings. I can there. I think I am more present when I'm home now as a direct result of my absence, and of my conviction that my presence in their lives is vital to them, as a calling from God.

As I struggled off to work this week, I found myself wrestling with that same old identity crisis that I've had since I became a mother.
What kind of a mother am I?
I'm not the stay at home mom that makes everything from scratch and sews her own curtains. I'm not the working mom who never sleeps and somehow still does everything. I don't let my kids sleep in my bed every night, but I do lay down and hold them for a while as they're falling asleep.

And then, it just suddenly hit me. Like chains falling from my soul. Like lightning flashing in the darkness.
None of those things have anything to do with my identity.
I'm not a working mom or a stay at home mom, and not even being a mom has anything to do with who I am.
I'm not an active person or sedentary. I'm not organized or a total ditz. I'm not a great and caring and productive nurse.
All of those little details: the fact that I am a mother of 3 gorgeous little boys, or that I live in a small house and drive a car that can barely fit all 3 car seats in the back and don't care much about things and STILL have bedroom furniture all over my living room....
The fact that I'm totally disorganized, but also kind of have a system, that I have a lot of energy, but feel kind of out of shape, and that I work outside my home...but not very much.
Those are unique little parts of how God created me. And they matter a little bit in finding where I can most please Him each day. But they are not who I am.
So who am I?

I am a disciple of Christ.

Not a disciple of Christ AND a devoted wife AND a mom who is crazy about her kids AND a nurse who loves her patients.

JUST a disciple of Christ.

That takes some of the pressure out of it. It takes some of the guesswork out of it. And it takes some of the selfishness out of it. 

It's not about who I, I, I am. It's about who He, He, He is. 

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