A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Beloved and told him
"honey, I can see the end of my rope. It isn't here, YET, but it is coming. I am exhausted, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am spent. In order to keep me out of the loony bin, we need to do something. I need some head space to do some thinking and praying and reading and I need a block of time to get stuff done. I am tired in every way and I can see a time coming when I just won't be able to deal anymore"
Now this is really, really, really grown up of me because my usual M.O. is to drag myself along smiling happily (scarily?) insisting that I am FINE until I totally hit a wall when I will just squirrel myself away by reading lots and lots or writing lots and lots or spending FAR too much time online until I get it together enough to resurface - by which time children are starting to stick to the floor and Beloved's polite inquiries after clean underwear have been replaced by him just going and buying more underwear.
The approach of the end of my rope has been precipitated by many things I guess. The insanity of the last move, renovations (which, if you read my blog at all regularly, you will know I do NOT love). Beloved's gut playing up more and more over the last two years, finally giving us enough of a scare the other week when he started vomiting blood to get a referral to a specialist. The fact that it has been raining for about, oh, three months now WITHOUT snow on my mountain (looking at the snow on my mountain through rainbows got me through last winter with the move). The feeling of complete and utter defeat where all things domestic are concerned has been another factor. Someone told me once to lower my expectations when I have so many littlies so I have, but honestly, if they were any lower my house would be seized by the UN as a biological weapon of mass destruction. Seriously, how low can they get. There was a "baby vomiting up a foreign object" incident the other week that we shan't speak of except to say that Anna now has a nice, SAFE, playpen set up and Erin has one less hair ribbon. Who knew a baby COULD swallow a 15cm long HAIR RIBBON??????
The feeling of achieving so little gets to me some days. I achieve maybe five things a day. Usually (but not always) involving putting on clothes (On a good day, before 11am!), having songs and prayers, reading to the kids, feeding the family and sometimes even showering. How sad is it when personal hygiene becomes a goal in life? Honestly.
I miss solitude.
Alone time was my personal special treat when I was living in the dorms at college. I would go to a library and find myself a little nest to read for hours. I'd take myself out to dinner and a movie. I'd go for walks and runs that lasted for hours and hours. Over the last few months I have been getting up at the same time as the kids, or moments before, going all day, then once the kids were in bed I still had Beloved with me (usually in the same room as our house is the size of a postage stamp) until we went to bed (usually far too late) and I fell asleep - waiting to do it all again the next day. Seeing as our only toilet is in the same room as the shower I would be lucky to even get a decent amount of alone time in there. Sending the kids outside without me is not really an option at the moment either as the yard is not properly fenced and, well, there was a little incident concerning a certain almost-two-year-old and an extremely busy road with LOG TRUCKS that means he is rarely out of my eye line anymore. I got a tickly throat the other week and prayed fervently that I would get sick enough to require Jon staying home to take care of things while I lay in bed and read a book. Yes people, I prayed I would get sick. FYI, God said No.
Yes, I am probably whinging here and whining and carrying on. But I am not intending to, I am just trying to be honest about where I am and how I got here.
I am not a big believer in "ME time". I honestly believe that going out lots without the kids/hubby with girlfriends or spending hours and hours on social networking sites, using chat, in the blog-sphere and contributing to internet forums, USUALLY, does not make for a contented Mama/wife. It often involves playing "who has the worst behaved kids, least affectionate hubby, most demands in their life" game or a competition on who has it the most together - a competition which everyone looses. I have known women who spend three or four hours a day on PARENTING FORUMS, putting their kids in childcare in order to get a break from them and more time to spend on parenting forums. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this picture? Too often, rather than filling up a person and encouraging them to do their job as wife and mother, "me time" is simply an exercise in discontentment and escapism. So often "me time" becomes an "out" from our real lives rather than a time of infilling that equips us to live our lives well. To have LIFE and live it ABUNDANTLY.
But I gotta be honest, life hasn't been that abundant over the last couple of months. There have been treading water moments. Treading water days and weeks actually.
Which brings us back to where we began.
It was a big thing for me to admit to Beloved that I was struggling. I am hard wired not to admit weakness and not to ask for help - certainly not from people I love. Why? Because I am all to familiar with the soul-decimating experience of asking for help and support and having it not arrive, or even worse, being accused of being "too needy", "spoiled", "asking for too much", of having my needs or pain belittled or dismissed, of being quietly labeled as not hurting enough to need help and sent to the back of the cue while I quietly try not to bleed on anyone's shoes. So yeah, BIG THING.
And he stepped up.
"What can I do to help? How can I support you, love you, better? You mean the world to me and you have been there so much for me lately, I will bring you the moon and go back for the stars if you need me too."
What a guy.
So here's what we are doing.
Each morning our alarms AND TV come on at 5:30am (yes, we need ALL of those to wake us up). I sit up and (blearily) read our morning Bible reading. Then I stumble out of bed and go for a walk. That's HALF AN HOUR of SOLITUDE. My time in the wilderness for prayer. A time to take a drink of living water. Head space. A time to think thoughts and thread them on a string like beads without having them jostled and spilled by the needs of a little person. Then I come back home and jump start the day before the kids wake up. Each night we are in bed by 10pm (or just after) at the latest. Beloved reads our evening reading and we snuggle down for sleep together.
And just now, I kissed him and the older two kids good bye. They have gone away for a weekend with my In-laws. The babies are asleep and I have blogged my little heart out. I have grand plans of cleaning and ordering and organising WITHOUT any little people help!
Then when they come home, I can welcome them with open arms.
And it isn't be so hard to remind myself that the little, beaming, faces that beg to help stir the pancake batter - are my presents from God, my jewels, my investment. That the screaming children who are hurling abuse at each other, are mine to shepherd and teach and correct and THAT is a PRIVELEDGE of which I am unworthy. That the little girl who stumbles, beaming, through her reader will one day, all too soon, read to her own babies. That the tender little boy playing with his dead bee, will most likely become tall and strong enough to sweep me off my feet - literally - then go off to sweep some other woman of her feet. That the chubby terror who makes my heart skip beats on a regular basis will all too soon launch off from this place to reach his stars, climb his mountains, and battle mighty foes. That the dainty miss who grumps through yet another tooth and submits to being dressed up by her big sister with giggles and coos, will one day step into a car, start it up and drive away.
And it isn't so hard to remind myself that the man who keeps bothering me about renovating decisions and paint colours is building me a home. The man who wants me to watch a movie with him is my friend who enjoys my company. The man who cuddles up to me at night, chose to spend his life with me - and still makes that choice every day.
And it isn't so hard to remind myself, I am blessed.