Monday, February 1, 2010

Self-Reflection

On Sunday, at Bible Study, our friend Susan made a comment to me that has left me thinking. I don't know if I'd say that she "rocked my world", but she certainly has given me pause to reflect on what I'm doing with my children and myself.

Texan Papa was holding Violet, and I stood next to him. Susan asked how things were going, to which TP replied, "Well, you know, it can be hard. All the kids need such different things that sometimes it's hard to keep up." Susan replied, "Oh, I know what you mean. I am one of six kids and I remember that my mom was always stretched so thin."

I heard what she said. I let it sink in. I didn't really have an initial reaction, but I couldn't get that phrase out of my mind all day long. My mom was always stretched so thin. All through church, then during the church luncheon. Once we were home, and all afternoon. Anytime a busy thought didn't require 100% of my brain power, Susan's comment kept echoing in the back of my head. My mom was always stretched so thin.

Is that what I'm showing my kids? Is that what I'm doing to myself? Is that what I'm doing to them? I ask this of myself when I'm putting Sally down for her noon nap and I catch a glimpse of myself as I pass a mirror. Dear Gawd, I haven't even showered yet. I ask this when the first comment out of my mouth in the morning, upon seeing my children, is "Go get your clothes on for school." Not "Good Morning!" or "Did you sleep well?" or "Ri-ise, and shi-ine, and give God the glory! Glory!" No, instead I bark out orders on their personal hygiene. I ask myself this when we are at the store and I have lost track of one of my children. I have gotten so wrapped up in finding the aisle with the ZipLock bags and getting the coupon out of my purse and kissing a boo-boo, that I have not noticed a child straying away from the cart. Before I know it I'm counting one, two, three, four... where's five? WHERE'S FIVE??? I ask myself, Do I know where that fifth child is? Did they tell me where they were going while I wasn't paying attention?

And, I make no apologies nor do I ask for any condolences. My life is what it is. Personally, I love having a lot of kids. It has filled our home and my heart with love. Yes, it's chaotic at times. Yes, I sheepishly admit, there are times that it crosses over from chaotic to dangerous. Yes, I would probably do a better job if I never left the house with all 5 children at one time. But, if we're out of Children's Motrin and somebody has a fever while Daddy's at work, then it looks like we're all taking a quick trip to Walgreens. And if I need milk on the way home from school pick-up, I am just going to stop and get it because the idea of going all the way home and then dragging everyone out again later is too exhausting to think about. But I do my best.

My best. What is my best? Is my best really good enough? I hope it is. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe my intentions are good but my practices suck. Really, I'm a nice person. But being nice doesn't make me responsible. Birthing 5 children doesn't make me a pro at child-rearing; it only makes me a pro at carrying a baby to term. And loving my children doesn't mean I'm any good at teaching them. Most days I'm way too lenient. I always thought I'd be so great at laying down the law and making my kids toe the line. But in reality, I get pretty worn down by the constant assault of whining, crying, fighting, pouting, and tattling. At the end of the day, I'm happy for them all to just sit in front of the TV and be quiet. After all, at least they aren't giving me any smart talk.

There it is. I have been worn thin. It makes me feel so... defeated, like I didn't have the coordination to keep all the balls in the air that I'm juggling. It feels like it's a choice - to be worn thin. Even if I am worn thin, do I need to show it? And, if I need to show it, do I have to wear it like a badge of honor? Wouldn't it be more honorable to be a quiet servant to my family?

What, then, is a reflection of me? My home? My personal appearance? My attitude? My habits? My principles? All of the above? If I face the truth, I'll admit I'm kinda stretched thin in all those areas. Maybe that's just who I am. Maybe that's just who I am right now, but it will change later. Or, maybe that's who I've always been and I'm just facing it now.

Who knows.

11 comments:

Conservative Knitter said...

Great now I will have that saying in my head all day! Just kidding but I truly do understand how you feel. I am going through the same thing-- but you wrote so much more eloquently than I. I do think with many kiddos we do stretch ourselves to thin. And can't enjoy the good parts-- as much as we should. We are tired, our hair needs a wash, there are dishes to do and babies to nurse...But hey whatcha gonna do? Can you imagine if we burst into our children's room with "This is the day the Lord has made" They would be mighty confused!
Oh, Texan Mama those are mighty big balls you are juggling-- they get heavy you have to take a rest sometime. Daily Mantra: It won;t always be this hard. Someday our dishes will be put away and clothes will be put away but for now "we, as mothers" have to settle for what we can do not what we should be doing or how we should do it.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

CK - you are so right. I was just telling this very same thing to a friend yesterday; today is tough but tomorrow will be better.

Why is it that we can't ever see it for ourselves???

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I always count the kids in public too---1, 2, 3, 4 ;)
When I feel super stretched, I end the night with either a glass of red wine or a bottle of Shiner depending on my mood. And then maybe a bubble bath. It helps a little and puts some time for me.
Hope you are doing OK. I cannot imagine 5 and am really proud of you keeping up with it all :)

Sturgmom said...

I feel the same way and I only have 3 children. It's kind of a bitter pill to swallow, but I've had to come to the conclusion that I can't do everything and do it well. I'm task-oriented by nature, so I have to be very intentional about focusing on my little people instead of what they/I should be DOING. Not saying I've got it down- FAR far from it. But I'm trying...and I think it's the best any of us can do.

Jennifer said...

I think it is ok to admit that you are stretched to thin. It was when you don't admit it that you get into trouble. No one has it together all the time (or even a lot of the time). We do the best we can can and that's all we do. Maybe you should call the friend from church and tell her, "what you said the other day has been on my mind a lot? What did you mean?" I bet she wouldn't even remember what she was talking about because it was probably just something she said to move the conversation along. At the time I bet you anything she didn't realize that her mother was "stretched to thin." You know when she realized it, when she was grown with kids of her own and was going through the same thing. Now she can look back on those times and realize that mom probably didn't have it all together like she thought she did. Just like we do.

Foursons said...

I think we all feel like this no matter how many kids we have. Once you start sleeping through the night again you are going to feel so much better!

Emily said...

Ok, this post really hit me for some reason. I'm totally crying here (although I think PMS might have something to do with it since I also snapped at my husband this morning).
Sometimes I hope that all moms feel this way sometimes just so I know I'm not the only one.

Heather said...

Very smart and intuitive, glad you shared. Good food for thought.
-Heather @ www.savingmoneylivinglife.com

Bridgett said...

My mother was stretched thin with 4. Hell, she was stretched thin with 1. My grandmother didn't reach that point until 6 (she had 8); my mother-in-law's mom glided through 6 like it was no big deal. My mother-in-law could have had 10. I, on the other hand, realize I have been promoted to my level of incompetence with 3.

But I think JEnnifer is right--you have to be really really really "stretched thin" before your kids notice while they are kids. Most of us, it's upon reflection.

Anna See said...

wow! this is very interesting. on our ugh-y ski trip this weekend i kept wondering if my kids would be less weepy and obnoxious and entitled if they had some MORE siblings. i feel as if i've let us all down.

i think you are doing a great job!

Jhon said...

Self reflection is very essential and useful to improve our self. Self reflection means we have to regularly examine what has worked and what hasn't work. Then take your answers and turn them into positive. Then find out be better way to achieve your goals and follow it immediately. You should be honest, work hard, and watch your better performance day by day.