Monday, February 27, 2017

Sunday Morning Decisions

 "No one can do everything, but everyone can do something."
-Max Lucado

 Life is full. Time keeps flying by. There still never seems to be enough time to do....everything.
But there finally feels like enough time to do something.
 I read that Max Lucado quote on the wall of one of the assisted living facilities I was visiting for work about a month ago, and, I'll blame it on the hormones, got a little teary reading it.

 Every day I am forced to face the fact that I simply fall short. At home, at work, even just within my own body there are so many limitations, and I know that this is exactly where God wants me to be.
 But it can be so overwhelming. When faced with a million "needs" it can be so hard to prioritize, to move in one direction. It requires a lot of prayer, and I have gotten better about taking the time in the moment to do that.
 Sunday morning JT was working out before church, I had just agreed to let the younger 2 watch their favorite show, Paw Patrol in my bed upstairs. The laundry and dishwasher were going. Aquaman was on the floor of the living room, where he can always be found, close to his Lego blanket, surrounded by his ideas.
 I wanted to go upstairs and finish sorting The Dude's clothes, because I am still severely and feverishly nesting, and it is a little addictive purging and organizing right now. But I looked over at my oldest son, who doesn't ask much of me anymore. I mean, sure he spends hours telling me every detail of an audio book he is listening to or something he saw on tv, and recent injustices or funny mishaps from school. He still needs me to peel his apples and carrots for him. And I do make an effort to set a timer and play with him at least once a week. But usually at least one brother is nearby interrupting things. Because they are so demanding that if they are busy I have to get something done.

 But Sunday I asked God what He thought I should do, and it didn't take much overthinking to know what He was telling me.
 I heard this Focus on the Family broadcast a few weeks ago about  building relationships with our kids, and how that is even more important than enforcing the rules. I already knew that, I have tried to live it since Aquaman was born...breaking all the rules about sleep training and various other things. Still it was good to be reminded. Of all the parents of grown children that were interviewed and asked what they would do differently, the overwhelming answer was not to have more rules, but to spend more time playing with them. Taking an interest in the things that they are interested in, Entering into their worlds.

 So Sunday morning I entered into Aquaman's world. Our play together has evolved recently in that I no longer build something of my own, because my creations always turn out looking like something out of a Dr. Suess book, and this is difficult for him to stomach. Our play now involves mostly me helping him find the pieces he envisions for a creation. Sifting through the blanket, listening to the scraping of the bricks against each other. A sound that I will always associate with Aquaman...the sound I wake up to almost every morning. It is an oddly soothing activity, and I think it has been the source of much self regulation for him too. Swish swish swish, humming a tuneless tune. I will so miss these sounds when they are gone.
 Sometimes he lets me insert my own ideas for what should go next. Sometimes he patiently explains that my ideas are too weird.
 Sometimes we talk, about Legos, about school. Sometimes neither of us says anything at all for a long time, and it is the most comfortable silence in the world. We played until Paw Patrol was over, and when he pleadingly asked me if they could "have just one more episode", I didn't even have to ask God this time. I knew.
I still don't feel like I have time for friendships....I struggle with this a lot because I have always had a core set of close friends in my life, they've been important to me. I think a village is really essential. I keep telling myself that someday I will have time for girl friends again, but in 2 months we are going to start all over with another baby, and I am going to have a marriage, 4 kids, and a job to juggle so I don't see how anything is going to change with that any time soon. But I am thankful for the friends who remain even when I can't stay in touch as often as I wish I could.
I have gotten better about exercising now that I am feeling better. Ironic since now I am in the 3rd trimester and also feel as big as a house.
And thanks to pregnancy insomnia, I have gotten much more quiet time alone with God than I have in months, and it has been amazing. I was struggling with my exhaustion and inability to get up early and then I realized...I am up half the night anyway, why not make this my time with God? So I pray a lot now. I meditate on all the Bible verses I can remember. I sing old hymns to myself that I haven't thought of in a long time. I don't get up, I let me body and my eyes rest. But while my mind is awake, I rest it in Him. The difference, that carries over long after the frenzied wake up and the alarm and the backpacks and lunches and shoes is amazing.
And I am so enjoying my boys in these last months before we add another precious life and personality into our family.
Greystoke is absolutely hilarious these days. My sweet, compliant, happy baby and toddler is a full on threenager, just a little early. He wants control, control, control. He screams at me to do something one way and the minute I do, he screams that he wanted it done the other way. Every now and then it frustrates me....but 3 kids in, I have seen it before, I appreciate and relish and revel in the process of his growing up, his growing wings.
He tells me daily that he doesn't like me, that he "only likes Daddy, because Daddy does the pillowcase game with me" (which involves putting him inside a pillowcase and swinging him around!!). Out of the blue, driving in the car, he will announce that he "wishes he was a real Ninjago, so he could smash this car and kill me". He says all of this quite pleasantly. It does not hurt my feelings.
I remember reading "your 3 year old, friend or enemy" when Aquaman was going through this stage. I remember how 3 is a time of a child realizing that they are not actually Mommy, they are their own real person, with their own abilities and ideas. They are realizing that they must separate and it is a terrifying and exhausting and exhilerating experience for them. I still believe that the most violent detachments are the ones that are the closest, and so I smile in it. I feel him pulling away and I am proud of him for doing what he is supposed to do. For this little stage of growing up. There are so many more to go, and God willing, I will get to experience all of them and watch him bloom into an amazing person.

His response to everything I say is to turn it back around on me: "Ezra, you are grumpy today!" "No YOU are grumpy!"
"Ezra, put your socks on." "No YOU put your socks on!" He does not think it is funny when I start to laugh.
He is Daddy's boy right now, his little shadow. I love to watch my husband with his three sons. It has been such an experience watching him grow as a father every year, and with every child. I am so thankful for his patience and understanding. And for the times he comes home to utter insanity, and instantly has to bail me out by being the bad guy, which his least favorite role in the world. But he does it for me, and for his kids.

I can't wait to see him with our little girl.
Who, by the way, they don't suppose is very little after all, despite my having measured small for a while. I had an ultrasound 2 weeks ago and they estimated her to be 4 pounds already, No good 3d face pictures because her cord was right in her face and she kept sucking on it. But I already think she looks like Greystoke. And if you look closely, you can see she already has some hair, and quite a bit of it! Unusual for my children. Sadly, the tech warned me sometimes it all falls out by birth....
Not that I haven't loved my bald little babies. I always thought it must be a pain to wash the spit up out of all that hair. And there is also something special about nestling your head up against a sticky bald, still smelling like heaven head.
JT and I had our 2 night, 2.5 day staycation a couple weeks ago, and it went without a hitch. The kids stayed well, and everyone did ok except the last night when Greystoke wouldn't go to sleep.
It was really amazing, and way too fast. I was glad we decided not to go anywhere. It was so relaxing to sleep in, in our own beds. We didn't have a long drive, didn't have to pay for a hotel, or pack and unpack. We spent a little bit of time catching up on house work and odd jobs, and it is crazy how that feels like vacation when you are not also herding small children.
We went to the movies, out to dinner, slept in, and took naps. We exercised together, and spent Valentine's Day giving each other massages, which is way better than anything you can get at the spa.
There is nothing quite like time stretching before you, and no demands upon you for a little while.
I am so glad to have been married to this man for almost 10 years now. He is my best friend and the love of my life.

During our staycation, one day JT went swimming and I was too tired to go, so I took a long quiet walk by myself on the beach. Heaven.
The Dude is turning 6 on Saturday. I can tell that 6 is going to be a great age for him.

He can still be so incredibly stubborn and irrational, but he is growing into some of it.
It is really fun to watch him truly emerge as a person. Kindergarten is a big year for a kid. It's a long day away from mom and dad. So many demands placed upon you all at once. It is a lot of pressure, especially for a boy like The Dude, and he is handling it more and more in a truly graceful way.

One of the things I have dedicated more time to since slowing down at work is working with him on school stuff, since he has been struggling. His reading has improved by leaps and bounds. His writing is getting better but is such a slow and painstaking process. I have learned to rejoice in the little victories.

His teacher has to sit beside him during independent work because he needs the help and also because he has such a hard time staying on task. They are already using words like "easily distracted", and I know which way this is all headed. It makes me hurt for him, in some ways. My little hunter-gatherer, forced into a farmer's world.

But at the same time, he always manages to keep bouncing back up to the surface, stronger, more positive, full of affection and enthusiasm and zest for life, and it fills me with pride to watch him succeed in that way.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter.”

― D.L. Moody

The Dude has a heart 10 miles wide. He will have his struggles, but that will carry him through, I definitely believe that.

Well I have run out of pictures, and out of time.
Aquaman has graciously been letting Greystoke destroy his lego creations so that I could have a few minutes to get this done. Every 5 minutes, Greystoke says something like "Aquaman, because you are my best friend forever" (he randomly inserts the word because into almost all of his sentences).
I better get off the computer so that Aquaman can start his homework.

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