Saturday, January 9, 2016


This is a post from October.  Some things have changed. But I'll save the updates for a different post.
Each stage has its own challenges and blessings. Each mommy has different skills and coping devices and stamina.

For me, my most productive and organized time was 4 and 5 kids. I don't know what happened in there, but I finally "got the hang of" the whole homemaking/ mothering organization.

But then I lost that after the two moves in 16 months that happened between babies 5 and 6. I never "got my groove back." I've gotten some parts back at some times, had new challenges thrown at me, totally lost any efficacy at other times, and then eventually sunk into a several years long depressive episode.

But now I'm back. I'm off antidepressants, feeling good, still struggling with concentration and motivation, but I really think that, too will improve with time and quiet.

Sometimes I see everything I've let slide over the last, say, ten or twelve years, and feel, .... overwhelmed. But I try very hard to not "go there," in that it's not productive and for me, I know now, might trigger the horrible depression into which I lapsed.
And now I find myself at a new stage, a new season. I have this fall, for the first time in 22 years, no children at home. People have asked what I'll do with myself. "Will you be bored or lonely?" "Are you going to look for a job?"

These are all valid questions. And things I've wondered myself. Joe has suggested I look for part time work. It would certainly help the budget. But for right now, I think there is plenty to do around the house. Plenty of organizing, plenty of cleaning. And of the making of lists there is no end.

I'm focusing on small steps. I'm trying to exercise. I'm trying to have after school snacks and meals ready at appropriate times. Healthy ones even! I try to not buy much prepared foods, or processed food, convenience foods, or whatever you want to use for a description of that stuff that you buy pre-made and just have to open a can or take something from freezer to oven. But this last six or eight months, after a move to a new house and having big kids home for the summer and people needing meals to go and meals at strange times, etc, .... And me having my kitchen kind of totally non-operational. I confess I've slipped a little bit. I've bought canned beans rather than cooking my own. I've used frozen pizza more times than I like to admit. I've used way more pasta than meat and potatoes. Even a quick pot of rice sometimes has seemed like too much work.

So meals, yes. It takes much out of me. And I need to get more organized, plan ahead, learn to shop at my new home, and finish tweaking the kitchen function.

I need to get the family office space or desk or file cabinet or whatever into a functional order. I need to know where the bills get put when they come in. I need to know where all the mail goes, and where to put the church mail for Joe. I need to have a good workable place for the kids to put the reams of paper they bring home from school. I need to research and be ready to discuss with Joe different option for debt reduction, since yes, over the last 15 years the level of our consumer debt has crept up and up and up. Something we were never, ever going to let happen. But it did. Gradually. Little by little. Month by month.

I want to create a smoothly enough running home so that when the kids are home, I like them. Say what?!?!

Of course I like my kids. I love them, in fact. But when the household is chaos, and all those bodies come tumbling in from the school bus, and they all want to tell me about their day. Some want snack and some like to do homework first and then snack and nobody wants to pick up their coats and jackets or put their shoes away right. Some can't find pencils, others need the computer, and there's always a line for something or other I need to sign, or something for which to write a check.

When all of this comes at me at about 4:30 in the afternoon, if supper is not already in the oven and laundry for the day done and folded, and other other daytime tasks I'm focusing on finished up, ... if I'm not up and running and ready for the afternoon commotion, ... sometimes by 5:00 I do not like my kids very much. And sadly, they do not like each other or me very much either. When the mom's not on top of things, the dynamic of everyone is adversely affected. It's one of those times of day that really can benefit from a mom with all her brain and a goodly part of her energy accessible.

That's what I hope to establish for my family in the next few months. There are signs that things are getting better.

I have been exercising. I have been brave enough to tackle some financial things. I have been about 70% on target with meals. I'm still only at about 50% of the time up-and-running kind of ready for the kids when they come home from school. The kitchen and living area tweaks continue, each one bringing a bit more order and therefore a bit more stability.

And we've started having read aloud again. At first it was only maybe once a week or so. But we're up to maybe two or three times a week that our evenings are smooth enough to manage it. I love being able to do that for and with the kids again. Some of my older kids' happiest memories involve something about the stories we read together when they were young. Either playing pretend with the story line, drawing scenes from it, repeating our favorite phrases at appropriately humorous times. It is something I cherish. So far I have not had much success in managing to work it in with the younger kids.

And so life goes one, the stages run, one into the next. Each with its own blessings and challenges. I praise God that I've been able to kick the prozac. I am so thankful for the gradually returning of my "old self." I thank God for each of my kids and each of the many joys they bring me. I am thankful for my Joe, who has sustained me, and put up with me, and loved me, just as I have him through all his stages and seasons.

And I pray God's blessings on this new and different stage of our lives, that of having no kids home during the day. When the time is right, I know God will present me with just the right "outside the home" job. I know until that time there is plenty to do here. I pray that I am able to continue to improve with focus and energy to get it all done.

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